Emigrant Emo

Another day down and emo continues to spread through the world. This time, this “misguided” attempts to describe the underground culture may not necessarily be incorrect for the way the ideas of emo in its new territory. Though Siranuysh Gevorgyan’s recognition of emo’s origins runs the usual misguided list of concepts, it may be that definition in Gevorgyan’s native Armenia.

In ArmeniaNow, Gevorgyan was given the assignment to report on the teenty-tiny emo subculture of literally a handful of people in . First up, Gevorgyan’s interpretation of American emo:

Emos initially used to be fans of emo rock, and later emo culture was formed. The word ‘emo’ is derived from the English word ‘emotional.’ Emos are usually 12-18-year-olds; they wear either black or pink clothes, tight jeans, fingernails painted in black and listen to Emo music (Tokyo Hotel, AFI, Avril Lavine, etc.). (The first emo appeared in Yerevan in 2007.)

More of the usual, emo = emotional, derivative bands as definition (though curiously enough Avril Lavigne is included in that list, which is odd because 1) she’s bland pop made to look like pop-punk and 2) I can’t imagine when she was last relevant, though Armenia is a completely different world…), etc. 

But is Gevorgyan wrong about emo in Armenia? If Gevorgyan’s interviewees – Argam Babayan and Nelly Movsisyan – are getting their views properly portrayed in the article/not spun and are speaking to some sort of truth, then emo in Armenia is still in a zygotic, anything-can-go stage. Why? Here’s why:

Emo teenagers say that there are about 20-25 emos in Yerevan, however only five of them are active in the theme.

With less than 3 dozen people who consider themselves emo and an entire society that appears to look down on the culture, anything is possible for emo in the future of the country. And considering the “theme” of emo tends to be the stereotypical fashion-of-today-to-the-extreme, the majority of “emos” in Armenia ascribe to a culture unstrained by rules… as long as they keep it that way.

Is this interpretation of emo wrong though? Gevorgyan gives it the old-media shine for people with a relatively sympathetic view of the kids -the later of which is a nice change of pace. But, the culture in its native country is all about interpretation among individuals there. Much like Chinese emo, it’s very much a matter of bricolage, simply letting the youth take what they find interesting in their interpretations of emo and taking it in new directions. It’s what’s made emo last as a vibrant culture in the US for nearly twenty-five years; not being hindered by definition and spawning into new subcultures, musics, fashions, and directions.

So what to say about a comment in the article like this:

Nelly and Argam
I live in North America. The teenagers that revolt against their parents or the accepted social order, have other problems. You are just imitating something that is alien to you and because of that you are sometimes sad or happy. Because your looks does not justify your beingness. What a pity you have found something so vain like Emo. Do not imitate others. Find for your own expressions.

– Anahid Keusseyan, 2009-06-05 16:54:25

Well, it’s hard to say. It would seem that, according to Gevorgyan’s implications of emo, these two teens are simply copying an image that they see happening in other cultures. However, I would hope that they find something unique that would make them appropriate the image of emo fashion but meld it with their own attitudes and expressions. But, I honestly don’t know because I haven’t spoken to these individuals and clearly don’t know everything they’re thinking. However, considering the tough history the Armenian people have endured these recent decades and centuries, I would think (and hope) that there is a little more depth to these kids’ rebellion beyond the cute, cut-and-paste emo fashion that Gevorgyan describes. Either way, they’re doing it on their own, and that’s a solid feat, especially in the face of many a misunderstanding individual.


3 responses to “Emigrant Emo

  1. I’m consistently fascinated by all the foreign versions of emo. Partly because it’s funny to see how many degrees of bastardization are at work (the stretch from Braid to MCR) and how many more mutations are imposed by the innate cultural conflicts (Mexican emos vs. machisimo etc.). However, it can go the other way as well (notice that between a third and a quarter of the good emo from this decade has come from Italy, France and Japan).

  2. Your article is really interesting, however, i have to disagree that Avril Lavigne is emo, she obviously isn’t. Also, do check out Avril Lavigne Bandaids. Thanks

    • Hey Marilyn,

      Thanks for writing, but I’m not entirely sure that you fully read my piece. The part where it says that “Avril Lavigne is emo” was from the original article from ArmeniaNow, NOT my piece. I was merely quoting the article there to show it’s misinterpretations of American emo from an Armenian viewpoint. If that didn’t show it, then clearly the mis-spelling of “Lavigne” would have.

      If you notice, literally a sentence or two later I wrote this:

      (though curiously enough Avril Lavigne is included in that list, which is odd because 1) she’s bland pop made to look like pop-punk and 2) I can’t imagine when she was last relevant, though Armenia is a completely different world…)

      So I agree with you, she isn’t “emo” in any sense, though I can’t say that you made any case arguing against that statement even if I had theoretically written that. It’s great sharing your enthusiasm for a musician across the Internet, but please do be sure to read what is written before you randomly comment; you might have noticed that Avril Lavigne isn’t quite at the top of my “musicians I listen to list.” But, keep on trucking away with that…

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