Friday, February 25, 2005


Christina Ricci on "Joey" - Psychiatric hospitals overflow

Just returned from a friend's show. His band could, if one were overly interested in categorization, be called "emo." Not really feeling an urge to cut, but maybe I wasn't listening closely enough. (Unpaid advertisement: Odds Against Tomorrow - New Album: nights.not.end Available now at iTunes or CDBaby. Buy one for you and one for a loved one!)

Many people have weighed in on Malkin's column, enough to cause her to defend herself:
Readers recall an old friend here or there who nicked himself/herself with a razor blade 10, 15, or 20 years ago.
Nice try, Michelle. But if you were trying to look more sensitive to mental illness, you're not doing that well. Our "old friends" who cut themselves were cutters. And we object to your implication that if Hollywood would just shut up, teenage girls would no longer suffer from mental illness. Or, to put it another way: I'm going to be exactly as forgiving of your explanations as you were of Eason Jordan's.
Yes, it's true, emotional, woe-is-me music has been around a long time. But the kind of "emo" music embraced now by young people who cut themselves (Taking Back Sunday is one of the most popular cited; the Apathy Code, which depicts cutting on its album cover and in the lyrics to "No Alarms") is new.
Ahem. I'll say it again: EMO IS NOT NEW. We're not talking about "emotional, woe-is-me music." We're talking about the "genre" of music usually called Emo. Want some proof, Michelle? From AMG:
Originally an arty outgrowth of hardcore punk, emo became an important force in underground rock by the late '90s, appealing to modern-day punks and indie-rockers alike. Some emo leans toward the progressive side, full of complex guitar work, unorthodox song structures, arty noise, and extreme dynamic shifts; some emo is much closer to punk-pop, though it's a bit more intricate. Emo lyrics are deeply personal, usually either free-associative poetry or intimate confessionals. Though it's far less macho, emo is a direct descendant of hardcore's preoccupations with authenticity and anti-commercialism; it grew out of the conviction that commercially oriented music was too artificial and calculated to express any genuine emotion. Because the emo ideal is authentic, deeply felt emotion that defies rational analysis, the style can be prone to excess in its quest for ever-bigger peaks and releases. But at its best, emo has a sweeping power that manages to be visceral, challenging, and intimate all at once. The groundwork for emo was laid by Hüsker Dü's 1984 landmark Zen Arcade...
...blah, blah, blah. Why is all this important? Well, it's not, really. But what is important is catching Malkin setting up straw men left and right.
Look, you can mock me for paying attention to this problem, but something very wrong is going on here--for whatever reason you want to believe--and parents have asked me to help get the word out. I hope it helps.
Look, you can feel persecuted about this column, but something very wrong is going on here: You're trying to make it look as though you didn't just try to find another societal ill to dump on Hollywood's doorstep. Hollywood shapes culture, but that's not nearly as important as the fact that it reflects culture.