This started as a response to part of Cemetery Confession Podcast #19 but as I started typing it grew longer and longer. I also felt writing this article would allow me to tie in something else I wanted to cover that is related later. As for the title I feel the Suspiria song suits well.
So on episode 19, they discuss an article which talks about social media's effects on the Goth subculture. In the article the writer is focusing a lot of the physical aesthetics from a pure social media standpoint. But I think you need to dive a little deeper than that as it barely scratches the surface. Or maybe just into areas I know about from my online experience with social media.
From a perspective of Goths who attend events and social gatherings, you will get a lot of humblebrags (I do it too - we all do) posting photos of the event, mostly of ourselves at the event.
(A recent selfie from an event. Yep thats me. I'm as vain as the rest of you.)
So many dreaded #selfies! Before (to capture your look at its best), during (zomg we're having so much fun. sucks to be you not being here), after - patting everyone on the back and thanking organizers (or people who turned up if you are an organizer) and then late photos from official and other photographers where you hope they deemed you worthy to put your mug online.
It’s more about being seen and creating this online goth social media persona that is focused on all the positives you want to show and hide the negatives - unless you are like me and want the tragic stuff out there because you can laugh at yourself. Generally it is all taken oh so seriously to the point of absurdity. But hey - isn't absurdity and drama what goth is all about?
The worst part is we all do it, we see others do it and we continually up the ante.
But that doesn't mean the core values in goth need to be compromised. However with all the focus on the aesthetics and appearances, core values of goth are certainly shoved into the background.
Some people will focus on the music and other aspects too. But most are just there to party, social climb and show themselves off. I think a lot of this also ties into the abundance of videos that cover makeup, fashion (store/internet-bought as well as DIY) and the more recently trendy unboxing/showing off what I bought today stuff.
*YAWN!* (Yeah I'm not a fan of those sorts of videos)
It’s like these material objects become your personality. Maybe this is what people mean by a "gothic lifestyle"?
But it’s not all happiness and starshine. There is also a dark, nasty side to it. This is the idea I was going to originally cover as it includes events that happened to me. The funny part is it happened when social media wasn't as prevalent. I would hate to see what would happen if it were to occur now.
The next part was rather hard for me to write as reviewing it opened up a lot of old wounds. But here it is as a cautionary tale for all.
Let’s cut all the way back to 2008. Myspace was king, Facebook hadn't taken off and most goths did things via online forums, maybe vampirefreaks too if you felt frisky. So communities in general are rather closed off from each other. Hell I used to hang around on IMVU too.
I was a member of an international goth forum called "The Garden of Unearthly Delights" and members used to often post links to videos on youtube that were rather tragic. People claiming to be goths who clearly weren't, terrible makeup tutorials, how to put cyberlox in your dreadfalls - stuff like that. So I said "Someone needs to make a video that actually talks about what goth is really about". People agreed so I got to work. My camera sucked, my microphone was cheap and nasty but I made this hoping the message would carry through over how crap it all looked and sounded:
Have a look at the comments. The negative ones all came from my fellow Australian "Goths". I know this because after I made the video I posted links on the local Adelaide goth forum as well as ones for Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. They had similar discussions in the past (what forum doesn't do a "What is Goth" thread?) so I didn't expect to get so much bile in return. Yet overall the worldwide community tended to agree with me while they were accusing me of representing Australia badly. Go figure.
But it didn't end there. Someone decided they had to take it further, to completely humiliate me. A few days after (and for a few months after) people would message me saying they saw a pic of me posted at a couple of places online. Places designed to humiliate goths.
The first is Ungoth (The Goth Hating Goths) on livejournal. Here people posts threads of photos of people they feel are doing it wrong : http://ungoth.livejournal.com/362926.html
Looks like the pics no longer work. But you can get some idea of what was shown by the comments.
The second is Uncyclopedia Drammatica's Goth page. There is a photo from a night I was.. let’s say experimenting with a new look : https://encyclopediadramatica.se/Goth
At first I was furious. Hell who wouldn't be? I even tried to get the pic taken down from drammatica, basically to have them laugh in my face. Though there apparently were 2 photos of me there, the other with someone else, and that person somehow got them to take that one down.
Not a fun experience especially when people I know keep seeing it (and reminding me thinking I didn't know - I knew but couldn't do a damn thing about it) when it originated from a random troll who really had no idea who I was. I was just another random joke to be passed around because of course the internet isn't real and people on the internet don't have feelings.
Then I thought about it some more and realized something. I only feel humiliated because of how they did this to me and they remained faceless and nameless in doing so. These people mean nothing to me. Besides I did have the photos out there on my myspace page. So screw it - I'm taking it back!
I stopped trying to get the photo at drammatica taken down. I went to Ungoth and posted a new thread with more questionable photos of me: http://ungoth.livejournal.com/388333.html
This is the intro to the post for those too lazy to go to the link :
"A few people may remember an entry posted back in September 2008 - http://community.livejournal.com/ungoth/362926.html
That was me!
Here's some more fuel for the fire. If you think those ones were bad, these are even more recent!"
What can they say in the comments? They can't touch me! Especially after I posted this :
How many of them took up my challenge and posted pics of themselves? None of them.
I then went on to share links to everything saying "Hey everyone - I'm famous!" and people loved it. When I entered Mr Alternative I shared the links again as proof of my credentials. I find the idea of sponsored Mr And Miss Alternative Australia contests ludicrous and against everything alternative culture stands for. I'm glad there were only ever two. So in an event I was clearly trolling (with supporters who backed me because I was trolling) I finished third in the local heat and even won a prize. Walking out singing and doing the numa numa dance paid off in more than just lulz.
(Think this but dressed as TrollDad wearing a skirt, fishnets and docs - I couldn't find sock garters)
A little while later someone tried the same thing with a pic of me on Facebook. Not only did I like the pic and laugh but a bunch of people who knew me jumped in and told them to leave me alone. The pic was taken down out of shame by the poster.
When you put yourself out there people will come to knock you down. They do it for many reasons - spite, envy, anger, because they can, because it’s easier to destroy than to create. Few will be constructive in their criticisms.
My advice to anyone who get’s treated the same way is to have a laugh and own it. People can and will be jerks on the internet. A few disagreements and being put in your place in small areas is fine but some people will take it too far.
So where are my detractors now? I am the one people listen to, I DJ online and at live events. My fashion sense is still tragic but I don't care. Goth is way more than appearances. I'm still here, where are you?
But sadly my days of youtube videos like that are over in spite of some people wanting me to do more. I considered doing a follow up to the video 5 years after, then 6 years after. It’s now about 7 years after and while it has crossed my mind I'm all too wary of what might happen. I have been burned and yes, I have been scared off. I have a decent camera now too so I could easily do it.
But I also have a face for radio so DJing and DJ Jelly's Ultimate Awesome Musical Hour Of Super Epic Fun Timez work better for me. It’s not like my videos ever get popular anyway. If I started making makeup tips videos and "ZOMG! Look what I bought!" videos no one would watch them because I'm a fat thirty-something guy with goth fashion stuck mostly in the 90s (and not even the good 90s).
Unless I make more stuff like this :
-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.