It has been labelled a dangerous new teen cult that revels in self-mutilation, misery and even suicide.
Britain’s growing Emo generation – recognisable by their preference for black clothing and taste for music that deals with dark subjects – is enough to strike fear into the hearts of most middle England parents. But now devotees of the growing phenomenon are hitting back, claiming they have been misunderstood and misrepresented.
Emo stands for Emotional – a style of rock music originating from America containing "emotional lyrics". The music, however, has spawned a growing youth scene on both sides of the Atlantic, with youngsters posting messages to each other on websites in which suicide and self-harm are topics of conversation.
Self-confessed Emo Sean Coleman, who is also a DJ with Birmingham’s Kerrang! Radio, said: "This is just another youth trend for to bash. We think it distracts from the main issue which is if people are worried about kids self-harming, ask why are they self-harming rather than blame the music they are listening to."
Sean, aged 22, admits bands such as My Chemical Romance do write "emotional songs that are probably quite depressing at times".
"But people make the mistake that it is encouraging kids to be emotional. It is tapping into kids who feel like the world doesn’t understand them and they can relate to this music."
"At the moment there is a lot of misunderstanding. If you went on the myspace website or any other website you could find Emo kids posting bulletins saying ‘this is how I cut my wrists and my parents don’t understand me’. But that was there before.
"If kids call themselves Emo it is not that they are emotional and cutting themselves. It is mainly just a fashion thing".
Sean said most of the Emo bands from the US he has interviewed on his radio show have been "charming, well-spoken and incredibly polite".
Likewise, most of the fans had a similar respectful attitude to society, he claimed.
"A friend of mine was in Manchester over the weekend and sent me a text saying he couldn’t believe the number of Emo kids hanging out there. He was with his two young children and wasn’t afraid to walk through the middle of 200 Emo kids who were listening to their ipods and skateboarding.
"But if you went to one of the bus stops in Birmingham and there was a group of 20 kids in baseball caps you might find it is a different story."
"Maybe a teenager is sitting in their bedroom feeling a bit depressed," said Sean. "They go on myspace and they can listen to these bands that relate to them. They can send messages to them. Maybe you’re an awkward 15-year-old who feels a bit different and don’t have many mates at school.
"Then they come across this band and it is a scene they understand."
* What do you think? Is Emo a danger to the kids? Or is it just the latest teen fad, after punk, new romantics, goth, mod, rock'n'roll and all the others? And has Rod Hull got anything to do with it? Tell us your thoughts at the messageboard.