Tag Archives: Mexico

Emo Nella Italia

Mexico, Russia, Egypt, AustraliaNew Zealand, and the UK, meet Italy. Anthony Smith of the Roman Forum found another tale of hatred towards emo. Here’s a taste of what Smith has to say:

A 14 year-old Roman ‘emo’ boy was hospitalised last week after he and a friend were pounced upon and severely beaten by a rival ‘truzzi’ group.

According to local daily Il Messaggero, 14-year old Giacomo had just left Piazza del Popolo, a popular spot for Roman youths to meet and hang out, and was heading to the Flaminio metro station when the ‘truzzi’ started to harass them.

Truzzi is apparently Italian slang for the American equivalent of a “bro.” From what I can gather from Italian news sources translated to English, the truzzi sound like something of a nuisance to all people, not just “emos.” And, unlike all the previous countries listed, it seems that the Italians see emo as a rite of youth rather than a cult. Here’s a rough translation from the Italian Reuters piece:

“Emo” – resulting from a subgenre of hardcore and punk music — has come to distinguish almost a philosophy of adolescent life

Pretty straightforward, and though it’s speckled with the stereotypes of yore, it doesn’t condescend. And the parents seem more worried about the truzzi youth who are responsible for hospitalizing a 14 year old (as they should). And with police having uncovered a blog that links the truzzi kids to a plan to fight the “emos,” it seems the Italians have their heads screwed on correctly. Smith even gets the fact that emo stands for emotional hardcore when he notes that emos listen to it, and his assertion of thus separates the genre from the fashionable trend that has come to define the name for people. Here’s hoping the whole mess gets cleared up quick…

When Emo Went to Egypt Land

Lookout Russia and Mexico, there’s another country that’s got emo in the public’s depress-ed eye. Egypt was recently over-run with anti-emo fervor, and as The Guardian‘s Jack Shenker tells it, the authorities and media took things way out of proportion. Go figure.

As Shenker tells it, Cairo recently saw a bloom of graffiti in the streets. And even while spray-painted scrawlings are heralded as street art in many places, it’s still seen as a nuisance. According to Shenker, the “authorities did what any sensible, level-headed authority would do – they panicked, called in state security agents, and began rounding up suspects.” And all over this:

I’d seen these photos on a blog (perhaps not the one I’ve linked to, but one similar in that I couldn’t understand what it said and it contained many similar photos) a few weeks ago, but considering I don’t know Arabic, I merely continued to bumble about the Internet, unbeknownst the connection to the city’s emo scene.

But, it seems as though the entire scene was unrelated to the country’s emo community. As the Egyptian Chronicles blog noted about the coverage of the “emo graffiti” in Youm 7:

Yesterday Monday at 11 :08 Am the newspaper published an exclusive news :The Egyptian Emos were behind the drawings downtown and that this drawing “which depicts a man with a broom , of course I did not know that”means unlimited feelings !!!!!!!!!!
According to a member from Egypt’s underground dangerous Emo group it is a message to the state security that they are not affected by these arrests that followed “Al-Hakika show” and these drawings mean that the group is too big that we think. This news was published by Ahmed Mustafa who seems to know an insider in the Emos !!
I did not believe the story and I wanted to comment on it as soon as I read it but I got engaged in Sham El-Nassim. I felt that it was an attempt by the interior ministry to hunt down the Emos again. 
Thank goodness that I waited because in 15:47 PM Youm 7 published another news , this time by Gamal Al-Shanawy , the news is saying that the interior ministry succeeded in arresting those who drew those drawings and guess what they are not Emos and may be they have not heard about them in their entire life !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They are two artists from the town house gallery  were trying to promote a new logo they invented to become the new logo of the state cleanliness campaign !!  A car technician was helping them by holding their tools. 
Now what bring the Emos in to the issue in the first place ?? Is not this a fabrication !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
I do not know why we do not put the Emos phenomena in its right size. 

In which case, it seems as if all of this was a big misunderstanding, but at the expense of the country’s emo followers. It certainly isn’t the first time an underground culture has been misinterpreted by the Egyptian government. As Mark Levine notes in Heavy Metal Islam‘s chapter on Egypt, the city’s metal scene was under siege by authorities in the 90s under suspect of Satanism. Of course, these calls for concern were untrue, but it certainly set the city’s scene back.

The same looks to be said of emo, ever since there was a program on Dream TV back in March “exploring” the culture. Though according to Shenker, it wasn’t much of an expose as it was a beating ground:The “backlash” against emo-culture actually began before the street-art controversy, when the host of El-Hakika (The Truth), a top-rated talk-show on Dream TV, devoted an entire episode back in March to the alarming phenomenon of emos in Egypt. In it he grilled a number of self-identified emos, including one gutsy student named only as Sherif who persistently interrupted the presenter and callers to insist that the emos were not an organised movement and were not all gay. “The idea is that there is nothing wrong with admitting that you are emotional,” he said defensively. The host, Wael El-Ibrashi, disagreed. “Look, no one can tell you how to wear your hair,” the presenter conceded generously, “But when that becomes a group philosophy, it’s worrying.”

Considering the negative approach to emo taken by the program, it’s not unthinkable to see the mainstream cower in fear of a culture they don’t quite understand. After all, the same thing happened in Mexico after emo was dissed on a popular music TV program, and that was just last year. More pieces continue to crop up railing against emo, even though it appears to be just as harmless as any other subculture or (dare I say it in the guise of this blog, but it’s still a relevant word) fad. Check out the slightly-racist ramblings in the hilariously-titled “‘Emus’ Terrorize Cairo” piece originally found in Middle East Features:

wear their hair swept forward like Asians…

Granted, that does come from a translation of another website, but the information continues to be distributed as a piece of news instead of observing it under the microscope. And then there are the anti-emo Facebook groups, which doesn’t exactly feature some emo-friendly fare:

Picture 16

True, it is Facebook, and rarely anything of cultural relevance actually is driven by the website except for Facebook itself (how many profile pictures or status updates spurn real-world action?) but the sentiment declared by Bassem displays a strong sense of hated that seems undeserved (though who can say what any “emo” had personally done to him, but I don’t want to make excuses…)

As Shenker wisely notes, it’s the youth of Egypt that ultimately suffer the consequences, having to bear the brunt of a confused society and, in the case of Egypt, police inquisition. None of these are pleasant consequences, and in a country that, according to Shenker, has a large youth unemployment rate, it’s not unthinkable that the Egypt’s youngsters want to find some way to rebel… It’s just a shame that wearing a bit too much eyeliner could land someone in jail.

Mexico’s Human Rights Issue: Emo

Sure enough, just as the one-year anniversary since the anti-emo riots in Mexico approaches, The AP reports that those who are emo in Mexico may still be in danger of discrimination. Here’s the report:

 

“MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission says that followers of the youth music and fashion trend known as “emo” have suffered discrimination and violence, and recommends sensitivity training to prevent it.

Emos often wear long bangs and skinny pants, and listen to angst-ridden music. The youths were heckled and harassed in a pair of incidents in central Mexico in early 2008, aggressions apparently fueled by an Internet hate campaign by other youths.

The government rights commission says an investigation shows emos “have suffered violence and discrimination both by authorities and the public at large.”

It recommended the government provide diversity training in schools and anti-discrimination training for law enforcement personnel.”

 

…And already the blogs are up and making fun of this declaration… who knows how the backlash could actually affect those individuals in Mexico who feel any brunt from society, no matter what kind of subculture they apply their lives to.

One Year After Mexico’s Anti-Emo Riots…

Last year, Mexico City was the scene of an all-out subculture battle that shook the country to its very soul.

Or so the media made it seem.

And so the media made it. Period.

The very reason I was upset by the illogical and false comments by a “journalist” from the Louisville Parent Examiner was because of the influential hold that the media – all types of media at that – have an influence over those who read it. The press are supposed to be the watchdogs of the public in a democracy, with the media informing society about their world around them. But what happens when the details are fabricated, when lies are thrown in? What happens then?

Last year, it was the “anti-emo riots” in Mexico City. What began as some Internet-fueled complaints about emo from those clearly not involved in the scene, local popular MTV Telehit host Kristoff launched some complaints against emo. Next thing you know, there are some scuffles between punks and metalheads against emos in Glorieta Insurgentes Plaza and the media take up the story and make it a headline issue. And then more outbursts involved in these youth subcultures.

Today, as Mexico’s News reports, once the media attention died down, so too did these occurrences. Here’s more:

 

“Fernando Aguilar, a professor of youth politics at the UNAM, said that urban groups largely coexist peacefully, and that their members have been unfairly marked as dangerous and aggressive as a result of a few isolated incidents.


‘The media create a supposed rivalry between these groups, a rivalry that doesn’t exist,’ he said.”

 

And there it is. In print (or online). A message infiltrated into the media, for the media. And there’s more:

 

“Benjamín Flores Esquivel, an 18-year-old dark [Note: “dark” is slang in Mexican culture for metalhead], skates off a curb with a few of his friends, some emo, some ‘raztecas’ reggae fanatics.


‘The fighting between groups is stupid, and it happens in a moment of craziness,’ he said, fiddling with his pentagram necklace. ‘For me, it’s easy to exist with people from other groups.’

Vividiana Aguiar Cinta, also 18, agreed. 

‘Not all punks harass emos. They’re friends,’ she said while passing through the plaza. 

‘Fighting comes from intolerant people.'”

 

‘Nuff said.

 

YouTube clip of Kristoff’s show on emo that apparently (according to a poorly-made translation of the post, by the individual who posted the clip) “started” the riots nearly one year ago:

1st Emo Altercation of 2009

Sure, 2008 had it’s fire and brimstone moments for emo, what with the violent outbursts in Mexico, the “cult suicide” in the U.K., and the proposed ban on the genre in Russia. But in just over a week of 2009, it appears that the name of emo is already being dragged through the mud.

This time, the culprit and location of the negative emo outburst is Australia. The Brisbane Times‘ Andrew Wight on an unfortunate incident that occurred in the fair town:

“About 11pm, police say an argument started between a group of teenagers walking along Dawson Parade and a skinny man in his early 20s with a Mohawk hairstyle and dressed in a black button-up jacket, long black socks, long black shorts and a black shirt with white braces.

The argument deteriorated into a physical altercation and police allege the man then threatened the two teenagers with a knife.”

Well, you can see where this story is headed. And with two teens in the hospital, The Brisbane Times might not be helping the case by projecting a negative and incorrect stereotype. Nowhere in the article is the word “emo” name-checked, and yet the headline blares the following:

‘Emo’ stabs teens after street fight

Granted, this may be the editors’ choice to throw emo into the article title and not necessarily Wight. But, considering journalism’s place in society is to tell people the truth and facts of a situation rather than promote sensationalist stereotypes (ok, clearly that doesn’t always work out), the headline is something an ombudsman should quickly make note of. The regalia of the attacker is that of a typical “punk” more than anything else, right down to the stereotypical mohawk. So, if anything, this is an “injustice” (I realize my argument may be trite, but it happens) to an already pervasive negative stereotype against emo. And now people will just be more confused. Moreover, that violent image will be projected on teens other than those who may identify as emo and has the potential to become something of a stigma in Australian society. Obviously, this is looking way down the line, but the editorial mis-reading of a situation where people have been harmed may cause more damage in the long run than good.

An Introduction

Before things begin, I shall kick things off with the words of someone else. Ted Rall is a witty, no-holds-barred political cartoonist with a wonderful sense of humor. Shamefully, I don’t read his weekly comics as often as I’d like to/should. But, as I flipped through the most recent edition of the Weekly Dig, I noticed something particularly alarming. Take a look:

Ted Rall\'s Misconception

No, it wasn’t Rall’s commentary on Obama that was striking (although that is a particularly interesting comment on Obama’s policy, though I often feel that Rall reads in between the lines a bit too much… but that’s part of the humor of absurdity). It was Rall’s quick side-swipe at emo. For someone who combs through detail after detail in the search of the elusive truth in modern politics, the fact that he managed to quickly label emo as crap with his humorous jab is a bit frightening.

Now, I may have gotten ahead of myself or gotten off to a bad start. So, let me rewind here and explain:

This blog isn’t meant to be a place of bitter complaints and sideswipes. I can easily see the humor in Rall’s use of emo as an aural weapon for torture (in fact, I myself have done the same thing in the past, equating jam-based act OAR with musical punishment). I’m not getting needlessly upset by Rall’s quick side-comment; this is simply a starting place for my general frustration with our society’s close-mindedness as seen through the microcosmic scope of emo.

So, rather than complain and or try in vain attempts to change certain individuals’ perspectives on emo, I shall write my thoughts and concepts on the culture in this blog for anyone who is open-minded enough to see it. Of all the pop phenomenons to dominate the American mainstream and be a face of our country’s cultural output, emo has had a terrible rep. It’s been labeled a suicide-hungry cult. It’s apparently been the root cause of teenage violence and cultural friction in Mexico. It’s even been blamed for the death of a 13 year-old in the UK. And to think that a few years ago people thought of it as harmless love songs for punks.

If only things were so easy. To think, we could blame some cultural product for all of life’s problems. If that were the case, we wouldn’t really have to worry that much about anything. So, there are two options we as a society can take: start an anti-emo cult petition to fictitiously solve all our ails, or try and solve our problems not by blaming them on outside sources, but by making constructive attempts to work towards an actual solution.

Making an attempt to understand emo couldn’t hurt. In fact, solutions and emo should be thought of as being hand-in-hand. When the cultural movement and sound that was originally tagged as “emo,” short for “emotional hardcore,” arose, it was at the center of a community looking for self-improvement. Back in 1985, the DC punk scene was going through a Renaissance. After suffering the downfall of hardcore punk into violent, bigoted chaos, a handful of forward-thinking youngsters in the DC area decided to make a positive change. Centered around Dischord, the DIY record label home to DC’s most prominent hardcore acts, a burst of creativity surged through teens who had seen the best and worst of the underground hardcore movement. These individuals began to form bands that subverted the usual hardcore histrionics, taking the passion and power of hardcore and slowing it down, pumping it with a pop-friendly sense of musicality, and packing it with cunning lyrics imbued with ideas about change, maturity, community, self, and politics. And politics. They began to protest the Apartheid in South Africa and become more involved in the local DC community, with a particular bent towards helping the underprivileged communities of their fair city. And it was doomed to be called emo.

Since then, emo has spent two decades-plus in the American wilderness so to speak. For decades, emo thrived in the underground, changing and evolving with each community that was touched by it, until it’s come to the present state of popularity and misconception. But more on that later.

This blog will be more than a simple lesson in history. Some entries (in fact, most) will not even directly be associated with emo. To be truthful, most of what is commonly referred to as emo today simply doesn’t affect me in the way that the emo of previous years has. Of course, there are plenty of exceptions, but alas, that is not the rule (and that may be one of the reasons why emo is generally thought of as terrible). But, whatever may crop up, I will inevitably find a way of connecting it with emo. Be it political debates, zombie movies, football, current subcultural movements, I will find a way of connecting it to emo… or at least try to. I’ll mostly touch upon the music that I find particularly appealing, and if it isn’t within the realm of emo, I’ll connect it to what I feel is one of the most important cultural forces in recent years.

Why is emo so important? It could be the fact that, unlike any other genre of pop music and its reflexive culture (with the exception of rock, which seems to include every form of pop), emo has covered the most rugged, twisted, and adventurous path. It could be the fact that it’s evolved in ways that mirror the various sub-genres of rock, yet it all seems to be contained within an odd three letter word. It could be the fact that, whatever the band from whatever year, nearly any fan of rock or pop could find an act that they could connect with. It could be the fact that with all its changes and intents, emo is one of the greatest reflections of our society. Or it could be the fact that emo simply is, and has been, an amorphous blob that’s been anything to anyone over decades of time.

This blog is called “Perfect Lines,” a title I cribbed from a song by 1990s emo wunder-band The Promise Ring. The Promise Ring is an act that I admire in particular for the cunning use of language that makes each song so vibrant. Singer Davey Von Bohlen’s words seem to bleed into each other, creating a sense of boundless ideas that make each listen a new experience. The lyrics are like little treasures that continue to give long after the gold has been found. Or just amazing puns that aren’t corny. I hope that my writings in this blog are similar to Von Bohlen’s capacity as a songwriter; the kind that always seem to have something new to say, where ideas are intertwined with a certain sense of ease. Simply put, I hope to write perfect lines.

The Promise Ring – \”Why Did Ever We Meet\”

(Sorry folks, it’s not “Perfect Lines,” but it is another great song by The Promise Ring off the same album – “Nothing Feels Good”)