What is “emo”? Everybody does have a different explanation for it. Some people define it as either an offshoot of goth/punk music, fashion, attitude, and/or mental illness. Blowshimselfupdude makes an incredibly intelligent point about emo that I agree with: emo isn’t anything.
When people think emo it’s usually the stereotype of those who dress in the punk or goth style, supposedly suicidal and into self-mutilation ragging on everything going deaf on Marylin Manson, Disturbed, and MCR.
Before I start my rant, I’m going to give my definition of “emo”: an asshole (of any ethnicity, class, either gender) who gets overly (violently) defensive over the most trivial things (stupid shit). My targets for the last four, five years have been Uchiha Sasuke (I know he’s fictional but it’s fun) and Twifucktards (targets for abusive relationships- not cool). Usually my emos are preppies who shop at Hot Topic, Victoria’s Secret, Old Navy, and The Gap and listen to any pop bullshit MTV/VH1/Disney instructs them to.
If you insist on subscribing to the stereotype, there’s a book you should really read so you can educate yourself on the origins of emo. It’s Please Kill Me: The Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil. Unlike Smeyer who name drops and lies, I am a fan of genuine punk/rock music: The Ramones, The New York Dolls, Johnny and the Heartbreakers, Joan Jett (Runaways and Black Hearts), Iggy Pop, The Dead Boys, The Clash (first 3 albums), Blondie (the first 3 albums- I should really say 2), and, of course, The Sex Pistols. Back in the 70s this country had been going down the toilet, and New York City suffered a lot. Crime was rampant, unemployment, high inflation, and drugs were more prevalent than rats. I have seen footage and pictures of places that I hang out at in the city that I literally can’t recognize. Mom said that NYC was an empty dump back in the day.
The white flight to the suburbs of Long Island, Staten Island, upstate, Connecticut, and Jersey really depressed the city. There was literally nowhere to hang out save for Studio 54 and other disco shit, but if that wasn’t your scene, you were fucked. Then in ’73 Hilly Kristal opened up the famed CBGB’s and since he couldn’t get country acts to play (as was his original intent) he opened up for different venues which started the punk movement. Bands weren’t the only ones have the stage it was Patti Smith, William Burroughs, (actor/playwright) Sam Sheppard, and Tom Waits who did poetry readings and variations of music and theatrics.
So if you want to get into self-mutilation as a gimmick, you better look to the frontman of The Dead Boys, Stiv Bators. That crazed junkie did everything you can imagine on that stage. Iggy Pop as well, his big thing was peanut butter and chopped meat. In Dee Dee Ramone’s first book he wrote that the first time he saw Iggy Pop was at Cafe Wha? (still open) and he described the dopesick Iggy storming out onstage in just a pair of red briefs with long silver opera-length gloves pissed over the fact that he couldn’t pop a vein to get well. So then he did a number which was his band playing and him shouting “Hit it!” for 15 minutes. Then he dumped silver paint and glitter all over himself, vomited and rolled around in it. And then he told everybody to fuck off and left.
And that, my friends, is the true emo.
Now I’m not defending the bands I mentioned at the beginning of the rant because I only like 2 or 3 songs in their catalogs- if that! But I won’t classify goth, pop-punk, and metal bands as emo. Therefore, emo really doesn’t exist (anymore at least).