by Derek Tatum of Mondo Vampire
Although the word “goth” has become increasingly visible, the mainstream media rarely applies it correctly. To the mainstream, the typical goth is a teenager or twentysomething in poorly-applied make-up, often with 50 bazillion facial piercings and an overt desire to “shock the normals.” These kids are not goths; if anything, they’ve missed the point entirely.
Unfortunately, I have seen similar misinformed goth stereotypes in the current wave of urban fantasy. Goth characters are often depicted as submissive vampire-bait at best and as laughable poseurs at worst. Speaking as someone who is associated with the goth scene, these portrayals irritate me. Goths may have their faults, but being stupid is rarely one of them. While I can accept these books as works of fantasy, my suspension of disbelief is shattered every time one of these lame stereotypes makes an appearance.
My advice to writers seeking to add a “goth element” to their work is to research the subculture. Writers often take pains to make sure that other elements in their work are correct, and the goth scene should be no different. If your city has a goth club night, contact the organizers and arrange an interview. Use online resources to gather information so that you do not rely on one person’s viewpoint. There are also several good books on the subject as well; Jillian Venters’ “Gothic Charm School” is a terrific, easily available book that I think would help outsiders get a “goths-eye-view” of things.
Sure, you can rely on the same bad stereotypes that are repeated ad nauseum in today’s climate - or you can be a little more accurate. The goth subculture has been around for three decades, and is full of interesting personalities and artistic possibilities. Who knows? With a sincere and well-informed depiction of the goth scene, you may be opening yourself up to an all-new fanbase.