Saturday, December 10, 2011

What's all this fuss about Nu-Goths?

I feel like this is a default topic for Goth bloggers these days. Maybe because we are the "first line of defense" of what defines Goth, maybe because we like talking about clothes quite a bit. Whatever the reason, I'm jumping on the bandwagon. Here is my (sort of) objective take on Goth and Hipster's bastard child.

Source: Tumblr

What is Nu Goth? Nu Goth is a fashion style that takes some of the tropes of casual Goth fashion and mixes it up with Hipster fashion staples like high-waisted shorts, crop tops, and oversized sunglasses. These Nu Goths do not listen to Goth music, they simply wear the clothing that they like. Goths often get up in arms about this "misappropriation" of the word Goth (Like it hasn't been misappropriated before? But I digress.) This inevitably sparks a lot of controversy between the Goths about if you can be a Goth without listening to Goth music and generally makes a lot of people upset.
Hipster + Goth = Nu Goth?


My issue? Why are we acting like this "Nu Goth" is a new trend? Mainstream fashion deems goth style "in" every few seasons anyway, and their takes on our subculture often involve the same tropes as the Nu Goths do: black skinny jeans, oversized crosses, cheap lace gloves/armwarmers, poorly fitted cropped "corset tops", and shoddily applied black lipstick. I think especially of Forever 21's take on Goth for the past couple of years.

Source: Piccsy

Of course, the general difference is that Nu Goths use the term "Goth" to describe their fashion while mainstream fashion avoids our label like the plague. I remember distinctly the Lady of the Manners discussing someone who was asking how to wear black lipstick (or was it nail polish?) without looking Goth. Of course, that is the general rule, there are some mass producers who would use the term Goth as a marketing ploy, but not to the extent that the Nu Goths do. For some reason, their usage upsets us while the mainstream fashion culture's non-use upsets us as well.

Source: SiouxsieLaw

Of course, that's not true for all Goths. There are some Goths that like the trend on its own. After all, parts of it aren't too different from a casual Goth outfit. The creepers? The jumpers? The torn tights? If these come into mainstream stores for reasonable prices (No, $20 for torn tights is not reasonable,) I can see why some Goths would welcome the trend for a while. Of course, there will be others that hate it just like they hate when Goth is adopted by the mainstream fashion culture without the guise of Nu Goth. It's a personal issue, I suppose.

Nu Goth v. Babybats


Maybe it's the Hipster element that we dislike, the rude attitude about shunning what came before you in an attempt to be special. As Goths know, we aren't that special. How many Goths are there in the world? Thousands? We don't pretend to be special unique snowflakes. If you do, you're more likely to get shunned and dismissed by Goths than celebrated by them. It's a baby bat trait to want to be Goth to be special. Maybe the Nu Goths are the new Baby bats? The attitudes toward them remain the same.

Source: DIY or Die

Honestly, though, if a rude enough Goth from the 1980s saw my closet, they might not like what they find. Gothic Lolita influences? No Aqua net? Very few DIY pieces? My god! How dare she! Oh, she listens to Christian Death and Bauhaus? I guess she's okay. I guess. But that opinion isn't as highly held any more. Not many Goths complain about Gothic Lolita anymore. Maybe it's because popular icons such as the previously mentioned Lady of the Manners have endorsed Lolita, maybe because most Gothic Lolitas that aren't Goths do not claim to be Goth. Whatever the reason, our fashions change over time. What we deem acceptable as Goth changes over time.

Maybe it's time to put the fighting words away. What do you think?

31 comments:

  1. Hi there,

    I stopped fussing about things like that a while ago because - if I am honest - I have to admit I grab a "trend" here and there, too. It's just easier at times (and it doesn't upset my boss as much if I look more "normal" than goth^^).

    When I was younger, I might have disliked the concept of "Nu Goth" but as a 30-year-old working in a full time job with a certain dress code I can't be picky anymore. I'm much more relaxed nowadays I try not to judge others harshly.

    Maybe I dress like a Nu Goth some days, maybe I don't dress gothic at all on other days.
    I'm not in college anymore. This is the real world, live and let live.
    If you can't dress Classic Goth because circumstances don't allow it - well, why not dress casual or like a "hipster" and add gothy elements if that makes your life easier?

    Yes, let's put the fighting words away. Let's try to be comfortable in our own skin and don't feel ashamed because we actually might like one of the new styles in the gothic subculture.

    I'll go and watch "Up!" now because I love Dug the dog. ;)

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    1. I wish everyone would think like this, so many "classic goths" are rather hypocritical about all this stuff :/
      When they get hung up about it, they just seem like a Baby Bat acting like they are more special because they are "gother than thou" and missing the point that more people dressing in more "goth" stuff there are, the more accepted we'll all be.

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  2. I think what we might be seeing is a change in what "Classic Goth" means. If this Nu Goth is more casual and easier for some, then perhaps it will become the new Classic, completely separate from its old school roots. As for myself, it doesn't bother me what other people chose to wear as much as the fighting in the Goth community about it does. I'm with you, live and let live with other people's styles. Wearing something more elaborate than leggings and a tank top does not make me "more Goth" than anyone else.
    I should watch that, too...

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  3. I think of them as a sort of Mall Goth. They're called Goth, they probably seem Goth to most, and they might kinda sorta look Goth... but they just don't seem to get it. I mean, wearing black lipstick, all black clothes, and inverted crosses do not automatically make you look Goth. Not that all of them dress like that, but I've seen too many that do.

    Then of course, what if they aren't trying to dress Goth? I... honestly don't see that as much better. It's like if you said, "Hey! I love punk fashion! Let's take it and call it something else... we're Nu-Punk. But we don't listen to the music and we aren't political."

    I just realized that I suggested that none of them listen to Goth music or anything of the sort. If they do, awesome! There's no problem with a Gothy sort dressing Nu-Goth. The issue most people seem to have is that they *aren't* Goth but dress like it. Or try to dress like it. I've come to the conclusion that you need to be a Goth for the most part to figure out how to dress like one.

    I've decided though that I'm going to keep to my "oh, look at the well dressed Mall Goths :)" attitude and wait it out instead of actively caring. Some will leave Goth or "Goth" or whatever, but some will stay and that would be cool. New fashion playgrounds are fun stuff.

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  4. Hey,

    Okay so don't get me wrong, I'm a proud goth and I love my style.

    But it's still just a label. One of the many I wear actually.
    I'm quite happy with Nu Goth being in every store because you can find some incredible deals right now. It's a trend that's probable going to be completely out in a few month. And even if it doesn't, hipsters calling them self Nu Goth does not make me any less of a Goth.

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  5. I wear some nu gothy outfits now and then. I like shopping in malls and participating in certain fashion trends. I grew into goth out of a an interest in punk and grunge, so I kind of missed out on being a purist I guess.

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  6. Hey:)
    I am not cool with the fact that the styles over the ages get categorized, there so many categories for Rock for Metal for Goth. Same of the last and some dont but it is not cool to confuse myself with all that!
    And finally i can find some clothes in a reasonable price cause this new label is in fashion! and when this overs we will still have the clothes :D

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  7. I think the style is cute. I am not goth nor am I nu-goth but I spend a lot of time on tumblr talking to people who seem to fit the nu-goth label. I haven't seen any of them refer to themselves as nu-goth or goth or as anything in particular. They all have a genuine interest in things that are dark although I don't think they are goth interests? Japanese horror and dark ambient music seems popular. Anyway no one is actually claiming to be part of goth culture or trying to rip it off, it seems like its own little internet culture.

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  8. I think they're a new type of babybat - these are older than the clueless teenagers trying too hard to rebel, but if the deliberate shunning of the Goth subculture to try and be "special" is true, then there is still a current of that sort of thought process. It might actually be that they want to distance themselves from what they might perceive as tacky or too weird. Some of the "Witch-House" music definitely fits in with the style of the original Goth subculture, and there seems to be enough of a musical interest in the original for The Cure to be playing at Reading (I saw The Cure on the cover of the NME and did a double-take). Maybe the Nu Goths are actually going to become the next generation of goths, or the next sub-group, and feed some new life into the subculture the way the rivetheads and deathrock revival did.

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  9. I don't know if I have to agree or disagree.I mean style/fashion comes and goes and it's not the first time of mixing different styles and cultures.I used to be goth ( please don't kill me) when I was a teenager.Growing up I changed but I still love some things like crosses and other stuff!This nu goth style is not as heavy as gothic so maybe people who don't know about this culture face it with a better view.Sorry If I am wrong!

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  10. I actually thought being goth meant being against any labelling.

    It all seems rather hypocritical to me, to shun someone for being different...?

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  11. I think nu goth is fine. As a goth, I listen to a lot of new bands in addition to the classics...but some of my favorites are HORRIBLE INDIE POP. I'm a shameless Parenthetical Girls addict. While they aren't goth, they do have a lot of macabre and melancholy influence, haha. I think if most goths looked through my favorites they'd be disappointed to see how ECLECTIC it is. I mean, I even listen to radio pop sometimes! It's like....It's like how hipsters love The Smiths and goths love The Cure. They have somewhat similar styles and a lot of people like both groups. If you listen to what you like and do your own thing, I don't see a problem. Plus--and this is where others will probably want to bitch me out--You don't...have to listen to the classics to be goth. It's the aesthetics, the feeling. If that's there and you're willing to say you're not a purist but you still like the style and the feeling, what's the problem? Plus all fashions change over time. Us post-2000 gothlings often wear things that are on the darker edge of hipster, so really we don't have room to talk. But I still hate the "obscurer-than-thou" attitude with hipsters...BUT that's kinda with goths too. My comment is losing focus. :B very nice article though!

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  12. This hating on new goth is really bugging me. I have been a long time goth (and when i say long time i mean 7 years of my 21) and I was known to wear goth attire. Hell, I was thrown out of school for wearing New Rocks and having peircings. I wore the corsets and poofy skirts and wore my makeup OTT. I listened to the music and was convinced I'd marry Robert Smith. But as I got older I noticed something. I didnt have to go to these "Goth Boutiques" to buy a skirt for 60euro. Highstreet shops had practically the same things for half the price. I love the nugoth style. I feel its a more grown up look for goths. Even if you don't appreciate the Nu goths themselves at least it makes the style popular and easier to find clothes you like. I don't think its necessary to listen to goth music to be called a goth. Why should that matter? Must there be a checklist you have to comply with before you are graced with the label of goth?

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    1. Agreeing here. This echos what a few others have said--nu goth is EASY to do! It's an easier way to dress goth in the work place, and it is a pretty classy look, I must say. It also echos how Mori Girl is becoming popular and mixing with goth worldwide, which to me is pretty cool. I greatly enjoy Mori although I don't wear it myself. It also reminds me of Dolly Kei. Many of the nu-goths I've seen enjoy one or both fashions, and those two styles have darker and lighter sides respectively. Plus kudos for not thinking music is the only part of goth! It's a big component, sure, but it's not the be-all-end-all. What about art and film, aesthetic, philosophy? It's making purists look narrow-minded to be so offended that goth is evolving...as it inevitably would.

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    2. That was my thought too - there are comments below this saying goth is 99% music, which is absolutely ridiculous in my mind. But then, I'm more nu-goth than classic, and so my opinion probably counts for nothing in their mind anyway.

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  13. Well I mean, some nu goths might listen to goth Music. I do. I mean there is a difference in the dress of the two styles. I mean, goth is goth, and I respect and love goths, but I mean I prefer to dress more nu goth because it is kind of a mixture of scene, with the hair, goth, and even a little bit of hippie with some of the more flowy type clothing. Goth is extremely hardcore, and I love the goth style, but I want to be a little more well rounded and have a little more excitement in the clothing. But I do listen to goth music as well. I mean, most nu goths might not listen to that music but I do.(: I respect and love all types of people. But the people I don't respect are the few that talk crap on other people just because there's one thing they don't like about a style. Can't we all just get along and stop bitching?(: Everybody's different okay? Respect that, and I'll respect you(:

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  14. "Nu goth" or as I prefer to call it "dark indie" is actually a musical genre with its own bands and sensibilities. Many people that are into Dark indie (and sometimes witch house) are also fans of Joy Division, The Cure,Bauhaus Siouxsee and the Banshees,Darkwave, etc

    There has been a revival of Post punk,80's indie, and new wave genres lately. Maybe a goth revival is currently taking place. People call these fans retro or "hipster" and say that they know nothing of the genres that they borrow from, I disagree. In some cases its a fashion trend in others its a genuine interest in the music just like "goth" is.

    Many "goths" don't know what "real" goth music is either and I have had conversations with them as well.

    I guess that I could be considered a "nu goth" because I dress like a goth post-punk. Personally I feel that they way I dress is closer to the style that the bands of that time dressed. I feel that it is actually closer to its post-punk roots than the PVC laden cyber goth or the ren- fare aesthetic of Steampunk who are IMHO sadly excepted as part of the gothic subculture, but I digress.

    I myself listen to a wide variety of music, mostly deathrock, goth rock, darkwave, post-punk and indie bands of the 80's, as well as other genres such as trip hop. I have recently been listening to newer bands in all of those genres and some are really good.

    "Goth" music and fashion are ever evolving things. To say that people who actually attempt to make and or dress in a style that is ever evolving don't fit kind of contradicts itself. We are all experimenting with art, fashion and culture and to say that a new genre or group that has ties to the music itself doesn't fit is remarkable to me.

    Like other before me have said, they may be the new baby-bats or mall-goths. Personally I think they like the style or aesthetic and may or may not enjoy "goth" music in general but its up to them if they Identify as "goth"

    We should be more concerned about other groups co-opting the "goth" style that have been doing it for years now like the mansonites or cybers. I feel as though they are more of a threat. At least "nu-goth" resembles the 80's which was the origin of "goth" itself.

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    1. I have to second Miles point about the ~wave/post-punk music revival, because that's kind of what brought me to nu-goth. I'm 25 & been goth since I was in middle school so 10+ years, but about 5 years ago I decided to go on a music history self-education more as a musician than as a goth & found myself parked in the late 70s-90s (as opposed to the various metal genres I was listening to) & I was really interested in what could arguably be called original goth style and it appeals to me that much of nu-goth leans toward that aesthetic.

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  15. Since I do not live in the states, Nu Goth hasnt hit the fashion trends here and I doubt it will, but since I try to connect to the subculture outside of where I live because there isnt a scene here I have seen people complaining about it.

    In all honesty, I like the clothing aspect of Nu Goth. Its simple, flows well and its like a casual way of dressing Goth and look very passable in a work environment give or take. I would for sure wear some clothes i see in the Nu Goth Fashion.

    As being Goth and the attitude of Nu Goths, I suppose it depends from person to person on their opinion on Goth and how do they feel or relate to the subculture.

    I can not see the big fuss or how Nu Goth fad goers act because there are none where I live, no Goths for that matter.

    Its a very nice causal Goth look for me personally. :D

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  16. Very interesting post :). I think the important fact is to be happy with what you do and the way you dress. What the others do, it is their own decision. If we worry about every time that a new "goth thing" appears in mainstrem or wherever, we will end to reduce all the Goth subculture to a very, very small label.

    I really love your blog, I have a lot of things to read! :)

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  17. In my country there aren't actually goth shops,so i buy clothes everywhere i can find things similar to goth that i like.So i'm probably not goth enough for London or some other city full of goth shops.Nonsense.I think that this nu goth hipster whatever style gives you more space for different combinations,and creativity.For me,music and personality is what makes you a goth and ofc creativity in fashion.But it doesn't mean you should be stuck in victorian for example,or 80s.For me cyber is awful,not nu goth.And those industrial goths are more about pornography than goth.You see?Different people,different views on different stuff.

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  18. haven't cared much, if the mainstream store buys in such things as inspiring "goth-elements" that's only good if they're to the affordable price. For me, myself goth's a lifestyle and at the same a culture - not jus music or clothes. I accept anyone who wants to use "the goth style" just dont bash me for wearing fishnettop, tutuskirt or just being "too much" of the black (you just can't be too much black) haha

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  19. It seems like the "hipsters" are making a lot of music that sounds like post punk/ gothic rock or synthwave these days... That's strange considering they aren't goth (sarcasm). Oh wait... Siouxsee, Robert, Peter, and Andrew weren't goth either. OH! It all makes sense now. I will leave this topic alone now.

    NEW "DARK INDIE" HIPSTER CRAP. (sarcasm)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=175bBIpVC38

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uh1o_03ilQY

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Om66mu9PXOA

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UvVfrOVhVk&

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7jR5UZNW8Y&

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWlp0XdDvHU&

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oy2x_kHCy4w&list=PLjUPhISjIsSUoPG5priMN8806RGXqSUAW


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  20. Okay to the person who said you don't have to listen to Goth rock to be Goth... I'm sorry, but that is just utterly stupid. YES you do. Goth is 99.9% about the music and the other .01% is about fashion and the dark aesthetic. If you want to walk around in dark clothes and you like Halloween and skulls and shit, that's totally cool, but please do not call yourself a Goth and further perpetuate the idiotic notion of a "Goth mindset", whatever the hell that is.

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  21. I don't know anything personally about these nu-goths...maybe they're hardcore about the music and lifestyle, maybe they just like the fashion. You can see both these types in traditional goth clothing-wearing folks too. I personally like the look...i call it Modern Goth. your comparison polyvore set between baby bats and nu goth was really good--i feel like it could be borderline lame and poserish. some girls really go crazy with those crosses! I also feel there's a lowbrow look to the nu-goth thing--the stuff from forever 21, hot topic, romwe--but there's also people who wear really high-end designer stuff who pull off the look well. I like it... and your blog too! +following you

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  22. As a gothic child of the mid-Industrial era, I've never really identified with what was the 'modern' goth look. new rocks, baggy trousers and multi-coloured dreadlocks to name a few. I've always been more comfortable in something closer to the 'Trad-Goth' image. I feel this is what the so-called nu goth look harks back to, just with a modern take. It adapts the earlier visuals and brings back the otherworldly elements not found (to me at least) in cyber styles. Of course, everyone is entitled to their personal preferences. As with anything, those who really feel the 'nu goth' look represents an extension of themselves will stick to it, those who don't will keep searching. This has always happened in any subculture. Personally, I find nu goth refreshing.

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  23. "Not many Goths complain about Gothic Lolita anymore."

    Sadly, this is not true. I saw a thread in a certain Facebook group designated only for 30 and up Goths. They were tearing Gothic Lolita a new one. Not only that but several members passive aggressively talked about the Lady of Manners as well. It seems they take issue with her liking cute and creepy things and how she refers to herself as a "cupcake goth". According to them goth is scary NOT cute! And the Lady of Manners is supposedly "watering down" the goth aesthetic by mixing the two because cute things are palatable to "mainstream society". I rolled my eyes so hard they nearly fell out of my head. Nevermind that many of them are avid fans of things such as Switchblade Symphony, Tim Burton, and Edward Gorey. All of which have a creepy-cute aesthetic to their works. I wonder what's the difference? Why is Switchblade Symphony okay but Gothic Lolita isn't?

    This type of nitpicking does no good to anything. But it doesn't matter because people will do what they like regardless of their opinions. I've been around for some time. I've observed that there always are the sort who love complaining and engaging in elitist nitpickery. People will do as they always have. Which is ignore them and keep doing what they like. :)

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  24. I personally believe that you should just let the labels go and be who you are, instead of playing the elitist and kicking others out for being who they want to be. A big part of gothic culture is the fashion. I dress punk goth and listen to power metal and contemporary symphonic music, I take a high interest in the workings of the human body and the human mind, blah blah blah. If someone comes along and tells me I'm not actually punk goth just because I listen to nerdy music, I'll just say "fuck off". It's not in what you do, it's in how you feel about yourself. I present myself as punk-goth, I base my lifestyle around the fashion. I'm not a rebel (I'm actually a stickler for rules....) like punks are supposed to be, I don't listen to darker music like goths are supposed to, but I still feel that I'm punk-goth.
    It really isn't based on what you do... It's 100% based on how you feel about yourself. Not how others feel about you. That's one of the points of this community - it matters not to us what others think of us, as long as we're comfortable in our own skin.

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  25. Honestly, I've been a goth for over 20 years and feel like this 'Nu Goth' style is much easier to achieve, more comfortable, and more affordable than traditional garb. I've slowly been incorporating different pieces into my wardrobe for awhile and am very pleased with the outcome. It really has nothing to do with the sort of music I listen to.

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    1. ^And to clarify what I mean about the fashion having nothing to do with music I listen to, what I'm trying to say is that I listen to goth rock, batcave, darkwave, etc. AND still choose to dress how I want. One doesn't really influence the other in my opinion.

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  26. As someone who falls into nu-goth category, and friends of many other people that would fall into the nu-goth category, I can tell you right now from experience, most of us don't even care to label ourselves anything. Goth, Nu-goth, Hipster goth, whatever - and I think that's a very traditional classic goth thing to do - how many times have you heard a classic goth (who is not too into themselves and full of it) say "I just am what I am. I am goth I guess, but I don't like lables"? We're exactly the same.
    Most of us genuinely have an interest in goth music, aesthetic, philosophy and trends. If you check out the typical "nu-goth" on Tumblr, their blog would be very similar to that of a classic goth's. It's just a new branch of casual style made from affordable pieces that are on-trend and fit a goth aesthetic without going overboard. We’re not ignorant to the culture that came before us, as some claim, we’re just our own distinct branch of goth, I think. I love Witch House, and I love Bauhaus and The Cure. Most people into nu-goth do! Are there hipsters who latch on to it (probably via Tumblr) and come in with arrogance and ignorance? Absolutely. But there are just as many classic goths treating nu-goths and pastel goths with disrespect and an obnoxious attitude. There are just as many people who go into classic goth with arrogance and ignorance! It’s all exactly the same – it is simply being looked at differently and insulted because it is different.
    As goths all, I think that behaviour is fucking shameful. I will just say it – it’s disgusting and shameful. Considering all goths and alternative people have at some point guaranteed faced discrimination or been mocked for how they look – for being DIFFERENT, that sort of behaviour between ourselves is fucking vile. You should not, in a culture that celebrates being different, mock, shame, and humiliate other people for looking different. If you do – and yes, even to a nu-goth! – you have completely lost sight of what goth is about and need to revisit the times when you were just discovering goth yourself and what made you fall in love with the culture. I guarantee part of it was because you felt you were allowed to be yourself without judgment or shame, and that was important to you!
    BUT I agree that with those that say nu-goth could definitely be a bit of refreshment to goth culture as a whole, but I disagree with the "babybat" statements entirely. We know what we're doing - we are people with our own take on goth fashion, just like literally every other sub- goth style! That’s how classic goth was started, and cyber goth, and every other subculture. It all has a root, and it all eventually ties in together.

    Deeply apologize for a literal one page paper on my opinion on the matter, but it's been bubbling up for a while now, and this seemed like a good platform. ;3

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