Emo Alive, Masculinity Dead

Hawthorne Heights

From First To Last

The early to mid noughties was an exciting time to be a petulant teenager. Nu-metal was a fading memory, giving way to the heavier sounds of Metalcore, Hip-Hop had hit a commercial peak, and the land was awash with indie bands of every description (even if the main description was shit). But there was something else going on which changed the lives and attitudes of thousands of young men around the world. I’m talking off course about Emo and Screamo, twin genres which hit their absolute peak in the middle of the last decade.

Jimmy Eat World

Emo wasn’t a new genre by any stretch of the imagination, geeks like me know it started in the late eighties as an offshoot of the DC hardcore scene, but it didn’t cross over to the mainstream until a decade later. Bands like Jimmy Eat World mixed the passion and energy of punk rock with alt-rock and a lyrical disposition which focussed on sensitivity and emotional self expression. In the muscle and tats world of rock music this was a pretty daring step, but it allowed metalcore kids around the world to open up and have a good cry… in between beatdowns anyway.

Now this was all well and good at the time, and I personally loved a lot of Screamo (Emo’s shoutier little brother) bands who wrote songs about doing horrible things to girls who didn’t like them, but we’ve all grown up a lot since then and this has led to a slight problem. All these bands (and also fey indie movies like Garden State) led you to believe being sensitive, neurotic and perhaps a little damaged would work out ok, Hell! you could even end up going out with Natalie Portman. Time and bitter experience have revealed this not to be true.

Instead what we’ve ended up with is a large percentage of men who are sensitive, neurotic and definitely a little damaged, wandering around wondering why the Neanderthal chavs they went to school are happier, more well adjusted and have prettier girlfriends than them. We’re lost, the promise of the image of the “new man” it’s has been downgraded from emotionally well rounded being to football hooligan who uses Nivea and no one seems to mind. I mean I know a girl who fancies John Terry for fucks sake, that’s the reality of things.

While we were worrying ourselves into Woddy Allen-like states of despair about ending up in the friendzone (an expression that seemed to come ready made for the era) times have changed, and even the death metal kids have got on with their lives to become perfectly happy IT consultants. We have to face the fact that maybe the Taking Back Sunday blueprint for life doesn’t translate outside of the heightened emotions of being a teenager, I mean if this guy can become an international dubstep sensation, who knows what we can achieve.



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