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Gothic Subculture - Sinister or Harmless?

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Introduction

Lidia Rigga (I MSU) Gothic Subculture - Sinister or Harmless? "What are the worst dangers that threaten our children today? Satanism? Drugs? Homosexuality? A culture of violence? Heat exhaustion? What if there was a danger that included all of these? That danger is here, and its name is GOTH." 1 Those words, taken from the website hosted by Parents American Religious Organizations Defending Youth which main purpose is to inform and warn parents against dangers related to Gothic subculture, best summarize the confusion around the phenomenon of being 'Goth'. Is gothdom a sinister cult posing danger to the society or a harmless movement, one among many? The commonly negative reputation of the Gothic subculture, especially among parents and teachers, has its roots in stereotypes. 'Stereotype' is defined in the Webster's New World Dictionary as "a fixed or conventional notion or conception, as of a person, group, idea, etc., held by a number of people, and allowing for no individuality, critical judgment, etc." Stereotypes are usually imposed on the group of people they are applied to by others who are not within the group but are instead critical of them, very often due to lack of understanding or fear. Thus stereotypes are simplified cutouts representing general ideas rather than real living human beings, depriving them of their exceptional individual features. ...read more.

Middle

Putting death at the centre of their style and their lives becomes a provocation by a subcultural group of adolescents which cannot be forgiven by society. Youth has to look fresh and 'tasty'; it is not supposed to walk around 'dead'. In a society with an ever increasing average life expectancy, dealing with death is suitable only when a certain age has been reached." Another stereotype commonly associated with Goths is that their culture is anti-Christian with its Satanic motifs, black clothing, occult jewellery and devilish music of Marilyn Manson. They are accused of the worship of Satan, dangerous rituals and blood-drinking. Being attracted to the idea of self-mutilation, they are proud of their scars and occult symbols carved with razor blades all over their bodies. The Gothic movement is considered dark and self-destructive, glorifying everything that is morbid, and degrading everything that is good. The truth hiding behind this stereotype is different. Although the rooms of the "blacks' are designed in a special manner, e.g. containing small altars with accessories like grave-ribbons, crucifixes, grave lamps, candles and skulls, their purpose is not to serve as a place for black masses but to "reconstruct the dark atmosphere of the cemetery, its proximity to death, or serve as a cave that shelters from a threatening outside world."3 The colour black which dominates the ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it must be said that evaluating the whole subculture by means of stereotypes may be more sinister than the community's rules themselves as it shows no respect for the individual, leads to intolerance and finally creates a deep chasm between the general society and the Gothic community. It should not be forgotten that Goths have to cope with the same pressures that non-Goths encounter: social anxieties, family problems, every day failures and stresses. The only thing that differs is their way of dealing with those problems; a darker one and more introspective version of 'normal'. Tolerance and understanding is what Goths long for, as is stated by one representative of the subculture: "One way or another, those of us in the Gothic community demand to exist with as many rights and as much respect as is given to any 'normal' human being. Our population are millions worldwide, and we laugh, cry, and live just like anyone else. We are your doctors, your counselors, your grocers, your teachers, your students, your librarians, your favourite authors, your fathers, your daughters, and your friends. We may choose to revel in the shadows, but we smile with those who would rather live in the light of day. Being Goth is not a 'phase', it is not dangerous, and it is not going anywhere. Everyone deserves a chance to simply be. This is all we ask: let us be. ...read more.

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