Emo On The News

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Aug
  • 28
  • 2007

How would our students define “emo”? Would most of our students identify themselves as emo? Is emo in or out? Several months ago, someone posted a video clip of a news report on emo culture. A bunch of middle-age, photogenic news reporters give the viewing audience a view of a lifestyle that’s all over our high schools.

The Assignment

Base all of your answers to the following questions on the video we just watched. Do not put your personal experience, knowledge, or opinion into these answers (save that for later!). Let’s be sure of the facts presented in the news broadcast first:

  1. How does this news broadcast define emo?
  2. What are the positive aspects of it? What are the negative aspects of it?
  3. How can you identify someone as emo? What are the physical and emotional characteristics?
  4. Identify the bands played during this segment. How do those songs help further define emo?
  5. Describe the look that this video identifies with someone who is emo.

Now, in a group of three, use your own knowledge to answer these questions:

  1. Create with your own definition of emo. Look at a dictionary for some examples.
  2. What are the positive aspects of it? What are the negative aspects of it?
  3. How can you identify someone as emo? What are the physical and emotional characteristics?
  4. Which bands are typical emo bands? Are there any common messages about life these bands promote?
  5. Describe the emo look, as far as you know it.
  6. What is an emo philosophy?

The Discussion

Is this news broadcast accurate? Is it an in-depth piece? What important information does this video convey? Who is the audience? Does it tell that audience everything they need to know? Do you trust the reporters? Why or why not? How would you revise this news report? What information should be included but isn’t?

The Why

First off, I think the kids would get a kick out of this. Asking them to use this report as a model and refine the way emo culture is portrayed is asking them to take a look at something adults identify with their age bracket. It’s easy to spin off into discussions of other youth cultural movements, perhaps identifying other subcultures that need to be defined for adults.

Secondly, I see this as a great way to talk about ethos. There’s a bit of an ethos problem here. I don’t trust these reporters. Is it because they don’t seem to take any of this seriously? Is it because they make this look like a passing phase? Is it because they don’t sound like they know a lot about this? Is it because they are middle class? Is it because they are well dressed? Is it because they are so photogenic that they look fake? I don’t know, possibly all of those things. But they don’t look to me like experts on this topic and I’m not putting my faith in how they reported this segment.


I just can’t help myself. College Humor is better than YouTube because the videos tend to be of much better quality. There will probably be more entries about video this year because it seems like just about every fifth video is one with educational potential. Now let’s see if I ever bring any of this into my classroom.


Again, I ran this through some converters and here’s a QuickTime version for you to download (just right click, “Save as…”).


1. Paul Phuoc says:

[8/28/2007 - 1:22 am]

Todd, uh..Senor Seal, whatever. Remember that kid — in your — period English class? The one with black shirts and tight jeans. Did he ever look sad to you? Being emo is an excuse for high schoolers, and sometimes college freshmen, to pick up a guitar and impress girls. I tried it, it works.

Thats why… I’m bringing her to see you this Friday. So why don’t you reply to my last e-mail, asking you what period you get off Friday.

2. Anonymous says:

[9/24/2007 - 8:25 pm]

Maybe the kids kill themselves because they have to live in Utah. It’s hard enough having to deal with one mom.