Some say Ian MacKaye is to blame. Legend has it that when MacKaye uttered the term “emo” during an interview years ago, he fathered a genre of music and culture, bearing responsibility for its legion of black finger nail polished, funereal black hair colored, spiked-belt adorned, Gerard Way-on-a-crucifix, entitled followers. Fingers also point to NME, who have embalmed many beloved musical movements in the past with absurd names—shoegaze, most specifically. But shoegaze never carried the pejorative weight around its neck like emo still does.
Today, the black parade continues to march past Froyo, Starbucks, Curves, and Kumon with the broken, the beaten and the damned. What keeps one of the most reviled and parodied musical genres coupled with one of the most despised fashion trends and maligned milieus alive? Of course, what does someone like me know? According to Pete Wentz, I wouldn’t know a good thing if it came up and slit my throat.
The emo big tent revival continues to push through the cities across the same megamalls that Tiffany and Debbie Gibson sold their souls to in the ‘80s (Bill Hicks, where are you when we need you?). The kids who grew up listening to Good Charlotte, The Promise Ring, Jawbreaker, My Chemical Romance, and The Used have entered their roaring 20’s.
Armed with college debt and still living with the same mom and dad they cursed in the same suburbs they once promised to burn down, there is no time like now, especially with Donald Trump’s post-apocalyptic propaganda that seems to be plagiarized from Godspeed! You Black Emperor’s “Dead Flag Blues.” The machine is bleeding to death, and as it bleeds out, Panic! At the Disco will play us out.
The privileged rebellion failed. Then who, or what, is to blame for the perpetuation of its movement?
Foster Cline & Jim Fay and Mary Sheedy Kurcinka bear more responsibility for the rise and sustainability of this shitstorm of mediocrity than goddamn Ian MacKaye and NME ever could. Their books, Parenting Teens with Love and Logic and Raising Your Spirited Child respectively, sold more copies combined than Frampton Comes Alive. Both books spread like herpes in pop psychology.
The concept of child worship culture begins here. Participation trophies. Everyone is a winner. Both books taught parents of these Millennial children that parenting is fun! Never resign yourself to threatening your kids, using red-faced, I-wished-I-had-pulled-out-that-night anger when reasoning with a child who is all brain stem and no frontal lobes. Everyone wins with this method. And, according to Cline, you will have fun no matter how troubled your teen ends up.
Mary Sheedy Kurcinka fucked it all up for educators, police officers and, most importantly, parents. Gen-Xers raised by the Baby Boomers were forced to eat their entire plate. Teach your kid that if they freely want to express themselves, there is nothing wrong with it. Saying no to your parents and feeling justified in your decision is just fine. Wait—pause—what the fuck did you just say?
“Next time your child starts to lose it, say to her, ‘I am listening. I am trying to understand.’ This simple phrase, ‘I am listening,’ can help you to change an entrenched pattern of battle with your child because your willingness to work together is so evident.”
The problem here is simple. Kurcinka never addresses the most missed factor tied to the child’s outburst: emotion. Emotional arguments are the weakest ones. Arguing from a place of emotion leads to the outbursts and rage exchanged between individuals today via social media. The heavy emphasis placed on emotion and the freedom encouraged by Kurcinka to express these emotions is a dangerous precedent that rears its ugly head on a daily basis.
According to On Device Research, 1 in 10 people between the ages of 16-34 are denied jobs due to social media use. In 2013, New York Times reported in an article titled “They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets” that colleges have increased their vigilance when admitting students to universities based on their social media posts. The increased emotional outbursts, or as Kurcinka would coin it, the “intense, sensitive and spirited child,” now must face the consequences of their free-spirited tirades. They did everything to get into the college of their choice, except learn the time and place for their spirited outbursts.
Let’s add The Difficult Child to the list of culprits. Dr. Stanley Turecki. Dr. Turecki hustled a disease, tricking many parents into believing that their angel suffered from ADD or ADHD during a time when the most prevalent studies contained 70-plus symptoms. Today’s DSM-V condensed the “disorder” to nine attentive symptoms and nine hyperactive-impulsive symptoms.
Many of the symptoms possess the same vague, nominative definitions: “Is often distracted by external stimuli.” Or the most requisite in our contemporary society: “often loses things necessary for tasks or activities.” A recipe for failure, a kid with seven classes a day, basketball practice, cheerleading practice and dance lessons is bound to forget often or give in to distraction, a condition of development cited most eloquently by child psychologist Jean Piaget.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, only 5 percent of kids have been medically diagnosed with ADHD. The Center for Disease Control says otherwise. According to the CDC, 11 percent of American children from ages 4 to 17 have it. The French refer to it as an American disease.
Other countries jumped on the 9-billion-dollar profit machine, selling amphetamines to developing brains. During the ‘90s, the UK and Spain saw tremendous increases of children diagnosed with ADHD, an essentially otherwise unknown disease. 7-10 million Millennials were medicated with some of the most powerful stimulants ever produced. Long-term effects be damned, our country has yet to see the full ramifications of the medicine promised to make them concentrate and behave during school. Forget the processed foods, dietary intake, absence of boundaries, seismic shift in cultural norms, family models and technological influences.
Kids sedated by medication and enabled by parents cannot construct America’s next subculture. As Woodrow Wilson once wrote, “The seed of revolution is repression.” Being free to express oneself without consequence is devoid of resistance. Where there is no resistance, repression is an afterthought.