This article by Jessica Hopper is very powerful. It discusses the relationship between music scenes, its purveyors and the faulty relationship with women. Specifically she discusses Emo, which is an independent type of music that isn’t punk and it isn’t mainstream. It lies somewhere in the middle, not quite edgy enough to be underground, but just self-centered and eccentric enough to keep it out of the mainstream.
Jessica is writing about how women relate to the emo scene, or in this case how they can’t relate. She makes the point that women are represented as the bitch in the breakup, the unattainable piece of meat, or the catalyst for unending depression and sadness.
I never really thought about it, but I agree with her. Some might be quick to pawn it off by saying that most of the bands in the scene are 20-something men who write about what they know, but it isn’t that easy. As we moved from hardcore guys with mosh-pits in the 90’s to this phase of anti-mosh-pit sensitivity, where every band has bleeding, crying lyrics worn proudly on their sleeves, it has become boring and eerily similar. All the while, it is apparent that there are many people, who are not young suburban men, who have been left out of the loop. Instead of making music for all people, that captures the human experience, the music has become clichéd and exclusive.
If hatred of your parents and angst was the driving force of grunge rock in the 90’s, then sadness about girls is the driver for emo today. It works for me, and obviously a lot of other people, but it isn’t really a universal art form at that point. That upsets me a bit. The nature of art is that it will have a segmented audience. It is at best, difficult, at worst, impossible to be all things to all people, but is it really necessary to write whole groups of people out of the game from the start?
This increasingly pervasive style is very easy. It isn’t challenging for the writers to write and it isn’t challenging for the listeners to understand. It is all there, plain to see because there is nothing cryptic about it. All by itself, that should have been the first clue that there is something wrong with this unchallenging genre.
I am not sure that you will ever get young men to change the way they write or think, but a group of women entering the scene could really do some good to help this generation of “punk rock” girls understand that it isn’t all about weepy boys who lost the attention of their best girl. As Jessica Hopper says, “…girls deserve more than one song. We deserve more than one pledge of solidarity. We deserve better songs than any boy will ever write about us.”