Thursday, November 15, 2018

Goth VS Gothic

Image source: Gothic Charm School

I got an email today from a reader who requested me to go more in-depth about the whole goth vs gothic thing. I'm happy to help people out! If anyone else have any requests for stuff I can write about, go right ahead and send me an email at

So the main question is: Is goth JUST about music?
Not really no, but it is the main part. Without the music this subculture wouldn't have existed. People didn't call themselves goths 100 years ago or more, even though the gothic was really popular. The gothic has given inspiration to the goth subculture, so we can't completely dismiss it. But what I and a lot of others usually say to newcomers is that music is what it's about. I think it's much easier to say that right off the bat, so people don't get the wrong idea. There's so much to learn, so it would be quite overwhelming to throw in the entire history of a 40 year old subculture at once - in addition to the history of the gothic, which spans what, 1000 years?

Goth is usually connected to gothic and spooky interests, like the gothic, all things halloween, fascination with death culture and so on - but that doesn't apply to all goths. We often do enjoy the gothic arts, but not everyone. And I don't think it's common for historians and such who specialize in the gothic are goths - not from what I've seen, at least!
Then we have the fashion; the easiest way to tell if someone is a goth. Or? While most goths express their taste in music through their looks, not everyone does. I for sure don't bother to do my make-up and hair most of the time, and I wear a uniform at work. And some people just don't feel the need.

I understand why all of this can be confusing! You see people on the internet say this and that, and you don't know who to listen to. Well; don't listen to anyone, you just do you! One thing is facts, but another thing is letting stuff on the internet dictate your life. I didn't even know about goth, I found it after the music, gothic literature, fashion and so on. I was really happy to find out that there were others like me out there. And if you find out that maybe you're not a goth after all, what does it matter? It's just a label. Everyone is different. And just because you can't claim a certain label for yourself doesn't mean that you can't be friends with goths.

So.. where does that leave us? Well, one thing I'd like to think is that goth is a culture - which includes fashion, lifestyle, literature, architecture and art as well as music. Not everyone agrees with this of course, and that's fine. But that still doesn't mean that gothic is the same as goth.
Gothic things don't make up the goth subculture, but it can be added to make up the goth / gothic culture, as many goths like both (I do, for example). So those things aren't goth in themselves, but they are somewhat related. Whereas goth music is goth music - that's what makes a goth a goth. A punk likes punk, a metalhead likes metal, and so on - goth is exactly the same. Everyone is different, but what people in a subculture have in common is the music - but often they have other similar interests too.

And to get more clarifications out of the way: No, you don't have to ONLY listen to goth music to be a goth. I am a metalhead as well, but I can also listen to Shania Twain. It doesn't matter. Everyone has outside interests - cause we're human. And no, you're not expected to know everything about goth, it's history and everything about every single band. Very few people do. You don't have to look goth to be goth either. What else is there... These are just things I don't even consider, cause it's so ridiculous. But sadly people actually believe these things. I've heard that it's because of elitists, but I've never seen this kind of behavior, online or in person. I've only heard people online talk about it, but it didn't happen to them. So I kind of feel that type of elitist is a myth. The word elitist is misused anyway, cause even I get called elitist, just for saying what goth is and isn't. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, and I certainly don't think I'm any better than anyone else for doing so. I just think it's important for the subculture not to be watered down, especially with all the misinformation out there today. Oh! One more clarification! All things goths like aren't goth. What I mean by that is that a lot of people call other interests they might have goth just because they're goths. Which is wrong to do. The donuts I made yesterday aren't goth because I made them - or metal for that matter, lol. If everything was goth, goth wouldn't be so special anymore. It's a specific thing, it has a definition. And it means a lot to a lot of us. We just want it to survive. I'm happy to help anyone who has any questions, cause why not? I love to share my interests with people who want to listen. I hope this has cleared things up! If anyone has any questions, just hit me up anywhere. Thanks for reading!

Further reading:
Barbaric Gothic by Aytakk
The Never-Ending Goth Debate - Gothic Charm School
Gothic - QI Series 7 Episode 13


  1. Hello, Caroline!

    In the end, we're all individuals. I discovered goth much later in life than most. Still, I took to it like a duck to water. It was the music that attracted me, and the style of dress followed because it made sense. Still, my favorite author from the time of my childhood had been Edgar Allan Poe.

    These days I listen more to metal than dark wave, but I do still listen to goth music--and lots of classical! I have my own style of dress that seems to work for me and it incorporates some aspects of my style before I even discovered goth.

    So what does this all make me? An individual, I think.

    1. Exactly! It's just nowadays, people are obsessed with labels - and goth being a very popular one to obtain. I only use them to quickly describe things I like, which is useful. I'm just being myself. But a lot of kids now let labels dictate their life, which is pretty sad. It's the opposite of what goth and other subcultures are about!

  2. I disagree. If you remove Gothic from the subculture, then it just becomes another bland, poorly dressed, music scene full of aging hipsters. The gothic elements, which developed over hundreds of years are the heart of the scene. It isn't an accident that so many of our anthems are about darkness and decay - a love of darkness and decay are what makes us different from other scenes.

    1. Good point. I dont think that you can have one without the other

  3. Hey Caroline,
    I found your blog on a Google+ community that I also post my blog, the Metal Minister. I enjoyed reading your post. I am part of a ministry that was born out of a love for an and a desire to serve the Goth, Punk and Metal communities. While I am too old to have embraced the Goth culture, I know it would have absolutely appealed to me in my youth. I still consider myself a Metal Head, even at 50. Anyway, i wanted to reach out and tell you about Metal Mission of Knoxville and our ministry to the fringier of society. You can check us out on Facebook. We do quite a bit of outreach in the homeless community as well. Our philosophy is coming to Christ does not mean changing your appearance, it may mean a different t-shirt and a new tattoo. We believe God is more interested in changing a person's heart than outside appearance. I just wanted to drop a line and let you know we are out there. Have a blessed day!

  4. Honestly, this is spot on. Especially with the whole words have definitions, not only having to listen to goth music to be goth, and whatever you like, automatically doesn't make it goth just because you like it.

    However, I wouldn't go as far to say that goth is a culture encompassing everything goth and Gothic although I DO get what you mean. It's just that you obviously have the subculture (music, aesthetic, fashion) and then everything else that is considered Gothic, like literature, architecture, art, decor, furniture, even ceramics and glass, and that's what makes people believe that you can be goth by reading Gothic literature, while having no interest in the subculture.

    It's confusing to them, and newbies especially. You're 100% right that no one was called "goth" for enjoying Gothic literature, especially since it was popular anyway and not everyone, or anything is considered goth.

    I just wouldn't put it as this one culture, otherwise, this is completely and utterly lovely.


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