Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Gothic Culture



Conceptions and Misconceptions


1. Goths are all depressed.

According to The Perkygoth Manifesto, goth culture can be as conformist as regular culture. Instead of pretending to be happy, you must pretend to be sad. After all, being sad means you're complicated.

Not all goths are depressed; many of them probably affect a despair they do not feel. Yes, that's right ladies and gentlemen: nonconformists sometimes nonconform to conform to their own nonconformism! You heard it here first!

Many goths are happy, well-adjusted people. Their outfits, and outlooks, serve as a "memento mori" which encourages them to enjoy life to the fullest. Were they forced to dress like Stepford Wives, or All-American Dads, they would become very depressed.


2. Goths wear all black, all the time.

Some goths do wear all black, all day, every day, without color or accent. But they are a minority. Most goths wear dark clothing, including dark purples, burgundies, deep greens and other colors. Some even wear pink!

Goth makeup is not monochromatic, either. How many goths have you seen who look like they've wandered out of an off-color (no pun intended) Al Jolson routine? Normal colored foundation, powder, red lipsticks, and multicolored eyeshadows are all used by goths who wear makeup.

It's possible to wear a goth outfit with no black at all. It's also possible to be gothic without any articles of black clothing in your wardrobe. Goth fashion is more about creative self-expression, and an appreciation for the dark side of life, than about any one color or mood.



3. Everyone who dresses like a goth, is one.

Some related subcultures, such as punk, hardcore, heavy metal and straight edge have similar aesthetics to goth fashion. Black lipstick has just made a comeback in a big way among fashionistas; that doesn't mean they magically become goths when they put it on.

You might meet former goths, now in their early or mid-twenties, who no longer identify as goth, but retain some elements of their old style. If someone doesn't identify as goth, no fashion police can force them to do so.


4. All goths ________.

All goths: worship the devil, cut themselves, drink blood, listen to Marilyn Manson, are bisexual, do drugs, write bad poetry, kill people and so on and so on. Not at all! For every goth who fits one stereotype, you'll find five or ten or twenty people who don't. There are Christian goths, secular goths, corporate goths, sober goths, gay, straight and bisexual goths, even goths who write good poetry. (It's true!)

Because goth culture is a voluntary affiliation, some people assume that goths all must share some one characteristic. It's more like they share similar characteristics, as well as a general philosophy of life.


5. Goth culture somehow abetted the Twilight book series.

When you read the book, it’s like, 'Edward Cullen was so beautiful I creamed myself.' I mean, every line is like that. He’s the most ridiculous person who’s so amazing at everything. I think a lot of actors tried to play that aspect. I just couldn’t do that. And the more I read the script, the more I hated this guy, so that’s how I played him, as a manic-depressive who hates himself. Plus, he’s a 108 year-old virgin so he’s obviously got some issues there.
––Robert Pattinson (yes, that Robert Pattinson)

Stephenie Meyer, the writer of the Twilight series, is not a goth or goth-affiliated. Most goths find the book, and the book's "vamp" fans, puerile and embarrassing.


6. Goth culture is just an adolescent phase.

For some people it is; for others, it's a lifestyle. Jillian Vinters, an employee of Microsoft and webmistress of Gothic Charm School, has had a gothic sensibility since she was a child. She is almost 40 years old and dresses in Victorian gothic clothing. For her, it's not a costume or a holiday; it's an expression of who she is.

If the goth lifestyle is "just a phase" for some, it still might be a valuable one. A teen or twentysomething dealing with depression, manic depression, or another issue might find solace in the goth community. This prevents him or her from feeling as isolated as s/he otherwise might be.


7. Goths are more dangerous than "normal" people.

Unfortunately, there is a glimmer of truth to this stereotype. Goths are, on average, more likely than the general population to self-harm or attempt suicide. However, evidence suggests that alternative subcultures may actually protect at-risk teens, by providing social and emotional support they could not get elsewhere.

Goth culture is an easy scapegoat. Its members dress strangely and separate themselves from the mainstream; clearly, they must be up to no good. There have been a few cases where goths have committed violent crimes; it's much easier to say "Well, the goth made them do it" than to acknowledge that person as an individual, albeit a sick individual.

The sad truth is, some people are simply violent and without conscience. According to Dr. Robert Hare, 1-4% of the population is psychopathic. That's 3-12 million people in the United States alone. Most of these people are non-violent, though they are far from harmless. It stands to reason that a few of them self-identify as goth, or adopt aspects of gothic fashion.

Most psychopaths do not want to draw the "wrong" kind of attention to themselves; they want to be seen as leaders of men, or put in positions of power. You're much more likely to find a psychopathic corporate attorney or Hollywood producer, than a psychopathic Cure fan.




Yes Most goths do like wicca or witchcraft, as it is a culture based upon entire universal truths and reasonings rather than fake beliefs.

It does make them closer to nature and the web of world than other humans who outcast them but……

GOTH culture is NOT anti-Christian. Just because someone is not YOUR religion it DOESN’T mean they are anti-anything. Many of the gothic songs and motifs are not SATANIC. Some people believe otherwise. Often the music is about emotions or spirituality. Gothic music is not based to any specific religion. Some people identify themselves as VAMPIRES and wear fangs or colored contact lenses. This doesn’t mean they are ‘gothic’. Some people also practice WITCHCRAFT (“WICCA”) – this DOES NOT mean they are gothic. It COULD mean they practice a different religion than you do. No ONE religion is the only correct religion.




The six grounds for a band being called Gothic:
  • The band's musical sound fits into one of the gothic music types -- their music creates a certain eerie or surreal sort of mood.
  • The band's lyrics contain gothic themes (e.g. grotesque, mysterious, desolate).
  • The band members' appearance is Gothic -- they might wear a lot of black.
  • The band calls itself and/or its music Gothic. They tour with other bands that are considered Gothic. They appear on Gothic compilation discs.
  • The record label, music marketers, or music reviewers present the band as Gothic. The reasoning behind this is - usually - based on one of the above four reasons. However, often the motivation for labeling a band Gothic is to sell the product and does not have much, if any, basis in the above four reasons.
  • The most feeble reason to call a band Gothic is that people who call themselves Gothic listen to the band. This does not necessarily make a band Gothic, but it does lead many people to believe the band is Gothic, whether they qualify in any of the previous areas or not.



The GOTHIC VAMPIRE lifestyle




Vampire lore as been fully assimilated into today's Gothic subculture on many levels. Ranging from a mere appreciation to embracing certain traits of what would be considered a vampire's lifestyle, many Gothic culture fans adapt and incorporate elements of vampire legends to enhance their involvement and socializing within the scene.


The Gothic interest in vampire lore stems from the origins of the subculture's development. In the late 1970s, the punk movement was spawned by a desire to branch off from the mainstream with a mentality of revolt. Two approaches to rebelling defined the spectrum of punk mentality with anarchy being one extreme and arming oneself with knowledge being the other. The punks who turned to research and introspection became known as "Noble Punks". Later they were known as Goths after some reviews of music that came out of the scene was published by New Music Express in the early 1980s, referring to the sounds as "Gothic" and relating the lyrics to Gothic literature from the late 1880s.


In turn, the Gothic subculture began to look to literature for inspiration, including seeing death and darkness as a way of appreciating life. This included Polidori/Byron's Vampyr and Stoker's Dracula. Combining the notion of introspection inherent in many Gothic stories with the desire to rebel via literature and Gothic tales' typically supernatural themed plots, vampires quickly grew to be iconic of Gothic subculture lifestyle.


Vampires, in many depictions, especially early stories within the body of vampire literature, are presented as being learned and utilizing their immortal state to gather knowledge. Vampires also tend to have a trait of rebelliousness and that of being an outcast on some levels, paralleling the social ideals of many Goth community members. Literature descriptions and cinematic representations of vampires have assisted in constructing the ways in which the Goth subculture defines the lore today and thus, how it is embraced.


Some vampire fans go beyond simple appreciation, however. Attempting to emulate some of a vampire's typical traits and habits is the goal of a few Gothic community members. Primarily remaining awake at night and sleeping during the daylight hours (if possible), wearing the clothing and false teeth associated with vampire imagery at all times, and even hiding mirrors in their house and drinking thick red juice or wine fairly exclusively can be paramount for some, taking their appreciation beyond a popular culture setting, making it a way of life. This is extremely rare, however. Most Goths embrace vampire lore in various ways somewhere in between taking vampirism as a lifestyle and only watching a few vampire movies here and there.


Today, vampires have become much more mainstream. It is possible that Gothic subculture members will begin to avoid vampire lore as a new form of rebellion, but with the popularity of recent vampire movies, the promise of a good fright at Halloween, and the onslaught of vampire related literature being published and taught in educational settings, it is doubtful that an association with vampires will disappear anytime soon. Instead, as the development of a vampire's depiction evolves through these new popular media channels, seeing a change in the way the Gothic subculture merges vampire lore with their social interactions is more likely, and it will be interesting to see the new forms vampire lore influences will take in the future.

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