The Search. --Daron MacQueen What is a Goth? There are many views on what a person considers to be a “Goth”. There are the Crow fans, the spooky kids or Mansonites, the vampire Forever Knight Goths, and the weekenders. Some don‟t fit into those categories. They are poets, musicians, artists, actors or photographers. I set out to find out what people think is “Gothic”, and what that means to them. Goths have views of what a Goth is and “normal” people have their own views. I am tired of having people look at me and tell me I am Gothic, or telling me I am a baby bat. I have become tired of people looking at me as if I‟m some sort of thief when I walk in a store or being surprised at my school average because of how I look. I wanted to know what people think Goths are that we get those kinds of responses. And I wanted to know, if in other‟s views, I fit into the Gothic subculture. Central doesn‟t really have a Gothic population, there are maybe ten people who fit into that categorisation. First, some background should be given into what the different things that can be considered Gothic are. Gothic Types Every city has their Goths. Beal is London‟s most well known place for the subculture. They‟ve been around since the late 70‟s (possibly longer) as a major group. They are the reflection of the darkness in the world and either sees things for how they really are, or are completely lost in a dream world. There are different Gothic Types that are recognised by Goths. However, the notion of "Goth type" is more of an internal joke than a reality. It does reveal, however, the constellation of themes that collectively define the subculture. Very few Goths are as polarised as the list below implies - most are a combination of types. One must never generalise. Romantic Goths Picture a blur of velvet, candle-lit baths, rainy afternoons, a locket of hair: Romantic Goths are denizens of the intuitive sensual world. Every moment is tragic in its passing, every kiss unique and lost in time. Only love overcomes the senselessness of existence. Romantic Goths are notorious for having disastrous relationships because of their fantastic expectations. However, when two of them fall in love with each other, the result is a powerful and sometimes fatal relationship that inspires even normal people. Mopey Goths Mopey Goths brood a lot. They're very shy. Life is a little too bright, too loud, and too hot. They tend to be morbid and artistic. You can see in their art the beauty of doom, futility, and mortality. Mopes are easy to spot in club: You can find them crumpled up against a wall somewhere looking forlorn, sometimes drawing or writing, sometimes watching quietly. They're dreamy dancers. The mopey Goth is the core type; the feelings of being left out and forgotten about is familiar to all Goths. Mopes are nevertheless a minority in the subculture. Fetish Goths Fetish Goths aren't exactly snuggable. They wear leather, PVC (which is a type of plastic), rubber, chains, bolts, buckles, and spikes. While seemingly prepared for a post- apocalyptic "Road Warrior" existence, their costumes are quite revealing, suggesting an interest in strange sex. What is the connection between the gothic aesthetic and corporal punishment? Perhaps where mopey/romantic types dramatise emotional pain, the fetish crowd just takes it one step further into the physical. Perky Goths "When you've been in the Goth scene so long that you're just tired and disgusted with the whole thing and you've punched through to the other side." Some may say this is an oxymoron, but perky Goths are people who like the gothic style and music, but don't like the doom and gloom attitude some Goths have. Perky Goths try not to take themselves too seriously and don't brood. They like to have fun. You'll often find them wearing, for example, body glitter, a mixture of black and non- black clothing, and telling the mopey Goths to lighten up. The mopey Goths say that they are missing the point of Gothic entirely. One thing for sure is that they know how to have a good time. Perky Goths are the glue in Goth culture because they meet everyone and introduce people to each other. Perky Goths, never go away. Raver Goths While old school Goths will tell you to not pay attention, Raver Goths have made themselves part of the scene, if not the subculture. The Glo-Stix and goggles are everywhere the more traditional Goths are. Typical clothing is oversized baggy pants, T-shirts, and Day-Glo accessories. Goggles are worn on the head, not on the face. Their musical interests overlap the gothic catalogue in the EBM and industrial genres. In addition, they have imported techno, trance, and breakbeat music into the clubs. Vampire Goths There appear to be two sets of vampire Goths. The first is composed of passive consumers of vampire lore. They are like any other kind of Goth, but they have vampires on the brain. The second group is quite flamboyant in comparison. These are people who refer to themselves as "vampyres," spelled with a 'y' to distinguish themselves from the mythological characters. They can be seen sometimes wearing fangs and capes. The fangs are usually expensive orthodontic devices that are custom-made. The fangs sometimes get used in consensual play. Vampyres form cliques inside the Goth world based loosely on the clans in the role-playing game "Vampire: The Masquerade." This is sort of like Dungeons and Dragons, except for vampyres. It's a pretty serious hobby; there are even conventions for this game. Pagan Goths Celtic and Earth-based religions are unusually popular in this subculture. Goths who practice these religions often consider them to be a part of their gothic identities. Most pagan Goths have developed custom religions, and only draw on Wicca or other aspects of the occult. Many are also interested in shamanism from non-Celtic cultures. It's worthwhile mentioning interest in different mythologies, such as Norse and Egyptian Glam Goths A sarcastic term used for bands, and their fans who are excessively concerned with fitting the stereotypical Goth image. These bands might spend longer putting on their makeup for a concert than the actual concert lasts. Frequently during the set they might take a clove break or stop because their makeup is smearing. Their stage names will be something like Vlad or Lestat. You might find them singing about angst and tragedy, vampires, or doing excessively cheesy things. Stereotypes Society has many stereotypes for Goths, the media of course making a lot of them. One should always keep in mind the fact that not all Goths are what people tell you they are. Not all Goths are: Depressed Violent In fact, most Goths shun violence in favour of verbal conflict, if any. Suicidal The very existence of the Goth community provides friends and love for otherwise outcast people, actually *lowering* the chance of suicide. On drugs Vampires or people who think they are Some Goths are even offended by the assumption that they even like vampires. Involved in bondage & Sado-masochism Satanist Most professed Goths prefer atheism, their birth religion, or alternative philosophy. They see Satanism as trite, tired, and pointless. Musicians, painters, or other artists Computer Programmers Although there seem to be a lot of them, because they find the community more readily through the Internet. Wearers of black Just look at the Perky Goths or Raver Goths. A lot of Goths like colour, just not bright colours. Burgundy is a favourite of most. Hair dyers It may seem like it, but you can find many Goths with their natural hair colour. Some sneer at people who feel they need to dye their hair to fit in. Users of white makeup A lot of Goths won‟t wear the white make-up, it will ruin your skin. There are also many Goths with coloured skin who won‟t wear white make-up for obvious reasons. Heavy Drinkers Many don‟t drink at all. Some drink wine, which you sip. Favourite drinks of Goths seem to be Snakebite, or if you can find it Absinthe (though most illegal you can still find it.) Views of the Masses Gothic subculture has changed and progressed steadily and so have ideals of what it is. What does the word "gothic" mean to you? That's one of the questions I asked various Goths and non-Goths. What is the scene like? These are the questions I asked, and the answers I received. 1) What does the word “Gothic” mean to you? “It means something alternative to the norm. More pertaining to the renaissance and medieval periods of dress and life styles that affect those of day.” -Frost, age 19 “It means that you see the beauty in all things dark and morbid. It's not all butterflies and lollipops! Being Goth means you're a realist and you see things for what they are.” -Shaunte', age 17 “To me, “gothic” means loving and appreciating the dark and mysterious sides of art, music, and literature.” -Echomyst “The term 'Gothic' has changed for me over the years. It used to mean the 'darker side' of whatever group you ran with, punk, metal-head, whatever. It still has that same “darker” element, but seems to indicate a softer, more feminine quality.” -Frank, age 25 “Gothic is a sensibility, even a curiosity of sorts. It really has nothing to do with the clothes, the hair, how many Edward Gorey books you‟ve read, the body modifications, or any of that. It is a way of looking at the world that many people simply don't appreciate.” -Mothafunkybat, age 29 “It's a mood, a feeling, and an attitude.” -Beej “The word 'gothic' describes something dark, desolate, and mysterious. There was a gothic art period in the 1300s and there is also gothic literature.” -Graveyardsale, age 16 “Mystery, beauty, passion, and romance. Crumbling castles overgrown with ivy, thick leather- bound books with yellowed pages; a fascination with times gone by and with all things artistic, intellectual, and metaphysical.” -Kitty, age 18 “It means 'beautiful' and seeing everything around you and the beauty in it: like a church or building, or a dress, or a rose, or the moon.” -Blaise_pryncess 2) What do you think of Goths? “I think they're cool. I love their style!” -Shaunte' “A few years ago, I used to be apprehensive about the culture, but the more I learn about it, the more I find it fascinating. I think Goths are really dynamic & romantic in their thinking.” -Echomyst “They‟re freaks. They‟re all evil. No one who believes in god would dress like that. Satanists and self-mutilators.” -Fluffybunny, age 15 3) How has being gothic/darker affected the way others treat you? “From the intellectual, I'm seen as a person. To the blind eye of the majority of our world, I'm seen as someone to be feared or sneered at.” -Frost, 19 “Not much. Sure, they wonder why I wear black or why do I listen to the music I love. This boy once asked me if we pour some burning liquid on our skins! Another person is saying how evil Goths are and treating me like some evil person.” -BlueLydia “I pretty much live in hick-ville were every one has dirt-bikes so some don‟t take to kindly to me being gothic. They might scream 'TOO MUCH MAKEUP' and all I wear is eyeliner and occasionally make up. I don‟t see them screaming that at girls who are decked out in glitter, but that‟s generally the type of people screaming at me. Some times people tell their kids to turn around.” -Queens Ransom “Along with being 'Goth,' I am also multiracial. So therefore people stare at the clothing but then they stare at the skin colour too. I only tend to confuse them more.” -mortuary “Yeah. Some tell me things that they normally wouldn't, the weird things that they do, because they know that I have probably done stranger. However, when some people see me wearing mostly black, sometimes, I think that they still assume that I'm a hoodlum who will shoplift at the slightest provocation. So it's good and bad, I guess.” -kitsunechylde 4) How do you feel about stereotyping and labelling? “I don't like labelling any person unless they shove it to my face that they‟re an idiot.” -Frost, age 19 “It's bad. Call yourself whatever you like, but don't call me anything I try not to label people myself, but human nature is recognition by association if you ask me.” -Alex “About being labeled a Goth by non-Goths? Fine. After being a 'strange' child who in elementary school preferred to dress in only red, black, and purple, eschewing pink and white; who only ate Count Chocula, Boo Berry, and Frankenberry cereals because I liked the characters on the boxes; who liked the darkest Saturday morning cartoons and popular music; who had read all of E.A. Poe's stories by 5th grade; who finally found out in high school that she was not a total weirdo; found it nice to have a label, even if my labeled group wasn't as 'normal' as everyone else's. As for the stereotyping by non-Goths, it's somewhat funny and sad. They seem to lately think we're all Satan worshipping vampire witches who dance in the graveyard and drink blood of young children.” -Xanadria 5) Is Satan worshiping as popular in gothic culture as the media suggests? “No, no, and no!” -BlueLydia “This is why I truly hate stereotypes. I mix a lot of religions together but it is mostly Wicca, and in it there is no place for the Christian anti-god, Satan. Nowhere to be found! But Wicca is a very natural religion which does include both goodness and darkness, as does every religion.” -MITH “No. I have yet to meet a single Satan worshiping Goth. I have met Satanists, but they're two different things. Goths are mostly too intelligent to buy into actually worshiping Satan.” -AliceDead “God, not at all. There is like a 1% populace that says that they are a Satanist and gothic at the same time. In the gothic subculture, ALL religions are accepted, including Christianity.” -mortuary “No.. Absolutely not.. I think that the media are misinterpreting Wicca and calling it Satan worship. I would definitely say that lots of pagans consider themselves Goths and vice versa. I have met Satanists (church of Satan according to Anton La Vey) who consider themselves gothic, but I think it's far from the rule.” -Salome “Fun to play with. If someone expects you to act in a certain way/think a certain way, it's very fun to see the looks on their faces when you prove them wrong... even if you have to fake it.” -El Juno What a Goth is. Everyone has a different view of what a Goth is. Some of the views are bad. Some of the views are good. It‟s hard to say exactly what a Goth is, but there are a few common factors. Gothic is being about to love or be a part of the darkness in life. It‟s something out of the normal points of view, dress or ways of thinking. You don‟t have to wear black clothing or white make-up to be Goth, you can were bright colours, but if you appreciate the music, the art, and a part of the subculture, and you could very well be Goth. There are so many types within the subculture that its hard to tell who is exactly a Goth and who is not. We take a person who wears all black and black make-up to be Goth. We take the people who have piercings and coloured hair to be Goth. I‟ve learned that it‟s up to the person themselves to decide whether they are Goth or not. No one has the right to label others, to tell them what or who they are. Ultragoths label most teens as weekenders or baby bats, but they at one point were young. Most Goths have been pushed out of mainstream society. People shun them, make it so they must hang together to socialise. The Gothic subculture has been shown as evil people, violent, but it‟s not so. Society is afraid of what they don‟t care to understand and so they come up with labels for those people. The Rivetheads, Ravers and Mansonites have been pushed into the same category as the Goths. It‟s made it hard to show people what Goths are really like. Older Goths, people over the age of 20 hate how the Gothic Scene has changed the way it has. Even within the subculture Goths label other Goths, sneer at them, and force them into even smaller groups. “The scene today has come down to this. Conformity to non-conformity. You have to go the right clubs, listen to the right bands, wear the right things and talk about certain things to be a Goth. For some it's an excuse to wear fishnet and vinyl and when people stare at them for being a whore they just make a big scene about it being because they're "Goth". It's lost the artful, intelligent actual culture part of the world. Most are out there to whine about depression or scare and get people's attention.” --MisstressofDeception As for myself, I‟ve never really called myself Gothic. Some people call me a Goth, other call me a wannabe. Talking to people has given me more insight into what I really am. Though, I‟m still not sure if I would be called a Goth, in some way I would. I would be a Mopey Goth, and Romantic, sometimes a Perky Goth. I do see the beauty in all things dark, and am not afraid of Death. I‟m not offended by being called a Goth, nor offended when a person tells me I‟m not. I‟m not going through a stage, I know that much. I‟ve been such since as long as I can remember. I want to be me. If that gets me labeled, well, so be it. I can deal with it. I do like the Gothic Scene; it‟s beautiful, different. I don‟t like the conformity of most teens in society today, and unfortunately, from what I‟ve seen the Goth subculture is becoming just the same. It is becoming more „popular‟, no longer underground as much. Luckily, day by day we‟re becoming more open. Less people look at someone and labels them as a Satan-worshipper just because they have spikes and black make-up. We‟re getting better. One day, we shall not have labels. A cheerleader and a Ultragoth will one day be seen together in public. Terms and Phrases Alternateen: This term is meant to designate those teenybopper kids who listen to alternative music and try to be different by looking identical to other trend-following teenagers who are trying to be different. Usually used in reference to the kids who listen to Pearl Jam or U2, for example, and other such Top 40 bands that are classified as alternative for some reason. Angst: The existential suffering and depression one feels when one can see the world in all its tragedy. See "oh the angst of it all." Baby bat: A derogatory term for those wannabe Gothics who are only familiar with the superficial aspects of the culture. They may do their makeup horribly and only listen to the most popular of the Goth bands. They are mostly the younger kids going through a phase and trying to look cool. However people tend to fling this label at anyone they don't like. A lot of people prefer not to use the label because it implies a "more gothic than thou" attitude. Bondage babe: Girls decked out in fetish clothing at clubs, including bondage collar, bondage bracelets, bondage belt and some sort of latex, vinyl, or rubber outfit. Usually intended to mean the people who are following the fetish fashion trend rather than those who know much about fetish and BDSM culture. Also bondage boy. BDSM: Represents Bondage, Discipline, and Sado-Masochism (also related, Dominance & Submission = DS). Although Goths tend to appear to be familiar with the practices of bondage by their apparel, most of those people wearing vinyl pants and bondage bracelets don't know the first thing about BDSM and are following a fashion trend. The majority of BDSM practitioners have nothing to do with gothic, and they view bondage gear as a tool, not an accessory. Devil bunny: The term comes from a song by My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. It is used to designate the people who think, "Satan is cool," but are not exactly worshippers of Satan. Doom & Gloom: The type of Gothic focused on morbid, tragic, depressing or apocalyptic themes. First generation/second generation: First generation emerged mostly in the UK in the late seventies and early eighties as a splinter from the punk movement characterised by bands like The Damned, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Joy Division. They were called Gothic later on, but most didn't consider themselves Gothic. By the mid to late eighties, the Gothic movement was waning. In the late eighties/early nineties, a new generation of Gothic bands emerged, for example The Shroud, Rosetta Stone, Nosferatu and London After Midnight, who were the first to characteristically call themselves Gothic. This is when the U.S. Gothic movement grew significantly, and Gothic became recognised as a distinct subculture. Whether or not second generation is authentically Gothic depends on whom you ask. Many of those first generation adherents will say it is not, and many others will say that second generation is a bad imitation of first generation. Gothic slide: A characteristically gothic dance move in which your boots do not leave the dance floor as you glide across it by moving your feet. Somewhat like the footwork in the movie Footloose, but much more chaotic. Kindergoth: Also, kindergothen. It can be derogatory, meaning a poser much like baby bat, or it can also be neutral, meaning a very young Goth, usually 16 or younger. Mansonite: This term is usually used for those fans who like to dress up like Marilyn Manson, do their makeup like him and wear Marilyn Manson T-shirts. Many Goths will use this term in a derogatory way towards the teenagers they think are foolish for liking Marilyn Manson. Mod/waver: A term for fans of Modern/New Wave music. Mods usually love eighties music and British pop such as Depeche Mode, The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Smiths, etc. "More gothic than thou": A sarcastic phrase used to designate a snobbish attitude, or describe people who take themselves too seriously. A play on "'holier than thou." Someone with a "more gothic than thou" attitude will likely tell you about the gothic bands they are into by saying, "You probably haven't heard of them." Net.goth: A term for those Goths who frequently post to the alt.gothic newsgroup and have a fairly well known presence among the Internet Goth community. The Internet seems to have a culture all its own almost. "Oh so gothic": 1) A sarcastic phrase to express one's opinion of something as Goth-worthy i.e. "I see you have all of the Bauhaus albums on vinyl. That's oh so gothic of you," or "Those skull shaped candleholders are oh so gothic." 2) A sarcastic phrase for those who take fitting the image of being gothic too seriously. Say it with a really cheesy English upper-class accent to add emphasis. "Oh the angst of it all": A sarcastic phrase used to mimic Goths who take themselves too seriously and are constantly brooding. To add emphasis when saying it, put the back of your hand to your forehead and look like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Raver: A fan of techno music. Techno music is characterised by an electronic, digital, fast beat created by drum machines. There is also a large subculture surrounding it. Large, secret, underground gatherings of techno music and drug use are called raves. Rivethead: A fairly recent term used to describe fans of industrial music. Gothic as a subculture is older than industrial subculture. Spooky kid: The spooky kids are followers of Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails and are mostly under 18 years old. (Originally the name of the band was Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids.) People confuse spooky kids for Goths, which is frustrating to Goths because Goth culture gets blamed for the stupid things spooky kids do. Spooky kids and Goths don't associate with each other very much, and they tend to not like each other. Goths resent them for being poseurs and giving Goth a bad name, and they resent Goths for being snobs and elitists. Spooky kid is usually used as a derogatory term similar to baby bat, but it specifically refers to the younger and ardent Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails fans. Ultragoth: 1) Goths who have a more extreme appearance and/or have been in the scene for a long time. They are usually over 20 years old. 2) Often used to designate the gothic snobs, ones who have a "more gothic than thou" attitude. Underground: Something that is not widely known about among the general population. Usually whatever isn‟t popular at the time. Weekender/weekend Goth: 1) See Baby bat. 2) Weekend Goths are the people who dress normally when around normal people and dress gothic when they go to gothic clubs. Basically, they are the ones who conform to whatever environment they are in. It has nothing to do with their knowledge of the culture; it has to do with their appearance in different contexts. Some weekend Goths have to dress somewhat normally because of a professional career but are Goth at heart. Some don't dare to suffer the ostracism they would receive by looking different among normal people and are only closet Goths. Depending on which type of person the term is applied to, it can have either neutral or negative connotations.
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