Mexico: Emo Youth Become Targets of Attacks

A comment left on an article written by blogger Daniel Hernandez of Intersections wondered, “Is this the Onion? This is too surreal.” The Onion is a popular U.S. satirical newspaper that is best known for providing “fake-news” and the individual must have thought that the news found on Hernandez’ blog was taken straight from that periodical. The news story in question revolved around incidents that took place in Mexico, where “emo” youth were the victims of attacks by groups that specifically targeted them.

In addition to being a genre of music, “emo” can also be considered a lifestyle or a form of self-identity. La Plaza, the blog from the LA Times writes:

Suddenly, emos are the talk of the town in Mexico City. For the uninitiated, emos are a category of black-clad teenager known for their marked emotionalism—thus the name—and a sexually ambiguous fashion style that combines the dark look of Goth with childlike touches of pink and other bright colors (think Tim Burton meets Hello Kitty.)

In addition, Wikipedia describes some of the fashion:

Emo is also often associated with a certain fashion. The term “emo” is sometimes stereotyped with tight jeans on males and females alike, long fringe (bangs) brushed to one side of the face or over one or both eyes, dyed black, straight hair, tight t-shirts (sometimes with short-sleves) which often bear the names of rock bands (or other designed shirts), studded belts, belt buckles, canvas sneakers or skate shoes or other black shoes (often old and beaten up) and thick, black horn-rimmed glasses. Emo fashion has changed with time. Early trends included straight, unparted hair, tightly fitting sweaters, button-down shirts, and work jackets.


Photo by Daniel Hernandez and used with permission.

Hernandez followed the news story from the very beginning on his blog and in at the LA Weekly, and has even been interviewed on numerous occasions by the international media interested in this “surreal” news story. How did it all start? Hernandez points to some comments from a popular Mexican TV personality:

In Mexico, emo culture is a butt of many jokes. It is either despised intensely or generally ignored. But it's only the despising sentiment that lately has been getting wide airply. In the above clip, a Televisa on-air personality named Kristoff expresses a serious dose of anti-emo rhetoric and switches to English to say, on network television, “Fucking bullshit” to the emo movement. Some emos I've interviewed point to the Kristoff clip as a defining provocation of the current wave of anti-emo violence. Now check out this clip from another Televisa program where three emos are interviewed about the attacks. At the end, the kid on the left asks if he can say more thing: he directly accuses Kristoff of spreading anti-emo hate.

He also writes about some of the specific early incidents:

The spark came first in Queretaro on March 7. An estimated 800 young people poured into the city's Centro Historico hunting for emos to beat the crap out of. They found some. The next weekend it spread to Mexico City, where emos faced off against punks and rockabillies at the Glorieta de Insurgents, the epicenter of emo social space in the capital. There's also been reports of anti-emo violence in Durango, Colima, and elsewhere.

The incidents led many of the emo youth to become pro-active:

A week ago on Wednesday, emos and their supporters in Mexico City demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the municipal justice department. The action was organized by a Mexico City gay-rights organization, highlighting the contention of some that the anti-emo movement is homophobic, among other undercurrents…

These conflicts have also been drawing a lot more media attention. The LA Times blog La Plaza also covered the story in conjunction with Mexico Reporter and interviewed one of the youth. The video can be found on their blog. Hernandez also writes:

The much-maligned emos of Mexico are now enjoying the world's attention and an outpouring of pity and good vibes from the local government, local rights groups, and the global media. And even D.F.'s well-organized punk movement? Possibly. One rumor I heard today said that on Saturday pro-peace and tolerance punks will rumble with anti-emo punks, once and for all. Could there be a backlash to the backlash?

The Saturday rally ended without violence, as the emos marched under police protection. Beam TV [es] has photos of the groups that assembled to beat up the emos.

However, in the end, Jessica of Vivir México [es] writes about what this shows about her country:

Esto solo es el reflejo de la intoleracia en Mexico y las autoridades tienen que tomar cartas en el asunto antes de que pase a mayores…

This is just a reflection of the intolerance in Mexico and the authorities must take action before something more serious happens….


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