Thursday, 23 December 2010

Ban and the Angels - dark culture in a war zone

I regularly comb Google News for the latest articles on Goth, in case I stumble across anything that deserves a mention in this blog. This week I came across a rather sweet article on the Montreal Gazette website about a 15-year-old Iraqi girl named Ban.

Ban is living in a war-torn country, but she describes herself as an emo (which she chooses to pronounce 'emu' - apparently 'emo' sounds like common militia slang in Arabic) after discovering dark culture when she found music from the band Evanescence on the internet. She and her friends, whom she has inspired to dress in a similar style, and whom she calls 'angels', wear fishnet gloves, black nail polish, skull pendants and customised Converses with the headscarves and robes they are made to wear by their schoolteachers. Despite criticism and concern from their teachers (and their parents - Ban's mother dislikes the black clothing that her daughter wears, as it reminds her of all the death she has seen), the angels sit together in the school yard, where they harmonise on songs by Evanescence and Eminem, and hold sleepovers where they watch pirate copies of Twilight.

Source: Los Angeles Times
All right, so if we are talking about 'emo' as represented in the Western world, Ban and her 'angels' are a little off the mark subculturally, but considering the fact that she and her family were forced to flee their home in Baghdad (where their father, a doctor, was injured in an ambush by gunmen) and are living under the shadow of civil war, I don't think it matters at all how she has chosen to define herself. I find it quite heartwarming that even under those circumstances she and her friends are enjoying self-expression and their own form of dark culture. Sometimes, it takes a lot of courage for a young person to choose to express themselves through dark culture in a comfortable life in Western suburbia - let alone in a war zone.

The only thing I take issue with is the article itself - it is poorly written and even more poorly researched. Firstly, the writer states, "If Ban had chosen to be a goth, she would have to wear only black and act depressed. But she was emo, so she could wear some bright colors and be bored with life, but funny too." What? Really, what is that? It takes maybe five minutes on Google to find accurate descriptions of Goth and emo, so I find this a little irritating. Secondly, the article gives the impression that Ban's angels are the only emos or Goths in the country, but there are actually quite a few members of both subcultures living in Iraq.

Nonetheless I admire Ban's bravery in choosing to defy both the society she lives in and those around her - her teachers - and to continue expressing her individuality and having fun with it, despite the circumstances; best wishes to her and her angels.

Listening to: Hammer Horror Glamour - Devilish Presley


MissGracie said...

Yea, I wasn't keen on how the article itself was written, it seemed almost condescending, like it wasn't a subject to be taken seriously.

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