There are many different definitions and descriptions for the word "emo"; usually referring to the word as a subculture or music genre. Here are some descriptions I have heard over the years:
1. Punk music on estrogen.
2. Angsty teens.
3. 16-year-olds who don't smile.
4. Melodramatic white kids.
5. Male singers in their twenties whose balls haven't dropped yet, causing them to have ridiculously high pitched voices. Or, if their testicles have in fact dropped, their pants are so tight that they cut off the circulation in the singer's testicular area, therefore raising his voice.
Over the recent years, "emo" has become a negative term. Why? What did emo ever do to you?
Here is the real problem with "emo". Nobody actually knows what it really means! There has never been a set definition for the term. It has been used to describe a genre of music, people with hair that covers half their faces, suicidal teens, and more. In 2008, however, it is mostly used as an insult accusing people of being over emotional (because god forbid a person actually feels something). Before I go into the analysis aspects of the term, let me give a brief description of the history.
The term "emo" was originally used in the 1980s to describe the hardcore punk scene in Washington D.C. (and that music does not sound like the stereotypical emo song does today). The uprising violence of the hardcore scene in the area cause some of the hardcore band leaders to experiment with a new sound (this being the starts of emo). The term has been used in many different ways since the 80s; now it is mostly used in fashion and in describing those who are shy, depressed, angsty, and suicidal.
Now for the analysis:
This country's obsession with emo is spread by things like this:
SO WATCH OUT PARENTS! Take this as a warning! IF YOUR CHILD WEARS TIGHT PANTS, HAS BLACK HAIR THAT COVERS AN EYE, SUFFERS FROM MANOREXIA AND/OR WEARS GUYLINER, THEY MAY BE ATTEMPTING SUICIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Obviously this is ridiculous. And there have been several news reports like this on television. I went to school with so-called "emo kids" and they turned out just fine. Here's another shocking revelation: an older brother of a student at my high school committed suicide a few years ago and he was an athlete!!! I know it's shocking, but it's true.
The bottom line is, being a teenager is hard, no matter what stereotype you fit in to. Adults see a "phenomenon" such as emo and overreact. "BUT WE MUST NOT REACT WITH FEAR!" Haha. Sorry. Anyways, they see this group as an "other" and react badly to what they do not understand. As a culture, we tend to reject what doesn't fit into our mold. If there is an uprising of something that is "outside the box" the mainstream culture feels threatened by the differences (hence the term sub or counter-culture). When this threat hits, the mainstream tends to focus on the extremes. For example, that news report focused on self-harm and self-mutilation. I am not denying that there are suicidal teens in the United States; but they aren't just part of this "emo culture". Here is another example of focusing on extremes: a man stood outside my work one day protesting the legal marriage of homosexuals. As my homosexual manager helped escourt him off the premise he asked the man why it mattered to him. The man's response went something like this, "First comes same sex, then comes bestiality." It is this extreme nature of our society that gives things like homosexuality, emo, and Britney a bad reputation.
Well, maybe not Britney.