The thing about emo (as a musical genre and a cultural phenomenon) is, I think, that it was a response to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and the Bush administration’s painful mishandling thereof.
No, I’m serious. My Chemical Romance was formed as a direct result of Gerard Way witnessing the towers fall. Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ (an album that, at least as far as I can tell from having been a teenager in Canada at the time, was seminal in influencing the look and sound of emo) is all about the Bush administration – all the lyrics are about life under a democratic dystopia and many reference current events from the time – and it came out in 2004, halfway through the Bush presidency. A bunch of Linkin Park’s stuff makes reference to it also, especially their album ‘Minutes to Midnight’, where they first started moving out of the nu-metal/rap sound they’d been working with before and into a more mainstream emo-rock sound. That album came out in 2007. All of the really big bands with that kind of sound – and most of the smaller ones with more of a punk/hardcore sound but similar themes – were active in the mainstream from around 2001-2010. Many of them didn’t survive past 2009, and those that did either totally reinvented themselves (Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, MCR for the five minutes it took to produce Danger Days, Linkin Park) or became near-totally irrelevant (Paramore dropped an album sometime in the last two years; did any of you know that? And Green Day haven’t mattered since 21st Century Breakdown, which was released in 2009).
Why? Well, many of you are probably too young to remember this, but the 2001 terror attacks were what really made ‘Islamic terrorism’ a real threat in the minds of most Westerners. We’d never experienced an attack of that scale on American soil, and it was just as the internet was really becoming a mainstay in every house and my generation was getting online. As a result, it was not only a major political event, but it was hugely personal – the coverage was everywhere, in everybody’s home, all the time, and there were a lot of kids being exposed to the coverage in such a way that they often had no good way to process it. I’m not exaggerating when I say it changed the way we live. I’m Canadian and I felt this shit. Before, we could fly to America domestic, without a passport. Now? Half the draconian, ridiculous rules that hold you up at the TSA today were initiated in September and October of 2001. It was the only thing anyone could think of to do – lock down, protect your own. People were scared, on a continental scale.
And to make matters worse, George W. Bush’s government, which had to somehow respond to and take point in the response to this unprecedented event, didn’t seem to have the first foggiest clue what they were doing. This was a government that not only didn’t seem to listen to its people, not only lied blatantly to its people, but did it badly. They made hugely unpopular decisions, including starting a war in the Middle East that dragged in multiple countries and completely failed to achieve its stated goal of catching Osama bin Laden or proving that he had in his control weapons of mass destruction (the whole war was predicated on the fact that these so-called weapons of mass destruction existed, that the Bush administration had good reason to believe that they existed, were under the control of the Taliban, and were going to be used against Western targets, none of which was ever proven to be true).
So, from 2001-2009, the two (TWO) full terms of the Bush presidency, there were a whole lot of people who couldn’t vote (be they under the age of majority, like most of the emo kids I knew, or Canadians unhappily dragged along with the US’ boneheaded foreign policy decisions because we’re allies, also like most of the emo kids I knew) and therefore felt, not only scared of basically the impending end of their world in a way that they hadn’t previously had to feel, and not only angry about being clearly lied to and clumsily manipulated when the truth was obvious to anyone with eyes, but also powerless to do anything to change anything about that. And meanwhile, people kept dying in this pointless war and the president kept trying to hold together the illusion that everything was hunky-dory.
And what was popular with teenagers from about 2001-2009? Yep. Emo.
Emo as a genre was very personal, very focused on the individual (with the exception of the albums I noted above), but lyrically and musically, it fit right with the cultural atmosphere of the time. People were scared of the impending end of their world/their lives? Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and The Black Parade. People were angry about things they felt powerless to change? From Under The Cork Tree and Decemberunderground. Emo captured what kids were feeling about trying to fit into a world that was so clearly fucked up and broken and pretending to be okay, putting on a strong face to Show The Terrorists They Didn’t Win. Emo was about stripping away the mask, exposing the messy, angry, frightened, sad, true underbelly of American society at the time, and exposing hypocrisy – in individuals as much as in politicians. The hatred of ‘preps’ and ‘posers’? Totally not just a My Immortal thing. Emo was about wearing your heart on your sleeve, about it being okay to mourn, to rage, to be afraid for your life beyond this – and to keep moving forward regardless, step by slow step.
So what changed in 2009 that made the phenomenon fade without so much as a whimper? Simple. Hope. The Audacity of Hope, to be exact.
Barack Obama won his presidency largely because young people supported him. Those were the young people who suffered through feeling helpless and powerless under Bush, who wanted things to change but felt they had no chance of making it so. Barack Obama was a chance. One of his first campaign promises was to end the Iraq war, a promise he followed through on. And even if his presidency hasn’t been perfect, it has never been the Bush administration, with the feeling that the will of the people was being entirely and quietly ignored by those in power to further their own agendas.
What I am saying, then, I guess, is that it’s time to buy stocks in Hot Topic, because whatever happens in the upcoming US presidential election, there are a lot of young people who may soon be needing black, white, and red graphic band tees and Manic Panic hair dye.
From someone who was in American high school in 2001, we were also incredibly terrified for at least the early Bush years. We were all pretty sure that the draft could possibly be reinstated and we could get sucked into the war. Some of my friends and I had plans on how best to get Don’t Ask, Don’t Telled out of the draft. We were all absolutely terrified of the prospect.
let’s be honest though, millennial hate is totally a thing rich folks started because they’re pissed that we have really unpredictable consumer habits and it isn’t as easy to get us to buy into stuff, so they’re mad we aren’t just money giving/traditional economy supporting machines like they expected us to be
like look at how much millennial hate articles are things like “millennials aren’t eating cereal and it’s hurting the cereal industry” or “millennials aren’t buying houses and that’s bad” or “millennials #1 utmost priority isn’t trying to make as much money as possible” and rich folks are mad about it, so just posturing our unpredictability/nontraditional values as “laziness” gets everyone else on board the hate train in some weird attempt to collectively subdue us
“You are Doing Capitalism Wrong and it scares me” – bitter Boomers to Millennials who are not buying into their shit (or buying their shit)
Keep in mind that the subprime mortgage crisis was at a pretty pivotal time in Millenial’s lives, and taught them that financial institutions are not on your side, will lie to you, and specifically will lie to you about what you can afford.
Like, this isn’t coming from nowhere.
I mean boomers refuse to pay a living wage to anyone and then wonder why those people don’t buy anything? I am sorry but what exactly is the disconnect here?
Millennials value work that has meaning above work that pays well and they hate that as well. It means we can’t be shut up with busy work while they’re made to seem like they’re running a well oiled machine. They come from a generation of a boss being someone who says “do what I say because I told you to” and we come from a generation who values a boss that says “what can I do for you that will help you excel at your job?”
Millennials do not cope well with meaningless busy work so their boss looks better. They don’t cope with being talked down to or not being assisted by their boss when they have a problem. They do not deal well with their innovative ideas being shut down because “that’s not how we do it here.” and I don’t see how any of those things is a problem.
Millennials are also the first generation since the internet was a prominent thing to utilize it as a source of information in a way that is empowering for each other. A single millennial can buy a product and then inform anyone who wants to know about the quality of said product. It only takes a handful of millennials to say “this is a substandard product” to render all the millions of dollars spent on advertising that product completely useless.
Big business has been a blotch on millennials lives since before most of you could even assume a role in adulthood to effect it, so you trust one another more than you trust advertisements or sponsorship, etc.
On the flip side, though, you enthusiastically will push and promote things that you love.
Big business and their baby boomer CEOs and presidents HATE this. Because it means that they can no longer provide a substandard product while making the consumer feel there is nothing better out there.
In the past, if every dish soap was awful, you just had to continue using awful dish soap. Now, you can crowd source an alternative. You can post in a forum, your facebook, a mass text, etc and say “I hate every dish soap, what can I do?” and you will be directed to actual good brands or you will be taught how to brew your own.
You’re a great generation, I’m really proud of you guys.
I’d love to buy a house, but I can’t afford a down payment and can’t be certain that I’ll have the same income levels for thirty years and I don’t actually know whether the banks will accept my highly-fluctuating, self-employed-and-seasonal-labor income as stable enough or high enough to be approved for a mortgage.
And also every new housing development I’ve seen in the past five years has been “Executive Housing, Starting At 390K” and the realtor websites are full of last decade’s foreclosed subdivision homes in the $275K region, and there’s legit no one, including the zoning board, that’s going to help me find or make a cute little house on a tenth of an acre in the region of $50-60K, let alone every other millennial who might like to settle down in a place that suits her desires and means.
Oh, and that same zoning means five people aren’t allowed to share that $300K, 5-bedroom McMansion, because fuck us, that’s why.
And what else? The refrigerator that recently conked out on me was manufactured in 1967. That thing lasted almost fifty years, and today if I walk into a big box store’s appliance department to buy a new refrigerator they will tell me I should really buy a warranty to cover the apparently-substantial risk that it will break within two to five years.
Oh, and there’s apparently a $400ish premium to buy one with a convenient configuration because if you want the refrigerator on top and accessible without bending down for anyone taller than your average first grader there aren’t any of those in the entry-level price range. Once again, fuck us.
Then there’s the labor market itself, where “entry level” positions want three-to-five years of experience, and everybody won’t shut up about the trades but even that requires a $5K+ outlay to go to school for it, and every fast-food restaurant out there has a permanent “Now Hiring” sign up because they drive employees away as fast as they can replace them.
And so many food-service jobs involve being forced to throw away loads of food as it expires but if you eat it or take it home it’s viewed as stealing, and retail jobs sometimes require you to smash perfectly good computers with a sledgehammer so nobody can use them, and fuck all of this, yes, I’m gonna make my own goddamn laundry detergent from a recipe I found on the internet, and I’m gonna buy as much of my vegetables as possible in seed form, and I’m gonna fucking read the consumer reviews on shit before I buy it and I’m going to source a refrigerator from Cragislist for approximately the price of the warranty on a new one, and if The Market wants me to buy a house, it can bloody well wait for me to have the money.
Because seriously, with its “Ask not what your economy can do for you, ask what you can do for your economy” mindset and historic, far-reaching fuckery, the business side of the equation has little room to complain about millennials being the selfish ones.
the funniest thing to me about the whole “no one talks to each other because of smartphones/technology/etc” argument is that ppl totally still talk to each other?
i can hang out with friends for hours without checking my phone, or i’m using my phone to show the homies pictures and videos and articles that i think they’d like.
like hate to break it to you, but if someone’s on their phone instead of talking to you it’s cause they don’t wanna talk to you. probably cause you’re fucking terrible & likely use the word “millennialls” derisively and there’s someone 2 timezones away they’d rather chat with