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Sunday, 29 January 2012

The downsides of Goth #2: Rivalry

There has always been rivalry amongst Goths. Usually it's friendly bickering and teasing over who has the biggest hair, the smallest corseted waist, the awesome-est boots or the biggest bat collection. Comments flying back and forth are usually quite complimentary: "GORGEOUS make-up!" (with a mental note to go home and practise eyeliner squiggles until one's arm drops off). Unfortunately, somewhere between mild envy and good-natured teasing and Gother-than-thou syndrome lies the uncomfortable territory of overcompetitiveness.

Astrovamps
This brand of rivalry can sometimes occur when someone you've known for a long time, perhaps from school if you're younger, begins to express an interest in the scene. Almost overnight, they've transformed from Average Joanne into Gothier-Than-Thou Mistress Melancholia. And just as suddenly, your mild-mannered, pleasant friendship is a minefield of competitive jibes.

It's very draining if every time you meet up with said person or switch on your computer, you're but needled by snide comments and remarks. You just got new boots? Well, theirs have a higher platform and are from a 'better' brand. You just got a snakebite piercing? How passe. They just got their first tattoo. You just dyed your hair red? Theirs was like that last month, but brighter. -_-

If this person starts attending the same events as you, they spend that time trying to 'out-Goth' you, which would be amusing if it wasn't so irritating. You just want to have a good time and a laugh, but instead you have to put up with them rolling their eyes because you chose to order a Malibu and Coke instead of a snakebite and black.

Over-competitiveness may take many forms. At the extreme end of the spectrum, she may offer to help you do your make-up for the event of the year... and screw it up accidentally on purpose. Perhaps she 'just happens' to stab her stiletto heel through the train of your new dress. Is he less honest than he could be about precisely how big your butt looks in those PVC trousers so you go out feeling chunky whilst he's snake-hipped and svelte?

Everyone is likely to indulge in a little Gothier-than-thou from time to time - it's perfectly normal to be secretly proud if your hair looks better or whatever. But most of us know where to draw the line because really, why would you want to take yourself so seriously all the time? Why would you want to take Goth so seriously? Perhaps a bit rich coming from someone who writes a blog called 'the Ultimate Goth Guide', but it's not only natural but encouraged to pop your tongue in your cheek from time to time. It's not nice to feel pressured to be the spookiest Goth in the graveyard all the damn time.

But look on the bright side, dear darkling. It isn't actually as bad as it seems. The only logical reason for someone to start playing the Gothier Than Thou game in this way is because... they're threatened by you. They haven't yet discovered that 'Gothiness' is different for each individual and can't be marked on a sliding scale, so they're huffing and puffing to try and prove that THEY are the darkest and spookiest kid in town.

It's irritating. And frustrating. Particularly if you helped to guide this person into Gothdom by letting them borrow your Sisters CDs and your second best eyeliner. But feel smug in the knowledge that, in a few years time, this person (depending on how self-aware they are) may look back and realise that whilst they have been trying to prove How Very Goth they are, they have only succeeded in making themselves look like an insecure newbie. Plus, their newfound scene popularity at your local Goth joint is hardly going to last unless they learn to make conversation on a subject other than themselves and how dark/sexy/creative they are. It might be annoying at the time, but people are going to be able to see through this kind of self-absorbed behaviour.

On the other side of the fence, we all like to look nice, but if you're continually trying to outdo everybody else, not only are you doomed to eventually fail but you're showing signs of overcompensating for a lack of genuine self-confidence. If you're turning all your interactions with somebody into a competition, they may be amused at first but after a while they're going to get ticked off with your behaviour and probably won't want to spend much time with you.

Not to mention that what you're doing screams insecurity - you may think you're coming off looking cool, confident, and the Gothiest Goth in Spooksville, but since this kind of rivalry is usually the preserve of mallgoths, poseurs and less experienced Goths, at best you're currently looking insecure and a little childish - at worst, downright conceited and maybe a bit of a bully. Maybe you should stop trying to be the all-singing, all-dancing ookiest spookiest member of the Addams Family all the time and learn to chill out.

15 comments:

Xanthy said...

Eeeyup. At VampireParty here in Antwerp, you can tell who's new and who's not, simply because the newbies still try to out-goth everyone (and sometimes even have the not-so-nice habit of sniggering at people they deem 'less Goth' than them). The 'older' goths still try to look nice, but come there to have fun - if someone looks better, then so be it. :)

Kali Darklore said...

Being a bit of a babybat I still can feel pretty insignificant next to most goths and eldergoths at the moment... especially if I've spent all morning trying to look 'just right'. I get all the competitiveness mostly it's just a bit of fun. But I understand where you're coming from, I've heard quite a few people complaining about this issue. I think I'd probably find it the most annoying, frustrating thing in the world. xD

Silver Snow said...

Oi, I completely understand. I mean, I like to look nice, but if I'm not the Gothiest Goth out there, who cares? I'm havin fun! I have this type of problem with one of my friends, but instead of Gothiness it's boys. "Oh, Tom, Dick and Harry all wanna go out with me. Which should I choose? And, uh, who likes you again?" I normally nod to these statements and find something better to do. :/ Life doesn't have to be a constant competition...

Caroline Carnivorous said...

Ok, off-topic comment, but I just had to hide a little squeal when I saw that you follow my blog! Omg thank you! *u*
Right now I only have a boring make-up blog for my videos, but I want to start a ''regular'' blog on blogspot too (I have a norwegian blog for now). Any tips?

Ms. Lou said...

This reminds me of a situation when I was your age (wow I sound like an old lady, but I'm only 37). Anyway when I was newer to the scene I had two friends also getting into it. Girl A had been in it longer and had great style but was kinda quiet and shy. Girl B would copy everything she did. If girl A bought a corset, so did girl B, and said she did it first. Even more annoying, if girl A liked a guy (and was too shy to say anything to him) girl B would go after him. They stopped being friends after a while. Girl B never did it to me, or maybe I just never really noticed or cared. I kinda did my own thing.
Most of the time it's just a phase, but sometimes it can get out of control and wreck friendships.

GothPocket said...

Wow...hmmm...this sorta makes me glad my friend decided she didn't want to be a Goth. That chick is comepetitive... Maybe I SHOULD be kind of happy that I'm the only Goth at school. At least a little bit.

Nightwind said...

I think you hit the nail on the head Amy; it has a lot to do with immaturity and insecurity. That's one of the neat things about being older; you become more comfortable with yourself. Either others like you for who you are, or they don't. Either way, you'll be just fine.

In my case, I generally only get to see other gothically inclined folks about once a month anyway. At those times I'm too busy enjoying their company to be competitive with them.

Trinidy Patterson said...

I definitely remember being a babybat and feeling insecure around others- even online!
Since where I grew up the only "goths" were mall goths about my age, and because of my pretentiousness - I refused to associate with them.
I like how it has changed though, the farther along I get with Goth (encroaching on 9 years now) the less I care about what everyone else is wearing - unless I want it!
It seems less about trying to emulate them and more about finding items or make up they are wearing that I like - and would like to own/do.

I remember being in high school and having a girl who tried to "be me" for a while.
Few things can become more threatening than someone trying to "Be you" while in high school.
Jesus!

Smashed Doll said...

I've never really expierenced Gothier than you 'cause I don't know many goths but I have seen it online. Tumblr has a lot of it. There is a tumblr called Goth Confessions or something like it. People send in their confessions but I heard it has become very elitist. Confessions like "Some "goth" like Lady Gaga. THey aren't really goth" and so on.
I too am certainly not the gothiest goth out there. Some think I am not goth because I'm a very girly femine goth (think Jillian Venters and Victorian goth but with a very small budget).
Great post Amy

Daniel_8964 said...

This is a interesting post, Amy. I also like snakebite and black, but I don't always go for it to enhance my 'goth cred' and I drink whatever floats my boat and my mood. Also on saturday that was past, I may experienced something like this. I overheard the infamous 'poseur' insult that I knew it was aimed at me by another some insecure babybat who was dressed in all black with a black trench coat and black trainers, even I was wearing my DIYed blue jeans and a dark shirt like I'm wearing at this moment now. Just because someone doesn't fit your image or criteria of what you should wear. It certainly doesn't make you a 'real goth' or either 'open minded'', it gives the impression that you're just trying too hard. Least I don't wear the same colour all the time or the most gothiest clothing 24/7. I'm relaxed and being myself and comfortable at least and not taking it too seriously for that matter.

Kitty Lovett; The Unadulterated Cat said...

You know me, Amy...If could fall out of bed made up and elegantly dressed every day, i would! I don't try to "out-goth" anyone (in fact, it's one of my fears that someone would think I was), but I do enjoy looking nice, and I love to dress top-to-bottom as extravegantly as I can. Although some days I'm just not feeling it. I do have a flannel flower-print moo-moo I wear around the house (think nana in a nursing home). I don't try and look prettier than anyone, it's really just a way to make up for my social retardation, and I've found that it puts others at ease - especially if I am at ease with what I'm wearing.

Look out if I feel underdressed, though. Oh boy.

Miss Eva Morgan Reeve said...

Yeah, I just love the ''I'm so Goth I shit bats'' attitude...

Nenedhel said...

Well said ^^ I have noticed this quite a lot actually which is a bit sad :(. This post sums it up really well, great post

David said...

Amy, I left a comment that was neither offensive nor insulting. Why did it get deleted for no reason?

ultimategothguide said...

When, what and which post? If it was posted multiple times I would have deleted it or if it was in an old post my moderation settings would have caught it. If you are the person that left a link multiple times on assorted posts I left up one of those.

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