goth. the aesthetic and the subculture: getting past the stupid shit.

June 29, 2011

A while back I went through an ugly experience as a result of joining a goth chat line. To begin with, I was new to a conscious identification with the subculture and new to chat lines too, so I had some hurdles to jump. I didn’t expect I’d have to jump them in a mine field though. The worst of it: Three attacks were made on my computer (files stolen, virus planted, I lost a lot of stuff). This whole experience was my first encounter with goth as a subculture. I didn’t expect the racism or the hostility and having gone through it, it threw me for a loop. It constituted an ugly truth about the subculture that I couldn’t ignore.

Words by Spookycreep

The subculture is fine. It just has a few nuts in it. Nonetheless, I think those “nuts” need to be taken note of because there are evidently a lot of them. So much so that they are a distinct part of the subculture – the elitist snobs who won’t stoop to be human beings. For a while afterwards I felt they were typical of the subculture and to be a goth meant having to live under their shadow. It’s as if dogma had been set up and woe to any goth that breaks the commandments – chief among them: thou shall not ask what is goth.

There is a word for bullshit like this: collectivism. The belief that the individual should be subordinated to the group. This is a BIG problem with me. I’ve always been of the frame of mind to where the group can kiss my ass. I am the boss of me. I’m all for identifying with given groups, Afro-punk for example, the Satanic for another, but when the group thinks it can dictate how one is suppose to think and feel, it’s time to tear the group to shreds.

And so, after my experience with the chat line, my view of the subculture had soured. Even finding black goth videos didn’t change that. The best I could see for goths of color was equal but separate but that sucked too. And there were other factors to consider as well, like the fact that not all goths – not even those on the chat line – are assholes.

So I found myself with a dilemma. How did I work my way through it? I took a look at all the steps that led me to join the chat line. In a nutshell, I ‘ve always liked dark things. Horror movies, dark music, grey days to sunshine and wandering in out of the way places. I was a fan of goth music even before I knew what goth was and had been painitng the nail of my pinky on my left hand, black for even longer. Given these dark inclinations, it was inevitable that once I discovered the subculture I would love it. Who would have thought? The Addams family is real.

In the course of taking this walk down memory lane, it became apparent to me that the dumb-asses of the subculture have nothing to do with my love of the dark and there’s no reason in the world why I should listen to them. They didn’t create the subculture and no matter how common place such idiots may be, they don’t make the rules either. Having come to this conclusion, the goof-balls went “poof” and vanished into thin air.

Also, as a result of my look back, a definition of goth that I can live with presents itself. It is two things: an aesthetic and a subculture. You can express the aesthetic without being a part of the subculture but the reverse is not true. Everyone knows what the goth aesthetic is, one that finds beauty in dark things but what of goth as a subculture?

It’s a spooky subculture. Granted, it has other elements as well but spooky is primary and the defining one. Goth is a subculture that expresses its love of the dark through all of the arts, philosophy, as well as lifestyle. This last is a bit trickier, what does it mean to have a goth lifestyle?

It’s to have a lifestyle that reflects what you perceive to be fundamental to your identity. Your core being you could say most goths will tell you that they never feel more like themselves until they are “gothed out”.

Okay, the chat line thing didn’t go too well. Fuck it. My next move is to check out some clubs. My exploration continues. I’m hardly an old hand at being a part of this subculture but I don’t think I’m a baby bat anymore either. I’m a teenage bat perhaps and hopefully an intelligent one. I was a teenage bat! Yeah, that sounds about right, has a vintage ring to it too.

Images from templetresses.blogspot.com