Friday, January 4, 2013

Goth in the Public Eye: A Witch Hunt and A Quest for Peace (continued)

Part II

Not to sound cliche-anti-establishment, but people tend to be sheep-minded, brainwashed by their own television sets-- and it doesn't stop with skewed news coverage. For the most part, goth portrayal on TV hasn't really been all that nice. Disney channel, for instance, tends to depict goth kids as brutish, mean-natured, bullying, and unintelligent (at best clowns in black and at the very worst monsters to be feared) causing an unnecessary fear and bigotry of anyone that has a look outside of the realm of "normal" by both adults and children alike.

A goth portrayed as threatening on Disney's "Suite Life of Zack and Cody"

Of course, there have been some depictions that aren't as harsh- the Breakfast Club's Allison Reynolds (aka "the basket case," for instance. However, her role ultimately was that of the ugly ducking, something that needed to be 'fixed' in order to be happy.

On a happier note, a few times goth has been portrayed as fully functioning, normal people in a more positive light (or dark depending on what you fancy). NCIS's Abby Sciuto is intelligent, lovable, and happy. As the show has gained popularity, more and more people have been exposed to the idea that perhaps goths aren't scary, or mean, or satanic, or unintelligent-- in fact, Abby graduated with honors with a triple major and earned her masters in criminology and forensic science (sure, this is a bit unrealistic, but it's definitely inspiring).

It's as though a lightbulb turned on over the collective heads of the general public, that goths aren't so bad, which is kind of humerus that the general public needed a fictional black-clad lady on the tube to teach them that! Could it perhaps be argued that life imitates art? Or maybe we're living up to our primitive simian roots, paying homage to the expression "monkey see, monkey do."

It also seems to have worked in my favor when it comes to working with the public- at least 3 times a week I get "Hey, you look like that chick off that show." or "You look like that lady from CSI." My absolute favorite, however, was from a very kind gentleman, "I'm sure you get this all the time from the younger guys, but I have to say, you look very lovely and very Abby." A lot of my ladyfriends who sport a gothic ensemble and black bangs/fringe also get that. I've been asked if I get stares and jeers and rude remarks on my job due to my appearance. For the most part, no, surprisingly. Most of the folks who do comment are quite complimentary on my choice of jewelry, my makeup, or my overall look. I've had one person ask what goth was about (in a genuinely polite manner) and more than one sweet little elderly lady say that she just loves my 'goth look.' I've had very white-bread, suburban families (think Old Navy commercials) give a funny look or smirk, though that reaction was overshadowed after they realized I knew what I was doing. I'm happy, or at least kind of happy to report, that patients never seem to dislike me for my appearance, just when I tell them if there's something their insurance plan won't cover. :p

ZOMG- a gawth with bangs! It must be Abby! =O
And another Abby!
(one of my beautiful and much beloved lady friends)
Of course, work is one story, but outside of a professional setting, it can be different. I think that probably 99% of individuals who consider themselves goth have had rude encounters with strangers, be it insults from passing cars, or points and ever-so-obvious stares, or even being watched like a hawk by a merchant or salesperson when trying to shop. I could say that it doesn't hurt, and that it shouldn't matter, but I'd be halfway lying. A few months ago I was at the local mall, doing some shopping, wearing a new frilly black dress I found at a Goodwill and some new accessories I'd gotten from eBay. I'd completed my look with black lipstick. I was feeling quite happy, until I was exiting the mall. A family walking in front of me, ranging in age from maybe 40 down to 8, kept turing around, one by one, staring at me, and whispering to one another. After the third of the party turned around, I started to wave. Of course, at this point, they'd made a game of smirking and laughing in their camouflage and mullet-clad superiority. I yelled to them that their behavior was rude, though it was like talking to a brick wall, and I, in turn, went home in a very depressed mood. The moral of the story? Some people are just awful, and feel a need to mock others behind the safety of anonymity. Those people may never see me again (God willing) and there may never be repercussions for their obnoxious behavior (aside from the slowly turning wheels of Karma), but at the same time, that very fact, which they used to get away with such behavior, was a consolation to me. They'll never see me again, and I will never see them again, so why should it matter what their opinion is? They're obviously gurus of a *ahem* different fashion sense, and would've acted in such a nasty way to anyone else in my shoes, erm, boots. I learned not to take it personally. They would've been rude and nasty to anyone dressed like me. We obviously had different definitions of what looks good and what looks ridiculous.

 I could've taken the low road, and jeered back, made comments about how badly the guy was balding, or how his wife looked like she could've passed for his sister, or how their kid looked like Honey Booboo--could've, and really wanted to, but I didn't. The world doesn't need any more negativity. So while it does hurt often (because we're all human beings and we all have feelings that are capable of pain), the people who cause that pain truly don't matter.


In short, if someone doesn't like you for something as irrelevant as your external appearance, never, ever, EVER, under any circumstance assume that there is some sort of problem with you- the only person(s) in the wrong are those who jump to conclusions and those who feel so insecure with themselves that they have to be mean to someone with a different mindset. Life's too short to let the insecurities of others get to you- keep living your life in the way that makes you most happy, and remember the golden rule, to treat others as you would want to be treated. It will make the gothic subculture look better and more importantly, it will make you feel better at the end of the day.

Why must we be so polite? "Because those rude and boorish strangers would take our scorn and hostility as an open invitation to behave in even worse ways towards us than they do now. Because such behavior would feed the suspicion and fear with which many people regard Goths. Because more parents would regard their fledgling Goth children with extra worry and concern. Because even more people would be skeptical about whether Goths can be good employees or people to be trusted."~ excerpt from "Gothic Charm School" by Jillian Venters

Jillian Venters, the Lady of Manners, said it best, that it's always important for goths to be polite and well mannered because we will always be under scrutiny and held to a higher standard because there are so many preconceived ideas about us floating around out there.There will be people out there who will discriminate against you, but withstanding that nastiness and proving their nasty assumptions wrong, will make you a stronger person. Promise. :)

Love, hugs, and tea,
Sea, the Gothic Optician, A.B.O.C.

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