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Rejecting Social Norms: The Goth Subculture

2054 words - 8 pages

The late seventies and early eighties saw the beginning emergence of the Goth subculture: a group of social misfits that appear to always find themselves on the outskirts of mainstream pop culture. It is a complex subculture with great depth and mystery. The Gothics share a connection with the darker aesthetic, through their intense music and sexual fetishism, calling into question their predisposition to depression and rejection of social norms.
There is rarely a single moment in history when one can pinpoint the exact moment when a subculture emerges. It is a slow building of multiple influences. Valerie Steele, Gothic Dark Glamour, describes historical accounts of nomadic, warriors living in the forests of northern Europe in the third century A.D (3). These barbaric tribes, referred to as “Goths,” tore through the countryside killing people and destroying entire villages (Steele 4). Over the next hundreds of years, the obsession for the death and darkness evolved into more of a superstition and religious practice with the emergence of witchcraft and Satanism (Steele 5). This dark culture attracted cultural outsiders who where intrigued by melodramatic horror stories and homosexual aesthetics (Steele 9). Fast forward to modern day Goth subculture, which began a transformation of identity in the late seventies and caught fire in the early eighties. Splintering off of the British punk movement, the term Goth was coined in the United Kingdom by journalists and public figures in the music industry that credit Anthony H. Wilson when he described, “Joy Division as Gothic compared to the pop mainstream” (Steele 127). However, others credit the music band Bauhaus as the grandfather’s of Goth. According to David Thompson and Jo-Ann Green, “Undead Undead Undead,” The Study of Gothic Subculture, when Bauhaus released their single “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” they interviewed Peter Murphy, of Bauhaus, who revealed that “Bauhaus’ intention with the song was tongue-in-cheek.” Nevertheless, the presentation of the song and the band’s aesthetics took to its fans and the Goth subculture was given birth. In addition and along side of Bauhaus, Siouxsie Sioux of the Banshees solidified Goth as a genre/subculture when referring to her band’s new direction as Gothic (Thompson).
As is often the case, many of the music artists credited with influencing Goth’s emergence and establishing its longevity as a subculture didn’t agree they helped inspire this new scene. Ian Astbury of the Cult, then the Southern Death Cult, also a revered as a pioneer of the Goth movement said of the subculture, “The Goth tag was a bit of a joke” (qtd. in Thompson). In a joint interview, Peter Murphy and Ian Astbury jokingly concluded it was the combination of the audience that they created through their own unintentional look, “musically, the Banshees were the archetypes, The Cramps for their imagery and clothing, and Bauhaus for their makeup” (Thompson). Despite the artists’ refusal to...

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