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Friday, 12 November 2010

Notes on the Goth 'mindset'

I recently read with some interest this post on one of my favourite blogs, Juliet's Lace. To a certain extent I can agree with the points that blog mistress Amy makes, but isn't it a possibility that the 'mindset' of Goth is exactly what brings people to 'enjoy the genre, fashion, and consider [them]selves a part of the subculture'? (All right, perhaps 'mindset' is not the best word - outlook? worldview? simple 'tastes in common'?)

Anyway, this is probably one of those topics on which everyone will have a different opinion, and all I can do is state my own - I feel that the 'Gothic mindset' (that's an awful phrase, actually, but I honestly can't think of a better one) is what causes certain people to be attracted to Goth music and fashion (and possibly art, culture, literature, etc.) when a large proportion of society find it disturbing, distasteful or even deviant, and why these people choose to experiment with fashion and appearance when others want nothing more than to fit in.

If there was no mindset associated with Goth, would an appreciation for dark, spooky and occasionally morbid things be seen by mainstream society as strange and unsettling, or would it be something held true for everyone? Is this particular outlook the thing that divides Goth from mainstream culture - how many Goths were 'the weird kid' in school, before even beginning to dress in Gothic fashion, due to an appreciation of darker things, creativity or simply bookworm tendencies?

For some people, this mindset/outlook is a large and defining part of what it means to them to be Goth (as I believe I have referred to in a previous post - ah yes, here it is); certainly there are others who feel the same way as Amy.

I am in total agreement with Amy when she points out that liking a genre of music and fashion does not mean that all Goths behave the same way, or, indeed, like the same things - otherwise wouldn't there be only one 'type' of Goth fashion and one genre of Goth music? Hence 'mindset' probably not being the best term.

Interestingly, the Goth With A Sledgehammer page, which, according to online forums seems to be regarded by more than a few people as 'the definitive' test of one's Gothiness (if there can be such a thing) states that certain characteristics, tendencies, and, yes a certain outlook, make one a Goth more than music or fashion. Just to add an extra element of confusion to a subculture that is already nigh-on impossible to explain to an outsider in less than twenty minutes.

Perhaps the answer is that these characteristics that are generally seen as personifying a culture, simply belong to the people therein. Defining some Goths as individuals, rather than identifying individuals as Goths.

Source: Photobucket
Note: apologies to Amy for linking to you without asking, I do hope you don't mind - also, I really enjoy reading your new posts and check for updates regularly!

3 comments:

Julietslace said...

Ooh your comments are finally working! Yup the word "mindset" is a very dodgy word and best to be avoided, we're not robots after all. Although your article has many points I agree with, I was the "weird" kid in Primary school. I hope you don't mind but I plan to link this onto my post.

ultimategothguide said...

I'm going to go and change all my "mindset" tags to something else now XP
I don't mind at all, I was linking yours without permission to start with!

Anonymous said...

"For some people, this mindset/outlook is a large and defining part of what it means to them to be Goth "

This is especially true for me. While I love music I personally think that it's the aesthetic that drives the subculture. Had it not been for the aesthetic Bauhaus and the like would've been just like any other 80's band with jangly guitars. Put the darker outlook and fashion to it and it became something more.

I think it all starts with the aesthetic. I've heard many stories from goths on how they found the subculture. Like you said, many of us did start out as "the weird kid" in school. I think the fashion and the music are only two manifestations of someone's penchant towards a certain aesthetic.

Which is why I think being Goth doesn't have to include the music. It's a complete package type of thing. Such as your interests, outlook on life, and etcetera. You could very well only like classical music and be Goth in my mind. But on the other hand it seems that people who are drawn to the dark romantic sort of things have a higher chance of liking certain bands, I suppose.

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