Would You Believe that Emo Actually Sucked Worse Than You Remember It Sucking?

Ahhh the early 2000’s, right after the Telecommunications Act really started taking effect and media deregulation turned popular music into the least subversive garbage imaginable. Now, don’t get me wrong, there was then and is now more great music than ever, but the stuff that’s popular? Man does that shit suck for the most part. Has for nearly 20 years now. For a while in the tail end of the decade the music press unilaterally kept telling us Kanye West was the most brilliant musician to ever live and I was seemingly the only one to question that narrative. Great job there guys. That’s never going to come back and bite us in the ass. No way!

But before that in the early ‘aughts it was all shitty garage rock, bling rap, and of course the whole thing where people pretended lame nepotism Brooklyn bands were brilliant because 9-11. Don’t forget boring rich kid indie rock, indie rock, indie rock! What do all these genre’s have in common? None of them will lead anyone to question capitalism in any way.

The only good thing I can say about most of the popular music from that period is that it eventually went out of style, but no worries. Nostalgia shifted from retro 80’s to retro 90’s just as I predicted, so retro early 2000’s is clearly next. Can’t fucking wait. Emo was maybe the most embarrassing of all the early ‘aughts crap music though but hey, did you know it was often super misogynist in addition to being kind of rape-y? I tried my best to pretend the whole thing wasn’t happening back then so obviously I didn’t catch that, but I am not one iota surprised that a genre dominated by dudes crying about how their girlfriend’s cheated on them might be a bit emotionally brain dead. (from Sophie Benjamin’s Medium Blog):

“Around the same time Brand New’s Jesse Lacey was singing songs about wishing his ex-girlfriend would die in a plane crash because she had the audacity to do a semester of college abroad, he was coercing underage girls into sending him nudes.

When he was singing songs about plying women with alcohol and then fucking them in the carpark while they were blackout drunk, he was masturbating on webcam in front of horrified teenage girls.

These things are not unconnected. The fact that those girls felt they couldn’t publicly share what happened to them until more than 10 years later, now that they are nearly 30 years old, is no coincidence. The lyrics sung by their heroes and in bands like Brand New, Fall Out Boy, Weezer and New Found Glory set them up as prey for sensitive emo men.

In 2003 Jessica Hopper wrote about the rise of commercial emo, and the complete contempt with which the male songwriters operating in this genre viewed women. Her essay, Emo, Where The Girls Aren’t, examines the misogyny of emo in a wider context within rock music — a genre that has a long and proud history of outright misogyny and contempt for women.

Male emo lyricists, wrote Hopper, depicted women “on a pedestal or on our backs. Muses as best. Cum rags or invisible at worst.”

Or, as Pete Wentz’s lyrics for Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” from their 2005 album From Under The Cork Tree put plainly:

I’m just a notch in your bedpost / but you’re just a line in a song.

Or, in “Dance Dance” from the same album:

I only want sympathy in the form of you crawling into bed with me.

Her own teenage introduction to counter-culture came through exposure to Riot Grrl, that angry feminism-fuelled reaction to the bro-eyness of 80s hardcore, and she wondered how these girls would be affected by their early exposure to this contemptuous misogyny delivered in a catchy and handsome package:

“My deepest concerns about the lingering effects of emo is not so much for myself or for my friends — we have refuge in our personal-political platforms and deep-crated record collections — but rather for the teenage girls I see crowding front and center at emo shows. The ones for whom this is their inaugural introduction to the underground … The ones who are seeking music out, who are wanting to stake some claim to punk rock, or an underground avenue, for a way out, a way under, to sate the seemingly unquenchable, nameless need — the same need I came to punk rock with.”

Jessica Hopper was concerned about the cultural effects this toxic misogyny would have on young women engaging with creating their own art. Hopper’s argument was that young women might not envisage themselves making music and fronting a band if all they saw were wall-to-wall all male emo bands writing about how evil their exes are. It was the antithesis of her own experiences with Riot Grrl.”

(Read the rest over at Sophie Benjamin’s Medium Page)

Thad McKraken

Thad McKraken

Thad McKraken is a psychedelic writer, musician, visual artist, filmmaker, Occultist, and pug enthusiast based out of Seattle. He is the author of the books The Galactic Dialogue: Occult Initiations and Transmissions From Outside of Time, both of which can be picked up on Amazon super cheap.
Thad McKraken