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.
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"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.