Magazine article The Spectator

I Don't Think My Mum Has Much to Fear from 'Emos'

Magazine article The Spectator

I Don't Think My Mum Has Much to Fear from 'Emos'

Article excerpt

I was walking through Hyde Park with a friend on Saturday when I noticed some people dressed in black gathering on the other side of Round Pond. At first I thought it might be a school trip having a picnic, but the eclectic mix of young teenagers -- many of them with their parents -- and peculiarly dressed older people suggested otherwise. A few of these gothic-looking creatures were holding banners and signs.

The first I saw read 'free hugs'. It was being held by an attractive dark-haired girl.

'That's nice, ' I thought, but before I could go to receive my hug, my friend pointed out that I was perhaps too old for that kind of thing. The next sign I saw was not quite as inviting. It read, 'I am not afraid to keep living' and was being held by a boy of about 15. In normal circumstances this sentiment should not have justified a placard. To me, 'I am not afraid to keep living' is as rhetorically powerful as 'I am not afraid to brush my teeth.' But among this gathering of netherworldly creatures, this appeared not to be the case.

It was the third sign that really took me by surprise though. It read "F**k the Daily Mail', asterisking the letters to avoid undue offence. This one was being held by a baldheaded man in his late twenties wearing a spiked dog collar around his neck. He didn't look like someone I particularly wanted a confrontation with. Then I saw a radio presenter and realised what the occasion was.

We had walked into the middle of the 'Emo' community's protest against the Daily Mail.

Emos -- short for 'emotional' -- are young rock-music fans who dress in black clothes, wear dark mascara and make a point of showing their despair. Crucifixes, piercings, leather boots, chains and studded necklaces are also fundamental Emo trappings.

Their anger towards the Mail started after a piece in 2006 describing them as dreary, ugly and romanticising suicide. The reaction to the article was instant. The pages of Kerrang! magazine were overrun by Emo fans demanding revenge. The Mail writer concerned was reported to the Press Complaints Commission and her Wikipedia entry rewritten by angry Emos accusing her of gutter journalism. A few days later, a cousin at the Reading Festival reported that 150,000 fans of the Emo band My Chemical Romance (MCR) were chanting, 'F**k the Daily Mail'.

He said they were still cross with the writer, too. They were chanting, 'F**k Sarah Sands'.

This was worrying, for Sarah Sands is my mother. I decided not to tell her that bit.

So I had mixed feelings when I chanced upon the demonstration at the weekend.

On the one hand, my mother's honour was at stake. On the other, I didn't fancy being pursued by a bunch of mini-Goths in an emotionally unstable state.

What I had not expected was a collection of young children. Since they were not in the least fearsome, I decided to join them on their march to the Mail headquarters in Kensington.

When we arrived, there was already a small group of young teenage girls sitting cross-legged outside Northcliffe house. It felt more as if I were queuing for a Harry Potter book launch rather than a nationally publicised protest. A second Daily Mail article had brandished Emos as a 'dangerous and sinister suicide cult'. As I looked around at my fellow protestors there were several words I would have used to describe them -- 'socially reclusive' certainly, 'unhygienic' perhaps -- but not 'dangerous' and 'sinister'. Most of them had middle-class parents peering around the corner and popping by to deliver their children sandwiches. I talked to a protestor on my left, Lily, a 4ft 6in 11-year-old blonde girl wearing a linen skull-and-crossbones dress and an oversized My Chemical Romance black hoodie. …

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