I hate to get all 'people just DON'T underSTAND me because I'm SPOOKY' and whatever (most of the time, anyway), and particularly following yesterday's Goths-behaving-badly post I can see the irony, but I have noticed a few articles and whatnot popping up over the web lately (thanks to SpookyWebs, I now seem to be a lot more in-touch with all the latest tidbits of news) that prove just how little the mainstream understands Goth as a subculture.
I think I can sum up this lack of understanding with two examples.
1. The case of the Gothic kittens.
I believe I mentioned in a former post (wayback when) that a woman in Pennsylvania had been taken to court for piercing kittens (yes, unfortunately you did read that right) and attempting to flog them on eBay as 'Goth kittens'. Which is sick in SO many ways. For starters, don't you have to be massively psycho to stick a needle in an animal (vets excepted)?!
Thankfully, this week the news broke that this dumb bint has been convicted of animal cruelty - and the kittens, you will be pleased to know, have gone on to lead happy and healthy cat lives.
Now, the reason this shows a lack of understanding of Goth culture (or so I feel) is this: the target market, surely, for something advertised as 'Goth' would be, that's right, Goths. But no Goth in their right mind would cheerfully purchase an animal that had been tortured; and would certainly not endorse such an act.
Other attempts to make money out of Goth as a consumer market, most considerably less disturbing than the case of the Goth kittens, have misfired due to a similar lack of understanding of Goth. The movie Queen of the Damned, for example, went down like a lead balloon amongst a large portion of members of the scene because Goth is not actually about blood, sex, and rock music. Stamping spooky 'Satanic' symbols all over something is not going to automatically make Goths want to buy it, neither is blood, guts, violence and fetishism simply for shock value.
Goths tend to actually appreciate aesthetic merit and some form of poignancy, satire, wit or intelligence, rather than just painting it black, piercing it and giving it a death metal soundtrack *rolls eyes*.
Also, just because it has vampires on it, does not mean we will buy it.
This year's Wave Gotik Treffen happened to coincide with Leipzig's festival dedicated to the classical composer Bach. Shock! Horror! The media came up with such catchy phrases as 'world collide!' But actually, as the organiser of the Bach festival points out, "The Wave Goth Meeting is a good extension of the Bach festival and vice versa, and a lot of the Goth fans come also to listen to the classical concerts."
What?! You mean spooky and black-clad doesn't mean uncultured heathens? But... but surely leather jackets and skulls must mean that we spit in the street and swear at little old ladies! We're tough! We're scary! We're... well, not, actually. In fact a lot of us like things such as lace, tea, books, quiet churches, and music incorporating piano or violins. But doesn't that sound like someone who might enjoy classical music? Duh.
This sort of misunderstanding of Goths and their often surprisingly refined musical palette was demonstrated ably in Glasgow a few years back when staff at the Gallery of Modern Art played classical music to deter Goth kids from lurking on the gallery steps in large groups. They were most surprised when the attempt only encouraged more of the black-clad types to congregate.
Perhaps they should have played the Spice Girls instead.