Back to our irregularly scheduled programming! No guides, no handy hints, just me being an opinionated arsehole. Just how you like it.
I have a few topics I am going to discuss today. Some opinions you may agree with, others not. You might think all of them suck. My aim here is to at least get you to think about things and maybe see things from a different perspective to the one you are used to.
Harbinger of things to come?
Someone posted a link to this old FAQ on Reddit and it brought on some interesting conversation and ideas. For those of us around back then (myself included), it is a reminder of how sparse information online was. Its not like today when there are many websites, articles, blogs, Facebook groups, forums and youtube videos.
After the usenet/alt.gothic era, most information was restricted to a few websites that we either learned about via word of mouth, via links from other similar websites or from primitive search engines getting lucky. I started dabbling online after usenet lost popularity and these websites had been established but the old information was archived and saved on such sites.
Websites were so limited that across the world we all tended to access the same information. Individual local scenes were different in meat space but online it was very similar. That isn't to say all the information online was necessarily correct either, but by and large it was generally agreed upon by the various people promoting and publishing it. FAQs like this had many contributors so individual bias was usually minimised. Also notice how tongue in cheek a lot of it is.
Its a snapshot of the times. Most goths learned from those around them instead of an internet filled with information and easy to access music. What little music that was online was reduced to song lyrics and midi files on fan pages anyway. Things weren't "purist" as things tend to be pushed more today. But when you take into account the diverse range of bands who played at places like The Batcave, was it ever really purist until people started to really enforce it mid 2000s? Coincidentally, when numbers began to drop off too... or was it?
Maybe that was the problem. In backlash to industrial and EBM taking over (a result of goth and industrial/EBM being pushed together in clubs to save both scenes in the early 90s - thus creating the goth/industrial confusion many still have today), the guidelines of goth became rigidly enforced rules. The tighter the rules, the more exclusivity, the less people are let in. After a few years the scene starts to die due to a lack of new blood. By comparison, industrial and metal scenes were a lot more welcoming and accessible with less barriers to entry. But they also didn't have a problem goth had - fighting off the mainstream trying to massively co-opt it and steal its name. So by maintaining goth's integrity it was also kind of killing goth as it turned people with the wrong idea away. Maybe this is why the Deathrock revival had to happen in the 00s - abandon ship and jump on another one hoping the same wouldn't happen again. Except this time the good ship Deathrock was eventually sunk by hipsters - depending on who you talk to about it.
So what fundamentally changed?
It wasn't ALL us. Well, we might have helped *shrug*
The Fall of "Poseur"
In yet another online conversation, this time on Facebook, an interesting statement was made. This statement :
You probably recognise the author of this theory. In fact she even made a youtube video to discuss the idea further.
Angela makes an excellent point. The local elite in each scene back then were generally a lot harsher and they could get away with things they couldn't now. Being called an elitist was a compliment, it meant people recognised that you were one of the people at the top of the food chain and were shaping your local scene. But it also meant you had the power to strike someone down with the dreaded P word. And no one wants to be labeled as a poseur.
As I have said previously, its the local elite who keep your scene alive. They organise the events, they play the music, they hold things together. If you have no scene and you start organising things - congratulations! You are now the local elite. Use your power wisely because you can make or break people, events and your scene.
Somewhere along the way the desire to keep everyone happy overtook the desire to maintain scene integrity and put people in their place if it needed to happen. I think this is partly due to changes in crowds and also changes in who was at the top. The people attending events would not put up with being treated like shit by anyone. There were alternate distractions so they won people over instead. Such as simply staying at home and letting their wonderful internet box entertain them instead. The people who replaced the old guard had seen what they were like and maybe even suffered at their hands. So there was no way they would treat people like that as they knew how bad it was.
So there is a reversal of power of sorts. No one calls anyone a poseur any more for fear of losing the people, the people are all too willing to call anyone on top an elitist if they didn't conform to their often uneducated opinion. And here we are.
Of course, this is just speculation. It may not have happened exactly this way. A possible explaination.
Stop being arseholes Gothquisition. Its all your fault! ASK US HOW!
Gatekeeper. This is another word that gets thrown about alongside elitist. People aren't allowed to enforce rules because thats gatekeeping and we have to be all inclusive now. Says who? Nowhere is there a rule about goth that says we have to include everyone as goths. No music subculture works like that. They all have some criteria and rules for who is in and who is out.
I think people have goth's general open-mindedness and tolerance confused for acceptance of all. We will accept you for who you are. Will we accept you as goth? There are rules for that and we have to follow them too. Goth is not an all-welcoming home for the outcast.
It is fair to say that the local elite are the ultimate gatekeepers in your city. Do your local events suck because they allowed all the top 40 music in? They left the gates wide open. Are all your local events barely attended because they refuse to play nothing but goth and deathrock in spite of only a handful of people actually liking it? The gates are too closed. Gatekeeping is good but its like a scalpel not an axe. Use precision, integrity and good judgement. Most of all know your crowd and be diplomatic.
Generally though you hear more talk about elitists and gatekeepers online, especially when someone brings up that goth is about the music. This is probably due to people spending their energy in meat space having a good time instead. We can gossip and spread rumours online in our spare time now instead if we really must do it (and some do).
If youtubers can fill their videos full of ads for crap they are into then so can I!
The Goth/Industrial Situation
Something a little less heavy to finish things off. A bit of a history lesson of sorts though some people may not agree with it completely. I'm not trying to re-write history here, just offering a story of why things are as they are free of conspiracies and wild theories.
Industrial actually predates goth and post-punk yet people often lump it in with goth. That said goth and industrial do share some common factors and fans. Are they the same? No. Should they be lumped together as the same thing? no.
The confusion comes from the 90s when events began to lump goth and industrial together for the survival of both. So people began to think they were the same if they didn't learn any better. This is down to the local elite and online resources for not informing people properly. Where I am, our DJs made sure people knew. A lot of places it didn't happen or people attending these events just didn't care. Industrial isn't the only non-goth genre thats often played at "goth" mixed genre events.
There have been numerous "This is the new goth!" attempts over the years from many outside genres. Industrial (and post-industrial) have been part of those. Recently it was "Witchhouse is the new goth". In a few years it will be something else yet goth music will still be plodding along as usual.
Lumping in industrial does both goth and industrial a disservice. But there is no reason why both can't be played at the same event if that is what people want. The old music is just as relevant as the new for both goth and industrial.
I think a big part of why people get confused is a lot of people weigh in with opinions about goth and industrial music when they don't really know much about one or both. In the internet age, not all opinions are equal yet everyone thinks they are an expert.
[Memes in Elitist]
There we go. Covered a bunch of things as promised. I wanted to add in some more jokes but I couldn't work them in. Then again some people might read this article and think its all a complete joke anyway.
We record Cemetery Confessions' Gothquisition 3 in about a week. Should be a fun time as usual so look out for it on The Belfry Network!
-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.