“Emo Kids”: Identifying Who they Really are and the Role the Media has Played on the Culture

Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer- Velasquez


Since the early 2000s, a new popular fan culture has risen where fans call themselves “Emo kids” and are portrayed by the media to be a danger to themselves based on the angry/depressing lyrics in the music they preach. The fans were once labeled as depressed kids who wore all black and constantly wanted to hurt themselves but what we do not know is where these kids are now and the specific factors that influenced them to be a part of this culture. Today, the “Emo Kids” are for most part upper to middle class post suburban young adults who went through an emotional phase in their teen years and have passionately held on to this culture in their adulthood. I took field notes at numerous “Emo Nights,” concerts, and analyzed social media posts made by fans to understand their background and factors that drive them to be devoted to emo culture. I also conducted 100 surveys and 10 interviews, and I have concluded that 50% of Emo fans are Hispanic, 46% are White and 4% are Asian. Based on my data, 76% of them claimed to have experienced mental health issues and the events that could have led them to experience these issues include but are not limited to the loss of a loved one, rejection, or facing a near-death situation. Previous research states that teens turn toward this music culture due to egoistic personality traits (which is not necessarily true) and fails to justify the reasons they experience feelings of anger, depression or anxiety. The media blames the existence of “Emo culture” for these kids’ issues but it is evident that the “Emo kids” instead turn to this culture as a coping strategy due to the troubles they face. My findings thus far have triggered me to think of future research where I want to discover the similarities of these participants’ ethnic backgrounds that have led them to willingly hold on to this culture since the early 2000s.


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