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Everything? Really? [part 1]

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July 5th, 2012 Posted 6:33 am

Cover, Everything You Need to Know About the Goth Scene

Acker, Kerry. Everything You Need to Know About The Goth Scene. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2000.


On a recent trip to the library, the girls and I picked out some summer reading books for them and their brothers.  They’re not what most people would consider.  Jordan wants to teach himself Calculus; Alek wants to review Algebra; Ravynn wants to teach herself Algebra; and Whisper just wants to get ready for 4th grade.

With the idea of reading and reviewing some books on Goth culture – just to see what information is being presented to the non-Goth public – I did a quick search while we were there.  Being that we live in a town of 56,000, I didn’t expect to find much.  I was excited and surprised to find four titles listed.  I went to find them.  three were available and one has been either lost or stolen [of course, that’s the one I’m most interested in reading].

I’m a working mama with a busy schedule, four kids, a full-time job, and a home business, so I did plan to start with the smallest book.  As I pulled out the Everything you Need to Know title, I was tempted to put it right back.  My problem with it?  Quite simply, the cover.  I couldn’t imagine a book that offered that image as the representation of the Goth culture  would provide any useful information – and I fully expected to be annoyed with what it did provide.  Now, I know the cover model could be a lovely young woman with a charming outlook on life, but when I look at her, I see one thing – ROOTS!! While I try not to overgenarlize or stereotype, Goths are a people typically drawn to beauty and border on the vain.  Many of the Goths I know (the husband included) wear their vanity as a badge – that photo doesn’t fly.

But that photo wouldn’t keep everyone from reading it, so we popped into Panera, ordered iced acai teas, and started reading.  Actually, we finished reading too. The book is 65 pages long.  Minus 9 pages of introduction and 21 pages of lists, glossary, index, and reading lests at the end of the book, it totals 35 pages.  Ravynn and Whisper were with me and were pretty entertained with what I was reading to them.  Of course there was a lot I had to explain. Starting with:

The Introduction:  I had to keep reminding myself that the pub date on the title is 2000 and there is a lot of information that was assumed truth at that date that isn’t so much anymore.  The focus of the intro is on the shootings at Columbine High school and how just because those Goths were bad and dangerous doesn’t mean that all of us are.  I wanted a reminder that although they were described as Goth by one witness, that it’s not so much true, but it didn’t come.  The most helpful bit in the introduction is where Acker writes, “People judge Goths based on their clothing tastes and their appearance, instead of getting to know them by talking with them, hearing their ideas, and trying to find things in common with them.”  This is true. I’ve lived it.  The introduction also explains why I believe the book failed: It confuses explaining the Goth scene with explaining Goths.  Phrases like, “some Goths,” or “many Goths” put me on edge.  While explaining what draws some individuals to the culture is helpful and refreshing, explaining the “kinds of people” who are drawn to it isn’t. 

Chapter 1/The Origins of Goth:  Blah, blah, blah.  The first half of the chapter focuses on historical Goths and their invasion of Rome.  While this is commonly covered in articles on the culture, I fail to see its relevance.  What Acker refers to as “Contemporary Goth” is what she means to explain. 

 

Bauhaus’s “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” is often marked as the begining of Goth music.  I don’t know if it’s true, but it sounds good and I do adore Peter Murphy.  Acker discusses how Goth bands influenced the “look” associated with the Goth culture [black clothes, black hair, pale skin].  Most of the discussion on the culture focuses on the music, but does touch on what we have tried to explain to anyone who asks or expresses interest [especially the Wife Swap producers!]: “Goths wanted to experience emotions, good and bad, because they are an essential part of being human… Goths also established a different idea of beauty — a new aesthetic.”

See Part 2.

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