In the opening to his book entitled, "What is Goth?" Aurelio “Voltaire” Hernandez explains: "To the mundane, Goths are weird, black-clad freaks who are obsessed with death; they are sad all of the time, have no sense of humor, and are potentially homicidal" (p. 2). Despite the outcry for equality from this subculture, many Americans fall prey to this stereotype because of the many negative connotations from the media. The Columbine High School massacre, the Dawson College shooting and the murder of Pamela Vitale by Scott Dyleski are but a few of the ways the media has misled the public into thinking the Gothic subculture, as a whole, was responsible for these atrocities. In each case, it was proven soon afterward that the people responsible were not a part of the Gothic community, but rather mislabeled by ignorant media reporters.
The Gothic subculture is not to be mistaken for: the Germanic tribes that defeated the Romans, the once-popular form of architecture in Western Europe, or the literary style, although this is from where the term etymologically stems. The modern Gothic subculture began as a more "romantic" or "literary" offshoot of the Punk movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Punk itself was a rejection of most of society’s values, and the Gothic movement is no different. As Punk died in the early 1980s, Goth survived and grew into its own subculture, originally keeping the core "rejection of society" attitude. As time passed, this attitude transformed into more of a “no more blind acceptance of societal values” instead of rejection for its own sake.
The first use of the term "Gothic" is often up for debate, and many would cite the media's description of the music of the Doors or "Diamond Dogs" by David Bowie. However, the Gothic community, by and large, accepts that the term originally described the music of Siouxie and the Banshees or Joy Division by their manager. "The first dateable use of the term "gothic" in relation to post-punk music was by Tony Wilson, who described Joy Division as gothic compared with the pop mainstream on a BBC TV programme, "Something Else" (15/9/79), when Tony Wilson and Steve Morris were interviewed" (Scathe).
One of the most consequential misconceptions about the Gothic movement is of the religious affinity of those that believe themselves to be "Goth". Because of the false media portrayal of Goths, and the mistaken idea that Marilyn Manson is Goth, the public is lead to believe that all Goths are Satanic. Yet, in reality, "Many Goths reflect popular culture and are probably nominal or devout Christians. Atheism, Agnosticism, the New Age, Gnosticism, Shamanism, Wicca, other Neopagan traditions, and other minority faith groups are represented more frequently than in the general population" (Robinson). While it is true that many Goths wear the Christian Cross or the Egyptian Ankh, many times these religious symbols represent a satirical ideal, or are sometimes just for the sake of fashion....