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 What Gothic Is and Is Not - a manifesto of sorts...goth 101 
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Nessus
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I thought I would write a bit for those people who are new to the boards or are probably just generally confused by the whole subculture.


I think I'm going to have to define a few terms before we get on with this discussion.

/div wrote:
goth: 1. A style of rock music that often evokes bleak, lugubrious imagery. 2. A performer or follower of this style of music.

subculture: a social group within a national or world culture that has distinctive patterns of behavior, tastes, and beliefs

mainstream: 1. The prevailing current of thought, influence, or activity. 2. Representing the prevalent attitudes, values, and practices of society.


Being goth is not something you just stumble in to. People don't really wake up one morning and go "Hey! Let's be goth today!" It just doesn't happen like that.
It's not really innate either. People aren't born gothic. It develops over time.

In that development comes a certain interest in types of music. Goth as a subculture didn't start out as a description of fashion, literature, art, mindset, or what ever other bullshit you can attach to it. It started out as music. Purely music. And it remains so. Gothic music relies on various elements in order to be classified as gothic music.

What is gothic music?
Goth is a large umbrella term for several different kinds of music, such as darkwave, deathrock, and industrial. But I think the most common term applied to gothic music is that it is avante-garde. It is not part of the mainstream. It might have maybe gotten played on MTV back in the early days when it was still a new station and not subsumed by pop music. The most easily recognized gothic bands in the genre would have to be Bauhaus and the Sisters of Mercy. They are the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, respectively, of gothic music. I'm going to go so far as to say that if you don't have at least one album by either of these bands, I'd have a very hard time considering you as a goth.
It just wouldn't make any bloody sense. When a subculture is based on music, you can't say you're part of it if you have no music that the subculture is based on. It would be like saying you are punk and not having an album by The Ramones.
Some essential songs that every goth should know right off the top of their head:
"Temple of Love" by The Sisters of Mercy
"Stigmata Martyr" by Bauhaus
"Cities in Dust" by Siouxsie and the Banshees
"First Communion" by Christian Death
"New Dawn Fades" by Joy Division
"I Walk The Line" by Alien Sex Fiend
"Love Like Blood" by Killing Joke
"Black Sun" by Dead Can Dance
Unless youdraw the bulk of your CD collection from a band list like this, I would not really consider you gothic. This said, it seems like people tend to dilute the genre and classify things as gothic when they are most certainly not gothic at all.


what is not gothic music?
Anything that has been part of mainstream music. ever. especially if it has an overproduced video to go along with it. Gothic music is not about mass marketing or shock value. It has nothing to do with either of these. Gothic music doesn't have the "I hate my parents" ambiance of nu-metal. It's not a style supported by heavy guitar riffs, distortion, rapped lyrics, or people wearing clown makeup and masks. It does not draw large outdoor crowds. And most importantly, it is not on ANY sort of rotation at a commercial rock station, NOR does it have any sort of video airplay on MTV or its various competitors and subsidiaries.
In otherwords, this would be the NOT list. bear in mind that all these bands/artists are about as "gothic" as eachother:
Britney Spears
Mudvayne
N'sync
Slipknot
Alicia Keyes
Staind
Shakira
KoRn
Jay Z
Linkin Park
Christina Aguilera
Marilyn Manson
Shania Twain
Now, what do these bands all have in common? They've been on MTV, therefore, they are mainstream and therefore, not underground, and lastly, not gothic.
And also, goths, for the most part, don't listen to any of that garbage unless it's on the radio and we are too lazy to change the station. We don't buy the CD. We don't get the band T-shirt from Hot Topic.

Now that we have music out of the way, lets explore some elements of fashion...
black: recommended
other dark colors: sure, why not?
everything else: you are extra cool if you can pull this off and still make it look good.
skirts: gender ambiguous... but don't wear them if you have facial hair
spiked collars, or D-ring collars: S&M is an advertisement here. not a fashion statement
boots: get some that will hold up to everyone else's boots on the dance floor. ballet slippers are not going to help you when Wumpscut comes on.
sewwing your own clothes: good idea
thrift shopping for lots of alterable cheap clothing: good idea
buying overpriced underquality crap from a corporate chain store just because they advertise it as gothic: bad idea
makeup: please don't do it like everyone else. it's an original statement so be original. and make it look good. don't scribble a bunch of shit on your face to make a "statement".
hair: anything goes. and I do mean anything. for us, spiked hair is conservative.

how about reading material?
if you don't like to read or learn, then don't consider yourself a goth, becuase you won't have anything useful to bring into a discussion. lets start with the classics:
Lord Byron
Percy Bysshe and Mary Shelley
John Keats
Bram Stoker
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Alfred Lord Tennyson
William Wordsworth
William Blake
and move into the not-so-classics
Neil Gaiman
Poppy Z. Brite
William S. Burroughs
William Gibson
Anne Rice
And if I ask for favorite authors and you give me Marilyn Manson becuase he wrote that inane drivel "Long Hard Road Out of Hell", I will skull fuck you.


Lil, let me know if I left anything out.

Everyone else: Did you happen to catch the list of songs I put up above? got to a record store, get a pair of head phones and LISTEN TO THEM. It's not that hard, people. Those bands I listed are the more well known gothic bands.

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Tue Mar 26, 2002 1:08 pm
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To summarize:

If you want to be classed as a Goth you are not allowed to listen, watch, like, any popular music. You are also restricted from reading certian books. Is the gothic subculture really so closed minded?

I own (yes I actually OWN) linkin parks CD 'Hybrid Theory'. and *gasp* I like it.

*watches the look of pure horror appear on your face*

My bandwidth is as limited as my income so my selection of music would invoke the 'I would not really consider you gothic' response from Blood_rose.

Anyway, I'm not into what people think about me but my point was that if someone listens to a mainstream band ASWELL AS the Gothic music they are not considered to be goth.. or is that classic goth? or whichever of the many other goth prefixes that have materialised into existance.

(NOTE: This is not a dig against Blood_rose, its just a curiosity post)


Tue Mar 26, 2002 2:20 pm
Nessus
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Teen_Goth¿ wrote:
To summarize:

If you want to be classed as a Goth you are not allowed to listen, watch, like, any popular music. You are also restricted from reading certian books. Is the gothic subculture really so closed minded?

My bandwidth is as limited as my income so my selection of music would invoke the 'I would not really consider you gothic' response from Blood_rose.

Okay, this has to be my 75th post on this very same topic so...

!!PAY ATTENTION!!

NO, you do NOT have to listen to only Goth music and have your reading defined by the list of authors as given by Blood Rose, she was giving a very good starting point for people interested in the Goth culture.

Both she and I have noticed the rise of misconceptions about what falls under the Gothic nomer and decided to give a basic list of things that fall under Gothic. She called it 101 afterall.

By and large a lot of the kids now (and seeing as I'm pushing 25 here I can call many of you kids) have the misconception that Hot Topic is the pillar of Gothic Fashion and leader in Gothic music or some shit. Many bands that are as Gothic as my mother's fluffy slippers are being called Gothic (Kittie, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Korn, POD, Slipknot, etc.) which they're not. When called upon the fact that none of these are Gothic I invariably see the answer "but I don't have to only listen to one thing" or a classic "we don't always have to be subjected to Goth music". First off, if you feel you're being "subjected" to Goth music... You are in the Wrong subculture. You do not have to like all goth music, and some bands will appeal to you more than others but there's enough diversity within the genre that something will appeal to you, and even some related genres.

However, I have a hard time taking anyone seriously who claims they're Gothic and who's cd collection consists of mostly mainstream/nu-metal/alternative/rock stuff. You also don't have to have a cd collection of 300 cds either with the collected works of Sisters, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and Nick Cave hogging at least a quarter of your shelf space. Teengoth, I believe you're 15/16? my cd collection consisted of maybe 3 cd's when I was that age because I didn't have the money to buy many. I still don't always have the luxury of buying cd's as money has been tight the past few years, I think I bought no more than 5 in all of 2001 (2 Collide cd's, 1 Cruxshadows EP, a Gossamer cd and a Big Electric Cat cd) and probably the same amount or less the year before. One of those was bought on eBay and the other at a second hand cd store and the others at Amazon.com where they're cheaper than you're local record store so none of these were full price. I've also not always had unlimited and high bandwidth, so I didn't have a massive mp3 collection either, even if you just have the chance to download one or two songs a week you'd be able to get an idea. Many Goths I know are broke as fuck, it just makes them more resourceful, not less Gothic.

What I would like to see is more people actually looking into what Gothic is before trying to slap the label on themselves. And reading the "What is Goth?" section on GOTH.NET should not be the extent of your research. It's also the opinion of PreZ, and while a lot of what he wrote consists of research and things I've found and accumulated over the years, he also mentioned certain things that I personally disagree with. At the bottom of the page it does also say that it's the view of the author and not the insurmountable truth.

Just as you know Gothic isn't devilworshipping and satanism, so should you have more of a clue about what it *is* and where it came from. It's a subculture that started before even I was born and has persevered, with the music being the glue keeping it together, all these years.

Lilith - couple more years til geri-Goth.

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Tue Mar 26, 2002 4:08 pm
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Nessus
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blood_rose wrote:
Some essential songs that every goth should know right off the top of their head:

"Love Like Blood" by Killing Joke

how about reading material?
if you don't like to read or learn, then don't consider yourself a goth, becuase you won't have anything useful to bring into a discussion.

Ooh I LOVE that Killing Joke song, it rules! *plays it*.

Other staple songs that I can think of off the top of my head would most definitely be:

"Ziggy Stardust" by Bauhaus
"Bela Lugosi's Dead" also by Bauhaus
Try avoiding the latter song at a club ;)
"Lucretia My Reflection" by Sisters of Mercy also always a goodie.
"Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division
"Blue Monday" by New Order - New Wave, but classic.
"Juke Joint Jezebel" KMFDM

God I'm in need of a good Goth/80s/newwave/synth night.

Books, the Gothic authors are good... additions I can think of:
Classics:
Edgar Allen Poe
H. P. Lovecraft
Shirley Jackson

Personally I also have a thing for Jane Austen and have read a large part of her body of work. I think William Shakespeare wouldn't go amiss with classic tales of love, death, tragedy, revenge and violence.

Modern:
Storm Constantine (also has a share of more fantasy based work, but a lot of her stuff would qualify as dark fantasy or sometimes horror)
Freda Warrington (same as Storm)
Caitlín R. Kiernan (dark fantasy)
Kim Wilkins

There's so many more, life is blurry at the moment so I can't think of more additions.

Lilith

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Tue Mar 26, 2002 4:38 pm
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Before voicing an opinion i must say I have never said I was a goth.. i was born way too early to be a goth..(born in 1951)
That said, a few weeks ago my 24 year old son brought home a boot leg of a Bauhaus concert.. He said he knew i would like them cause I'm sorta weird that way.. He was right.. the video was crappy but the song was great..Bela Legosi's Dead.. and I had to turn it off cause they (my husband and son) were making fun of it.. So although my parents no longer laugh at my music, i still get lots of grief. I will alway dance to the beat of a different drummer.. a good description of a goth if I ever heard one.

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Tue Mar 26, 2002 5:03 pm
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Phlegethos
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SisterSandy wrote:
I will alway dance to the beat of a different drummer.. a good description of a goth if I ever heard one.

Amen sister, although I think on this board you are preachng to the choir.
So far, everyone here as made some valid points. I had a brief overview of the what is Goth from BR, so I vaguely understand the discussion that has been brewing between various parties. Here is my two cents, albeit under a different topic.
This is a subculture. Which means that we are different from what is mainstream. Mainstream cannot belong to out group because we all dance to a different drummer. When Goths congregate, we notice our drummers sound similar, but they most certainly don't sound like Linkin Park. And while there is nothing wrong with Linkin Park per se, our major gripe is with the herd of teenagers who listen to this and think they are goth, when they aren't. It is even worse when this herd goes out and does stupid things to get attention(as all teenagers are prone to do) and collect attention to the whole scene. We like the shadows, don't drag us into the spotlight because you are attention starved.
This brings me to my next point. I would think alot of the teenygoths who come here you worship LInkin Park and MArilyn MAnson are being teenagers and trying to find themselves. We all did the same thing and acted in similar ways. If, as an older Goth, you read something that irritates you and it is from someone who is OBVIOUSLY undereducated, ignore it. Part of thier deal is getting attention and they will turn to negative means(just like most of us did) to get it. I know the say things that makes you want to THROTTLE them, but don't. For some, it is a phase, others they will find thier place with us, just like we all did. I think there is a reason why so many other boards I have been to seem to shut down from flame wars just when I discover them. They are a waste of time and energy. JUst ignore them and watch thier attempts at negative attention go away.

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Tue Mar 26, 2002 6:38 pm
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Nessus
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DarkHermes wrote:
This brings me to my next point. I would think alot of the teenygoths who come here you worship Linkin Park and Marilyn Manson are being teenagers and trying to find themselves. We all did the same thing and acted in similar ways. If, as an older Goth, you read something that irritates you and it is from someone who is OBVIOUSLY undereducated, ignore it. Part of thier deal is getting attention and they will turn to negative means (just like most of us did) to get it. I know the say things that makes you want to THROTTLE them, but don't. For some, it is a phase, others they will find thier place with us, just like we all did. I think there is a reason why so many other boards I have been to seem to shut down from flame wars just when I discover them. They are a waste of time and energy. Just ignore them and watch thier attempts at negative attention go away.

I can safely say that I never did anything in my teenage years that qualifies as attention grabbing, so the "we all did the same thing and acted in similar ways" is not accurate. If they're trying to get attention by whatever means possible, including negative, they probably should be in another subculture... punk at least sounds more up that alley.

Also, I'd like to point out that I'm not trying to flame the newbies, as Blood Rose no doubt isn't trying to do either. But to sit back and watch misconceptions arise here on the board and see them perpetuated, I'm sorry but I'm not going to sit here and watch it and hope that they'll either find their way or drop out and persue something else as many are want to do eventually. I think I've tried to get my point across in a relatively civil manner, if anyone has objections please let me know and I'll adjust behaviour accordingly. If I was flaming someone, you'd know about it... years of IRC and USENET experience means I can flame, flame well and flame exceedingly viciously if called for. I believe I've steered well clear of that, I've tried at least.

I have no problem with people coming here and finding themselves, I was a lot older than most of the people here when I discovered/started discovering myself due to myriad reasons many of which pertaining to my personal situation. I'm happy for anyone who can find out at an earlier age who they are and what they like as I'm still working on that one. But, I remain a genre purist by heart and wish the genre that I love to remain somewhat true to it's roots. Which doesn't mean that I wish it to stagnate, it can't be the mid 80s forever and I'm well aware of that. Over the years I've seen a lot of excellent bands sprout up within the genre that have the elements that made the old school bands great yet most certainly are something new.

But I won't sit back and have it bastardised (more (Hot Topic has a lot to answer for)) into some marketable form of mass consumer culture.

Lilith - I should fuck off to bed really. Z)

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Wed Mar 27, 2002 12:00 am
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Very well-said everyone. As i've said before in another thread, i like quite a bit of the mainstream bands, but the Gothic music appeals to me more. As Lilith said, most Goths she knows are broke as fuck, as i am and don't have very big of a CD collection. My CD collection is the more mainstream bands, but i have tapes recorded off my friend's computer of Goth bands, i downloaded them there and recorded from there.
Well, i can't say much that aint already been said here so,
'Till then..

Take care & G'Nite,
~Luke
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Fri Mar 29, 2002 12:32 pm
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I'm just not calling myself goth anymore. Hmm..... gotta update website bio then.

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Sun Mar 31, 2002 2:07 pm
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jaxxacid wrote:
I'm just not calling myself goth anymore.

why not?


Sun Mar 31, 2002 2:54 pm
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Nessus
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BlueFreak wrote:
jaxxacid wrote:
I'm just not calling myself goth anymore.

why not?

I think he's explained that on several of the other threads here on the Board.

Lilith

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SarChasm  (n.)
The gap that exists between the sarcastic person's wit, and the recipient who doesn't get it.


Sun Mar 31, 2002 3:25 pm
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yeah,i read the threads already.


Sun Mar 31, 2002 4:09 pm
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Nessus
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jaxxacid wrote:
I'm just not calling myself goth anymore. Hmm..... gotta update website bio then.



ahhh...
my goals are finally being realized. Thank you Jaxx for doing the smart thing and coming to a realization that others can't seem to grasp.

repeat: being "not goth" does not translate into "not cool". If you define yourself by a subculture that you haven't the faintest grasp of, then you are an idiot.

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Sun Mar 31, 2002 9:40 pm
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Grrr...... I am an outcast/punk/nu-metal/vocalist/kid who dresses in black. Say that 5 times fast!

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Mon Apr 01, 2002 2:46 pm
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Nessus
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jaxxacid wrote:
Grrr...... I am an outcast/punk/nu-metal/vocalist/kid who dresses in black. Say that 5 times fast!

Just tell anyone who asks that you're You. Which is true, and the shortest answer possible.

Whether or not other people can pigeonhole you has to be one of the least important things on the planet.

Lilith

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SarChasm  (n.)
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Mon Apr 01, 2002 4:29 pm
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