It doesn’t ever surprise me when people believe what they see on the TV. This certainly does not only apply to the Goth subculture but many others as well. Unfortunately many people are exposed only to what they see in the media and they use their impressions of that media to apply definitions of behavior to whole groups of people rather than the actions of a single person. This is never truer than when discussing the tragedy that occurred in Columbine. I’m not going to delve into that subject too much, because this is a happy post. Bottom line is, how our subculture is viewed in the media has a direct relation as to how we are related to in every day life. So what’s being viewed on the TV these days? And how is it affecting the Goth subculture as a whole? Let’s look at some examples of Goths on TV and see what it’s saying about our subculture.
#1: Abby Sciuto
Perhaps the most famous and recognizable Goth on TV played by Pauly Perrette, she is also the one that most actual Goths do not have a problem with. I don’t speak for everyone here but there is something about the character on NCIS that makes her incredibly likeable. If we’re talking stereotype she’s definitely a “perky” Goth. The show must have done some research on her character or they cared enough to try and make her attributes fit the sub-culture that they were trying to fit her into. It’s not all perfect, she certainly dresses like she buys all of her clothes exclusively from Hot Topic and she sleeps in a coffin; two terrible Goth stereotypes. I do however enjoy that they tried to flush out her character some; making her cheery, putting her on a bowling league with old ladies and keeping her as 100% great at her job. I think that Abby is a great example of a functioning member of society who appreciates the darker side of life. In short, she makes Goths look more fun and less devil worshipper.
#2: The Goth Kids from South Park
* Conformists * I love the Goth kids from South Park! They are the ultimate in parody and stereotype exploitation and it’s fabulous. For those who may be reading this (you 1 person you) if you have never been involved with “Goths” let me know; are you in on the joke? Is it as funny to you as it is to me? Or do you take it at face value? What does it say about Goths? I don’t think it says anything other than we have an awesome sense of humor.
#3 The Barrage of Goths in Commercials.
This is becoming something of a fad. Isn’t that EMO thing like the “Haps” now? Whether it’s because Goths are coming out into the mainstream or not, it seems like a popular trend to feature people dressed in all black with crap attitudes in commercials. Most of them feature us in some kind of dark/light juxtaposition. There will be the gloomy goth set either changing into being “normal” in some sort of unexpected way or they will be positioned with a bubbly bright person in order for the contrast in personalities to set in. Examples posted below. Another type I’ve seen includes treating the gothic figure as some sort of deviant you had better steer clear of. Any publicity is good publicity? I’m not so sure. Since the dawn of time (or the 80’s if you prefer) our sub culture has remained small, but intact despite setbacks to the image of our group as a whole. Depicting Goths as (in some cases) snobby loners just to say “surprise, they actually have a personality!” for comic effect doesn’t really help the cause. What are your thoughts?
#4: Gothic Celebrities
Who’s a Goth this week? It changes all the time… I can’t keep up! Sorry! Um here have this:
#5 The “Goth” Episodes of “List any prime-time TV Show here”
The one that springs to mind immediately is Law and Order; Criminal Intent, however Goths have been featured on; The Simpsons, Criminal Minds, CSI, Lost, Home Improvement, NCIS and even Fraiser. There are way too many to list. Some (Fraiser, The Simpsons, Home Improvement) follow the same sad formula used over and over again by sitcoms. One of the characters (usually a child) starts dressing like a Goth to the chagrin of their family members and they become the comic relief of the episode. Others (Criminal Intent, Lost, How I Met Your Mother) feature the main character as a Goth in the past, in their teenage years. The worst though is the Law and Order’s overkill when they have episodes containing sub-cultures. In this particular episode the Goth-esque characters wind up as murderers by way of killing someone accidentally inside a make-shift coffin normally used to enhance they’re erotic asphyxiation practices (because they are obsessed with vampires?) I didn’t get it. Essentially all of these angles perpetuate the stereotype that Goth’s only exist under the age of 18 or their crazy. In better terms, the message I’m getting from prime time is that Goth is a faze you go through when you are young if you don’t snap out of it you’ll end up a sexually deviant murderer obsessed with vampires.
In conclusion not all TV is bad, nor does all TV paint the Goth subculture in a negative light. At the end of the day I’ll take a bad stereotype over being completely ignored as a genre any day.
If you are still around after all that I thank you and I’d love to hear your opinions, unless your opinions are “I hate Goths” feel free to keep that to yourself. Stay tuned for part 5: Goths in the Headlines.