Hey! You changed your blog name...
I have indeed! I've changed the title from 'The Ultimate Goth Guide' to 'Stripy Tights and Dark Delights' (although this may be subject to change in the near future, I have changed it three times today already), because after giving it some thought over the last couple of weeks I've concluded that this is not, strictly speaking, a 'Goth blog'.
Voltaire says, "Goth is what you make it." Jillian Venters says that her usual answer to the question 'is music or fashion more important when it comes to being a Goth?' is "fashion [...] it takes dedication to bring your closet over to the dark side." But assorted folks have argued that Goth is ultimately a music-driven subculture, a view that on the whole I tend to agree with.
Unfortunately, the debate does not end there. What is Goth music? The obvious answers - The Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure - have been denied over and over by the musicians themselves. 'Goth music' is often used as an umbrella term for other genres including Industrial, synthpop, darkwave, deathrock and post-punk, and people will, and do, spend hours arguing (usually on the internet) about whether or not this is accurate. Add Gothic metal into the debate and things get even worse. So even when we manage to agree that it's a music-based subculture, we can't agree precisely what that music is.
If the term 'Goth music', when used properly, refers to trad Goth and Gothic rock alone, is knowledge and appreciation of some of this music enough? You might think so, but there are some who firmly feel that 'you must listen to THIS MUCH Bauhaus to be a 'real goth'.' Or that owning a My Chemical Romance album automatically cancels out the rest of your Goth cred, despite the fact that nowadays you can often hear the strains of My Chem, Evanescence or even, yes, Marilyn Manson in Goth clubs up and down the UK alone.
For every group of people who look at their subculture of choice as versatile, dependent on their own tastes, preferences and opinions, and that the 'rules' of said subculture are (like the Pirate Code) more guidelines than rules, there are those who hold that being part of a subculture means fulfilling a certain criteria (dressing a certain way, listening to certain music) and then sticking more-or-less rigidly to those boundaries.
By which criteria, this is not a Goth blog, because it covers cyber, Industrial, steampunk, some metal and Lolita, as well as a wide range of things that would come under the vague, far-reaching label of 'dark alternative'. I previously referred to this in the header of the blog, "Everything about Goth and dark culture," and have simply made it a bit more obvious that this blog covers more subjects than those which can be considered arguably, even undeniably, Goth.
There is another, slightly more petty reason why after using the Ultimate Goth Guide moniker since the age of sixteen, I felt I wanted to change it. When people offline ask, "What's your blog called?" I have started to feel a bit of a twonk saying, "Um... the Ultimate Goth Guide." I have learned that blog titles that are thought up as a sixteen-year-old pretentious young Gothling on Piczo are perhaps not as appropriate for a supposedly-more-experienced twenty-something, no matter how tongue-in-cheek and ironic you think you are being!
I have not changed my URL or e-mail address because frankly I think it's somewhat discourteous when people are linking to you.
So are you a Goth or not then?
That depends very much on your perspective! I had been thinking lately about whether or not to continue self-identifying as a Goth since by some people's criteria the label might not be strictly accurate. This dilemma was summed up very nicely by a couple of comments on my recent post, The Gothic Metal Debate.
"I just feel like if I start calling myself goth, I'm going to get into a senseless argument with someone (probably multiple people) eventually, and it's just not worth it to me. If someone else identifies me as goth, I probably won't argue with them. If someone else tries to tell me I'm not goth, I don't feel the need to defend anything I'm doing aesthetically to anyone. Now that I think about it, this is kind of a liberating decision. I was kind of sad about it up until now."
Darling Violetta responded, "I agree with this 100%! People want to classify something that, as far as I can tell, was very much an organic thing. From what I can tell there weren't any rules on what is and isn't goth back then. Actually (from what I read and have heard from people who where there) people back then didn't call themselves goth. Someone else (i.e. the media) did and many back then rejected the term because it was the media's attempt at confining a very much amorphic movement.
Where I live people aren't concerned about what is or isn't goth. You do what you like and happen to find others who share your interests. It just happens that what we all have in common is a common draw to a particular aesthetic that shows up in many of our interests (i.e. fashion, literature, music, movies). Sure, we may like similar bands. But, the only thing connecting these bands would be the aesthetic not the genre classification. Honestly, as much as we argue online about what is or isn't goth it doesn't change anything in real life. People will still dress in their black clad finery, listen to bands like Mandragora Scream, Blutengel, and Deathstars regardless if someone thinks they're goth or not, and hang out with others who do the same. To all of you out there who don't fit the traditional more narrow defintion of Goth there's a whole group of wonderfully dark and whimsical people who couldn't care less. Where do you think the Schwarze Szene came from? ;)
Cassandra, you're not alone in your decision. Really, most people I know don't consider themselves Goths. Yet, are the delightful ookie spooky people I know them to be. I feel that's the point of it all, really. Defining Goth isn't as important as it is to define yourself. :)"
Unlike Cassandra, I have decided to continue referring to myself as a Goth, as a useful way of describing a large proportion of my interests and the like-minded community that I am a part of both on and offline. Ultimately my interests and passions are more important to me than what label people choose to put on them. At the end of the day, the fashion and music that I love, Goth and otherwise, give me pleasure and I have no intention to put limits on what I will and won't enjoy in order to fit someone else's Goth policies. If that makes me 'not a Goth' in some people's eyes then so be it.
Very special thanks to Darling Violetta for summing this up so beautifully.
What does this mean for the future of this blog?
Um... not very much, really. These small changes are simply so that I can continue writing what I enjoy without having to quibble over whether it's 'Goth' or not. The content will stay pretty much the same; I can't think of any radical changes that will be occuring, although I intend to edit my 'What is Goth?' and 'Site Policies' pages to avoid causing any confusion.
I'm really very excited about the new title, because I now feel I can continue to cover a broad range of topics without making anyone uncomfortable. :-)
Same stuff, more accurate title, really. Worry not. ;-)