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Goths: More Than Just a Title


Brooke Hastings

Many youths of today have broken up into different cultural groups, depending upon their different interests and hobbies. Some may seem dangerous such as skaters, vampires and Goths; while others seem "preppy" or "high-classed" such as jocks and cheerleaders. One of the most interesting and mysterious out of all subcultures is the one of the "Goths." The dark, gloomy and mysterious subculture is a combination of art, literature, clothing, music and history.

"Goths" have a very distinctive and dark look about them. Some of the most popular Goth styles of the era are anything that is black or velvet, including jet black hair. Some exceptions of hair color are very light bleached blonde, red or purple.Usually seen on the face of a Goth is black and white makeup- white foundation, black lipliner and lipstick, and black eyeliner. The eyebrows, if any, are usually thin, plucked and drawn in. The clothing worn is a fetish/bondage fashion including leather, latex, rubber and corsets. Goths wear opera style capes or cloaks to show their dark nature with the cynic cloaks. Finishing the mysterious style are accessories including chokers- dog collars with spikes, velvet ribbons tied around the neck or bondage collar, and lots of silver jewlery.

Goths never expose their skin, the bare skin is usually covered by black nylons or fishnet pantyhose. Paleness goes along with not exposing skin. The belief in paleness is an essential part of "Gothness." Some Goths want the pale look as the look of the undead, or some believe that they are following the Victorian tradition of nobility and paleness.

To thoroughly understand the mysterious nature of the clothing and the culture of Goths, the origins of the subculture need to be explained. The word "Goth" is a very old word, dating back as far as the Middle Ages. The term was used to describe a barbaric Germanic tribe known as the Goths. The Middle Ages was a time of great destruction and turmoil, and the corruption was blamed on the tribe of Goths. The Goths had their own art style, which was based around religion. Goths had a negative shroud around and over them, which made many people place them as outcasts of the Roman world, much like Goths of today are outcasts of the modern day world.

During the Romantic Movement, Gothic and Medieval clothing, art and literature came back into fashion. The Gothic mysterious look brought out a creative power in every individual that tried the fashion. During the Romantic Movement the word "Gothic" came to be used with the same words as dark, strange and bizarre. The themes and the symbols of the time; the ankh, a symbol of everlasting life; are often used by the Goths of today.

The Romantic writers of the era are also well loved by the Goths of today. Writers like Byron and Shelley were interested is basically the same thing as the Goths of today are: "the darker realms of human conscience and experience"(HansD., para.3). Also important in the literature of the Romantics of yesterday and the Goths of today are the fixations with sex and many sinful associations with delight. The Gothic Novel, which confronted "the darker, shadowy side of the self "(Hans,D. para4) challenged the way in which people thought of social acceptance, and was a mixture of weird scenes that were dark and mysterious.

The mysterious and eerie Gothic style of today ties in with the one of the Romantic Movement and the collapse of the Roman Empire. The beliefs, literature and art are much the same. Although Gothic eventually faded out after the Romantic Movement it soon came back in the world to help teens feel that they are a part of something and do not have to conform to the "happy" social scene that everyone puts emphasis on. The new scene, as explained earlier, is derived out of the mysterious, eerie and darkness of the literature in the Romantic Movement. Novels by Stephen King are very popular with Goths of today. His novels are modern expressions of the Romantic stories of the seventeen-hundreds.

Gothic style came out again in 1979, following the "punk" movement. Gothic may have been a rebellion against the brightness and ferociousness of the punk, or a rebellion against the society as a whole. Young Goths found a way to come out through the song "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus. The song had the kind of eerieness and darkness that the youths were looking for, similar to what the peoples of the Romantic Movement found in their literature.

In the early eighties bands like The Damned, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees point to the first generation of Goths, located in Britian. The British bands that helped label the Goths were eventually called Gothic music. Their songs tell a "story" about darkness, that appeal to the Goths. In the late eighties and early nineties, the were a second generation of Goths. The second generation were characterized by different bans called The Shroud, Rosetta Stone, and London After Midnight. The new bands sparked the Goth movement into the U.S. At the time of the bands in the US, the Goths became known as a separate subculture. The third generation of Goths, in the late nineties, are characterized by writers like Mick Mercer, author of the Gothic Bible or The Sliver Bible, Dave Thompson, and Jo-Ann Green. The eerieness of the Romantic Movement literature again apparent at this time in the Gothic movement. By the third generation of Goths, in the late nineties, the amount of so-called Goths soared and the distinction between real Goths and fake Goths had to be made. Chain stores made the look of the Goths more accessible to the younger groups, who weren't true Goths. The music of Marylin Manson came in association with Goths, and along with him the popularity of "shock-rock" in the young Gothic community. Along with "shock-rock" a new and different generation of Goths swept the globe.

The gradual movement of the Goth culture is astounding. From the barbaric Germanic tribes of the Goths to the mysterious literature and dark art of the Romantic Movement and that of the early and late nineties, all the way to the new "shock-rock" culture of today's Goths, the Gothic subculture is one of deep roots. So, subcultures, especially that of the Goths, have not just been invented by some "crazy" and "deranged" young adults; they are deeply rooted civilizations.


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