Emo Kids Never Say Die

Sadie McGuire, Entertainment Editor

It’s hard to believe there was a time when bands composed of young men wearing black nail polish and screaming lyrics like, “I’m not okay” were considered really, really cool. For many of us, this was an age where our hearts were overwhelmed with so much perpetual sadness/anger/discontent that we found solace in these tunes, begrudgingly labeled as “emo.” Though the label of emo was often greeted with many grievances, it was one that dominated much of music, and popular culture, for a huge chunk of our adolescence, and still resonates today.

As a refresher (as though you could ever forget), here’s a crash course in the basics of emo culture. Bands included My Chemical Romance, Panic! At the Disco, Dashboard Confessional, and of course, Chicago natives Fall Out Boy. Song titles got more and more extensive (example: “I Slept with Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me”) as hair grew longer and darker. Emo boys and girls were sometimes be difficult to distinguish, because both are often characterized by long side swept bangs, leg lacerating skinny jeans, and band logo T-shirts. The emo lifestyle mainly focused on themes including depression, self-loathing, heartbreak, and suicide. Adorable, isn’t it?

Yes, looking back at our MySpace pictures with sullen faces and eyes coated in black, we’re wondering, “What was I thinking?” Of course, the whole concept of emo is incredibly bloated and self-indulgent. But with the recent backlash of everything emo, the time has come to accept what we once were. While it seems we’ve moved onto much more mature bands like MGMT or Vampire Weekend and taken our fashion sense to the stylish heights of H&M or Urban Outfitters, the little emo kid in us all must not be forgotten.

It’s hard not to complete the lyric when we hear, “Am I more than you bargained for yet?” (the answer, if it’s somehow slipped your mind, is: “I’ve been dying to tell you anything you wanna hear, ‘cause that’s just who I am this week.”) Although we may have abandoned it now, the years when emo reigned supreme will always been ones crucial to our development. Many emo bands idolized John Hughes films like The Breakfast Club or Pretty in Pink, both of which centered on the alienation and loneliness of those teenage years, and the search to find a true sense of belonging. Crucial to it all is accepting the idea that sometimes, it’s okay not to feel like you exactly “belong,” to be a misfit, to take a new stand. It may be all regurgitated 80’s cheesiness, but it’s a mission that holds true to every teenager, no matter what decade they grew up in.

Just like how our parents look back on their overly permed, overly hair-sprayed Madonna days and scratch their heads, we too will look back on our skinny pants and Vans and be befuddled. But it’s all part of growing up, and embracing the steps taken to get to where we are today.