Thursday, 20 October 2011

A little October Q&A

I had a couple of comments this month with questions I wasn't sure I could answer clearly, so I figured I'd put them up here so that anyone who feels they can offer some insight can easily add their two cents. The first is from Celeste, who asks:

"What exactly makes music "goth"? Since the goth subculture is based on a type of music, I'm trying to figure out just what that music is. I can understand 80s bands such as the Cure and others who basically kicked off the goth scene are considered such, but what makes music today such as The Birthday Massacre goth, and My Chemical Romance for instance, not?"

I think this is a very sensible question - after all, why is it that a band with very little Goth styling and imagery such as The Decemberists (for example), who are not specifically Goth as far as I'm aware, are welcomed into the scene with open arms, when bands with arguably very 'Goth' imagery like Evanescence are decidedly Not Goth?

The best answer that I can give (please let me know if you think I'm right or wrong, I'm only human after all...) is twofold: firstly, I think it stems from a band's musical roots. Whilst My Chemical Romance openly admit to being inspired by Goth music, their roots stand firmly in alternative rock and pop-punk, whereas The Birthday Massacre includes influences from Industrial and synthpop, which makes them 'Goth' rather than 'Goth-friendly' like MCR.

The second part of my theory comes down to mainstream popularity. Yes, back in the day bands like the Banshees and The Cure were on Top of the Pops and in the charts all the time, but nowadays a large factor in defining Goth music is its underground, as opposed to mainstream, appeal. A band that frequently gets airplay on MTV is unlikely to receive much widespread acceptance from the Goth scene as a whole, probably because then any Goth imagery is perceived as being 'Goth for effect'. Which, of course, comes back to that whole thing about Goth being exploited as a trend or for shock value.

But I'd say that the best way to judge whether a band is 'Goth' or not is to take a look at its roots and influences. What about you guys?

The second question came from Sami, who says, "What do I say if someone calls me a Satanist/offers me a sacrifice? I know, it's a weird question. Someone came up to me at school and offered a "sacrifice" (it wasn't dead, it was his live human friend. I could tell they were half-joking. He called me a Satanist because of my appearance. My friend made him apologize, and he did with a stutter of fear in his voice (my friend isn't dangerous, neither am I). I didn't say anything,being dumbfounded. this was the first time I've been called a Satanist. I know my peers who don't personally know me are scared of me, but I've never been judged to my face. What do I say in these situations? I have a feeling this will happen again. I'm sorry this comment was so long, but I have no idea what to do. Help?"

For starters, I would just like to point out that Satanism is much-maligned; it's become a catch-all term for black magic and devil worship when actually it's a very peaceful religion that has nothing to do with either of those things. A Satanist is no more likely to hurt you or 'sacrifice' you than your average Goth.

Secondly, being a Goth does not automatically make you a Satanist, and if you are a Satanist you do not have to be a Goth or dress like one. Just wanted to make that clear.

So when someone calls you a Satanist for dressing Goth, they are actually showing how ignorant they are of both minority religions and alternative subculture. Which is handy for feeling like the bigger person afterwards, but not very helpful during the actual situation.

I can understand Sami's dilemma - usually when stupid people have an attempt at Goth-baiting, they don't stick around and wait for a reply. It's good that your friend asked the idiot to apologise, but frankly I think you did the right thing by not responding. If it happens again, just walk away. You don't have to defend your appearance or lifestyle choices to morons like these. If you give them the satisfaction of a response it's likely they will find it amusing and keep bothering you. If you walk away you are showing them that you're too mature to play their silly games.

Alternatively, if you're feeling confident enough to make a joke ("sorry, my overlord only accepts virgins") then go for it, but be warned, they may use it as an excuse to carry on teasing you.

Again, does anyone else have any advice to offer Sami?


~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~ said...

for sami: smile and ask them back,

"what is satanist? mine is simply art, err what satanist do actually?"

then make blur face O_o

gothified said...

I agree that the goth subculture was kicked off by bands like Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees etc. who were basically post-punk bands. Over time lots of other styles have been incorporated into the subculture, thus making them kinda "goth", but they're not goth in the original sense. Many bands (like the Sisters of Mercy) even reject that label, though early works were heavily influenced by the original goth henres. Many bands (think Evanesance) have been mislabeled to cash in on the (for a short time) increasing popularity of all things "goth" although basically they're playing rock/metal that has no roots in the goth subculture (hence they're not considered goth by most people that know their shit). Also there's a genre called "gothic metal" originally pioneered by bands as Paradise Lost, Anathema, My Dying Bride, Tiamat, The Gathering, Type O Negative and others, that apart from the name has nothing to do with goth subculture, although the bands are enjoyed by lots of people in the subculture. That only shows that you shouldn't mix up the music that is enjoyed by parts of the subculture with the subculture itself. Also most bands cannot be categorized that easily, whiuch makes trying to say whether they're goth or not kinda futile.
I suggest reading the excellent entries in wikipadia about the goth subculture, Post Punk, Gothic Rock, Death Rock, Dark Wave etc.

What's most important: don't give a shit what people say. Goth is also about individualism. If you enjoy a certain band and want them to be goth, they're goth (at least to you). There's no such thing as "true" or "untrue" in goth, there's only snobism and ignorance of people not long enough in the subculture to get what's really important ;)

Snowhyte said...

I made a long and very rambly response post to these topics which may be read here:
These topics of being judged and also music have been on my mind over some time actually and I guess I had a lot of opinions pent up waiting to get out - I don't even know if its helpful in answering anything but this post inspired it lol so read if you wish. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

For the satanist question, a satanist worships themselves where as a Satan worshiper, well its pretty self explanatory. but for the issue of sacrifice i would tell them that i do not advocate the harming or killing of a living thing to worship any deity be it Satan or otherwise.

Naomi said...

I would either ignore them or either make a joke about it. It all depends on my mood. For instance, I'm a lolita. I just made a bonnet and am about to receive my second one from Victorian Maiden *squeees in joy*. If someone would ask me if I'm looking for a sheep. (Obviously referring to Little Bo Peep.)I would reply with: Yes, did you find it? And just laugh about myself. Like my aunt always says, "Humor can save your life." ;)

Nightwind said...

I probably look at these questions about Gothic music differently than most; and while I understand Goth's cultural roots, I do not restrict the definition "Gothic" to musical styles aligned with the early groups.

As with Gothic literature, I feel that, in order to truly fit the genre, the music should create a mental/spiritual landscape that represents the macabre in some way. If the music sounds desolate, mysterious, sensuous,melancholy and perhaps dark and frightful, then I consider it Gothic.

I believe that the above-mentioned mental/spiritual impressions and feelings are created much more through musical structure and creativity than through any connections with the early subculture. The use of minor chords, the occasional tri-tone, atmospheric keyboards played a certain way against the other instruments and sound effects--in my mind this is what makes music sound Gothic.

Check out Draconian's live performance in Rivne, Ukraine of "Heaven Laid in Tears" on You Tube. To me, everything about that song is Gothic; yet, it's most definitely metal.

Then there's the dark ambient genre. This music has nothing to do with subcultural roots either. Still, I find it exquisitely dark. Performers such as Nox Arcana, Midnight Syndicate and Mark Harvey very effectively paint that desolate and forbidding landscape that I mentioned earlier.

Don't get me wrong, I love old-school Goth, but I feel that there's a lot of music out there that transcends the original cultural roots, but which is most certainly, still Gothic.

Ashlee said...

Personally, I'd take him up on his offer of a human sacrifice.

Mjolnir said...

I personally go into a lengthy explanation of the Church Of Satan and it's history as well as the misconceptions surrounding it. Usually people just get bored and walk away.

I suggest anyone who gets mistakenly called a satanist educate themselves on what the actual religion is about so you don't get upset and instead shake your head at the ignorance of others and attempt to enlighten them.

KillJar Cowart said...

For Sami-

I always played into the rude comments people made, figuring it would be easier to scare them into stopping than take the time explaining myself. When I was younger, I found that explaining anything just egged people on.

I convinced this (really rude) girl in my junior year of high school (probably the height of my teasing, I haven't really gotten stupid questions/comments since I graduated) that I had "cast a spell on her" and that one day she would "wake up crippled." Evil, I know, but for months before I said that to her she had something rude to say everyday.

I'm not always so good-spirited, though:
I held a door open for this guy at a bookstore once. When he got to me, he says "What are YOU supposed to be?" and goes right in the door I just held open for him! So I slammed the door into the back of his head.
Again, evil, I know, but being willing to do things like that has prevented people from messing with me too bad.
Part of being goth is about having a thick skin and big balls! Good Luck, Sami- and don't let me get you into trouble.

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