With my blog posts I want to express controversial view points and get people talking from time to time. This one in particular is part rant, part poking fun at the subculture and also part seriousness.
I am going to tear into something many people love. Many of you will hate me after reading this and think I am a jerk of the highest caliber. But I am writing this and attacking that thing you love for good reason and to prove a point. Yes, it is goth/dark alternative subculture related but it also has mainstream implications.
And that thing I am about to savage mercilessly is...
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS!
I can already hear replies along the lines of "WHAAAAAT?!? How could he do that? The Bastard! Hand in your goth card NOW!"
And you'd be right, I am indeed a bastard. A dickish bastard. But I am a dickish bastard who is going to prove a point. And mitts off my goth card, get your own!
I am not attacking Tim Burton. He does great work even if he does rely a little too much on Johnny Depp. But most of the time it works out so that can be forgiven. Even Dark Shadows - I thought it was a great movie, a topic for another blog post maybe?
I'm not attacking the movie itself either. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a fun move that stands alone as something rather unique. They tried something in a similar style with The Corpse Bride but couldn't quite get lightning in that bottle twice. As far as movies go (and Disney movies at that) its something special.
What I am attacking is...
Or more precisely the over-saturation of merchandise for The Nightmare Before Christmas, most of which bears his stupid grinning mug on it. I hate that face. Whenever I see it I want to facepalm. Hard!
Its bloody everywhere! The sad part is I remember when the movie was released. I was a teenager at the time and apart from the usual movie fanfare and reviews that was about it. If merchandise existed I don't recall it being big.
Cut to the late 90s. Suddenly Nightmare Before Christmas merchandise is everywhere and its gotten even more widespread to this day. I would say in USA Hot Topic may have had a hand in this (or something similar) before it turned into the cliche we know it as today. As for where I live it was more specialized movie merch shops, comic shops and so on before making more mainstream store appearances.
Its been going on and building for almost 20 years to the point where it can be found anywhere. Its great if you are a fan, I'm sure you are loving it. But for someone like me who is so sick of seeing it, I don't share that love.
So by now you are possibly thinking "Why is this crotchety old bastard yelling at all the Jack Skellingtons to get off his lawn?"
Because it represents how homogenized everything is getting and Nightmare Before Christmas' mass merchandising is just a good example of it. Traditionally the goth scene was built on anti-consumerism and steering away from mainstream ways. Exclusivity to any subculture is what makes it special and stand out from the others. But now many things goths like (stuff by Tim Burton, in particular the cutesiest, most marketable thing amongst others) is in mainstream saturation.
Other companies see this working and they want in on those pseudo-spooky dollars too. Enter merchandise for stuff like Hello Kitty (but in black because dark and spooky), Emily The Strange, Ruby Gloom and various other things. Interestingly enough they target this stuff more to girls where boys tend to be targeted more by stuff like band merchandise.
So the pseudo-spooky merchandise machine snowballs and gets bigger. In theory it could be good and more kids interested in dark alternative subculture in general. But it doesn't necessarily work that way.
So kids buy that stuff and start thinking one of the following :
#1 : "I like the thing goths like. I might be goth. I should look into this" then proceeds to look into the subculture and dabble in it. The natural progression many people have from a gateway into the subculture.
#2 : "I like the thing goths like. I must be goth too! Lets go buy some Marilyn Manson CDs (or download/watch YouTube/whatever kids do with music these days) and call whatever I'm wearing right now goth!" then proceeds to annoy every goth they meet and get upset when they are told they have it all wrong.
Unfortunately kids are an excitable lot and often opt for #2. Welcome to the birth of Nu-Goth, Pastel-Goth, Hipster-Goth, Tumblr-Goth and so on. But it can all be grouped together under the name of the "Everything is goth-goth".
This is a big problem. If everything is goth than nothing is goth. A subculture can't exist without an identity of what it is and who is involved.
Its a scary time for an old bastard like me because I have seen what it was when I was new and the changes that are coming in. I'm sure the older goths thought the same thing about my ridiculous notions about the subculture when I was new too.
Change is inevitable. At some point these kids will be leading the way and it will be from a different perspective. But will it be from a watered-down, everything is goth, mainstream forced perspective or that of people who have entered into, grown within and later evolved from within the goth/dark alternative subculture?
Maybe in the future, goth will become the Cult Of Skellington and I'll be heard spinning in my grave...
-Aytakk has been active in the goth scene since the mid 90s both online and in real life. He firmly believes in the old line "if you don't get the joke, you are the joke". As well as this he produces music for a couple of music projects: Corpulence On The Catwalk (goth/darkwave/coldwave) and Hypnophile (aggrotech/power noise). He is also a club DJ and nemesis of DJ Jelly.