This can be considered a response to Emo: The Symptom of our Decay
started by JohNyx. If you haven't read it, go do so. It's a good read, IMO, and it's pretty much the entire thing that started my writing this.
I think it's important, first off, that I make it clear where I'm coming from. If you asked anyone who knew me IRL or had seen me on my cam before it broke horribly, the first word out of their mouths you'd get is "scene". Scene is an offshoot of emo that's less about discontent in general and more about giant egos* (if you go by JohNyx's philosophical interpretation of emo, which, as I'll get to soon, I don't really believe is a very good interpretation to begin with) and "having fun". Sort of subverting emo, in its own way. So I am kind of biased and I think that's important to keep in mind.
Why do I disagree with JohNyx's interpretation, though, aside from the obvious bias? Maybe it's because I speak from something of an inside stance.
Before I became "scene" (ironically, after dropping out of high school) I always hung out with the emo crowd even though I was a better fit for the metalheads (considering music tastes and fashion choices).The first thing I noticed was they were all friendly. Aside from being a little bit wary of speaking about their music around people outside of the clique they seemed generally like just introverted people with some shared interests. They were very loyal friends to each other (not really me, though that's my fault, I always seem to be an observer in any social situation and never even tried to remedy that in this case) and often helped each other out. Stereotypes I immediately noticed were wrong both previously had applied to goths. Hmmm. I saw very little poetry writing, in fact very little interest in artistic endeavours of any sort. None of them seemed particularly depressed and while there were two cutters in the bunch of ~30 or so people, I was assured that there were far more cutters among the nerdy kids.
Of the stereotypical fashion traits that JohNyx stated in his post, I noticed only 4 and except hoodies, they never applied to more than half the people (and it's worth noting that everyone outside of the emo clique wore hoodies too). The other three were black clothes, tight pants and black nails. Stars never even appeared once. I don't know if that's maybe a Mexico-only thing, though? There was also a more often-cited trait that most of them shared, the weird hair. But considering that JohNyx didn't mention that himself, I'll just let that go.
The music tastes were most surprising to me. There was the expected pseudo-punk and alt-rock, along with a lot of slightly unexpected but not completely out there pieces of punk awesomeness, like old AFI and etc. But some of the other common music choices were just odd. I found 8 kids without God Module on their MP3 players, and only 1 who wasn't a huge thrash metal fan.
I can't really speak on the topic of MySpace regarding emo kids, because (surprisingly) none of the ones I met had one. I actually never really had a reason to get a MySpace until I went "scene". From what I've seen of MySpace after I got one, the emo kid flying-camera picture has spread to all sorts. I won't deny it started there, though, the girls of the group were exactly the type I'd expect to do that shit. As for the girls wearing tutus and shit.. Uh, I never EVER saw anything like that on MySpace or IRL. I dunno why I haven't found it on MySpace because that's exactly the shit I'd expect to find there, but the girls IRL were all super-serious tomboys with egos the size of world superpowers. They weren't really the type who would act stupid and post it on the internet, all things considered. (The boys, on the other hand, couldn't be serious if you put a gun to their head and told them that you just got done murdering their entire family. They even made lame jokes while bitching.)
Now to move to the philosophical part. I mentioned that they were all relatively friendly people, with the obvious caveat of "so long as you don't approach them like a complete douchebag". I feel it's also necessary to mention that none of them really seemed to express the variety of "discontent" JohNyx paints them with. I never heard much railing against the system, or idealistic passions or the like. I most clearly remember, in fact, asking one of them when I was 15 (they were about the same) "Why would you want to become an engineer when you grow up?"
The only real thing attitude-wise that they all shared was the dreaded Special Snowflake syndrome, where they were all, if not the most important people in the world, at least entitled to whatever the hell they wanted. They never really flipped out or anything if they didn't get their way, but they sure bitched about it a lot. It was the main reason I didn't become a part of that group fully. I got the feeling that they were EXPECTED to bitch regularly, and I don't know WTF would have happened to me when it came my turn to bitch and I could only give a half-hearted "everything's sort of okay, except maybe I'm a little tired and stuff."
The big difference here is that when I read "discontent" I think Problems With Big Things. Bitching about the state of the world, the government, laws, or even just rules set by your parents. The complaining and bitching that took place here was below the level of the most minor of the First World Problems thread entries. "Can you believe it, my mom wouldn't get my the new iPod. She's terrible." Seriously.
I guess if that's the problem JohNyx has with them, that's great because no one likes a whiner. But I got the impression that his worst problem with them was that instead of doing something about what bothered them, they just sort of bitched about it and kept living. Considering the things being bitched about, I'm personally happy that they just kept living their lives. I can't imagine any good coming from an indignant 15 year old trying to show his mom what's what for not getting him an iPod.
To conclude, JohNyx fucked up by (from what I gathered) trying to view emo through the same lens as punk and goth: as a counterculture. And it just isn't a counterculture, it doesn't even try to look like one. It's a bunch of teenagers who want to look cool while swinging their egos around, and that's really it. (Regarding the music choices, I think what happened with the non-obvious stuff was people in that local circle already had those interests and they just spread them. In one of the other towns there was a huge country fandom among the emos, for example.)
I will admit I'm speaking entirely from personal experience in a very small segment of Western Pennsylvania, and that said experience is probably atypical. But somehow I doubt that emos ANYWHERE are pretending to give a shit about politics or the state of the world or really much of anything. The very name of the subculture (emo, from emotional) implies getting hyped up about just about everything. And all the little slights leave very little emotional energy to give a shit about civilization sliding into the gutter.
*-Actually, scene is an offshoot of emo that's less about big egos and more about flaunting your big ego as flagrantly as possible. If I ever start talking about how much cooler I am than everyone else and how anyone who doesn't agree is just jealous, shoot me.