Subcultures are a place to identify and belong. But what happens when your subculture finds itself painted with a taboo brush. Moral Panic is how the media educates those outside of a subculture about the subculture. However this leads to a miscommunication and a distorted portrayal of the subculture itself.
If we take one subculture in particular, you can start to understand how the medias use of Moral Panic can warp the publics perception. Emo subculture has perhaps suffered from this skewing of perception the most. Emo is synonymous with self harm and suicided. However it has lost its original meaning.
Emo began in the 1980s, it is a style of rock music. The lyrics are often dark thoughts or expressive. Emotional music. A diluted version or punk and goth, yet still a major subculture. Emos identified themselves with dark colours. Mostly black clothing, with black hair. Men and Women would don black makeup. All of this a physical representation of the music.
In the early 2000s Emo resurged and became somewhat mainstream. Bands such as Green Day, My Chemical Romance and Blink 185 were on the charts yet still represented the mo sub culture. So when Emo became mainstream, it also became subject to moral panic in the media.
This Moral Panic created is due to the stereotypes of self harm. The lyrics of many emo songs can be seen as dark. Which has lead to the stereotype that if you are a emo, you are depressed. Hannah Bond, a 13 year old fan of My Chemical Romance committed suicided in 2008 leading many to blame her music as an influence. Hannah’s mother was quoted by many news sites as saying
“There are [emo] websites that show pink teddies hanging themselves. She called emo a fashion and I thought it was normal. Hannah was a normal girl. She had loads of friends. She could be a bit moody but I thought it was just because she was a teenager.”
Suddenly this music genre encourages and glamourise suicide and self harm.
In Ireland Central Bank is a known hangout for Emos. A shared space where likeminded people can form a community.
What is to be said about how Moral Panic can influence a subculture. By creating a narrative that Emos are self harming and committing suicided, now the subculture is tainted. Suddenly you are judged and a cause for concern based on your music tastes. Would this have been the case if the media didn’t create a panic? Stereotyping the many based on the few can be detrimental to a subculture.