Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Why the "40 Years of Goth Style" Video Fails



So this video has been bouncing around the internet lately, have y'all seen it? My grandmother posted in on Facebook, and if she could find it I'm sure you all have. It's a "recap" of the evolution of Goth style, kind of/sort of related to those 100 Years of X Fashion videos. Someone on Tumblr asked me what I thought, so I figured it was time to explain why it just doesn't work for me.


So for starters, the continuity of this video is weird. It seems like they were stuck half-way between wanting to do one of the aforementioned 100 Years videos and wanting to recreate the Goth types drawings by Megan Balanck that have been around forever.



Let's start with the obvious. Steampunk and Rockabilly are not Goth. Yes, they can be tangentially related, but they're not part of the Goth umbrella. What you can say about them is that Goths do cross over and borrow styles from each, but they are interesting subcultures with their own histories that should be explored. The Death Rock one has a similar problem in that it evolved more or less alongside Goth, rather than springing from "Batcave" style.

Side note: what is that Death Rock hairstyle? Yikes.

Really, Goth style is best discussed not has one style taking over another (like the video implies) but as the ebb and flow of trends that some Goths participated in and the influences of other, simultaneously evolving, subcultures.  It also ignores revivals, like the recent TradGoth revival we've been having.

The biggest problem I have with this is that they picked a non-Goth model and she looks "off" in every look, except for the pin-up inspired style (which is the closest to her real-life style which you can see on her Instagram. Go figure.) It's hard for me to put my finger on why. Bad wigs? Makeup not suiting her face? General sense of unease? I was trying to figure it out when I mentioned the video to my father.

Me: So whenever a non-Goth tries to dress like a Goth, they look "off." Even if they're being dressed and having their makeup done by a real Goth.
My dad: Maybe it's not the black on the outside that matters, but the black on the inside? 

Probably true, dad.

But really, if you had a Gothic Lolita on set they would have been able to stop you from doing... whatever you did to this poor woman's mouth.



I'm not trying to be mean to the people behind the video, but I would love to see one of these staffed entirely by Goths, before we get overwhelmed with even more videos from Buzzfeed of normal people "trying out" Goth as clickbait.

What do you all think of the video? Have you been struck by how weird some non-Goths look when they try Goth fashion? What would you have changed?

21 comments:

  1. I thought it was pretty accurate for the most part, esp the order. They didn't have the most jaw dropping looks from each time, and some of them were half baked, but I thought it was good for what it was trying to do. And I don't really care if she's a normie. It'll be impossible to find one person who looks authentic in each genre. I'd like to see the cyber goth who's Lolita lol.

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  2. I thought the video was okay. Didn't really care for the hair used in the deathrock look. When I saw that hair, I automatically thought of Madonna. I was also wondering why they called the gothabilly look pin-up. It would of been nice if they actually used goth models for this video. Can probably find plenty by checking out goth related videos on youtube.

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  3. I think it was nice that non-goths are trying to discover and explain the subculture to others. Yes, there's no continuity, mainly they showed types of fashion because the style didn't have a linear evolution, rather it branched into all the stuff they showed. I as a goth understand they picked the style most popular for each period, but non-goths may not understand that all these styles coexist to this day and they didn't evolve from one to another as the video suggests. Overall I think it was a good initiative but they should recruit actual goths for this type of project.

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  4. In the UK the steampunk crowd are very much part of the goth crowd. They attend the same events, the same festivals and gigs and mingle very happily on the whole - part of the broader subculture. It's a joy to see the coggies at Whitby Goth Festival because they have so much fun with their looks - but the same folk can be SP one day and trad goth the next. There is no box that they have to stay in. This is repeated at my local goth monthly goth night - you can be princess of darkness one month, airship pirate queen the next. Alternative is as alternative does.

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  5. Could have used Toxic Tears aka Kaya Lili

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  6. This is . . . fun, but it has that feel that these videos usually do, where you get the idea somebody did some Googling and made a checklist of traits for each look but didn't do more than superficial research. Those "100 years of fashion" videos do the same thing--you get a general impression but they're still a bit off. "Late 1970's? Uh . . . Siouxsie, right? Yeah, that one's easy!", even though it's a specific look and not necessarily generally representative. It also doesn't take into account parallel subgenres (yes, looks have trends over the years but cybergoth didn't totally replace Romantic, or whatever. It's not a linear progression).

    I can kind of understand that since in any subculture, getting it really right usually means you've been in it for a long time and know the subtleties. But it's also kind of patronizing.

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  7. I have the same problems with this video that you mentioned. I would have liked to see a couple of iconic or popular looks from each decade rather than divisions by style. I also think copying two of Sioxsie's looks was getting off too easy...All in all though, I think making a video like this is a tough job. I'd like to see others take a crack at it.

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  8. Basically agree with the above, but would like add that I think the Goth/ Steampunk overlap is heavy in small scenes/ smaller cities. I mean this more in terms of people than style (though there is intersection there too). Neither is a subset of the other, but 80% of the people at the heart of either scene in a place like Salem, MA are the same people. For example our Goth/ Industrial Dance Night, Darq does an after party for our Steampunk gathering.

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  9. Liisa Ladouceur - author of Encyclopedia Gothica you think the creator of this book she be a little inform than on goth

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  10. I love the fact that we're being recognised as a group of people rather than a bunch of pathetic, moody kids, Buzzfeed is great since they try to incorporate different kinds of people so that we can start recognizing the world as diverse and tolerant since it hasn't been like that earlier.

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  11. Mid 80s looked way off to me, but then I lived through it so....

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  12. Yes thought it was OK but feel that models dressing goth don't really properly pull it off, just never seems natural. I think the two assistants were more goth than the model. But agree is't not easy to do this, so still a positive.

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  13. ...I really...REALLY...disliked this video. Something about it all just bothered me. And many of the clothes, I agree, looked entirely "off" on the model, somehow. Some of the clothes were bad choices in general, though. Like...that strappy thing on the batcave look? HELLO? That's...just...not right.

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  14. The model is an alternative model, Kassandra Love. I have worked with her on photoshoot's early on in her career.

    I agree that some of the looks were a bit 'off' and the deathrock hair had me screaming, "NOOOO!"

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  15. I dismantled this video in detail as a comment on it.

    Personally I feel that Deathrock is Batcave's American cousin and that they are both things that flowed into creating Goth, so it deserved its place there. However, I didn't feel like the look was authentically deathrock. Yes, fetish stuff was certainly used then, but it was a time when getting ahold of anything made for any form of alternative market was much harder than it is now, and there was much more DIY and improvisation. Neither of the two proto-Goth/early Goth/trad-Goth-ish sorts of things looked anywhere near DIY'd and thrifted enough.

    The bigger problem is that they tried to break it down into substyles rather than show how Goth evolved and branched out. Romantic Goth has had its own evolution over the decades, at times preferring a more fantasy/Morticia/medieval look, at other times preferring a more Victorian and post-Renaissance period-fashions influenced look. A history of Goth fashion isn't a linear progression, it's a stylistic family tree that is always branching out.

    I agree that in the UK there's a lot of overlap between Goth and Steampunk, but it's still a separate thing; there's plenty of Steampunks who aren't Goth and have come from the nerd/geek/sci-fi/LARP scene, for example, and there's Goths who might love anachronistic stuff, but aren't into Steampunk (me, for example).

    The biggest problem I had with it all were the wigs; they made each look seem cheapened and costume-y.

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  16. All this talk and no mention of industrial?

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  17. This video is way off in its goth fashion history for sure. Mixing up generas. Its kool to see videos like that but hurts when you know they f*ck up the information. I also agree about the wigs! Did they buy those outfits at Spirit?

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  18. Eugh that "Goth Lolita" look is just...no

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  19. THAT CYBERPUNK DANCING!!! XD

    Seriously though, what the fuck? They all look like bad eBay Halloween costumes - - probably where they got the names as well...

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  20. Did you see the men's version?

    Emo. Is all I'm gonna say.

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