Characteristics of the scene
Notable examples of goth icons include several bandleaders: Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Robert Smith of The Cure, Peter Murphy of Bauhaus and Dave Vanian of The Damned. Some members of Bauhaus were, themselves, fine art students or active artists.
dubbed as "the grand lord of gothic lushness". Nick Cave
Gothic fashion is stereotyped as conspicuously dark, eerie, mysterious, complex and exotic. Typical gothic fashion includes dyed black hair, dark eyeliner, black fingernails and black period-styled clothing; goths may or may not have piercings. Styles are often borrowed from the Elizabethan, Victorian or medieval period and often express pagan, occult or other religious imagery. Gothic fashion may also feature silver jewelry.
The New York Times noted: "The costumes and ornaments are a glamorous cover for the genre's somber themes. In the world of Goth, nature itself lurks as a malign protagonist, causing flesh to rot, rivers to flood, monuments to crumble and women to turn into slatterns, their hair streaming and lipstick askew".
Present-day fashion designers such as John Paul Gaultier, Alexander McQueen, and John Galliano have also been described as practising "haute goth".
Some of the early gothic rock and deathrock artists adopted traditional horror film images and drew on horror film soundtracks for inspiration. Their audiences responded by adopting appropriate dress and props. Use of standard horror film props like swirling smoke, rubber bats, and cobwebs featured as gothic club décor from the beginning in The Batcave. Such references in bands' music and images were originally tongue-in-cheek, but as time went on, bands and members of the subculture took the connection more seriously. As a result, morbid, supernatural and occult themes became more noticeably serious in the subculture. The interconnection between horror and goth was highlighted in its early days by The Hunger, a 1983 vampire film starring David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. The film featured gothic rock group Bauhaus performing Bela Lugosi's Dead in a nightclub. Tim Burton created a storybook atmosphere filled with darkness and shadow in some of his films like Beetlejuice (1988), Batman (1989), Edward Scissorhands (1990), and the stop motion films Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), which was produced/co-written by
, and Corpse
Bride (2005), which he co-produced. Burton
As the subculture became well-established, the connection between goth and horror fiction became almost a cliché, with goths quite likely to appear as characters in horror novels and film. For example, The Crow and the Underworld film series drew directly on goth music and style. The dark comedy Beetlejuice, The Faculty, American Beauty, Wedding Crashers and a
cartoon show portray or parody the goth subculture. South Park
Books and magazines
The re-imagining of the vampire continued with the release of Poppy Z. Brite's book Lost Souls in October 1992. Despite the fact that Brite's first novel was criticized by some mainstream sources for allegedly "lack[ing] a moral center: neither terrifyingly malevolent supernatural creatures nor (like Anne Rice's protagonists) tortured souls torn between good and evil, these vampires simply add blood-drinking to the amoral panoply of drug abuse, problem drinking and empty sex practiced by their human counterparts", many of these so-called "human counterparts" identified with the teen angst and Goth music references therein, keeping the book in print. Upon release of a special 10th anniversary edition of Lost Souls, Publishers Weekly—the same periodical that criticized the novel's "amorality" a decade prior—deemed it a "modern horror classic" and acknowledged that Brite established a "cult audience".
Neil Gaiman's acclaimed graphic novel series The Sandman influenced goths with characters like the dark, brooding Dream and his sister Death. Mick Mercer's 2002 release 21st Century Goth explored the modern state of the goth scene around the world, including
and mainland South America, Japan Asia. His previous 1997 release, Hex Files: The Goth Bible similarly
took an international look at the subculture.
Propaganda was a gothic subculture magazine founded in 1982. In US ,
Ver Sacrum covers the Italian goth scene, including fashion, sexuality, music,
art and literature. Some magazines, such as the now-defunct Dark Realms and
Goth Is Dead included goth fiction and poetry. Other magazines cover fashion
(e.g., Gothic Beauty); music (e.g., Severance) or culture and lifestyle (e.g.,
Althaus e-zine). Italy
Zdzisław Beksiński 1978 oil painting
Visual contemporary graphic artists with this aesthetic include Gerald Brom, Luis Royo, Dave McKean, Trevor Brown, Victoria Francés as well as the American comic artist James O'Barr. H. R. Giger of
is one of the first graphic artists to make serious contributions
to the gothic/industrial look of much of modern cinema with his work on the
1979 film Alien by Ridley Scott. The artwork of Polish surrealist painter
Zdzisław Beksiński is often described as gothic. British artist Anne Sudworth
published a book on gothic art in 2007. Switzerland
The goth scene continues to exist in 2014. In
Western Europe, there are large annual festivals mainly in ,
including Wave-Gotik-Treffen ( Germany ) and M'era Luna ( Leipzig ), both annually attracting tens of thousands of attendees. The
Lumous Gothic Festival (more commonly known as Lumous) is the largest festival
dedicated to the goth subculture in Hildesheim
and the northernmost Gothic festival in the world. The Ukrainian festival
"Deti Nochi: Chorna Rada" (Children of the night) is the biggest
gothic event in the Finland . Goth events like " Ukraine "
and "Release the Bats" promote deathrock and are attended by fans
from many countries, and events such as the Drop Dead Festival attract
attendees from over 30 countries. The Whitby Goth Weekend is a twice-yearly
goth music festival for in Ghoul School , North Yorkshire, England. There is also Bats Day in the Whitby in Fun Park . There is also
a World Goth Day each year on 22 May. Anaheim, CA
Since the late 1970s, the
scene refused "traditional standards of sexual propriety" and
accepted and celebrated "unusual, bizarre or deviant sexual
practices." Observers have noted changes in the subculture, such as the
"increasing incorporation of S-M sexual practices and fetish culture"
in the goth scene. Another aspect of the goth subculture is the
"...ambivalence of gothic androgynous practice." The goth subculture
is "...equally open to women, men, and transgender people." Dunja
Brill's Goth Culture: Gender, Sexuality and Style argues that
"...androgyny in Goth subcultural style often disguises or even functions
to reinforce conventional gender roles." She found that androgyny was only
"valorised" for male Goths, who adopt a "feminine"
appearance, including "make-up, skirts and feminine accessories" to
"enhance masculinity" and facilitate traditional heterosexual
courting roles. UK
Several observers have raised the issue of to what degree individuals are truly members of the goth subculture. On one end of the spectrum is the "Uber goth", a person who is described as seeking a pallor so much that he or she applies "...as much white foundation and white powder as possible." On the other end of the spectrum another writer terms "poseurs": "goth wannabes, usually young kids going through a goth phase who do not hold to goth sensibilities but want to be part of the goth crowd..." It has been said that a "mall goth" is a teen who dresses in a goth style and spends time in malls with a Hot Topic store, but who does not know much about the goth subculture or its music, thus making him or her a poseur. In one case, even a well-known performer has been labeled with the pejorative term: a "number of goths, especially those who belonged to this subculture before the late 1980s, reject Marilyn Manson as a poseur who undermines the true meaning of goth."
Media and academic commentary
The goth subculture in the
under media scrutiny after the 1999 US
massacre, to the point that teens who declared a goth identity or wore goth
clothing faced consequences at school or attention from the police. According
to the New York Times, the attacks created a moral panic about the purported
role of goth subculture in the shootings. A Canadian man who self-identified as
goth did a Columbine-inspired school shooting in 2006. The gunman, Kimveer
Gill, had a personal page on VampireFreaks.com where he set out his viewpoints. Columbine High School
According to The Guardian, some goth teens are at more likely to harm themselves or attempt suicide. A medical journal study of 1,300 Scottish schoolchildren until their teen years found that the 53% of the goth teens had attempted to harm themselves and 47% had attempted suicide. The study found that the "correlation was stronger than any other predictor." The Guardian reported that a "glue binding the [goth] scene together was drug use"; however, in the goth scene drug use was varied. Goth is one of the few youth movements that are not associated with a single drug.
The BBC described academic research that indicated that goths are "refined and sensitive, keen on poetry and books, not big on drugs or anti-social behaviour." Teens who are goths will probably stay in the subculture "into their adult life", and they are likely to become well-educated and enter professions such as medicine or law. Dr. Lynne E. Ponton, an adolescent psychiatrist at
at University of California , says
that the goth subculture "appeals to teenagers who are looking for meaning
and for identity." She points out that the goth scene teaches teens that
there are difficult aspects to life that you "have to make an attempt to
understand" or explain. San Francisco