The kids are alright. Even the screamo-loving ones.

A letter to this guy Dave Lazer, who in a bizarrely day-late rant in of all places the Saatchi Gallery’s boutique magazine, got all grumpy-pants about screamo fans and their tattoos. Taking issue with his tone-deafness — from his choice of venue (a corporate gallery mag?!) to the cranky-old-man posturing to the bullying (not just for deriding screamo fans for possibly self-harming or, more sinisterly, for being ‘poofs’, but for spitting on pop culture from the towers of high-concept art) — I dashed off a letter:

“Dear Mr. Lazer,

Why have a go at the kids, their crappy little music scene and perhaps-unwise adornments in this fancy art mag? Why so cranky about the youth and their ‘low-culture’ hijinks?

Can’t stand the stuff myself, but the fact is that screamo isn’t actually much of a posh-boy thing — too girl-alienating, too sweaty, too ASBO. But mostly just unfashionably earnest. Like metal, that other unfashionably serious genre, it’s really more of a working-class thing. Not to knock your reporting — although you didn’t mention talking with any of the concertgoers — but screamo doesn’t pull a middle-class crowd, meaning it won’t ever present a threat to the fine art world.  (and if not, was it a compliment to say its fans look like ‘walking works of contemporary art’?)

So why all the fuss in Art & Music The Saatchi Gallery Magazine? Screamo is pop culture, and its fans use that shared artistic language to express themselves. The music is loud and aggressive. The fans look odd on purpose. Some of them may live to regret their choices. And heaven knows what all that loud music is doing to their ears!

Sounds almost as ridiculous as taking 10 years to draw an imaginary town, or reducing a jet engine to powder. It may not be high art, but screamo is as important to its fans as irreverent vases are to Grayson Perry’s, and probably as hardcore punk still is to upwardly-mobile (and A&MTSGM coverboy) Raymond Pettibon.

Surely you have sported some affectation you later regretted — you mentioned a colourful watch — and of course these young people will, or unwittingly already have, as well. That’s what young people do. Wouldn’t a more charitable approach be to simply let these ones do what they want until, inevitably, they’re reduced to working at a Carphone Warehouse (or at any old warehouse), or until they come round to ‘boring’, respectable Radiohead?

Or could it be that getting a profoundly unadvisable tattoo that pre-empts the possibility of working at a Carphone Warehouse is the very point?

Honestly, seems silly to brag about rebelliously wasting £4000 on office supplies as a Rupert Murdoch employee, then pour contempt on allegedly posh punks in the pages of a major art gallery’s brand extension. Punching beneath your (cultural) weight, no? But calling boys ‘poofs’, suggesting they’ll wind up working at a gay phone sex line or sauntering through an office in bondage trousers with their cocks out — all while strenuously signaling the appropriateness of one’s own sexual object choices? Yikes.

Moving on to new villains, what about ‘The Archers’? And that dreary Adele girl? Those endless Harry Potter movies? Bit rubbish really, aren’t they?

Or perhaps more worthy (and proportionate) targets loom out there, ones who need a good kicking, and much more badly?”


About Mienda

Somerville, Brooklyn/Manhattan, Chicago, Glasgow, Cambridge, Philadelphia, here right now.
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