The original article I was working on for this month is going to happen but it isn't going to happen. There is also an interesting story to why.
This is not a love song
For all intents and purposes, my original idea was akin to what I'm covering here but I was going to refer to Black Friday's recent trouble in Paris along the way to give it topical context. I submitted it to Count but I wasn't so sure about it so I asked if there was anything that was unclear or needed fixing. I'm usually pretty confident in my articles so this is an odd thing for me to do. It was deemed a little too mean, could be implying things that might not be true and could be construed as victim blaming. Sometimes you don't see these things when writing and re-reading and it takes a second set of eyes for perspective. Not what I set out to do. I want to make people think, not to hurt people. Also my point was lost in those extra topical details. Re-write time.
In the re-write I dialed back on the points that were considered bad and added a section covering politics and discrimination that devolved into a massive anti-Trump rant. I submitted it then a few hours later I told Count to scrap it. Thinking about it I didn't like the overly serious tone and the only real joke was a running gag where I ended every section with "God damn it..." Again, my point was lost in those extra topical details. Re-write time once more. If it can't work this time I'm scrapping the idea completely.
So here we are. Third time's a charm. I hope.
There will be no referring to politics, Trump or Black Friday from this point on. I am using the original two drafts as source material for some of it though.
On with the show!
Oh Hedonism Bot... so bored by serious matters
I have talked about things like social media and how people project the image they want people to see of themselves before. We are in effect our own personal marketing teams for the brand of "ME".
A recent occurance (THAT WILL NOT BE NAMED AS IT REMOVES FOCUS FROM MY POINT) has ME (yes, the brand of Aytakk as well as the person) wanting to talk about issues relating to the image we portray of ourselves as well as the image of others we percieve, in particular that of prominent people in the goth subculture on social media.
I portray myself to be prominent in all the wrong ways
Going Goth In A Mainstream World
There is good reason why people in the goth subculture have to stress again and again that you don't have to be "on" 24/7. Its not because we can't do it all the time or if we are afraid to. Sometimes its simply a matter of survival or being able to do the things we want to do.
I used to work in security so I have seen things from the other side. Here is a pro tip for you. Have you ever tried to enter a pub/nightclub and been told no because its "members only" tonight? That is usually bouncer code for "I don't want to let you in and I can't be bothered to think of an excuse why". But the truth is they can refuse you entry and refuse to give you a reason why. You can' t be sued for discrimination if you don't provide evidence of it nor admit to it. If you look goth or alternative that could be all it takes.
Lots of different places have rules for entry including dress codes. To continue on the nightclub example, I recall only 20 years ago most nightspots in the CBD here had two big rules; no exposed tattoos and no jeans. They would even have a sign at the door saying this. You see tattoos and jeans everywhere nowadays. If you want to eat at a classy restaurant some require men to be in a dinner jacket and tie. These places often don't have the rules written anywhere, its just expected you would know.
So, do they have the right to refuse anyone entry? Yes. Will someone who looks different invite more scrutiny merely for standing out? Yes.
If you do goth to the nines 24/7 you should be used to this and know it comes with the territory. There is good reason why a lot of people tone it down because outlandish attire, makeup and hair can get in the way of the things you want to do. Want a mainstream job? You have to tone it down. Want to enter a mainstream nightclub? You have to tone it down. Want to enter a mainstream institution or gated public place (and they are mainstream no matter how much goths love cemeteries)? You may have to play by their rules and tone it down. If you are refused entry for anything there is nothing preventing you from going away, toning it down and coming back if you really want to do it.
In an ideal world we could all dress as we want (as long as its not being overly and deliberately offensive) and be able to go anywhere. But we don't live in that world. Just as you wouldn't turn up to a grand ball in jeans and sneakers and complain about being refused entry, you can't really complain about being refused entry to a mainstream establishment/place for looking too alternative.
Now take everything done mainstream and reverse it - security at the Goth Ball in 1999
Is it fair? No. Is it discrimination? Yes. But can you prove it and is it worth chasing down legally? Besides, how many of us have the time and money to waste on things like this?
But that doesn't mean we have to lie back and take it. The more alternative people are going about looking... well... alternative, the more people get used to seeing it. Given strange looking weirdoes (in a good way) have been around since forever you would think this wouldn't matter nowadays. Yet it does because NO I AM NOT GOING INTO A POLITICAL RANT ABOUT THE CURRENT STATE OF THE WORLD.
If someone discriminates then call them out on it. Alternatively, keep asking why until they are forced to admit to it with their own words and realise their action was discriminatory. Then you discover if it was an accident, just following the bosses orders or if they really are an arsehole. Don't be accusatory though. It makes people defensive of their stance and they won't learn anything. Also its good to know what you have to tone down if you want to come back and if their rules are strict so it doesn't happen again.
The Power Of Public Image When Its Limited
People tend to portray a limited image of themselves on social media, especially if they are promoting themselves as some sort of brand. Its often focused more like a character based on that person. People have flaws, character images don't have to have flaws. Your image can be pure perfection. That isn't to say they can't be human but they portray the person behind it in a way that may not always be true to life. It is controlled to attract the fans they want and portray the things they want.
I have done this too. Two of my DJ personas are basically fictional characters and I play them to a unique personality based on parts of my own but turned up to eleven. But I don't live these personalities out 24/7, just like an actor is not the person they portray.
Jelly and 砂糖汚泥 is like the worst buddy cop movie ever
Youtube is where things get interesting because we see a mix of created personas, real people and combinations of the two. Fake reality TV has also had an impact. A lot of videos are made to be sold as real but are just as contrived as the reality crap on TV.
For the goth subculture this means people who tend to get the most attention will have the best image fine tuned to a goth audience. I have noticed a lot are aimed at kids learning about the goth subculture or to get people to click on the pretty thumbnail.
Also no one just goes on holiday anymore the same way no one just goes to a concert. Everything is an overblown event. It must be photographed, videoed and documented for posterity and humble bragging on social media. People have always done this to a degree (the tourist, camera and amateur photography have a symbiotic relationship) but now you can avoid making your friends and family sit through a boring slide show and show it bit by bit while you are still doing it. "Look at me! I'm doing fun things and you are not! Don't you wish you had my awesome life?" My life is boring most of the time and often sucks but even I do it on social media. Its all about the ME show and we are all broadcasting endlessly.
Aytakk is ready for the battle of the broadcast
So some of us will accumulate more followers/friends/fans than others. Success is suddenly measurable in likes, views and subscribes. When someone prominent shares your work it helps you. When Senpai notices you its awesome. Like high school, the popular kids tend to be listened to more than the rest. Does not necessarily mean they are saying anything of value but people still listen.
With Great Goth Comes Great Responsibility
The problem I can see with goth figures in social media that get the most attention is tend to over emphasize the fashion and style aspects of goth. Its easy clickbait material and easy content to make and provide a constant stream of updates for. But this gets to the point that kids think Goth is mostly (or heaven forbid only) about the fashion. Then they assume you must be dressed to the nines all the time because their favourite youtubers and models always are in their videos and photos. And thats what Goth is about.
Doing it 24/7 (or at least portraying it that way) can sometimes be detrimental. Sure, in an ideal world we would all dress as we like, do our hair as we like and do our makeup as we like. But this isn't an ideal world, its the real world. It can set a standard that is unattainable because for the most part its impractical for living in a mainstream world. Or if you have a job. Or a family with kids. It can also set a bad precedent for kids entering the goth subculture. They see their favourite social media celebrities doing it 24/7 and assume that is how it must be done to be done right. The reality is we all have down time. But in the age of social media people cherry pick what they want to show the world so of course they focus on the highlights.
Then there is me with my deadnipples lamenting all the fucks I do not give
It is worth noting that the same negative impact happens when it comes to photographs from events like Wave Gothik Treffen. Most of the crowd are a lot more casual (band gigs - especially multiples in a day for a couple of days - are hot and sweaty affairs plus many are camping rough) but if you look at what is shared around and pushed by online media its a complete freaky fashion show. Whitby Gothic Weekend has an even worse reputation for this where the music aspect seems pushed to the back. It sells the goth subculture short because no one can see anything but the pretties and freakies. No wonder kids think fashion is all there is!
Is There A Solution?
So how do we fix this? I think a lot of it is in the hands of those who get the attention. In the hands of the goth/alternative social media celebrities. No, I don't like it but its how it is. We don't live in a world where we can dress how we like either. Everything sucks! But it can change.
If the people who have the audience say the right things and let people know fashion is merely a part of goth subculture (and in my opinion a lesser part trumped OH SHIT I HAD TO USE THAT WORD DIDN'T I by music and experience) this will go a long way. So less fluff pieces about makeup, swag hauls, unboxings and "boohoo elitists!" videos and more album reviews and videos of goths doing goth stuff.
Or you as a viewer and consumer could step out of your comfort zone and look into people who aren't followed as much to see if they have something good to say.
Especially this suave motherfucker
Screw it, I have to go YOU PROMISED NOT TO DO THIS AYTAKK WHY YOU DO THIS AYTAKK YOU LEFTARD FEMINIST SHEEPLE to cover this bit. I have made a liar of myself.
I wear my crown of shit upon my liar's chair
We were making fairly decent progress. Gay marriage being legalised across the world people fighting for equality in general, trans acceptance, Black Lives Matter and so on. Even Furries are more socially acceptable now. Then the NO NO NO NOT USING HIS NAME PUTTING FINGERS IN EARS LALALALA CAN'T HEAR ME CAN'T HEAR ME bomb dropped after BULLSHIT IN BRITAIN THAT INSPIRED RACIST ARSEHOLES BUT WILL NOT BE NAMED GOTTA KEEP LAST SHRED OF INTEGRITY INTACT and it changed everything. Its empowered people to openly be bigots.
For a while we have moved in a progressive direction to reduce discrimination and even had laws changed to help with this (Eg - making things hate crimes if crimes have a discriminatory factor). But the extreme right wing wants this to end. They do not want minorities and anyone different from them standing up for themselves. They feel that they are being discriminated against because this is happening. What. The. Fuck!
Emotions are running high right now across the world. We know when the conservatives crack down on minorities the alternative subcultures cop it too. When bigots are emboldened to be out in the open they fire at all targets. The worst part is we have OH FUCK OH FUCK OH FUCK NOW THEY GONNA CALL ME A CUCK INTERNET REGIME WHO THINK THEY ARE THE SMARTEST PEOPLE IN THE ROOM BUT IN REALITY THEY ARE SCARED LITTLE CLOSET NAZIS AFRAID OF LOSING WHITE PRIVILEGE AND POWER people within our own ranks who can't see they are slitting their own throats by supporting the current political climate.
This song wasn't written for fun you know
Hopefully we are experiencing the last gasp of the ultra conservative right now as the people who voted them into power realise they will fail them. When they get ousted this will be great for minorities and alternative culture as a whole and we can hop back on the progress to a better world and become better people train again.
-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.