Thursday, 22 September 2011

How to spot a 'real' Goth, v.2: part 1

One of my first posts on this site was entitled 'How to Spot a Real Goth'. Unfortunately, it's a bit short and abrupt and doesn't really explain itself very well, and as such has received a lot of confusion. I thought that instead of deleting the post, since it has a good few comments on it, I'd re-vamp the list and try to explain the points I was attempting to make a bit more clearly.

To begin with, I'd like to clarify once again that being a 'real Goth' isn't complicated (appreciation for dark music including some of what is classified as 'Goth' music; possibly an appreciation for Gothic literature, art or Goth fashion - voila, you're a 'real Goth'), and in all honesty it's pretty much impossible to get it 'wrong'. But some who are new to Goth or who are attempting to become involved in the scene for what many of us would consider the 'wrong reasons', e.g. to shock their parents or fit in with a group of friends, are likely to fall prey to some of the pitfalls I outlined in the original post. These behaviours tend to flag someone up as perhaps not particularly knowledgeable about the subculture that they are trying to become involved with; people who call themselves Goths whilst demonstrating a certain level of cluelessness regarding Goth culture often earn themselves the label 'poseurs' or 'mallgoths'.

So the point of the original article was to highlight the differences between what 'poseurs' consider appropriately 'Goth' behaviours, which are usually very stereotypical or cliche (and not in a good way) and how more knowledgeable or experienced Goths are likely to actually behave. It was NOT a way of saying 'if you do this you are not a proper Goth', because many of us indulge in stereotypical behaviour or cliches from time to time, but a way of de-bunking some of those good old-fashioned Goth 'rules' which are actually incorrect, such as the oft-quoted 'to be a Goth you HAVE to wear all black all the time'. With me so far? Apologies to anyone who was confused or offended by the original post.

Since my explanations are likely to be typically long and rambling, I won't try to cram them all into one post! So here's the first:

Real Goths don't make a big deal about whether or not they are Goth. They pretty much just get on with it.This does not mean that you shouldn't celebrate your Gothiness! Goths are proud of their dark and unusual tendencies and enjoy being a part of the subculture (otherwise what would be the point?). This is why I feel that such behaviours as denying that you're Goth because you think it makes you MORE Goth (it happens) are, frankly, ridiculous. And no, I don't feel that the word 'Goth' should be banned from clothing; some have noted that wearing T-shirts saying 'Goth', 'Gothic', or other Goth-related slogans (my current favourite being 'Considerably more Goth than thou') could be regarded as poseur-ish, but I disagree, I think it's a little bit of tongue-in-cheek fun. Goth cliches, too, can be fun to indulge in - getting overexcited about Halloween, collecting vampire novels or even wearing fangs are harmless treats for the happy Gothling.

So by all means, embrace and indulge in all things Goth, spooky and macabre. Heaven knows I do! But if you want to do un-Goth things like listening to Britney, playing sports, reading gossip magazines or watching romantic comedies, that's perfectly OK too. Each of us enjoys and likes to experience far more things than are covered by the Goth 'label', and it doesn't make you 'less of a Goth'.

At the other end of the spectrum, being proud of your Gothiness doesn't mean waving it in people's faces all of the time. You don't need to introduce yourself as 'Gothic Sarah', or with the words, "Hello, I'm Alex, I'm a Goth." I had a friend who, on a shopping spree, told the checkout girl at an alt shop we visited that she was a Goth, on her first Goth shopping trip with her Goth friend. *facepalm* This is the kind of behaviour I was intending to advise against.

I think in our early babybat days most of us are desperate for the people around us to recognise our spookiness, hence the above sort of behaviour. We're so excited about being part of the subculture that we want everyone to notice it; plus in some cases we may be unsure of our 'Goth status' and want it to be verified by others referring to us as 'Goth'. But if you're wearing a Bauhaus T-shirt and stompy boots, people are probably already aware that you're a Goth. And of course if someone asks if you're a Goth, obviously you would tell them yes. You don't need to announce it to everyone you meet; it's a bit OTT.

Listening to: Mix This Song Into Assemblage 23's Maps of Reality (Assemblage 23 Remix) - The Gothsicles


Alex said...

as a goth who's name happens to be alex, i demand the right to go upside said possible imagined or even better real alex's head who disgrace's the good AND gothy awsomness that are goth alexs! ..word

Anonymous said...

I remember being told i was trying to "play Goth" for years, and i wasn't even aware of the fact! I didn't act out or anything, just did my own thing, i still got called "poseur" and "fake" by all the mall goths, everyone else at the clubs i went too and even my own girlfriend, apparently just for dressing how I wanted. I had no goals to "be" goth or attempt to be anything else. I don't understand where it's coming from at all, never called myself a Goth once or alluded to it. When asked I say no because I'm not. So I wonder, what am I a poseur of?....

malis†ic said...

Hey, I know a person just like that. Every time she introduces herself, weather someone asks or not, she is bound to talk about her "gothness" at one point or another. She's going on 21, but she still acts like people should call her by her goth name and appreciate her existence, because she is so damn special. Yes, she actually thinks she is better than everyone else and "normal people" as she calls them, because she wears different clothes. But her mentality is pretty much as random as everyone else's. There are times I wish this whole thing just wouldn't exist, because it makes people act fucking stupid. Yet I claim love for it to a certain extent as well.

Anonymous said...

As another Alex, I completely agree.

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