"Goths" are generally people who conform to a wide range of black-centric fashion conventions, and listen to dark styles of music. It's a terribly ambiguous label that applies to an immense amount of people. The label is inherently invalid, and is almost always pejoratively/humorously used these days, except by teenagers describing themselves. This usage is dying quickly. Teenagers are no longer interested in the "Gothic" subculture. At one point, there was a clear definition of who you can or can't label as Goths - it meant people who dressed in black, often dyed their hair black or some bright color, and listened to certain kinds of music. There's no longer a clear definition. Goths traditionally are considered to have a nihilistic outlook on life. In my experience, the people labelled as "Goths" are generally more intellectual, and more down-to-earth than most people. Also, in my experience, they're also often frighteningly normal, in the areas where it counts, by comparison to most people who dress normally and listen to pop music. When I was 17, i'd have proudly declared myself a Goth, but now, i'm 22, and with time i've found that there's significantly more to me. I dress how I feel at any given moment, I still dye my hair black. My shoes are combat boots, though i've never been in the military. I listen to Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, etc. I'm a socialist. I'm a nihilist in the philosophical/existential sense. The label is easily applied to me. But, one of the greatest characteristics of people labelled as "Goths" is that we generally don't like to use the term for ourselves. These days i'd take it as a pejorative term. Often confused with the equally ambiguous/pointless term "Emo".
"Goth" 1: I like to read Nietzsche, and listen to Nine Inch Nails, and wear lots of black, simplistic clothing. My hair is nothing special, and I wear black makeup.
"Goth" 2: I like to wear flowing dresses, and often I listen to Switchblade Symphony, Rasputina, and occasionally am known to listen to something entirely out of character like the backstreet boys.
"Goth" 3: I just wear whatever I want, often it's black, sometimes there's metal in it. I listen to a wide variety of music, because I like it. Just because I listen to Manson, does not mean i'm as single-minded as he is. I also have great respect for classic rock.
"Goth" 4: liek OMG i went to hot topic and bought this uber my chemical romance shirt, and some pink bondage pants! i like to wear candy bracelets and dye my hair blonde and pink, but i pretend to have some sort of "dark" attitude, and have some intelligence and depth
these are all "goths" -
see how wide the scope of such a label is?
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