Nerd: Someone who is smart in all areas.
Geek: Someone who is smart in a few areas.
Dork: A dolt with two left feet.
Batman, am I barely complete?
am I somehow, however, hurt?
I know others that say norms of life with people
means certain lifestyles and
standards set between good and bad,
everyone is different, yet same
the autism makes everyone strange and
is that too odd?
autistics are special
is Batman different?
Batman is special
are autistics really odd too?
that is strange
everyone makes autism the same
yet different is everyone
bad and good between set standards
and lifestyles certain
means people with “life of norms” say that
others know I hurt
somehow, however, I am complete
Barely, I am Batman
– Fun video about “How to Become A Goth.”
First Wave of Goth/Post-Punk –
The goth subculture came out of the late 70s/early 80s as a reaction against the punk era. The early “goth” bands, and I use that term loosely, could just as easily be defined today as post-punk. However, the early goth bands did have a few things in common with the goth subculture that we have come to know in this day and age. They largely all had a propensity for wearing black, wearing make-up and being more artistic and introspective than the post-punk bands.
In their early days, according to one source that I found, they were apparently originally referred to by some media as “positive-punk.” The way I understand it is that punk is more about experiencing the world through a reaction against it–usually an angry one; while goth is more a reaction against it, but instead reflecting that reaction on a personal basis (back to the introspectiveness).
There are only three bands that goths will agree on as being part of the goth culture, and they’re all part of the beginning of goth. They are:
- Siouxsies and the Banshees
- The Cure
Here we have Siouxsies and the Banshees singing one of the songs used in Batman Returns, called “Face to Face.”
These next two are the same song with different qualities in the recordings. It’s the classic goth song by Bauhaus, called “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” Bela Lugosi of course refers to the actor who played originally played Dracula.
After these three bands, there aren’t any more bands that are 100% agreed on by all the members of this subculture. The following two, while being more disputed, are however largely agreed on as also being two of the classic bands out there for goth.
– Sisters of Mercy
– Alien Sex Fiend
The Second Wave of Goth
Darkwave combines the elements of electronic music and the lyrical qualities of goth. It is considered to more or less be the second wave of Goth music. At this time, approximately 1985-1995, two other new genres of music are introduced as well: New Wave and Industrial.
Frequently, Darkwave and New Wave are classified in the same category. I however, think that they are different. New Wave can largely be considered more ethereal sounding than the earlier variations of goth music. It was seen as an offshoot of punk music, but with a lighter, crisper sound than what the previous years of rock music had been. Plus, its related bands are incredibly diverse, ranging from Depeche Mode
all the way to the Dead Can Dance:
Sometimes this type of music is referred to as dance music, which brings to mind the B-52s. While this may be true, either way, the B-52s are most definitely not goth; of course, neither would you think the Dead Can Dance would be either, but this guy thinks they are.
Industrial, on the other hand, is somewhat more confusing to the casual observer. It has more of a punk connection than what true goth music is considered to have. According to Sabrina, who has DJed for over 6 years and identifies largely with the goth subculture, the difference between these two comes down to electronics. Industrial uses more synthesizers than goth music. It’s more in line with the dance music, while goth is more rock or folk music based.
Some people consider Industrial and Goth just be two words of the same category, thus making it into Industrial Goth, because they share so many similarities; while other people say Industrial/Goth. Really, the thing to remember is the difference between punks and goths. A general way of putting this would be to describe it like this: when something bad happens to punks, they get angry; when something bad happens to goths, they get sad.
That’s a hideously stereotypical statement, but it does get across the difference that primarily is present in-between these two sub-cultures.
One of the bands that would represent what is considered “traditional” Industrial is Skinny Puppy:
Notice the starkness of the video and the synthesizer that starts everything off.
Some others include:
The Third Wave of Goth –
This third wave of goth extends from approximately the mid-90s all the way up until now.
There are many new goth groups for this time period. Many. You could say that there have been an explosion of new groups. Too many to list. Try this website. Plus, since this time period sports so many different smaller delineations of goth groups, one of the main problems with listing the different bands is that you can easily get labelled a “poser” (fake) if you list the wrong ones. Since no one is in agreement on these, I’ll just let you do your own research.
In this time period, the culture began to experience the differences between true goths and poser goths. The poser goths primarily only dress up when they go out or to the mall. They don’t know the music. They buy all their clothes from Hot Topic. They’re sort of like dark preps. I say that because Hot Topic is expensive. Plus, Hot Topic is part of mainstream culture. If there’s anything that goths aren’t, it’s mainstream.
Even though David Bowie started pushing the boundaries of sexuality back in the 60s and 70s, this period of goth culture was really the part that took that idea and ran with it. In this period of time, we find a lot of people exploring the androgynous aspect of the goth world.
Androgyny, as explained by Dictionary.com, is:
1. being both male and female; hermaphroditic.
2. having both masculine and feminine characteristics.
3. having an ambiguous sexual identity.
4. neither clearly masculine nor clearly feminine in appearance: the androgynous look of many rock stars.
While the word is still used today, there is another term often found alongside this word, referred to as “genderqueer.” The idea behind this word is to describe a group of people who don’t readily fit into the prescribed stereotypes of what “male” or “female” are. These people may or may not be straight. It doesn’t matter, because that’s not the point. I point towards a picture of me at a significantly younger age.
Androgyny, or blurring the lines between “normal” and not, is a large part in the goth culture today. It is an idea that follows one of the main ideas of this subculture. It’s used for many purposes, like to challenge social gender barriers, to show that they have an open mind, or purely just for fashion.
II. Going Beyond Labels
One of the things that Goths pride themselves on is their ability to be open-minded and understanding towards other people’s differences. To many people, and not just those in this culture, gender is just a word that perpetuates the idea of bad stereotypes like:
- Boys don’t cry
- Women are always homemakers
- Men can’t be artistic or emotional
- Girls are only interested in dolls and sewing
Etc. These concepts are largely outdated now in most circles, but there are still preoccupations by many people on what the “norm” is. And so in part, these things are still perpetuated, up to a degree. Goths challenge that; first with their clothes, and then with their ideas and music. Or vice versa. The challenge seems to come from within them, but what other people notice first is the outer demeanor of goths.
One band that I will mention is “My Chemical Romance.” It demonstrates some of what this presentation has mentioned concerning goths in general:
III. Beyond the “norms” of expression
Another way to look at being goth is to think of it as a method for expressing something like feelings that modern culture tries to ignore. Many within in the subculture look to literature/writing, to art, music, to express those things in their lives that are otherwise inaccessible to explain.
Some consider this expression as a passion for sexual intensity as innovative creation pushing the boundaries of what is “okay” and what is not.
Others choose to use this medium to discuss more intense feelings like suicide or depression. Teenagers, especially, are faced with so many expectations of how they are supposed to be.
Several recent studies have shown that approximately half of the teen part of this culture are self-injurers and most of those who self-injure have also attempted suicide. However, most of these teens seem to have been self-injurers/suicidal before they became goth. As mentioned, goths tend to be very open and welcoming to people who are different; so it’s probable that this particular percentage became goth because of that very fact. Also, the goth culture is strongly non-violent. A news article written in the last few years indicates that the goth culture is probably supporting these “troubled youth” (as newspapers are so fond of calling them) by giving them much needed acceptance.
- — Self-injury —
What: Activities like burning, cutting, hitting, biting, scratching, etc. Why: Purpose of self-injury: for pleasure, to deal with pain, or to feel release Who: People who . . .
–strongly dislike/invalidate themselves
–are hypersensitive to rejection
–are chronically angry, usually at themselves
–tend to suppress their anger
–have high levels of aggressive feelings, which they disapprove of strongly and often suppress –or direct inward
–are more impulsive and more lacking in impulse control
–tend to act in accordance with their mood of the moment
–tend not to plan for the future
–are depressed and suicidal/self-destructive
–suffer chronic anxiety
–tend toward irritability
–do not see themselves as skilled at coping
–do not have a flexible repertoire of coping skills
–do not think they have much control over how/whether they cope with life
–tend to be avoidant
–do not see themselves as empowered
A list of helpful acronyms found on self-injury websites is here Also, something important to note is that for most people who self-injure, self-injury tends to be a life affirming activity, rather than a sign of impending doom.
– True? Or False?
1. All goths are Satanists – False. There are goths of every faith out there, and some are perhaps Satanic, but certainly not the majority and not the standard. The clothes are part of the protest against modern materialistic society and its criticisms/maltreatment against things that are different from the majority.
2. All goths are fixated on death – False. Goths are largely more open with their feelings that the majority, and so they actually let us know what they’re thinking about issues. Plus, this fixation could also be thought of as “acceptance” or “acknowledgement.” As this article mentions, goths respect death. Death is largely a taboo subject, especially when you’re under 20.
3. All goths love Marilyn Manson – If you want a surefire way to start a fight on a goth message board, then make that comment on a thread sometime. Some goths do like Marilyn Manson, but a large number of them classify him as no more than a poser who’s using the lifestyle to get rich.
I talked to a friend of mine who used to be goth about him. She said that he was the “sick, twisted version of goth culture.”
Final Thought for Music Therapists – Goths receive a lot of judgment, discrimination and rejection from those around them–largely from those who are not part of the culture. One of the things we don’t want to do as music therapists is to add to that.