emo is the new goth?

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according to Bones, Fox's latest forensic drama and David Boreanaz vehicle, smug, angsty teens dressed in black and sporting lip-piercings are... emo? i suppose this is what i get for tuning in to mediocre primetime television (sadly, i have class when Veronica Mars airs on Tuesdays). last night's episode turned on the classic plot twist where the most likely suspect, in this case, the spooky teen, is absolved of the crime in favor of the less obvious "normal" character, his pageant-contestant younger sister (the emo teen, on the plus side, was played by cutie Kyle Gallner, whose quirky character on Veronica Mars was not similarly redeemed).

it's the character's mother, however, that outs him to the audience as "emo," and expresses her revulsion and despair at his sartorial choices. on the one hand, the show seems to be trying to keep up with the times and with current trends in youth culture. but on the other, the imagery of the angsty teen in black mostly serves to reproduce adult fears about youth as rebellious and violent, and doesn't seem particularly grounded in "emo" style or affect at all.

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I'm confused by this post. What would you say constitutes emo style? I think that there's a *huge* blur between contemporary emo and early 80s goth. When i talk to teens, they see goth as the industrial version. Emo is full of black and woe-is-me and whatnot. I actually think that the Hope is Emo parodies are really good as highlighting what emo means today.

well, for the media's purpose, it doesn't matter what constitutes "real" emo style. my understanding of emo as a subculture is admittedly limited -- it began as emotive hardcore, and now seems to refer to mopey hipsters and bands like My Chemical Romance.

what i find interesting is how one subcultural image seamlessly replaces another in media representations -- dark, mopey and pierced was once shorthand for goth, but now gets labeled "emo." the image of the dangerous, rebellious teen persists even as particular styles change (admittedly, in the TV show, the teen's "style" was pretty generic). and before it was goth, i'm sure there were images of punk kids and skinheads and other "deviant" postwar youth.

i think these associations, however, help explain at least a little why many parents feel dismay when their kids want to get piercings and dress a certain way -- to young people, it may signal identification with a subculture that's meaningful to them, but to adults, those style markers may read as anti-social, a rejection of parental values.

What do you think?

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This page contains a single entry by jordan published on November 2, 2006 2:19 PM.

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goth isn't dead, just aging is the next entry in this blog.

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