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October 2, 2006 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]


Why did the man want his grass to be emo? So it would cut itself.

That’s right, laugh it up. Emos, or emotives, are a new, watered down breed of Goths. With a desire for poetry, selfdeprecation, depression and tight, black stovepipes, emos have become somewhat of a pop culture icon.

Emos slowly skulk around a mall near you, lamenting their tedious existence in the melancholy parade of misery that is their lives. With Ipods blaring, and faces not caring, their eye makeup tells a woeful tale of teenage angst and unheeded calls for help. Usually found in packs, though some prefer the misery being a loner forges, emos love to hate. Emos are not to be confused with emus – flightless birds that love to bite people and run really fast (though they do share one emu mannerism that of sticking their head in the ground… is that the Ostrich?) Either way, emos are not birds.

Experts (people on the internet) have tried, but failed at isolating what causes the emo condition. Some blame it on the high divorce rate, and the subsequent disintegration of the family. Some have tried to blame it on the MTV-generation hangover. This refers to the idea that a new generation of consumers are beginning to question the merits of the commercialized world, and therefore have a burning desire to find fault with everything the mainstream world has to offer. Some believe that emos are just pussy assed bitches who complain too much and spend too much time writing on their MySpace pages about their pathetic lives.

I think we are getting somewhere here. Emos are motivated by the sense that they are somehow different to everyone else. They strive to not be mainstream. Yet ironically, in this pursuit for individuality, they are caught in a cat and mouse game with a catch 22 situation. In trying not to be conformists, they conform to the nonconformist’s model. Confused? You’re obviously not emo enough.

Emos, though they never wanted to be, have become a mainstream trend. My somewhat lacklustre and stereotyped description of emos above would get me in trouble with my emo friends. They cringe when people refer to emos as those that have long fringes and partake in self mutilation. In fact, being emo is not really about style at all. To be truly emo, you must have a deep seeded interest, or indeed a love for emo music. Being emo has something to do with being sensitive to the feelings of others. If you listen to the lyrics of emo music, from the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, The Starting Line or Dashboard Confessional, you soon get the impression that all these people do all day is lament lost girlfriends, missed opportunities and the state of the world. Indeed, emos always seem to be moaning about something not right in their lives. Very rarely does a song deal with the good things in the emo songwriter’s life.

I am not ashamed to admit that I am a fan of emo music. Emo was born out of the punk genre, and as such uses catchy melodies, and fast paced rock which really gets the blood pumping. Before the term emo became fashionable, which was around the time My Chemical Romance went mainstream, emo music was somewhat of an underground music movement. That is to say, the music provided an escape for those not satisfied by the ‘popular’ music the mainstream had to offer.

Like any genre of music, emo songs tell stories. But it seems the stories they tell relate really well to how the outcast youths feel about who they are. I hear you asking, why is this television column about emos? I could have an extremely valid and emotional motive, I am sick of the term emo being thrown around out of context, for example. However the real reason is, after witnessing a rather humorous scene in a recent episode of Scrubs, where an emu is seen wearing a red hat, I really wanted to mention emus before the year was out. But writing a column completely about emus would have been a bit strange.

Hopefully my column has educated you somewhat on what an emo really is, and perhaps will even motivate you to check out some of the music. Some of it really is good.


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Comments (79)

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  1. mydeath says:

    that is true but not true.. there is no good in life but there is music. music isnt just music. it helps kill the pain of depression

  2. vast says:

    the only true manifesto of suffering is the blues/jazz/hip-hop tradition…

    by comparison, these limp-wristed pasty white kids might make good music, but it’s certainly not great music. not compared to the clash, g.o.f, either

  3. poo says:

    just leave emo’s alone. gosh.

  4. i says:

    wat is everyones obsession with the emo/emu comparison. i no that both words sound similar and they are both shaggy creatures, but the similarity ends there. haha nightline sux.

  5. Your mum. says:

    Wow. I honestly don’t think you got one thing right about the so called ’emo’ genre.
    Do some ‘real’ research then write something that might actually be true….

  6. Christopher Rae says:

    Fuck, “I hate the world, and the world hates me” Fuck.

  7. Noddy says:

    salient doesn’t do ‘real’ research

  8. Emo poet says:

    boisand girz of emo

    Emo follows Nemo in Te Aro
    As prego follows lego in the Hutt.
    Emo is ‘O me!” backwards
    And fitted pants are the stuff
    If you have toothpick legs and a tiny muff.

    Yes, Emo is okay with me
    So long as only girlz partake
    I like dem skiny pants on da ladies
    But not on the weepy boys skinny as rakes,
    For whom prentending to be gay
    Is the fashion of the day
    For who long hair is a kind of queer
    submission to their lack of (lady) breaks.

    Oh if only bois were not emo,
    and if only emo girls wore lace.

  9. Nick says:

    Hey “Noddy”

    Fuck you. Having been a feature writer all year I am really sick of people like you about the the lack of “real” (who are you, Baudrillard?) research. Mostly I’ve taken it with good grace and tried to make a bit of a joke out of it, but you’ve managed to get under my skin with your ignorant and sweeping comment. For god sake’s this is a COLUMN you’re commenting on, column’s are about opinion, not meticulously researched facts. I put in 20 hours plus researching my final feature on NCEA, and talked to over a dozen people from secondary schools, the teriarty sector and the government.

    So, please, take your blanket statements and keep them to yourself, or better yet, do some fucking research yourself before you go firing your ignorant mouth off.

  10. devilsadvocate says:

    I don’t understand emos or other minority groups out there why must people feel the need to have a sense of belonging, why can’t they just be themselves and not give a fuck about fitting in and belonging. I remember hearing about emo music 8 years ago with bands such as handsome and rival schools but i don’t think emos look like what they are now i think most emos, not all, are just confused teens. he he i did like your emu comparison though you should do an article on gunks (goth/punk hybrid) they are just as funny looking, plus if you look at them through their personal history’s you’ll find most of them are just geeks trying to look different.

  11. Ravenous Ryan says:

    Wow….this really stirred up a lot of shit. My lack of research? Well DUH! Im a fricken third year who works 30 hours a week and has a social life. Do you really think i’d spend 10 hours researching something i already have a fairly good grasp on? I’m very familiar with emo music, and was pretty much taking the piss. Note that i said my observations were inaccuate. Why did i say this i hear you ask? Because i was trying to convey the point that emo’s can’t be pidgon holed. Also, I cant spell the word pidgeon. Never have. never will be able to. Its a gift. Sparrow, now there’s a word you can set your watch to.

  12. Nath Hodge says:

    stop talking bwt killing ure self an jst bloody do it!!

  13. Ravenous Ryan says:

    Touche. Though the effect/validity of your message was somewhat let down by your extreme miss use of the english language. Uze is da mn. I wsh I ws kl lyk u. Haha. By the way, suicide is no joke.

  14. Bob says:

    Hello i am emo

  15. No hoper says:

    I am an emo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. No hoper says:

    I am a cool emo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Franky Boy says:

    Hi Emopoet

    Would you consider collaborating with me on a volume of offensive poetry?



    p.s. vaginismus

  18. Franky Boy says:

    Ravenous Ryan, you are the one making jokes about self-harm. i.e., “so it would cut itself”. Those who live in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones, lol.

  19. Johnny Funtime says:

    Hmmm. I’d been thinking about emo for a while and had a big email rant to someone last week. The folowing is what ensued:

    I think emo bashing is pretty lame, and weak comedy, even for cheap laughs.

    Firstly because emo is soooo old and slagging it off is just the mainstream trying to be hip ten years too late. Emo began in the 80s as hardcore with more thoughtful lyrics (which, in my opinion, is a very good thing) and then was appropriated by suburban pop-punk (somehow merging with that thing Weezer had going in the mid-90s, and most recently going “black” with the neo-popularity of metal) and got mocked throughout the 90s by the same punk scene that spawned it. Anyone with a remote knowledge of 90s american pop-punk (Green Day, Rancid, NOFX, Blink-182, Offspring) knows that hassling emo is such a cliché. Get some new material already!;

    Secondly, because it’s really stupid to lump one whole group of humans into a subculture that defines them. Cultural and sub-cultural identification is common accross the entire world, and although some people dress and act a certain way, it’s a huge generalisation to say that they signify a particular word. It’s also important to note that the 05 emo fashion is wholy different to 90s emo fashion (preppy sweaters, green check-shirts and black rimmed glasses) or 80s emo fashion (shaved heads and smelly, ripped tee-shirts). Self-mutilation is a lame sterotype that people have joked about and the media has perpetuated. It is not linked to the musical genre ;

    which leads me to Thirdly, because the word “emo” is so loosely defined as a musical genre or sub-culture, when in fact the entire popular music nexus has moved to a more emotional undertone since the end of the 90s in terms of more political, philosophical and emotional lyrics, rather than songs titled “We like to party”, “Don’t want no short dick man” or “Ugly (you ain’t got no alibi)” (which, in my opinion is a good thing). Emo could quite easily apply to most alternative rock music popular today and is very closely interelated to the current popularity of indie rock (which I love, for the record);

    and Lastly, because what’s so bad about being in touch with your emotions, anyway?

    So to conclude this rant: don’t be ashamed of your tight black jeans. They are only a sub-cultural signifier to the ignorant and stupid. The contemporary music *might* by whiny and the fashion sometimes poorly thought-out, but if music that we dislike did no exist, then not only would the world be so much more uninteresting, but most music fans (especially indie-loving student magazine reviewers) would lose the identity that so implicitly relies on their own music’s exclusiveness.

    Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

  20. Holden Iscariot says:


  21. Jemima says:

    Serious question: Why do so many emos dress like Hamburglar?

  22. Noddy says:


    How much research did you do on your mole men piece? A lot of research? Did you interview the mole men? All of them?

  23. James says:

    That mole men piece was hell! You try tracking down those little bastards. And then when we got a hold of them, they left little tiny pore prints all around the office.

  24. Michael says:

    Noddy should stop fagging up this website.

  25. Emo poet says:

    Hi Franky

    Lets do it

  26. Noddy says:

    sorry Michael.

    I mean I’m really sorry for being gay and all

  27. Michael says:

    “Noddy ongoing story”

    Noddy watches episode of season one South Park, writes down zingers to use on Salient website

    to be continued

  28. The Jew says:

    lol, oh noddy.

  29. ravenous ryan hater says:

    im sinking into a black abyss, surrounded by darkness
    . . . i must be emo?

  30. The Jew says:

    i killed your fucking lord, noddy

    what have you?

  31. Ravenous Ryan says:

    No Ravenous Ryan Hater, you’re not emo. You should probably lay off the P for a while though.

  32. The Jew says:



  33. Noddy says:

    killed him with a cluster bomb did you

  34. Noddy says:

    wow that came off racist. sorry.

  35. The Jew says:

    the reason noddy’s hat has a bell is so blind-old big ears knows when he’s going down


  36. Sloppy says:

    I dont know whats your problen with Em0’S

  37. Ravenous Ryan says:

    That didn’t even make sense sloppy. I don’t personally have a problem with emos…What i have a problem with is the way the term is being thrown around, so i voiced my opinion on the matter :)

  38. HipHipHooray says:

    You are all emos. Emotional wrecks. Move on. Go to church.

  39. Laura says:

    I like emos. The Hamburglar girl makes a good point.

  40. King Emo says:

    I find this article offensive to my kingdom. Please refrain from ever offending my kingdom or its lucrative razor-blade industry again.

  41. SloppyMuffinBreasts says:

    Ladies, ladies, ladies. Would you stop and look at the shit you are spitting? It’s EMO’S for fuck sakes, razor loving, floppy haired, skinny legged, lip pierced little wrist splitters. MySpace worshipping little cunts who love poetry and Bic razor blades. There is a whole range of different things to discuss with a more meaningful existence, toilet paper for example. Andrex or Charmin? Oh the confusion of it all…Personally, if I ever catch hold of an emo I will shave its little depressed head, give it some plasters (for the wrists) and a box of fucking valium. I would hand them a card with The Samaritans phone number on and give it a pat on the back for luck. I would hand it some baggy jeans and a box of Snickers bars, give him an MP3 with a 50 CENT compilation and tell him to come back in two weeks for a repeat fucking prescription. There are more important things in life than fucking crying…watch some South Park or do something constructive for fuck sakes. Do you’re bit for society, kill a chav! THERE’s a topic for discussion!! Come on people, we need a Mighty Moshin Anti Chav Campaign.

  42. Ravenous Ryan says:

    Sounds like your kind is the one that needs culling mate :)

  43. SloppyMuffinBreasts says:

    Ooo that’s harsh – and exceedingly narrow minded. I don’t have a ‘kind’, no friends or relatives. I was hatched out of a Mcvities crumb and now I am a pair of full formed breasticles. Sloppy but fully formed nevertheless. Who uses the word ‘mate’ now anyway? Dude, catch up for fuck sakes.

  44. Mate is a perfectly excellent word, and it fits with my current state of ‘im going to australia in 2 months.’ The whole sloppy breasts thing creeps me out. It forms one of those images in my head that causes me to shudder. The muffin part of your name makes me hungry for a muffin. Funny that.


    …………………. ive got new socks on……………. actually im not wearing socks mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm toe jam stop my breathing and slit my throat…………. i must b emo, i dont jump around when i go to shows… i must b eeeeeemmmmmmoooooo TOE JAM elmos betta

  46. sloppymuffinbreasts says:

    Toe jam – that’s just scary. Jeez, I thought I was a little bit unhinged…

  47. emo_kid_sad_life says:

    emo is no joke i sould know i am one and im not changing hang on i just need 2 cut myself thats better

  48. Ravenous Ryan says:

    I hope you went up and not across. Any true emo knows cutting across your wrists is for kiddies. I have an extremely emo pic of myself…its totally emo. Its not my space emo, but its emo never-the-less.Wish i could post it up here! Then i’d be uber :P

  49. go die says:

    to the gaps in my veins never whole again to the scars on my wrist never to heal to my blade stained crimson forever

  50. Ravenous Ryan says:

    Crimson forever? You need to learn to take better after-care of your tools. A long soak in hot soapy water should clean that blade right up.

  51. anonymous says:

    i still dont get what emos are tho…so can sumone please define it, or narrow it down for me..thanx lol

  52. Gloomspawn says:

    Emos will never be tough-enough to put the pedal to the METAL; to thrust in the soul of crust; to adore the gore.

    why settle
    for anything


  53. mosh lol says:

    I’m emo.
    Can I have my free snickers bar and my 50 Cent compilation

  54. Ravenous Ryan says:

    To anonymous above….the point of my column is that you cant define it, or narrow it down. The medias fascination with the trerm ’emo’ at the moment is akin to last years fascination with metro’s. You can slap a label on anything, or anyone, but a label is so subjective that its a relatively pointless pursuit. Emo’s, like punkers, rockers, metal heads, gansta’s, tech heads etc etc are just another superficial face, or perhaps a generalised representation of a particular type of music fan. Ahhh the burden of representation, the media fails us so so well on thgis front *rolls eyes*

  55. Gloomspawn says:

    I can’t believe this discussion is still going on. Shut the fuck up, all of you.

  56. do says:

    Pretty good call ryan, reminds me of my macho, “drink a fucken crate boy yea” mates telling me im emo cause i have long hair and wear black jeans while they listen to my chemical romance, shit music i wouldnt touch with a ten-foot pole. never mind that good punk and post punk musicians also wear the percieved tags of emo-hood, (long hair and tight jeans), and skaters, surfers and even some hip-hop artists are starting to realize that clothes that fit (i.e. what ignorant pricks call tight) are both comfy and look good. Also would like to ask all the fucking retards who make emo/cutting jokes to have a little think about what it might be like to have a fucking DISEASE called depression which makes life a little hard for some people, and a similarly not-fun obsession called self-mutilation which im pretty sure anyone who makes those kind of jokes obviously has no experience of, second-hand or otherwise. if youve ever seen the scars you realize its not funny, its not fun, and you really have no clue how shit someone must feel to do that to themself. it would also be nice if these assholes realized that these people do not necessarily dress ’emo’, and that not all ’emos’ have these two related problems. i agree some teens are just grasping at an ’emo’ style and attitude to define themselves but are we too fucking insecure to just leave these confused kids alone?
    why is it that the people that know the least about something feel the most entitled to blow shit out their ass/comment on the topic (i.e. sloppymuffinbreasts, nath hodge, etc.)?

  57. Ravenous Ryan says:

    Because its easier for them to make fun of other people than realise that their identities are defined not by them. but by their inability to be individual, i.e, have to drink a crate to be deemed cool by other drink a crate people. In saying that i love getting absolutely shit faced, but not every night of every weekend. So many ‘jocks’ i used to know from school etc are on the brink of being dirty alcoholics its just not funny..they’re the kind who think their bulletproof, hop in their phat rotor au, and drive when their pissed. Clorine in the gene pool anyone?
    I have mates who used to cut, not because they are emo’s but because they suffered from depression.

  58. Just Me says:

    lol, people who rant.

  59. yes that si y i luv emo music
    the darkness without the heavyness and the totally catchy tunes
    sum males look better EMo
    like gerard way

  60. ME says:

    dear SloppyMuffinBreasts
    50 cent sucks
    lil jon is better
    me emo and i like hip hop too u kno
    emo music so much better
    with slash slashy slash slash

  61. Gloomspawn says:

    I’m so high right now

  62. Sachy says:

    this may not be the best place to ask, but anyone know what bands will be performing during vic o-week? canty and otago have their orientation stuff up, but there’s nothing on the vic or vuwsa websites

  63. Ravenous Ryan says:

    Nofx!!! Or so i’ve heard…theyre supposed to be playing with Kitsch. I’m going to be in Aus at the time though :( But fate have intervened and NoFx will be playing in Melbourne the night i land there :D Good ttimes.

  64. Chris Bull says:

    Oh god, this (I know this is late but wahtever) completely misses and misappropriates emo music. – Read this. It covers the REAL roots of emo from the D.C hardcore scene of the 80’s (a point which you and most ignorant, self-righteous assholes who try to jump on the trend bandwagon and bash “emo” conveniently ignore as it serves to give “emo” a pedigree far beyond that of which you’d like to see it endowed with). I know this is an opinion piece so nothing in the article really has to be worth shit, but this trendy emo bashing pisses me off, another example of the conservative, dedicatedly mainstream assholes who populate our society trying to threaten what they (clearly) don’t understand

  65. Laura says:

    Sachy: Bands for Ori include NOFX (yes, THE one and only NOFX), Juliette and The Licks (fronted by actress Juliette Lewis), Mad Professor, Odessa, Kitsch, Katchafire, dDub, Phoenix Foundation, an A Low Hum show, a rad Ska-B-Q line-up and a bunch of acts also playing at Uni around lunchtime-o’clock through O-week.

    VUWSA is currently in the process of updating its website with Ori acts, and more will be revealed in Salient’s Orientation Issue, which comes out Feb 19.

  66. Sachy says:

    Wicked, thanks Laura! The line up looks really good, should be some very interesting gigs to go see.

  67. ravenousryan says:

    Chris…do you understand? Funny how my column came accross as emo bashing when it blatently wasn’t doing anything of the sort. What you fail to see is that the ’emo’ i referred to had almost nothing to do with the ’emo’ you are referring to. No shit emo has its roots, but the emo being thrown around in the mainstream media has nothing to do with the music, and everything to do with a passing interest in a culture that has been born out of the emo branch of punk rock. In other words, the column may have been about emos, butits overall moral if you will is that themedia will always take things and bend/twist/skew them to capture a larger audience (media 101, i know *rolls eyes*)
    My column was never about truely exploring ’emo’ but was merely a way for me to point out that the term had become a runaway, in terms of its misuse and misrepresentation by mainsteam media. I’m sure you will sleep better at night knowing that youknow the roots of emo music though. But perhaps you need to chill when it comes to expecting everyone to know and respect the roots of a genre that frankly most people don’t give a damn about ;)

  68. Shred Durst says:

    Are W.A.S.P emo ?

  69. Michael says:

    I’m so glad that we, the undeterred university masses, FINALLY have something to get all riled up about. Thank you, each and every one of you. This has been marvellous.

  70. Mindy says:

    emo music is some of the best music out i love it to death!!!!!! and as for emo guys in skinny jeans – the are bloody HOT !!!!!!!!! so don’t diss !!!

  71. ... says:

    Fuck emos… listen to hip hop

  72. ravenousryan says:

    I am now living in Australia, and thought i’d share a rather amusing story related to emo’s.
    On a rainy, non-fruit picking day me and two aussie boys headed to Melbourne for a day. Now, we all know that I have a facisnation with emo’s. Well, in Melbourne a whole bunch of ’emos’ hang outside Burger KIng in large, black, make-up’d, groups doing not much at all. Me, being the dick that I am rocked on up to them and asked if I could pose for a picture with them. One of them, im guessing their pseudo, self elected leade, proceeded to hurl abuse at me (even though it was in a hushed, kind of sad tone). He stated that my intentions were surely not pure, and that we would just run off screamimg EMOO’s after the picture. Whilst trying not to laugh at his pink and red make up, I assured him that I was not going to do this, and that, in fact, i had written a column about the emo condition in an attempt to educate the masses. I also stated that I was a Kiwi, and that Kiwis wouldn’t do someting like that. He then said that the last person who screamed out emo was in fact a Kiwi. Annnnyway, I got the picutre with the Emos in the end. It was a rather random moment.Later on that night me and the aussies boys got drunk and laughed our asses off about it. Good times, good times.

  73. die romantic says:

    i love emo boys i think that thy are so fit but im not an emo my self

  74. Poodled one says:

    hahahahaha reading all these comments has been even more entertaining than the actual article i came here to read.

    well done guys.

    On another note, emo fashion is pissing me off. I went into hallensteins (buying a present for mine boyfriend) today and went over to the accessories rack.
    Hello Emo! cuffs, black and red badges… chains… What have we come to?? (And also what kind of guy in his right mind that shops at hallensteins would actually buy that stuff??) And all the emo prints (skulls in red and black etc)
    in glassons, supre and jayjays… OUR COUNTRY’S FASHION INDUSTRY IS ENCOURAGING THIS.

    Like I said, what is the world coming to?

    And I’m not an emo hater either, just to clear that up.

  75. deathonwheels says:

    okay, ive had just about enough of emo bashing.
    emo is a VALID FORM OF CREATIVE EXPRESSION- get over it people.
    thankyou, ryan for writing this article- i hope it enlightens some people out there who may in fact emo bash to the “wrong-ness” (i know it isnt a word, but it can be for a little while at least) of their actions.

  76. a hot emo says:

    I think that dissin on emos is stupid I’m emo and proud so fuck u all

  77. Felicity says:

    Well emos r like so kool i want 2 be one but i dont know wat a emo do?

  78. shiningbaby says:

    Emo boys r so kool.Well all emos r kool.

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