I read an extremely compelling article about the way mainstream emo helped drawn out the conversation of mental health, not only within it’s fans, but also in general pop culture. I was a big follower of the emo movement, though I never let myself identify as emo- the bands who were poster children for emo often touched of subject matter that most people did not want to talk about. However, the fans found this music as something they could relate to. Sure, not everyone who likes My Chemical Romance is suicidal, but their music helped fans going through a hard time, and in return helped the band out with their following.
Gerard Way, the lead singer of My Chemical Romance admits to struggling with depression. This is probably why fans can connect with not only his music but also him as a human being. It is a common trend in the music scene today that evolved from the early 2000 emo movement to have band members that are struggling with their own sadness and depression, and they help their fans, and in return their fans help them. The music is a tool for release, something both fans and the bands can relate to.
My Chemical Romance broke up in 2013 (rip) but Gerard way is still actively connecting with the fans today. In fact, he got a post office box for fan mail, and when the amount of letters became too much for his mailbox, he had to move the address to their record label, where he will sometimes take car loads of mail home with him on a weekly basis.
Emo opened the door for the millennial angst. Sure, there was emo before the early 2000s, but with the age of MySpace, the conversation grew faster, and the cry for help wasn’t going away. Some want to call it teen angst, others might say it was a big driver in the movement to end mental health stigma.
When Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy was questioned about the “emo” movement, he understood what was happening to those listening to the music. He wanted emo to be more than the “trend.” Wearing tight pants and black eyeliner came with the territory, but it was so much more than that. Some people took it too far and glamorized the idea of being depressed, and yes, some of those people simply wanted attention. However, for so many kids, including myself, the music was one of the few things that got them through the day.
Bert McCracken, the lead singer for The Used has confessed many times to struggling with depression, and he connects with fans over it. At shows he will ask the crowd how many of you take medication for depression, or know someone who does. He says it’s overwhelming how many hands will go up in a crowd. McCracken is very open about his struggle with depression, and admits he has seen some very dark days, but the fans, and the music help him time and time again.
There are plenty of negative things surrounding the emo community, which leads to those dark stereotypes and from the outside makes people apprehensive about how to approach the culture. Many kids in the music scene today start out listening to bands like Taking Back Sunday, and maybe many of them wouldn’t be here without the solace they found in every lyric, every chord. These bands however have bonded and connected with thousands of people, and to this day help even me. Music is one of my few loves and joys that life has brought me, and without it I don’t know where I would be. I’m not the cliche fan girl who says stupid stuff like “this band saved my life” but honestly, they deserve that credit.
I think this is where I have learned to be very vocal about the struggles I face with depression. I have seen the same things these bands have seen, and I relate to their music. There are countless other bands I haven’t even mentioned, and bands that aren’t “emo” who share the same kind of connection with their fans as My Chemical Romance or The Used.
Bottom line is, emo opened the door for so many to be heard. It is raw, and in your face, and sometimes downright depressing, but it helps put those feelings on the airwaves and lets those who wouldn’t have a voice now be heard. When you’re in a crowd at a show, you can be the loneliest, saddest person, but when you’re with people who love and understand the music the way you do, nothing compares to that feeling.
This article says a lot more than I did, and a good read. I recommend it if you’re a big MCR fan.