The Guide To Goth. Part 2: Subculture

The follow up to the Guide To Goth Music, this goes into depth about the subculture.

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Hello again, hopefully you will have read the article entitled The Guide To Goth Music, well people complained that there was nothing about subculture, so today we (Me and Erling) will do our best to explain the basis of the culture, what it is to be a Goth and related things, obviously, we cannot speak for everybody and there will always be differences so just keep that in mind. We decided that it would be simplest to present a good portion of this article in the FAQ format, so if you wish ask your own questions feel free to do so. Oh, anyone who wishes to pose "G0thFs su*ckkk" read the article first, and/or keep quiet. Lets begin.

History

The Goth style has evolved from being a 80`s phenomenon to becoming a way of life for many. Unlike Punk culture, where a lot of Goth comes from, there is a much bigger age difference: a lot of Goths are people between 14-40 years. The Punk origin was focused on individuality and acceptance, this is something the Goth culture never have left, being Goth is not about being or not being accepted, and unlike Punk, which always was about acceptance.

FAQ

  • Do I have to wear just black to be a Goth? No, if black don't suits your skin you shouldn't wear it. Although it is a rather popular colour, it's usually used with red, purple and blue, or vice versa.
  • Do I have to smoke or take drugs to be Goth? The answer is of course no, unlike the "New Romantics" that used a lot of drugs in the 80`s, the modern Goth style has a lot less drug abuse. Goths don't smoke anymore than anybody else does, it is a dead comparison.
  • Do you have to be involved involved in sadomasochistic sex to be a Goth? One could ask himself exactly where people get it from that Goths are into sadomasochistic sex by default. Obviously there are Goths who are very much into and involved in S&M, but the majority are not. The porn industry is the one to blame for the concept of all Goths being S&M freaks, do a Google search on "Goth Sex" and see how many hits you get, yeah, thought so.
  • Can I listen to Rap & Trance and still be a Goth? Indeed you can, but if you're mainly into those genres, Chances are you don't want to be a Goth anyway. When you are in a subculture that's 99% based upon a musical genre, you should really listen to at least one major Goth band, and I'm not talking about "Cradle Of Filth" here, I'm talking about The Cure, Bauhaus or Sisters Of Mercy, ect, See our last column for the musical side of things here.
  • Are all Goths depressed? No, but I don't blame people for thinking so. Many people act that way to fit in to the subculture because that's how they think we are.
  • Are all Goths Satanists? Goths are hardly ever Satanists and are usually Atheist or some way involved with the Occult. Scribbling 666 everywhere is not Satanism anyway, and is often a trait used by "Mall Goths" who know nothing about Satanism itself.
  • I have heard expressions like "Mall Goth", "Poser Goth" and "Wannabe Goth" what are they? A "Mall Goth" is a wannabe, a fake, a fraud. If you buy all your baggy clothes at Hot Topic and consider these bands to be Goth you just might be a "Mall Goth". Korn Slipknot Good Charlotte Linkin Park Mudvayne Marylin Manson
  • What are some Goth jobs? One could think that maybe DJ, Artist, or Musician are really Goth jobs but no, the truth is that most Goths have just as boring jobs as the rest of us, Office Worker, Cashier, Postman ect..
  • But Goths are ment to be so creative? Most Goths are very creative but that doesn't mean we can make a living on it. Like everyone else we have ambition, no one gets to the top by definition.
  • Why do people become Goths, because the society won't accept them? That's not the case for most of us, but yes that's supposedly the reason for some. Since Goth is a music based subculture most of us have been introduced to Goth because of Goth bands or other dark/heavy bands.
  • Is Mr. Manson a Goth? It depends; his make up does not make him a Goth, if he is a Goth offstage and in his own time it's entirely up to him.
  • Goths looks like freaks, are they doing this to get attention? Now we are back on the "Mall Goth" character again, many "Mall Goths" dress the way they do to get attention but if you are a real Goth, you dress the way you do because you enjoy it yourself, if we wanted attention we could have worn big floppy shoes and rainbow wigs. Article copyright of Alix D. and Erling.
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    175 comments sorted by best / new / date

      GrandeGordo?
      This is pretty gay... "Oh I hate labels and I *** the system!" Yet you label yourself as a goth... Being goth is nothing more than being a big ***ing pussy and wearing faggoty trenchcoats with black fingernail polish.
      erling
      why do you wanna know mallgoths ? ..just talk to them,they will probably call you something bad. because they are mallgoths.
      The Precious
      I just wish everyone could dress the way they like listen to what pleases them and enjoy what they enjoy, and not try to classify themselves. I love music. All types in fact. Mostly rooted in rock. But who needs genres...?
      r_lightning
      there is a lot of questions here you haven't answered.. and the cure aren't goth btw. they said so
      decent article. nice, to the point
      though
      veriette
      everyone is so strongly opinionated on this...fun =)i have to say... i've neevr heard the term 'Mall goth'.. oh well. I know a few 'goth's' and they aint depressed and sad all the time...they are the funniest people i know! but yeah it was a pretty pointless article lol =/
      Antichrist_Teen
      Does shopping at Hot Topic and listening to Manson make you a poser? If so I suppose I'm a poser, though I don't consider myself gothic. I just do what I want. Screw labels. The only music I really listen to is Manson, My Chemical Romance and The Used(and some older Green Day). I buy my clothes at Hot Topic because they happen to sell clothes that, I guess, fit my style. T-shirts with witty remarks are always fun. Hell, if they sold those clothes at Claires I'd buy them. Once again, screw labels.
      Powertrip
      it's sad today how people find it "cool" to dress up like Marilyn or Valo...everyoe says "oh its not cause I think it's cool, it's because the clothes fit etc"...thats obviously total bullshit...people want to be noticed...they WANT to be shun from society.....good job as for the gothic rock/metal/trance whatever you'd like to call it...i agree with most of the list from the first part...but you have also left out a large group such as Dress'd in black, blue kremlin, mega vega, wasted doom, girls under glass, moloko, holy orange, T.H.E., new trial..... etc...
      Muddy_Banks
      THIS WHOLE BULL SHIT NOWDAYS ABOUT STEREOTYPES REMINDS ME OF REDNECK JOCKS ON BLUE COLLAR TV STOP trying to be a sopeksman if you listen to this type of music or that, if you do this you're that. and YOU clearly stated THAT YOU ARE A GOTH now how goth is that???..
      birdman
      I agree 100% grandegordo . . . its fine if you are goth but your just a pussy ******* who thinks they are all self rightous because they dont by in to "the man" or mainstream culture. Well guess what . . they are just losers WHO SUCK AT LIFE so they band together with all the other losers and give themselves a label
      ohdarn323
      the reason this article sucks bullocks is because it's about trying to label an image. who the hell cares about the title "goth", or if somebody "is" or "isn't".
      TheKarr12
      I challenge any gothic out there to send me the universal definition of a gothic. I've been to some of the biggest gothic web sites on the internet and none of them have a consistent, universal or even coherent definition of what a "gothic" is. As far as I'm concerned, it's just a label. End of story. Just another group of people starving for attention. There's nothing unique, interesting, mysterious or inherently intellectual about these pseudo-intellectuals. What's the point? Why don't these people get their own opinions and stop trying to fit into the rules of a group they didn't invent. Uncreative, un-innovative and most of all uninteresting. The whole "tortured artist" facade is tired. I'd like to use a quote from one of the authors of gothics.org, on the definition of gothics: "But what does gothic mean in regards to the group of people? Here's where it gets confusing. There are things that many Gothics like that are not gothic (Industrial or Classical music). There are things that are gothic that many Gothics dislike (vampires, interest in death). There are things that some people think are gothic that are not gothic (bands like Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails), and there are things that do not call themselves gothic even if they are considered gothic by most people (bands like Sisters of Mercy and Dead Can Dance). However, there's no Grand Gothic Judge to decree what is truly Goth and what is not, although there are plenty of people who claim to be it. It's an ambiguous label with many people using it that don't understand what it means. The people who do understand it often have many different definitions." Highlighted in red, the author states that it's just a label. The use of the word "ambiguous" in front of "label" serves as a buffer that doesn't change the fact that it is indeed just a label. As stated, there is no "gothic judge to decree what is truly Goth and what is not," implying that there is no universal definition. How trivial and boring. I received an email from a gothic a long time ago that stated: I bet you don't even know any Goths because if you did you would know that most of us are the most intelligent, unique, intresting and creative poeople you will ever met. Many goths seem to adhere to this mentality. That they are some how MORE unique and intelligent than the rest of us. Not only is this insulting, but blatantly false; testimony to this fact being all the poorly written email I receive from "goths." Ironically, since most goths (and by "goths," I refer to their "culture" or "subculture" as they've defined it) seem to think that they are somehow more intelligent, interesting and/or creative than the rest of us, this alludes to another character trait entirely, or namely, arrogance. Boring, arrogant, uninteresting, un-innovative gothics. I believe this issue has been exhausted.
      Antichrist_Teen
      I agree with TheKarr12 on most points, and I don't really feel like arguing with the points I don't agree with.
      dumazz
      sorry about what we posted before i know some gothic people and they all are what u call..mall goths?...i really wanna get to know them but they keep to themselves tell me how to talk to them...i am kinda a prep
      suicideangel_2
      I totaly agree with erling everyone is the ***ing same and also this article was SHIT you don't know the first thing about goths. you are probebly a big poser
      Rasonastos
      Personally, I agree with more than half of the article, that's just me, but...listening to certain bands and wearing certain clothes doesn't necessarily constitute one as a 'mall goth' (except for Good Charlotte, seriously wtf lol j/k ^_^). I know the author didn't say that this is always the case though either. I do like the column and that is why I'd like to contribute my own thoughts. Basically i think the culture will always continue to evolve the same way the music does, and will probably be looked upon with disdain with the preceeding generations. The bands you mention I don't consider goth either, but that's not saying they dont have goth members and can't have visible influneces which some people enjoy and pick up on that are legitimate goths. Then again, i hope that those bands weren't mentioned only because they are popular and well known..aka..mainstream, which by definition has no descriptive meaning of the music itself, but one rather of distribution of the music. It doesn't mean they are sellouts or they dont write their own work or what have you. Being goth to me is more along the lines of a learning experience in humanity and the way way people of similar tastes can have differences and learn to coexist with out elitism while learning and pondering new ideas. In a non-establishment subculture, hot topic has given the scene a bad name, but they aren't making anything different in clothing styles that german companies weren't doing before hottopic was even opened. The difference is that if you DO like bondage pants, most people would rather spend $55.00 that 55 GBP our EUR. We can't all afford to get the nice side stitched/pvc/whatever Black Rose clothes, so, I guess my point is that if one is going to list red flags about who may be legitimate or who is a poser, rely less on their style of music and clothing and more on what comes out of their mouth.
      kabukimono
      Decent article. Could have given a little more. Lots of these commenters were morons though. They didn't realize that you said "if you think these bands are goth you might be a poser" or whatever. If you THINK they are GOTH. Okay yeah. Liking the music isn't what makes one a Goth. Goth is feeling the pain of the world and understanding it. Not just your own pain. And original Goth is the Visigoths. And then the architecture and all that jazz. Yeah. Work on things besides the music and then you could have a really good article.
      Kappa
      A really good article. I'm no Goth, though I listen to Tristania, but I know many of these Mall Goths, and they piss me off. This article is great to learn more about Goths and that they don't have to wear black. Part 3?
      sweet_leaf_777
      Jpinales2004, the reason 666 is used is because of a passage in the book of Revelations to do with judgment at the end of the world and if my memory serves me correctly those that have it tattooed on them are condemned as it is the number of a giant worm who is slain and? I dunno it?s weird anyway, it sounds like it was written on acid lol and btw in some translations from the Greek it is written as 616. I also find that people who society would generally see as gothic tend to say that "they want to be individual", which always amuses me because they do this by dressing and acting the same way as everybody else, and in the way that you can be a "Goth" whilst still listening to techno, you can also be this and listen to Marilyn Manson but so elitists just have to put people down because they are insecure in themselves and can raise their self esteem by being more "Goth" than someone else, as I would imagine most people trying to be "Goth" here are. (Just look at the amount of times the word "one" is used here compared to most replies to articles lol). The main reason the Cure are associated with the scene is because they are popular with people who claim to be ?Goths? and because the music often had a drone in it, which was really an oblique counterpoint, but this is reminiscent of church music and it all can be seen as sounding ?gothic?. At the end of the day, it is just a media term and doesn?t really mean much anyway. Why do we need to classify people? We were all unique the last time I checked.
      beaker
      haha what the ***!!!! i actually had an art history lesson at uni the other week and i learnt about the baroq, new romantic, goth periods and the suprising thing is...the amount of goths that like to call themselves gothic yet dont even know nothing about the gothic period!!! gothic doesnt even mean to dress black, wear eyelinder and that bullshit, its more a term to describe a pointy style of religious architechture...the goth you senseless people only seem to know about is actually gothik, with a K, so get your facts right you un-cultured goth twats!!
      bearded_rainbow
      I can only think of one appropriate response for this article: who cares? beaker: goth could be an abbreviation for gothic or gothik. How many times have you seen one of these people write the word out? How do you know that they aren't using it as an abbreviation for gothik? You don't, and the fact is, it doesn't matter, so shut up. No one cares about your art history lesson, and the fact that you had one doesn't suddenly make you cultured.
      Demon_acecat
      Wow. Whoever wrote this article is such a poser. You mentioned that how you dress and what you believe doesn't make you goth, but listening to certain bands automatically makes you a "mall goth"? The only interesting part about this article is that it shows how little some people know about being goth, and how shallow the writer obviously is. P.S.- KoRn Rocks. Fuck off, you.
      Baselerd
      Goths arent exactly this open minded, bad article. How can there be such thing as a non-poser goth? If you were really open minded and didnt give a shit, you wouldnt fall into a little close nit cliche of people who want attention.
      Baselerd
      oh yeah, and if goth isnt about acceptance, whats to stop me from calling myself a goth (other than my dignity)? Goth culture is based on hypocrisy, and if you dont consider yourself a hypocrite, you arent a goth. Its not based on music, but to be a goth u have to listen to their goth bands; they're all conformists pitted against conformists.
      Rasonastos
      "If you were really open minded and didnt give a shit, you wouldnt fall into a little close nit cliche of people who want attention." Despite the already pessimistic tone of your posting, i dont suspect any true middle ground can be reached, but it wasn't the 'goths' or 'freaks' or whatever terms you personally find to your liking that gave themselves such a name in the first place. No more than minorities gave themselves their own racial slurs, which originally, in the 'goth' term, wasn't much different in it's conception.
      RockNRollGuy420
      there are too many mallgoths where i live HAHA but theyre all in Junior high NOT high school(theres still some) but youre right they dont know what it means to NOT be a poser.
      ScreamingGibson
      Well it was a good article. I really dont consider myself a mall goth but i listen to Korn , slipknot , MM , Kittie and so forth. I dress in black cuz it fits my personality of being dark and rejected. Most of my friends are satanist atheist as myself. When noone can accept you for who you are you tend to get depressed. Most goths are talented in areas of poetry such as myself. Poetry is a way that can speak of your feelings and the way life is seen through somones eyes. But this is an overly good article jsut wanted to shed my word on it. Laterz
      Jpinales2004
      sweet_leaf_777: Jpinales2004, the reason 666 is used is because of a passage in the book of Revelations to do with judgment at the end of the world and if my memory serves me correctly those that have it tattooed on them are condemned as it is the number of a giant worm who is slain and? I dunno it?s weird anyway, it sounds like it was written on acid lol and btw in some translations from the Greek it is written as 616. I also find that people who society would generally see as gothic tend to say that "they want to be individual", which always amuses me because they do this by dressing and acting the same way as everybody else, and in the way that you can be a "Goth" whilst still listening to techno, you can also be this and listen to Marilyn Manson but so elitists just have to put people down because they are insecure in themselves and can raise their self esteem by being more "Goth" than someone else, as I would imagine most people trying to be "Goth" here are. (Just look at the amount of times the word "one" is used here compared to most replies to articles lol). The main reason the Cure are associated with the scene is because they are popular with people who claim to be ?Goths? and because the music often had a drone in it, which was really an oblique counterpoint, but this is reminiscent of church music and it all can be seen as sounding ?gothic?. At the end of the day, it is just a media term and doesn?t really mean much anyway. Why do we need to classify people? We were all unique the last time I checked.
      I agree. By the way, thanks for the info. I appreciate it.
      NirvanaChild
      I Agree With Sweet Leaf, But I Have A Question. Nine Inch Nails Is One Of My Favorite Bands Ever And I Wanted To Know If You Guys Considered Them To Be "Goth". Trent Reznor, Who Has Rarely Been Seen Wearing Anything But Plain Black, Basically Made Marilyn Manson And Had A Large Influence On "Goth" Rock In The Early 90s, Both Commercial And Alternative. If There Are NIN Fans Out There, Let me Know What You Think.
      sinbad-d-sailor
      hey, i just wanted to say that in the uk we get bloody tonnes of goth wannabes, im not a goth myself, im more of a bunghole... but here we get guys who will follow anything, especially if their parents hate it.. i thought the article was pretty cool. Joe Turner says: "shake baby shake, roll baby roll"
      erling
      The karr12 Goth is based on a genre of music Goth is a fashion,to think that wearing just black clothes is goth is wrong Goth is a type of humor ,often more morbid then other types Goth is a type of art Goth is a way of life ...for some people. Goth is litterature Goth is a chance to be different ...for some people Goth is love Goth is a protest against the society ...for some so how do I live like a goth? the goth way of life all those things combined,art,litterature,music,fashion,writing gothic poems,going to clubs,taking midnight walks,painting gothic objects,reading gothic books,waching gothic films...everything that is combined with dark and romantic things,because goth is romanticizing darkness,death,vampires....just like painters did in the 1800`s with other objects. No person in the world have all the correct answers of what goth is,and thats what I like about it...goth is alot of things so many people can be goth. dont let anyone fool you into to beliving that Goths are more intelligent or intellectual then "normal" people,but my experience of the subculture is that most goths are deeper then most people,but I might be wrong.. So to FIT INTO the goth scene ,all you have to do is to wear black clothes,like some dark films and listen to some dark music,but thats not necessary what goth is . since goth is based on 80`s goth/death rock/ punk bands ,I think that a "true " goth should at least have knowledge of some of the really important bands..like Bauhaus or the sisters of mercy,but hey thats just me. what makes goth different from other labels is that goth means something good for us,not like many other labes...unless you get called a goth and hate everything to do with the goth subculture. Most people that dont like goths is people who have probably never met a real goth,we are humans too. We cry,we bleed,we laugh,we go to the toilet,we get sick,we love,we hate,we fall in love,we feel hurt sometimes...we think the same things that you do,unless its about art,music,clothes and humor etc,but then again...I love shows like seinfeldt,simpsons,everybody loves raymond..... I dont feel different within myself since I started to see myself as a goth,I have just taken an interest in other things then i used to. sorry about my poor english
      Needled_24/7
      The_Eddster: What is sadomasochistic sex?
      maybe you should have that little talk with your parents. lol. just kidding. good article. i like the sense of truth in it. because not all goths are depressed, theyre just normal people doing what they do. im just a normal guy doing what i do, but im not labeled because i dont fall into any categories (some people think thats wierd but its true). but good article. alot of truth.
      Cryth
      GOTHIC IS NOT A MUSIC BASED SUBCULTURE!!! the gothic music style originated after the gothic subculture was formed, and it doesn't matter what kind of music you listen to, although most goths listen to gothic music,
      remixedEmotions
      i sincerly think that wannabe goths are very very stupid and that true goth lack a brain with which they could think just geeks and pervs that have been outcasted by the sociaty and they want to be something thats it ..instead of trying to be better ppl they just choose to be sick demented nobodies
      mesmeric
      Wow. The flaming is making my eyes burn.... gah... So.. Where to start.... wow. Are all goths satanists? Heck no. I myself am a Christian, and yet am a goth. Need help understanding? www.christiangoth.com all is expleained there. Second. All these stupid stereotypes. If you listen to this music you are etc... I listen to the bauhaus, som, Christian death and such. I also listen to classical, industrial, trance.. and *dare I say it* emo and screamo music. Am i emo now because i listen to the last two genres? haha no. I just like scream-emo music. So? I happen to like darkwave, blackmetal, and thrashmetal. I also like punk. (not sum 41 punk... *shudder* I like Social D, the ramones, Quiet Riot, and minor threat. So now am I not goth? Heck no. I listen to mainly goth, but as a musician I listen and like other music. gtg.
      mesmeric
      eh... the second half of my post never made it... My computer froze.. I'll write it out later. Good guide btw. I liked it.