Monday, May 21, 2007

Emo Culture?

I don't normally report on local news (partly because the strange things that make news in Utah and just too weird to get into) but tonight on Channel 4 they had this god-awful piece on "Emo Culture". Now the website article seems really tame and in fact has a wonderful quote about emo culture for parents:

“Not every child who looks emo may be in to cutting themselves, dark poetry or talk of suicide,” says psychologist Judith Zimmerman. “Some of these kids may just be in a phase. It’s important to tell the difference between a fashion statement and a commitment to a lifestyle. Parents need to understand the deeper meanings of why their child might be drawn to emo culture.”

But did the news broadcast mention this? No! What they did was show a bunch of MySpace photos of kids with eyeliners and black hair, played music from the Used, and talked about how all "emo" children were cutting themselves and on the verge of suicide. (Of course, people who 'cut' themselves aren't suicidal anyway as they feel like the pain makes them alive---but that is beyond the point.) In any case, the news report drove me to write an angry letter to the reporter who compiled the story.

Mr. Cowan,
Your piece on the "emo culture" shows a serious lack of investigation which attempts to draw upon uninformed hysteria of parents for ratings. Not every teenager who wears black and listens to bands like "My Chemical Romance" or "The Used" are "emo, yet you portray that they are. You also portray the "emo culture" as a homogeneous group when there are many many subdivisions such as goths, scene kids, sadists, ICP kids and punks, just to name a few. In fact, if you actually had spent some quality time with teenagers (as I have a range of children from 15-18 that regularly come and hang out at my home) you would know that the term "emo" is actually an insult. No one aspires to be "emo" and those that admit that their are are doing it for attention. Cutting is not something that affects just "emo" kids, but a pervasive problem that affects all social classes and age groups. "Gender-bending" is also not something that is an "emo" trait and to classify it as such is to degrade the youth of Salt Lake who are actively trying to find out who they are. Classifying "emo culture" as an entire set of individuals who are gender-bending, black clothed and suicidal is like categorizing glam rock culture as transvestite cocaine addicts. Your report will create more misunderstanding between parents and their children, especially in light of your portrayal of "emo culture" as akin to a contagious disease.
Perhaps instead of trying to create paranoia amongst parents, why don't you give your viewers more constructive advice like how to talk to their children instead of ignoring them---it will save on the therapy bills.

I can't tell if this wants me to just hate Utah or the media more.


Daniel said...

I think this article was written very well and one of friend on support your view. thank you for this post.

Anonymous said...

I’m a school nurse & you wouldn’t believe how many of the “emo” kids cut. They call themselves “emo,” by the way. We’ve sent at least a dozen kids to the local psychiatric hospital for self-injury and suicidal ideation just during this school year. About 90% of those kids were self identified “emo” kids. I was pretty confused about the whole “emo” thing until one of the kids showed me the website Once I saw that site, I understand the issue much better; please take the time to view this and protect yourself and your loved ones.