A Study of Gothic Subculture

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Updated 3-12-2009
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Statement Regarding Columbine


As I read the reports of the Littleton tragedy, I can't help but cry. It seem silly to be sitting here at work tearing up every time I think about it, but the grief I feel for all the people suffering there -- the frantic parents, the youth who will be emotionally scarred by this traumatic experience, and those who lost loved ones -- seems overwhelming. My sincerest condolences and sympathy extends to everyone involved. It's so horrific and unbelievable to think that something like this has happened again.

As people struggle to understand why it happened, some students came forth to describe the gunmen as "gothic." From what I have read of the suspects, I see little to no connection to the gothic lifestyle, other than the fact that they wore black trenchcoats -- a common fashion style of Goths. It must be noted that black trenchcoats are often a common fashion trait of Mormon missionaries as well. The connection goes no further. The gunmen's designation as "The Trench Coat Mafia," their interest in guns and bombs, as well as their red shoe laces and Confederate flag insignias suggest a Neo-Nazi connection, not a gothic one (red shoe laces on combat boots are a symbol used by Neo-Nazis). There is absolutely no connection between gothic culture as a whole and racism, fascism, bigotry or Adolf Hitler. Goths are stereotypically nonviolent people.

Students in high school are quick to categorize and label different cliques; and "Goth" is a popular buzzword these days. Whether or not the label designated by peers actually applies to the person is a different story. Most people have a great deal of misconceptions as to what Gothic is. Because Gothic is largely defined by the individual involved, many Goths themselves often present contradictory information when describing what Goth is. There are no set of over-arching beliefs or values, no simple definitions, and no generalizations that are universally true within the Gothic subculture. I can't emphasize that point enough.

These boys' behavior can only be attributed to their individual choice. The gothic subculture does not condone violence, much less mass slaughter and suicide. I firmly believe that anyone who is overly fixated on anything is unhealthy. Those displaying destructive or violent tendencies need help, now. However, the behavior is what should be focused on, not the color of clothing. It is impossible to blame music, style of dress, or subculture affiliation for the actions of a few disturbed extremists. I personally have been deeply upset by this incident. I think I can speak for the gothic community in saying that we are all as horrified as anyone else.

Read over the site for a more comprehensive look at Gothic. Feel free to with questions, but please look over the Table of Contents to see if I may have covered your concern somewhere in the site before doing so. In the wake of this tragedy, please take the time to examine security measures in schools, gun control issues, and extend your help to troubled youth and to community service in the hopes that we can prevent something like this from ever happening again.

-- Alicia Porter Smith