Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It is an insult so callously careless that we hardly think before we say it: "That's so emo..." It is a reflex response whenever we encounter something unnecessarily depressing or melodramatic, dark or self-conscious. These are the dismissals of an outsider, based upon the impressions of a subculture that can be so easily characterised and lampooned. I do it myself, I admit. I secretly chortle at the misunderstood few, draped upon the steps of Flinders Street Station. I secretly bemoan the seemingly endless stream of emo tweets and status updates, desperately crying for sympathy. It is only in recent times that I realised how carelessly callous that insult is. Its broader connotation alarms me, because that insult somehow manages to dictate how we view, value and evaluate personal expression.

I must clearly acknowledge now that I will never write a treatise in defense of emo music, simply because it is horrible. But I will forever defend the value of personal expression, whatever the ghastly sentiment. I know that many of us create in fear that we may be unnecessarily depressing, melodramatic, dark or self-conscious. I know, too, that so many of us have abandoned creative projects upon the very thought: "This is too emo, this is too emo." What incredible work could have been produced if only we hadn't been discouraged by that invisible electrical fence. What if we could have seen the value in our own work and recognised its merit, quite simply because it is an unspeakably courageous thing to put our feelings into words.

Perhaps the prevalence of this insult suggests that we live in a time where it is simply not appropriate to be so personal, so painful, so completely wretched. I suppose it makes sense, you could be doing something much more productive with your time, like reading a book or chasing a cat. But then again, I can't help but think that it reflects this embarrassed attitude we have towards depression among the community at large. I don't quite understand why, but it still seems to be something of a taboo subject. Incidents of melancholy are recounted in hushed mutterings and shameful retorts. Nobody is meant to know about it, nobody else is meant to deal with it but you. It shouldn't be this way, it really shouldn't.

Man Ray makes emo beautiful

I urge you, my loving peeps. The next time you dismiss someone as emo, think about the meaning behind that expression. Remember it takes an awful lot of courage to wear your misery like a stripey scarf. Admire it.

Cassettes & Chocolate Milk: Mod Podcast #20
The Smithereens - Strangers When We Meet
Cats on Fire - My Friend in a Comfortable Chair
The Nerves - When You Find Out
The Church - She Never Said
Elvis Costello - The Beat (Live at the El Mocambo, 1978)
Jay Reatard - Don't Let Him Come Back
The Libertines - Don't Look Back into the Sun
Jilted John - I Know I'll Never
Jimmy Soul - If You Wanna Be Happy
Ratcat - Good Buy

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