Archives for: October 2006, 23

10/23/06

Permalink 07:30:00 am, by Email , 1899 words   English (CA)
Categories: General Shtuff

So Goth it Hurts - The Lost Post...

This is a far gentler, less angry version of a post I ended up wiping out when I was sick... it's about my take and understanding of "goth" and how it evolved and came to be with some folks...

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The Fiends

As a precursor... I spent a little over a decade with very long, dyed black hair and did frequent "the clubs"... but I never considered myself a "goth"... but I did watch, observe, listen... and yes, I mocked... You see, it really was always about angst and fashion... everything else, in my eyes, was window dressing to add to a mystique...

"I am a unique individual... just like everyone else who dresses and more or less looks like me."

When you stop and consider that, for a VERY brief moment, Andrew who ran the original "Sanctuary - The Vampire Sex Bar" in Toronto had a DRESS CODE installed... sheesh!

Special!

...ANYWAY...

Anyone thinking that teenaged obsession with "death" and "dying" and the culture therein (think of it as a type of veneer thanatology) is new is off their rocker.

I personally think it made the "mainstream" (with pop-culture) with Andy Warhol and the like...

Of course, one could argue that it goes WAY beyond that... Edgar Allan Poe, Thomas Chatterton, the philosophers of ancient Rome and Greece... even beyond...

...that said...

Sex Pistols

The punk rock movement of the late seventies really was a rebellion... but more a rebellion of boredom and general teen angst rather than anything else... none-the-less, it didn't take long for the teens to pin a "cause" to what it was about.

One of the more popular ideas was the anti-nuclear war movement. Being in the latter part of the cold war, the idea that wearing "shredded clothes" and whatnot with mohawks seemed like a natural fit. Indeed, it didn't hurt that popular views of an "apocalyptic future" seemed to always contain punks... perhaps there's something to this as what could be more hopeless with teen angst than surviving a nuclear holocaust?

Anyway, with that came "death punk"... think of this as if the mohawks and whatnot represented the "survivors", then the black-dressed, white faced, black (or white) haired types were the dead.

Of course, this again is a generalisation... it did "fit", but I'd say it was born of a cross between things like "beatnik-jazz-factory" teens like the Warhol gang crossed with punk mixed with a genuine appreciation of the aesthetic look of popular horror figures... not necessarily "vampires" (oh, but I'll get there!) but more Morticia Addams or Lilly Munster.

Lilly and Morticia

Now, what's weird is how the word "goth" came about... because there were "goths" before there were "goths"... if that makes sense.

Basically, in Toronto, they called themselves "freaks"... I have no idea what they called themselves in other places. I know that hard core punks at the time tended to call us "Blitz Kids".

The "story" is that a group of "Bat Cavers" (a popular death-punk/punk/dance club in London, England) started really putting on airs... really dressing the whole "Georgian/Edwardian/Victorian Look" far more than normal and got labeled as "Gothic".

The name stuck and made the rounds.

So, all of a sudden, "Gothic Rock" and "Goth" were popular terms.

Go figure.

I suppose everyone likes and needs to be pigeon-holed.

One of the things that "hurt" (HAHAHAHA!) the "punk movement" was the end of the cold war... with the threat of Ruskie missiles and Yankee missiles removed, it kind of took the wind out of a lot of sails... I mean, NOW what could they say "they" represented!?!

Enter the "causes"...

The most prevalent amongst the "young goths" initially was "animal rights"... this is thanks mostly to seminal band Skinny Puppy and their take on it... Granted, Skinny Puppy was also anti-Sadam Hussein before it was mainstream... but people ignore that... it's inconvenient.

Kevin Ogilve

Anyway, just pre-PETA, many of them wandered about proclaiming the evils of animal testing and whatnot... granted, there's some good about this... but I found most were ill-educated on the topic and incapable of understanding one main point about being "against" something...

...oh, what that is? If you want people to stop doing something, you need to have a proper alternative in place.

Anyway...

With Puppy came "angrier" music... the "Goth-Industrial" days...

You see, "Goth" music is AWFULLY tame. In fact, when I played some to Sue who wanted to "hear real Goth music" (I played some Sisters, Cure, Siouxsie, and Bauhaus) she proclaimed, loudly, "MY GOD! THAT'S ELEVATOR MUSIC!!!"

Bauhaus in Concert

Yup, it ain't REALLY "devil music"... it's not "violent"... in fact, it's rather... well... sedate.

Anyway...

Goth-Industrial is a lot more angry... a lot darker... and yeah, I liked it personally.

During this time also, the "Vampire" craze moved in. Now, with the still present "Morticia Addams/Lilly Munster" chic, people really got caught up in the whole Anne Rice thing... and suddenly, Vampires were big.

Now, don't get me wrong... Thanks to Bauhaus' ultra-goth anthem, "Bela Lugosi's Dead" and the fact that Anne Rice novels have been around a long time, there was ALWAYS a "Vampire" element... but through the 1980's, I only knew one person that professed to be a Vampire... and everyone pretty much laughed at him.

Well, all of a sudden, Vampirism and "Goth" became synonymous... and "goths" seemingly NEEDED to be Vampires.

One of my favourite moments was at a nightclub, an "Über Goth" woman who felt she was "Queen of the Scene" was bragging(?) to people...

"I'm actually three-hundred and fifty-years-old!" she crowed...

"...and you don't look a DAY over three-hundred and twenty!" I responded with glee.

Wanna tick me off about this? Do what the woman above did... put "rules" and "guidelines" on Goth... even when you don't even know it's roots yourself.

...moving right along...

During this time, though, someone realised that OTHER "famed folks" of the past looked "Goth". The most easy to spot one was Betty Page... the kinky pin-up girl.

Hmmm... teen angst? Missing "cause"? Aggressive music? LET'S ADD SEX!

'Round about the mid-1990's, wearing fetish wear came back.

Back?

Well, you see, the London punk movement DID wear "fetish gear"... but it was more to look "dirty" as in run-down... not sexy. The concept(?) was that these clothes were inexpensive... and the fact that Malcolm McClaren and company hung out in sex shops didn't hurt either.

This time, however, the kids figured if Betty Page (kinky model) was cool and "goth", so would they be!

Betty Page

...and along the way, "fetish sex" equaled "goth"...

Wasn't it death punk? Wasn't it about anti-nuclear movement? Wasn't it about Victorian funeral/brothel chic? Wasn't it about angst over man's inhumanity to the other creatures on the Earth? Wasn't it about vampires?

Apparently not.

No, it was now about SEX!

No wonder these kids are confused, eh?

Enter pop-culture with a vengeance... enter things like Marylin Manson and The Crow.

This led to yet more people "finding" their Gothy-side... yay. Tonnes of teens looking like an androgynous mix of Bela Lugosi and Brandon Lee. Not as attractive to me as the Morticia/Lilly thing... but hey, I'm almost forty now so my opinion is... well... I'm an old guy to these kids.

Hell, I work for a mortgage company.

Anyway, it seems (although I'm FAR removed from it now,) that "goth" is in a kind of holding pattern... with all the above things playing their own part in what people are doing and thinking...

But let's kill some myths about "goths" as I understood and understand it...

Every one of the "goths" I knew through all the years considered themselves "artistic" and "creative"... the concept of violence (other than in fictional and often romantic novels) was alien... in fact, had someone shown up at ANY of the "goth parties" I went to with a crumby attitude and the want to fight, they'd be shunned... and probably asked to leave.

None of the "goth music" I've ever heard has suggested becoming violent.

Here's one... many "goths" want mainstream acceptance for their style choice! I kid you not! They want to be "professional" and be accepted for their contributions to whatever than shunned. They want to be "The Goth Lawyer" or "The Goth Accountant"... not the scary person in the gutter.

Most of the "goths" I knew had a "savant"... some area of knowledge or expertise that was impressive. Usually it was historical... occasionally an area of art... most were pseudo-intellectuals who'd rather have a good long intelligent talk than to drink themselves into a coma and part-ay.

Most of the "goths" I encountered were educated... working on or hoping to do some form of post-secondary education. This goes to the "mainstream professional acceptance".

The concept of "Devil Worship", when mentioned at all, is considered a bit of a joke to most of them... they occasionally do proclaim "Wiccan-ship"... but most of them, being young, are at best "Time-Life Wiccans"... meaning they get their concepts of their "faith" from the Time-Life library. If they do suggest they are "Satanic", they probably have read and know about Anton LeVey and the Satanic bible... and aren't sacrificing animals near train-tracks. Most of the one's I knew were usually agnostic or even simply athiestic.

They all HOPE that normal folks find them scary and frightening... it gives them "an edge", they feel... something that makes them stand out and whatnot... Considering most "goths" would qualify as the typical "High School Loser" in many ways, this is understandable... going "goth" allows them to re-invent themselves and empower themselves... but again, chances are, they're hoping the "look" will be all they need to impress.

Considering the cost of "looking goth" (*sigh* Back in the day, it was better... you wore old clothes or stuff you bought from second-hand stores... worn leather, old tux bits...) nowadays, chances are they are of "some means"... they either work full time or have a good support system at home.

Space! The Final Frontier!

So, on that note... there's my take on "Goth" as I know/knew it...

I'm sure it'll change again... and I'm equally sure that there are some that will disagree with what I've written... but it is, to the best of my ability, accurate as to how I understood how it all went down... and continues to evolve.

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