More Goth than You.

Posts have been spotty the last couple of days.  They’re going to be spotty, I’m afraid.  It’s one crisis after another here.

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Over on the book of faces, in one of the gothic subculture groups someone said that goth came from the music and so the music should be respected.  I can agree with it, actually, but I think many folk take that too far.

First, a brief introduction to what “goth” means in this context:

Unfortunately, there are those who can be a bit…elitist…about being a “true” goth, and seem to score points by being “more goth than you.”

As I said, I can sort of agree with the basic premise because, as the history above shows, the modern gothic subculture really did start with the music.

The problem is that the terms themselves need to be defined. What, specifically, counts as “goth music” for this purpose? I’m not talking about a list of goth bands. but rather, if you were listening to a piece of music and knew nothing about it or the band playing/singing it what exactly would lead one to say “goth” or “not goth.” I have a certain element of “I know it when I hear it” but even that’s not terribly reliable, at least not for me.  Mostly, “I know what I like” which may or may not fit a particular genre.  There were bands I thought had a lot of similarity to bands that were considered “goth” but I learned that, no, they were nothing like goth.  And, well, some bands that are considered goth sound nothing like other bands that are also considered goth, at least to me.  So what makes a band “goth” or not?

And that “respect” thing. What exactly does that mean? If someone likes The Sisters of Mercy and the 69 Eyes but doesn’t care for The Cure and Bauhaus, do they have to turn in their goth card? How about symphonic/gothic metal bands like Within Temptation, Nightwish, Xandria, or, yes, even…Evanescence?

What if they have broad musical tastes. They like goth groups (however defined) but also like, say, 80’s pop or even “pop standards”?

Personally, I tend to think of goth more as a mindset, an outlook. People with that mindset will tend to appreciate goth music, not necessarily all goth music and they might appreciate other types of music as well and that’s okay. They may find themselves leaning more toward the “metal” end of the gothic music spectrum or they may favor more “dark wave” and gothic rock. And that’s okay. They may or may not incorporate gothic style into their attire. (Perhaps their job frowns on gothic attire and, well, a person’s got to eat.) And that’s okay. They may dress up some form of goth every day (“What are you dressed up for?” “Uh, Tuesday.”) or save it for special occasions. And that’s okay.

Goth is in the mind and the heart. The rest follows. And different people will have different ways of expressing it.

And that’s okay.

2 thoughts on “More Goth than You.”

  1. I have NO illusion of my being Goth. I’m not, really. “Adjacent”? Sure. What Goths I know/knew seemed to generally be of intelligence (ox joke goes here, yes). One describes herself as “Goth before Goth was.” — And she used to the online (SL) DJ thing… and one of the few groups she refused to play was… Nightwish. Found it overblown.

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  2. I’m the most recent comment on the “I Was Afraid Of Going To Goth Clubs” video, which I found on one of my friends’ FB feed. To repeat what I said there, “if you can say ‘I’m a goth’ and not feel self-conscious, you’re in”.

    In my father’s house are many mansions, so to speak, and there a many many ways of being a Goth. Some are focused on the music. Again, I’ll plug my friend’s book Gothic Charm School.

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