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What are Goths?

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What are Goths?

Post  Silas Morgan on Fri Oct 03, 2008 9:16 am

I do not want to be rude, but to be truthfully honest, I just don't know what Goths are (well other than the German tribes that invaded France a really long time ago).......I always thought that the Goths they were a mix of vampire, and Charles Addams cartoons... kinda tongue in cheek..dark fun.

This year at Burning Man, I wanted to go visit the Goth camp....but they were arguing,and split up, so it wouldn't have been any fun to go there.

So I still do not know what the Goths are.... but I know there are some here ...so maybe they can explain it to me.

But right now the best definition I can find is that the Goths are dark Emos.... somehow that doesn't sound right either.

So can someone tell me what "Goth" is/are?
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Re: What are Goths?

Post  The Juxt on Fri Oct 03, 2008 11:08 am

its a tricky question to answer wholey. there are an awful lot of subcultures in a lot of different countries who call themselves goths, but who wouldn't neccessarily be called goths by other people in other countries. the name means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
you have the proto-goths of the mid-late 1970s in england, the mall goths of america with their hot topics, the marilyn manson spooky kids of the late 1990s, the german death rock goths, the modern dark-emos, the graveyard loving poetry writing goths of the 80s, the horror punks of the late 80s, the recent western take on japanese egl, many of the steampunks you see could be described as goth (but with goggles and gears)... the list could go on into 40 or 50 different categories of goths, who may or may not call themselves or other categories goth. there was an old joke/idea about how a real goth would never refer to him/herself as a goth, which helped to spread the vagueness of the term.

it is as all-encompassing and wide ranging a term as 'youth culture'. but i guess they all share interests or have similar features which draw them together in either their eyes or the eyes of an observer. but the only real shared feature that is prominent in 99% of goths is that they are 'dark', and not neccessarily dark in colour, or dark in frame of mind...

since it is a term that people tend to idealise and categorise to their own way of thinking, i'll share my opinion of what a goth is to me. goths are an off-shoot of post-punk fashion from the early 1980s in and around soho in london. they wore dark clothes, high contrast black and white make-up, hair was nearly always black and back-combed and or in a post-punk mohican type cut, lots of silver jewellery and religious/fetishistic icons. they had a passing interest in death, romantic poetry, horror films and the days of yore.
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Re: What are Goths?

Post  lilibat on Fri Oct 03, 2008 11:43 am

me.

Well I am not ALL goths, but I am a goth.

Goth is a subculture centered around a common interest in a dark aesthetic. We enjoy that aesthetic in a number of things including clothes, literature, music, games, movies, decor, etc.

That is about as simply as I can put it.
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Re: What are Goths?

Post  Orlando on Fri Oct 03, 2008 12:59 pm

Some links...

Wikipedia: Goth subculture

San Francisco Goth: A Goth Primer

A History of British Goth
To quote Bob Marley's song Buffalo Soldier: "If you know your history, then you will know where you're coming from"

It would be fun to list the common attributes I've noted in the Goths I've met, but that sort of thing can easily degenerate into people making unfunny insulting jokes so one has to be careful.

Incidentally, this thread and it's counterpart at BG does not contain, for the most part, music that is typically thought of as Goth. It recently prompted a forum member to ask me if this is Goth: Malice Mizer - Kyomu No Naka De Yuugi.

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Last edited by Orlando on Sat Oct 10, 2009 5:49 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: What are Goths?

Post  ms_boo_dreadful on Fri Oct 03, 2008 2:55 pm

goth would be a post punk subculture centered around dark aesthetics and life styles. i call my self a goth but am not a vampire or overly dramatic. might be why i dont get along with most other goths. *shrug* there are several different "kinds" of goths. and technically speaking since goth was first a musical genrea its best to define one by the music they life. see voltaires book "what is goth" for a reeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaally tongue and cheek version of what goth is. (and for the record the guy is massively tall!)
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Re: What are Goths?

Post  Dr. Vincent Cruttle on Fri Oct 03, 2008 3:46 pm

This will give you a bit more of an insight, it's coming up, but I missed getting tickets for it
http://wgw.topmum.co.uk/

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Re: What are Goths?

Post  JingleJoe on Fri Oct 03, 2008 3:50 pm

ms_boo_dreadful wrote: there are several different "kinds" of goths.
Good point to take into consideration that is, making it harder to define what one is when there isn't just one kind!
Generally or (ab)normally they are people who wear dark/black clothes and have long or unusual hair, perhaps dark make-up is worn too. They have an affinity for all things spooky and "evil" and they like music that makes old people cringe.
I used to call myself goth but my music taste was very broad (I like everything but rap and that kind of popular stuff!) and then I became a Toy Soldier in Doctor Steel's army and I started to tread the path of a mad scientist Very Happy then I found steampunk and it was like something clicked, like an ancient and right way of being was awakened again Very Happy

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Re: What are Goths?

Post  DepthsofSpace on Fri Oct 03, 2008 5:15 pm

Goth is a subculture based around the post-Punk music of the late-1970s. It's grown and expanded to build a host of musical genre under the banner of darkwave (like New Wave, only.. Darker..). Goths are those people within the subculture and fans of this style of music. They are known to wear lots of black, though that isn't always the case.

A lot of the steampunk bands began under and some continue to work within the framework of the darkwave and post-Punk rock sound. Abney Park was at first a Gothic rock band; Vernian Process list themselves as post-Punk; Emilie Autumn and Rasputina are Victorian-influenced darkwave/industrial projects.

So, Goths are kinda like steampunks, only not. Unless of course they are a steamgoth or some other hybrid.

I am a 'goth' by the technical definition, however I am moving away from the label. I perfer to say I am a 'dark/neo-romantic/darkwave-fan' when people ask about my music or dress. Goth has a fairly bad rap in some areas as connected with Satanism, school violence and other anti-social behaviors.

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Re: What are Goths?

Post  Mrs. Sullivan on Fri Oct 03, 2008 8:54 pm

lilibat wrote:me.

Well I am not ALL goths, but I am a goth.

Goth is a subculture centered around a common interest in a dark aesthetic. We enjoy that aesthetic in a number of things including clothes, literature, music, games, movies, decor, etc.

That is about as simply as I can put it.

I have to agree with Lilibat here. I take exception to the idea that Goth is primarily a musical genre, and the culture surrounding that genre. While it seems that Goth has been largely associated with music and particular bands, the early days of the culture were more broad-based and centered around the expression of the dark aesthetic in many forms. Literature had more importance then, but seems to have fallen by the wayside somewhat.

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Re: What are Goths?

Post  Siliconous Skumins on Fri Oct 03, 2008 9:05 pm

The only REAL way to find out about the Goth culture, is to spend some time with Goths, maybe at some gigs / events to get the full flavour. I have yet to see a definitive statement of "what is Goth or not" - every Goth and 'non-goth-but-similar-style' types I've known over the years, have all had wildly different opinions, tastes, styles, personality, music tastes, and 'scene' that they follow.

I myself have leanings towards Goth, but I find no need to dress the part (same as I feel about Steampunk), or to be heavily invovlved with the 'scene' (but I've spent many a friday night in the company of Goths, at certain Rock / metal / goth venues in Newcastle......By Cog I miss the Mayfair!).

Similar to JingleJoe, I have found the 'mad scientist' to be the identity that best fits myself - and for once, I do feel the urge to dress the part. Must..... get..... labcoat...!

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Re: What are Goths?

Post  Wolfie on Fri Oct 03, 2008 11:24 pm

While always interested in the things considered 'goth' I never actually wore a the fashions. I actually mostly dressed more considered punk with the occasionally skating/surfing garb. Considering I actually did some of that, the clothing was functional lol.

But I was always intersted in the music and the various workings of authors and such. But I've also never been one for being labeled or labeling others. And I've always prefered Werewolves to Vampires Smile Pirates to Ninjas and Airships to Automobiles.

So to me, its just a label someone made to explain some folk with somethings in common, but that those people actually all have their own differences that one label cant entirely contain them all anymore.

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Re: What are Goths?

Post  TehZorch on Sat Oct 04, 2008 12:32 am

Great topic.

In many ways I think of goth the same way I think of Steampunk - that is it has become almost totally unclassifiable due to the sheer number or permutations and the fact that being one or the other means something different to each person you ask.

However if I may get on my stereotyping horse for a second:

When people ask me what Steampunk is I usually follow up the question with another question, asking if they know what "Goth" is. The answer is invariably yes (most people have predefined notions towards such things), to which I say "Goth is Black and Silver, Steampunk is brown and brass."

While this might all be a gross oversimplification, I do get more understanding out of this quick explanation then trying to explain Victorianism or making comparisons to Wild Wild West and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Razz I think this also helps create an image of a warmer and more positive personality type - things that I feel are the flip side of the stereotypical "Goth" and set them apart from Steampunk
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Re: What are Goths?

Post  OldProfessorBear on Sat Oct 04, 2008 2:05 am

TehZorch wrote:I think this also helps create an image of a warmer and more positive personality type - things that I feel are the flip side of the stereotypical "Goth" and set them apart from Steampunk

I don't think I would have been drawn to SP, myself, if this were not the case.

Me, I'm a not-so-ex-hippie from the sixties, as well as a folkie and other things well out of the mainstream, so Goth never had the slightest resonance with me. Nor did Punk (except for musicians like the Pogues!). Never into Metal, hard rock, any of that. I'm just a nice, gentle werebear.

Two of my nieces seem to be into Goth. I'd like to draw one of them at least more into the SP world (it's probably too late for the other one). I suggested the SP art exhibition in Seattle (she lives in WA), which she enjoyed.

I guess time will tell.

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Re: What are Goths?

Post  Cyril Fotheringay-Phipps on Sat Oct 04, 2008 3:06 am

And all this time, I thought the Goths were the hairy fellows that invaded Rome and smashed up the furniture.

Well, live and learn!

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Re: What are Goths?

Post  Gazongola on Sat Oct 04, 2008 5:21 am

Furniture?! Wasn't that the Ottomans?...
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Re: What are Goths?

Post  Mr. Ethan Grammatikidis on Sat Oct 04, 2008 6:09 am

Cyril Fotheringay-Phipps wrote:And all this time, I thought the Goths were the hairy fellows that invaded Rome and smashed up the furniture.

Well, live and learn!
The hairy fellows eventually settled down and started building cathedrals and stuff. I've always assumed that the cathedrals and stuff -- Gothic architecture, influenced the name choice of the graveyard-and-poetry-lovers that I've always assumed all goths are. XD;

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Re: What are Goths?

Post  dman762000 on Sat Oct 04, 2008 9:12 am

Well, I for one have always claimed to have been the first goth in Northeast Arkansas, having pioneered the thing way back in '93 before anyone even knew what it was called in this area. Having said that, I feel that Goth is best described as a person who is keenly interested in a dark asthetic, classic lit, and introspection, at least that is what it was for me. Now-a-days, it has been perverted and twisted into this vague idea that Goths are angry people with depression issues. I actually find that most Goths are very much like the fine people here.
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Re: What are Goths?

Post  The Kernel on Sat Oct 04, 2008 9:31 am

Mr. Ethan Grammatikidis wrote:
Cyril Fotheringay-Phipps wrote:And all this time, I thought the Goths were the hairy fellows that invaded Rome and smashed up the furniture.

Well, live and learn!
The hairy fellows eventually settled down and started building cathedrals and stuff. I've always assumed that the cathedrals and stuff -- Gothic architecture, influenced the name choice of the graveyard-and-poetry-lovers that I've always assumed all goths are. XD;

They were a pretty cultured lot, just had long hair and weren't Roman so the Romans really looked down on them as "sub-human".
This is a pretty well written article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goth
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Re: What are Goths?

Post  Honeythorn on Sat Oct 04, 2008 8:53 pm

Goths generally listen to a LOT of gothic Rock. Which is why goths are called goths.
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Re: What are Goths?

Post  stormfeather on Sat Oct 04, 2008 11:34 pm

I'm starting a society for the purpose of adding color to Steampunk...

Rainbows in the Clockwork!

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Re: What are Goths?

Post  Cyril Fotheringay-Phipps on Sun Oct 05, 2008 3:32 am

Honeythorn wrote:Goths generally listen to a LOT of gothic Rock. Which is why goths are called goths.

But isn't that rather a tautology? . . . I believe that is the word . . . Yes, a tautology! I am sure that is right--I think.

If Goths listen to Goth Rock, then what it the producers of Goth Rock, are not in fact, Goths themselves? Are there Mock Goths? Or whatchamacallit? . . Pseudo Goths? Can and do Goths listen to anything else?--Besides Goth Rock, I mean? And does the mere act of listening make someone what that someone is?

But what makes it Goth and not, say Emo or just Morbidly Depressed?

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Re: What are Goths?

Post  The Kernel on Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:06 am

Cyril Fotheringay-Phipps wrote:
Honeythorn wrote:Goths generally listen to a LOT of gothic Rock. Which is why goths are called goths.

But what makes it Goth and not, say Emo or just Morbidly Depressed?

Interesting thought (BTW I am not and never have been Goth, but have no problem with Goths), for the academically inclined there was a paper published a couple of months ago in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) about musical tastes and suicide/parasuicide (ie real attempts to kill yourself and the attention seeking type, but deliberatly excluding non-suicidal self harm, ie those who cut without intent to kill etc).

The upshot was that most intentional suicide victims had reciently started listening to Goth/EMO music and started to identify themselves that way, however the incidence of suicide in established listners was no different from the national baseline, and that there were very few who attempted self harm as an essentially manipulative act who followed the Goth/EMO style.

The conclusion of the article was that if someone had reciently adopted either of the styles (Goth/EMO) and talked of suicide, take them very very seriously.


I think the theme is that while these musical styles may attract the depressed, they are not themselves depressing.
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Re: What are Goths?

Post  dman762000 on Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:29 am

Mall goths are mock goths. Mall goths only think they are goth when they really are not.
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Re: What are Goths?

Post  Dax on Sun Oct 05, 2008 6:40 pm

Mr. Ethan Grammatikidis wrote:The hairy fellows eventually settled down and started building cathedrals and stuff. I've always assumed that the cathedrals and stuff -- Gothic architecture, influenced the name choice of the graveyard-and-poetry-lovers that I've always assumed all goths are. XD;

I'm afraid that's actually a fairly common misconception. By the later part of the dark ages, the Gothic tribes (after conquering the Western Roman Empire, terrorizing Greece, helping turn back the Huns, etc.,) were pretty much assimilated into the other tribes such as the Lombards and Burgundians. They no longer existed by the 7th - 8th centuries.

The use of the term Gothic, with regard to art and architecture, has no cultural connection with the Gothic peoples. It was adopted as a perjorative term by critics of the movement toward ornate structures and cathedrals that began in the early rennaissance, who considered the new architecture to be vulgar and tasteless - hence "gothic".
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Re: What are Goths?

Post  Silas Morgan on Sun Oct 05, 2008 7:47 pm

Thanks for the replys so far...

I checked of the links that Orlando posted, from there I went "link jumping" looking at a lot of different pages.... I really enjoyed many of the images that I found.

I guess tehZorch's comment ""Goth is Black and Silver, Steampunk is brown and brass." summed up what I've found so far... Well I know that not all Steampunk is brown and brass, so it illustrates the variations in both groups.

I really liked this guote from "A goth primer"
http://www.sfgoth.com/primer/
You simply can't maintain a room full of dispairing people dressed in black for very long without someone starting a chain of laughter. Once you realise you've gone over the top, there's nothing left to do but laugh. It's a self-deflating culture that delights in self-parody and in ridiculing itself. To put it plainly: it's fun.
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