There has been a lot of online drama lately, in particular centered around Instagram and YouTube. Personally I see this as a good thing as it has been brewing for a long time. People are finally talking about it and are not afraid to speak out openly when they don’t like something. Hell, even I made a video addressing some of it.
Along with the calling out and defences, some are calling for us to all get along like we used to. Ironically they do this while clearly choosing a side which is basically saying “get along, but only if you agree with X person like I do”. I am here to shatter the calls for calm but there is method in my madness.
Get along, little gothies!
(Cheers to Raverson at Gothy Discord for this)
People have conflicts. It is not a goth thing for drama to happen, it is a people thing. Think back to high school and all the drama there. Drama in workplaces, drama in the streets, drama in music subcultures. People are not going to agree on everything and that is good. Well, it is good if it is handled well. Unfortunately it is not handled well, especially in the online goth community.
Conflict and drama can be good. It can lead to communication of ideas, discussion, learning and resolution. The problem is people often get too emotionally invested so it turns into a screaming match or dismissing the other side as some extreme stereotype. If we all got along then nothing would change, we would not evolve - as a music subculture and as people within it. And as I have said before, evolution from within does happen.
There are cases where outsiders try to push their views onto people in the goth subculture or even demand we just accept them. If we took the “let’s just all get along” approach and let it happen, what would happen to the goth subculture? It would disappear because it wouldn’t mean anything any more. This is why people have opposed outside change since the beginning. It is not new to defend goth from external forces trying to change it.
We should not all just get along because that will be the death of goth. I don’t have to like every single person I meet just because they like the same bands I do or we both happen to dress in black. And neither do you. You don’t even have to like me or get along with me.
Oh woe! Some people don’t get along with me! Whatever shall I do?
We are not a hive mind
If we all thought the same, the goth subculture would be pretty boring. Defining “what is goth?” will never get the exact same definition from all people as we all have nuances on it. But I think it is fair to say there is a lot we do agree on and the rest depends on who you are and what you like.
How one defines goth is subject to change. There is nothing wrong with changing your mind when presented with better information and accruing more experience in the subculture. Years ago in pre-internet times, a local goth scene’s definition of goth was largely dictated by local DJs, zines, record stores and the local elite. How you defined it was only as good as the information available to you. Nowadays goth is a lot more global so the definition of what goth is all about tends to be shared more across the world. But this does not mean we all stopped thinking for ourselves and started thinking the same.
I think the definition of goth has become more refined in opposition to outside influences trying to change things. We could be a little looser in the past when we were left to ourselves to do our own thing. But since the mid 90s we have had to force the definition tighter. As industrial began to dominate in goth clubs, as people began to assume new wave was goth, as people began to call artists like Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, Rob Zombie and Cradle of Filth goth.
This isn’t to say many of the non-goth things were not gateways into goth. A lot of people started there and learned more. I was lucky enough to experience goth, industrial and mixed genre nights back then and I had the local DJs who knew the difference. But many places did (and still do) lump it all together as goth.
As you can see we do not all think the same, there is no goth “mindset”. We all like different aspects of goth music and gothic aesthetics. We will not agree what is and isn’t goth completely. We will not get along all the time.
Would a goth hive mind do this?
Education is not elitism
We were all new once. We all got things wrong. We all got educated and corrected when we got things wrong. We learn and as we encounter others and gain more experiences under our belts we can teach. And so the subculture survives another day, another week, another year.
Being corrected is not being bullied. Hell we can’t make people learn if they don’t want to. If someone is deliberately ignorant and refuses to learn about the subculture they proclaim to love so much that won’t win any favour among goths. We can present good information and undo the bad information but ultimately people choose. We can choose too however and often people don’t like the choices or judgements we make.
But goths are supposed to be inclusive!
Ok, let's look at how goth is "inclusive" for a sec. Goth as a subculture and the people within it are generally pretty open minded and accepting of people being different. What they are not accepting of is any person claiming to be goth if they don't participate in the subculture and/or like goth music.
So goths are not inclusive to the point of letting just anyone who says they are goth get away with it. All subcultures are like that if someone falsely claims to be one of them but miss the point of the subculture. But no, goth is the village bicycle everyone apparently gets to ride for free just because. And apparently if we don’t simply accept all who claim to be goth as goth we are not being “inclusive”
I may not accept someone as being goth but I can still accept them as being alternative, accept the gender they present themselves as, be accepting of their sexuality, hell accept them as being a human I can have a beer with. There is nothing stopping a non-goth from enjoying things goths like, hanging out with goths or even attending goth events. In time they may even like it enough to become goth too.
Goth is not the arms wide open home of all outcast and outsiders. If anything that is covered by alternative culture in general. Goth is merely a niche in that like emo, black metal, industrial and so on. Goth may not be for you and that is fine. That doesn’t mean we can’t get along.
I guess this means The Count will be the next person calling for me to be fired from The Belfry Network?
Pulling the age card
This can happen a couple of different ways. Let’s start with older goths dismissing youth. Young people are often dismissed because they lack experience or don’t understand what goth is about. Sometimes they are dismissed for trying new things and experimenting. The problem here is it can lead to alienation and possibly driving them away. Which is not good if we want the goth subculture to survive. Rather than dismiss it is better to engage and educate where needed. Not all ideas from young people are bad, many are good. But if they are new and learning the ropes they will get things wrong.
Also not all older goths have a lot of experience in goth anyway. Some took a break for it for a long time, others may have gotten into goth late in life. So being older does not necessarily mean someone knows what they are talking about.
The other age card is younger people dismissing older goths as being irrelevant. For a long time goth has been well beyond being a mere youth subculture. Goth has people involved of all ages from teenagers to elderly people. The older people are just as relevant and needed for goth to survive because quite frankly in most of the world there just aren’t that many of us.
The experience levels of some young goths is also very high. I’m not talking the “born goth” types here - no one can claim to be that. For most people who claim they were goths since they were children, at some point they take an interest in dark and spooky things and that interest develops into an interest in goth music. But to be fair that same interest could have lead towards a different music subculture just as easily. So are they really goth since being a child? I think it is better to declare a kicking off point as when they got hooked on goth music or started participating in a wider goth subculture community by choice. And I have to say “by choice” because if your parents are goths you may not even like goth stuff.
I actually meant to include this point in the video above but I forgot to cover it. So I’ll cover it now.
Come on, you know it is true. Fandoms suck! Someone insults their sacred idol and the fans come after you. If a goth educates on how someone’s favourite band is not goth and explains why, the fandom kicks in and they get defensive. How dare you shatter my misinformed illusions about my favourite thing!
Goth can also be considered a fandom and yes, goth sucks too. Goths get very defensive of people getting it wrong, declaring non-goth stuff is goth or even posting pictures of random black objects and calling them goth on Reddit.
#pillowgate. Never forget!
(it’s a Reddit thing)
Goths and non-goths alike get defensive of goth. It’s nuts! The problem is once everyone gets defensive (yes, I know I keep using that word and you are getting tired of it), everyone gets emotional. Everyone is screaming and no one is listening. Plus right or wrong they will defend their opinion to the death. No one learns anything.
Fandoms especially suck as they tend to form echo chambers so even minority opinions sound like the majority. Personally I’m for keeping the lines of communication open. Sure, it is great to have a space to retreat to around like-minded people but you need to get out in the open too for a real perspective on what is what. Blindly following a single person is never a good idea and all people are flawed in some way.
Also don’t take it on yourself to fight your fandom idol’s battles for them. By all means show support but going out to track down and attack their detractors impresses no one. If it impresses your fandom idol then maybe they aren’t worth your support to begin with. Approval won by mobbing and destroying someone isn’t worth anything.
I googled “vacuum fan” (a fan that sucks - get it?) and found this.
As you can clearly see, getting along isn’t so easy. Nor is it vital for goth to survive. A little conflict and opposing opinion actually helps the goth subculture grow and survive as it creates opportunities for people to learn. Plus getting along all the time being against human nature and all.
I’m going to finish up with a clip from the live gig I played at for Adelaide Fringe Festival. A cover of Throbbing Gristle’s Discipline!
Warning : contains sweaty, shirtless fat man. Play at your own risk!