The War on Emo – News Analysis

For anyone who hadn’t heard about it before, it may sound like a film plot. ‘The War on Emo’ – the phrase alone raises many questions. What does this mean? Why target this particular group? How long has this been happening?

The last question can be answered simply: 2006, with the release of rock band My Chemical Romance’s album ‘The Black Parade’.

At Reading festival 2006, both MCR and Panic! At The Disco were bottled, with lead singer of Panic! Brendon Urie being knocked unconscious. He quickly recovered to finish the set, but the message had been clearly communicated. When asked why he didn’t just leave the stage, Urie replied, “Because we wanted to play music. That was the whole idea. I never had that ‘F*** you’ mentality.”

Then at Download festival in 2007, a net had to be put in front of the stage to protect MCR, such was the ferocity of the bottling. This out of control behaviour demonstrates the mindlessness of these audience, which seems ironic – ironic because being an emo is seen as being part of a collective, where you cannot think for yourself. However, surely the people who fight against this are also part of a collective? They are following the idea that emo is something to be pushed away, to be destroyed, therefore they are themselves thinking as one, becoming similar to the group that they hate so much.

The War on Emo is a worldwide phenomenon, demonstrated recently in Iraq.

Iraq’s Moral Police have targeted the ‘phenomenon’, releasing a statement on the interior ministry’s website declaring their intent to ‘eliminate’ the trend. This has resulted in over 100 young people being stoned to death, simply for their appearance and the music they listen to. In Iraq, he ‘emo phenomenon’ is being linked to devil worshipping, homosexuality, even being a vampire. In a country that is overwhelmingly Muslim, wearing ‘strange, tight clothes with skulls on’ and having nose and tongue piercings is being viewed as a danger to society, and signs of ‘satanism’

After being granted approval by the Ministry of Education, Iraq’s Moral Police entered schools in Baghdad and pinpointed students with ‘emo’ appearances, according to the interior ministry’s statement.

‘A group armed men dressed in civilian clothing led dozens of teenagers to secluded areas…stoned them to death, and then disposed their bodies on garbage dumpsters…’ is what activists told the Cairo-based al-Akhbar website. These armed men are said to be ‘one of the most extremist religious groups’ in Iraq.

Although blame could be placed on the emo phenomenon, much of the blame is based on the music associated with the idea. Rock bands such as My Chemical Romance (MCR), Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boy are widely seen as icons of the genre, and are widely attached to the emo cult. In particular MCR was targeted, as they have been a number of times in relation to teen suicides.

This rings true particularly with one case – thirteen year old Hannah Bond. This popular schoolgirl committed suicide in her bedroom one night in 2007, apparently for no good reason; she had many friends, was doing well at school,and had a happy home life. But one detail is important – she had recently become an ‘emo’.

One night she returned home late, had an argument with her parents and flippantly shouted that she ‘wanted to kill herself’. An hour later she was found hanging an inch from the floor.

What had started out as a fashion statement had developed into a dark obsession. Hannah had apparently been a happy and confident girl, however she secretly obsessed over death and self-harm, even scratching her wrists, which is seen as a form of initiation into the emo cult.

Although blame could be placed on the emo phenomenon, much of the blame is also based on the music associated with the idea. Rock bands such as My Chemical Romance (MCR), Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boy are widely seen as icons of the genre, and are widely attached to the emo cult. In particular MCR was targeted, as they have been a number of times in relation to teen suicides.

Tabloid newspapers The Sun and music magazine NME directly linked MCR to Hannah Bond’s suicide, blaming the lyrics of the song ‘The Black Parade’, which features a storyline about a man dying of cancer.

Supporters of the emo music genre contacted NME to defend the genre against the accusations that it promoted suicide. MCR themselves also issued a statement on their website at the time of Hannah’s death, stating that “our lyrics are about finding the strength to keep living through pain and hard times”, also urging anyone who feels depressed and is thinking about suicide “to find your way and your voice to deal with these feelings positively.”

These recent events, despite the kind words from a band that is at the centre of the argument, are a shocking result of a trend that has caused so much hurt and trouble, when there was no need for any of it. Lives have been lost and individuals have been targeted for no good reason. As much as it should be over, it seems The War on Emo continues, and with current events being the way they are, there are no signs of this war ending any time soon. For more information on how this war has evolved, see my timeline of the same name.

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