Monday, March 20, 2017

Recovering from emo

Here I am still writing about emo, but I ended up adding an eighth day to James Dewees week, so there is still some symmetry.

I already said my interest in emo first came from 2012 when I was new on Twitter and falling headlong for My Chemical Romance. Part of that time was also connecting with a lot of younger people - mainly girls - who were also big MCR fans, or fans of some other band that was everything to them. The word "emo" was flying around a lot back then, even if not always by them.

Five years later, things are very different. I don't know that anyone's musical taste changed, but there are other things on their minds. Kids who obsessed over bands in junior high and high school are now in college, or applying to colleges, or working or engaged. They are accomplishing things. They still love music, but it's different, and it's better. I still worry about the world that is out there for them, and the difficulty of making it out there, but it is better for them to have more in their lives.

In that way it is easy to view emo as a phase that you outgrow. And if it is defined by its self-absorption and moodiness, then it becomes very easy to say that not only are some bands not emo anymore, but it is also remarkably clear that some never were. Genre labels always have some weaknesses; we just keep using them because they're convenient.

I know there are also new kids going through that possessive, obsessive phase. I saw it just today with some people jumping all over just a little thing Frank Iero said, where you could totally understand if he never tweeted anything again. I'm not attracting new young music fans anymore, so it's easy to forget about it, but it's still out there. I suppose it's the circle of life.

The other thing that is important to know, though, is that while it is common to mature out of this phase, it is possible not too.

I suspect at some point I am going to want to do some writing about toxic masculinity and emo aspects of that, and then I may regret that I've already used the title "Terrible emo boys". For now, I want to focus on Chris Carraba.

That's not saying that he's terrible, but if reading about him the first time around was sad, this time around it was really disturbing. I guess that makes it more disturbing that Greenwald is so enamored of Carraba, because people who love his dysfunction are less likely to get him help.

I believe in the role of art in helping to heal, and that you do need to process grief, but at some point it begins to sound like a Dashboard Confessional concert is just wallowing. Is that cathartic? Catharsis implies that you get somewhere. And I know that even though picking at a scab is not the best way to heal a wound, the wound will usually still heal anyway, so there may not be any need for concern, but it looks unhealthy.

(I know that Nothing Feels Good is 14 years old now, so Carraba could be fine. I hope he is.)

It may be a natural part of youth to glamorize misery, but at some point you realize that Romeo and Juliet is less love, more stupidity, and that realization is good for your future. Maybe one album about girls never noticing you can be great, but ideally you will then move on. Then there can be albums about the pain of long distance relationships, or bitter breakups, or the euphoria of it working out, or starting to seriously consider your mortality (especially once you have kids).

It is a big world out there, and it is terrible and beautiful and frightening and amazing.

You're a much more interesting person (and musician) once you see that.

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