Taking Back Emo

I was as horrified as anyone else when Montreal punk rock unit Reset sold out to the demon of commercial music, became Simple Plan and started singing songs about the extreme hardships of being a middle class teenager in the Western civilization. Not that I had lost a particularly cherished band (Reset were average at best), but the insidiousness of their new message was rather striking. Troublesome teenagers need perspective, inspiration and guidance, things that Simple Plan or none of those emo pop punk could or even wanted to provide kids. But the problematic that the breakout of this sub-genre of punk created would reveal a lot deeper and harmful than your ordinary garbage product.

Like any teenage fad, emo created a strong discontent among people with stronger self-esteem and others, who chose a different idol to worship. Unfortunately in this case, metalheads are to blame. Not the typical Slayer-Motorhead-Deicide one, but more like the fan of the new wave of metalcore genre, which make you wonder if the sole purpose of this genre is to create a commercial competitor to emo, but for bullies. Point is, since the blossoming of emo as a commercial genre, it became next to impossible to talk about relationships in narrative art of any kind. Not without having someone slapping you in the back and saying something simple like: "Hey man, you turned emo or what?". I'm not saying you should spend your life crying about your problems, but if you ostracize emo kids for being emo, you must make them pretty happy. Same thing if you sit and try to reason with them. They feed on any kind of attention, which explain why the fad managed not to die over the years.

The worse thing about emo is that it altered the way I listen to music, watch movies and read books. I have hard time to distance myself from that judgment that all emotional confessions about relationships are stupid. I can't even listen to my Ronnie James Dio album without thinking about his pathologic approach to women. Fuck, I even have hard time talking about that stuff now, because I don't want to be considered emo. Artists need to take back emotional discourse back from MTV manufactured products. But how? I don't have a solid answer but you, but a suggestion. Theatrical hyperbole. Somehow, it was always there, but I think it's important to make the distinction if we want to create a renewal of the emotional discourse in fiction. Let's take the titles of the (allegedly) three most popular Simple Plan songs: Welcome To My Life, Untitled (Why Does It Happen To Me?) and I'm Just A Kid. In general, realistic discourse (read whining) about the life of a teenage. Being a teenager isn't all that hard and real hardships often involve sniffing glue and stealing stuff, but hey, that's beside the point.

If you're having personal problems, or want to talk about personal problems anyway, why couldn't it be a kick-ass story of darkness, betrayal and diverse unhealthy feelings. I had the epiphany while watching an Apocalyptica video (which I will post later this week) and trying to explain myself why I liked it. Because it's really booming with flowery feelings. They're not speaking about their life (well, maybe), they tell stories about dark, evil and bewitching women who steal and crush their heart into fine powder. It's so over the top that it's all just rock n' roll fun and yet, we all had gut-wrenching love stories that kept us awake for four days strings with caffein, shitty poetry and a terrible lust for revenge. Damn, if Josie ever cans my ass for any reason, I might just lock myself in my apartment and karaoke on Use Your Illusion on a loop.From the super hateful and misoginy You Could Be Mine so the soft make-up song Don't Cry, this album has everything for the young, dumb and dumped Caucasian male.

Fellow writers, musicians and artists of any sort, let's rebel against those who use emotional distress to sell record. Let's start writing the most over the top, dark and dangerous stories about impossible relationships. Let's make it hard, twisted and painful again. Because only passion you put in your work can save emotional discourse from being eternally corny.


I'm a pop culture blogger and author living in Montreal, Canada with my better half Josie and my dog Scarlett. I am a proud member of author collective Zelmer Pulp and have about a dozen of short stories published to my resume.


  1. HOw many posts a day do you do? HOly jumped a ballhead Jesus palamina. Sorry, I had to channel Gary Busey.

  2. One to three. Usually only fleshy one a day. Today I was just really inspired

  3. Interresting post Ben, I never looked at the problem the way you just pointed it out. That there's still something that can be done.

    I used to think it was a reflection of our time. The target population, for whom these "products" are sold to, get exactly what they asked for or what we told them to ask for.

    It's a long long shot from making pop culture to understand and appreciate intelligent,deep, original, well structured and built emotionnal songs,films,books.

    Its only purpose is making money. I know there is nothing new under the sun but let aside meanningless "pop" love/torn emotionnal stories/film/songs there's definitely room for what you're saying.

    I would love to read "manly" original emotionnal stuff.

  4. I'm thinking about hosting a flash fiction contest about that....only thing I need is a prize.

  5. I write dark fiction but no one wants to read it lol. I've been told it's too dark plus then there's the element of homosexuality graphically displayed (not in a negative light but positively). I feel that if I'm ever going to see the sunlight with any fiction that I write, it'll have to be to conform to heterosexual themes.

  6. You might have just aimed at the wrong places. Transgressive fiction agents & editors would probably love you.