Monday, 24 October 2011

Some Gothy observations

The following are some observations about our much-adored subculture that popped into my head this week. Many of these are fuelled by exasperation and I apologise for the slightly scattergun approach of this post.

Source: Tumblr

  • Being happy doesn't make you 'less Goth'. I was told today that I'm not a 'real Goth' because I'm too happy. Goth is not a mood or an emotion, it's a subculture.
  • Being depressed doesn't mean you're a poseur. Some people in the scene actually have depression. They're not doing it for attention or because they think it makes them more Goth. Yes, there are people who pretend to have depression because they THINK it's a requirement of being Goth, by all means roll your eyes at these people (but not to their faces please, we all fell for one stereotype or another didn't we?), but don't assume that people who genuinely have a mental illness are putting it on to enhance their Goth cred.
  • Goths of the opposite gender aren't doing what they do to impress you. If a girl wears a chain in her nose or has a septum piercing, it's because she, personally, likes how it looks and it makes her happy. So comments like, "You would have been so much more attractive if you didn't dye your hair blue/shave your head/wear so much make-up/wear black all the time," are irrelevant because she's pleasing herself not anybody else.
  • The above does not mean that Goths cannot be attractive or enjoy making themselves look nice for their significant others. It just means that what THEY think looks nice and what YOU think looks nice might not always match up, and they don't care.
  • "You would have been so much more attractive..." comments are even more annoying when they come from other Goths, whom you'd expect would understand that you are not looking for the approval or attention of Joe Public. Sadly it happens.
  • Some Goth girls (and guys) like to go out to the club wearing very little. This is because they like it and not because they want to have sex with you.
  • Some Goth girls (and guys) like to go out to the club dressed very modestly and cover themselves from neck to toe. This is because they like it and not because they are frigid, shy or unconfident.
  • You can be Goth if you don't like any of the original four Goth bands; Halloween; the works of Tim Burton; horror movies; the dark; bats; spiders; skulls; sci-fi; fantasy; cemeteries; maudlin poetry; wearing make-up, or nightclubbing.
  • Not all Goths are beautiful. Even models look pretty normal under the make-up. There are no physical requirements for entry to this subculture.
Goth gossip: This year marks the 35th anniversary of legendary rockers The Damned (whether they are Goth or punk is STILL a matter of debate, but really at this point who the hell cares?). I guess it wasn't just a phase, then... ;-)


JDudette said...

Good points, all of them!
I get the whole "You're too happy to be Goth" thing ALL THE TIME. It just goes to show you that no one does their research or bothers to learn about a culture before immediatly slapping stereotypes to it.
I also got called a "poser" (by a girl who called herself a "punk rocker"...ok that's nit-picking lol) because I wouldn't walk around a cemetery at night with her - I'm very superstious, ok?? I don't mess with that kind of stuff!!

Unlacing the Victorians said...

The funny thing is I don't actually identify myself with the Goth subculture, and yet everyone considers me the "resident Goth" in the office because I go to heavy metal shows. Which is funny, because one of my male coworkers goes to more heavy metal shows than me and no one calls him a Goth. I guess I do "dress" the part more with heavy eyeliner and some darker clothes and have an obvious interest in the subculture.

In the midst of all of this confusing mislabeling, I am also told that I am too happy to be a Goth. Which is when I grin broadly and ask them "Why can't Goths be happy too?"

Traicetrak said...

I've noticed a lot of chatter on the interwebs lately of frustration over goth-on-goth bullying. Has it gotten worse lately, or are people just getting more vocal? I have to say, elitism has always been around, and is a big reason I didn't get involved in the subculture during my teen years in the late 80's. However, the snarking seemed more pointed toward outsiders rather than at each other.

Louise said...

All very good points. Let's face it, who hasn't had a run in with number one?

Number two is one of those points that really can't be drilled in enough. As someone who has a lot of experience with depression, it does anger me when I hear of sufferers being accused of making it up because their clothing puts them on the wrong side of a silly stereotype. What's worse is when Doctors do it, and people end up stuck without any access to the help they need.

There does seem to be a certain type of person who doesn't quite seem to understand that whichever sex they're attracted to doesn't exist purely for their entertainment. The mind boggles.

gin said...

you forgot to mention that the significant other may like the blue hair and septum piercing and think they look absolutely stunning all gothed out. I know mine does.

Also, thanks for mentioning inner scene bullying. Have had this happen a few times to me and I think it does need more attention so it can be stopped. Once again this probably comes from the commentator's own personal conflicts with their selves but these people need to get over themselves.

Saphire Rainforest said...

Amy you always post such awesome pictures, but can you site them a little better. They all say source or tumblr not giving any credit to the models, photographers, makeup artist, tumblr bloggers, or anyone else involved. There are some models, actors, photographers on your page that I'd really like to go and check out sometime. Thanks love your blog I read it every day.
Review tidbit I hate country music as much as the next person but Voltaire's new album still fits into his usual spooky, humorous, and dark self. When you're dead is one of my favorite songs on his new album.

Cherish said...

This is a really great post, all the points sum up most everything annoying that outsiders and such have to say. (Also good for babybats like myself to remember that we don't have to be depressed or anything to be Goth.)


Ps: Yay the Damned! I'm still under the impression that they're Post Punk, though honestly it really DOESN'T matter. :)

Kitty Lovett; The Unadulterated Cat said...

As for the "you'd be beautiful if...", I would like to agree with what Gin said - my significant other adores what I wear and finds it very attractive. However, he thinks I'm Miss Universe whether I'm wearing Victorian gear, my goth boots (which he LOVES), my 40s wear or my daggy pyjamas and smelly old jacket with no makeup and severe bedhair. I guess he's just easy to please? But he always says I look gorgeous when I'm dressing up. I wish people would bloody stop with those sorts of comments - especially when they're strangers. What the hell?

It was the worst at school. Teachers would say, "oh Kitty, you would be so gorgeous if you wore colour/ditched the corsets/stopped wearing argyle socks/stopped wearing skirts all the time." Yes, I got it from teachers for wearing my knee-length skirts. What?!

But for every "you'd be so pretty if" comments, I get ten "oh my god you look amazing". Usually from middle-aged and older ladies.


Oxymoron said...

Too happy to be goth??? What about Perkygoths?

All these comments come from a place of ignorance and sometimes, they come from people who have good intentions.

thepurplebroom said...

I myself have been on both sides of the "You're too happy" and "You're just acting depressed". I do suffer from depression but I'm a fun loving gal and I tend to smile alot ESPECIALLY when I'm gothed out because it makes me happy.

I've also gotten "You wear too much black" from numerous people, even my mother's coworkers at a previous company kept saying that to her about me, herself having a rather dark wardrobe. It is frustrating.

Thank you for the wonderful post as usual!

Maggie said...

The "you'd be so pretty without your piercings/with hair in a natural colour/without the dramatic make-up" comments are my pet hate. Who decides what's attractive and what's not? And if being "pretty" means adjusting my looks to what's viewed as such, then thanks but no thanks, I'd rather be me.
(Besides, just like Thepurplebroom, I'm at my happiest when I'm gothed out. And - believe it or not - I like being happy.)

KatSlaughter said...

Relating to the "you'd be so pretty if..." point: I shaved bits of my head recently; and I am rather enjoying the look (to say nothing of the highly-enjoyable sensation that rubbing my velvety stubble provides); yet everyone seems to feel that my head is now 'theirs' to comment upon and loudly judge for aesthetic merit. I didn't do it for attention, so whenever someone brings it up I try to change the subject. I pride myself on not caring about what people I have ambivalent regard for think, but it is getting to me a bit.

I guess I don't like the way that you do something 'weird' and suddenly you are the property of the public.

ultimategothguide said...

@ Saphire Rainforest - I would if I could, unfortunately when I find these images (usually on Tumblr) there is no credit given so I don't know WHO to credit, so I tend to just write where I found the image so that people know I'm not claiming ownership of images that aren't mine. If I know who the model/photographer etc is I will ALWAYS credit.

Also, when it just says 'Source', that's actually a link, so I AM crediting the bloggers. If it's just Source: Tumblr that means I've saved it to my computer and forgotten which blog I found it on.

Mad Vampire Poet said...

I've never had someone say anything along the lines of 'you'd be so pretty if (insert whatever they are talking about here). Okay, I don't dress super duper goth, but I wear black most of the time and if I wear make-up, it's probably going to be black. I think most people probably think I dress better now. I was never quite normal, you see, and I used to dress rather...strangely. I mean, when I was seven I was obsessed with Barbie! Thankfully, I am now obsessed with The Ring. Yeah, just ramble on and on, don't I?

Leena said...

I heard a alot about that "You would be so much prettier if stop using those piercings and put normal clothes on.. Argh, like I care what they think! And why people always say bad things? I like to say good things, it makes my and everyone else day much better that way..

Ashlee said...

The "you'd be prettier if..." is so annoying. And rather vain, too, to expect that someone is doing something for you or even cares what you think.

It doesn't just happen in Goth, either. Guys will say things like that about girls. "They look prettier without makeup", "I don't understand why they do their hair like that", "why the hell do they wear that? It doesn't look hot at all" and it's like "They. Don't. Care. About. What. YOU. Think. You are a boy that they don't know or like and it's so vain to assume that all girls go out of their way to please the male gender as a whole."

Koko said...

Nice mention of THE DAMNED! Dave Vanian has a lot to say about subcultures if you look up some of his interviews on youtube or otherwise.

I'm so excited to see them, they are playing in my town the night before halloween and halloween! Perfect!

Vulcan_Butterfly said...

Amen, sister. All of your above mentioned misconceptions exasperate me as well.

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