Senin, 28 April 2008
It’s quite likely you have seen and been disgusted by the media portayal of the goth underground. Frequently, sound bytes accompany sensationalist headlines of Vampire and Satanic children out to coerce the unsuspecting innocents of our society. For added punch, these same programs masquerading as news will cue the horror music and provide a nano-second shot of the most outlandish photo of someone within the goth subculture.
This propaganda is certainly not new. In fact, we built our entire country on it with the Inquisition alone. In today’s day and age, the media uses goths and gays as the fiends that soccer parents must be ever vigilant for. After all, if these people look so different from everyone else, couldn’t they be construed as the monsters next door who are out to murder the little cloned Ken and Barbie children?
The dark clothes, make-up and misanthropic stares tend to leave Mundania a little shaken. Many suburban parents believe that if their innocent children were to don one of those mysterious “mind-altering” black trench coats, it would clearly cause a disturbance within their children. It is as though their children would be driven to acts of hideous carnal depravity because of the clothes they wear or the music they listen to rather than a less-than-perfect home life and lack of parental involvement.
It would seem easier to blame the external fashion trends than delve deeper into the psychological heart of the matter. Unfortunately the dark image brands those in the Goth subculture with a stigma. Most are viewed with malice and contempt because it is erroneously felt that there is a hidden agenda which will be imposed upon the world. While it is neither fair nor accurate, media fear-mongers often marginalize and scapegoat a sliver of the population for atrocities committed by irresponsible people. After all, someone has to be blamed, so why not blame the ones so different from everyone else?
The reality is that most Goths would actually prefer to smoke a clove cigarette at a Bohemian Coffee shop. The most violent action taken by most goths is to shake the ashes from their cigarette butts. In spite of the reality, the majority continue to be maligned and viewed with suspicious caution.
Black is viewed as the color of evil by western perception, yet in nature it is most often donned by creatures as their own form of natural armor. They link the Goth world with “Satanists” because it’s easier to assume that the cut of one’s clothing determines ones mindset. While a very small minority may be Satanists, and respectful, loving contributing members of the underground community, the stereotype persists that Goths can only be of one type of faith. Yet, respected members of our tribe have made definite statements about the diversity within our community.
Vocalist and Graphic artist, Voltaire, states:
“There are some who may very well be Satanists. But there are Farmers and CEO’ls who are Satanists. There isn’t any real direct correlation between Goth and Satanism. Most of the Goths I’ve met have been Christians, Jewish... I’ve met a few Muslim Goths... I’ve met a few Born Again Goths, and probably to a large degree most are Secular”. (Fox News Interview, Oct 22, 2005. used by permission from Voltaire)
Many in America vehemently decree that modern Christianity, which is often associated with the wealthy and the Republican Party, holds the high moral ground of the Conservative Right Wing. Because of this, a certain “Christian Culture” and rhetoric has been imposed on the image of what a good and proper American Christian should be like. Our western society often tends to impose this image as proper for our citizens regardless of whether one follows the precepts of this perceived State/Faith-based ideology or not. Subcultures created themselves out of rejection of this imposed belief. One could hardly fault them if the image of total love and acceptance comes with the cost of total abuse and ridicule.
In the past, Punk rockers declared, “I refuse to dress as you would have me dress because you refuse to act the way you claim to be in your image.” While this may seem like an oversimplification, one need only look at the Goth world for an ideological morphing of a similar route. Rather than appear angry, ready to lash out at everyone within striking distance, they put on the image of melancholy and dejection. The question remained for those of on the inside of the community, “did rejection of the image of the State/Faith really mean rejection of faith altogether?”
Faith is not found nor necessarily represented by a particular image in clothing and common dialect. There currently exists a sub-community within the Goth subculture of Christians who view the world in every detail exactly as our fellow tribe members do, through coffin colored glasses. Our world is not by and large a happy place, nor is it altogether safe or wholesome as Western society would have us believe. In brief, we hold to our faith because it gives us hope in a hopeless world of seething anger and darkness. From its foundation, Christianity was never intended to be an institution of Totalitarianism and Abuse. It was never intended to be something that abused the weak, nor subjected people under its thumb or imposed a set of dogmatic theologies on people destroying their culture. It was the opposite as demonstrated in the earliest Gospel writings and most Christians in the Goth community rely on the notion that their faith is so much more than stereotypical dogma and proselytizing.
Rick Joyce, guitarist for The Last Dance succinctly states,
“You asked about my experience with faith and my walk with Christ. How I would respond to that is, it is a continuing path that is never the same, but always growing. Being a new Christian many years ago, I was one of those unfortunate stereotyped people who thought very narrow mindedly about the idea of God. Yes I will admit it, everyone who thought differently than I was, was wrong. But that idea changed as I continued my path of life and grew up a bit both as a person individually and as a Christian. I came to realize that God is much bigger than anyone, anyone, can define, being an infinite creature by definition, and that having a relationship with God is truly an individualistic type thing which is awesome.
You asked about faith; my life is based on two things and those are faith and hope. And well, they do go together truthfully. Because of situations, hard times, good times, etc., that have happened throughout my life and my always believing in hope through them; I have established a faith that well, to me has proven itself.
“Some of my friends, well, they say I am just way too lucky. Fair enough, but to me it is trusting in God with everything no matter how hard life seems to get and having faith based on the fact that I have seen the fruits of believing and trusting this way.”
The assumption in the past was that Christians attempting to infiltrate the Goth community had only intended to convert the Goth community to Western Christianity, and therefore purge the “heathen Satanists” of their “wicked” image. It was supposed that Christian Goth missionaries would coerce them into cutting their hair, cleaning up their faces and start dressing like sweet innocent children again.
In actuality, Goth bands have existed since early on in the Christian entertainment industry. It was found that a great many of these groups who designed their acts to look more dark, more mysterious than the Non-Christian acts really weren’t interested in creating well dressed, calm and collected church-goers. They were signed and promoted by Christian marketers as “Christian musicians,” and even filed in with, and assumed to be, the same category and genre as Stryper and its many clones, often labeled as just another form of Heavy Metal. If the mission (read: record sales) failed, it was because the bands had no intentions of following through with the contemporary Christian music marketing plan. They were only looking for a record deal to make music, nothing more.
A great many of the early 90s Christian Goth acts began to cross into the secular Goth markets to break away from their designer knock off marketing plans. They never wanted to be an active conversion force, rather, they had a gift they believe given by their creator to make music well and wanted to pursue it. If their music of choice happened to reflect their world view, the better equipped to perform they felt. Their goal was not to win hearts and minds to a political image of faith, nor to be knock-offs of other talented Non-Christian artists. Rather, by using their talents well, they could finally make a living at something they enjoyed in a community where they truly felt they belonged.
Today, Christian Goths exist in all facets of the underground community: clothing design, music, literature, community activism, coffee shop entrepreneurs, and nightclub owners. Today, as many members of the Goth community will report to have a faith in Christ as will claim faith in the Goddess. Our community is not as stagnant as to believe the lies that society imposes that Goths can only be of one variety of faith or one belief structure.
Critics of the Goth subculture exist within both the Conservative Right and they felt even within the Goth community itself. Today, there are conservative Christians who still impose the idea that God only wants the people in his Kingdom that look and act like our modern view of clean and pure people. Only those who don’t need Heaven or Salvation it seems can afford to get it. Neither a comforting notion nor exactly “Good News” as the Gospel would state. We all know them; we see their judgmental stares and turned up noses in disgust at everyone underneath them, failing to see the notion of Paul in his writings “All my righteousness is as Filthy Rags to the Lord”.
The Goth community however in its study of all faiths and in keeping a great many trappings of faith, often finds the concept of accepting the faith of Christianity in total to be repugnant and delusional. It isn’t that the initial message or messenger are at fault, but those who claim a faith while harshly judging and rejecting anyone outside of their myopic view as disposable simply because some see the world for what it is and refuse to buy into the Disney vision that happy endings always exist.
Those Goths that have accepted Christianity as their own personal faith view the concept of abusive faith to be a far cry from the comfort and peace they personally have found. While their faith is something they hold in high regard, they are not above sharing it on a personal basis with other artists. Respect is given where respect is due within the Goth community, and Christian Goths are no different. Regardless of faith, a musician’s talent carries them much further in the eyes of the community than their personal spiritual journey. However, one of the key tenants of Christian faith is building strong communities through personal relationships, which is how many best share their faith in respect to their fellow darkly minded peers; building something personal with respect to the larger community out of respect and understanding.
Regardless of how the world views the Goth subculture or how the Goth community views itself, there remains a broad and diverse community built up of many faiths from within the darkly lit tribe. To settle on one vision of faith or one stereotype that must be upheld is to limit the ability to maintain a community. Respect for all walks and creeds are paramount, for after all, disrespect is what so many have endured in this cold, vacant world. Without common respect from ones’ fellow tribe members, it would be appropriate use the pagan epithet: “How very ‘Christian’ we’ve become.”
On a final note, I’d like to quote from the ever introspective and lovely Monica Richards from Faith and the Muse:
“I wouldn’t think any differently about whether a fan of Goth music happens to be Christian, Jewish, Catholic, Wiccan or Atheist. We have fans of all faiths and no faith. It’s a style of music like any other, it has fans of kinds.”