Lately there has been a lot of talk about how goth music is political, which in turn would mean that the subculture is political as well. When it comes down to it is the subculture actually politically minded?
Everybody reading this knows that the goth subculture was birthed out of the punk subculture. The punk subculture has always been political to varying degrees. There are famous punk musicians such as Jello Biafra and Dick Lucas who have always talked the talk and walked the walk. When they write songs about supporting equal rights or about how evil corporations are they mean it. They aren’t being political to gain ‘scene’ points, they are being political because they think that speaking against injustices is important and something that must be done.
Do goth bands speak up about injustices? Sometimes, but not as often as their punk cousins. Sex Gang Children have recently put out the most politically charged album that I have ever heard come out from under the goth umbrella. It’s called Oligarch and it speaks up against corporations, religious hypocrisy and fascist politicians. I honestly hope that other goth bands listen to it and are inspired to make their own politically charged art. Christian Death is another band that has openly made politically charged music through the years. Both the Rozz and Valor versions of the band have done this. Then there are modern anarcho deathrock bands such as Mystic Priestess and the Creeping Terrors who make music with a political bent. With one foot in the punk subculture they are carrying on the tradition of speaking up against what is wrong in society.
If you spend any amount of time in online goth communities you will see people ask if they can be right wing and goth at the same time. The goth subculture has always leaned left because of the acceptance of those who society sees as the ‘other’. Are there racists within the subculture? There have always been those in the subculture who think that a person has to be white in order to be goth, which is a load of shit of course. Do some people wear white foundation and try to look as pale as possible? Of course but you don’t have to look like a Victorian ghost to enjoy the music. You don’t have to be a certain weight, a certain colour or dress a certain way to take part in the subculture.
All of this could be called political, but do people in the subculture actually stand up for the rights of others when it comes down to it? I would like to argue that there are some that do, but they are heavily outnumbered by those who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. The most important thing about being politically minded is standing behind what you say, even if it inconveniences you. A huge example of this are all of the people in the subculture who will be attending the Cruel World festival, even though the person putting it on is a proven homophobe. They will post about how they are for the rights of those who identify as LGBTQ, but they don’t want to be inconvenienced by missing a show. It’s hypocritical to not stand behind what you say.
Back thirty years ago the subculture was largely not political at all. To the point that Nazi skinheads would attend the clubs and nobody would lift a finger to boot them out. Seriously, I witnessed this shit myself. Back then I weighed 100 pounds and I knew that it would be impossible for me to do anything physically about it. However, there were several times back then that I told Nazi skins off because I didn’t like the crap that they were saying. I did all that I could do back then but when it came down to it there were definitely others who just didn’t care. As long as they could dance to their favourite songs everything was hunky dory.
When it comes down to it the goth subculture can be political, but there are many people in it who need to learn to stand up for what they claim to believe in. Supporting the LGBTQ community online is good, but if it is not followed through with some sort of physical action then that support becomes meaningless. Go to marches and events that are against racism and homophobia, and don’t attend events that are put on by racist or homophobic promoters.