Aug 06

Why We Hate Emo Kids (Apparently)

FT411 comments • 24,215 views

hitler_emoI’ve long been a little shamefaced that this mean-spirited tirade is the most-read thing I’ve ever written (co-written to be exact): not that it wasn’t a true reflection of what I felt but I’d prefer it if one of my more, er, generous pieces was the one that hooked the punters in.

BUT the new look comments function means that the article has been given a second life with the addition of – mostly spluttering and hostile – reader feedback. And it’s turned up something interesting – a sociological fact that I had got too old and out of touch to realise. The description of indie kids in the piece was US-centric anyway, and is out of date now: we had in mind Death Cab fans conducting secret feuds on artofthemix.com, not Kaiser Chiefs-loving Brits. But the traits are clearly still recognisable to googling readers, and recognisable as “emos”. And some apparently “indies” hate “emos”, quite passionately.

“OI YOUR GETTING INDIE KIDS MIXED UP WITH EMOS IN SOME OF YOUR POINTS… 1) indie kids do NOT wear black rimmed glasses… emo DO!
2) indie kids are not all bis, emos are!”


“i think yu should get ur fuckin facts straight before u make urself look even worse. u dont have it right.

emo= (ex.) Where’s my mascara? and i’m a man. (or) i wear size one jeans and i have a penis. (or) hey do you want to come over so we can cut eachother’s wrists!?!? sounds like great fun!

like someone said before (and they’re one of the smart ones – a REAL indie) indie kids aren’t mainstream and dress different and in my opinion better than otyher people. they don’t do what everyone else in the world is doing and dont give a shit what other people think.

(plus they listen to the best music – all alt. and indie)” (“Wtf!?!?!?”)

Parsing the comments I can theorise that indie stands for what it always has – a defensive sense of individuality with no real fixed values. The despised emos, through an indie lens, are hateful wrist-slashers. Of course we don’t know where the commenters are coming from, or how recent this opposition is, or the relative size of the warring camps, or what they might or might not unite against (aside from me getting things wrong). But I’m finding it pretty fascinating to read.


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  1. 1
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 2 Aug 2006 #

    “Where’s my mascara? and i’m a man” is excellent — b-but surely it suggests that what emo is comin to mean for 13-yr-olds = (more or less) GOTH!!

  2. 2
    Tom on 2 Aug 2006 #

    Yes my impression is that the divide is paper-thin, but it’s intriguing that none of the commenters so far have used the g-word. Maybe the relative visibility of older (i.e. older than 16!) gothists is a disincentive.

  3. 3
    Pete Baran on 2 Aug 2006 #

    YEs, I think Goth is potentially a blind alley. Whereas old sckool goths were often linked more to the idea of dark magic, world destruction etc, emo is much more about being – you know – emo. Hate myself type stuff.

    Mascara does not necessarily lead to deathly pallor, purple hair and wearing black tenchcoats in the hottest summer ever.

  4. 4
    Tom on 2 Aug 2006 #

    The interesting thing about Goth for me is that it has always been a web of culture – what you read, watch, are ‘into’ as well as listen to and dress. Dunno if emo has a similar wide cultural remit – or maybe myspace is it. What books or shows or films do emos namecheck?

  5. 5
    Tim Hopkins on 2 Aug 2006 #


    Also I want to live in a Brill Building.

  6. 6
    Pete Baran on 2 Aug 2006 #

    Other recognition factors: goths smell of fish, emo’s don’t.

  7. 7
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 2 Aug 2006 #

    “where is my RAMMSTEIN CD? and i’m a man” = gremo

  8. 8
    alex on 2 Aug 2006 #

    what I (and the grown-up world in Scotland) would call goth seems to now be called emo. i.e. black clothes, hoodies, band T-s, stripey leggings, velvet jackets, cleavage for the girls if they have it or a general androgynous baggy clothing look, yes make-up and LOTS of overtly EMO behaviour i.e. they’re always hugging each other as if to compensate for the crimes the world has inflicted on them. NB: they are all picked up by their parents in massive BMW 4x4s so they are almost entirely middle class. Emo icons apart from bands = Emily The Strange (seen on T-shirts a bit). Don’t know about books, films etc.

  9. 9
    alex on 2 Aug 2006 #

    and yes the hostility indie / emo is probably ‘generational’: i.e. little brothers and sisters are into emo, but it looks like a pre-packaged youth rebellion to an indie-ist. Also do emo bands get in the charts whereas indie bands don’t?

  10. 10
    alex on 2 Aug 2006 #

    ALSO: There are flyers up round Edinburgh saying ‘Make Emo Histor y’!!! I will try and take a photo.

  11. 11
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 2 Aug 2006 #

    but it looks like a pre-packaged youth rebellion

    alex in nyc is not an indie-ist! (haha yes i know he is)

  12. 12
    whats in a name? on 2 Aug 2006 #

    HEY!! i wear glasses….im sad….something boiling inside me….evil…coming out…cant stop!…Oh No! i turned into a EMO!!! sorry couldnt help it….but like i was saying a wear black rimmed glasses…and im not emo…and i never listined to emo in my whole life(i actually got the idea from Drew from Whos line is it anyways?its a show…well he was in a video with Weird AL…his kinda chubby…from Ohio,come on people Tom you know who im talking about right?.)well i just like how it looks on me…cause personally i look really bad if i use any kind of glasses.

  13. 13
    koganbot on 3 Aug 2006 #

    indie stands for what it always has – a defensive sense of individuality with no real fixed values

    Er, I would challenge that one in a number of ways; first off, not “always has.” In the Fifties indie meant Sun Records and Atlantic Records and rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm & blues, in the Sixties it was Red Bird and girl groups, in the Seventies – much more self-consciously – it was Bomp Records and Hearthen and (briefly) Sire records and the Ramones and Patti Smith and and “rock ‘n’ roll” as Creem had appropriated the term and punk and power pop; in the early ’80s it was getting more eclectic in one way (OP magazine and a taste for pygmy chants and Ornette Coleman as much as for the Minutemen and Hüsker Dü) but narrower in another, as being the select type of person who listened to all this (listeners of WFMU maybe), and wasn’t really until the mid ’80s a specific style of music – “indie rock” – and the type of person who listened to that. And the sense of “individuality” and being a misfit certainly has an interplay with an identification with indie bands and indie kids.

    Um, thing about emo is that it started off as an alternative way of being punk – a more “sensitive” version.

    Not that current usage is beholden to any kind of ancestry, but I think that traces of a whole bunch of old hero stories are still in play, going back to the Cleveland party kids in 1950 and the Cleveland underground punk whatevers in the early ’70s etc. etc.

  14. 14
    koganbot on 3 Aug 2006 #

    Now to go look at the Poptimist discussion.

  15. 15
    Doctor Mod on 3 Aug 2006 #

    There was a kid like this in one of my classes. For fifteen weeks, he sat in the class and stared into space. On his exam he wrote that existentialism means that nothing matters so you should have a good time and mistook Paul Oakenfold for Harold Pinter. The rest of the exam was blank.

    One of the young women in the class said that he was traumatised because the girls were actually paying attention to the professor (a statuesque middle-aged woman who wears a tie) and not to him.

    I don’t know if he was indie or emo, but he must have been one of them.

    He failed the class.

    I don’t feel bad about it.

  16. 16
    Tom on 3 Aug 2006 #

    http://community.livejournal.com/poptimists/217379.html?mode=reply – what we decided might be ’emo’ cultural touchpoints.

  17. 17
    Tom on 3 Aug 2006 #

    That long URL has buggered up the front page hence this comment.

  18. 18
    Admin on 3 Aug 2006 #

    (You should be able to click [ed] to edit yr own comments if you’d rather)

  19. 19
    Grace on 8 Aug 2006 #

    Size 1 jeans lmao… All about Emos!!!!!!
    Emos do have that whole culture thing. They all like getting really drunk, love art, gigs, eyeliner, music, black, big fringes, hairspray, hair extensions, myspace and photography. Filmswise, its all about trainspotting (about heroin junkies from edinburgh) and harry potter. Music? Any rock band that you HAVEN’T heard of!!!!!! One thing they do do though, is try and be ‘different’ – in a cutesie way. Eg: they love pokemon, they think everyone is cute, they watch films like bring it on, love fairies and flowers and they always talk french: “That is très cool!” “Oh my god, i hate ma mère” “J’aime black jeans alot!” They also do faces like this: =] instead of like this: :-)
    I went on a bit lol! They’re just ridiculously skinny, middle class kids and most of them are quite intelligent. I actually know a few emos and they are all really nice!xxxxxxxxxx

  20. 20
    Grace on 8 Aug 2006 #

    Emos just arent goths by the way. xxxxxxxxxxxx

  21. 21
    WusTvoX on 8 Aug 2006 #

    Now, my comrades, is the time for global jihad against the emo menace!! Unite as one ye legions of emo-haters, metalheads, bootboys, punks, and healthy sane people everywhere! We must not tolerate this cultural poison that has for so long been a detriment to our society!

    To be emo is to be a villainous rat that, until recent history, has been forcably kept behind the walls of pestilance and evil! Of course we have only ourselves to blame for allowing these rats access to our food stores and if nothing is done than the result shall be plague!

    Late is the hour and we must act now or our entire world will be taken by a vicious regime of pillow-biting pansy emo butt-pirates!! Remember, the day will come when you shall be asked: “Where were you during the revolution?”

    Come and join the fight!

    .: Emo Hate Reich :.


  22. 23
    jhedjd on 9 Aug 2006 #

    Emo is a look, it is not a definition of a persons character or traits…just as indie is a look, otherwise why would they all dress the same….skinny jeans, tight band t-shirts, funny shoes and a trilby…maybe you should meet some so called ’emo’ people, it wouldn’t hurt.

  23. 24
    whats in a name? on 14 Aug 2006 #

    anyone remember Mr. Rogers?….i love that guy….wont you be my neighbor?

  24. 25
    Sara on 17 Aug 2006 #

    Making fun of ‘scene kids’ is fun but…
    Emo is just music, and half of the kids who believe they are ’emo’ don’t even know what kind of music it is. (Sonny Moore and such, lawl)

  25. 26
    megan on 20 Aug 2006 #

    the proberlem with this is its not true.
    Emo streiotype is that they cut each other wrist bla bla bla but thats attention seeking emo’s

  26. 27
    Sam on 21 Aug 2006 #

    You are ALL thinking of ‘scene’ kids clearly…the true emos do NOT cut their wrists nor think about it…they do NOT want to harm themselves or wear eye mascara…true emos do NOT wear tight jeans that look absolutely hideous on guys. Im emo…i admit it…but im not a scene kid! i have 2 lip piercings and an emo fringe…thats as far as emos go…the rest is purely for the ‘scene’ kids…they started dying their hair and funny enough because its not ‘uncool’ to have lip piercings have started to take them out…thats a scene kid…emos dont care what people say but they arent ignorant…’scene’ kids are the preppy kids but thought theyd be ‘different’ ad therefore have made a whole new category…otherwise known as ‘FAGGOTS’ they are low life selfish butt munchers who think its cool to be that way…ok im done…just thought id share with you all what a REAL emo is and what you all seem to think is an emo…

  27. 28
    Tom on 21 Aug 2006 #

    Sam what kind of music do real emos listen to.

    Thankyou for the post, too, tho I don’t think “FAGGOTS” as an insult is k-cool.

  28. 29
    Admin on 21 Aug 2006 #

    The Independent on nu goth/indie/emo WHATEVS

  29. 30
    greaterthings on 22 Aug 2006 #







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