The general consensus then: keep your skinnys, keep the Dashboard Confessional album stashed in your car, but get over yourself. If you want to sit in the corner wallowing in self-pity, you’re on your own.

Ding, dong, the emo kid is dead.


Are you sad? Introverted? Overly sensitive? Do you find yourself habitually isolating yourself? Are you wearing purple skinny jeans right now? Do you have a long, sight-inhibiting fringe? Are you inappropriately attracted to the colour black? Do you listen to the Dashboard Confessional?


Well then, congratulations kid, you are firmly established in the province of emo.

But here is the bad news: it’s time to pack up and move on. It seems as if the time of the emo kid is coming to an end.

For example, if you walked into Jayjays a few months ago and ransacked their T-shirt shelves, chances are you would find one which read, in deep dramatic letters: “Cheer up, emo kid.” But if you were to walk in there tomorrow, you’ll find one which reads, in slightly more subdued fonts: “Reformed emo kid. 100 days without a frown.”

Of course, T-shirts are not necessarily the most exact litmus test for a pop culture change like this, so this week Perdeby decided to try and definitively chart the rise and fall of the emo kid.

The history of the emo movement, like its eclectic fashion and distinctive music, is weird and wonderful. According to Andy Greenwald, in his book, Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rockers, Teenagers and Emo, it began in the late 1980s, as a rebellion against what was then perceived as the stifling, uncreative hardcore punk music scene in America. However, this shift in musical focus, to what was then known as “emocore”, only lasted a few years and was relegated to the edges of the music scene, going relatively unnoticed by the public.

But over the next decade, the rising prominence of underground and indie bands paved the way for a reinvention of the emo label, and Greenwald credits the band Jawbreaker as the first significant “emo-esque” band of the 1990s. But it wasn’t until the breakout success of Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American that emo music became a marketable commodity and a mainstream, definable musical genre. From there, bands such as Dashboard Confessional and My Chemical Romance catapulted the emo music brand into unquestionable pop culture significance: emo, with its preoccupations with failed relationships and moody overtones, had arrived – it all its melodic, lyrically sentimental, guitar-driven glory.

Today, however, emo is much more than simply a genre of music. It has very quickly infiltrated the collective pop culture consciousness, becoming a fashion statement and, like the rock, grunge and punk movements before it, associating itself with a lifestyle and attitude.

It is this lifestyle and attitude, and not the music, which has recently found itself the object of ridicule, contempt and even outright hostility.

Last year, in the Mexican city of Queretaro, a group of emo kids were attacked by a mob chanting “kill the emos.” According to Time magazine, the incident was not about the music at all. They quote Victor Mendoza, a youth counsellor as saying, “This is not a battle between music styles at all. It is the conservative side of Mexican society fighting against something different.” Likewise, the suicide of American teenager Hannah Bond earlier this year was attributed to her fascination with the emo subculture. Not the music, but the lifestyle. Her mother is quoted as saying, “There are [emo] websites that show pink teddies hanging themselves. She called emo a fashion and I thought it was normal.” The official report on her death was also quoted as saying, “The emo overtones concerning death and associating it with glamour are disturbing [in this case].”

These are extreme, but relevant examples of the current retaliation against what is seen as a group of people who are overly emotional, self-indulgent and deliberately defeatist. So much so that the Russian parliament has recently introduced draft legislation to ban emo clothing, hairstyles and fashion accessories from schools, describing it as a negative, destructive attitude which “glamourises suicide.”

Even mainstream bands, previously sold under the emo banner have come out against the emo culture, distancing themselves from it and seemingly trying to point to the separation of the music and the lifestyle. In an interview with, Panic at the Disco related how they felt about the emo label: “It’s ignorant! The stereotype is guys that are weak and have failing relationships write about how sad they are. Emo is bullshi*t! If people want to take it for the literal sense of the word, yes we’re an emotional band, but we put a lot of thought into what we do.”

And while musicians try to navigate away from a classification which has become so imbued with negative connotations and so open to mockery, people on the street (or at least on campus) seem to have abandoned emo fashions and attitudes this year, turning instead to more indie or hippie inspired trends.

In a snap poll done by Perdeby most people agreed: emo is over. As Rosemary Blersch, a second-year BSc student put it, “Emos are still around, but in less abundance, standing on the sidelines, feeling sorry for themselves.”

The general consensus then: keep your skinnys, keep the Dashboard Confessional album stashed in your car, but get over yourself. If you want to sit in the corner wallowing in self-pity, you’re on your own.

Ding, dong, the emo kid is dead.

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