It's not hard to pin down the demographic of a Mail reader*. I saw plenty of them while I was on holiday: silver-topped ladies and gents of a certain vintage, nice pastel colours, gold handbags and matching shoes, socks and sandals, that kind of thing. Nice people, don't get me wrong. The sort of people who are friendly to their neighbours, lend you the lawnmower, chat to you over a recently-creosoted fence, that kind of thing. It just so happens that they read a rabidly right-wing rag that tells lies about immigrants, intrudes on people's privacy and used to support the British Fascists. Whether they all believe it or not is a different matter; I'm inclined to think not, though maybe that's wishful thinking. What I will say is that I've met so many perfectly sane people, nice middle-class ordinary people, who read the Mail who say they like it because of the nice TV guide or Fred Bassett; maybe they're just saying that to me, while secretly they agree with all the bollocks about immigration and hatred towards minorities. Who knows.
Anyway, maybe it's harder to pin down the Mail journalist demographic. Hard, but not impossible, I'd wager. I'd say a lot of their staff are hard-working kids from nice middle-class backgrounds, graduates, quite young, maybe slightly more women than men, a few old dusty subs with corduroy jackets, but then that's journalism for you.
Why ask this? Well, you have to ask it when you read utter turd like this splattery toilet bowl of bollocks and bullshit in the pages of the Mail. I mean, for fuck's sake. You'd think their journalists had never been teenagers - that somehow they were born aged 35, and escaped all the angsty stuff in those difficult adolescent years.
The Evil Uncle (who pointed me in the direction of this freshly-curled log of codswallop) has previously written about how the Mail just doesn't get emo. It doesn't get much, to be fair. It clearly doesn't understand teenagers, or any kind of subculture. Why should it? Everything that teenagers do is some sort of shadowy netherworld in Mail-land. Teenagers are either lovely flaxen-haired blonde gels from Surrey who are wonderful and ride horses, or evil hoodie-clad scum brandishing knives at pensioners and smoking the evil luminous spliff of doom behind the cycle sheds. Nothing in between. No shades of grey. No grey matter, come to it.
But this is my point. Were these journalists not teenagers? Didn't they struggle through those years, worrying about themselves and about other people? Didn't they have suicidal thoughts, thoughts of loneliness and despair, angsty thoughts? None? Not ever? Maybe not, in fact. Surely if they had, they would have had the compassion towards suicidal teenagers, that perhaps suicidal thoughts and despair don't come from a certain type of music or a certain way of dressing or wearing your hair; they're just there anyway. No?
But surely a Mail journalist would have the empathy, the intelligence, to consider the possibility that people who have such feelings, who are possibly suffering from depression or other mental illnesses or experiencing teenage difficulties, might actively seek out subcultures or music that reflect their existing feelings? Surely that's a possibility, isn't it?
Well, no. Not if you're the Mail; all those layers of understanding and slight complexity are just a bit too much to deal with. Let's just say EMO CAUSES SUICIDE. There, that's it, nicely sorted out, wrapped up in a safe little bundle to worry suburban parents.
This is a very sad story, by the way, and your heart does go out to the parents of this young girl who killed herself. As with anyone who suffers the loss of a loved one, you search for meaning, you look for clues, you wonder if there's anything that could have happened differently that might have changed things. So I can perfectly understand the parents looking for reasons and meaning in their daughters' death. That must be fully respected and understood. They, after all, knew their child better than anyone. I certainly would never claim to know any better than them.
But what is unforgivable is the way this death of a teenager is treated by the Hate. Is there sensitivity? Is there compassion? Is there fuck.
Girl, 13, hangs herself after becoming obsessed with Emo 'suicide cult' rock band
Already, the implication of causality is there in the headline.
Hannah Bond hanged herself [method snipped] after becoming an "Emo".
An implication of causality again - though, as ever with the Mail, it's not expressly stated. Not she was depressed and suicidal, so she sought out cultural values that reflected her feelings, and killed herself. No, she killed herself after becoming 'an Emo'. ('An Emo' by the way? Isn't it just 'emo'? And I don't like capitalising goths either, unless we're talking about ancient Germanic people.)
Additionally, I believe it's grossly irresponsible to state the method of suicide, which is why I've snipped it in the quote. Media should be extraordinarily careful about detailing suicide methods. The bollocks of 'Well they would have done it anyway' is actually not borne out by the facts. Specific detailing of suicide methods has been documented to lead to imitation and copying. Newspapers are aware of this. Aware of this, yet they continue to detail suicide methods. So do they care about people who commit suicide, or who may be suicidal? Or just shifting a few papers with some gory and unnecessary details?
Emo fans wear dark clothes, practise self-harm and listen to "suicide cult" rock bands.
Two weeks before her death, she started following U.S. band My Chemical Romance.
One of their songs contains the lyrics: "Although you're dead and gone, believe me your memory will go on."
Jesus wept. I mean, seriously. What the fuck? How...? Why...? If you were trying to write as if you were a completely naive twerp, this is probably how you'd go about. 'Suicide cult' bands? What? Really suicide cults? No? No, of course not really suicide cult, but we've put it in quotation marks, attributed to no-one, so therefore we're all right aren't we? No, you're not all right. You're a fucking twit. Whichever ill-educated cypher wrote this stack of shit should be taken outside and thrown into a dumpster. They clearly lack any intelligence whatsoever, particularly any emotional intelligence required to be a journalist - though of course that's no hinderance at the Mail, is it? Any whichever sub let this parade of drivel go sliding by, not questioning the shitness of it, should be ashamed of themselves. What utter rot. What complete nonsense.
For fuck's sake, I'm miles away from my teenage years - far farther away than probably the people who wrote and subbed this putrid load of old tripe - yet even I know that My Chemical Romance aren't a 'suicide cult' band. I mean, look at those lyrics, they're talking about loss and death - so what? Children and teenagers suffer grief like anyone else, don't they? When teenagers experience the loss of a parent, a grandparent, a close relative, it can be extremely tough, especially at a time when loads of other shit is going on. It's not bloody rocket science to see that these lyrics are going to strike a chord, surely be of some comfort to people trying to piece together their emotions? No? No, not if you're the Mail. Emo=suicide.
So, you have to start wondering. You have to start thinking to yourself: maybe the author knows this, but is deliberately trying to ramp up the 'emo=suicide' connection to make the story more acceptable, and more frightening to all those Mail-reading parents (and grandparents) out there.
Hannah, described as a model pupil, had started cutting her wrists but told her father it was part of an initiation into the Emo fashion.
This is terribly sad. But is self-harming done because it's fashion, or because people choose to self-harm? I'm not saying there aren't people who haven't self-harmed because they thought it might be the thing to do, but you also have to remember that the verdict in this case from the coroner was one of suicide, not accidental death or death by misadventure. It's so sad to contemplate a teenager self-harming and committing suicide, but it does happen. It has always happened, long before emo - do you remember when they blamed 'satanic' heavy metal music and parents would be terrified by the frankly comical Black Sabbath rather than My Chemical Romance? If you do, you'll know that it is a sad affair, but part of life, that teenagers can go through terrible angst and pain, and sometimes they end up killing themselves.
It is not, and has never been, because of the music they listen to or the clothes they wear, or the fashions they choose. It is something deeper, something that needs sensitivity and understanding, something that is more complicated than a simple 'emo=suicide' equation. But it is something that the Mail chooses to ignore. Because it's so much easier to frighten parents with stories about music that makes you kill yourself.
* I'm sure the Mail will tell you they have loads of young professionals, ABC1s, all that stuff. That's what newspapers do to try and sell adverts. In reality I'm pretty sure the readers are largely coffin-dodgers, but you never know.