You want the goth subculture to continue existing? Then accept that not everyone can be an 80s goth and a 90s goth. Those times are past. There will be 2000s goths and 2010s goths and hopefully goths for many, many years to come. And there will always be differences and the scubculture is going to evolve. Stop shitting on current goths just because you you can’t change and are suffocating in your stagnation and elitism.
The problem with some young goths and the unintentional erasure of the goth subculture
I’ve complained enough about elitists over the years and to be perfectly honest, elitists arent the only problematic members of the goth subculture. If you were to put goth on a scale it would be be broken up into three major groups.
On one end you would find the elitist group. A group of goths who believe that there is absolutely only one way of being goth and in order to be it you must abide by their strict rules. These are the people who prefer to bully other goths than keep their opinions to themselves. This group is usually on the smaller side because most goths dont like engaging with them because of the drama that they bring. But i’ve already discussed this group many times before.
In the middle of the scale we have a very balanced group of goths. This is also the largest group. This group encompasses thousands of goths around the world of different styles and ages. These goths believe that goth is a subculture and is something that should be respected. These goths are also very aware of where and when goth started and how. This group respects the music and though not everyone in this group listens to goth music, they are still very aware of its importance to the goth subculture. This is the best place to sit on the scale. These goths often feel that goth should not dictate who they are as a person but at the same time these goths feel that the history and the music should be respected.
Now we get to the last group that unfortunately has been growing in numbers over the past few years. This is the group that poses a threat to the preservation of goth as a subculture.
First, i’m going to start with a definition for the word “subculture”
A cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture
This means that a subculture is a smaller culture within a larger one and that there are specific values, beliefs and interests that divide this culture from the larger. So in order to be a part of a subculture you must have these same beliefs, interests, and values. Of course there is a ton of wiggle room when it comes to the goth subculture. Goth does not restrict you to these interests and values, but instead allows you to include your own. You can be goth and have non goth interests. You can be goth and listen to non goth music. Also the values that are often considered more mandatory are simply based on respect. Many will say that you dont have to limit yourself to listening to only goth music but, it is important to respect the music because the subculture, fashion, etc. wouldnt exist without it.
This is where problems arise. In the modern goth subculture, we are seeing more and more goths throwing these values out the window and ditching all respect for the subculture. These people are treating goth as more of a fashion statement than a culture. Goth was never meant to be a superficial concept lacking any depth or substance. Like punk, goth was a strange and amazing phenomenon that occurred at just the right moment in time. Goth was this thing that connected people through a love of dark music and a taste for the darker, stranger side of life. The fashion sort of came after and was mostly influenced by the artists producing these dark genres of music. So no matter how you look at it, goth music is really what kick started the whole thing
But many of these young, new goths dont care about that. They believe that goth is anything they say it is. When this is just not true. You cant walk up to a member of X subculture and tell him that his values and beliefs dont need to be respected and that X culture is completely subjective. Thats just not how subcultures work. Subcultures are not subjective. Goth as a subculture is not subjective. You can be a goth have your own views on the world. You can have your own interests and beliefs but goth is still a subculture and certain values NEED to be respected. If we dont respect these certain values than we risk losing our subculture.
By ignoring the history and beliefs of a subculture you are leading to its erasure. And if you know anything about today’s social issues, this should sound very familiar. We live in a time where all cultures, not just subcultures, run the risk of being erased due to racism, appropriation, the domination of mainstream cultures as well as other factors. So its important that we keep some of these values and continue to respect the history of goth as a subculture.
Unfortunately this is becoming harder and harder to do, with the rise in popularity of blogging and social media as an outlet for expressing one’s personal views and opinions. Many goth blogs on tumblr are getting popular for very superficial reasons such as fashion and aesthetic purposes. Its very easy for a blog that only posts goth fashion to become popular and though this isnt negative on its own when the person behind the blog starts divulging their opinions about the subculture, they already have a large follower base to listen to them.
So if this blogger who only cares about goth fashion, who doesnt respect the subculture starts pontificating on topics they know nothing about or respect, this will subsequently lead to a large number of less educated people to believe in misinformation about the subculture. If a popular blogger starts saying things like, “you dont need to respect or like goth music to be goth,” or, “you dont need to know anything about the history of goth to be goth” their followers will start to believe this, when its just not true.
If this keeps up like it is, eventually we are going to see a lot of young goths who dont care about the subculture. Who only want to be goth because “it looks cool” or “it scares my parents.” Goth will eventually become nothing more than a trend. Something a kid does for attention. This will also divide goths even more. You will start seeing a lot of older goths stop wanting anything to do with the younger generations and their lack of respect for the culture.
Yes goth should be something a person can have fun with but there is more that divides goths from the mainstream than just our look and many of us would like to keep it that way. Goth used to be about music, literature, art, philosophy and more. Goths were mature, refined and intelligent people who liked discussing topics such as philosophy and psychology. We were a cultured breed who enjoyed history and arts. Goth is not a gimmick. Its not a trend. Its a way of life and its a culture. And many of us are tired of seeing younger people try and ruin that.
And another thing. This is something that is not said enough and its so damn important. You do not need to be goth to like goth things. You dont have to restrict yourself to a label. Its okay to like goth things and not consider yourself goth, in fact i encourage it. If goth really is right for you, you will want to know everything about it naturally. You will feel a passion for learning about its music and history and above all, you will respect it. If not, maybe goth just isnt for you and thats okay. Even if you dont fit the label, you can still follow goth blogs and have goth friends and go to goth events but if you really want to preserve goth, you need to respect it as more than just an image. You need to respect it as a subculture that is rich with history, art and very importantly, music.
i like your blog but you post to many black goths. imho they just dont look right.
They look just as beautiful as any white goths and they have the right to express themselves and exist in this space as much as anyone else.
I’ve said this before but I’ll repeat since it needs to be said:
There is no right skin colour to be goth. Period. Goth is a composite of multiple things and appearance is just one fraction of all that. Skin colour, hair colour, make-up style, gender, and whatnot do not define whether you can be goth or not, and no way is the “right” way to have them.
The pale red-lipped and black-haired girl dressed in all black might be the stereotype of a goth but that is a very shallow and one-sided representation of the people in the community. How many of us actually fit into that stereotype? How many of us strive to look like that because if we don’t, we will get told we don’t look right? Goth has since its beginning featured many ethnicities, and there is nothing weird about non-white goths in the subculture. Research information and photos of the English goth scene in the 80s. There are loads of non-white goths absolutely rocking the original look (not to mention creating other forms of gothy art like alternative music). The main reason it “doesn’t look right” to you is because the stereotype is so strong and over-represented in gothic imagery. But we all know stereotypes can be terribly, terribly wrong, which leads to this kind of racism (yes, that’s what this is).
There are many gothic styles I personally don’t like, but it is not my place to tell those people that I don’t think they look good. I wouldn’t want them telling me that, so why would I do that to others? And I’m talking about styles that someone chooses to wear, so can you even imagine hearing it about something you cannot choose like skin colour? I understand that it is your personal preference and your opinion but is it necessary to bring it up when all it will do is discourage people from being a part of a community they feel they belong to? There’s a ton of people outside the subculture whose ignorance can make being a goth difficult, we shouldn’t be doing that to each other within the subculture too.
Some goths are black, some goths are Asian, some goths wear hijabs, some goths keep their natural hair, the list goes on. And they all look gorgeous and have as much right to express themselves in the subculture as white goths. In reality the subculture is extremely diverse but there is so much gate-keeping from goths who think that you need to look like X and listen to Y that we end up only seeing a glimpse of it all. That shouldn’t be, and as corny as it sounds, we should try to create a comfortable, safe community instead of one that shuns people out because they do not fit a stereotype.
The non-white goths aren’t going anywhere from my blog, they belong there as much as any white goth, classic horror heroine or Addams Family member.