The Pop Goth

Trixy's picture

I just got home a little bit ago from the Emerald City ComiCon, and the overwhelming population of pop goths, or those young teens who have chosen the look they have simply because it is "different" was a little upsetting. 

The line up of fanatic teens vying for a chance to have Jhonen Vasquez (creator of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Invader Zim, etc) look at them for a few seconds before scribbling his name on whatever piece of merchandise they had bought for this reason was a bit absurd.  This long black lineup trailed along almost one entire wall of the venue, young teen girls squealing in glee, some even dancing and screaming "We love you, Jhonen!" was the laughing stock of almost all of the rest of the convention. 

It made me think..  is that what the goth culture is now?  The same mindless, blind herd mentality that it was supposed to be escaping?  Has finding beauty in everything, even death, turned to simply glorifying death?  Maybe that's why we get stuck with the labels we do, why people put the blame on us when people kill themselves or go missing.  I was there, wearing a comfortable hoodie and a pair of my favourite pants, pinstriped jeans, my thick-rimmed, geeky glasses on...  and I was sneered at, scoffed at, given the evil eye...  because I wasn't "hardcore" enough for these kids.

I don't know...  I am frustrated.  I am not even accepted as what I am by people claiming to be the same.  So then what?  Where do I belong, if not here?

*Shudders at the memories of highschool with the popgothers* I feel dirty. lol

Overall though I think it is just being you, if you are naturally dark in heart or fashion or what-have-you then that is you. I clash with other people because I am very specifically me. I am a human, I am bithcy, I am unpredictable, and I like certain things. You like certain things, and no one needs to be labeled. If we label everything what is the point of being you, or being me. I am me to be me, to be happy, to be fulfilled, I don't need a box or label or a group to do that.  Quite frankly I think if you got 5 goths into the same room who were of the same "group" not a great deal would be in common. I may love corsets, he dosent', she dosen't, they love pink, I hate pink, I love animals, the don't really. Everyone is different, this is supposed to be a lifestyle (in my humble opinion) that is you, not what you want it to be. It's almost like falling into a gig. You don't really realize this is what you are until it comes up and bites you in the ass. 

For me it's who I am. I don't even have to wear anything that is even slightly "goth" and people just know. It is quite bizzar but it makes me feel good in a way because they identify that I am an individual. Even if they may view me as a "goth". And I love meeting other people whom you just walk by and know. You all know what I'm talking about. But again, you never not speak to someone if they are not "goth". I know many people whom I get along with who are not goth. My best female friend, isn't goth. Who cares, we get along great, and that's what matters.

Alright well I must go and eat, and I've been long winded enough.

When I was 27 a "young lad" attempted to pick me up at a club, and when he found out how old I was he said "well, you still look good"... oh my...

I'm generally pretty good at determining the age of teenagers (job related), but it doesn't seem to work both ways.  My second year teaching the students pegged me at 42... I was 27.   :'(  And I had more hair back then.  I'd hate to see what they'd guess now.

Well, I've yet to meet Atratus, but I've given up trying to guess anyone's age based on appearance.  Teens and tweens (hate that word) look waaaaay older than they used to, and I'm constantly judged to be younger than I am.  The one time I was judged to be older (35 to be exact, and what a shock to the system that was), was at a professional gathering of my partner's, so it was more that I was "acting" the part.  Age is, as the saying goes, a state of mind, but I do think that once you pass the time of the invincibility of early youth you do always keep it in the back of your mind.

I'm sure my "late thirties" will have just as negative a ring for me.  Just take comfort in the fact that 1) you apparently look younger than you are and 2) there are people in their forties and beyond who would be laughing their asses off at us.

I'm in my freaking late thirties! That does not have good ring to it. Gah! Apparently it still bugs me.

That's right, buddy!  Here I was bitching about dipping my toes in the water, when you have one foot firmly planted in the grave! :P  Have you picked out a place where you'd like us to scatter your ashes?  I could conduct a survey among the blue hairs here in QB if you like.

But seriously, Atratus, you don't look a day over 32.  ;D  If you weren't filled with so much "sage wisdom" I'd be willing to shave off a couple of years. ;)

30 kind of slid by for me, not a big deal. 33 hit me harder, mostly because my dad was 66 when he died and the men on both sides of my family don't exactly have a history of longevity. This past year I turned 37. That bugged me. 31, 32, 33 = early thirties; 34, 35, 36 = late thirties; 37, 38, 39 = late thirties. I'm in my freaking late thirties! That does not have good ring to it. Gah! Apparently it still bugs me.

Amen to that...just imagine where this world would be if more people paid more than lip service to it.  And laughing at criticism when it's coming from someone else's insecurities is the best thing you can do.

And where's this turning 30 support group?  Kidding...not to get too off topic here, but I'm not anxious at all, like I was turning 28 and 29.  Now that the inevitable's here, well there's no point worrying about it is there?

(The fact that I get id'ed on quite a regular basis really helps...guess it's another instance of the problems of judging a book by its cover).

, Learn to treat other people with respect, and not judge until you get to know the person.

Good advice no matter what culture you wish to identify with.

Ok, time to hear the young one's take.

Well, Certianly, there are alot of the pop goth's you are talking about, And i mean, many, many, many. But the fact is, Most of them don't consider anyone gothic unless in fact they appear gothic. On the other hand, Some of us that do understand the culture a tad bit more then the "Pop" goths can sometimes feel shunned by the elders per say. I know i have, i remember one time being told by one decked out 25 year old (Estimation) that i was in no way gothic whatsoever. Still, i have kept respect for the elder goth's, And i can now tell if someone is goth (even though they appear not to be on the outside) perfectly fine. I find it most likely that most of these Pop goth's won't keep it long anyways, I've seen alot of my Age and older crash and burn trying to be a goth. Most can't handle the slightest thing, like Criticism. I learned to laugh at criticism and how paranoid some people are, But i've seen some of these pop goth's break down or freak out at the slightest comment aimed towards them. I just think, that if your going to be a goth, Learn to treat other people with respect, and not judge until you get to know the person.

Well, thats my two cents  8)

I'm just a hop and a skip away from 30 myself.  I can feel that little ruby in my left hand starting to blink, and I'm sure the sandmen are waiting around one of these corners.  It does seem to push one to evaluate where they are and where they hope to be going.  Be sure to check out the turning 30 support group ;)

I notice this "what is goth" line runs through many of the threads here, and it's what I find most attractive about this culture: people actually think about this...

I think there's a difference between those who adopt the external "goth" signifiers and those who are drawn to it because (in addition to an appreciation for the darker side of things) they don't really feel like they belong anywhere else, in one of the breakfast club categories, as it were.  The former, I think, are either going to move on to another identity when they find this one doesn't satisfy whatever they're missing, or they'll remain scowling at anyone who doesn't have enough checks on the goth list. They'll let "goth" define who they are, and will be missing a lot of what the culture has to offer, not to mention not bringing anything to it. 

Of course I'm not suggesting that "goth" becomes the catch-all category for everyone who doesn't fit anywhere else.  There are any number of uncategorizable people who probably wouldn't dream of exploring the goth world.  But...acceptance is another theme that runs deep here.  People seem very aware of the ugly paradox Midlman refers to--on the one hand it’s a collective of people who feel ostracized from the mainstream, but on the other, are they accepted here?  I admit, I certainly have felt some trepidation in posting anything here, as I wouldn’t identify myself as a goth.  I don’t fit any category, and I would absolutely feel like a fake if I “tried” to be goth or anything else.  However, I have a deep appreciation for the artistry, the debates, the rejection of the mainstream, the aesthetics (and the music!), and it’s a community where I feel comfortable and where I feel I can express myself, and I would hope that’s enough.  If an elitist goth with a checklist wants to turn his or her nose up at me, I don't care.  After all, I’ve never cared either that most people in the mainstream don’t think I’m “normal”.

I think Swoop Guy is right, that these kids are doing what we all do, trying to figure out who we are.  Some of them may actually find something in the goth culture that fits them, most of them probably won’t and will move on.  And teenagers are notorious for rejecting those who don’t meet their standards, probably out of their own insecurities.  High school is hell, as I recall.  Good luck to them all.

Of course maybe I’m just thinking about this stuff lately because I’m turning 30 in a couple of weeks…brings on the self-reflection ya know…

Cheers, all

It seems to smack of the whole Breakfast Club debate.  "What are you?  Which box do you fit into?"  Teens (or anyone for that matter) struggling to find Identity, Individuality, and Acceptance.  These things aren't necessarily mutually exclussive, but they don't always go hand in hand either. 


People like to put things in groups.  It makes their brains more comfortable.  Or at least that's what my psych professor liked to suggest.

Does one have to satisfy criteria to be put into a group?  You're damn skippy they do.  If I walk around with checked polyester long sleeves, a pocket protector, and taped up glasses, I'm not about to be mistaken for the High School QB.  You know exactly what I'm talking about here.  People will classify others based on their appearance, and why shouldn't they.  Many will agree that one's clothing (sense of fashion) is a non-verbal form of expression.  What you wear is your attempt(conscious or subconscious) to communicate something of yourself to the world at large.  Even if you wear nothing you are still sending some kind of message to those around.

Goths in Specific

Music and fashion are the glue, or the cues that the culture is based on.  There may be philosophical undertones, but many of these ideas are the product of the music that founded the culture.  One can hardly deny that the topic of death is firmly ensconsed in Goth culture, but some could take it as leave it.  And as with any culture, there will be commonality and diversity.  I mean, goth is after all an off shoot of the 70s punk culture.   Punk had a great deal of politics and philosophy driving it (I bleive it was more than a simple reaction to the 70s disco scene). 


"Gabba gabba we accept you we accept you one of us" - The Ramones

I think that's an interesting line in context of what Trixy and MidLman have had to say.  Punk, and later Goth, are at times thought of as cultures of acceptance.  But even in such a culture the ugly head of elitism will eventually present itself.  In fact, I'm not very surprised that some goths will attempt to poo-poo someone they don't feel is up to par.  Though goth is becoming more popular, it is still not The Mainstream.  If it was we'd be hearing far less Biance in the top 40 and far more Beborn Beton or some other group popular among Goths that I never hear on the radio.  As such, goths in the world at large (meaning - not surrounded by other goths) are subject to ridicule or being ostracized.  It shouldn't be unthinkable then that when the shoe is on the other foot, a goth suffering from some previous hurt might take the opportunity to lash out at someone who doesn't meet their standard of Gothness.  Not to mention the "popularity points" it might garner them from their friends.  Goths are human too, and are just as subject to the foibles of being human as any other.  So no, it doesn't surprise me that a bunch of kids at a comic convention would try to play a status game in front of their friends.  But then again, I saw a guy in his twenties try to pull something similar in front of Sanctuary about a month ago.  I consider it more a sign of immaturity than an indicator of age.

We all seek to have a firm understanding of who we are.  We all have a certain pride in the uniqueness of being an individual (I differ from him and am therefore special).  We all want to be accepted, preferably for the individual we believe ourselves to be.  If one could ever accomplish this, I trust they would feel a tremendous sense of peace.  I recognize that my understanding of the world's people is limited, but these are things I believe to be common desires among all.  I also believe that as folks struggle to accomplish these things, they will take a few missteps along the way.  If they learn and grow from these missteps, that's great.  If not, they are simply trials for others to overcome on their paths.

As usual I've droned on too long.

Be well everyone.

It's not as if I am exactly old or looking down on these people because they are young, I just felt, along with everyone who was with me yesterday, that it was just...  I can't even explain it.  There was simply this feeling of something being amiss with the entire situation.

This train of thought has always bothered me. In a certain light, I myself could be considered a "pop goth". For a moment let's ignore the fact that I don't consider myself to be a "goth" in the first place. But that aside, if you put me in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong group of people I could easily be mistaken for a pop-goth.

I mean at one point weren't we all teenagers leading some sort of silent rebellion? Isn't that how most of us ended up invovled in the gothic community to begin with? It seems to me that this difference of opinion has to do with age. Let's face it: a 19-yr old didn't come up with the term "kindergoth". It was likely somebody in their late 20's or early 30's that first coined the term. The only difference between now and say 10 or 15 years ago is that, admittedly, goth has been brought to the forefront of the mainstream media and is suddenly more accessible and somewhat trendy. But otherwise, what makes those individuals any different than anybody in this community, other than age?

The sad fact is that this community, like any other community, can be every bit as unaccepting as any other community.

Quote: "It made me think..  is that what the goth culture is now?  The same mindless, blind herd mentality that it was supposed to be escaping?"

Absolutely! But that's what it always was to begin with. It's an ugly paradox. Goths have always just been the "other" blind herd, as far as I'm concerned. (Well, maybe only vision-impaired). To me, the only difference is that now the community has grown and expanded and become more commonplace. Granted there are some disillusioned teens out there who haven't found their place or themselves and will join any group because it's "cool". That aside, I would hate to be lumped in with these so called "pop-goths" just because I'm closer to my teenage years than some others in this community.

Again, I don't consider myself a goth because I don't appreciate the label. I am a person with a name. But I'd like to think that if I proclaimed myself a "goth", that the gothic community would be accepting of that.

I wasn't aware there was a special form or certain requirements needed to be met to be a "goth". Am I missing something here?

Anybody else have thoughts on this?

More stuff fromthe "safer schools" website's take on goths...

"In a personal interview, another professing Goth stated that if there were three Goths in a room there would be three totally separate individuals who hold totally different ideas about music, dress and life. He went on to say that they might not even speak to each other but if someone were to make a derogatory remark about anyone of them or about Gothic, they would unite and defend each other and the culture."

Does this sound familar to anyone?  Have you had a similar experience?  Just curious.  Personally, though I can see some merit in this stance, I can also imagine a number of circumsatnces that would proclude the described reaction.

Subscribe to Comments for "The Pop Goth"