Hi guys! No, my computer isn't fixed yet - we've been trying to buy a new one but every one we try to buy is last season and no longer in stock... >.> So on my day off from work I've tromped up to my dad's house with a memory stick to post some of the stuff I've been writing over the last couple of weeks (can't believe it's been so long!). And of course I've got a bit of catching up to do on the Goth Challenge as well. But at least there will finally be some NEW content around here... yay!
Without further ado, an actual post:
In Gothic Charm School, Jillian Venters describes Goths as people who have not lost their childlike sense of wonder; who don't feel inclined to give up the magic, whimsy and 'dark sparkle' that embodies all that we love about this subculture as they enter adulthood. This, I would say, is a fairly accurate description, at least from my point of view - unfortunately, society is not often as accepting of Goths and this simple philosophy that embodies them as Goths, usually, are of others. Teen Goths, of course, struggle with the insular, clique-driven world of school and possible pressure from their families to conform, but when entering adulthood, there can often be a whole new set of troubles for a spooky person to deal with.
When I explained to Ms. No-Older-Than-Sixteen that I'm actually twenty (or will be this month), there was a very long pause whilst she looked me up and down with her eyes wide. Perhaps I'm wrong (second-guessing other people's thoughts is often doomed to failure) but I felt I could almost hear the cogs turning as she re-assessed her evaluation of me as a young student going through an angsty phase.
The trouble is that in the eyes of the mainstream, if we Goths are not just teens going through a phase, then we must be possibly dangerous and almost definitely deviant to continue dressing and acting in such a strange manner into adulthood. Opulent and dramatic clothing, elegant and expressive make-up, melancholy atmospherics and a fondness for Halloween are all-too-often seen as childish traits that should be set aside at a certain age. Of course, I have talked before about the 'it's not just a phase' dilemma, but I didn't think to mention that whilst teen Goths are usually seen as harmless kids acting out and trying to shock their parents, adult Goths are often regarded as devil-worshippers, drug addicts or 'just not right', because people who believe that Goth is a 'kid thing' assume that there must be something 'wrong' with people who don't grow out of it.
Older Goths may not have to deal with some of the same dilemmas as school-age darklings, but there is a whole new realm of problems to contend with, such as convincing job interviewers that your hair colour or penchant for stompy boots doesn't actually hinder your ability to do your job; co-workers who back away from you in the cafeteria because of the cute little skull on your computer monitor; and being ID'd in every bar you visit despite clearly being over 25 because adults just don't dress like that. The appearance of being eternally young may be quite flattering, but it can be highly annoying to have people talk down to you because they've assumed from your manner of dress that you're five years younger than you actually are. These irritations are, thankfully, outweighed by the benefits of being that little bit older - you can visit Goth clubs, afford custom clothing pieces, travel to larger events and Aunt Ethel might finally stop asking when you're going to 'grow out of it'.
Adult Goths may be a source of bemusement for the mainstream but with an educated guess I'd say that the majority of the 'Goth scene proper' (as opposed to mallgoths who haven't discovered the origins of the subculture... yet) is made up of those aged 25 and above. I recently met a woman aged forty who was selling off her old clothes as she felt that she was now 'too old' to be a Goth. I didn't like to point out that, of the Goths I know in real life, only one of them is younger than thirty and most are aged between 35 and 50. At any given club or event, I generally feel like a wide-eyed, overeager babybat at just 20 (OK, 19...).
It's interesting that Goth, which is mentioned in so many articles and documentaries about 'youth culture', is really not. Yes, of course there are thousands of young people who associate with Goth, but unlike many modern subcultures like emo and scene, it straddles age boundaries and includes people from all stages of life. Adult Goths have had more time in the subculture honing their make-up and crafting skills and as such may often be better dressed than their youthful counterparts - unlike the world of mainstream fashion which caters to a young market and is often unflattering for those who are older. I have read a lot in the papers recently about those over 50 complaining about feeling 'invisible' or as though they can no longer be 'trendy', which is not much fun for them and, let's face it, not much for young people to look forward to. But Siouxsie Sioux looks fantastic and still dresses as unconventionally as ever in her 60s. Many Goths aged 40 and above dress far better than they did in their teens and twenties because they have the time, skills, money and experience to do so and as such provide a template for us younger Goths to emulate and aspire to.
Which makes me wonder - Goth is usually seen as something to grow out of, but since our tastes, style, and skills are refined and perfected as we get older, isn't it really something we grow into?
Goth gossip: Grab a copy of Terrorizer Magazine from your newsagent this month, darklings (September 22nd to be precise) as Terrorizer and its occasional Goth-oriented pull-out section Dominion present The Secret History of Goth, Darkwave and Industrial, a 100-page special doing, hopefully, exactly what it says on the label.