Emo, Hipster, Indie, Goth - give me a primer.

So, I’ve come to realize that I’m so far out of it, I’m not even sure what these mean. Attitude, philosophy, music, dress, I’m sure all play a role in it. But what is “it”?

“Goth” is the only one of these we had back in my day, and that was folks who wore all black, perhaps with accents of red or dark purple (until one “rebel” wore all white to Neo one night, and that appeared to signal the beginning of some shift I didn’t quite grok), but now I see pink labeled as “goth”? Really? Pink? And not angry vaginal deep pink, but bubblegum pepto-bismol pink? Obviously, I missed the memo somewhere along the Getting Old trail. Still, goth now seems pretty consistent with '90s goth, with perhaps an added ironic Barbie element thrown in.

Are there still Preps, Jocks, Burnouts and Brains? What about Punks? Seems like Emo might kinda sorta be an evolution of Punk, but with less safety pins and anger, and more journaling and sighing.

I’m well aware that labels suck and people are people. I myself was an inter-label gal (or “Weekend Goth” as I liked to call it). But since people are throwing around these terms like they mean something, I’d like to know more. I just don’t quite understand the current labels, and I’m curious.

(Why Cafe Society? 'Cause it seems these labels are generally based on leisure activities or props - clothing, art, music, books, etc. It’s a crapshoot, and I won’t get whiny if a mod moves it, of course.)

The “Emo” entry in Wikipedia is a great place to start. The “Emo - Music” link at the bottom is also useful.

Punk Emo and Goth all look pretty much the same to me. Then some kid will say they’re Scene and not Emo. The hair in the face thing is distinctively and repulsively Emo. I was pretty sure this girl was Goth (black clothes, pocket chains, those lame flat spikes), but she said she was Punk. I guess that distinction really depends on the music they listen to. Meanwhile, modern punk and emo are as muddled as all hell, Emo doesn’t mean anything as far as music.

Is a Burnout a Stoner? Like someone who uses drugs extensively, doesn’t get up to much? I don’t know what a Brain is, probably a Nerd or a shudder Gamer (nothing against video games or those who play them, I just hate the word). There are definitely still Jocks and Preps but I doubt they’re as tightly defined or labeled as such. Yeesh you old folks and your silly jargon.

Ah, you need Vol. 1 of the “Field Guide to North American Hipsters” at Something Awful.

…and you can practice on these exactitudes..

I had to come out of my lurking to answer this one. I’ve been described as emo, punk, or goth by all sorts of people. My answer to all of them when they try to label me is to tell them that labels are stupid, and I am who I am. But moving beyond that, I do have some answers.

Emo = whiny, livejournal loving, most usual complaint being “Why doesn’t anyone love meeeeee?”

Goth = fascinated with death and/or anything “dark”

Punk = an attitude not a style! This is what I consider myself when people insist on giving me a label (I’d much prefer “nerd”, but hardly anyone considers that a label) I think this is the one that is hardest to give characteristics to. You can label people punk based on the music they listen to, but there is a big difference between types of punk music. You can have the true-to-the-genre punk like Bad Religion or NoFX, or you can have crappy yuppie-like pop punk like Yellowcard. I generally stay away from categorization based on music. Besides, even though I prefer punk, I also enjoy metal, jazz, and gulp classical…

You can’t categorize punk from clothes either, because punk is an attitude not a style. You can grow a mohawk, tack on the safety pins, and load on the eyeliner, but if at the end of the day, you think like a “yuppie”, you are a yuppie!

I would like to think that the attitude of punk is to do what I want, to have fun, and make the best out of life. If I think I look great with blue hair, but get disapproving stares from people who think I’m a trouble maker, so be it. They don’t know I get good grades in school, and I am working hard to make sure my future is relatively secure, so be it. It’s not their concern.

Oh good, I’m glad I’m not the only one. Everytime I think I’m starting to get it, I identify something as Emo and my kid (14, boy) looks at me like this -----> :rolleyes: It’s just the circle of life, I’m sure I looked at my mother the same way when she tried to figure out the crazy talk my friends and I slung around!

Yes, Burnout and Stoners were used pretty interchangeably, although Back In My Day, the drugs were optional, and started out pretty light (alcohol, tobacco, weed). Burnouts were the kids who presented a lot of discipline problems, especially truancy and talking back to the teachers. They were pretty much expected to drop out of high school, perhaps to get a GED, but they were actually very intelligent and self-educated in art and literature and music - they just didn’t see the point of school. They were the ones you could usually find in Inschool Suspension when they bothered to go at all, and by the time their peers were going off to college, they were graduating from weed and wicky sticks to heroin and cocaine. :frowning:

There was always some fuzzy line, however, between the Burnouts and the Shop Kids who were the kids who weren’t so academically gifted but were hard workers, and as a result were encouraged to take vocational classes instead of academic ones. They liked football and girls with big hair (even after Rachel from *Friends *deflated the big '80’s hair thing) and drank a lot of booze on the weekends. A lot of social overlap with The Burnouts, and it was hard to tell sometimes where any individual might end up until (community) college separated the two. The differential diagnosis came down to poetry: Burnouts wrote tortured self-involved poetry in notebooks covered with black ink drawings of abstract designs, flames, daggers and Sylvia Plath quotes; the Shop Kids wouldn’t dream of such pretentiousness.

Frozen Fish Sticks, thanks so much! That’s very useful. Both your Emo and Goth definitions would have applied to most of my friends in college, but I’m starting to see where the difference is among today’s kids. I guess that’s how labels work - what used to be a larger “group” becomes further refined and labeled as two distinct entities as sub-subcultures form. Welcome to the Dope, I hope you stick around.

Well, Hope is Emo.

Back in the day (high school), we had jocks, preppies, JAPs and WAPs (no, those are not racial epithets - that’s Jewish (or WASP) American Princess or (the occasional) Prince), nerds (glasses, pocket protectors, science fair winners), artsy-fartsies (music, theatre, visual arts students), greasers (mechanically adept, academically challenged, and very combatative) and hippies (a few of whom later became stoners and burnouts)
The jocks, preppies, and princesses (many of whom were cheerleaders) made up a good 85% of the school population, leaving the rest of us (I was an a-f) to kind of band together. But we had a helluva lot more fun than they did.

Uh…funny you should mention that “not racial epithets” thing…

what? WASP stands for white anglo saxon protestant. When did this become perjorative? I missed the memo

Goth kids tend to be either into frilly things or into really industrial-looking stuff or both. Like they want to look like dead princesses or boiler rooms. I think the pink goth thing comes from a sort of… twisting children’s things. Lots of gothy girls like dollies and teddy bears and pigtails and fairies and so on, but they’re dead dollies and zombie teddy bears and pink hair and stuff. Also, neon colors are used as an accent. Like a black dress with hot pink polka dots or a black corset with neon green ruffles

This is where they cross over into scene. Scene kids are like goth kids, only more colorful and less into death. They have the crazy crazy hair and makeup and they spend all their time going to concerts. They’re usually about 52 pounds and wear tight jeans and a colorful t-shirt. They like big sunglasses and myspace.

Emo kids like to whine. They also like the long black bangs in the face. emo boys like eyeliner and emo bands can’t pronounce words correctly. They also like glasses. Not sunglasses… just regular ones with black frames. almost nobody is proud of being emo. Because it’s stupid. A lot of emos write poetry about how painful their lives are… lots of stuff about roses and razors and tears.

As far as screen names and such:

death_is_merciful_666 is goth
XxPinkZombiexX is scene
and Xx_BrokenWings_xX is emo.
plus there are all the other fun things. The computer nerd library kids, the jocks, the airheaded girls who think they’re popular, the druggies, and so on.

I’m just normal.

I’m sure they’ll say the same thing.

I mean, how long have you been out of high school, and this still matters to you? :slight_smile:

Terms like “emo,” “goth” and “punk” are generally too vague to define, and the precise boundaries and definitions are wholly dependent on the observer’s biases. Here is an actual quote from an allegedly Goth website on what Goth constitutes:

So, Goth is a subculture of people who like each other and there’s nothing else they necessarily have in common, except black clothing, maybe.

Cruxshadows would be what? GothEmoTrance?

In my high school, we had All-American (popular, name-brand-wearing, good looks of the clean cut variety, athletic but not necessarily jocky, not overtly depressed or angry), Ghetto (academically remedial (intentionally or unintentionally), ghetto hairstyles, teacher-disrespecting bad-asses), nerds (bright, well-behaved but not cool and maybe a little scary), and Artistic. In my memory, clothing articles couldn’t always be a reliable marker; style and substance was more important. For instance, All-Americans might wear droopy pants like Ghettos and Ghetto-Lites, except that their droopy pants might cost a lot more and look cleaner. And of course, there were subgroups.

Among the Artistics, you might find the Dramatics (theater people mostly, with poets thrown in. Their style of dressed tended towards Grunge. Converse sneakers and low-top Doc Martens), the Flamboyants (not to be confused with the Dramatics, they were mostly the chorus kids and tended to have big, sing-songy personalities, particularly the guys, and they tended to dress like they were going to church), the Goths and Goth-Lites (who tended to go into audio-visual stuff at my school…we respectfully called them “techies”), music geeks (those really into their musical instruments…always playing in some orchestra or band, always called to play a solo at the big holiday concert. No specific uniform requirements, but maybe sharing qualities with Nerds), and the Blossoms, who could be found in either the theater, orchestra/band room, or the chorus room. They looked like they would be friends with the girl from Blossom. Think Linda Perry in that “What’s Up” video…flower-print baby doll shirts, fluorescent pink Doc Martens, funky scarves, crazy patches on their bookbags. I guess a 90s version of Hippie, except cleaner. I had a total Blossom for a friend, and she always distinguished herself from the Grunges, a more depressed cousin of the aesthetic, with their dirty raggedy clothes and darker musings. Personally, I had an equal mix of Blossom and Grunge qualities, and I was also a music geek (leader of the viola section, yeah!) If you were a dancer, you tended towards All-American. They tended to go tsk tsk tsk at the rest of us.

I went to a performing arts high school, so all these subgroups were quite visible.

We didn’t have any punk kids at my school. The white kids weren’t really working class enough, and there aren’t that many black kids–at least in Atlanta–that are into punk. There was one black punkster in my orchestra (she was always playing Led Zepplin riffs on her violin and wore leather all the time), but I don’t think she had many friends (poor Lawanda). My older sister also went through a punk phase. Combat boots, piercings, pink, half-shaved head. She was probably the only punk at her school.

Who wears the gigantic wideleg pants with the multiple, multiple half-zippers, D-rings, looped straps, carabiners, chains, and the like? I’ve seen them in black, gray, and red, and they look like they must weigh about twenty pounds a pair. I must admit to being too distracted by the pants to notice what they look like up top.

It’s not racism if they’re white or jewish? :confused:

Emo, Hipster, Indie: Your average sullen teenager.

Goth: Your average sullen teenager, but they wear all black.

All four groups will argue they are NOT members of the other group and how dare you not know that. Don’t listen to them! It’s a trap to get you to listen to their opinions on musicians who do the same thing!

Seriously though, the whole emo, hipster, indie, scene (WTF? never heard of it) designations are just idiot musicians trying to slander each other by slapping labels on each other when they all want to be seen as individuals. The reality is, they’re just pop or rock bands who have defining musical characteristics and it pisses them off. But in an angry white boy way that works best when parodied by Ben Folds.

Pretty much, yeah. When comparing emo to indie musicians, the main difference I found was that the emo bands were a little more likely to wear black. But sometimes the indie bands wear black, too. Both are quite likely to wear “guyliner” and emo music honestly isn’t nearly as whiny or depressing as it’s stereotypically made out to be. There are some musical conventions that separate them, but they’re not particularly blatant. Most of the teenagers I know use “scene” interchangeably with emo. Meanwhile, hipster is often linked with indie as a mild insult or ironic self-labeling.

And despite the claims, indie isn’t really outside of the mainstream at all. There are stereotypes about people who only listen to bands nobody’s ever heard of, that are only ever signed with independent labels, but the fact is I’ve personally never actually met anyone who truly matches that stereotype. Most people who call themselves indie listen to the music of major recording labels in addition to more obscure musicians. Somewhere along the way, “indie” moved away from the anti-LA lovers of independent music and got taken over by kids who think that it’s actually the description of a particular sound. Kind of like when “alternative” was the popular musical genre of the mid-'90s. :confused:

If you’re looking for blatant stereotypes, this seems to be a general guide:

Black t-shirt: Emo/scene.
Green, orange or vintage t-shirt: Indie/hipster.
Facial piercings: Emo/scene.
Square glasses: Indie/hipster.
Hair in face: Emo/scene
Hair gently tousled as though s/he just got out of bed: Indie/hipster.
Really tight girl jeans (regardless of gender): Emo/scene
Really tight earth-toned girl jeans (regardless of gender): Indie/hipster.

Oh, god, that would be my husband. Anything that’s made more than $52.73 in record sales sucks, apparently, and if you’ve heard of them, they suck and if they receive any sort of radio play, they’re sucky sellouts. He was quite annoyed when Death Cab For Cutie became popular, because that must mean that now they suck, you see. It’s quite exhausting to live with. Yet somehow, he has literally thousands of albums on MP3 CD-Rs for “archival purposes”, as well as a packed iPod full of people you’ve never heard of. I had no idea there were that many “great unknowns” recording out there. :wink:

Still, he’s 37, so way too old to be Indie in the teen cred sense. Maybe he’s the cool/lame old guy they’re trying to pretend to be.