Monday, 8 November 2010

Goth FAQ

Why do people become Goth?
This question is generally asked by people who don't understand why others would want to drape themselves in black and go about acting as though the world is a dreary, unhappy place. Of course, Goth isn't really like that.

There are lots of different reasons why people may be attracted to the subculture. They might have become involved via the music, or they may just like the fashions. Many young people seem to use Goth fashion to express the turbulent, negative emotions experienced during adolescence, and in doing so discover a supportive network of friends amongst the Gothic community. They may already have friends or family who are Goth, and discovered through them an enjoyment and appreciation of the scene.

If you want to go a little deeper, it's fairly safe to say that those who are attracted to the Goth scene tend to be fiercely independent free-thinkers, who are not willing to accept societal norms at face value and prefer to set their own path. As a result of this mindset, most of those who become Goth have, at some point in their lives, felt alienated from or rejected by 'normal' society. For these people, Goth provides a strong community, a sense of belonging, and a way to meet or socialise with like-minded people.

Are emo and Goth the same?
Um, no. (A lengthier diatribe on this coming later...)

Are all Goths in their teens (or early twenties at most)? Is there an age limit on Goth?
Again, no. The most 'visible' Goths tend to be younger, as older Goths often feel they have to tone down their image when it comes to getting a job, raising a family, etc. But Goth is more than just a teen fad - it started around thirty years ago, and while many of the 'first generation' Goths may have moved on from the subculture, many have not. There are lots of Goths in their 30s, 40s and beyond.

Why do Goths wear black?
Every Goth you meet will probably have a different answer to this question, ranging from "Because it expresses how I feel..." to "Because I like it." Really, there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer.

Black symbolises many things, such as death, the night, and the unknown, which are common themes in Goth music, art and literature. Nowadays wearing black has become the easiest way to mark oneself out as a member of the subculture, and by choosing to 'look Goth', thereby setting oneself apart from the mainstream. Literally showing the 'dark side' of the often hypocritical and bigoted society that Goths often feel alienated from.

The all-black thing has led to the misconception that all Goths look the same, but there are so many subsets of Goth fashion - as demonstrated, hopefully, by the pictures and videos on this blog - that there is actually an incredible variety of Goth looks.

Where did the Goth look come from?
Goth first emerged in the 1970s, and during that era it was common for fans of a certain band to emulate the band members' fashion (much like MCR fans wearing those black-and-silver military jackets in the Black Parade era...). Musicians like Siouxsie Sioux, Peter Murphy and Robert Smith tended to dress in monochromatic hues, perhaps to compliment the dark soundscapes of their music, and as these musicians gained fans, the fans began to mimic the styles that they portrayed.

Since this was the era of punk, this original Goth look was, in the very beginning, a darker take on punk anti-fashion. Of course, the style has now grown and changed, and developed hundreds of substyles such as cybergoth, but through the common colour theme (and love of heavy eyeliner) the look has always remained true to its roots.

How do I become Goth?
Don't worry - as I've pointed out before, it isn't necessary to be 'born Goth'. The generally accepted definition of 'being a Goth' is:
  • being a fan of Goth music
  • wearing Goth-style clothes/looking Goth (although this is not actually a necessity, it tends to be preferred)
  • having at least some knowledge of Goth culture
  • possibly having some social involvement with the culture, i.e. attending Goth clubs.
However, you could check all of those boxes and still not be a Goth, because if you don't actually want to be a Goth, then you aren't one. But if you do want to become involved in the Goth subculture, the best way to start is to check out the music, and work from there.

Listening to: Face to Face - Siouxsie and the Banshees


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