Authorities in the Armenian capital of Yerevan are reportedly putting pressure on young fans of the punk subculture emo, claiming that the music undermines social stability and that its emotionally wrenching content is causing teenagers to become suicidal.
Students are claiming that the police are conducting wardrobe checks in schools and looking for torn jeans, body piercings and black gloves, as well as any clothing in the “emo colors” of pink and black. One told EurasiaNet.org that a rumor is going around that people who look like fans of rock music are being “closely watched”; it’s a common tale of a subculture being targeted because of its unconventional look. (A 2009 piece on emo in Yerevan noted that there were between 20 and 25 teenage emos in Armenia at the time.) In 2010, 13 of the 38 teenage suicide attempts across the country were successful, and only two of the teens involved are thought to have had any association with the emo subculture.
“I do not like emos, in fact. I absolutely don’t like them. I do not understand or accept them,” Armenian Chief of Police Alik Sargsian said in an interview with a local newspaper earlier this month, as quoted by EurasiaNet. He also called them “dangerous” and said that they could “distort our gene pool.”
Another young emo said, “No one is forcing us; the thing is that our members are emotional and there have been cases when they attempted suicide. However, it’s not like it is a mass phenomenon.”
In 2008, young fans of emo were under attack in both Mexico and Chile, although the antagonism came mainly from peers — not the authorities. In Mexico, the subculture was a popular target of fans of punk and rockabilly, and spurred on in part by the local on-air personality Kristoff, who would frequently go on rants against “emos.” In Chile, where emo fans were referred to as PokEMOnes, skinheads attacked the fans.