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Emo (from the Latin emere, meaning "to buy, purchase") is a type of subculture loosely rooted around angst with its own distinct style of music, fashion, argot, and other trappings in a desperate, though ultimately hopeless attempt to pronounce their uniqueness. Emo peaked in popularity during the Myspace era of the mid-late 2000s, and has made a resurgence via TikTok in the 2020s.


The word "emo" surfaced, like boy bands, during the 1990s. The theory that the word was used in the late 1980s to describe a branch of hardcore punk music, an abbreviation for "emotive" or "emotional hardcore" is mistaken, as bands like Fugazi are anything but emotive. It is a widely held misconception that music has an emotive quality, in any case. Dr. Alan Smithee, Stanford's leading expert in Emolution, also suggested the Russian Nihilist movement of the 1860s as being responsible for the emo subculture's outgrowth in the 1990s, perhaps as a secret means of convincing youths to assassinate Tsar Alexander II. Either way, by the mid-2000s, emo subculture went mainstream and started appearing in music videos and at Hot Topic stores nationwide. It was also by this point that everyone on the Internet started using "emo" to mean "angsty kids who take pictures of themselves in a mirror on MySpace."

"Emo" is a subculture derived from goths, derived from punk, derived from tophats. The difference is that goths kill kittens, punks throw kittens at government officials, emos cry when kittens are killed or when candidates like John Kerry lose the election, and tophats contain kittens inside. Emos wear tight pants, goths wear parachute pants, and punks wear tophats because it's punk. Emos have more in common with a chocolate cookie than they do with goths, punks, or even tophats.

Fashion and demeanor

To their credit, emos stereotype other races, just like punk subcultures like skinheads.

Emo clothing is typically black, mixed with smaller amounts of shockingly bright colors. While emo hair is mostly black as well, there are often flamboyantly bright highlights. Emos tend to favor one-eyed hair cuts. Some believe this hairstyle to have stemmed from a lack of self-esteem or so that they can look like pirates, but it is more commonly believed that they only have one eye.

It is often very difficult to identify the gender of an emo, and even the emos themselves may not be entirely sure of their sex. Many of the emo kind express this by saying they are bisexual. Contrary to popular belief, this is not just a trend; they just cannot decide which set of genitals they prefer in their mouth, which is generally a sign of looming gaydom. They can be easily identified by their ridiculously tight jeans if male (stolen from sister's closet or bought at Macy's). Specifically for the males, wearing tight pants, white studded belts, and small band t-shirts are prevalent. Piercings, eyeliner, and long hair are also common but not necessary.


As a rule of thumb, a person described as "emo" (falling under certain behavior mannerisms and attire correlating with the subculture) will often be from a comfortable, middle-class background with liberal parents. All of this is irrelevant to an emo who will consider themselves misunderstood and repressed regardless of reality. When at their lowest point, these very emotional people often shut themselves out of society and cut their life into pieces.

Emos believe that only they alone know what pain is, and that no one else understands them, when in fact they are simply experiencing puberty; just like everyone else is. They all believe that their personal affliction could not be worse, that their life in their quiet suburban house with their own television and computer in their room is not just the worst life they could have, but the worst life anyone has had, ever. On the plus side, emos have made great strides in the fields of photography. Many surrealist photographers study the ridiculous and almost impossible-to-duplicate camera angles emos use to post pictures on their MySpace.

A majority of those in the emo subculture are vegetarians. This stems from a liberal moral absolutist ideology about eating animals being wrong and horrible like that PETA video shows. How sad. This ideology also reinforces the idea that all emo males are pussies and all emo females are stupid. Emos, like most vegetarians, are not without blatantly bashing meat eating and meat eaters. It is common to see an emo eating a large salad, fruits, and vegetables while looking rather pathetically at a "normal" person consuming a tasty hamburger. Others who push the self-righteousness further follow the "Straight Edge" ("sxe") lifestyle, where they refuse to drink, smoke, eat, or even have sex (despite "sxe" being an anagram of "sex"). Some have noted little noted distinction between the "Straight Edge" lifestyle and the moral code of Catholicism, the exception being that Catholics dress in white while emos dress in dark.


An odd subculture indeed, emos are known to blind themselves with their own spastically-cut fringe and take pictures from ridiculously odd and unnecessary photographic angles. If you tilt your computer screen back a little bit, this looks like a giant face with legs.

Emos are known for their often self-inflicted pain. The reason for this is that emos tend to produce gargantuan amounts of emoglobin, a hormone which causes depression, flippy hairstyles, and an introverted attitude. Contrary to emo belief, cutting oneself does not release this hormone; the only known cures are to consume the soul of a kitten, or to just get a haircut. Some emos make the outlandish claim that they inflict pain on themselves because nobody likes them, and that's why they cut themselves. Though the statement that nobody likes them is the truest thing to ever be documented, that's not the real reason that emos cut; it's all in the emoglobin.

Natural habitat

Emos enjoy dark, dry places, and middle-class suburbs. Another place of interest is, in fact, their own bathroom. They derive entertainment out of taking pictures of the reflections of themselves, often showing the camera flash. This has proven another fact: emos are horrible photographers. With all this in mind, common logic would be to shun them from society, or throw them into a pack of wild Chads and Staceys, but "laws" prevent one from doing so.

When roaming outside of their homes, they can be found at their local high school amongst their peers, although now that emoism has been around for some time, emos can be found in colleges. In this environment, the emo's natural predator is the jock. They're also commonly found roaming the local mall in abundance, specifically around Hot Topic and stores near it; earmuffs are recommended when going past this area. Emos will often attend a concert (referred to as a "show" or "Warped Tour"), standing completely numb and alone. Don't worry, they don't make much noise anyway.

Emo grass

The only lasting legacy of the emo movement has been its effect on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), as science has created a mutation of common Kentucky bluegrass called emo grass. The principal selling feature of this high-tech product is that it cuts itself.

See also

Preceded by:
Embarrassing Teenage Fads
Succeeded by: