The Death of Bunny Munro – What do Emos think?

by |January 22, 2010

The Emo on the street is lean in skinny jeans, deaf to the world thanks to the ever present i-pod, blind in one eye due to their long lank hair smoothed to one side and, as they never move quickly, are an impediment to those with a purpose.

Wikipedia describes Emos thus:

Emo has been associated with a stereotype that includes being particularly emotional, sensitive, shy, introverted, or angst-ridden. It has also been associated with depression, self-injury, and suicide.

That man Goethe has a lot to answer for! (see The Sorrows of Young Werther – he out Emos, Emos)

As far as I can tell from this great distance, looking across the void of the generation gap, the quintessential Emo shares many characteristics with their Goth cousins.

Aren’t both associated with a particular kind of music – dark, mournful dirges?

As I preferred Goths to normal kids at school, does it mean, if I were at school now, I’d be hanging with Emos?

Surely not?

Though never a Goth myself – I was too vain to hide my physical perfections under make-up, too lazy to dye my hair black, too wimpy to have piercings and life in black velvet was too damn hot –  I did like the Cure, however, I did like writing bad poetry, mock suicide letters and angry lyrics in tiny writing using the finest of fine felt tip pens and I did like pretending I was unique (I just wasn’t going to prove it by dressing like my Goth friends).

If I may continue to generalise… I was drawn to them because the kid who became a Goth was usually intelligent, highly literate, creative and quick witted… the downside was they were indolent, they lacked self-esteem, felt isolated and were resentful of the ease of others in most social situations.

The one great benefit of this association with the Goths, apart from introducing me to Nick Cave, was that they taught me to read.

They were reading classics like Sartre, Camus, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Kerouac… the poetry of Keats, Poe, Bryon, Baudelaire, Rimbaud… but also more modern writers like Bret Easton Ellis, Hunter S Thompson, Kurt VonnegutMilan Kundera… and popular novelists, too – lots of Stephen King, Anne Rice

There was a definite intellectual bent to the Goths, who were, basically, modern day Romantics.

What are the Emos reading, if they read at all? Are they intellectuals? Are they idealists? Dreamers?

Do you know an Emo?

Are you an Emo?

Tell me…

What are you thinking?

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About the Contributor

John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French, Korean and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for over twenty-five years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Director of Books at

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  • January 22, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    In my experience (as a former high school goth, turned high school English teacher – bizarre I know, long story) I find that I have had a handful of emos in all my classes and they are a hard lot to get any work out of, let alone getting them to pick up a book.

    It seems between listening to music on their ipods, posting self-taken pictures on facebook and sulking about how much the world sucks, they don’t have much room for books.

    They prefer to either sit up the back of the room quietly and hope you don’t notice them, or they are very vocal on their dislike of everything. But kids often surprise me, so who knows if they aren’t going home and reading Camus. (Although I highly doubt it, it is easy to tell the readers from their essay writing – it sure does make a difference to grammar and syntax!)

    But that is based on my limited experience and I hate to support stereotypes.

    I like your blog by the way and enjoyed this article.

    • January 27, 2010 at 10:32 am

      Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a comment, Rachel.
      Sorry for not replying sooner.
      You have shed new light on the dark matter that is the Emo.
      By the way, a university lecturer once told me my writing was poor because I had been reading too much Camus!
      She said be brief, but to too brief.
      Thank you again.

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