It's still technically summer, but fall is on the way. (Hooray!) So it's time
for the annual onslaught of vaguely Halloweeny articles. Which is my explanation
for this otherwise random New York Times article on goth, You
Just Can't Kill It.
“I think vampires are freeking sweet because they have such true emotions that no mere mortals can express! I too at times think I am a vampire being with my hate of garlic and how my eyes r sensitive to light.”
I'm guessing the young lady is a Twilight fan.Also, I hate The Family Guy with the burning passion of a thousand suns. (And yet I sometimes watch it anyway, because I find it hard to resist cartoons. Heck, I used to watch Superfriends.)
The article is not terribly informative, but it is accompanied by a very nice picture of a Victorian widow's outfit.
It is also accompanied by a photo essay of various alleged "goths." This essay includes baggy-pantsed male youths (baggy pants = not in any conceivable way goth, no, not even if they're black), catwalk models (kinda goth... I guess... skeletal, anyway), a silent film star (très goth!), more catwalk models wearing sometimes gothic fashions (the ghostly wedding dress and the boots anyway), a top hat which has a bat on it but nevertheless manages to be extremely ugly (maybe it's supposed to be made from human skin?), and a pretty but not particularly gothic dress made of red feathers.
As a personal memoir of gothic history the article starts out well enough, but it takes a wrong turn early on when the quotes from random young people start. I think you are doomed to a certain level of inescapable stupidity if you start asking people "so, why do you do what you do?" Because they will make stuff up. And it's mostly nonsense.
(Although I do want to ask whoever put together the photo essay why they thought young gentlemen wearing long t-shirts and enormous draggy pants were goths. Really, I want to know. Did they tell you they were goths? Did you just assume that everyone in black is a goth? And, good lord, when is that trend going to die anyway? If anything it's getting worse. Just when I thought waistbands couldn't possibly get any lower, they established a new low below the butt. Yeah, young men who want to look really hip are now wearing pants that make them 1. Waddle awkwardly like they need a diaper change, 2. Resemble buttless old men who couldn't quite pull their pants all the way up. I know I'm an old curmudgeon and therefore expected to hate whatever kids today get up to fashionwise, but honestly, trust me on this one, you all look like morons.)
If teenagers who belong to Facebook groups are discovering gothic fashion, more power to 'em. But the attempt to make it mean something... I guess the presumption that it does mean something has always kind of irked me. It's not like fashion is ever completely neutral. Guys who wear khaki knee-length shorts, fanny packs, and yellow Crocs have decided how they are going to dress just as much as a guy wearing black velvet and eyeliner.People who listen to Britney Spears do so (presumably) because they enjoy hearing it, the same as people who listen to Bauhaus. People whose house is full of Thomas Kinkdade prints had to select and pay for them just the same as Edward Gorey prints.
(Although once your house is full of gothic geegaws and vampire books and Edward Gorey, it tends to attract more of the same as gifts. So, come to think of it, I didn't actually select and pay for all my Edward Gorey decor. But I think my point stands.)
(Hey! If you type "hate thomas kinkade" into Google I'm entry three!)
So, I am unable to imagine actually enjoying Ms. Spears' or Mr. Kinkade's oeuvre, nor am I able to imagine being able to bring oneself to leave the house in any combination of khaki knee-length shorts, fanny packs, or Crocs of any color. But that's not the point. The point is that black velvet is seen as a choice, while khaki shorts are seen as the absence of choice, as something that -- I guess -- just magically appears upon the body when you're not paying attention, because nature will not allow you to leave the house without pants.
And the decision to get a tan -- for people who work indoors anyway -- is just as much a choice as wearing sunscreen.
While partisan bloggers and the sun scare industry will use this as an opportunity to undermine Gov. Palin and demonize the indoor tanning industry, the fact is that Governor Palin’s decision to get UV light from a tanning bed positively impacts her health.
—The Indoor Tanning Association, regarding the tanning bed which vice-presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin had installed in the governor's residence