Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Post-Mall Goth Generation

       As Goth is nearing its 40th birthday, many members of the community are taking a chance to look back and reflect. This is happening in a general overarching sense, with posts such as Lady Von Ruin's popular Goth vs Mainstream Over 40 Years post, but there is also a lot of attention being paid to the goth scene of the early 2000s as well. Lady Von Ruin's post stirred up several replies in defense of the era. In addition to that, 2000s fashion was featured as a possible upcoming trend in The Mutant Stomp Friend's 2017 Trend Predictions post. Clearly there's something in the water foretelling the return of this (Cringy? Nostalgia-filled?) era.

       For anyone who was in the scene during the early 2000s, this is bound to bring up strong feelings. Whether you love it for the nostalgia and fond memories, or hate it for the embarrassment, this was an important part of many goths' lives. It was truly an era in the history of the scene, bringing in many new people and shaping their early interactions with the community. DJ Gomez discusses this quite extensively in his Ode to Mall Goths.

X Labeled for reuse
But what about the goths that hadn't gotten into the scene yet in the early 2000s? As DJ Gomez also mentions, there are many people who were introduced to the goth scene in more recent years, after the mall goth phenomenon had all but died out. I won't rehash all of the reasons for this cultural shift (an increase in internet presence, decrease in malls, etc) but let's say that things have definitely changed. Where does this leave the post-mall goth generation? What is our nostalgia? Where do we fit into this conversation?

"We?" Yes, we. I myself am a member of the post-mall goth generation. I was not introduced to the scene until 2009, after the mall goth phenomenon had faded into virtual nothingness. My town didn't even have a proper mall, much less a Hottopic. Our equivalent was snatching up Halloween gear from Party City or Spirit Halloween Super Store. Not only had mall goth disappeared, emo had essentially come and gone by that time as well. Many of the mall goth generation comment that emo didn't exist yet when they were getting into the scene. Well, I am from a different world my friends. Emo had been around long enough to have its influence on the public perception of the darkly clad, and was on its way out by the time I was around, having hit its peak around 2007 from what I can tell. Its last vestiges still clung to life, but for all intents and purposes I had missed it, just as I had missed mall goth.

       That has always caused me some pain. I don't miss mall goth, because I never saw mall goth. It was too far gone by the time I was around. But I miss emo and scene culture. I know that right there loses me goth points, but screw it, it's true. I am not nostalgic for them exactly, for I was never a part of either of those communities. I just feel that I lost something as I watched them die out. There are times where I wish I had been around just a few years earlier so that I could have witnessed them in their fullness.

       That wondering of "what could have been" has played into my personal history with goth, and perhaps the general history of the post-mall goth generation, but it is still not the bulk of our history. It is the history we witnessed, not the history we lived. So what did we live through? What is our nostalgia?

       This is going to vary from person to person, of course, but I believe the internet was the early home of the post-mall goth generation. As DJ Gomez discusses in his article, the internet in many ways killed the mall goth and many communal goth activities. However, the internet also built communal spaces and became a place for the young to gain information and find others like themselves.

       My babybat days were shaped by websites like Antimony & Lace, Gothic Charm School, and Mookychick (which had an emo fashion section back then!). I read the Gothic Charm School book, which was published in June of that year, cover to cover multiple times. I used YouTube to listen to all of the suggested goth music, and to do even more research. I spent hours watching vloggers like Kill Natalie and KINGgutterface (and of course the Gothic Charm School videos).

       What was even more important to me, and what I am nostalgic for now, was the tight knit goth blogging community that existed back then. When I started blogging back on Goth-to-Goth, I was amazed by how much bloggers supported each other. I regularly communicated with and was encouraged by my idols at the time including Jillian Venters, Amy Townsend, and Sophistique Noir (whose name I apparently don't know). Not only that but there were so many other goths around my own age who were just starting out in the community. I actually had peers in the subculture because of it. Looking back on it I am so grateful to have had this nurturing community at that point in my development.

       So that is my nostalgia, those are my fond babybat days. I think tight knit internet communities are a pretty common story for people who got into goth around the same time I did, late 2000s-early 2010s. People who got into it even more recently are going to have an even different story of course. Things are still shifting. Things are always shifting.  Even from what I can see, the tight knit internet communities have faded out, giving way to less community driven forms of communication such as Tumblr. Tumblr already existed when I was getting into the scene, but the role of it and other social media has definitely increased. If nothing else, you can see it in the number of people who have left long-form blogs like blogger and wordpress for short-form blogs like Tumblr. It's not bad, it just forms a less interpersonal community.

       Given all this do I think early 2000s era goth is going to make a revamped comeback? Truthfully yes, but not from the people who lived from it the first time. From what I have seen, a lot of the post-mall goth generation had information and knowledge at there fingertips when they were just starting out. This led to us making less embarrassing mistakes but it also increased the pressure to be perfect from the start. I think a lot of us now have reached a point where we've been in the scene long enough that we feel comfortable exploring a style that is less serious and music that isn't necessarily goth.

       Really, I think we are going to primarily see a resurgence in emo styles with 2000s goth being more of a secondary thing. Or perhaps they shall combine somewhat. That must sound horrible to some people, but I think it could work if done well.* All I know is that I have seen such an upsurge in the popularity of emo recently that it must be making a comeback, at least among my own age group.

       Come to think of it, even before I saw this topic coming up in conversation so often, my style was starting to head in that direction, as is evidenced by my last post...

*Maybe it doesn't even have to be done well. Maybe that's not the point. Maybe this is just the time for people who are finally comfortable with their place in the subculture to irreverently explore trends and music they like without ridicule. Perhaps we should all banish the word "cringe" from our vocabulary and just let people do what they want as long as they aren't hurting anybody. Maybe a lot of things. Okay. Tiny rant over.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Look At The Week (7/31-8/7)

       Let's get right into it.


What I've Been up To:

      I've taken to drawing stripes on my face. This may or may not be the direct result of watching too many Black Veil Brides videos. Regardless, I think it looks cool.

       This post is going to be completely full of pictures. Let's just make that clear right now.

       Since this was the last week before my partner arrives (tomorrow!) I spent some time with friends and family. We went out for a day in Berkeley, got some amazing clam chowder in San Francisco, and went to Alameda beach. I'm going to miss all these things so much when I go away for college.


       Above are my parents when we went out to San Francisco. Apparently they used to go to this restaurant, The Clam House all of the time. It's historical too. They had a plaque saying it had been open in the same location since 1861.

       This week I also started a new series, Goth Reviews, which you can see in my previous post. Besides that I have just been cleaning and organizing my stuff, getting ready to pack. I have finally gotten to see the course catalog for Amherst, so I've been thinking about what classes I want to take too./

What I've Been Listening To:

       I'm still on quite a Black Veil Brides kick, but I have also been listening to O.Children and Shayfer James as part of my Goth Reviews series.

Some Posts I've Liked:

       Devin Faye at Alternative Enby wrote a great post on goth hair colors other than black. It's a good post and I love the amount of diversity included in the pictures. Check it out here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Goth Reviews: O.Children

       I'm starting a new series on my vlog called Goth Reviews. In it I am going to review goth and otherwise dark media from a goth perspective. Some of it will definitely be goth, while other things will simply be pieces of media that I feel would appeal to a goth audience.

       I'm planning to focus mainly on small artists or things that are fairly unknown. As the series gets bigger I may occasionally go over more well-known things, especially if they have remarkably good representation or I am just really enthusiastic about them.

       Anyway, in my first video for the series, which you can watch above, I talk about the UK-based band O.Children. O.Children is a modern band with a very traditional goth sound. Recently I have seen a lot of discussion over whether or not traditional gothic rock and post-punk music is dying out. Finding this modern rendition of old school sounds was both tickling and encouraging.

       O.Children is fronted by Tobias O'Kandi. He has a magnificent voice, is far taller than everyone else in the band, and is also black. I wish that wasn't so uncommon in the goth scene, but unfortunately it is. With the utter lack of POC representation in the goth community, finding a goth band that is fronted by a black man was absolutely thrilling. As I say in my vlog, representation is vital to feeling accepted within a scene. If you never see people like you in the community it can be really difficult to feel like you belong. Because of that it is really important to bring attention to the POC artists in our community.

       Currently O.Children has two albums released: the self titled O.Children (2010) and Apnea (2012). I haven't been able to find any information about the group that is newer than 2012 so I am not sure if they are still together or if there are any plans to release more music.

       This group has a number of interesting stories. O.Children grew out of the band Bono Must Die after they were forced to change their controversial name. Between the release of O.Children and the completion of Apnea, Tobias O'Kandi also faced a number of legal problems which lead, surprisingly, to Apnea being a far cheerier album that O.Children was.

       I look forward to reviewing more goth-friendly media. If you have any suggestions please leave a comment here or on the related YouTube video.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Look at the Week (7/24-7-30)

       Hey, I'm finally writing one of these when I am supposed to be.

What I've Been Up To:

       I have a week until my partner arrives. After that I have a week until I officially move for college. Because of that, this week has been a transition time. It was time to shift from looking at the move as though it were far away to actually getting ready. I picked up some luggage, organized my belongings, and stopped looking for freelance gigs in the bay area. I also planned the last few things I want to make sure I do before I leave.

       In other news, the coven I work with finally has a name: Cornix Silhouette. That is exciting.

       And of course I am still overly enthusiastic about Black Veil Brides and Andy Black. That leads us nicely into the next section.

What I've Been Listening To;

       I am still listening to Andy Black's The Shadow Side, but this week I expanded my selection to more music by Black Veil Brides as well, specifically We Stitch These Wounds, Set the World on Fire, and Wretched and Divine....which I know is most of their albums. I haven't listened to everything on their self-titled album Black Veil Brides yet, but that is probably coming soon.

What I've Been Watching:

       I don't think you are going to be surprised when I tell you I have been watching Legion of The Black multiple times as well as band interviews.

Some Posts I've Loved:

       The Everyday Goth's discussion of blogging vs vlogging made me consider why I do both and the different purposes they serve. Spooky Loop's reveal of the music they listened to as a babybat was an interesting read, and may cause me to write a similar post soon. Sam Sanity's new Halloween skirt is very cute and makes me think I need to find all the circle skirts I made last year, and of course Karoliina's beautiful nails and demon outfit look absolutely excellent. I also love Sary Walrus's casual outfit and excellent haircut.

Seven Years of Goth Fashion

       I've been part of the goth subculture for almost seven years. It's taken me through middle school, high school, and now into college. I am by no means an elder in the scene, but I feel like it is time to take a look back anyway.

       I've organized these photos by grade rather than by year, because it made it easier for me to figure out when they were taken.

6th Grade

7th Grade

8th Grade

9th Grade

10th Grade

11th Grade

12th Grade

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

On Art, Identity, and Community Building

       Usually, I know exactly what I want to say before I start writing a blog post. Today I don't. I just know that I need to talk about this.

       Lately I have felt very compelled to create art. This is partially out of my own desires and sense of identity. Among other things I am a writer, artist, videographer. I create art because it is simply something I do and have always done.

       However, recently it has also been out of a desire for community. The wider community of darkly-clad and otherwise alternative people often centers on art, be it literature, music, film, or what-have-you. Therefore I am drawn to create art in order to establish a connection with these like-minded individuals. I also want to seek out and celebrate the art that these others create. Doing so brings with it a sense of community and support, as well as inspiration.

       I recently attended the Sacramento Love Horror Film Festival. The show was a magnificent mix of horror films and amazing live performers. Everyone in that room, from the performers to the audience, to the people running the show, had such a visible and passionate appreciation for the dark, macabre, and otherwise odd. It was wonderful and touching to feel that connection with so many people. As the MC stated at one point, we were there because we were weird motherfuckers and we needed to stick together.

       But it was the art that gave us the excuse to gather there.

       In Voltaire's video, The Future Rock Star's Handbook #1, he stresses the importance of being the artist you want others to see you as. I think this is even more important when you are looking at art as a community builder. If you want to be an alternative artist creating art that draws in an alternative community....then you have to do it. You have to get out there and present yourself as that artist, and have the art to back it up. Art cannot serve as a community builder if it is never presented to the community. If that is what you want to do, you have to be willing to play that role.

       That's not to say that you should present yourself in a way that you aren't comfortable with, just because you want to appeal to the community. The art that you create and the role you play in the community are going to be infinitely stronger if you are comfortable and confident in them. What it does mean is that if there is something you want to be seen as, you have to be brave and go for it. You have to be who you want to be and create the art you want. Do that and in time, others will respond to the work that you have done.

       Being exactly who you want to be isn't something we can all do all of the time, but it is something we can strive to do to the best of our abilities.

       I have quite a headache so this may not be particularly cohesive. Regardless, I needed to get this out there. now I am going to go work on some of my own art while embracing all the aspects I can of who I want to be.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Look at the...Screw it, You Know I've Been Gone Longer Than a Week

         I have been gone for a long time. A very long time. Many months. As no one reads this, that does not matter. However, if you follow my vlogs, then you know some of what I've been up to.

       So, I'm kind of back. What have I been up to recently? As always let's go over it point by point.

What I've Been Up To:

       I've started a blog for my photography. I also have a blog for reblogging other people's art, so anyone who posts their work on Tumblr and wants me to take a look at it should let me know. Besides that I've been working on my professional website, trying to pick up freelance work, and preparing for college. Woo.

       I also got to attend the Sacramento Love Horror Film Festival. That was excellent. The films were great and the live entertainment was just wonderful. Some of it might have been a bit crude for some people's tastes (*ahem* my grandmother whom I went with) but I absolutely loved it. I'm am just sad that I won't be in the area in October, when Voltaire will be performing at the Sacramento Horror Film Festival. I would love to get to see that. Someday I'll get to see him live.
       Have some photos.

What I've Been Listening To:

       I ended up revisiting Black Veil Brides, a band I haven't listened to regularly since middle school. I found that Andy has released his own solo album, The Shadow Side (and is apparently going by a different last name again?). Let me just say that I am absolutely in love. The music is great, and the video for We Don't Have to Dance is absolute perfection. As a videographer I am jealous. Those night shots are so crisp. As far as the music itself is concerned, I am particularly fond of Ribcage, though the message of Stay Alive is definitely a worthy one.

Some Posts I've Loved:

       I have been too busy to be super involved in the blog scene lately, but I do know that Spooky Loop was sporting some awesome nose jewelry that I am truthfully jealous of. Additionally, Crypt Tips wrote a nice post on dealing with baby bats.

Other Things of Interest:

       I haven't gotten to watch it yet, but I am really eager to watch this documentary featuring beloved goth YouTuber It's Black Friday.