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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Adult babybat? It's not a mid-life crisis

Apologies to the Daily Fail but I'm afraid I have to continue picking on you for a while, since I read last week's You supplement today and found myself facepalming at something your agony aunt wrote to a befuddled reader.

Said befuddled reader had become concerned when her 48-year-old husband recently began to develop an interest in heavy metal music and also the Goth scene, even going so far as to get his nipple pierced. At first I wasn't sure why this slightly concerned wife had chosen to write to a magazine agony aunt instead of discussing the situation with Hubby, but it was pointed out to me that perhaps she wanted an impartial opinion before bringing up the subject to avoid putting her foot in it and offending him.

All well and good, but unfortunately the You columnist (somewhat unsurprisingly) has little insight into the dark world of Goth and sums the situation up as 'possibly a mid-life crisis', trying to 'turn back the clock as his 50th birthday approaches'. She then goes on to say, "He might want to try something different but lack the confidence to do so."

D'oh. As soon as the poor guy DOES try something different, it gets dismissed as a mid-life crisis. Not all Goths discover the subculture in their teenage years. An adult may well stumble across Goth bands or fashion later in life and decide that it's something they'd like to become involved with - writing it off as a mid-life crisis is slightly unfair. Incidentally, I'm not sure how an interest in metal music (or Goth music, of course) counts as a mid-life crisis at all!

Source
This guy... looks amazing
Perhaps an adult babybat might not have had the opportunity to indulge in darker fashion in their younger days. Perhaps they did not have the self-confidence to do so and have finally thought, "Well, you only live once, I'm damn well going to enjoy myself!" (If that's a mid-life crisis, I for one don't consider it a 'crisis' at all.) Perhaps they simply were not aware of Goth culture, or had only noticed mallgoths and media stereotypes.

Either way, just as you do not have to 'grow out' of Goth, there is not a cut-off age at which you can become involved with Goth.

Frankly, this man isn't hurting anyone; even if his interest in Goth IS a fleeting phase used to defy the passing years it's a darn sight better than pursuing an affair with someone half his age (for example). MY advice to his wife would be to do a bit of research on Goth and metal since she may now be living with a babybat, and to discuss any concerns she has with her husband (which, to be fair, the You writer also advises).

19 comments:

Toxic Tears said...

Sometimes I think the mainstream should just stay away from goth.:| From horribly misinformed magazine articles to awful attempts at "Goth" on the big screen, its just painful. Every time I hear of a new movie with a goth character I wince in anticipation of an angsty teenager with bad eyeliner telling the world she wants to die through equally bad poetry.>_< Half the time the said "Goth" is nothing more than a somewhat irritating emo kid.D;

As for this man, it could be a mid life crisis. Hell my dad went through one, he suddenly decided his new life passion was scuba diving, took all the classes, had trips planned, then suddenly we never heard a word of it again and that wetsuit is alone gathering dust.

However as you said, mid life crisis or not, hes not doing any harm. If your biggest concern about your marriage is that your husband got his nipple pierced, I'd say you're doing pretty well.

Not to mention its somewhat disrespectful to write to a magazine about your partner that way.

This little wifey needs to grow up and see theres more to life than the music your partner listens to, and these bloody writers need to stop trying to analyse goth, clearly they just can't do it.

Anonymous said...

i was into the goth scene when i was younger, but my professional career has sucked much of the creativity out of me. i'm in my 30s now and slowly finding my way back to parts of myself i'd unwittingly discarded years ago. to one who doesn't know me, i might look like i'm having a bit of a mid-life crisis myself. but what is a mid-life crisis if not the realization that you're not yourself and you've been conforming to other people's norms for too long?

Traicetrak said...

Sometimes the insecurity arises that this might look like a mid-life crisis. Then I think worrying about how I might look is what kept me from exploring these cool things in the first place. I don't want to live out my whole life that way. If I end up going a totally different direction and this is just a phase, so be it. I'll at least have developed a deeper understanding and appreciation of the subculture, which will last throughout my life, and I'll still end up a more authentic me.

Sabayon said...

Really, the mid-life crisis has gotten a bad rap in popular imagination. The idea comes out of stage of life theory (I can't remember the name of the theorist) in developmental psychology. In this structure, every age has a "crisis", but "crisis" just means thing you have to work through before moving on to the next stage of life. In your twenties the crisis is supposed to be figuring out what you want to do with your life professionally and in terms of family. In mid-life the idea is that you are established in a career, have a family (if wanted) and mostly grown kids and you are looking back asking yourself if it is really what you wanted, or if there are things about yourself that you have put aside or let go to excel in your career or life. It's not a necessarily bad thing, although it can go awry. In the sense of the psychological theory, it totally sounds like the letter writer's husband may be working through a mid-life crisis, but he shouldn't be disdained for that. There's this weird idea in popular culture that once you are "grown-up" you aren't allowed to really re-evaluated things and change your life, but I think that's just silly.

Pale Lady said...

I agree with Sabayon...since when did exploration become a crisis?! Are we supposed to stop trying new things simply because we've reached a certain age? BAH, I say!! Keep exploring, keep trying new things until the day you die. Let everyone else call you weird--at least you'll have adventures along the way.

Stilettowhore said...

Heck, I'm the wrong side of 40 and in the last 12 months I've bought a hearse and got my first tattoo. By their logic I'm lucky I'm able to get out of bed in the morning.

RubyAlison said...

Plus I feel the older we get, the better we come to know our true selves.

I'm 38 and in many ways, I feel like I am now just starting to come into my own.

Cassandra said...

I love everything everyone is saying. I have a husband and three kids, and for me exploring the world of goth has been a growing experience, not a reversion. When I was young I was painfully aware that I could make people uncomfortable, but I kind of became an anti-goth - I created a persona that was custom-made not to make people uncomfortable. Now I'm beginning to see what a waste of energy that was, and I'm exploring a persona that confronts all those things I love that other people find unnerving (that includes being more outspoken about loving physics and math - I'm a very nerdy goth!)

Traicetrak said...

Well, I'm glad Amy created this post if for nothing other than allowing me to find other elder babybats.

Oooh, did I just invent a term??? Squeee!!

Nightwind said...

As I've mentioned here before, I like the person discussed here, discovered Goth later in life. This is likely due to a certain geographical and cultural isolation as well as my not having internet access until later in life. Once discovering it however, I took to it like a duck to water. Is it a mid-life crises? I doubt it, but what does it matter?

As for metal, it's basically the same story. For a long time, I didn't particularly care for it; but then again, most of the metal bands around here never seemed to bother pushing the envelope, so to speak. My discovery of European Gothic, symphonic and doom metal bands really rocked my world, as did my discovery of Type O Negative.

I owe all of it to a DJ who took to the airways here on the local college radio station a little over a decade ago. She called herself the Death Mistress. To her, I am eternally grateful and I have never turned back.

BellaDonna said...

Oh, I'm SOOO glad you wrote this post! And very happy to find so many other "elder babybats" as well! I met my first Goth in high school in 1978, but had NO idea what she was and was too shy to talk to her. Now at 49, I'm finally coming into my Goth side, which I've never lost, just didn't know what it was! Whew...

And thanks to Sabayon as well for those wonderful comments about exploration and "midlife crisis".

HalloweenQueen said...

Its such a shame that if anyone of any age even dips a toe out of a denim n beige, whats expected of you lifestyle its obviously a teen phase..hormones..finding yourself...or a midlife crisis, the world needs to wise up to the fact that stepping off the production line...into anything not just gothic culture but anything other than what is expected of you and makes the people around you comfortable isnt something wrong, its not an issue, nothings lacking, and theres nothing to be afraid of other than your own ignorance. This woman should, like everyone is saying, talk to her husband, try to find out what hes thinking, feeling, wanting to purse n she may find that her husbands new interests could lead to a re- zesting of their marrage if she goes along with him in his new found self or even his short term interest.shouldnt a wife communicate with and support her husband anyway.

Vyzov (Mike) said...

I guess technically I'm an adult babybat. I only really started learning about the Goth subculture about a year and a half ago when I borrowed a copy of Gothic Charm School and then ended up picking up the Goth Bible, but after learning more about it I realized I had been Goth my whole life, just without realizing it.

I don't think I'm having a mid-life crisis, might be having a quarter-life crisis, but that's something else all together.

It's nice to see that even as his 50th birthday approaches he's continuing to discover and explore new aspects of himself. After all, life is a sum of your experiences, why not try to have as many as possible. You won't know if something is for you unless you give it a try.

Black Rose said...

Great blog entry.
Just great.
I'm really glad to be a member here.

Cassandra said...

Yes, yes, yes, to all of you who have realized that you've always been goth. I realized just a few days ago that I've been signing my personal e-mails "SANGVIS FLVIT" since I was in my early 20s.

That should have been a big, fat clue there, but I guess I'm a little slow.

Cassandra said...

PS: "Elder babybat" ... love it!

Ashlee said...

Poor guy. So what if he's found new interests? Goth isn't just for teens!

The king of Adult BabyBats, though, is Jet (at least I think that's his name) from VampireFreaks, though. Have you see his videos for eHow?

That's who I thought of when I saw the title.

InfiltratorN7 said...

Sabyon it is Erikson you're thinking of and his stages of psychosocial development theory. The mid-life crisis is associated with the generativity vs. stagnation stage of middle adulthood. I agree with you, it sucks how the mass media paints this image of middle adulthood as a period of conformity and if you break it you must be a 'sad old man' going through a mid-life crisis. I've never liked it or agreed with it, nor do I agree with the belief that when you reach a certain age you need to 'grow up' and 'settle down' into adulthood and stop following things like goth and stop pursuing hobbies etc.

For anyone who's interested some of the earlier stages in Erikson's theory include adolescence - identity vs role confusion; and young adulthood - intimacy vs isolation. There are earlier stages going right back to infancy and childhood. At each stage there is a hurdle to overcome, a potential crisis to deal with and come through the other side of before you can move onto the next stage. It's quite dated now, it was developed in the 1950s and 1960s. It's criticised now, particularly by feminist theory for only considering a man's life and not acknowledging the progression of a woman's life at all. It's very much modelled on the white, middle class male which was a problem with a lot of psychology theories and research in that period. :-/

InfiltratorN7 said...

* Sabayon

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