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Thursday, 26 April 2012

The 'G' word

Hello everyone! Following some recent controversies and drama, I thought I would try to explain myself a little for everyone's benefit and hopefully avoid repeating a few mistakes. I am re-capping a bit of this from a conversation that was had last night on EpagomenalMotif's blog which some of you may already have seen, so I apologise for repeating myself but would like to make sure that a few points are clarified.

1. The 'G' word.
No, I'm not going to stop using the word 'Goth' just because EM and others would prefer it if I did. I am, however, going to attempt to use it more accurately. A lot of what I blog about would not be considered Goth under the strict definition of the term (such as offshoots of Goth culture, modern derivatives, etc.) and I am not unaware of that; I also understand that some feel that the term shouldn't be applied to anything outside of that definition, which I suppose for me is where the whole 'dark alternative' bit comes in.

I am informed that in Germany the word 'goth' may be used as a general catch-all term for most things covered by the Schwarze Szene, dark alternative, etc., and, as some of you may already be aware from the direction of previous posts, have been using it more in that sense than referring specifically to the Goth rock music scene. This is, obviously, causing some communication problems, so I will endeavour to be more accurate when using the term.

2. Then why don't you make a new name for it?
"I just don't see why it's necessary to call these things 'goth' when you yourself admit that they don't fall under that definition. why don't you make a new word for it?"

As much as I admit it would be handier to have a catch-all term that is less vague than 'dark alternative', 'dark culture' or even plain 'spooky', I don't think that EM's helpful suggestion of 'Kugelblossom-Bruchenfraulisch' quite rolls off the tongue.

Somehow I also don't think that it would go down very well if some random blogger (that's me) decides to spontaneously rename a large portion of dark culture. I have a feeling that if I piped up with, "Well, a few of these interests and bands are specifically Goth but a lot of them are neoclassical, metal, Industrial, dark cabaret, punk, darkwave, etc., so let's just call the lot *insert name here*," a whole lot of people would start giving it the "WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS" routine.

As stated above, my concession to those who would like to keep the term Goth strictly reserved for things which are Goth precisely, not offshoots, derivatives or vague relatives, is to try to be more precise when using the term. As outlined by an anonymous commentor: "My biggest issues are with those who are adamant about making goth a hodgepodge of genres and still calling it goth. The idea of Schwartze Szene sounds awesome, and I take no issue with goth being included under the same umbrella as other genres; however, I just don't like the idea of other/new genres being referred to as goth."

OK. In my opinion this is fair enough. I'm interested in the things I'm interested in; I don't really mind what we all agree to call it.

3. Being a 'real Goth'.
At the end of the day, I can spend as many hours as I please writing blog posts about what does and does not constitute 'real Gothdom', but it can never be any more than subjective. Any two people who call themselves Goth will have different reasons for doing so and different criteria for the label. As such, I personally tend not to worry overmuch nowadays about whether the Goth label is one that applies to me or not, let alone trying to live up to someone else's criteria of being a 'real Goth'.

There are aspects of Goth music, fashion and culture that I enjoy and so I focus on enjoying them; I also enjoy other, related genres and some that aren't even vaguely close to the notion of Goth. Again, I have been using 'Goth' as a useful piece of shorthand to cover a few of these interests but don't really mind whether others agree or disgree with my doing so.

Once more, as above, I'm happy to be more precise with the use of the 'G' word (at least publically) to avoid causing any offense or aggravation. I really don't feel the need to argue about what is or isn't Goth; I'd like to just enjoy the aspects of the subculture that I have an interest in. I'll stick with 'dark culture' or 'dark alternative' as opposed to specifically 'Goth' for the time being to avoid further confusion.

Just happy being spooky ;-D

Lastly, thanks to everyone concerned for the help, support and advice. Comment moderation is turned on for the time being, because while I don't mind receiving constructive criticism I have no wish for flame wars all over the place. All comments will still be posted unless they are obviously offensive or inflammatory.

16 comments:

Nightwind said...

Labels can be such difficult things sometimes! On the one hand, they are useful and necessary but on the other, confusing.

If I say that I like classical music everyone understands what I'm talking about. But if a person asks me which composers I enjoy and I respond by adding Ravel to the list, I can be criticized because technically, he was twentieth century and the classical period ended early in the nineteenth. So why then, is Ravel's music often included on classical programing?

I see applying the Goth label in the same way as I see the Ravel/classical dilemma. It works as long as one doesn't try to become too technical. When that happens things just get too confusing.

Sophie said...

Amy you should write about whatever you want - it's *your* blog. At the end of the day your blog makes people happy, it connects them to other people with similar interests when there may not be anyone in their own town to share that with.

and if you want to go and write about two-toed goths, then do it, because at the end of the day your readers and your friends are here because they want to hear from you, even if you decided to write a post about the little-known 10 legged elephant.

and if EpagomenalMotif is really that bothered about everyone using the word Goth in the "correct" way then why don't they go and sort out the millions of chavs and news-reporters who call anyone with black hair a Goth? Oh yeh, because trolls prefer to hide under bridges.

Bored_Homeschooler said...

I don't know,Kugelblossom-Bruchenfraulisch is pretty darn catchy...

EpagomenalMotif said...

Sophie: do you not think it's worse when people that identify themselves with goth are using it wrongly than when someone who doesn't know what they're talking about does? I do.

a post about 10 legged elephants would be completely irrelevant.

Amy: I approve of this post: nice one, gothguide.

Darling Violetta said...

I agree completely with Nightwind. The word Goth is a term that works best when not used too technically (for obvious reasons). It's best to ignore the types that take a nitpicky approach to the subculture. As that sort of thing doesn't add to the conversation. As well, people within the subculture are well aware of what another Goth means when they use the term (as well as how hard it is to pin down the term). So, when someone goes on a rant on what is "true goth" amongst other Goths it's more than a bit patronizing.

I've been in situations where everyone is having a nice conversation regarding the subculture. And then that one overly technical person chimes in. It's then that everyone collectively rolls their eyes and says under their breath, "Oh here we go".

linnea-maria said...

You have many good points in this post. I only wish you cold ignore the mean comments from a certain person. It's not constructive or intelligent to trying to drag you or your readers down with curses, very immature though. You have the power to delete, this is your place! Keep up with your well written posts.

Lily N. said...

Seriously, I don't chime in much, but there is no reason to feel pressured by other people on the internet. They are, at the end of the day, unimportant outside of their own, little social bubbles.

As a 30+ goth, I can honestly say the whole thing sounds very juvenile, and some day when you (and they) grow a whole lot more, it's going to be funny and silly.

I don't mean that in a condescending way. I've always thought of myself as being very mature for my age, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for you as well; it's just, over time, you discover these truths about the world.

When you're older, if someone harasses you like this, you're more likely to tell them to fuck off than to be seriously concerned about their hissy fits. I am promising you, in this case, on your blog, you are very much entitled to say exactly that.

*hugs and good wishes*

gin said...

I always love people who think they know exactly what Goth happens to be. There happens to be a reason there is no direct definition for what Goth is, The Closest thing to defining Goth is "one who is apart of the Gothic subculture." From there, no true definition exists. Further, subcultures evolve, and with that things change, so what may have once been the definition, no longer is, just like Goth use to be a youth culture before it became a subculture.

Marmalade Marionette said...

This is exactly why I don't like talking about subcultures in depth. People will hear a certain label and have different opinions on it. But that shouldn't keep you from posting your blogs, Amy. Just hear their conflicting opinions for just a second (I know it's difficult) and go on with whatever you were doing. You might understand why one person might think goth is this, or another person believes than goth is all about that.

Kitty Lovett; The Unadulterated Cat said...

Pft. I would happly just use it as a catch-all term and...you know, not be an up-myself prick about everything.

Xanthy said...

This stuff has been going through my head for at least six months, time to FINALLY write about it.
I definitely agree with the way you worded it.

akumaxkami said...

I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that the definitions of words are constantly changing and it's silly to insist that a word only mean one thing and one thing forever.

If we wanted to get really picky, we could say that a true Goth doesn't even exist anymore because those Germanic tribes died out long ago.

Goth in terms of architecture related to structures that were harsh and barbaric looking, another throw-back to Germania.

Goth is also sometimes used to describe a certain genre of literature, namely those that had a dark and supernatural air to them.

As we can see, Goth has indeed changed and encompassed new definitions over the centuries. So I think this bickering over what Goth really is or isn't seems a bit silly and pointless, lol.

Can't we all just enjoy it?

Belle Savage said...

Hi Amy,

I've never commented on your blog before, but I've been reading it for quite a while now, and all the information I've gotten from your blog has been extremely helpful! I'm over in the southern part of the U.S. and over here, goth culture is pretty much nonexistent. I’m not quite to the point where I consider myself a full-blown Goth, more of a sympathizer for now, but for me it is a place where I have found belonging. I’m a weird person who likes weird things – Asian horror, grave yards, scary stories, Halloween, and generally all other things creepy or spooky. I also love the overall aesthetic of goth, and even some of the music! For me goth is more of a mindset, a way of looking at the world that is a bit different from other ways. My point is, your blog is way more helpful and useful than some obsessive dork who has nothing better to do than cyber stalk it. Don’t let them bother you, you are awesome. :D

Daniel_8964 said...

There isn't a 'true goth' It is limiting to conform to expectations that would make you exclusively 'goth' . Everyone is different either way and ranting over who is 'goth' or not is just worrying what others approve of you. Stick what interests you love doing in the subculture personally and never limit yourself.

Phoenix said...

Word.

Anonymous said...

I find it funny that a subculture that prides itself on individuality and creativity is so adamant about trying to force its members to fit a certain mold. Either there is an acceptance of individual expression and creativity, or it is a very narrow and close-minded subculture that requires everybody to conform to the same bog standard in order to be considered "true goth". Thankfully, many people within this subculture agree with the former instead of the latter. The word "Goth" by its very nature is a catch all phrase, as it was being used to describe anything that fell within a certain aesthetic and/or captured a certain mood long before the rock based goth subculture ever existed. Why limit it to the dictates of a music based subcultute when it is so much more than just that?

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