Perşembe, Ağustos 20, 2009

Turkey discovers teenage emo counterculture

“They aren't visible, they mostly organize in Internet platforms, but now, after two girls have run away from home, everybody is learning about them,” says Dr. Levent Cantek, who is known for his expertise on popular culture.

He refers to teenage counterculture emos -- an abbreviation of the word “emotional.”

The story about two girls who ran away from their home in İstanbul dominated Turkish media last week and brought emos to the mainstream's attention. The 13 and 14-year old girls, who wore their bangs over one eye as the most significant sign of being emo, have been found safe in İzmir. They said that they left home for a holiday but were happy to return home.

As Cantek points out, until the story of the girls, society was generally unaware of this urban teenage culture, whose members wear gingham trousers and shoes, T-shirts and unbuttoned black shirts.

They often have long bangs brushed to one side of their face, dyed black hair but sometimes with purple or pink at one side, either straight or very teased. Although emo is a style of rock music, characterized by melodic music with often-confessional lyrics, according to members of this counterculture it is a lifestyle, too. “We are extremely emotional, and we are not hiding it; just the opposite, we are expressing our emotions very openly,” says a 15-year-old female emo, D. She adds that her peers who ran away were most probably bored, like many emos.

A counterculture on the Internet

She said that emos usually communicate with each other on the Internet and that in Ankara they meet either at Parliament Park or at Yüksel Sokak. “In İstanbul, emos meet in front of Galatasaray High School; they have some cafe houses they frequent over there, too,” she explained and underlined that the emos in İstanbul are more “real,” while most of the emos in Ankara are “fake,” just dressed up as emos, and don't even write poems.

Emos share their emotional poetry, usually about emotional sufferings, the pain of being left and loneliness.

D did not answer many questions about the philosophy of being an emo, but she says that she feels everything very deeply. “Like all the popular subcultures, emo culture does not have a coherent culture, and there are several variations of it. But usually emos are from the upper-middle class and deny the culture of their parents, which is based on making money for a better living,” Cantek explains. It isn't expensive to look like an emo, but it's not cheap, either: an emo pair of trousers cost around TL 80, but Converse or Vans shoes are around TL 100. To be considered emo in Turkey, it is necessary to have a guitar, preferably an electric one, and a skateboard, as D relates.

Modern begging, or ‘signaling’

Wherever emos are, in Ankara or in İstanbul, you may see them sitting at the side of the street in groups, asking for one lira, but just one lira. “They ask for one lira, not half a lira, not two lira. It is not traditional begging. They don't ask for one lira from everyone, either: only from people that they like, usually from well-dressed young ladies,” Cantek says.

According to Cantek, emos beg only from people they like, since they look down on most other groups and classes, as they think that they are different from and more clever than others. This is one of the reasons why they prefer not to call themselves to society's attention and prefer to hide in Internet chat rooms, although they make themselves obvious with their clothing.

“It is very complicated, but in short we can describe emos as a teenage movement whose members are not making long-term plans and are trying to live day to day, trying to not to think but to act in accordance with their heart and emotions,” Cantek says.

Emo D says that to ask for one lira from people is not a form of begging and explained that they call it “signaling.” She recalls that once, her group of emos “signaled” to a young man, probably a university student, who answered with sincerity that he did not have any money.

“We gave him five lira,” D giggles.

She says that most of their families do not understand their emo children and that society has a tendency to confuse them with Satanists, who wear totally black. “Most of our peers are unable understand us, either,” she complains.

Anti-emos have a following as well

As emos organize on the Facebook Web site, so do their opponents. There are many anti-emo groups in the Turkey network on Facebook, including “We don't want any emo in Taksim Square,” which has more than 4,000 members. Another group, which is named “We need people to beat up emos,” has around 150 members. Emre, 17, whose ex-girlfriend is an emo, is a member of one those anti-emo groups. “Turkish emos are just spoiled. They don't want to grow up, they don't stand for anything, even for themselves,” he says.

Cantek confirms that one of the characteristics of emos is the thought that resistance of anything is meaningless. “They are pacifists, but they don't have the resistance culture of pacifists. Instead of defending anything they just leave, and I think this attitude of theirs draws the anger of other youth groups,” he says.

Cantek underlines that like any other social group, Turkish emos have their own peculiarities, too: “Turkish emos are younger than other emos in the world, and since they are usually from the upper-middle class, until university exam time they continue to be emo, but after it, they usually give up being emo,” he says, but adds that since the story of the two runaway girls has brought emos under the spotlight, security forces might want to watch them more carefully.

05 July 2009, Sunday, AYŞE KARABAT, Sundays Zaman


2 yorum:

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