The Guardian is running a story about legislation currently being drawn up in Russia to outlaw being emo. The Duma held a hearing entitled “Government Strategy in the Sphere of Spritual and Ethical Education.” The effort specifically was intended to amend the current strong regulations against skinheads to include kids sporting “black hair with fringes that cover half the face.” Judging by the current laws against skinheads, should the bill pass emos would be banned from schools and government buildings as well as face heavy censorship of emo websites. The sponsors of the bill are aiming for passage by the end of the year.
One could easily herald the Russian legislature for this forward thinking bill. “At last,” a reasonable person would declare. “One government is ready to do something to rid us of the terrible plight of emo.” The bill itself is favored undoubtedly by many in the country. It makes perfect sense in the context of modern metropolitan Russia. Having some first hand knowledge of their revulsion of emo, the staggered march of Western pop culture around the globe makes this legislation arrive exactly at the point in Russia when the Fall Out Boy record got played one time too effing many.
However well intentioned, this law is fundamentally wrong. What the Russian legislature is failing to consider is the effect that likening emo culture to criminal neo-Nazi elements will have. During my entire stay in Russia I saw Nazis only one time, who were competing for protest space in front of a mall on St. Petersburg’s Nevsky Prospect. In the wide swath of that city that I explored, I only once encountered any skinheads and only then in a pathetic, comical setting.
Emo in Russia, on the other hand, is a very public phenomenon. On the bus, in the metro, at McDonalds; these fuckers are everywhere. Any public place is filthy with them. They are always eating their Chicken McNuggets, always crying where everyone can see. I don’t know when the last was that Dashboard Confessional came to play Piter, but if her streets are any indication the scalpers must have made enough to live on for the rest of the year. Their ubiquity is what draws the ire of the legislators and of the public.
If emos were placed in the same category of skinheads, they would virtually disappear from the public eye. This result may seem to meet the government’s goal, but if we cannot see the emos, how will we be able to beat the shit out them? Without them congregating conveniently in public places, the effort to locate and pummel these emos will unfairly burden concerned citizens nationwide. The results will be the same as the neo-Nazis they tried to eradicate ten years earlier; the symptoms would fade but the disease would still remain.
Outlawing emo will not eliminate emo, it will only make it harder to find. Sadly, emo is not something we can destroy through politics. It must run the natural course of any annoying fad.
But in the meantime if we can’t get rid of emos, we should at least keep them easy to find, and consequently, easier to kick in the face.