Sunday, 10 July 2011

Goths, steampunks, and military medals

Today I inherited my grandfer's army beret, which was kind of timely as I was planning to hopefully get a bit of a debate going on here regarding Goths, steampunks, rivetheads and military regalia. All three of the abovementioned subcultures have been known to wear items of military memorabilia, be it fake, e.g. imitation medals, or genuine vintage military gear.

Grandfer wears his hat.
(Identity obscured at family request.)
Imitation and fun replica medals worn as ornamentation are widely accepted, but there have been objections raised from within and without the alternative communities regarding the wearing of genuine military memorabilia. Some things barely raise an eyebrow - army surplus boots and fatigues, for example, are de rigeur, and rather than getting all disapproving I was merely envious when a friend of mine came to see me at work clad in a rather gorgeous vintage military jacket. Black with red trim. Yum.
Steampunk Military Style Medal (M10) - Burgundy Ribbon with Brass Filigree Cross - Aviation Inspired Design - Swarovski Crystals
NOT a real military medal (but quite gorgeous).
From Friston on Etsy.
But medals, pins and other such items have garnered disapproval from some circles - is it right, for example, to wear a medal for bravery that you didn't earn? Finding such items in junk shops and on eBay is fairly common, but some would say that perhaps it isn't right to wear them. I have to say that to a certain extent I agree, especially if you don't know what the medal even means!

However there are exceptions - you might find a medal that you feel you could wear to show that you honour your country or respect your country's armed forces, for example. But I feel it would be wrong for someone who did not earn such to wear anything like, say, a Victoria Cross or purple heart.

What about my hat? Well, I'm not ashamed to say that I exercised caution. I was close to my Grandfer and so I wanted to wear his hat, but I made sure to check with his wife (my nan) and my mum to see firstly what their thoughts were and secondly how they thought Grandfer might have felt about it.

Although I didn't grow up into the genteel young woman he was hoping for (he made me promise not to get a tattoo. As a fourteen-year-old who didn't want a tattoo, but preferred to keep my options open, I crossed my fingers behind my back. :-/ ), my family felt he would have been proud of me wearing his hat.

Not as proud as I am to wear it.

Currently the subject of Goths and other enthusiasts of historical military regalia and the wearing of genuine medals is a hot topic (pardon the pun). The Steampunk Tribune ran a poll with the header, "IS IT ACCEPTABLE TO WEAR MEDALS FROM CURRENT MILITARY ORGANIZATIONS ON STEAMPUNK ATTIRE?" Many felt that the wearing of such was disrespectful to service veterans, although an equal number said it would be acceptable if they had earned the medals themselves.

How do you guys feel about this? Would you/do you wear medals or genuine military regalia?

P.S. On a totally unrelated note, meet Mini-Edward:
He's supposed to be a keyring, but he was just Too Damn Cute, so I figured I'd wear him instead. ^^


Tenebris In Lux said...

*says hi to little Edward* He's adorable? How'd you get him/make him?

I can see why there is some controversy around this topic. Some think that because some Goths love red and black and white as well as military stuff, we are Nazis. Not! But you do have some good points, and I never thought of some of the sides you raised.

ultimategothguide said...

I was shopping on my lunch break when I spotted him and just *couldn't* resist! Found him online too:

Yeah, I'm intending a later post about this whole Goths/Nazis thing, bit nervous about approaching such a controversial topic!

Tenebris In Lux said...

Darn .. now I'm tempted to buy it :-)

Yeah, I could see why you are hesitant to do that. If you ever do another Goth Myths or Goth FAQ post, you can say that Goths are not neo Nazis 99% of the time ^^

I would be interested in a metalgoth post, or a post discussion the different sub genres that have leaked into goth (like metal :-P). Just a request, I would be highly flattered if you did it (for I started out as a metalhead and then found out about goth later on) ^_^

I also forgot to mention that I liked the second picture of yourself that you posted ^^

ultimategothguide said...

I will probably go into more detail as I'm aware that some Goths have been known to borrow from Nazi uniforms and imagery, despite despising the Nazis and everything they stand for - jeez, could this scene get any more convoluted?! XP

I have sort-of covered metal goth fashion in my femme fatale post and there was of course this: & there is stil some metal-related stuff coming up, for example some of my upcoming music guide posts are going to cover genres of metal that are popular amongst Goths. A post about crossover subcultures is a good idea, I will have a ponder on it for a while to try and come up with a non-confusing way of writing it! - after all there is so much crossover what with fetish, vampyres, faeries, Industrial, steampunk, Lolita, metal and everyone else getting a look-in nowadays! Still, since I love all of those things that is NOT a complaint... ^^ Um, long story short, request noted and approved!

Thank you ^^ <3

Emily Lynn G. said...

If said medal/military garb is supposed to be warn after completeing a certain amount of training and/or a reward for an act of bravery, I believe it's untasteful to wear it. Even, to a lesser extent, cheesy knock-offs and "fake" medals (a okay exception is if you role-play while in steam punk outfits and,again, the medals and such aren't real.) If you DID earn them, I think its pretty cool. Jackets and hats...If you know the history MAYBE it is okay. It's a tough a Catholic I get offended when rosaries are worn, so I could see a veteran getting upset when military garb is worn unwarranted and incorrectly. It's a touchy subject. People should use their more conservative best judgement and

VictorianAndroid said...

I feel alright about wearing fake medals and such. However, the only time I can see someone wearing a real medal they didn't earn is if it was inherited from a relative. Even then, I think you'd have to be careful about how you wear it and why.

And I love Mini-Edward :] <3

Anonymous said...

Awwz, Edward's so cute I could snuggle him like a little girl with her teddy. XD

Kitty Lovett; The Unadulterated Cat said...

>go and get old military bits and bobs off great aunty who hates my guts (and my hair)
>wear awesome old stuff
>be as cool as amy

Excerpts From Hell said...

this is gonna be counter productive to your post I feel but if you are able to buy said metals then they must not be as important as most seem to think they are......

I'm an american and I don't support the war but I support our troops. Odd statement I know. But what I'm getting at is that if it was really something that people didn't want to happen then they wouldn't be available.....

I personally would rather wear fakes. But mainly because I like to design things myself. And I wouldn't want them looking typical. But I've always been of the notion that if you can find something then why not wear it?

Tenebris In Lux said...

I know, another comment.

I was thinking: perhaps it depends on the person who earned it? If they want you to inherit it, surely that means that you are keeping their legacy alive?

LovleAnjel said...

Personally I think it's distasteful and borderline disrespectful to wear a (real) medal you did not earn. It devalues the action(s) that earned the medal. (As for fake medals - *shrug* if it's your thing, okay.)

My grandfather served in WWII, and I inherited his dogtags when my grandmother died. I keep them hanging from a display shelf, and I would not wear them. I fear that they might get damaged, which would be disrespectful to Grampa. Hell, if I got ketchup on them I would feel like crap for days. It's just not worth the risk to me.

My brother's a firefighter and he'll give me old t-shirts for PJs and workout gear, and I have an old dress uniform coat of his that I wear in the winter. The difference is that these are things everyone in the firehouse wears, not something someone earned through actions. "Everyday" items like clothes & shoes have less meaning because of their commonness (although I can say I value that coat more than my other winter coats).

Laurence 'The Beard' Williams said...

A similar debate went around the Brass Goggles forum a while back. I think it's less military insignia you have to worry about, and more medals, both for service and for acts of valour. It's a delicate issue but one which is scenario specific. Example, in my costume I would under no circumstances wear a Victoria Cross or a coloured bar, because let's face it, I've not earned it. In terms of service medals, I'd avoid current or recent conflicts, but if I came across a service medal from the Boer War or the Sudan, I'd be less cautious because it suits the time period and can be seen as a tribute to soldiers of the past. Likewise, if you're wearing your grandfather's beret (which you're totally rocking by the way) as a tribute to him, you're well within your rights to do so.

CNGB said...

Hello, Mini-Edward!

I don't think I would like to wear real military clothing. Unless whoever owned it first (if they actually belonged in the military) gave me the "okay".

Sakara said...

Ooh your grandad was the royal artillery! I have a thing about military badges as my father was in the army in the Signals and then TA Welsh regiment and ive always been interested in how each regiment got its badge.

I dont wear someone else's medals as i feel they were the ones who deserved them, not me. I might wear my father's some day, but that will be for commemoration and not fashion.
But i take inspiration from them to create my own. After all with steampunk, its all about the fantasy.
Some goth types of course like to court controversy by wearing iron crosses..even though then dont realise the iron cross is still given out n germany as a medal of honour!

rothcomilitaryclothing said...

i found this post great...this is all about military accessories..and according to me everyone loves to be a part of military.. and one can be happy by wearing the accessories..

Rothco Military said...

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InfiltratorN7 said...

Awww little Edward is cute. I haven't seen that one before. I have a voodoo doll too - Harry Potter. He was given to me by mum as it's supposed to be a study charm according to the package (not that I believe in charms or luck), though reflecting on it a bit, if it's supposed to be a study charm than why is it not Hermione instead! My sister's got a punk one with a mohawk.

Regarding medals, I don't like the idea of wearing one if I haven't earned it. It would feel wrong to me. But then when I'm given tshirts for gigs/festivals I've not been to I don't wear them either as I'd feel like I'm lying or something. Yes, that probably sounds really stupid doesn't it?

Military clothing can be a funny and sometimes controversial issue. It's like with Remembrance Day recently, I heard some people saying they wouldn't wear the poppies because it glorifies war which is stupid because that's not what Remembrance is about. It's about remembering the lives of those lost giving service during war. It's not about saying you're pro-war or support a particular war.

InfiltratorN7 said...

* my mum


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