What is a Goth? In the good old days it was a Germanic tribe of barbarians that played a pivotal role in the destruction of the Roman Empire; raping, pillaging and all of that ugly business. Party people, you might say. What is a Goth now? Of course there is no single definition, but it has something to do with safety pins, zippers, and black; lots and lots of black.
Where did they come from? What do they want from us? Surely this subculture didn’t simply ride out of the dark ages on black horses with pasty white faces and fake pentagram tattoos. Rest assured, the origins of Goth aren’t quite as dramatic as all that. In reality, the Goth scene became the cultural phenomenon in the early 1980’s in the UK. It started as a handful of post-punk bands, but they quickly came together and formed the subculture that we all know and love.
It began with the rock, but what is a Goth now? Depending on who you ask, it could be the guy with the really greasy black hair that gives you dirty looks behind the counter of Cinnabon or maybe a bunch of people who are really, really into their music or even just a group of kids that just want to be seen as different from the teeming masses.
Regardless of your definition, Goth is a unique piece of Generation “Y” in particular. No other group seems to be so intent on separating themselves from the norm while still remaining a part of something larger. It is a sort of dependent independence.
But what is the point? In recent times, Goth seems to have become a fad, a phase, a fashion unto itself. Rather than the intense dedication to music that it was originally, or the message of independence and non-conformity it supposedly became, Goth now has a price tag and corporate sponsorship. Stores like Hot Topic provide aspiring Goth-lings a one-stop shop for all of their excessive zipper, Jhonen Vasquez, Nightmare Before Christmas paraphernalia and shirts with witty remarks needs.
Of course, none of these things provide any clue as to what the point of Goth is. Perhaps it is a cry for attention, or a phase, or an obsession with music. Maybe it’s an expression of latent homicidal tendencies or a desire to never be approached by anyone ever-for any reason. It might be all of these things and more. In the end, Goth might just be whatever we want it to be. We don’t have to understand it or accommodate it, but the fact remains that the Goth kids remain and persist, regardless of how weird or dark they may be to the uninitiated.
Personal feelings aside, it is important to remember that we belong to a generation that not only lives in the shadow of “The Greatest Generation”, but is often forsaken for the prospect of “our children’s children”. In a generation of ambiguity and no clear identity or purpose, we have all struggled to seek out our place in the world. Yes, wearing black lipstick and a trench coat during the summer may seem like a strange way of getting there, but ultimately we’re all trying to find the same thing.