Today I'm going to start a new line of posts inspired by The Everyday Goth's post '50 Goth Blog Post Prompts', which is fifty nifty (hey that rhymed) topics that are fun to write about when you're a bit stuck on what to blog, to spark discussion and show your own tastes and opinions. Today I have picked the one that makes the most sense to start on - what makes someone a Goth? Everyone has different opinions on whether or not 'Goth' is a lifestyle, just a fashion, entire community, etc. so here's my fifty cents...I feel I should say pence to keep patriotic haha. (P.S. This may get a little long and rambly and is only my opinion so I hope you are interested in hearing my opinion and discussing but if not, feel free to skip this post!)
I fully believe 100% that Goth is a way of thinking and being. I would go as far as to say a lifestyle but you don't necessarily have to do 'Gothic' things in your lifestyle to have the mindset of a Goth. I was having a hard time trying to express this until I watched the BBC's rather good 'Seven Ages of Rock'. I only watched the indie/alternative rock episode but it showcased when independent bands began to become a circuit and community, began to be recognised and eventually were signed onto well known labels and entered the mainstream music industry. It showed different genres of the independent bands and whilst it didn't show Gothic bands (probably since the real independent movement began in the 90s and Gothic music was more prominent in the 80s), it included, amongst others, grunge, punk, post hardcore and general indie (e.g. The Smiths) acts.
It got me thinking that the way you take in the world around you, how it affects you and what you do about it shows what kind of you person you are and what scene or community you most relate to.
Think about the punk and/or post hardcore scene - their general outlook and response to the world is outspoken, usually angry and/or loud and the way they write and play music shows they have an opinion, want it to be heard and want to do something about the things they feel strongly about. Bands like Black Flag, Therapy?, Against Me! and Offspring all write outspoken songs about their opinions on love, betrayal, politics, the way the world works, etc.
Now I feel if someone is a true 'Goth' or even relates partly to the Gothic scene, their outlook and opinions are far more inward-pointing, calm and quiet, usually even melancholic. We just can't help ourselves. We see the world the way it truly is, have little hope for the majority of it and unless we meet people with similar views and opinions on something that needs to be changed, there's not much we feel we can do about it. The way we cope and deal with things is to take our feelings inside ourselves, work them out if we can and let them fester or lock them up if we can't and emerge the same, quiet selves we always are. There's no shouting, blaming, screaming or uprising unless we really can't cope and have one of those mini explosions everyone gets every few years or so.
Gothic music focuses more on our inner feelings and is more about writing music for ourselves rather than for anyone else. It's another way to deal with the world, our feelings, what is happening, etc. Our humour can be different too - everyone is different, obviously but I know many Goths have a dark sense of humour that can be hard to share with other 'norms'...I know I've wanted to say things at work that me and my boyfriend would find hilarious but my colleagues would just look at me weird so I've kept my mouth shut. However, that's not to say we don't find other stuff funny! For some reason silly humour, especially involving food, really gets to me and when I start giggling, I can't stop until I just can't breathe. As an example, I found How To Basic's videos hilarious when I first watched them and I still can't watch Ketchupbot + 20th Century Fox without laughing.
Generally Goths have felt misunderstood, lonely or isolated most of their life. We find catharsis in music, reading, writing, literature, films, etc. Because of this, there was a study conducted (I can't find it but I'm sure it was featured on the BBC news website around 6-7 years ago.) that showed Goths are generally more intelligent, thoughtful, artistic and introverted than the general population, which can only be a good thing. In the 80s and 90s, even in the millennium, the TV & film industry finally caught on what many teenagers felt and began to make films many of us related to, such as Lost Boys, The Breakfast Club, Ginger Snaps and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
And of course, we can't talk about being a Goth without talking about the clothing. Most Goths tend to prefer darker colours and elements such as fishnet, platform shoes, studs or eyelets, lace, etc. The clothing is usually the most thought of element of being a Goth, both by Goths and others who view them, as it is the most visual and easily identified part of a Goth. However, just because you dress in a Gothic way doesn't make you Gothic, in my eyes. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't, it all depends on the person. I've met a few people in my life who, whilst weren't Gothic, dressed in an alternative way but nothing else they did was alternative - their hobbies, music taste, lifestyle, what they did on a weekend night, etc. so I'm not sure why they dressed alternatively. These people are what me and my boyfriend call 'faux alternative' as they usually revert back to 'normal' clothing after a few years. Alternatively, just because you don't dress in a Gothic way doesn't mean you aren't a Goth. If you relate to some of the viewpoints I mentioned above and generally have a darker outlook on life, you're more than likely a Goth. Many people can't dress the way they'd like to for a multitude of reasons, such as money constrictions, living with parents, even silly reasons like their partner hating the fashion and making the person feel like they can't dress the way they like for fear of losing their partner.
We all have our own hobbies, interests, tastes and things that are 100% not Goth (more on that later) and it all melds to make us the unique individuals we are but I feel 'true Goths' have a certain outlook on life that affects many things we think, feel or do; it's the same reason many of us swarm around Poundlands and decoration stores when Halloween rolls around! This has been fun to write but a little hard for me to convey...I guess that is another thing that solidifies the reasoning that generally Goths find it hard to express themselves even though they may feel something very strongly. Anyway, I've rambled enough now so I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on what makes someone a Goth! I'd love to hear your thoughts (I hope I don't have to say this but in a civil manner, please) and thanks to Mary Rose @ The Everyday Goth for the inspiration!