In 2008 a new hate crime began to spread across Mexico targeting teenage “Emos.” The Emo identity originated in 1980s hardcore punk bands in Washington D.C, then blended pop punk and indie rock sounds in the 1990s with groups like Jawbreaker. In recent years the term has been appropriated by Mexican youth who follow bands like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance.
Emo kids have long, often artificially straightened hair, piercings, and pride themselves on their expressive, confessional sentimentality. By embracing bisexuality and androgynous style, Mexican emos rebel against the Machismo culture which mocks them.
Leading up to the attacks, anti-Emo sentiments started brewing in online message boards and forums. At the same time, a popular music television host called Kristoff launched a scathing anti-Emo tirade on-air. TIME Magazine quoted Victor Mendoza, a youth worker in Mexico City, “At the core of this is the homophobic issue. The other arguments are just window dressing for that. This is not a battle between music styles at all. It is the conservative side of Mexican society fighting against something different.”
Just like the Zoot Suit Riots, which targeted Mexican American teens in LA in the 1940s, Emos were attacked for their outsider fashion and counter cultural sensibility.
Graphic videos like the following clip of skinny teenagers being assailed by hundreds of attackers began surfacing online, shocking the general public and causing an international media frenzy.
TIME Magazine quoted commentator Hugo Garcia in the Mexican daily Milenio.
“The danger is that hate is permeating more and more into Mexican society. We should not forget that intolerant violence leads to fascism.”