Lately there has been a lot of tension within the online Goth community over the highly controversial issue of whether you can still be Goth if you don't like Goth music. I'm interested in observing the varying opinions from those involved in the subculture, and feel inspired to share with you my own thoughts on the subject.
I understand that this is a highly sensitive topic of discussion, but I believe talking about it is the only way to gain insight into why some people hold the views they do and even if in the end we can't find a way to agree, perhaps there will be a newfound respect for those who hold opposing beliefs.
So Can You Be Goth And Hate The Music?
Like with many things in life, it can be hard to answer this question with an overall ''Yes'' or ''No'' response as I feel it greatly depends on the individual but as a general rule I am inclined to say that yes, you can be a Goth without liking the music. Though I respect the opinions of those who say ''definitely not'' and I think they hold some valid points that should definitely be considered, I do think that there are a lot of grey areas surrounding this argument.
I recognise that for many people the answer to this question is as easy as black and white, as for them ''the music is what makes the subculture'' and therefore their views fall in line with those that believe if you are to class yourself as Goth then you must listen to and enjoy the music.
Whilst the creation of Goth subculture was undoubtedly sparked by the music -and I hope that all of those within the community will respect and appreciate that fact- there is way more to being Goth than just the music.
Of course for those that were around when the scene first kicked off it's easy to see why music is so fundamentally important, with the introduction of Goth clubs and concerts giving them safe places to meet up and enjoy each others company. However as someone who wasn't even alive during the 80's and really doesn't enjoy concerts or club atmospheres, it's difficult to see things the same way.
While I agree that the Goths who lived through the 80's and 90's should be able to share their knowledge and experiences with those who didn't, it's important to understand that their experiences contrast greatly from the things we experience today. Things have changed drastically since the 80's and 90's and many of the clubs have closed down or adapted to suit younger generations. This does not mean that the subculture isn't as good as it was before, nor does it mean that ''Goth is dead.'' It just means that things are different now and change is often necessary for things to survive.
As much as some people would like to disagree, we are very much influenced by the era of which we are born into and this has an impact on our musical interests, fashion choices and even the way we speak. Goth is not excluded from this. Though the music was once the only thing that brought Goths together i.e. for concerts, festivals or clubs on the weekend. We no longer rely solely on the music to find other people who share similar interests to ourselves. With social media playing a huge part in everyone's lives, goths are now being connected with each other easily through fashion, literature and various other common interests.
Talking About Music Makes You An Elitist!
I'm sure many of will have seen the word ''elitism'' used to label certain kinds of Goths within the subculture but sometimes that word can be misused creating a whole new area of confusion.
If you have read my previous articles, you will already be very aware of my feelings toward elitists (spoiler alert: I cannot stand them). However the word is thrown around all too much and often it is used to shield the individuals lack of knowledge or insecurities on a certain topic, in this case: music. But just because someone asks about what music you like or expresses a fondness for a certain Goth band, it doesn't make them an elitist. It's completely acceptable to talk about music within the subculture and it shouldn't be seen as a taboo subject.
It deeply upsets me that there are many people who fear the responses that others have to this question and if you are someone who is concerned about ''not being Goth enough'' in the eyes of others, please don't be. No one has any authority over you and no one is going to ''revoke your Goth card'' and kick you out of the subculture just because you think and feel a bit differently. In the end Goth is an umbrella term used to describe a group of like minded individuals and the label itself should't be something that restricts your likes and dislikes.
It's important to remember that though you may not like the popular Goth bands, there are so many different music genres that vary so much from each other and usually there is at least one Goth band that you will find fits your tastes. It's just about trial and error and research.
If you still don't like music that comes under the Goth category, that is okay! You don't have to, but remember that there are going to be those who do like it and it doesn't automatically mean they are being an elitist. That being said -and this is why it can be hard to answer with a simple yes or no- if you don't like the music and you don't like the fashion or anything else related to Goth...Is it really appropriate to class yourself as such? Probably not. On the opposing side, if someone likes Goth music but hates everything else that relates to Goth, are they really Goth? Again, probably not.
Goth is more than just music, clothing or lifestyle on it's own. It's a collection of these interests that makes someone a Goth and disliking one aspect of the Goth subculture shouldn't mean that you are excluded from the community or tarnished as a poseur by those who feel differently.
You're Darkly Inclined, Not Goth!
Ah, the old ''You're not Goth, you're just darkly inclined'' argument. So why don't those who fit the label of Goth (besides not liking the music of course) just call themselves ''darkly inclined'' instead?
Well, withholding the label exclusively for ''hardcore Goths'' comes across as very elitist in my opinion and you may as well just say ''You can't sit with us!'' Using ''darkly inclined'' in this way implies that there is something wrong or that the individual isn't as good as the real thing when in reality they are just as valid as someone who does like the music. Goth may be a part of who someone is, but it isn't all they are and if you are spending your entire life restricting yourself so as to only fit the Goth label, you're not only missing out on so much, you are also limiting your own quality of life. Labels aren't everything, just be yourself and do what feels right to you and makes you happy. The people that are so hung up on ''outing fake Goths'' and limiting the use of the Goth label are the ones who should be changing their attitude.
It goes without saying that I don't expect everyone to agree with my thoughts on this topic. However I would love it, even if you don't agree with me, if you could please keep your comments respectful and considerate of others when sharing your own thoughts and opinions of whether you think someone can still class themselves as Goth if they don't like the music.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2017 BunnyClaws
jim on January 01, 2019:
i`m goth and i dont ` understand the music mabye its becuse
i got into it some time between 1999 200
Neveen Badr on September 12, 2018:
I'm goth and not into the music, I listen to rock but not death metal, but listen to some symphonic and operatic metal from time to time. Maybe I'm with those who say goth started Centuries ago with Architecture and Novel.
P.S. Some gothic things frighten me like the excessive horror and blood.