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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Goth vs. emo

One thing I get tired of hearing is that emo and Goth are the same. They are not. Nor are they 'sub-sets' of each other, as the Daily Mail has claimed at least once. No, they are two different and separate subcultures, who happen to have some basic aesthetics and public misconceptions in common.

A Goth.
Source: YouTube
Emo, like Goth, has had to put up with various prejudices and stereotypes, mostly revolving around self-harm and depression. (Do I need to point out again that belonging to a subculture is no more or less likely to mean that a person is depressed or a self-harmer?) Emos, again like Goths, often have to put up with verbal and sometimes physical abuse for dressing differently and being interested in different things than the 'average' person.

When it comes to the 'depressed' stereotype, the fact is that emo kids are more likely to act moody and miserable than Goths. Most - and I do mean MOST - newbie Goths learn quickly that the 'Goths are gloomy' stereotype is exactly that: a stereotype. Unfortunately, most would-be emos who are new to the scene and the music tend to believe the media hype, and think that acting sad will help them fit in with the subculture.

Goth and emo also both originated from punk. When researching this post, I first read that emo began earlier, in the early 70s, whilst Goth began in the mid-to-late 70s and reached the height of its popularity in the early 80s, but I have since been informed that emo actually began in the mid-80s, after the evolution of Goth. But either way, emo is not 'a type of Goth', it is a separate musical subculture in its own right.

To the casual observer, Goth and emo fashion are apparently interchangeable. But if you look beyond 'piercings' and 'black clothes', the two looks are actually very different. The emo look is an amalgamation of punk, Goth, and urban Japanese; whereas the appearance of Goth was originally derived purely from punk and then created its own aesthetic rather than borrowing from other subcultures (with exceptions such as the gothabilly look, which is derived from rockabilly). Goth, on the whole, is darker than emo, especially more recently when emo has become closely meshed with 'scene' fashion. Many styles of Goth are considered elegant and whimsical, whereas emo tends to be more cute and kitschy.

Music-wise, the two scenes are also very different. While both Goths and emos may listen to rock and metal, the emo subculture revolves around emo music (are you surprised?) with bands such as Dashboard Confessional, the Rites of Spring, and Hawthorne Heights, and Goths, of course, listen to Goth music. (There may also be some crossover - plenty of emos enjoy the dark, emotional music of The Cure, and I for one do like a certain song from Secondhand Serenade. But unlike the Goth/metal scenes, Goth/emo crossover is relatively uncommon.)
An emo
Source: Photobucket
Goth is also a larger scene with a stronger community, as shown by Goth clubs, and huge international Goth festivals such as the Wave Gotik Treffen and Whitby Gothic Weekend, which can attract up to 20,000 people. I have not yet heard of 'emo clubs' or a 'Wave Emo Treffen'...

Whilst emos and Goths can, and often do, get on, the fact that they are lumped together by the media, the mainstream, and various wannabes from both subcultures, means that there is disdain building between them. Many Goths are becoming scornful towards emos because they are tired of being classified as 'emo' by those who don't know what they're talking about. The feeling is probably mutual - and looking on online forums has shown that both groups are surprisingly prone to believing the stereotypes that exist about the other.

Lastly, I guarantee that almost every person reading this will have met or spoken online to someone who calls themselves an 'emo/goth' (or vice versa) or, reaching new lows, a 'gemo'. Nine times out of ten, this person will dress in either Goth or emo fashion, or a mixture of both, and listen to music that belongs to neither genre - i.e. Korn, HIM, Linkin Park, Evanescence, My Chemical Romance. I've said it before and will say it again - how can you consider yourself part of ANY music-related subculture if you don’t know the first thing about the music? It’s OK to have a crossover between scenes (although this whole emo/goth or 'gemo' thing threatens to make me roll my eyes so hard there's a risk of them getting stuck), but there IS more to it than just dressing the part. Research. Learn. Get your facts straight – before you give your chosen subculture(s) a bad name.

Listening to: 1000 Voices - L'Ame Immortelle

24 comments:

Tenebris In Lux said...

So .. would Emo be different than Scene? I never really understood the two ..

Anonymous said...

My Chemical Romance is good music.
Go slit your wrists, get shot, fall off a bridge,get raped by a squid, then die.

Tenebris In Lux said...

@Anon

Hey Anon, I love HIM and Korn. Music is a preference thing. No need to be so violent towards Amy. You're not doing that band any good by showing off your fandom in such a way. And she wasn't even bashing them that much on this post, only using them as an example ..

ultimategothguide said...

I LIKE My Chemical Romance, you idiot. I never said they weren't GOOD music, I said they weren't Goth music. Which is true, as Gerard Way himself points out in a Gothic Beauty Magazine interview. He said the band are inspired by Goth, but not actually playing Goth rock music. Sorry if me pointing that out somehow offended you...

Kitty Lovett; The Unadulterated Cat said...

Don't apologise, Amy. And stay away from squids in any case, they're too smart for people to want to be around.

Am I a bad person for looking at that emo girl you posted and thinking, "she looks fucking terrible"? She has eyelid glue and contact lenses in, plus a complete misunderstanding of, you know, face. It's a shame, since a lot of proper emo hair and makeup is quite nice.

Anonymous said...

I just found out it was none other than Gerard Way himself who did the voiceover for one of Voltaire's short films.

Amy Asphodel said...

Have you seen the Gerard Way / Peter Murphy interview on YouTube? It's awesome.

Anonymous said...

Good article. But yeah, emo did start in 1985 and it actually means emotive hardcore. It doesn't mean emotional like that article on the daily mail said (gr) and there are no such thing as emo people because no one is a sub-genre of Hardcore Punk that also has it's roots in indie rock. The only way to actually be emo is to listen to the genre of music and nothing else. Listening to emotive hardcore doesn't determine the way you dress. So no skinny jeans and eyeliner ISN'T emo. Another thing, bands like MCR and BVB aren't emo either. Emo isn't mainstream and you won't hear any emo bands on the TV or radio.

The stereotypes of emo are being emotional, being depressed, self harming and hating the world/life etc.

Anonymous said...

Sorry when I said "The only way to actually be emo is to listen to the genre of music and nothing else." I meant by nothing else is that skinny jeans and eyeliner won't make you emo just listening to the music. I didn't mean by just listening to that one genre of music though.

Anonymous said...

@Tenebris In Lux
YES, emo and scene are different.
Scene dresses more outrageously, uses brighter colours, and is more of a fashion statement than a subculture. They usually listen to stuff like screamo-techno and such, rather than emo music. They are also stereotyped to be more perky/ happy than emos.

Anonymous said...

Most emos who are new to the subculture don't try to act depressed and moody(besides the fake ones). Most of the emos I know have always been hyper, perky, and happy. And yes some of us have turned to self harm at some point, but we didn't do it to BE emo. Despite what stereotypes say, the majority of emos of happy, hyper, random, and fun.

Loupie said...

If the thought of a 'gemo' makes you want to roll your eyes, I have actually met someone who called himself a 'chemo' once, that is a chavy-emo. I kid you not, and yes he did list the same bands that you did when asked what music he was into.

LauraS85 said...

To each his own...but the emos i've met are extremely moody and often want to kill themselves. I actually know nothing about their music, but they are definitely different from goths. I don't know if it's bad, but I get mad when someone mistakens goths for emos. I consider myself a goth, i'm 27 and I've always had a different view on life, but I just think Emos are something that can't be taken seriously. They're mostly teenagers and as you said, there aren't Emo festivals or grown ups emos. Just saying. BTW, great blog!

Anonymous said...

I would love for you to do an article on the, well, country side of goths. I'm an American, I have always very much so loved the dark side. But I am also quite the redneck. In highschool when the only pants I wore were Tripp brand, the only boots I wore were Ariat Fatbabys. Anyways, if you'd like to discuss this more with me my e-mail is jewelz_undead@yahoo.com

Tenebris In Lux said...

@Anon: "Country Goth" (as it is often dubbed) intrigues me. While most of my classmates can tell you that I dislike most popular country tunes (sorry!), the "country Goth" look intrigues me. Have you ever heard of the band The Fields of the Nephilim? They aren't explicitly country Goth, but they established a "Western Goth" look (dusty and gritty clothing, large belt buckles, and of course the duster coats and large floppy hats!). They are known for preforming your typical Gothic rock, though :-)

I still don't know why I'm still slinking around this thread ^_^

YourGothicNightmare said...

'Being emo' is actually scientifically impossible. Because emo has always meant emotive hardcore. It died in the 90's and bands like Thursday, Hawthorne Heights and Dashboard Confessional became known as 'emo' even though that's inncorrect. Only 99% of emotive hardcore is dead. It's impossibe to be part of a dead music genre especially if you don't listen to the music genre. So basically it came and went and it didn't evole. Anyone who calls themselves emo is just a confused scene since 99.7 of them listen to scenecore (which is basically metalcore) and alternative rock music such as MCR.

Anonymous said...

As far as music goes, I don't care so long as it sounds good.

Anonymous said...

For some reason, emo style just drives me mad. I think it's because they seem a bit goth, but a lot lamer (is that a word?). It makes me feel like they're mimicking us. (and failing miserably) And the whole, "I'm so depressed." thing really gets on my nerves.

Anonymous said...

How about this for a not-so-serious contrast: Just like your hand feels even warmer in a bowl of warm water after acclimating to cold water, the sadness in life makes the happiness seem even happier in contrast. Goths celebrate, not the suckiness in the world itself or how sad it makes everyone, but that it makes people even happier when it stops sucking for a while. Emos hate that the happiness in the world makes the sadness worse, and keep their hand in the "sad" bowl because they would rather be unhappy more than unhappy worse. Punks on the other hand just want to make the world as angry at them as they are at it, so they would just throw the bowls at you. I found a quote somewhere I like: "Batman is a Goth, Joker is a Punk."

Anonymous said...

Well emo and goth do dress the same, but emo is a more modernised gothic fashion in my opinion, emo has punk roots, just as goth does but goth is more about ripped clothes and leather or victorian fashion whilst emo is skinny jeans, hoodies and band shirts

Anonymous said...

UGG:
You said that being mopey, depressed/-ing, is rather stereotypical of Goth's false advertising.

Okay, so instead of stereotypical, what/who is Goth Archetype? Even wearing neon pastel pink to infiltrate, in order to get and keep a job, we have inherent behavior patterns that make us, gothly inclined.

Apo to skotadi, h alitheia,
- Anono-mouse

Anonymous said...

I don't see the need to bash on anyone's music or what sterotype they choose to call themselves. Seriously, it gets old. Sure, there are posers out there, but you don't need to be a jerk about. I love this blog, but some comments.... I personally, don't usually sterotype myself (for all those people who are saying emo is pathetic and they're goth) and I will be friends with people who are pleasant to me. Think about this; do you want people to look at you and say, "God they're a freak?" No, probably not. So don't go around saying emos and scene are "stupid" and "don't exist". Just because some emotive hardcore bands aren't playing anymore doesn't make emo dead. Latin isn't spoken everyday, but that doesn't make it dead. So please, stop hating on people. Who REALLY CARES if someone calls you emo and you're actually goth? You should be mature enough to deal with all the sterotyping and not get so worked up. You sterotype yourself and you can't blame the misinformed. Pity the people who don't/can't get the difference and move on in life. Stop being petty and hold yourself above that kind of stuff. Also, self harm? Not an emo thing. The preppiest, most popular cheerleader can self harm and so can the mostly lonely depressed person. If you're going to sterotype yourself as a goth, put your big kid panties on and except the fact that you will be confused as something you're not. If you can't deal with it, maybe you shouldn't sterotype yourself.

Anonymous said...

Yah, um, I'm both emo and goth (leaning more towards goth), and it can be a good thing, thank you very much.

Anyways, onto the other thing I wanted to say.WHY ARE PEOPLE SAYING THAT GOTH IS MORE POPULAR THAN EMO??!!

In case people haven't noticed, goth is becoming extinct because more people are either turning to emo or just dropping everything entirely.

So yah, that's all I wanted to say.Oh, and I don't hate emo, 'cause my best friend is emo, so please nobody judge me for saying anything I shouldn't have in this comment.

Anonymous said...

No need to be nasty about it

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