Do the kids in the photo look familiar? You know... the often serious and sad looking youth? Although varying in their image, commonly appearing with heavy use of black but occasional punk color influences mixed in. Boys with long hair perfectly positioned over their faces resembling girls, skinny pants so tight, it looks like concrete poured into a mold?
These are the Emos, a growing counterculture in Puerto Rico and in the US. You will see them at the Mayaguez Mall lingering around the Hot Topic store, excited over the latest skull covered t-shirt or hoodie, etc.
In a growing number of both public and private Christian schools in Puerto Rico, you will also find them lingering around each other, as the "movement" exposes the results of its gender blending, sexuality challenging teenage ideology.
I hope that you believe in evolution, because these guys are evolving fast. Emo started in the 1980's as a supposed music genre, a sub-genre to hardcore punk. Today it has rapidly evolved into a mix of fashion and misguided philosophy by minds so immature they haven't yet reached the legal drinking age.
The Emo music genre shifted in the 90s, becoming more mainstream. And now it shifted again. If your kid is listening to the Fall Out Boys, or My Chemical Romance, they are listening to some of the current bands that supposedly represent or have some connection to the culture. Musicians always push the limits - they are artists, and that's not a bad thing. However, many of these kids you see dressed up like what many consider extremely silly looking, are just wannabees, not actual musicians. They may cling to the IPODs, without knowing how to play any instrument at all.
The problem is not so much the music as it is the departure from the music into the fashion and misguided self-therapy these kids are using it for. It does have associations with depression and suicide. Many of your "cutter kids" may fit very well with the Emo mentality, which can be argued as not ONLY asking for attention but also celebrating their self-victimization status.
These kids might be a little "sadder" to find out that many of their favorite bands want nothing to do with an Emo association. Many are quoted as indicating they want to get as far away from it as possible. Wikipedia lists Russia as making attempts at cracking down on this trend, since they see it as dangerous. Perhaps it is time for Puerto Rico's educational institutions to take a greater interest as well.
On a related note, a local kid was visiting me recently and mentioned that he was going to hang out with his gay friend. For the record, this kid is straight. Without any personal judgment, I asked if his straight friends would give him any trouble over spending time with his gay buddy. His response shocked me a little. He said that all the Emo kids at public school are bi-sexual now, girls and guys, so it's no big deal.
Remember, I'm not making any moral assertions here regarding sexuality. What I am doing is identifying what appears to be a growing population of Emo and "socially" influenced bisexual kids in the school system. I can only imagine this is going to create some issues for the Christian schools which are generally heterosexually "focused", particularly when the majority of parent's who send their kids to these schools believe that their children should be heterosexual. Are they going to be happy when they find out the influence that is lurking in their schools?
My main criticism of the emo culture, beyond personally thinking they "look" absolutely ridiculous, is that I don't like the dangerous "victim attitude" they maintain. I understand that every generation represents changing times, a new generation that will adapt our culture in sometimes small and sometimes large increments, and that many of them may certainly have valid concerns about issues in their personal lives or the outside world around them... which they don't feel comfortable with.
So the question to me is:
Will an army of Emo kids really change the world in a positive way, or just make it dark and depressing? What is their model for fixing the stuff they don't like about their lives? Suicide and branding themselves with razor cuts?
I think they have a very weak philosophy, and I hope for their own safety, they are able to evolve into a more stable counter culture.
I propose the introduction of the "Logos", which is short for "Logical" instead of the Emos - "Emotionals". The Logos are a group of kids who want to address issues that teens and young adults are having without becoming depressed, creating a dark outer image to broadcast it, or spend time thinking about the glamor of suicide. The Logos will take pride in their intelligence, and rather than presenting themselves as symbols of failure to punish their parents and society at large, will demonstrate how rational they are and how well equipped they are to have a say in their own lives. The Logos might have been traditionally referred to as "normal".
If your kid is a full blown Emo or wannabee Emo, why not sanitize them? If they want to represent depression in their style, then take them to a psychologist. They are under your rule while in your home. Forcing haircuts suitable for boys and pants that won't cause infertility by adulthood, or taking down posters and monitoring their Internet usage, is not really abusive under the new liberal guidelines, is it? I sure hope not.
Logos: I know you are out there. Please create an image of positivity and rational behavior, and help make this Emo culture vanish into obscurity.
Parents: Call your school, and ask if they have any Emo kids at the school that could be setting a bad example for your "child". Ask them what standards they have in place regarding dress code and behavior that would place restrictions on the Emo influence. If you do this, at least you will be aware, before you are shocked to discover your son Jose or daughter Christina blacking out their eyes with eyeliner before heading to Church so they can look depressed in Jesus' house.