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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

How to spot a 'real' Goth, v.2, part 3

I seem to have got side-tracked from regular postings over the last couple of months, so here's to hopefully getting back on track with everything I started and didn't finish! You may remember I had decided to explain and clarify the points I made in a slightly abrupt early post, 'How to spot a 'real' Goth' - if you missed it, you can find parts one and two here and here.

(I know I've used this image before, but Blogger won't let me upload pics today...)
Adora BatBrat, her blog is here.

Real Goths are likely to be open-minded.

I'm glad I was careful with how I phrased this. As I've explained in part one of this miniseries (and as you are probably already aware), earning the title of 'real Goth' is not actually that difficult. You don't have to submit an application form for your very own Goth card, nor should anybody else actually be in the business of telling you whether or not you're a 'real Goth'. As long as you have some sort of knowledge of Goth culture, you're likely to be welcomed by other members of the scene.

When I first got into the scene, I was quite naive and assumed that because Goths tend to share similar interests in music and fashion - and other areas such as film, literature and art to a certain extent - that I would automatically get on with and like all other Goths. I still struggle, sometimes, to accept that you can have almost the exact same tastes and interests as somebody else but you still may not like them.

Goth as a subculture is open to anyone and everyone. Which means that obnoxious people, unkind people, rude people, stuck-up people, even intolerant and bigoted people can be - and are - a part of this scene too. Sadly, a statement like 'all Goths are open-minded' is misleading.

However, I would dare to say that the majority of Goths are open-minded. I have read about nasty incidents where fuller-figured Goths, younger Goths, cyber Goths, black Goths and others have received rude remarks or basic ignorance from other members of a supposedly tolerant scene, but I would like to assume that it isn't naive of me to hope that such encounters are the exception and not the norm.

In a subculture where the majority pride themselves on being tolerant towards such diversities as gender, sexuality, religion, and fetishes, it is a shame that there are still a minority who still sneer at others based on body shape, age, fashion prefences or even make-up-applying ability. BUT I firmly believe that Goths are more likely to be open-minded, because, to use a bad analogy, a man wearing make-up and a PVC dress is far more likely to be shown acceptance in a small town Goth club than a small town mainstream nightclub.

So, sadly, one cannot assume that the bigot in the corner of a Goth club is not a 'real' Goth.

There is another facet, of course, to Gothy open-mindedness, which was what I was actually referring to when I wrote the original post. It's the fact that many 'poseurs' have difficulty accepting anything outside of a very blinkered definition of what 'Goth' is - "I'm not walking the dog/wearing those socks/listening to that band/eating that cookie. It isn't Goth."

I'm sure there are many newcomers, mallgoths and babybats who strongly believe that you cannot work in a hospital and be a Goth; that you cannot play sports and be a Goth; that you cannot enjoy chick lit and be a Goth; that you cannot dislike the works of Tim Burton and be a Goth; or even the good old favourite, that you cannot wear colour and be a Goth.

People who unintentionally use subcultures to place restrictions on themselves ("I can't go to that salsa class, it isn't Goth") will eventually find it frustrating and will move on, which I think is where a lot of those 'just a phase' examples come from. People become part of a subculture because it has meaning to them, because they like it - it should be an enjoyable addition to your way of life, not a way to put uncomfortable limits on your lifestyle and behaviour.

'Real' Goths are likely to have more knowledge about and experience of the subculture, and will have learned either first-hand or by example that being part of a scene such as Goth shouldn't place limits on what you can and can't do. Being accepting of and open-minded towards the facets of your lifestyle and personality (and those of others) that fall outside the category of 'Goth' should be part and parcel of being a member of the subculture.

13 comments:

Hexotica said...

I agree with the statement that *most* goths are open-minded. You have to be pretty open-minded to want to set yourself so far apart from the mainstream!
Most goths I know are creative and unconventional types, and that generally seems to mean being political progressive and less-religious. Religion, especially, is to me where many people park their thinking, and there is definitely a strong anti-religiousness in the goth community--which is not to say they aren't spiritual.
On the other hand, I have met a few goths who seem to be using the sub-culture as an escape to negate the mainstream altogether, and they take on an extreme cynicism that keeps their minds locked close. Luckily, they are few and far between.

Naomi said...

Thank you for reminding me of the fact that I should not limit myself because I'm in a certain subculture. I tend to unintentionally box myself a little sometimes *blushes*

Daniel_8964 said...

Well said and very true. Being open minded shows your true individuality, you like whatever makes you comfortable and is something you love doing, it doesn't mean you should give up wearing other colours because "it isn't goth". Myself I even wear orange socks, checkered yellow socks even I don't like these colours personally and they are just socks to me, but I usually wear black, red, purple, white, green and silver as I'm more into these colours personally.

Xanthy said...

Oh, totally, clich├ęs are for boring people. I call myself Goth because most of my personality/interests/hobbies/mindset/look/whatever can be classified as goth.
I didn't modify different aspects of my life to be able to call myself Goth...

Also, I just spent most of my day reading Edgar Allen Poe... whilst wearing a fluffy white dressing gown with a picture of Snoopy on it. It was nice.

Kitty Lovett; The Unadulterated Cat said...

Personally, I love goth cliches, since most of them apply to me. I mean, I bought a candystriped bedspread because it reminded me of Sweeney Todd. I love bats and rats and black cats and tea sets, I love reading, poetry, and big old leather chairs. I love eyeliner and lipstick and overdressing for lunchtime meetups. What can I say, really?

Except one thing - my huuuuge penchant for Victorian soft pastels. Buy ALL of the pink-and-white bustle gowns! 8D

Seriously. I love pastel pinks and creams as much as I love black. GUESS I'M NOT GOTH HUH

Silver Snow said...

Great post! I've always thought that one of the reasons I eased into the scene was that I was raised to be open-minded. My mom is (though my dad is NOT) and she taught me to be accepting from a young age. It makes me sad when people have narrow-minds...

When I first started calling myself Goth, I tended to worry about whether I was a real Goth or not. "Holy crap, I really like that pink shirt! OMG I must not be Goth anymore!" type things. It was good to find perkygoth. ;D

Anonymous said...

Hello, I was just wondring if it was possible for you to do something like a top 10 goth films or something? I've been really struggling for something to watch and I was wondering if you could enlighten me on some that I maybe hadn't seen.

Also, have you seen Mean Girls? I thought Janice Ian was pretty goth; is this not goth enough?
xx

Anonymous said...

Oh also, lovely outfits by the way, I love the forth one. That blouse is darling!
xx

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh I'm so sorry, I meant for this to be on your most recent post!
Sorry! Love your blog
xx

Jeff Bailey said...

About being a real goth or not:

I've found that it's something that I am. Sometimes I've not wanted to be. It would be easier to not think like this, be like this, etc. The last few years I've dressed the part, sometimes for years I won't. Being part of a scene is unrelated to the inner feelings that make you goth.

I think you know you fit when you decide to let it show and no one is surprised. It's just another part of you that your friends already knew was there. Something from inside that comes out rather than something you put on.

Neat to find your blog. Stay cool.

InfiltratorN7 said...

This is what I love about how there's loads of different subsets of goth. Like all the types dsecribed on this blog and on blackwaterfall.com. Rather than boxing people in and restricting who they are I see it as a statement on just how varied goth is. It's saying we don't all have to dress the same, listen to the same music, have the same hobbies. We can be different but still be goth. You can mix and match styles and even develop your own. How is that restricting? How can people in the mainstream claim we all dress the same when plainly we don't? For example, Victoriangoth, rivethead, cybergoth and deathrocker are hardly similar looks are they? Not only is there variety between those styles but within as well with people customising their own outfits and accessories. How are we clones?

Anonymous said...

I give a nod to what you mentioned about someone under the impression that you cannot be part of the subculture and work at a hospital. Skip back a few years ago when I was working at a "high maintenance" resort, and one of my co workers was Marcus. He and I had no clue the other was Goth since we were always too busy to chat. This went on for sometime until we bumped into one another at an event, and we were shocked to see one another.

Anonymous said...

Wow, all of your examples were very goth.

"...strongly believe that you cannot work in a hospital and be a Goth;"

((My ex-bandmate worked in a hospital. He wanted to see what a brain looked like.))

"that you cannot play sports and be a Goth;"

((Maybe some sports are more goth than others, but I played tennis for a year. I imagine badminton would have been a better choice. Or croquet, a la "The Heathers"))

"that you cannot enjoy chick lit and be a Goth;"

((What would you call all of those god-awful vampire and werewolf-themed romance books, if not "chick lit"! Let's start with Ann Rice!))

"that you cannot dislike the works of Tim Burton and be a Goth;"

((It is the opinion of the committee that Tim Burton must be dragged out to a yard and put down like a lame horse.))

"or even the good old favourite, that you cannot wear colour and be a Goth."

((Seriously, what is more wicked than emerald green? Or garnet red...or cobalt blue...etc.))


"I can't go to that salsa class, it isn't Goth"

((Heellloo! Gomez and Morticia!))

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