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April 9, 2007

"It's Short for Emo-tional"

As if the good people of Grand Forks, North Dakota don't have enough to worry about, a local news station has alerted them to the menace of a mutant subculture:

This is tone-deaf even by TV news standards. Even someone who will never see 40 again (yours truly for example) can tell that at least some of the material presented here as typical of "emo culture" has obvious satirical intent.

Members of the subculture rank themselves on an "emo scale"? One where you "get more points if you cry a lot" and "win the jackpot by committing suicide"? Granted, lifestyle reporting is not exactly a positivistic discipline. But come on, folks, surely you can be a little more rigorous about evaluating sources than that.

Henry Jenkins cites this at Confessions of an Aca-Fan as "a textbook example of the ways that youth subcultures get misrepresented on television news and the ways that adult anxieties about kids who don't look, dress, and act 'normal' get turned into hysteria by misreporting."

He dissects the typical failures of competent reporting embodied in this segment. And he takes the whole thing seriously for its role in fueling moral panics. Worth a look.


Posted by smclemee at April 9, 2007 7:40 PM


There's no such place as North Forks, ND. WDAZ is in Grand Forks and Devil's Lake. And what is the 'enough to worry about' of which you speak?

Posted by: Sam at April 9, 2007 8:01 PM

Thanks, I must have typed too fast. It's fixed.

Everyone in America has plenty to worry about, it seems like.

Posted by: Scott McLemee at April 9, 2007 8:15 PM

I am flabbergasted beyond words at the ineptness of this "newscast." With just a couple one-liners, this could be a clip from The Daily Show. I was waiting for them to cut to an old guy on his lawn, shaking a fist, muttering, "Dang kids with their crazy music."

Posted by: Ed at April 10, 2007 12:01 AM

Why does the media always focus on the radicals? There are plenty of those who define themselves as "Emo" who are generally happy people. The style is just something they were attracted to. Instead of attacking the entire group, which will only instigate rebellious behavior, why not concentrate on those individuals who have real problems?

Posted by: smelldepitts at May 10, 2007 5:26 PM