Upwardly Goth
January 23, 2007 10:06 PM   Subscribe

Goth Life Now "They won't like me saying it, but their lifestyle, unlike the punk scene, is a middle-class sub culture.' But hasn't it always been this way?
posted by untitledalex (126 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Of course this is how it is. I went through my goth phase in high school at the end of the eighties and grew up to be a successful...well, um, I at least grew up, anyway.

bum a clove, anyone?
posted by sourwookie at 10:31 PM on January 23, 2007


The punk scene isn't a middle-class sub-culture?

Enlighten me, please.
posted by Jimbob at 10:35 PM on January 23, 2007


I've had goth friends who, appearance aside, were the most normal and traditional folks I've ever met. Conservative in many areas, even. I look like a Poindexter but have a much more rebellious streak than many of them.
posted by zardoz at 10:59 PM on January 23, 2007


One doesn't see many disheveled goths wandering the streets, crying "alms for the poor!"
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:00 PM on January 23, 2007


What jimbob said. Even at the very first Sex Pistols gigs, the audience were mainly middle class artskewl types, or so I have read.

As an ex-goth myself, having spent a handful of years in the scene, I don't think there has ever been any pretense whatsoever towards being any kind of working class subculture, so the author's claim is a bit of a wicker man.

In fact, articles like this 'debunking' myths that goths are promiscuous, drug-addled povs who drink blood & perform satanic rituals are so incredibly commonplace as to be laughable. Everybody knows that goths are only drug-addled & promiscuous.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:09 PM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


... and?

Seriously, is this supposed to come as a shock to anyone, goth or otherwise?
posted by kyrademon at 11:10 PM on January 23, 2007


(On preview, what UbuRoivas et al have already said.)
posted by kyrademon at 11:11 PM on January 23, 2007


I still identify as gothie, which as far as I can tell, only means I consider all clothing costume and all behavior theater.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:16 PM on January 23, 2007 [7 favorites]


As far as I've ever been able to tell, there's no particular ideology attached to gothhood. One goth in the linked article mentions rejecting social expectations. It's encouraging to hear teenagers talk of such things, but, let's face it, it's just talk. Punks can at least claim to have had an impact on the economic realities of the music industry. Have the goths done anything at all? Has this alleged rejection of expectations had any impact on the real world? It doesn't appear so.

So if they really are a group with no particular ideology and no accomplishments (I say "if" because I'm actually kinda hoping someone can refute me on this. It'd make me feel better about modern culture. Any takers?), then what do they have? Basically, just preferences for certain types of clothing, jewelry, make-up, and music. I mean, really, that's it. They buy slightly different shit than I buy. Woo wee.

I feel bad about the whole thing, like maybe I let them down. Maybe all us non/pre goth freaks were supposed to create some kind of real alternative social culture but we were too lazy and too shallow and so now all the misfits and dweebs have nothing to latch on to. They just spend their time watching Underworld over and over again.
posted by Clay201 at 11:19 PM on January 23, 2007


The really sad thing is that several really amazing bands from the early 80s get bogged down with an ill-fitting "goth" label and associated with the current goth unpleasantness. It's really unfortunate.
posted by JekPorkins at 11:28 PM on January 23, 2007


Hmm. I guess lamenting "the really sad thing" in a thread re: goths is fitting.
posted by JekPorkins at 11:29 PM on January 23, 2007


This reminds me a conversation I once had with a goth friend, back when I was a teenager.

I said, "Fluffy, I don't get gothic music. All the bands sound different. What do they have in common that makes them a scene?"

"They all wear black," he said, "they all wear black."
posted by Afroblanco at 11:29 PM on January 23, 2007


They buy slightly different shit than I buy.

And goth couture isn't cheap... My kids have friends of the goth persuasion, and their clothes are more expensive than mine!
posted by amyms at 11:30 PM on January 23, 2007


"They all wear black," he said, "they all wear black."

Well, that's how they feel on the inside -- it's not like they have a choice.
posted by JekPorkins at 11:30 PM on January 23, 2007


It's no revelation at all to say that goths are a middle class counter culture. How else could they afford such quantities of make-up and Hot Topic clothing? Or Crow posters and signed editions of Sandman and Death? If there's anything that all the goths I've encountered have had in common, it's that they have absolutely no worthwhile reason for the misery they walk around in.

"These three square meals and reliable shelter in a safe part of town make me feel so empty. I'm gonna go listen to Nine Inch Nails."
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:35 PM on January 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


You can go into any suburban mall now and there will be a Spencer's where you can buy your brand spanking new Ramones or MisFits messenger bag. Your cute leather belt with spikes on it too. Its convenient while your other "comformist" sibling is shopping at the Gap next door.
posted by vacapinta at 11:37 PM on January 23, 2007


  "They all wear black," he said, "they all wear black."

Well, that's how they feel on the inside -- it's not like they have a choice.


Wait, are the Smiths considered a goth band? (I'm assuming you were referencing "Unloveable".)
posted by The Tensor at 12:17 AM on January 24, 2007


I used to manage an Abercrombie store at a mall just two stores down from a Hot Topic. On one occasion, I was having a pretty bad day, and during one of my breaks, on an escalator ride, I was "greeted" by these three Goth girls who looked up at me and took turns mumbling the same random word. I'm confrontational, so I said, "Excuse me?" They went on to snidely explain how I should ignore them and continue being a cog in the machine (not as eloquent, of course). Then I went off on them...

"What the fuck are you talking about? You three are all wearing the same shit and sport the same exact attitude. You girls are the ones guilty of being part of a machine, and worse, you justify it by berating others who don't conform to your standards. Besides, I bet I listen to way more fuckin Cure, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, and The Legendary Pink Dots than you cunts!"

I never use the C-word, but they elicited it out of me.

Two of the girls just blew me off and stormed off, but I know I connected with one and blew her fuckin mind because she stalled for a second before following them.

Another unusual run-in with Goths I've had was in downtown Berkeley. I was walking with my girlfriend at the time down the street, and this Gothed-up girl was walking past us, staring. I naturally gave her a little "what's up" nod. Then she started barking at us. Violent barking. I'd have fallen to the ground in a fit of laughter if my girlfriend wasn't so freaked out.

I've never quite understood the "judgment" of counterculture. It seems so ...ironic?

It's just as bad at indie and punk shows I attend. Granted, they're a very small minority, but it's in the air. I think I'll take it out on the next person who turns their back towards me when I try to talk to them.
posted by Mach3avelli at 12:22 AM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


As an aging educated redneck type, I always thought goth culture was all about angsty, romantic, semi-wealthy types reading poetry about the meaninglessness of life, watching vampire movies, and having hot monkey sex with candle wax.

My fantasies have been shattered. THANKS BBC!
posted by moonbiter at 12:23 AM on January 24, 2007


Wait, are the Smiths considered a goth band? (I'm assuming you were referencing "Unloveable".)

Not really -- but the classic bands that are considered goth aren't really goth, either. I mean, Joy Division? Bauhaus? The Sisters of Mercy? So not goth (by today's definition).

Not to mention that "they all wear black" pretty much applies to every band of every genre everywhere, always.

Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison were so goth.

(and Morrissey was in a band with Billy Duffy at one point, and they were at least as goth as Siouxie)
posted by JekPorkins at 12:23 AM on January 24, 2007


I look like a Poindexter but have a much more rebellious streak than many of them.

Some people never ever get that interesting looking != personality.
posted by dreamsign at 12:33 AM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Can't speak for every goth in the world, of course, but ... I never claimed to be depressed. I never claimed to be poor. I never claimed goth was a political or social ideology. I never claimed that I wanted you to *think* I was depressed or poor or connected to a particular political or social ideology simply because I was goth.

It's an aesthetic movement. That's all. That's it. Nothing more or less than that. Why on earth is it sad, or unfortunate, or anything else, that I happen to like many of the aesthetics of such a movement? It's not like I don't *have* a political or social ideology. It just isn't goth. It'd be silly to say it was goth. It'd be like saying my political leanings were neo-impressionist. What would that even mean?

Mach3avelli, they weren't judging you because they were goth. They were judging you because, in one case, they were likely asshole teens, and in the other case, possibly because of some kind of mental disorder. But frankly, you get that from every asshole and crazy person, who abound across all spectrums of society. Are you seriously telling me those kids were the only customers you ever got any flack from?

Clay201, I do plenty of real things in the social arena. Why should any of them be connected to the way I dress/music I like to listen to/etc.? (Except maybe in the loose sense of liking some songs with certain sociopolitical messages.) That would be a bizarre way to forge a social identity. I'd much prefer to base my politics on things that are, well, political.

I'm not sure why so many non-goths seem disappointed that goth isn't more than what it is. Why should it be? An aesthetic movement should produce some good art to be a worthwhile thing, and it has. Success.

(And if it also produced a lot of sucky poetry, well, so did the pre-Raphaelites, and the Symbolists, and every other such movement. The good stuff will continue on, and the bad stuff be mostly lost in the swirl of history, as it has during every other period.)
posted by kyrademon at 12:41 AM on January 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


So what are the goths listening to now?

Back in the day, it was all Sisters of Mercy, and The Mission, and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, and Leibach.

I get the impression nowdays that "goth" pretty much means "metal", which is kinda lame. Am I wrong?
posted by Jimbob at 12:44 AM on January 24, 2007


Are you seriously telling me those kids were the only customers you ever got any flack from?

In such a rehearsed and group-think way, yes.
posted by Mach3avelli at 12:48 AM on January 24, 2007


Not quite the answer to the question I asked, but ... *shrug* in any case, you had a lot better luck in the service industry than I ever did, then.
posted by kyrademon at 12:54 AM on January 24, 2007


I can't stand black clothing.
posted by Goofyy at 12:55 AM on January 24, 2007


"It's always about labels in today's society and that exactly why I dress the way I do, I don't want to fit into other people's stereotypes," she says.

So they create their own labels and creates new stereotypes in which they fit.

We are all sheeps, my friend!
posted by Grums at 1:02 AM on January 24, 2007


I wore Levis and cheap polo shirts in high school (25 years ago). Did I miss something?
posted by maxwelton at 1:13 AM on January 24, 2007


I'm not sure why so many non-goths seem disappointed that goth isn't more than what it is.

Because the air put on by many goths is that they are so different and difficult to understand and that they are so above anything in 'normal' culture. It follows that if they claim this, they should actually have something interesting going on. Unfortunately, they don't.
posted by beerbajay at 1:25 AM on January 24, 2007


I will say this: it kept me away from a perfectly good role-playing game.

I'm not sure if that's a plus or a minus.
posted by dreamsign at 1:27 AM on January 24, 2007


All clothing is a uniform. Whose team are you on?
posted by pracowity at 1:29 AM on January 24, 2007


the Vampire crowd, that is.

Or are they some goth splinter faction?
Visigoths and Ostrogoths, perhaps?
posted by dreamsign at 1:29 AM on January 24, 2007


Gentle, intense art weirdo nerd seeks pseudogoth girl for mutual biting and avoidance of direct sunlight. Email in profile.
posted by loquacious at 1:52 AM on January 24, 2007


Yeah, but God hates goths........or maybe he doesn't, it's all so confusing.
posted by bap98189 at 1:55 AM on January 24, 2007


Another nail in the coffin of the concept that goths and "mainstream" people are radically different to each other: goths also have these *exact* same conversations about "what is goth?" "why are these bands supposedly goth?" etc until the bats come home. There is far less consensus than you might think, and artists like The Cure or Anne Rice are loved and loathed in equal proportion.

Beneath the uniform exterior, there are actually so many different kinds of people in the scene that any attempt to judge or interpret them holus bolus is about as shallow & stereotyping as the attitudes that goths are claimed here to project onto others.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:27 AM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


no, no, no... the vampire crowd is two doors down on the left. don't fall into the trap of confusing 'real goth' :) with the 'spooky kids'. the spooky kids arrived with Marilyn Manson and Anne Rice and thus began the downfall of goth. vampires and slitting your wrists are not goth.

i was goth in the early '90s, in the heyday of alt.gothic and alt.gothic.fashion. back then, vampires, Hot Topic, and spooky kids were derided, the blood-sucker wannabe's were send two doors down to alt.vampire, Marilyn Manson was considered a farce.

on the other hand, there were punk goths, fashion goths, geek goths, perky goths, metal goths, industrial goths, renaissance goths, cowboy goths, and various other sub-culture goths. but no spooky kids/vampires allowed!

and yes, Johnny Cash is goth....
posted by zengargoyle at 2:28 AM on January 24, 2007


cowboy goths, my ass. as if fields of the nephilim were ever goth! and johnny cash only tried to hop on the bandwagon by covering uber-goths, nick cave & leonard cohen.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:33 AM on January 24, 2007


Duke: The lights are growing dim, Otto. I know a life of crime has led me to this sorry fate, and yet, I blame society. Society made me what I am.
Otto: That's bullshit. You're a white suburban goth just like me.
posted by ardgedee at 2:38 AM on January 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


The ture, pure expression of anythong, as zengargoyle points out succintly, is quite clearly whatever form it took in one's vicinity during one's adolescence.
posted by signal at 2:41 AM on January 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


There was a guy, hung around at my old local (Crown and Anchor represent!) a few years back.

Every day, dressed in a top hat, tails, and carrying a cane. Rain, hail or shine.

That was pretty goth. Every other "goth" I've ever seen looks pretty half-assed compared to him.
posted by Jimbob at 2:50 AM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Let me be the unfirst to say, your favourite spoiled teenage subculture sucks.
posted by tehloki at 2:55 AM on January 24, 2007


Spoiled teenage subculture? Heavens.

kyrademon speaks the truth. It is an asthetic movement. And it is very fractured, with many different flavours and colours, (so to speak) and it stretches across socio-economic brackets. I've known poor goths. I've been a poor goth, and I certainly cannot claim that my attraction to the subculture came from be a "spoiled-middle class teenager". And the spoiled teenagers that do find their way into my clubs quickly learn rather a lot about how much of a hardarse you have to be to be goth in a city that still regularly features mob beatings of people that don't fit in.

The spoiled teen factor is just the most visible. An awful lot of goth culture happens in nightclubs, and without that outlet they have to loiter, very ostentatiouly, in shopping centres and town squares. There's a lot going on below the surface.
posted by Jilder at 3:27 AM on January 24, 2007


back in the eighties, the goths round my way were all sons and daughters of doctors, lawyers, architects, media people - solid middle class people. punk rock kids were from rougher backgrounds. but yeah, no big revelation there, surely.
posted by dydecker at 3:52 AM on January 24, 2007


It's an aesthetic movement. That's all. That's it.

It's not an aesthetic movement. This is perhaps the single worst thing about goths. The total betrayal of style and beauty. Lavishing money and effort on themselves to look like total idiots. It's not an aesthetics movement, it's an anti-aesthetics movement. It's as if all the white kids suddenly realized they could never hope to look or be as cool as the inner city kids and so they decided they'd ruin the game for everybody. This total rejection of style and individuality, the reduction of clothes to costume, of culture to theatre combined with a mock surrender to "look at me!!!" decadence -- all this serves only to strengthen the role of the market and further weaken the few remaining aspects of culture. If you can sell cheap makeup and ripped rags to stupid teenagers there's no reason you can't sell the same cheap shit to young girls to make 'em look like hookers or older women to make them look like stupid teenagers. In the end if people are willing to buy trash then they'll buy pretty much anything.

Of course I don't think you can really blame the goths for anything except having really bad taste. You can't exactly expect a bunch of dumb kids in the suburbs to develop a real aesthetics movement. I'll settle for finishing school and getting productive jobs which looks to be exactly what they're doing. So it's all good.
posted by nixerman at 4:06 AM on January 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


give me the dave clark five.

"i said over and over and over again, this dance is gonna be a drag. i said..."
posted by quonsar at 4:28 AM on January 24, 2007


How come nobody talks about the landfill problem of abandoned piercings?

Of course I don't think you can really blame the goths for anything except having really bad taste. You can't exactly expect a bunch of dumb kids in the suburbs to develop a real aesthetics movement.

You are obviously an intelligent city kid and cool was your default setting. Go you!
posted by srboisvert at 4:36 AM on January 24, 2007


Of course goths are middle class! After you spend all your background points on Generation, Boons, and maybe a Prestigious Sire, you only have two or so left for Resources!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:39 AM on January 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


A couple of linguist friends of mine have started speaking Gothic to each other... and I said to them "Man... you guys could clean up teaching this...."
posted by zaelic at 5:06 AM on January 24, 2007


I thought the BBC writer's take on Swastikas for Noddy was particularly insightful; normally journalists don't actually do any research into the music before publishing stories like these.
posted by The Straightener at 5:08 AM on January 24, 2007


All the goths I've met in my time have been the nicest, most accepting, polite and articulate of people. But then again, most goths I know are in their mid to late 20s (or older), and by then the teenage rebellion has passed. I'm not a goth, but the scene appeals to me a lot and I love the aesthetic quality of it all. Nothing hotter than a goth.

I've never quite understood how/why they provoke such an aggressive reaction from lots of people.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:23 AM on January 24, 2007


i don't mean to shit on anyone's "i know more about your favourite scene than you do" parade here, but i need to point out that there's a *huge* goddamned difference between the US goth scene and the UK goth scene.

it's a fine article and all that, but there's a LOT getting lost in translation here; mostly the UK scene is crappy. ;D

for the record, i'm considered gothpunk. which means, as far as i can tell, i'm hard and spiky on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside. whatever. chicks dig it. and that's the only reason anyone really embraces any subculture. what other driving force to cause so many men to allow themselves to disregard common sense in order to become a fashion victim of any calibre? it's the hope that somewhere out there, someone will touch their penis. ffs, i'm convinced it's the real reason columbus set sail.
posted by jcterminal at 5:24 AM on January 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


And it is very fractured, with many different flavours and colours, (so to speak) ...

I see a red goth and I want to paint it black.
posted by atbash at 5:59 AM on January 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Johnny Cash is goth

The great thing about Cash is that you can slap any appellation you want on the guy, and it can fit.
Or at least people will pretend it does.

"'Christian SadCore Murder Balladeer, with touches of Texarkana Trip Hop'? Oh yeah, I totally see what you mean!"

Orbison, though? 100% emo.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:04 AM on January 24, 2007


Wow, and back in the day I didn't even know that listening to Bauhaus and the Smiths and wearing all black was going to affect the entire rest of my life - some people just have goth forced upon them.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:19 AM on January 24, 2007


It's as if all the white kids suddenly realized they could never hope to look or be as cool as the inner city kids and so they decided they'd ruin the game for everybody. This total rejection of style and individuality, the reduction of clothes to costume...

Yeah, 'cause God knows, the only way one can possibly be "cool" is to dress like/be an inner city kid. Speaking of, show me any style or fashion followed by some group of people that doesn't result in them looking less individual to outsiders. And goths are the only ones for which clothing can have some costume-like aspects?

Man, threads talking about goths on MeFi always bring out the stupid in people. The only thing you know about someone who dresses like a goth is that... they like to dress like a goth. Sure, maybe they're a spoiled rich-kid teenager spending daddy's cash at Hot Topic and writing shitty poetry about how special they are, but maybe they're a PhD student in microbiology who just happens to like corsets or baggy pants with convenient pockets, or maybe they're actually gainfully employed & married, though they've never stopped going to the goth night at the nearby nightclub, or... kyrademon has it right.
posted by ubersturm at 6:30 AM on January 24, 2007


I've never quite understood how/why they provoke such an aggressive reaction from lots of people.

It's the death thing - funeral clothes, white corpse-like faces.

An awful lot of goth culture happens in nightclubs


Almost all youth-generated subculture happens in nightclubs, it's what they are, little fantasy sub-worlds unto themselves. Not unique to goths. You wanna make some money? Get a liquor licence and tune into the next big thing.

and that's the only reason anyone really embraces any subculture


jcterminal, most amusing, thanks - yup, also this is a male perspective, sometimes I suspect virtually all culture including mainstream, originates from precicely that - or perhaps at a higher level we could say we all have a need to belong.
posted by scheptech at 6:44 AM on January 24, 2007


Johnny Cash explains his blackness.
posted by Balisong at 6:48 AM on January 24, 2007


Styles have little to do with aesthetics, and a lot more to do with social circles, fitting in, and projecting an attitude. Goths don't dress in black because they think it's beautiful; they dress in black because they they want everybody to know how "dark" they are inside. Also, they want to look like other goths.

Punks dress in their fashion, preps in theirs, and geeks in... some... -random-ass- fashion... so they can be part of a group and identify with a set of principles and attitudes. It's just teen identity soul-searching.
posted by tehloki at 6:57 AM on January 24, 2007


You haven't heard the full story on Goths until you've watched this.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:59 AM on January 24, 2007


It's just teen identity soul-searching.

yup
posted by caddis at 7:19 AM on January 24, 2007


dreamsign: Or are they some goth splinter faction? Visigoths and Ostrogoths, perhaps?

Glad to know that I, the Germanic history dork, am not the only one to have ever made this joke...

On the topic of cowboy goth, a quote I wrote down while watching The Alternative on VH1 with my boyfriend (a show which is kind of like 120 Minutes for thirtysomethings)...

“hippie goth…that whole subgenre of goth that dresses up like cowboys and sings about elves and shit…gave us that asshole Wayne Hussey…”

Andrew Eldritch’s outfit in the video for “Black Planet”?

“…and then Eldritch ditched the cowboy hat and went all Miami Vice for Floodland.”

I was on the floor laughing as I wrote this all down... the supremely dismissive tone was what really did it for me.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:24 AM on January 24, 2007


cowboy goths, my ass. as if fields of the nephilim were ever goth!

Well, they never claimed to be..of course, no bands ever claim to be goth! But if the later fascination with H.P. Lovecraft & Aleister Crowley isn't enough to earn some goth cred, I might as well go watch American Idol.
posted by malocchio at 7:24 AM on January 24, 2007


Goths don't dress in black because they think it's beautiful; they dress in black because they they want everybody to know how "dark" they are inside.

OMG! Thank you for that revelation! All along I thought that my monochromatic, predominantly lace and velvet wardrobe was a way to extend the sense of theatre and decadence that I experienced through my reading and artwork. Thank you for illuminating me to that obvious defect in my perception. Pfft.


Almost all youth-generated subculture happens in nightclubs, it's what they are, little fantasy sub-worlds unto themselves. Not unique to goths.

Forgive me if I didn't express myself clearly on this one. Most of those that gets media attention in my neck of the woods are much too young to get into nightclubs, and congregate in large groups in public places. The discussion that happens in and around nightclubs tends to be a lot more involved than the "goth is just for rich spoiled teenagers who like to play dress up and listen to The Used" type of thing that fluffy journalism tends to gravitate to. There is a greater focus on literature, art, music (both modern and classical), unusual philosophies and esoteric hobbies than pretty shoes and hats.

Goth has been around for ages. I know people who have been on the scene for decades. To write it off as just a teen obsession does not do it justice at all.

/end rant.
posted by Jilder at 7:37 AM on January 24, 2007


Heh...Andrew Eldritch is sporting a bald head and leather jacket these days. I saw the Sisters on their last tour...their new stuff isn't half bad, but they are absolutely butchering the classics. What they've done to Anaconda is completely unforgivable.
posted by malocchio at 7:38 AM on January 24, 2007


but their lifestyle, unlike the punk scene, is a middle-class sub culture

I refuse to read this because this sentence alone shows the author has no idea what they are talking about.

Alvy Ampersand: That is because Johnny Cash transcends styles and labeling. He is simply Johnny Cash. What Nashville Country did to him was criminal. With a little mainstream support, I think he would have become one of the 10 top-selling recording artists of all time, instead of being down here tied with Alanis Morissette, Meatloaf, and Nelly. *shudder*

Q: Which songs could Johnny Cash have covered that would have been better than the original?
A: All of them.

But you are dead on about Emo Orbison.

Wait, are the Smiths considered a goth band?

The Smiths were Emo before anyone called it Emo. Or maybe Goth-Lite(tm).

I wore Levis and cheap polo shirts in high school (25 years ago). Did I miss something?
posted by maxwelton at 3:13 AM CST on January 24


At the time I was sure we did. Now, not so much.

I still identify as gothie, which as far as I can tell, only means I consider all clothing costume and all behavior theater.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:16 AM CST on January 24


That is not only the most succinct but the best way I have ever heard it put Ambrosia. Awesome. Gold star! Sorry. Black Crucifix! Better? God I'm a fucking square

I thought that my monochromatic, predominantly lace and velvet wardrobe was a way to extend the sense of theatre and decadence that I experienced through my reading and artwork

Jesus, Goth chicks are hawt.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:48 AM on January 24, 2007


Andrew Eldritch is Rob Halford.
posted by JekPorkins at 7:51 AM on January 24, 2007


"This total rejection of style and individuality, the reduction of clothes to costume, of culture to theatre combined with a mock surrender to "look at me!!!" decadence -- all this serves only to strengthen the role of the market and further weaken the few remaining aspects of culture."

--Hilton Kramer. Why I hate Goths.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:57 AM on January 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I am a nondescript middleaged woman, but I was hugely into The Sisters of Mercy (later on, The Mission), Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Fields of The Nephilim, Bauhaus, Cure, Siouxsie, etc in high school. I always considered myself sort of an undercover semi-goth, before folks were labelled that way.

(the Smiths were and probably are my favorite band ever, though)

My favorite goth-related moment (other than seeing Bauhaus in full daylight last year, how weird) of the past many years was about seven years ago - I was playing around with making t-shirts with heat transfers, and I had made a black-on-black Bauhaus shirt. You couldn't even really see the image, unless you were really looking at it. My guy and I were walking in a local mall on a Saturday morning, and a tattooed dude pushing a stroller came right up to us, all "Bauhaus! Oh my god! That's so cool!" It was completely hilarious and unexpected.
posted by pinky at 7:58 AM on January 24, 2007


JimBob asked: "So what are the goths listening to now?

Back in the day, it was all Sisters of Mercy, and The Mission, and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, and Leibach.

I get the impression nowdays that 'goth' pretty much means "metal", which is kinda lame. Am I wrong?"

you're thinking Evanescence? That's record label goth.

as the rampant hairsplitting in this thread attests (and any conversation that attempts to grasp the quicksilver of subcultural definition) ... it depends. There are, and always have been, goth kids who shape their tastes by fanzines (now blogs and MySpace), music exchanges and radio; but the vast majority of "the scene" goes by what's played in the clubs. And most of what plays in goth clubs nowadays is actually techno.

Most clubs in the US underwent a taste shift around early 2001, as the traditional guitar rock retired or collapsed under the weight of their own mediocrity. With the exception of Dead Can Dance, 4AD stopped being a factor in club playlists. Projekt went pretty much exclusively artsy/fartsy. Triphop filled the vacuum temporarily, and in some clubs, one could hear a lot of Bjork, Portishead and Massive Attack mixed in with your Coil, Cure and Siouxsie.

Concurrently, in an example of trends coming in full circle, EBM and industrial bands, which had influenced and inspired early techno bands, were starting to riff on breakbeats and hardcore for their new material. The Prodigy and Underworld would start showing up in a set alongside Front 242 and Skinny Puppy.

What really changed the scene was the ascendancy of VNV Nation, and the subsequent genre of futurepop. VNV was, essentially, slowed down German trance with lyrics. Less psychedelics and Cosmic Baby new ageism, more 4-4 beat patterns and easily digestible verses about struggle, joy and angst. It was fun, engaging pop music that was 'just' dark enough to meet the approval of the subculture, but so catchy that it essentially overwhelmed the field. Metropolis Records rode to subcultural dominance by essentially picking and promoting bands that delivered more of the VNV formula. Kids hooked on the steppy fun showed up in clubs in droves, and DJs started shifting the focus of their setlists towards more of this material.

The main problem was that it was pretty shallow, repetitive stuff, and it tended to turn off the more cerebral folks who were dropping in to do swoopy dances to the Cocteau Twins or Black Tape. So, you got this vicious cycle of more techno in the playlist causes fewer artrock fans to show up, which decreases the demand for non-techno, which forces a dj to play more futurepop to fill the vacuum.

In the last couple of years, though, the presence of futurepop has saturated the scene and inspired a backlash against insipid lyrics and rave-lite song structure. The scene's solution, though, seems to have been to replace German lyrical trance with, well, German lyrical hardcore. Same 4-4 beat pattern, faster tempo, but more percussion and more insipid lyrics. Except it's lyrics about guns and anarchy; so it's more aggro and that makes it all different. Goodbye futurepop, hello aggrotech. Welcome to the Goth subculture -- they're really ravers with a more streamlined color scheme.

Of course, there are other genres that show up. Goths took to electroclash in a big way, as well. There's the whole Nouveau New Wave appeal for folks raised on Flock of Seagulls and Blondie. More than a few favor post-rock and the new art rock in various flavors -- Sigur Ros, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Mono, etc. Also, considering a heritage of listening to Dead Can Dance and having Ofra Haza sing on a Sisters of Mercy track; it's probably not much of a surprise to find that there's a thriving Goth bellydance sub-sub culture. As a consequence, Natacha Atlas and Niyaz tend get a popular reception, too.

But, that's all stuff that orbits the fringe. The bread and butter of the US scene, right now, is thump spread on a layer of oontz.
posted by bl1nk at 8:01 AM on January 24, 2007 [9 favorites]


Oh God, JekPorkins, you may indeed be right.

One of the funniest things I have ever seen: my parents were off to a Halloween party at the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame a few years ago. Dad went as Andy Warhol. Mom went as a goth. She stole some striped tights and Docs from me, a Sisters of Mercy shirt from my boyfriend and black-eyelinered her way into pure funny.

The thought of my mom dressing goth is pretty much the funniest thing ever, given that she's a big ol' hippie.

p.s. My parents met in art school. It's only a matter of timing that they didn't end up dressing like that for real. ;)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:01 AM on January 24, 2007


Urban kids cooler than goths?

No way!
posted by utsutsu at 8:04 AM on January 24, 2007


Orbison, though? 100% emo.

This hurts.
posted by drezdn at 8:07 AM on January 24, 2007


Well, I'm not a goth, but I dress like one on weekends. Ok, I keed, I kid, I dress like one about twice a year for big events. I am known in the local scene as the "Fairy Gothmother", but it's a bit of an inside joke, really.

I love Victorian clothes. I adore corsets, and lace up boots and long, fluttery skirts. I love tiaras, and big hair and fabulous makeup. I adore playing dress-up. But it's totally a costume thing, it's not what I do every day. (Man, a corset at work would be *so* uncomfortable.)

But I'm way too old to be a "goth". I'm old enough to be the mother of goths, but not a goth myself. I was possibly a goth in the 80's, but I would have said I was a punk. (Because I was so hardcore...grrrr! Er...anyone buying that? Honest, grrr! No, really! Heh.)

I still wear black as my primary color, but that's because black is practical. It goes with everything, and it makes my butt look smaller. Every designer in the world makes a "little black dress" for a reason. Everyone looks good in black.

The Victorian style for me was never about anything *but* a costume. And the same is true for almost everyone else I know. But again...all of my friends are old enough to be the parents of the "teen angst" set, so perhaps our "dress up for the leather ball" isn't really the same thing as those who are willing to spend an hour doing their makeup every morning.

To be honest, those of us that had this style in the 80's tend to giggle a bit at the current "gothlings". They take it so seriously. I'm not sure they got the memo that this was supposed to be fun. The movement, at least in London in the 80's, was a poke both at the establishment that was our parents, but it was also a poke at the punk movement that had started taking itself too seriously.

Tom King did an awesome cartoon in the early 90's. I wish I had a copy to share. Basically it was a goth kid telling a "normal" that he was different and alternative and the picture panned out to a room full of kids dressed like the goth, and the last thing he said was "Just like everyone else".

People want to belong to something bigger than themselves. Hence the rise of subcultures. Each of those subcultures has a "uniform" if you will. The hippies had one, the yuppies had one, the goths had one, the punks had one, the skinheads had one, and so on down the line.

The uniform is just a way of announcing allegiance to a certain subset. That goths grow up to be lawyers is no more surprising than to say that punks grew up to be lawyers. Hell, some yuppies grew up to be drug addicts. Your choice of subculture allegiance at age 14 is probably irrelevant to what you will be doing 20 years later.
posted by dejah420 at 8:08 AM on January 24, 2007


there's no "there" there, it's all fads and marketing.
nothing to analyze, really.
posted by signal at 8:11 AM on January 24, 2007


What's interesting to me about goth is that it's a post-punk return to some of the imagery and ideology of metal sans the ballsiness and braggadoccio. It's as though the infantility of punk is utilized thereby to move the neopagan tendancies of metal toward something innocent of blunt sexuality.
posted by koeselitz at 8:21 AM on January 24, 2007


Remember, you're an individual....just like everyone else.
posted by samsara at 8:23 AM on January 24, 2007


goth funeral

yeah, it's a middle-class sub culture - but one with a lot longer history than most
posted by pyramid termite at 8:36 AM on January 24, 2007


I find it pretty amusing that 3 goth gals in a shopping mall accuse an employee there of being a cog.

As if they weren't cogs themselves for shopping there.

As an aside cog or not, goth chicks are teh hawt.
posted by dsquid at 8:56 AM on January 24, 2007


Has it ever been "cool" to be upper-class as a teenager? So many trends are eager to claim they're working class, inner city, or what have you. I suppose preppies would count, but I don't know if that was ever taken on as a subculture the way punk, goths, etc. were.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:00 AM on January 24, 2007


I may be wrong about "authentic" goths in general, but every single one I've known wasn't dressing for "theatrical exploration" or some other complex, haughty reason. They were doing it to form a group that projected the "we're different. we're here. stare at us" attitude. They also seemed to be fine with leaving it at that.

Most of the guys/girls I knew who dressed in extremely bold, drastic ways for more artistic reasons were gay men. They did it with skill and flair.
posted by tehloki at 9:12 AM on January 24, 2007


Man it's a good thing we have Goth kids, because before Goth kids, teenagers never dressed funny, struggled with angst, acted dramatically or tried to figure out their identity in with whatever was available to them.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:15 AM on January 24, 2007


They did all those things before, yes, but they had never dressed so funny with such a vengeance.
posted by tehloki at 10:01 AM on January 24, 2007


The bread and butter of the US scene, right now, is thump spread on a layer of oontz.
Awesome. Thanks for the analysis, too.
posted by kdar at 10:17 AM on January 24, 2007


You know, I loves me some Metafilter, but I can't be the only one who finds this recurring conversation frustrating:

StrawMefite: You may think that being [goth/pierced/tattooed/whatever] makes you weird in cool and different, but in fact many people do it so you are not unique at all! Rather you are another type of conformist! Hah!

Me: I don't do this to be weird or cool or different. That would be silly.

[Pause.]

StrawMefite: Yes, you do!

Me: What?

StrawMefite: Or at least you should!

Me: Huh?

StrawMefite: Everyone else like that does!

Me: You realize I'm not 15, right?

StrawMefite: Some [goth/pierced/tattooed/whatever] kids were really mean to me once! And their fashion choices are different from my own!

Me: ... and?

StrawMefite: You may think that being [goth/pierced/tattooed/whatever] makes you weird in cool and different, but in fact many people do it so you are not unique at all! Rather you are another type of conformist! Hah!

Me: Sigh.


So, let me try another tack. While I have many well-thought-out and probably very boring reasons for doing all the things I do, here's one I think is hard to argue with: My girlfriend looks insanely hot in a corset or vinyl dress. My girlfriend clearly thinks that I am insanely hot when I am dressed similarly. I prefer to err on the side of having my insanely hot girlfriend ripping said clothes off of me whenever possible.

There is little you can say which would make me reconsider this.

[Interesting post about music, bl1nk ... answers some things I'd been wondering about in terms of what gets played. I think I'm pretty firmly in what you would consider the bellydance/goth sub sub culture, by odd routes.]
posted by kyrademon at 10:29 AM on January 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


StrawMefite: You may think that being [goth/pierced/tattooed/whatever] makes you weird in cool and different, but in fact many people do it so you are not unique at all! Rather you are another type of conformist! Hah!


i prefer the idea that some of the most interesting people are the dullest to look at and extraordinary clothes often hide very ordinary people
posted by pyramid termite at 10:39 AM on January 24, 2007


"They all wear black," he said, "they all wear black."

Reminds me of The Horrors

Well-spoken, well-educated, and I read somewhere they just signed with an American label. Watch this space.
posted by cardamine at 10:45 AM on January 24, 2007


it's as if all the white kids suddenly realized they could never hope to look or be as cool as the inner city kids and so they decided they'd ruin the game for everybody. This total rejection of style and individuality, the reduction of clothes to costume, of culture to theatre combined with a mock surrender to "look at me!!!" decadence

When you put it that way, goth actually sounds pretty cool. :)

My favorite Goth story was told to me second hand from a friend of mine in Pittsburgh who was hanging around on the south side watching some young goths standing around what they had purchased at the local Dairy Queen. Some more goth-than-thou guy went up to them and yelled, "Tragic people don't eat ice cream!"
posted by deanc at 10:47 AM on January 24, 2007


Strawmefite sez: "Actually, I recognize that just by dressing like a goth, you are expressing your individuality/desire for theatre/random chaotic whims, or whatever you're trying to do, but by deliberately identifying yourself with a subculture, you are pigeonholing yourself as a conformist."
posted by tehloki at 10:52 AM on January 24, 2007


Let's run this thread through the MeFi ThreadCompressor shall we?
....
.....
.......

Result: White kids are lame.

I will share this result with my 15 year old son who recently began sporting black nail polish and pants with spikes in the shape of a cross and lot's 'o chains hanging off them. If he even attempts to apply eyeliner or write bad poetry there's going to be trouble. Oh yes, there will be trouble.
posted by MikeMc at 10:54 AM on January 24, 2007


So, bl1nk, got any examples of that German trance that VNV Nation slowed down and applied those god-awful lyrics to?
posted by MadDog Bob at 10:54 AM on January 24, 2007


One of my points, tehloki, was that I don't particularly *care* whether or not I'm a conformist. That's only an issue to people who value nonconformity. I frankly couldn't care less either way.

(Plus, my girlfriend looks hot like that. I think I will append this to all my future posts on this thread, if any. Maybe I should abbreviate it.)
posted by kyrademon at 10:57 AM on January 24, 2007


I was suggesting that earlier, pyramid termite, but on reflection, I have to cop to the possibility that it may be partly a contrast thing. You chat with someone who looks bizarre, who's done drastic things to look different, and well, you expect something more than average in personality to match. Whereas soccer mom (to generalize) not so much. So it's easier to be surprised in both cases, rather than have those expectations met or exceeded.

And regarding the U.S./U.K. goth observation (so far the only one in the thread, I think), having had my first encounters with U.K. goths in Southeast Holland (Maastricht), I have to say that I found them SO much more respectable than U.S. goths in every way. Ok, these were German/Dutch stock goths rather than Brits, if that makes any difference, but you had the all-age thing, the having-fun thing, and some serious fashion dedication. These people did not hang out at malls, but they most certainly did show up at that little underground club on a regular basis in gear. My exposure to U.S. goths has been entirely of the "look at me" skin-deep variety. Just my $.02.

Oh, and that whole "always in costume, always theater" just makes me think of Renfair chicks. How's that for comparison?
posted by dreamsign at 11:15 AM on January 24, 2007


I can't believe people bother to discuss this subject. Does high school ever let out? I myself thought the first couple dozens goths I saw looked pretty cool, back in the early 1980s, in Baltimore, at Harborplace; now I think "14 year olds still bother to do that shit, and people my age still deign to discuss it?!?"

And kyrademon, hey, my girlfriend looks hot naked and without makeup, piercings or tattoos. It's too bad not everyone is so fortunate.
posted by davy at 11:17 AM on January 24, 2007


Send her over; if, after an in-depth naked comparison, she proves to be superior, I will offer my hearty congratulations.
posted by kyrademon at 11:22 AM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


MadDog, I'd have to send you to the inimitable Ishkur for references. I quibble with some of his categorizations and flowcharting, but the site is a convenient shorthand for lack of a better alternative.

It's also the only place that comes to mind where you can do quick compare & contrasts between VNV or Apoptygma Berzerk and some stuff that's labelled as German trance or Hard trance.

Though, if you're looking for specific contemporaries, I'd have to confess that my knowledge of trance sort of stops around 1999, when I stopped heading out to techno and rave clubs (only to have that music stalk me into goth clubs like some persistent ex constantly trying to get back together again) but I imagine that Ferry Corsten, Paul Van Dyk and DJ Tiesto are good starting points.
posted by bl1nk at 11:24 AM on January 24, 2007


Does high school ever let out?

look who's president
posted by pyramid termite at 11:25 AM on January 24, 2007


Does high school ever let out?

Now that you've put it in "my girlfriend's hotter than yours" terms, I wonder the same thing.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:26 AM on January 24, 2007


pyramid termite: sure, I've met boring people in odd clothes too. But, then, I've also met very interesting people who looked weird [in various ways], and very dull people who looked totally normal. I've got a radical idea here, kids: maybe clothes don't automatically define someone's personality, one way or the other. Maybe a dull person will be dull, no matter what they wear, while an interesting person will be interesting [again, no matter what they wear]. Probably the contrasts stand out a little more - you don't meet many accountant-types who've had wild lives, and it's pretty easy to laugh at people who put a lot of effort into looking different but are otherwise empty-headed.
posted by ubersturm at 11:26 AM on January 24, 2007


maybe clothes don't automatically define someone's personality

Define, no. Reflect, yes. That's why it can be surprising.
posted by dreamsign at 11:32 AM on January 24, 2007


One of my points, tehloki, was that I don't particularly *care* whether or not I'm a conformist.

Thats not the impression I get. I've met people who truly dont care. The type that grab sweatpants, a dress shirt and boots out of their closet. And when you say "What the hell kind of outfit is that???" they'll shrug and say "What do you mean? I'm wearing CLOTHES!"

Those, my friends, are the true non-comformists. They're also embarassing to be around. Some minimal level of conformity is called socialization.
posted by vacapinta at 11:34 AM on January 24, 2007


(To be clear, from my end, by the way, I'm not claiming that my girlfriend is either hotter or less hot than anyone else's ... simply that certain things turn us both on, and we cherish them. I was hoping that this was an aspect of things that everyone could get behind. And beneath, and on top of, and occasionally suspended from a swing. I am, personally, also all in favor of davy's hot naked girlfriend, and everyone else's sexy SO's and selves, clothed or otherwise, for the record.)
posted by kyrademon at 11:36 AM on January 24, 2007


I always thought we were trying to be pirates...
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:38 AM on January 24, 2007


Send her over; if, after an in-depth naked comparison, she proves to be superior, I will offer my hearty congratulations.

Best response ever!
posted by fellion at 11:52 AM on January 24, 2007


Interesting article. don't have any sort of beef with it at all. kyrademon, I think you've spoken for a lot of people who are no longer teenagers trying to find themselves, but who have continued to present themselves in a way that appears to provoke a lot of ridicule of the "ha ha lame goth conformist!" comments here. I blame Hot Topic. I just turned 40 and I still dye my hair blue black and sport a piercing. It hasn't stopped me from working in mainstream environments, but it's served as a barrier to entry at a lot of places that would have been far more soul sucking. I am not sure about anyone else who dresses this way, but for me I think it's been a conscious choice, made in order to limit my acceptance into social and work environments that would end up being a poor fit in the end for my values and personality. I tend to think clothing is sometimes more of a signal to others (are we alike or unalike?) as it is a symbol signifying social status or individuality.
posted by stagewhisper at 1:23 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've met people who truly dont care. The type that grab sweatpants, a dress shirt and boots out of their closet. And when you say "What the hell kind of outfit is that???" they'll shrug and say "What do you mean? I'm wearing CLOTHES!"

Those, my friends, are the true non-comformists.


If they were real non-conformists (if there even is such a thing), they'd be walking around with their boobs and cocks hanging out.

Half the people in America wear sloppy clothes... and buy iPods, drive cars, eat fast food, and invest in mutual funds. There is very little fashion conformity in the U.S., outside of specific professions (and subculture brands like Adidas, Nike, Abercrombie, etc.)

Perhaps fashion decisions have less to do with conformity and more to do with getting laid, as kyradaemon mentions. I think it would be difficult to find many "goths" over 25 who don't have a lover who enjoys it (or aren't trying to find one). Not every choice is sexual, but it has to be the major factor.

When you wear a boa, wife beater and kilt (or turban, t-shirt, and parachute pants, i.e. "whatever"), it's sort of saying "I am likely to be attracted to the type of person who finds my outfit attractive."

I guess I'm just pulling out the old Rene Girard shtick: our own estimations of ourselves are defined by other people, even if they are deluded impressions that we create ourselves, e.g. "I bet everybody thinks I look hot in this denim tuxedo."

So the goths are not that much different (in theory) from the Hollister kids. And fashion, while superficial, still has the power to inflame the passions of rational humans.

on preview: I tend to think clothing is sometimes more of a signal to others (are we alike or unalike?) as it is a symbol signifying social status or individuality.

Well said.

for me I think it's been a conscious choice, made in order to limit my acceptance into social and work environments that would end up being a poor fit in the end for my values and personality

right on again.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:16 PM on January 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Um, I meant: "I tend to think clothing is sometimes more of a signal to others (are we alike or unalike?) than it is a symbol signifying social status or individuality."

The other typos and grammatical mistakes you'll just have to use your imagination to fix.
posted by stagewhisper at 2:29 PM on January 24, 2007


Metafilter: thump spread on a layer of oontz.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 3:04 PM on January 24, 2007


"Tragic people don't eat ice cream!"

Oh man. I'm using that one on the boyfriend when he gets home from work.

As for clothing signifying social status: deary me, did I have to get rid of a lot of plaid shirts when the boy got a different (better) IT job. Clothing all comes down to subculture in one way or another -- when I go to a knitting convention (for I am an author of knitting books), I expect to see middle-aged yarn store owners wearing "yarn barf" (think: ponchos made of Every. Single. Turquoise. Yarn. In. Their. Store), when I go to the mall... ummm, "lifestyle center," I expect to see ultra-tragic Abercrombie teens... so it's been, so it will always be, only the smaller trends change over time.

(Me, I'm a lazyass. Jeans and a sweater, jeans and a hoodie, pajamas for that Hef-working-from-home-thing. And I look dumb in black eyeliner, so the goth thing never quite worked for me).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:08 PM on January 24, 2007


"One of my points, tehloki, was that I don't particularly *care* whether or not I'm a conformist."

"I've met people who truly dont care. The type that grab sweatpants, a dress shirt and boots out of their closet. And when you say "What the hell kind of outfit is that???" they'll shrug and say "What do you mean? I'm wearing CLOTHES!"

Those, my friends, are the true non-comformists. They're also embarassing to be around. Some minimal level of conformity is called socialization".



You missed the point. Someone who isn't concerned whether they're a conformist is not a non-conformist.

Think along the lines of someone who is happy to conform, just as they're happy to not conform. If, for example, a task is going to be made easier by conformity, such a person will happily do so.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:29 PM on January 24, 2007


I'd also like to second kyrodemon's point:

There are some people that look totally hot in a suit.
There are some people that look totally hot in short sleeves and shorts.

There are some people that look totally hot in skin-tight stretch-PVC. (Just browse some blockbusters at the video store)

If goth attire accentuates the hawt, how can anyone have a problem with that? (other than a hot young lady's father :)


And if someone looks totally hot in any and all of the above, then it would be a shame for them to only ever show one style of hotness :-)


Come on people. Superficial hotness doesn't last. Let it run free while it does. (Unless shackles only make it hotter) :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 3:41 PM on January 24, 2007


I once bought a goth a ticket to The Cure when he lost his. Dude was absurdly grateful - but not once did that gratitude ever end up as him setting me up with a hawt goth chick. Vlad, you fucker, if you're reading this, you suck. And I've forgotten your real name. So there.

I did once try and dye my hair with black Henna, though. It never took, just smelled bad for a couple of weeks. I still wear a lot of black, but I only wear eyeliner when I wear a little black dress, which hasn't been for years.
posted by Sparx at 3:55 PM on January 24, 2007


Goth can be affected, but it can also be emergent. I started wearing black clothes because, well, I like black. I liked a bunch of Duran Duran B-sides but kept looking for something a little bit weirder. I was morbid. One night, I listened to a local college radio station, heard "Bela Lugosi's Dead" and called up the station to find out what it was they were playing. It was like hearing the anthem to a country I didn't even know I was a part of, if that makes any sense. Hell, I even liked the Smiths, which fall into that weird category of "non-goth bands that goths seem to love."

I didn't hear the word "goth" until I was about nineteen, but it looked like I had been leaning towards it for a while. Yeah, I was middle class. So what? My high school didn't have anything but middle class kids and a handful of the richie-rich types. Other than a gal named Robyn, I was the only vaguely spooky person around.

Now, as to the similarities in the music, it's more than about just dressing in dark colors and some pointy boots. Early goth music had a heavy punk influence and, up until Projeckt went all fru-fru, tended to feature a fast, complex bass line. You can expect to hear unusual instruments. Male singers usually had a set of voices they'd use, which tended to revolve around the nasal Peter Murphy or the Cookie Monster. I'm currently compiling a set of about 200 songs for a proto-goth stepson of a friend, from 1979 onwards, and while the music has evolved some, you can tell what you're listening to. And, please, tell me punk hasn't changed some.
posted by adipocere at 4:46 PM on January 24, 2007


Hey, I didn't know there was a ticket to ride the goth train included with liking Bauhaus. I guess I need to invest in a new wardrobe...
posted by tehloki at 7:08 PM on January 24, 2007


Lemme see:

* Barely disguised anger at not being invited to somebody's subculture? Check.
*Questionable anecdotes about convieniently anonymous people? Check.
* Musical and cultural pedanry that barely speaks to why people put on black clothes and frippery? Check.

Listen: If you really don't give a shit about goths you don't waste your time posting about it with this kind of venom. Go and read people who really don't care; they stick to superficial mockery and chuckling.

What the fuck are we talking about anyway? The lower class American subculture that listens to Manson, Rob Zombie, Cradle of Filth and such. Lots of them don't have a pot to piss in and are probably poorer than the average contemporary punk. There hasn't been a coherently unitary goth culture since sometime in the 90s; what's left shows up on the same club nights because they're too much of a cultural minority to pay for anything better.

Yes, I understand you're angry that teenagers buy things at chain boutiques according to a rather cliched sense of style. The fact that this is most often pointed out by people buying far less interesting clothes from less interesting chain boutiques is something to meditate on. Really, if you're an even more boring dresser than a 14 year old Hot Topic shopper, what particular ideological triumph have you accomplished by complaining about the kids? That they should give up before they feel compelled to wear something even more interesting in college?

In the end, we have some sloppy intersections between music, fashion and art that can only be realized by people with a fair amount of disposible income, like every other mass-marketed subculture. Like punk, like hip hop and like evrything else, because out culture *demands* a comprehensive package for youth identity that nobody can live up to without heavy capitalist support. And carving an identity outside of that is neither easy nor an instant process, and people who have completed it are forcibly alienated from those labels as a result.
posted by mobunited at 8:50 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow. You really have the mid-90s indie rock manifesto nailed. I salute you, mobunited! Now, where did I put my chunky black plastic framed glasses, ringer tee, old cardigan, tight jeans and Chuck Taylors? Ah, right here under my original vinyl release of Crooked Rain Crooked Rain. ;-)
posted by JekPorkins at 8:59 PM on January 24, 2007


What the fuck are we talking about anyway? The lower class American subculture that listens to Manson, Rob Zombie, Cradle of Filth and such.

1 even a woefully middle aged unhip person like me knows those bands aren't really goth

2 even a woefully middle aged unhip person like me knows those bands are all so 90s

Like punk, like hip hop and like evrything else, because out culture *demands* a comprehensive package for youth identity that nobody can live up to without heavy capitalist support.

3 and it takes a woefully middle aged uphip person like me to remember 60s crapola rhetoric when i hear it

conclusion - you're showing your age; yell at them to get off your lawn, you'll feel better
posted by pyramid termite at 10:39 PM on January 24, 2007


Can someone tell me why my black trousers always go whitish at the knees within a week, or is that an askme question?

Though, pyramid termite: Not really goth is like the sad younger brother of not really punk. He wants to be not really goth, but the white face make-up is such a giveaway. He tries, she hurts, they get the odd looks on the bus, but is it "really" goth? Is it really "not really" goth?

Only Ms Clairol knows for sure.
posted by Sparx at 11:06 PM on January 24, 2007


sparx, if you want to talk makeup, you'll have to do it with somebody who knows something about it
posted by pyramid termite at 11:15 PM on January 24, 2007


Can someone tell me why my black trousers always go whitish at the knees within a week,

AAAGGGRRRGGGGGG. MUST. NOT. MAKE. BAD. STUPID. OBVIOUS. SNARK. GRRGGRGG. I'M OK. OH GOD IT HURTS.
posted by loquacious at 11:15 PM on January 24, 2007


Hey adipocere - just out of curiousity, did you grow up in south county?

(I would email you, but I don't see your email in your profile)
posted by Afroblanco at 11:49 PM on January 24, 2007


2 even a woefully middle aged unhip person like me knows those bands are all so 90s

It apparently takes woefully middle-aged unhip people to forget that a lot of young people spend a lot of time listening to old music when they're young, like I did. Did I go "oh Joy Division, oh Sex Pistols, you're so '70s, I'm gonna listen only to the Revolting Cocks" when I was 18? No I did not.

I see a lot of this around here and it's weird, like we're overcompensating for our ages or something.
posted by furiousthought at 11:56 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


It apparently takes woefully middle-aged unhip people to forget that a lot of young people spend a lot of time listening to old music when they're young,

yeah, but what about their makeup?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:57 AM on January 25, 2007


We've got this far and no one's linked to gothic dance?
posted by drezdn at 9:09 AM on January 25, 2007


bl1nk: Great musical analysis.

Like you, I got tired of trance around the turn of the millennium... it seemed stale and played out. I was amazed that the goths or "darkwavers" glommed on to it a few years later, and treated it like it was cutting-edge. It was only new to them because most of them were ignorant of the electronic music of the '90s.

I actually find goth-trance (er, "futurepop") even more annoying than plain vanilla trance at this point. The music of Tiesto, Paul Oakenfold, Paul van Dyk, etc. is bombastic, manipulative and clichéd, but it doesn't have the added layer of tiresome, theatrical narcissism added by "dark" lyrics sung in an affectedly "dark" voice.

But most of the primordial sources of goth music, like Joy Division and Bauhaus, still hold up pretty well.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:25 PM on January 26, 2007


P.S. Possibly the coolest thing I've seen on YouTube ever:

Peter Murphy, Trent Reznor and friends cover "Warm Leatherette"
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:27 PM on January 26, 2007


MetaFilter: the ture, pure expression of anythong
posted by kindall at 4:38 PM on January 26, 2007


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