Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The internet vs. reality: Goth Elitism Edition

To be honest, I hesitate to discuss this topic because it's like shouting into the void at this point. However, Angela Benedict recently posted a video about being a 90s teen goth and the fear of being labeled a poseur. Since we are nearly the same age, I generally tend to agree with her recollections, and it got me thinking about how much things have changed since then. The fear of being considered a fake was a possible embarrassment that kept people from doing and saying stupid things.
It's too bad that some these standards never got passed down into the online community. Perhaps if they had, the Goth Elitism Monster would end it's reign of terror on the internet forevermore.
One of the most basic things I remember about being a baby bat in the mid-90s was to either know what you were talking about or ask first. You didn't want to try to bullshit your way into the local scene. It was too easy to destroy your reputation, especially if others were still getting to know you and witnessing your first baby steps into gothdom.
If someone was all image but no substance, they got called out. Yes, it was embarrassing to have your pronunciation of Cocteau Twins corrected in public. And yes, we got grilled when the more established goths saw us wearing a Siouxsie and the Banshees t-shirt for the first time. It was an awkward rite of passage, but we managed to survive and thrive.

It was important for us baby bats to understand it wasn't just a look. Having knowledge about music and goth lifestyle components meant you were able to explain what being goth meant. Think of it as self-defense from a world who was eagerly waiting to proclaim us as Satan worshippers and pop us full of Prozac.
For better or worse, we didn't have safe spaces and nobody knew what a micro-aggression was. You either learned to fight back or run away. We weren't as sheltered, we had to develop a thick skin. If we couldn't physically fight back, we learned to use or wit and sharp tongue to cut down strangers who made snotty remarks. Some might say we were closer to our punk rock roots in that regard *shrugs*
Those who came up after us didn't have to be on the defense after The Craft came out or when Columbine incited goth paranoia in every town across the country. A week or two after the massacre, my friends and I went to see a movie. The manager ultimately denied us entry because the boys had long trench coats and refused to take them off as a "safety precaution".
Those of us who happened to be Wiccan and goth? Wearing a pentacle at that time was like an invitation to be harassed by any person who happened to notice it. I'm talking random outbursts from strangers in public on a semi-regular basis. One that always stuck out in my mind is when my friend Shane held the door open for a lady coming out of McDonalds. She noticed his pentacle and makeup then screamed something along the lines of "Stay away from me, you demon spawn!!" After dropping her bag in horror, she then proceed to run across the parking lot. Ahhh, the good old days when it was easy to shock people ;)
I think the next generation had a vastly different experience. Schools began to enforce anti-bullying policies and having neon green hair was no longer a barrier to getting your first minimum wage job.
Not saying that these differences are good or bad, just that they exist and probably affect the way each generation perceives the world.

The younger goths who interact mostly on social media do not seem to understand where us older bats are coming from. For many of them, the most important thing is the image they present. Why bother writing a poem and sharing it, when you can just take a selfie and get way more likes and subscribers? Why bother reading gothic literature when you can just buy some Killstar and make an unboxing video? Add the possibility of internet fame, free products and money, and being goth becomes nothing more than a walking commercial.
That being said, I do sympathize.
They have most likely been raised on the internet and interacting face to face may seem harsh compared to the ease of simply blocking and deleting comments when someone disagrees with you. When you have such a large fan base who constantly tells you how wonderful you are, it may be hard to accept constructive criticism or engage in healthy debate.
My intention isn't to place blame. This is just speculation about some of the generational differences that perhaps explain why we are experiencing this divide in the goth community. Our technology is addictive, and now we are starting to experience some negative side effects we weren't prepared for.

After watching yet another goth elitism video, I decided to ask the content creator what definition they were using for elitism because she never addressed it.
Instead of an answer, several people (including the young lady) accused me of being a bully, being negative, gatekeeping, etc. Simply for asking for clarity.
It certainly wasn't an attack on her intelligence, and it baffles me that asking someone to define their terms is now considering bullying.
In professional and academic situations, you must be prepared to defend your argument and expand on your ideas if necessary.
If you use a word that someone doesn't understand in a casual conversation, they might ask you to explain it.
This isn't bullying, and it certainly isn't elitism
From my understanding, elitism is often tied to power and the ability to grant or deny social status or resources to the people who are considered the lower class. In my experience, this simply isn't an issue that the community at large needs to worry about.
I've lived in several major U.S cities and have been going to goth and alternative clubs for about 20 years.
I'm an awkward introvert who doesn't always make the best impression.
I'm sure many people might have cringed at some of my makeup for club outfits during my baby bat years. I'm sure my fashion choices and makeup skills are still negatively judged by some.
There have always been occasional bullies and snobby goths, but no one has ever tried to stop me from being a part of a local scene if I made attempts to get involved.
Until someone proves otherwise, I'm convinced the Goth Elitism Monster is pretty much a creation of the internet.

The hilariously frustrating thing about these videos is that they are mostly made by people who are "famous" internet goths; many of whom make money from endorsing products and YouTube ad dollars.
Rant videos get views, and it makes me wonder if these famous YouTubers rush into posting content while a particular topic is circulating the community so it will be featured in the sidebar as someone is watching other videos about the subject. When 95% of a channel's content is endless shoe hauls, reviews of subscription box services and expensive makeup, I lose interest rapidly. To me, it proves they are out of touch with what most of us consider important as goths. I don't take their opinion on goth elitism seriously and it's hard for me to imagine that they actually give two bat shits about the future of our subculture.
I'm not accusing these people of being all filler and no substance. Surely, many of them are intelligent, creative beings. Just remember that their goth identity is a business. Some even flat out refuse to address certain issues; most likely because they know that taking a stance will cost them followers.
Just consider the source and their possible motivations before allowing their opinion to negatively impact your experience as a goth.  

Having been involved in many pagan community events, I feel like I've encountered this monster before.
No worries, kiddos. The monster isn't very scary and can be defeated quite easily.
Could this monster perhaps be the younger sibling of the "GOTCHA!" pagan? These people are notorious for interrupting conversations with the sole purpose of proving that they are smarter or more magical than everyone else. They corner the person who happens to be alone at pagan pride for the first time, then launch into questions the poor soul can't possibly answer.
This is the person who can't wait to hear some newbie pronounce Samhain incorrectly.
Unprompted, they easily launch into a 20 minute lecture about how Maraget Murray's witch cult theory has been debunked and how there is no solid evidence of a lineaged Wiccan tradition before Gerald Gardner.
It's the so-called "hereditary witch" who does "real magijycks" passed down from their ancestors who lived in Salem. What they forget to mention is that her ancient family grimore can easily be found at the local Barnes and Noble for only $19.99.
What I'm getting at here is that the "GOTCHA!" pagans are basically vampires who feed off newbies and other innocents to feel good about their own shortcomings. Roll your eyes, walk away, and join the drum circle. Never fear. They've most likely made a reputation for themselves and you will find many people in your local scene that are more than happy to help you evade the beast if you need assistance.
"GOTCHA!" goths are often self-proclaimed experts in some field, and eagerly await to show you just show much they know. Or, more accurately, demonstrate just how much you don't know. Never mind that you didn't asked to be schooled on Nietzsche when you innocently stepped outside for a quick cigarette. It's the type of person who still thinks we are living in the 90s and asks every new clubgoer if they like Marilyn Manson because he's "definitely NOT goth". Then, they proceed to unleash the hounds regarding every other so-called poseur goth band, just waiting for you to slip up and admit you like Black Veil Brides. And now you are stuck at the bar listening to this idiot because you aren't about to give up your spot in line after waiting nearly 15 minutes for a drink. Yup, the "GOTCHA!" lurks in the shadows and strikes when you least expect it. 

Judging you, internet. From the safety of my bathroom. Haughty myspace photo, 2008?
One more time for the cheap seats: if you wear the band t-shirt, you are eventually going to get quizzed. That guy has always existed, and he's never going away. I know. It's annoying as shit, but it's not elitism. My guess is that goths who mainly exist online and have the power to block/delete have been somewhat sheltered from dealing with these types in real life. So when said internet goth finally goes out to a club and encounters the "GOTCHA!" type, they mistake it for elitism and maybe do not have the required interpersonal skills to  remove themselves or diffuse the situation. The overwhelming majority of us bats do not behave this badly. An occasional "GOTCHA!"goth encounter indicates a personality flaw in that individual, not a systemic issue in the goth subculture. It's time to put the Goth Elitism myth to rest.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Halloween 13 Tag

Since we have a Friday the 13th AND Halloween coming up, I figured it might be fun to do start a spooky tag. Feel free to join in!

1. Top 3 movies to watch during the Halloween season?
Pumpkinhead, Hocus Pocus, Trick 'r' Treat
Also, old Roseanne episodes!!!

2. Choose a costume: witch, vampires, or zombies? Witch 

3. What is your favorite Halloween sweet treat? Carmel apple suckers are the best!

4. Favorite Halloween memory (or autumn memory if you don't celebrate Halloween).
Carving pumpkins with my dad and he would wear his Freddy Krueger costume and chase us around with the pumpkin guts :D

5. Have you ever seen a ghost or had any paranormal experience? Yes. 

6. You've been given a doll that comes alive with the spirit of which goth musician? What do they do? Are you scared or best buds?
 Robert Smith. He wobbles around, knocking stuff over and giggling. Sometimes, he sings which is nice but mostly I understand nothing he says. Kind of like this LOL <3

7. "This is Halloween"-original version or Marilyn Manson version? Not a huge MM fan, but I actually really like his cover.

8. Drink of choice: pumpkin spiced latte or hot apple cider? Hot apple cider- WITH RUM!!!

9. If you dressed up for Halloween as a child, what was your favorite costume?
    Pics if you've got 'em!!
    If you didn't dress up, what costume would you have chosen?
I think I went as Madonna a few times. Once, my mom made me a clown costume and I cried because it scared me and she made me wear it anyway!! Still scared of clowns to this day :(

I was born to be a star :D
Halloween, 1987
10. Favorite song or poem for this time of year? "Fall Children" by A.F.I.

11. Chose your own adventure!
      a)Get drunk with Edgar Allen Poe and sing "Thriller" at a karoke bar
      b)Do psychedelics with H.P. Lovecraft and go for a midnight swim
      c)Play Vampire:the Masquerade with Bram Stoker at an all night diner until the waitress finally kicks you out at 5a.m.
Why did I make such a hard question? They all sound awesome but I think I have to pick A. That sounds like it would be pretty hilarious :D .

12. Candy corn-yay or nay? Only if you mix it with dry roasted peanuts because it tastes like a PayDay candybar :D

13. What are you plans this year? Care to describe your costume? I may go to the Nocturna costume party the weekend before the 31st, but will probably just hang out with my baby niece and take her trick or treat the night of. My coven does a traditional dumb supper later in the evening. For a costume, I am thinking of a swamp witch/creature OR Frankie Stein from Monster High.