October 20, 2009

The Emo Dilemma

So, I have this kid in my class. He is like… the sort of person you would put next to the term “Emo kid” in the dictionary in look. Wears all the clothes, has bangs that cover his eyes, stays in the corner, never says anything, you know. Stereotype, through and through.At the same time, he’s a nice kid. Turns things in on time. Never an issue. It’s not like I hate him. It’s not like I have anything against him wanting to play that emo role, either. If it makes him happy, more power to him. It’s fine with me.

At the same time, I do things like, say, play Forumwarz, which is awesome. But I play an Emo Kid, and so I’ve sort of gotten myself used to laughing my ass off at these ridiculous emo things. I mean, they are funny! That’s why I laugh. It’s motivated by some of the same reasons I would, say, laugh at more ridiculous aspects of the furry subculture, or the gamer subculture. Any group is likely to have aspects of it that are ridiculous, you know?

Still, I get his papers from class, and I read them, and I’m met with a problem. This is exactly the sort of text that is displayed in Forumwarz when I make an emo attack. Exactly. Like, I could cut and paste parts of it and put it into the game, and nobody would know it wasn’t parody.

This puts me in a spot. I just don’t know how to react to this genuine, heartfelt text that is, at the same time, hilariously an emo stereotype. I know this guy takes his writing seriously, and is wanting to write something good. Though his style is so painfully, painfully emo, he is trying to cultivate a style, and I should encourage that. It feels very wrong to laugh at him. I don’t want to do that, just like I don’t want people to laugh at me for my oddities, or at the very least laugh with me, you know? But damn, separated from him, in my office, grading these papers, it is really hard to remember there’s a person behind it that I shouldn’t make fun of. Incredibly hard.
So I almost always have to take these long breaks before I write comments on his paper so I don’t write anything weird. But it’s hard.

It just goes to show you how dangerous stereotypes can be, I guess. I mean, I feel like I’m pretty good about such things? But then here’s this clear situation where I’m fighting with it? I don’t know. I guess it’s, to some extent, inescapable.

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