A Goth Writes...
In response to the recent articles re goths in your electronic service I am writing to put forward a few opinions and facts your way.
Goths are regular people. We are not vampires. We are not morbid or depressive. We do not cling to Victorian lampposts in frilly white shirts with a copy of some Byron novel (well, some do!)
Your article states that goths are often seen "in public ... writing poetry or drawing pictures of sad-eyed wizards and naked faeries". I categorically deny ever having written poetry (in public or otherwise) and wouldn't wish to draw a wizard (sad or not). I know a large number of like-minded people, and I don't know of any that claim to have done this. We have much better things to do with our time.
Having personally been a goth for the best part of 15 years (and a net.goth for the past few years) I have seen the culture change quite considerably in that time. However, through all of the changes, there has remained a core part of goth that continues to hold. In my opinion, that is the unshakable attitude that there is no one other group throughout the rest of society that should tell us what we can or cannot do or believe.
Perhaps in the United States, the gothic sub-culture is taken much more seriously by its members than in the UK. Americans tend to take a concept and 'americanise' it (at least that is a view of the US shared by a lot of the rest of the world). Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not slurring Americans or their attitudes, but doesn't the American culture in general (as varied as it may be) seem to be a little narrow in it's world view?
American goths seem to suffer more abuse than the rest of us. Personally, I think this is because a lot of them tend to take the whole thing far too seriously and not have fun with it. If you compare the posts to alt.gothic and uk.people.gothic, you will find that the two are quite distinct in their commentaries and discussions. Perhaps your researcher merely glanced at a few posts to alt.goth (sic) and thought that s/he had a sound basis for an article.
In the UK, if a slur is placed upon goths, one would be laughed at. Perhaps it's our sense of humour, being able to mix opinion and irony, that gives us the ability to withstand such stupid, nonsensical tripe. Of course we like to respond, that's our prerogative, but allways its done with a sense of humour and a heavy dose of irony.
With regards to Marilyn Manson et al. you will find that there are a significant proportion of goths that don't like M.M. (both in the U.K. and the U.S.) Goth music is very varied, but most goths would not classify M.M. as gothic. Why? There are no formularised concepts or criteria that qualifies a certain band or type of music as gothic, merely an acceptance by those involved. Obviously, some goths accept M.M on their own merits, but classifying them as goth is going to result in a lot of unhappy people. M.M. has only mildly been accepted by the goth culture (more tolerated than accepted).
If you want to experience goth music, perhaps you would be better off with the likes of 'pop' sounds of Manuskript or (Children on) Stun. Perhaps the ethereal Die Laughing or Dead Can Dance is more your cup of tea. And how about the heavy bass industrial sounds of bands like Die Krupps or Kevorkian Death Cycle. Then there's also the popular, more anthemic bands like Rosetta Stone.
Now this is a joke. Most goths find the concept of vampires laughable. Admittedly, a lot of us have read Dracula or one of the Anne Rice novels at some time, but I suppose that you could say that a large number of non-goths have done exactly the same.
The vampire fixation is usually reserved for people without a full compliment of social character. Now, I'm not saying that the whole concept is stupid, but when goths are labelled as vampire-loving and such without any basis in fact I'm not surprised when a large number of goths take offence.
For so called "vampire cults" you may find that there are goths involved. The fact that the cult exists in the first place is due to a misplaced social conscience, not due to the fact that there may be goths involved. To suggest that goths are "vampire wannabees" is not only narrow-minded and wrong, it is patently stupid.
If we wanted to be vampires, surely we wouldn't deride them as we do (one of the main reasons for doing so being that we don't want to be associated with them) by brandishing t-shirts bearing slogans such as "Vampires Suck" and "Oi! Vampires! NO!" and telling them to take out their plastic fangs and get a life.
For more information on this, and a few other opinions (especially with regard to the British music 'press') see:
What other sub-culture has existed for about 20 years and is still going strong today? Offhand, I can't think of any (except perhaps punk) that has stood the tests of time nearly as well.
The gothic culture has been badly misrepresented by the press at large, who seem to associate it with all of the wrong things. I doesn't seem that they actually take the time to investigate it themselves, or if they do, they often speak to a 'vampire' that has more ego than sense.
Thank you for your time. I hope that this letter has lent itself to helping clear-up some of the misrepresentations regarding goths and our culture.
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