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Why is emo nostalgia so expensive under Late Capitalism?

Why is emo nostalgia so expensive under Late Capitalism?

Growing up in the emo/pop-punk scene definitely influenced my sexuality. I am not alone in that. The fact the ‘scene’ uniform — regardless of gender — was skinny jeans, band shirts, and straight hair meant that there was a certain level of androgyny present. In fact, one of my celebrity crushes when I was 15 was Bill Kaulitz of German rock band Tokio Hotel. Many, just from looking at him, assumed he was female. And of course, my biggest girl crush Hayley Williams definitely played a role in me coming to terms with my bisexuality.

‘I think to a degree the amount that emo styles blurred gender lines may have played a role in sort of lowering the guards people have up in terms of questioning their own sexual orientation,’ my friend Victoria says. ‘Like if everyone is wearing skinny jeans, big band shirts, makeup, and has the same haircut it’s easier to feel attracted to a look as a whole. So when you see a girl that looks the same as the boy you have a crush on, you’re almost predisposed to accepting that attraction rather than disregarding it.’

As a teen, I attended events like the Bamboozle Festival and Warped Tour, as well as local shows put on by Bronx Underground. Last summer was the final full Warped Tour, which I spoke to Simple Plan drummer Chuck Comeau about. Yet, Warped Tour still plans to do some regional shows. So when I saw they would be having one in Atlantic City, I immediately told Victoria, about it. I have known Victoria since 2009 — the peak of our scene years.

Emo Nostalgia under Late Capitalism

But my excitement soon drained when I saw the cost — $150 [€131.84] per ticket. What’s more, this ticket is a two-day pass, meaning we would have to book accommodations as well.

I sound old saying this. But back in my day things like Warped Tour and Bamboozle offered single-day tickets as well as two-day passes. Single-day tickets were only about $40 [€35.16]. That was, and would still be, easy to swing. Only that’s not the case. Perhaps the people behind Warped Tour think my generation has stable enough jobs that this wouldn’t be a problem. But, in Late Capitalism, millennials like myself are struggling. Almost everyone I know either struggles to balance their jobs with school, or works multiple jobs just to get by.

This is exacerbated by the student debt crisis here in the United States. For those who live in Metropolitan areas — especially New York City (like myself) or San Francisco — a high cost of living is also causing many to pinch pennies.

Victoria (left) and me in 2011
Victoria (left) and me in 2011

So under Late Capitalism, people like myself and Victoria cannot participate in our subculture. In the nostalgia that brings back memories of a time when it was cool for guys to wear eyeliner and nail polish. When it was cool for girls to wear oversized men’s band shirts.

It’s almost like Vans Warped Tour™ is just another item on that ever-growing list of things millennials have supposedly killed.

Corporate Puppet in a Wig with Side Bangs

‘Our culture right now is really into pushing nostalgia. There’s so much merchandise and marketing of old cartoons or old styles (mom jeans, dad sneakers, etc). I think because it’s so prominent, there’s a lot of competition which keeps prices manageable,’ Victoria says.

‘But for the emo establishments looking to capitalize, it’s way easier for them to keep things expensive because we don’t have other points of access to relive those days,’ she continues. ‘If you aren’t paying $150 for Warped Tour tickets, you’re missing out. There aren’t really alternatives. It’s just sad that to a lot of folks this whole subculture was, at least for a while, part of how they found themselves. And now as adults we have to realize it was another corporate puppet wearing a wig with side bangs.’

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