Mar 20, 2007

News: Goth Culture

Don McCaskill

That's not what we're about! Says the headline of today's Jamaica Observer Newspaper.

Goth in its simplest form is a counterculture. A group of people who feel comfortable within each other's company. There is no specific thing that defines what you need to do or be to fit into the Goth scene (except of course the implied black clothing). People in the Goth scene all have different musical tastes, follow different religions, have different occupations, hobbies, and fashion sense.

Most people become Goths because they have been spurned by 'normal' society, because the way they want to live their lives does not fit in with how most people are told to live theirs. Goths are free thinkers, people who do not accept the moral rules of society because they're told: 'This is just how it is' or 'this is what God says!' This kind of free thinking and rejection of dogma earns only rejection in today's society.

However, because of this rejection from 'normal' society, Goths have banded together to associate with other free thinkers. This has a beneficial effect on both the individual and society as a whole. For the individual they have a sense of belonging, and friends they can associate with. For society it removes one more misfit filled with rage from society's streets.

This of course is not the case for all Goths. Many Goths today are Goths for a variety of other reasons. They like the music, or the clubs are better, they have Goth friends and join in with them, or they just like staying up late at nights and Goths are the only ones awake to talk to.

Andrew & Sarah

Andrew & Sarah
by Don McCaskill

The stereotypes

Many stereotypes of Goths exist these days. It seems everyone has their own way to define 'what is Goth'. From the stereotypes based on clothing to music right up to the stereotypes of all Goths being Satanists or part of some kind of cult. Categorically, all of these are false.

The gothic sense of humour is highly developed, and often leans toward the satirical. Quietly laughing at the more idiotic and less tolerant factions of society that seem to think yelling out of cars at us makes them cooler. Goths have learnt to laugh at themselves and see society in a much different light. They have had to, and it is a trait most would not give up.
Most Goths have realised that fear is only a reaction instilled in us by dogmatic propaganda, and once you realise there is nothing to fear from the topic.

Goths often revel in the fear given to them by society as a whole. Often the behaviour exhibited by society to them based on society's perception of them from stereotypes and rumours are a constant source of entertainment. Of course, most of the rumours are totally unfounded; Goths are people like everyone else, however, when you already have a reputation, going for the shock factor is often far too tempting to see how much society at large is willing to believe (or deduce) with only a little encouragement.

History of Goth

Modern Goth started in the early '80s as part of the punk subculture (which is a rejection of most societal values, and anything considered part of the 'norm'). The phrase was coined by the band manager of Joy Division, Anthony H Wilson, who described the band as 'Gothic compared with the pop mainstream'. The term stuck, and as punk eventually died, Goth survived and became its own subculture.

The punk clothing and hairstyles mellowed, and the core 'rejection of society' attitude alone lived on in the gothic subculture. Over time this itself has been modified to be more of a 'no more blind acceptance of society's values' as opposed to rejection because it was there to be rejected (and because you could get away with it!).

Sarah & Jessi

Sarah & Jessi
by Don McCaskill

Movies such as The Crow and bands such as the Bauhaus help establish the gothic image as dark, depressing, and even evil. As more and more 'dark' movies came out, numbers in the gothic subculture expanded, and there is now a gothic community in almost every major city around the world, and quite a number of towns have their own representative contingent. Nowadays there are more Goth bands around than ever, and it has turned from an '80s phenomenon into a '90s way of life for many people.

Unlike the punk subculture that spawned it. There even exists a class of mature Goths, still following the scene around even past their '20s and into their '30s and beyond.

Hence, for someone without any substantial knowledge of the culture to be making such assumptions is purely ironic, seeing that most of Jamaican youth are still in the process of finding themselves. Being able to identify with a group or lifestyle gives you a sense of self.

- Marla Miller

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