Hey! Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone!
by Craig Schuftan
Have you ever met an emo? Have you ever walked past one in the street or sat down with one for a conversation? Have you ever wondered what’s going through their head, why they think and feel the way they do? What is an emo any way?
Craig Schuftan has thought about these things. And he’s cracked the code. He’s worked out it’s all connected – from David Bowie to Smashing Pumpkins to Weezer to My Chemical Romance. The key to understanding? The Romantic poets of the 19th century. And now it all makes so much more sense.
Hey! Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone! wins points for the title alone, combining Nietzsche with Pink Floyd. More importantly, the title gives you a feel for what you are about to read. The text interweaves modern music such as Bowie and My Chemical Romance with the movers and shakers of the Romantic movement such as Byron, Wagner, and Goethe. As we begin to understand the Romantic movement, we see that there is nothing new under the sun. What these people were reacting against, their ways of thinking, their rationals for existence are playing themselves out again in the here and now. And as we begin to understand them with the benefit of hindsight, we can apply those observations to what’s going on today.
After reading this book, I’ve found I have a much greater insight into the hearts and minds of the teenagers I’m working with day to day. I’ve gained a greater understanding into what they’re thinking and feeling and why. And this insight has enabled me to be sympathetic, empathetic, and able to direct conversations to the gospel in new and effective ways. It’s changed the way I look at situations and I’m able to tackle them in new ways. I love this book.
Craig Schuftan is a regular contributor at Triple J in a segment called the Culture Club. If you’re curious about Hey! Nietzsche! take a listen to the Culture Club podcast. If you like what you hear, definitely give the book a read. My copy is bookmarked with other books to read, songs to listen to and quotes to use later. This one quote sums up for me the whole draw of emo and any other cult of celebrity that builds up around a musician. Talking about a Queen concert, Schuftan makes this observation about the crowd “Gerard Way [of My Chemical Romance] must have known something of what it was like to be Freddie at Live Aid – to wield that power, to stand in front of tens of thousands of people and have them say, ‘you express us better than we can express ourselves, we surrender to you.'” Once we understand that core truth, then we can begin to understand ourselves and these cultures better.
This is a must read book.