Recently in goth Category

how to become a goth

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taking a break from slamming the media, this 50's style instructional film offers tongue-in-cheek tips on becoming a goth and spiting authority figures (from film student and industrial DJ Jay Kantor):

So You've Decided You Want To Become a Goth

the humor is mostly aimed at folks involved in the goth/industrial club scene (and fans of goth-comedy band the Gothsicles), and to some degree rehashes inside jokes about sp00ky pseudonyms and the fine line between pretentious and poseur. still, it's nice to see a bit of self-produced subcultural media rather than predictable sensationalizing accounts in the popular press.

(thanks to dougie for the link)

freaky fashion feature

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A Piercing Look At Goth Culture And Fashion - washingtonpost.com

goth is back in the news media again--not as dangerous, deviant teen cult, but as fashion interest item! The Post has featured Gothic Beauty magazine, a slick goth lifestyle rag that largely conflates "gothic" fashion with busty women in tight corsets and heavy eyeliner, suggesting in the article that contrary to popular image, goth is really very forward-thinking and cutting-edge.

while it's nice to see goth treated a little more fairly in the media, Gothic Beauty offers a rather vapid representation of a subculture that has more going on creatively than implied by photoshoots of women in their undergarments, parading about in tight vinyl and poofy synthetic hair. Gothic Beauty largely propels itself by capitalizing on the sex appeal of its tattooed and pierced models, reducing goth fashion to freaky chicks in skimpy outfits. and as much as i'm in favor of alt models and creative clubwear, i think it does goth and other alternative women a disservice when our aesthetic is exploited for its purely erotic allure (reminds me of a certain quasi-controversial alt porn website...).

for something a little less shiny and more diy, check out Drop Dead Magazine (devoted to deathrock music and fashion, the horror-tinged, punky side of goth). sadly, the days are largely past of goth/industrial magazines that featured both music, fashion, and culture, at least in the US (r.i.p. Carpe Noctem).

as usual, though, the news media still can't quite decide if goths are just edgy, misunderstood artistes, part of the emerging "creative class," or an appropriate trigger for moral panic over loners who obsess over the occult and plot to murder their schoolmates. i suspect that context will reveal some of the disparity -- at times, media outlets are content to exploit the latter trope, dipping into broader social fears about youth to explain some sort of violent act or tragedy, yet the rest of the time, reporters prefer to mine colorful (or monochrome!) subcultures for their value as spectacle. at the risk of proffering an overly simplified explanation, both cases give off more than a whiff of prurient sensationalizing.

goth isn't dead, just aging

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the BBC's Culture Show appears to have done a short, upbeat segment on the UK's biggest biannual goth fest, Whitby Gothic Weekend (which i attended once, a few years back). it's a mostly evenhanded piece, portraying goth as a subculture that creates community for its culturally misfit members, with a charmingly dated and nostalgic score from the early 80s. then again, according to the Culture Show, goths are mostly aging computer geeks who dress up in corsets and lace on the weekends, and are otherwise pleasantly middle-class members of society. did all the under-thirty art freaks, students, and club kids just stay home?

view the clip on youtube:

children of the night?

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The NY Times last Sunday reported a somewhat predictable tidbit on the rising popularity of goth amongst Latino teens in the Bronx:

"The Coven of the Grand Concourse"

Of course, the article is rife with references to Hot Topic, Evanescence, and "the occult," and the author can't help reminding us of the "dark side of Gothness" -- self harm, runaways, shopping in the mall.

Still, author Nina Malkin wouldn't be the first to observe that "[i]n America, Goths are usually thought of as white, middle-class and suburban." Spectacular subcultures like goth, punk and rave tend to emerge in industrialized countries among working and middle-class youth -- usually white and urban (and to a lesser degree suburban). In developing countries, the middle class tends to emphasize consuming in ways that reinforce their class status, conforming to certain standards rather than deviating from them.

It remains to be seen whether youth embrace subcultures like goth to "resist" social norms, rather than to create their own coherent cultural identities and social groups. But it would be interesting if Malkin has actually identified an emerging trend among the children of more recent immigrants to this country.

youth subculture on trial

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Nothing like a little moral panic to bolster your murder case -- remember Scott Dyleski, the trenchcoat-wearing teenager implicated in the bizarre murder of California resident Pam Vitale last October? He'll be standing trial this week, and apparently so will his alleged subculture, according to the
SF Chronicle:

Acquaintances have described Dyleski as a typical suburban kid who later began to embrace the Goth culture, dying his brown hair black and wearing a trench coat.
Jewett, a 24-year veteran of the Contra Costa County district attorney's office, is expected to introduce witnesses who will discuss elements of Goth culture and music as it pertained to Dyleski.

So what, exactly, does his taste in clothes and music have to do with his alleged criminal activity? Perhaps the prosecuter missed out on a recent study published in New Scientist under the succint title "Goth subculture may protect vulnerable children." Without getting into a long discussion of what constitues a subculture in the first place, it troubles me to have the prosecution buy into the same flavor of moral panic that seems to spur the news media so often when it comes to young people.

I'm just surprised they haven't tried to work MySpace into this somehow -- but maybe that's because this case involves a white youth with a predilection for trenchcoats and possibly violence, rather than a teen girl at risk from imagined predators.

subculture: the meaning of sp00ky

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fortunately, the media coverage of subcultural youth isn't all doom and gloom these days -- at least, not in a bad way. if a recent article in the UK Guardian is anything to go by, not everyone is stuck viewing goths as spooky and dangerous -- we might be able to get away with being just edgy (whew!):

I have seen the future - and it's goth

according to Dave Simpson, a new study in culture and media suggests that goths tend to be literate, educated and even financially successful. apparently, the subculture's emphasis on music, art and literature are partly to blame for worrisome outcomes like becoming a web designer, programmer or dentist (though any discussion of class appears to be MIA). in fact, the researcher, Dunja Brill at Sussex University, was once herself goth, and even the author of the article claims to have been into all things gloomy and artsy for six months back in the day.

all snarkiness aside, i couldn't help chuckling when reading the ten "telltale signs" your boss might be a goth, especially number seven on black clothing: "Many items in the longtime goth's wardrobe may now have faded to a sort of charcoal shade." looking in my own closet, i must admit this is sad, yet true.

goth murder madness -- and Voltaire?

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Well, the Dyleski murder has morphed in "goth murder madness," thanks to Fox News. This is pretty classic media moral panic, when the press builds up an exaggerated panic with sketchy facts. Yes, Dyleski may have worn black and experimented with style and identity, as do many teens. But no, the "goth movement" is not corrupting teenagers and inducing them to attack and murder innocent people. Instead of blaming Marilyn Manson (as the press felt obliged to do in the wake of Columbine), however, Fox News turned to goth musician and artist Voltaire to be the spokesperson of the supposed "movement" (better known by adherents as the "scene"). Voltaire, aside from being at least moderately articulate, presents himself as clean, well-groomed and reasonably mature -- to say little of his commercial success in music, comics and animation. And unlike Manson, Voltaire is actually sort of a goth, and his music, though really more folk in influence, appeals to and is consumed by the goth scene. It seems like Fox is undermining their own sensationalism a bit by presenting this well-spoken and attractive man (albeit with a devilish goatee) as a figurehead for a "movement" that supposedly engenders "murder madness." But maybe that's just me.

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