So yeah, Gothquisition 2 happened. If you haven't listened to it yet you may want to as this article is all about my side of it.
See you in 3-ish hours...
You're back? Great. Was it fun? Perhaps you are in shock. Maybe you are questioning everything you believed to be true about the goth subculture. Maybe you are mad we slaughtered your favorite sacred cow. Probably you want to lynch me. I don't blame you.
For the people who pulled a TL;DL (too long; didn't listen), I will go into the big point of controversy that I am already seeing ripples from only a day after the podcast went online.
Long story short, to quote the show notes we had a section like this :
Most Influential Goth Band:
I’ve asked each of you to bring either a formal (pre-written) or informal (generally conceptualized) argument for what band or musician should be considered THE seminal goth artist. This can be either based on their impact to goth as a whole, or just you personally. Each of you can make your argument, and debate certain points. The winner will get an album or book of their choice purchased by me, plus internet fame of course.
The show structure will be this, I will select a random order for each to give their argument, and after each person speaks, anyone who wants to interject a counter point or a question can do so.
I considered doing this seriously. My original choices were between Siouxsie and Sisters Of Mercy. But I saw a loophole and I decided to have some fun with it. Namely I focused on the "based on their impact to goth as a whole " part.
Yes, its bending the rules. But I did run who I planned to advocate for past The Count ahead of time just to make sure it was ok. He thought it was an interesting idea and would certainly be entertaining.
You said it Colon Dwarf!
This is the argument I had in my notes (that I read out more or less word for word) on the show :
Its easy to look at an artist who has a massive body of work and see their influence on the goth subculture who has been there from the very beginning. We all know the big obvious names who everyone always gives accolades to. This is not one of those people. I'm not going that route for this. I'm arguing my point based on their impact on goth as a whole. More for the subculture than the overall music library.
Everyone always bangs on about the artists who started it all or were there near the beginning. Granted, these people are all influential and important. But maybe they are not as important as they used to be. The goth subculture has changed a lot over the years and as the times change we have to change with them. Old icons fall and new ones rise to replace them. My choice for most influential is not on the musical side, but it is certainly on the influential side for the goth subculture as a whole and not always in a good way.
The artist I am referring to is Marilyn Manson. You may have some time for jeers and cursing now.
Finished? Allow me to elaborate. Since the mid 90s Manson has had a major impact on the goth subculture. For many people he is their first exposure to dark alternative even if his music is mislabelled as "goth" by the media. The man himself might be a goth but thats an argument for another time. If people can argue the case of artists like David Bowie (who is not goth) then Marilyn Manson's case is just as valid.
The amount of new blood brought into the goth subculture through Marilyn Manson is massive. And its been going on for at least 20 years. That alone places him high on the influence hierarchy. But there is more.
While Manson's music is not goth, it does see a lot of play in "goth" clubs across the world. While you will never hear his stuff at a purist goth night, these nights are a lot rarer than they used to be. If you want a sure fire dancefloor filler, throw on The Beautiful People. Thats on the rare chance Manson hasn't been requested beforehand, most of the time it will be. Multiple times.
Manson has also had a lot of influence on music in and around the goth subculture. I have noticed a few bands take a bit of a Manson-esque turn in their music (EG Combichrist) and other bands who were clearly influenced by him (EG Orgy andJesus on Exstacy).
Manson also bring controversy and that brings exposure. And I'm not talking controversy like Peter Murphy being arrested for drugs. Take Columbine and Michael Moore's documentary for example. It was controversial that the shooters were Manson fans but when they interviewed him he spoke beautifully. Like it or not we were represented well by him.
The biggest influence is how Marilyn Manson brings people from the goth subculture, alternative culture and the mainstream together. He is out there and freaky. He shows that it is ok to be different. This is something a lot of younger people need as it assists in validating their identity and development. As I said before, for many people he is the first exposure they get. He may be a phase for some but I know some Manson fans who are just as die hard in their 30s and 40s. Not everyone who gets into the goth subculture through Manson will become goth but they still participate and experience it. More people is always a good thing for the subculture's survival. In fact the fringe attendees often mean an event's survival.
For young people today, Marilyn Manson is much more influential thanthan the old icons will ever be because he is accessible, he is well known and his music resonates with how they feel. He is the most important gateway to the goth subculture there has ever been.
We already have lots of goth music but we have very few people who are ambassadors for the subculture that the mainstream will give exposure to. Especially relevant and current artists who aren't touring to cash in on past glory where the only reason why you know they are coming is you know the right people. Manson comes to town and everybody knows.
To be technical, we are talking about influences. There is no specification that they have to be a good influence. In many ways Manson has been a terrible influence but that is why he is important. All goths have a mansonite story they like to bitch about. Goths love to bitch and it gives them a deserving target. No one else inspires the same level of ire like Marilyn Manson himself or having someone assume you must be a Manson fan or having to deal with a rabid Manson fan who thinks it makes them goth. Goth as we currently know it would be very different without this element to focus frustrations upon.
To be fair I'm not that big a Marilyn Manson fan. You don't have to like an icon to see their influence. I am not arguing this case from a star struck fan perspective, its from a perspective of a long time participant in the goth subculture and dark alternative subculture in general. I'm out there on the front lines at events and various places on the internet where goths gather. I see what people say, do and wear. His influence is undeniable and will only continue to grow.
They serve it up in dives in Ibiza
In case you just pulled a TL;DR (too long; didn't read), I shall highlight some key points that seem to have some people a tad confused.
1 - I am not saying Marilyn Manson's music is goth. But it is a gateway to the goth subculture.
2 - Whether Marilyn Manson - the man - is goth, that's up for debate. Some say he could be, others say no. Personally I don't think he is though he is certainly alternative.
3 - Mixed genre events (that often have a reputation for being goth whether true or not) are a real thing. Manson does get played at events like this.
4 - Manson does not get played at proper (or purist) goth nights and I never said it did. Why - it's not goth (or related) music.
5 - My entire argument was not based on Manson's music. It was based on his effect on the goth subculture as a whole. In that I include any event that plays actual goth music alongside non-goth music as part of this. Because those events are part of the goth subculture. Not every town/place has the numbers to run purist goth events.
6 - Negative impact is still an impact. Manson's influence is big and a lot changed because of it.
You can't see the toppings for the cheese
You can't smell your extra anchovies
After that it got into a heated debate that was pretty much Manson vs Bowie. I want to make it clear that I personally don't think Manson's influence is greater than Bowie's influence. Neither of them are goth but in the debate that didn't matter. In the debate I had my side so I had to stick with it to the end.
I am going to openly admit that I was floundering just before Zakkarii jumped in and talked about how Marilyn Manson was her gateway into goth. Thank you so much Zakkarii! It proved my point and suddenly I didn't feel so overwhelmed up against the rest of the Gothquisition. Not that I blame them, its all part of the game. My argument was based on bending the rules, personal observations and a nice helping of stubbornness. I'd say there is some bullshit in there too but the more I read it, the more it makes sense from a logical, observational point of view. My argument was still an affront to goth and what its all about and they were right to attack it vigorously.
So no. I am not your validation that Marilyn Manson is goth. I am not the newly proclaimed king of the Mansonites.
Though I have to admit, when I was researching and writing my long-winded spiel, I almost convinced myself that I could be right. Technically, by the rules I chose to play by, I am. After all, how can someone debate for something well unless they believe in their side?
The toaster is my bullshit argument
Lets talk about the news pieces we had a go at this time. Unlike last year, they were people who have some reputation in the goth subculture. Two published authors no less. Yeah, we are very mean but that's the point. The whole idea of The Gothquisition is to be overly arrogant, overly elitist and overly angry. So if Liisa or Jillian are one of your favourite people and you feel the need to lash out because we dared to knock them down a peg or two, feel free. We expect backlash from this. In fact, hate mail is encouraged!
To be fair I copped it a little too. I won the debate because I need Andi's book to educate me then I finished last in the goth points game which proved their point. Am I mad? No way! I'm having too much fun with it.
Allow me to tell you about all the fucks I do not give
It does make me wonder if all the non-goth stuff I have been doing over the last couple of years is corrupting me, possibly to the point where I can't call myself goth anymore. But the thing is I don't call myself goth most of the time. I have diverse tastes and part of those tastes include goth music and the goth subculture.
In the end, goth is just a word anyway. But why do I get so worked up if its applied incorrectly? That could be why I was asked to be part of The Gothquisition because I understand the goth subculture well after nearly 20 years and I fight to defend it.
Well... when I'm not busy DJing at Furry events and winning their Talent Shows...
All that's left to say is "Thank you sirs and madams, may I have another?"
Thanks to all of The Gothquisition for being awesome. I hope we can do it all again next year. And thank you listeners. Without you this would all be pointless.
-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.