So it goes, as there’s more news of aggression towards “emos” in the world, this time in New Plymouth, New Zealand. An article by Leighton Keith in the Taranaki Daily News appeared a few weeks ago detailing newly arising aggression towards those who appear to adhere to popularized emo fashion:
“The teenagers say they are being targeted because of the way they look and dress and are considered EMOs by the gang which includes Spotswood College students.
The group members do not consider themselves EMOs but accept their appearance does make them stand out.
They have been physically attacked and verbally threatened in town and at school by a gang of mainly Maori youths who call themselves the EMO Killers.”
You’ve got to hand it to the press for simply bringing more confusing issues to light, re: their fashion statements versus how they define themselves (emo vs non-emo). What might be a little more unsettling is what’s not the focus of the article: Keith feels free to mention that many of the youths in this alleged gang are Maori. Considering the tension that’s existed in New Zealand between Maori natives and New Zealanders of British descent has a deep, dark history, you have to wonder what kind of social norms the press is taking with this piece. Yes, the article isn’t outright claiming that Maori youth are after the rest of the country’s children, but the need to mention their race gives even more unease to what should be an average case of bullies in school.
Recently, TVNZ’s Close Up picked up the story and gave it the usual television panache and style (the sound and image are a bit out of synch, but it does the job):
Nothing like another bit of human interest sensationalism sandwiched between Hollywood entertainment pieces, no? What’s priceless is the quote that one of the attacked kids gives the reporter right after she continues to confirm emo stereotypes concerning self-harm and depression:
“they think all the emos are into self harm”
The kid admits that she was attacked simply because her style bought into a stereotype that those who have been bullying her dislike to the point that they would lash out. And what’s one place that our images and stereotypes are confirmed? Television. Even a youth who is attacked for being emo is skeptical of the claim that emos are into self-harm, and that speaks volumes.
Out of all of this, there are a couple of interesting cases: one being that the “emo” youth that are being attacked are all young women. Considering emo has the sexist blemish on its image for almost a good decade, it’s still interesting to see how many of fans of it (or perceived fans anyway) are young girls who express their independence through a different fashion and yet may abide by a subculture that supports music that sometimes degrades women. The other interesting part of this piece is that, perhaps for the first time, this is an example of mainstream press coverage that takes a sympathetic look at emos rather than the usual negative and hostile approach. Still, it all seems very out of hand and hopefully the issue will be dealt with among the students themselves.