Gothic Party Time!


Goth's consistent popularity does not mean, as some curmudgeons assume, that young people today are becoming increasingly nihilistic and alienated. Anyone who feels that way doesn't understand the essence of goth, which is really all about self-acceptance, self-expression, and creativity. Taking for granted the misery of the human condition, goth turns depression into an aesthetic, a semi-ironic pose - a perfect style for the awkward and self-conscious. Pale makeup, for both sexes, perfectly conceals bad complexions; goth clothing tends to cover, rather than display. And although its dark style was originally taken up as a backlash to the colorful disco music of the 70s, it may, in the end, be goth's most successful feature. After all, who doesn't look good in black?

From a fascinating (well, if you're into goth) piece by Mikita Brottman in the Chronicle of Higher Education, via Arts & Letters Daily. Wonderful to be reminded that goth is funny, in an Abbot & Costello Meet Dracula way.

And calling all Robert Smith fans: Whatever happened to the cult of the chubby goth?

Read the whole thing here.

Headline allusion here.

Where have you gone, Nik Fiend?

In reason, Grant McCracken on plenitude, the "quickening speciation" of social types, including goths.

Also in reason, Damon W. Root on when anti-goth hysteria runs riot.

NEXT: Antidepressants Get Personal, So Be Happy

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  1. wow. that was kinda huh.

    in the city, hispanic kids and goth are being mixed like peanut butter and uh sadness? it’s an interesting phenomenon.

    and fishnets are always a good idea. no matter who you are.

  2. Nick, you can have my share of Goth chicks.

  3. fishnets are always a good idea. no matter who you are.

    And corsets [boing]

  4. I think part of the appeal is that Goth makes nerds scary to their jock and prep persecutors. They’re still just as easy to beat up, but you fear that if you do they will shoot up your school or at least sacrifice your cat. It’s a form of defensive misdirection. Like the way a king snake will rattle leaves to sound like a rattlesnake.

  5. No discussion of all things goth is complete without a link to MC Frontalot’s song Goth Girls.

  6. Trust me – no one is scared of a Goth.

    Goth’s dress up like buffoons because they are pathetic losers to whom no one pays attention. Sadly, even after putting on your halloween costume every day, still no one cares or thinks about you…

  7. I’d still be an official Goth today, if keeping my hair dyed black didn’t get to be too high-maintenance for me. If you have naturally pale skin that refuses to tan, what the hell else CAN you be?

  8. Irish?

  9. …but you fear that if you do they will shoot up your school or at least sacrifice your cat….


    Tom Petty’s song Zombie Zoo comes to mind.

    I’ve known few Goths in my day but the one’s I have known or been related to have been terminally depressed. Not fair to do a large scale extrapolation from a small sample base but I do it anyway.

  10. i only hung out with the chicks who liked the fashion.

    i am not one for goth rock persay though i have been known to rock the joy division loud and merciless on occasion but that’s about as close as i get.

  11. Sadly […] no one cares or thinks about you…

    You just played right into their hands.

  12. Irish, Polish AND northern German, Chucklehead. All my ancestors put together had maybe a thimbleful of melanin between them.

    Actually, I don’t know if “Goth” was even the right word for me. I wore lots of dark colors not as a Statement About The World, but because I happen to look good in dark colors, and it also saves time on laundry day. I dyed my hair black because it flattered my complexion and made my eyes look extra-blue. And I listened to faux-medieval style Goth music because it’s extremely pretty.

    However, I suppose I could spin some after-the-fact justification involving deep inner meanings and such, if I could somehow profit by doing so.

  13. I really can’t stand goths, but I think emo kids are worse.

  14. What IS the difference between Goth and Emo, anyway?

  15. Other than the fact that we’re talking about teenagers for the most part, how do you think goth and emo are at all similar?
    It’s like asking, “what’s the difference between mods and rockers, anyway?”

  16. [quote]What IS the difference between Goth and Emo, anyway?[/quote]

    Emo kids are too lazy to actually go to the trouble of finding goth-type clothes.

  17. Stupid, stupid blog, with it’s inability to recognize the superior and easy to use Vbulletin code.

    BRB, I’m gonna go cut on myself.

  18. More importantly…

    Is Acid Bath a better album than Who’s been sleeping in my Brain?

    Drive My Rocket Up Uranus BAAAAABEEEEE!

  19. Emo kids are too lazy to actually go to the trouble of finding goth-type clothes.

    I had no idea the acquisition of a dark wardrobe was such a time-consuming venture.

  20. If you want to be one of the non-conformists you just have to just dress like us and listen to the same music we do.

  21. Emo kids are to lazy to put make up on, and listen to even shittier music.

    Between Goth and Emo its no wonder hip-hop has replaced rock music since about 1995 as the most popular type of music.

  22. Derek-

    Screw that. I’m going to wear a cape and put my cigarettes in one of those long-stem holders.

  23. Yes, I agree that goth’s current popularity doesn’t have anything to do with “young people today becoming increasingly nihilistic and alienated.”

    But what we do have are nihilistic/alienated young people living in a technology-rich information society that allows them to feel more comfortable expressing such. It’s bound to be easier to embrace that role when you’ve had plenty of reassurance and reinforcement via the Internet and popular culture (“Freaks and Geeks,” etc.). Back in the day, playing up one’s status as an outcast was a big, brave and lonely personal leap.

  24. FWIW, I really dig the Steam Punk aesthetic. It’s like victorian-flavored goth with Tesla Coils.

  25. how do you think goth and emo are at all similar?

    They are both equally pretentious?

    I hung with the goth crowd in college–mostly just for the music. I still love Dead Can Dance, but I will never dye my hair black again.

  26. Jennifer,
    Hehe, your ethnic heritage is the same as my wife. And she is about as pale as one can get without looking anemic. So, point taken.

  27. I’d forgotten about the West Memphis 3 / Damien Echols thing (last link). The Paradise Lost documentaries were chilling.

  28. mmm…steampunk girls…

  29. On a (slightly) more substantiative note, it has always interested me that goth has lasted as long as it has. Hell, one of the clubs I DJ here at San Diego still packs in a few hundred people every night, ranging from us oldsters (I’m 35) to people turning 21, there’s an all-ages goth club here that’s regularly packed, too. Plus, since a large number of goths became IT people as they grew older, it’s made an interesting network of computer people.

    Just like everything else, 90% of the music is crap, but the 10% that isn’t is excellent.

  30. Some neat steampunk creations:

    Steampunk Workshop

    Brass Goggles

    dhex: Ian Curtis was the man. Interpol has done a decent job post-punking in JD’s stead, I think. Turn On The Bright Lights was pretty good.

  31. dhex,

    Joy Division – not goth
    Bauhaus – goth

    (For that era)

  32. Emo v. Goth: If it looks like an emo kid, and dresses like an emo kid, and denys its an emo kid, then you have definitely found an emo kid.

    For oldsters like me, I usually use this formula:

    emo = (Smiths (-Johnny Marr) x Violent Femmes Hallowed Ground) + (Belle and Sebastian – edge)

  33. Stop hatin on the emo – I do love me some Bright Eyes evry now and again.

  34. de stijl,

    As long as you don’t cry at a Bright Eyes concert, then your gold.

  35. Goth = cliche’

  36. “You’re”

    Crap, I hate typing fast.

  37. SugarFree,

    Just a little bit and only during Lua.

  38. “dhex,

    Joy Division – not goth
    Bauhaus – goth

    (For that era)”

    agreed. i won’t leave the room if you’re playing bauhaus but i won’t know all the words either.

    it was my way of saying “not very close”

    though on the other hand, i love love love swans. especially late period swans.

    see also:

  39. I wish my grass was emo so it would cut itself.

  40. What IS the difference between Goth and Emo, anyway?
    Music, and clove cigarettes I think. Something happened to most of the goth/post-punk/death rock/kid I ran with in High School & College… They all became Emo kids or Indie rockers.
    //needs to re-dye my mohawk black again tonight, have a business trip over the weekend.

  41. Goth’s consistent popularity does not mean, as some curmudgeons assume, that young people today are becoming increasingly nihilistic and alienated.

    No, it means that young people are becoming increasingly incapable of shocking their parents and increasingly unoriginal. I saw a kid with, wait for it, a mohawk, the other day. For chrissakes, kids, I saw my first real mohawk, in the flesh (so to speak) in 1982 or some such thing. That’s 25 years ago!

    A new trend with young girls is to dress in really tight jeans, wear really big belts, Vans, and cut their hair like Joan Jett did in her “Runaways” years.

    Newsflash for the youngin’s: You’re not going to shock me when you’re wearing the EXACT SAME thing WE did when we were kids.

    Let this be your guide.

  42. “I saw a kid with, wait for it, a mohawk, the other day.”

    Yeah, I refer to these kids as Fonzie’s.

    [It would be like me dressing like Fonzie in 1979 in an attempt to shock].

    Now, of course, some kids get the irony and are being “retro” but that is different…

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