There is a pdf version of this book available here about several aspects of the goth culture and i’m slightly….not impressed. Look, I’m a critical little child of the night who doesn’t lower the bar for anyone or anything, especially when it comes to our culture. The way we present our individual selves and each other to the world through media is important and some may argue I take it too seriously. Tonight, we look at The Ultimate Goth Guide as readily accessible, and potentially misguiding, resource for anyone curious about the culture.
*The website was created in 2013, or so the bottom of the page says, and yeah I could go digging for days about the site. But what I want to respond to is the fact it’s out there, and it makes me uncomfortable. (Not the blog, the book.)
Origins and History– Obviously I don’t have a problem with this section. It’s the same general, cliff notes, history anyone would give anyone.
The Goth Scene– “Many Goths …” many goths argue endlessly about the validity of the abyss of subgenres that can and cannot be goth. A lot of goths feel pressure to hide their musical interests past the ones that are considered original goth music. (See all the goth confession videos ever made.) With the exception of the paragraphs concerning music and Bauhaus, the rest of the description of the scene just reads as “People like this and that’s good.” I know, I know, what more could I ask for? There’s just not enough detail for me. Why is one thing goth and what does it contribute to the culture? Does this thing offer more or less than others? Is there something about it that most people wouldn’t know? I just want more in a book than I could find in a LiveJournal blog from 2008.
Goth Names– I’ve been meaning to talk about this, considering I work under a pen name, or generally use a different for everything and anything. It is a feature many goths share. One part of it is creating an identity that fits the aesthetic of the group. You could go as Kevin, yeah, or you could be Draven WinterWolf. It may be superficial in seeking validity from others, borne of jealousy for people born with weird dark names from another era, or for your own personal involvement in the culture. Another reason for the name change is protection and/or separation between your goth self and your non goth self. In participating in the culture via social media or the scene, you’re less likely to be harassed in a vast range of ways by coworkers or friends or people you don’t want to have access to that information. *sigh* and for the people who argue then maybe you shouldn’t be doing that goth stuff if you have to hide it, the name change is almost never for doing bad things under a pseudonym (within the goth culture). It’s because other people can be malicious assholes and we just want one corner of society for ourselves. So bow down bitches.
Goth Subcultures– There is so much that unnerves me about this section and does so much more harm than good. The first sentences lists goth among religions not other subcultures, shifting the idea of what the subculture is. It lists being obsessed with suicide as a sign of a stereotypical goth which encourages the erasure of validity for goths who are in fact suicidal. It focuses heavily on vampirism in a way that romanticizes it for teenagers and creates a valid area of concern for parents. Never mind the lack of discussion for actual sub subcultures.
Ideology– It’s fair to say that explaining the ideology is a complex thing, but I don’t agree with their saying that “Goth Ideology is based far more on aesthetics than it would ever be on ethics or politics.” I just feel that preservation of identity and individualism is a common theme in gothic literature, music and the culture and can therefore be related to aesthetics, ethics, or politics. Eventually, we’ll have to come back to this, because it is now the answer everyone gives to “What does it mean to be Goth?” You know, it’s kind of hard to explain. But is it really?
Goth Websites, Online Communities and Online Dating- The Rules- I just don’t understand. If this book is geared towards teenagers, I feel it is slightly inappropriate to be including such tips as “Where to meet” and “traveling long distances”. Not 18 year old mind you, like the potential audience could include 13 year olds, and it just seems like too much. Especially if we’re not going to talk about the harassment every goth girl has gone through, or will go through at some point in their lives (provided nothing changes of course in the next five years).
Religious Influences- This is where the book really sparked me to write this. I don’t think Satanists refer to themselves readily as “devil worshipers”, I’ve known Satanists and they never said that. But even if those who practice it did use that term, it has such a negative connotation, I feel, as a goth, you wouldn’t say that. They get small redemption points for acknowledging religious imagery influencing style, but the direction of this section scatters all over the place (like worse than I do sometimes). “There is no rule book handed down from generation to generation…” we all say this, every goth blogger under the sun has uttered this sentence, but we always cycle right back to the topic of what is goth and what is not goth. So we need to stop pretending there isn’t some sense of standards. It’s loose, so loose I can’t even find a metaphor for it, but it is there. Okay, oh my god. I’m reading this section for the first time as I’m writing this, so my reactions aren’t edited or filtered.
“Members of these Satanist groups are usually kindergoths guided by Elder goths. They are recruited either online or in pubs/clubs. They make promises of a charmed life and for some who are of the Vampyre inclination they offer you eternal life and the chance to become a Vampyre because Satan will reward you for your loyalty.”
Is this an actual thing in the UK? The book is supposedly based in the UK, but I’m suspect of the whole god damn thing now. Like, WHAT? Like that is not a part of Satanism, I feel pretty sure, it’s not. Isn’t basically don’t be a dick and just relax and put out the energy you want to attract? Something totally chill and neutral, where if you heard what Satanism was actually about you wouldn’t believe how far off base the misconception is. (I’m not a Satanist, but the Satanists I’ve met are very nice people but they did not offer to make a Vampire bride of Satan, so now I don’t like them as much, lol). Here is the truth, lots of goths aren’t religious, and it’s not because denouncing religion is a goth thing to do (though it is, just a little bit), it’s just not their thing. BUT, there are religious goth from like every religion ever, which is also totally fine, as long as you aren’t a butt face. (Because then the vloggers will have to make a video, the tumblr bloggers will share you media info and I’ll have to write a blog post, and I really wanted that Thursday for myself, okay?)
Fashion- This obsession with an appropriate color scheme for goth clothing is…exhausting. “Any jewelry is fine as long as it is silver.” I prefer gold. “Keep your makeup to two colors-black and white.” How dare you try and limit my way of life. To be fair there was a time, like two years ago or something where all the goths shaved off their eyebrows…no one talked about doing it, we just did. It was fun because more space for electric purple eyeshadow! All joking and truth telling aside, there’s a lot of minute details in here, that a teenager would follow religiously (hmmm), but are not important. There is one rule-be here because you want to be here. Because duh.
Goth Slang Explained- If it is coming from a different country, so I don’t really want to go toe to toe with this. I don’t know maybe it means something different over there. But I will say Corporate Goth is not someone who is afraid to mix their office and goth wear, it’s totally someone who does. To be able to wear goth clothing to work….ooohh…it’s like the goal honey. (She said, having applied to a very specific niche of jobs).
Parents- “As you have read there are so many different levels of Goth and such a wide culture and variety of people who are into the Goth lifestyle that for your child to be experimenting in this way is good.” From the online Satanists who want to turn their child in a vampire to the ideology that you can’t pinpoint for five seconds to give any legitimate reassure their child isn’t in danger, wrapping up with a big bow on top of online dating and how to properly meet up with strangers, you really think you did a good thing here? Hell you might be the spark for the biggest shout out a parent has ever been capable of. This is why I keep writing, I swear.
This pare is definitely a must read, because it’s hilarious in its failure. Oh no, I’m not going to sugar coat this. Excellent placement of the phrase “Don’t jump the gun”, after “your child may appear moody and unapproachable” and above the words “depressed and suicidal”. Am I being too harsh? When we do write and post about stuff like this, we have to see it as a non Goth parent absolutely riddled with fear for their child, because that’s who’s reading it.
Criticisms and Controversy- Oh here we go. It can’t be an adult who wrote this, can it? The word is wary, not “This has caused the general public to view the Goth scene as dangerous and they are now very weary when there is no need to be.” They did point out something important though, every time there is a shooting, Goth is somehow brought up, and almost with flawless consistency, we as a community refuse to have their name associated with ours. No. Goths don’t shoot up schools honey, there are free books there. And there’s many a scene, emo, or whatever group member who eventually becomes goth and we could have cemetery tea parties when we’re 30, so like we think it through.
Then there’s a summary of the book? or website?, I am not really sure. This was annoying to read, and I don’t know who it’s written by, maybe a ferret? *shrugs*
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Until next time,
Don’t be hungry for life. Be ravenous.