In my recent post-exam boredom, in the middle of the crappy porn surfing, I decided to look at some photography on the net. I do like photography. Although, admittedly, the shots of beautiful boys with their tops off are the major attraction, I do admire the art as well. Anyway, after viewing several sites, one little word seemed to be everywhere: emo. ‘What the fuck is emo’ I thought? Was it some complicated piece of photography jargon? So I asked one of the amateur photographers whose work I was viewing. ‘Emo’, he mailed back, ‘is quite simply an abbreviation of emotional’. Simple then. But where did it come from?
Emo has been around for decades as a musical style. It began as a gentle form of punk music back in the 80’s, where the artists would sing about losing in life and love. Naturally, as forms of music become popular a sub-culture develops. People’s lives begin to reflect the music they listen to, as the phenomenal rise of hip-hop highlights. So a type of person develops. Today’s society is full of pseudo hip-hop ‘gangstas’, shaggy-haired indie boys and bottle-blonde pop bitches. Emo music is no exception. Rejoice, the emo-boy now has his own stereotype.
According to several popular internet ‘emo’ sites, the stereotypical emo-boy apparently listens to bands like Fugazi, wears cheap sweaters and Gap Jeans, with Reebok trainers to complete the look. As with many stereotypes, there is a conflict. On the one hand there are those that believe that they do not need to conform to the stereotype to belong to whatever group the stereotype relates to. On the other hand there is the total conformist; the person whose whole identity is moulded to fit the label, however much they protest otherwise. The former is naturally seen as ‘real’. This is clear from the gay world, where over-emotional queens protest that ‘I’m not a stereotype’ and ‘straight-acting’ guys hate all things stereotypical. It is a world full of ironies and hypocrisies. It is the appeal of the stereotype that has brought the once seedy and abominable homosexual culture into the mainstream; the girly boy, the constant comedian, everybody’s best friend and nobody’s enemy. Yet with this comes the view that every feminine boy is gay, and every gay boy must be feminine. Those in the ‘straight-acting’ camp resent this. It is the same with emo-culture; those who ‘keep it real’ despise the way that the mainstream latches on to their culture, turning it into a fashion.
Sub-cultures however develop beyond the shallow niceties of appearance. Like the gay community has developed gay themed art and hip-hop has developed graffiti, emo has created its own brand of photography.
But why has it suddenly become so popular? Why, no matter where I look on the net or in magazines, do I see the words ‘nice emo shot’? I had never even heard the little word before a month ago. The proof of its popularity was cemented in my mind when those wonderful words ‘nice emo shot’ were delivered to me via Gaydar. It related to a simple picture of me, trying to be a bit arty, but no ‘emo’ effect was intended. In fact it was taken before I even knew of the word. How then could I be emo? I wasn’t feeling emotional when I took it. I wasn’t feeling anything. I just wanted an interesting shot to help me get a shag. But apparently I looked emo. So, I decided to compare my ‘emo-ness’ with others by searching through other profiles. Sure enough, it wasn’t hard to find emo-style shots. Cute guys, staring into the camera, looking all deep and meaningful. I don’t mean posers. Some twat who thinks he is God’s gift to sodomy is not emo (see the previous description of the antagonism felt towards the ‘dedicated followers of fashion). I thought then that the key to emo was in the way you make your viewer, or potential shag, feel. If he looks at your pic and thinks, ‘oh, he looks so deep and thoughtful, I bet he is emotional’, then, tada, you’ve cracked it. After all, the key to all art is creating a feeling within the recipient. Emo, for me, is in the power of the picture, or whatever art you happen to be studying. One thing is for sure anyway, emo shots are most certainly erotic. ‘Emo’ looking boys look so fucking cute that I don’t know whether to rip off their clothes or give them a cuddle, dribbling all over their chest. Well, which order to do it in anyway. But why is this? Why has emo become intertwined with the gay world? Without wishing to sound hypocritical, the gay world is notoriously shallow. The world of Gaydar most definitely is. On the surface there seems to be an incompatibility. The emo boy is supposed to be deep. Yet there are reasons why the Gaydar gay has embraced emo.
Here comes the social science part, (resisting the urge to say ‘because I’m worth it’). In this world where everything is becoming homogenous, where every boy on Gaydar looks the same and wants the same things, we reach out for something different. We don’t want some pic of a guy’s cock and a message saying ‘wanna fuck?’ That is so unoriginal. We seek, therefore, a new niche. This is where emo comes in. We embrace the man with feelings. We now want a pic of some guy looking deep and thoughtful, starry eyed and smile-free, with an accompanying message saying ‘I’m more than a piece of meat, I have thoughts and feelings too. Do you wanna fuck?’
One conclusion we could draw is that when these two worlds collide the result is far from ‘real’. Many Gaydar gays may protest that they aren’t stereotypical. Yet they are on Gaydar. They are looking for sex. This is stereotypical behaviour. Many Gaydar emo’s are equally as fake, merely seeking a new way of drawing attention to themselves. I am not condemning this. Far from it. Indeed, I would fit into this category. I like emo-culture, but I wouldn’t say that I fit in. I like photography, so I try to make my images reflect myself, yet appealing to others. Perhaps then I am the real one. I am not the one pretending. I know exactly what I am and I do not need to attach labels to myself to tell me this. If you tell me that you think I have a ‘nice emo-shot’ then thank you, I take it as a compliment. But I will not say that I am emo, I will not try to be something because it is fashionable, and I will not prance around like a screaming queen (unless I’m drunk and hearing some Whitney). Real people do not need labels. Other than the one that says ‘person’. So if you are using emo-photography to help you get laid, be honest. After all, the only thing in the world that is real is honesty.