Be afraid. Be very afraid. Yesterday newscasters in Utah suffered an extreme bout of ridiculous stupidity, gullibility, and fear mongering. If you still inhabit your parents home and live in this state, please carefully guard your parents. Be alarmed if they display any of the following symptoms and behaviors of having watched the “Emo segment” on the ABC 4 news: grounding, forbidding use of the internet, unprovoked prodding into your musical tastes, and a ransacking of your iTunes.
The segment opens with the two anchors stressing the importance of the “investigative report,” on Emo culture done by Reed Cowan. Suicide and self mutilation are brought up, along with statistics to add a quantifiable dose of fear. A warning is given to viewers to be prepared because some of “what they are about to see is disturbing.” And disturbing it is, if only because people may take it seriously.
This unintentionally hilarious segment smacked of satire and parody. It would have been a clear front runner for placement on a “Best of” DVD had it been aired on Saturday Night Live. Watching it, one can’t help but anticipate the moment when Andy Samberg runs into the shot al la the great ‘50’s docu-drama “Marijuana” and throws himself out of a window after listening to My Chemical Romance.
But sadly, this was not parody.
The report begins by stating Emo as “sadness, rage, and pain.” It came from the internet and can be found all over the web, as well as in music and even Spider-Man 3. A video montage of Emo imagery follows and includes visuals of broken hearts, eyeliner and a page of words defining generalized negative emotions including “agony” with the "g" written backwards as if Emo also causes dyslexia. Reed Cowan warns in dramatic voiceover to “not react with fear,” because “advanced” Emo kids cut themselves and may commit suicide.
Sounds kind of serious, right?
Cowan then goes on to discuss fashion and a picture of an orange striped polo shirt pops up, thus incriminating everyone from the preppy-jock on the football team to even my sixty year old father. Next, a pair of jeans that look like they could be from the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen collection for Wallmart are shown, decorated in pink and neon green cartoon flowers, accompanied by the warning that Emo boys may wear “girl pants.”
Are you laughing yet?
He also brings up “the Emo Quiz,” which allows takers to see if they are in fact, Emo. This is a cute little addition to the report and belies the lack of research done. Type in “Emo,” “Emo fashion,” and even “what is Emo?” onto Google, or even www.EmoGoogle.com and the same sponsored link comes up. What is this link? TheEmoQuiz.com, natch.
I decided to take this quiz to provide proof that I am not Emo to avoid any potential backlash from parents in Utah who may be led to believe my statements are a part of a larger emo conspiracy (although I will admit that in my day, I did listen to R,E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” an inordinate amount of times). It is obviously tongue-in-cheek with questions like “How tight are your pants?” with answer options including “So tight I think I am going to cry,” and “Tight enough to chafe a little.” The apparent lack of seriousness was completely lost on Cowan who reports the question “What color best describes your state of mind” and its answers “Black (like my soul” and “Red (like my blood)” with the utmost gravity. Screen shots of the quiz itself play on the screen followed by a shot pulled from Wikipedia, notably the most mistrusted information site on the web.
You almost have to hand it to this guy for utter stupidity. I am guessing he does not have kids. If he does, my condolences.
Finally, parents in Utah, please read carefully: Emo is not about self mutilation. Emo is about music. It stands for emotional and should not be discouraged. This is your children expressing themselves, dealing with their problems through song, identifying themselves to a group in a healthy way, and discovering their feelings communally through a musical genre which is not on the fringe of some dangerous subculture spawned by evil internet minds, but instead birthed from ‘80’s punk and accepted in mass culture to the point of being seen everywhere on the internet and included on the soundtracks of billion dollar Hollywood blockbusters. Emo is, in comparison to your day, the new folk music and vilifying it as your parents did the so-called hippie generation is just plain alarmist and misinformed.
For everyone else, please enjoy a good laugh at the ABC 4 website.