You Can’t Keep a Secret If It Never Was a Secret to Start: Thoughts on the Epidemic of Sexual Abuse in Mainstream Emo
As My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way once said at a show in 2005, “Ladies, there ain’t nothing to do backstage but smoke cigarettes, hang out with assholes, and talk about Star Wars.”
While the sentiment is largely true, there was in fact more going on backstage than we imagined as pre-teens in the early 2000s. These bands, namely Brand New, touted themselves as tormented, broken-hearted love bugs. The kind of boys who “aren’t like the other boys.” The anti-jocks. The faceless barrage of sweeping haircuts and skinny jeans that marched along the fence lines of Warped Tour and Bamboozle.
Jesse Lacey, pretty boy and worshipped “emo king” has been accused of sexual misconduct with not one, but two minors. The curtain behind the stage of mainstream emo is beginning to be pulled back. It’s only a matter of time before your favorite band is pulled from their pedestal and revoked of their music-playing privileges. Thank the gods. Let them hang. Good fucking riddance.
In the time it took for Jesse Lacey to shamelessly masturbate on webcam in front of underage girls, he was writing lyrics hoping that his ex-girlfriend would die in a plane crash, because how dare she study abroad in England (see “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad”). In the time it took for him to ask for nudes from another underage fan, he was penning songs about encouraging a girl to drink more booze and then having sex with her in a parking lot (see “Me vs. Maradona vs. Elvis”).
Older male rock critics can take a seat for this conversation, because it does not involve their opinion. We don’t need it right now. We’ve had enough. The fact is simple: it is young impressionable women who made up the fanbases of these monstrous emo bands we once worhshipped.
We contributed the most money and the most fanship than any other demographic in the scene. We were at the shows. We were buying the constant flow of merch and CDs. We were at the meet-and-greets, hoping and praying to get a photo with our favorite member of the band. Not because we thought they were “cute.” It was because we thought we found a place we could call home.
Many of us found solace in the lyrics that put mental illness in the spotlight, and we were able to identify with the despair that so many of these bands wrote about. We sat on the edge of our seats each time a new album came out, and we could be found sitting in our bedrooms, CD booklet in hand, pouring over lyrics and swooning over precious melodies, most of the time alone.
Jesse Lacey of Brand New, just one example of the cesspool of garbage people that ruled the scene, was the broken messiah of an entire online community of confused and overwhelmed young women.
In the current state of the world, where women are now finding the courage and the guts to finally speak out about the atrocities that men like Jesse Lacey have inflicted upon them, it’s safe to say that the honeymoon phase of mainstream emo is officially over. Let it die. Quick and sudden.
It’s time for us, as a collective, to start analyzing these lyrics and to stop making excuses for the already-powerful proletariat force that is mainstream male-centric emo. We need to stop idolizing the men who write lyrics romanticizing the abuse and violence against women. The same women who pay for their records. The same women who attend all the shows and know all the words to their shitty, watered down, and fucking desparable songs.
The next time you see a young girl wearing a Used t-shirt sitting outside a venue at 4AM, because she wants to be front row to see her favorite band perform, do not shame her. Do not make her feel lesser than you. Do not think for one second that you are any better than anyone at a show, regardless of their gender.
At the end of the day, we’re all trying to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. In the lyrics we sing, in the beats we dance to, and in the communities we find that embrace us for who we are and what we love. If there’s anything we can take away from the resurrection and crucifixtion of Jesse Lacey, it’s this: Women are here, and we refuse to take your shit. We are heaven-sent. Don’t. You. Dare. Forget.
Write that in your fucking diary, Jesse.