Sunday, 7 November 2010

Fact or fiction?: Goth myths

In case you haven't noticed, the media loves to spread a little hysteria. Not a difficult job when the mainstream are easily frightened by anything they don't really understand - which has occasionally made the Goth scene an easy target for journalists seeking a pay rise (hi, Sarah Sands...). Unfortunately, these stereotypes are pervasive, and have coloured society's view of Goths since the dawn of time (or thereabouts).

You may recognise some of these points. You may have read them yourself. Your parents, friends or colleagues may believe them. Maybe you believe them. But this is MY little corner of the internets, and I'd like to set the record straight.

Heh heh heh...
Rumour #1: Goth is a SATANIC CULT

Sure, some Goths are Satanists. But many are not. Goths are known for being open-minded, and as such are accepting of all kinds of religion and understanding of personal choice. Many Goths are atheist. Some are Christian, some Wiccan, some Pagan, some Buddhist - you name it. Just because a group of people look similar does not mean they belong to a cult, or all those suit-and-briefcase city bankers have some explaining to do (hmm... could I be on to something here?). Plus, a cult must have a leader. Goth has no such thing.

Also, Satanism. Does not actually involve the sacrificing of virgins and/or chickens. Or murder. Or actual devil worship. You knew that, yes? Devil worshippers are delusional and somewhat scary. Goths are largely pacifist and pretty much harmless.

Rumour #2: Marilyn Manson is, like, the KING GOTH

Marilyn Manson's music isn't Goth, and listening to the band is not a prerequisite of being a part of the subculture. However, some Goths (including moi) do listen to Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and various other METAL bands as well was whatever GOTH music they enjoy. (That's 'metal' and 'Goth' - as in, two separate genres, in case the caps lock didn't make my point clear enough there. Headbanging to Cannibal Corpse does not a Goth make.)

Avid Marilyn Manson listeners are known as Mansonites, and generally have nothing to do with the 'real' Goth scene, although they may dress in black and therefore be similar in appearance.

Rumour #3: Goths like to KILL PEOPLE

Over the last couple of decades a lot of crimes have been blamed largely on the Goth scene because the killers wore black clothing or heavy eyeliner, which frankly is a load of hooey. Dressing in black and listening to melancholy music is not going to turn you (or your child) into a psycho killer. (Go up to one of my friends and tell them that Goths are scary and murderous. They will stare at you blankly for approximately 2.4 seconds and then fall about with helpless laughter.)

For starters, ninety-nine per cent of Goths are anti-violence. Partly this is for quite a pragmatic reason - a lot of Goths tend to be rather more bookish than athletic, and therefore stand a better chance in a battle of words than fists.

As an example: the Columbine killers were not Goth. Newspaper reports state that the two teen boys who went on a killing spree at their school wore black trenchcoats and listened to Marilyn Manson. As I've already pointed out, Mansonites have little to do with Goths save a similarity in appearance. Goths gained a lot of bad press over this case, but really, is enjoying dark literature and wearing black nail polish likely to turn one homicidal? Whatever twisted motive was behind the Columbine shootings, I'm fairly sure it was not the fault of the trenchcoats (or, come to that, Marilyn Manson.). Black clothing does not equal psychological problems. Really.

Rumour #4: Goths ALWAYS wear black

Wearing black doesn't make you a Goth, and being Goth doesn't mean you have to wear black. Yes, all right, most Goths do, but not all of them, and probably not all the time either (although it's probably fair to say that I come pretty close). Goths can wear black, pink, green, blue, silver, white, red, purple... it hardly matters. Goth has neither rules nor a dress code.

Rumour #5: All Goths are DEPRESSED

Belonging to a particular subculture or social group is no more likely to make you suicidal than homicidal. Goths understand that even the most seemingly upstanding member of society is capable of doing evil, and therefore may develop a somewhat misanthropic outlook. But misanthropy is not depression. Furthermore, modern society seems to want us to be happy all of the time. Goths know full well that this is not possible, so they defy this attitude by exploring other aspects of human existence - death, isolation, and, yes, sadness. Unfortunately, this can be taken too far and some Goths (usually the very young ones) end up pretending to be sad all the time, which is where this stereotype originated in the first place.

Rumour #6: Goths AREN'T ALLOWED to fall in love

Do I even have to point out what a ridiculous idea this is? How can we possibly pick and choose whether or not we fall in love? Just to clarify, Goths adore the idea of romance, and love in all its forms. They most definitely DO fall in love.

Rumour #7: ALL Goths are gay or bisexual

Some are; some aren't. Anyone can be a Goth, anyone can be gay. It is true that many gays are Goth - perhaps this is partly because Goths are as open-minded about sexuality as they are about religion and race.

Listening to: She's in Parties - Bauhaus


Anonymous said...

Great post, I love your blog!

Anonymous said...

I know this post is a bit old but being from the u.s. I've got a bit of insight to the reasons behind the columbine shooting. After all of the media hype and everything calmed down, they discovered the reason that this horrible event occured was the shooter was bullied horribly throughout his entire school career. he had a condition that caused one side of his chest to be caved in and he was what is known as a computer nerd. this poor boy inly had one or two friends and was hazed quite a bit. even though being bullied does not justify such a horrendous act of violence, somethingbshould have been done to help the boy and maybe just maybe this could have been prevented. lately in this country there have been suicides because of bullying and nothing being done. as soon as i moved with my family to a small town, school was utter hell for me. i was the only goth in the whole county, so as you can guess there were plenty of people that were scared and would lash out at me. But in the end I made it out o.k. and found a few friends that don't judge based on appearance. Apologies for the kind of lengthy rant, and please excuse the typos, I'm posting this from my touchscreen smartphone and have a tendency to fatthumb the keys

Yamaraja said...

I am I fact living rumour 3 there recently was a murder in my town and simply by the way I dress I am being blamed for it

March Hare said...

Wonderful post, I love reading your blog, you're a very talent writer and you raise some important issues and interesting thoughts. It would be nicer to read your articles in the paper rather than the usual trash a certain paper *cough* Daily Mail *cough* has, although they're so bad they're funny at times so I can't resist.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, the joys of ignorant people who hiss at the thought of reading something other than porn or comics. :-/

If black cloth made humanity ecocidal, genocidal, homicidal, or suicidal, then why do police, abrahamic clergy, and law court judges wear all black too? Never mind diplomatic functions, formal functions, interviews, jury-duty, weddings, funerals, and standard office-wear for white-collar jobs.

Its as retarded to blame a color on something as it is to say "everyone who drinks water, dies." Correlation does not imply causation...

In the end, maybe its not the color we should worry about, maybe its the fabric, or weaving pattern, eg, sweater vests? :-p

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