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LEARNING DAY

Let’s Read: The Goth Scene

Fart Pants is no name for a grandmother, and listen: most baby turtles die knowing only the unforgiving talons of sea birds. Hi, you might be thinking, “Well, this is certainly the weirdest, saddest introduction I’ll read today!” You’re right, unless you read this, the actual introduction to the book Everything You Need to Know About The Goth Scene:

What? What the fuck is this book about teen fashion trends talking about? Well, The Goth Scene was published in 2000, when the blame for Columbine was still trying to fall on something or anything and that very much included Goths. So this book, this insane goddamn book, seems to have been written to reassure everyone the Columbine shooters were not Goths and how despite their spookiness, Goths hardly ever murder. That being said, The Need to Know Library is not a book series about safe hobbies for best friends. Its other titles include WHEN A PARENT DIES, WINDSURFING, INCEST, MONONUCLEOSIS, TEENS WHO KILL, AIDS, and I was lying about WINDSURFING.

This is a book series about dealing with tragedies or social malignance, which means the publisher considered nerds in capes one of those two things. This book didn’t happen because they decided to “do a fun one” between FAMILY VIOLENCE and TEEN SUICIDE. It was written to identify and hopefully solve The Goth Scene. Its working title was probably How Hard to Panic if Your Shitty Teen is a Dracula.

They had to know it was going to be hard to put an entire book together about a youth fad before it morphed into something entirely different, so they sent in their hippest, most Goth reporter– Kerry Acker. Kerry was educated at a private Jesuit school and her other works include a biography of Jimmy Carter and a children’s book about backyard animal facts. If anyone could figure out these gloomy countercultural kids, it was the woman who wrote, “Of all these furry foragers, it’s the skunks who are the real stinkers!”

So it looks like Kerry started by looking up “Goth” in an encyclopedia. There is a lot of information about ancient Goths and their irrelevance to the modern Goth scene. This is like ESPN dedicating an entire episode of its Michael Jordan docuseries to a different man named Michael Jordan in Tampa. “I’ve actually gone by Wally Jordan since I was about six. I’ve seen most of Space Jam, though,” says Michael “Wally” Jordan, as he shows a documentary crew his collection of Qui-Gon Jinn Burger King cups. “Qui-Gon has been a big part of my life ever since my asshole fell out in a car detailing accident. Hey, why do you guys keep asking me about basketball?”

Holy shit, she’s still going. Kerry’s Altavista search for “goth” gave her enough material for several more pages of amazingly pointless facts about things that have a similar name, but are otherwise unrelated to the subject of her book. She seems to think the reader has picked up a book featuring an awkward teenager and thought, “Goth? Like medieval Gothic architecture? No, apparently not, but here is three pages on the subject anyway. Ah, stone gargoyles were common? Now I get Columbine.”

It took a couple dozen pages, but we’re now getting to the important Goth facts. For instance, they love relaxing in mysterious cemeteries. I have to be honest, this wasn’t ever my scene, but I think Kerry nailed it. Goths (probably) love holding crafting parties on human graves. It’s impossible to know if she based her facts on guesses she made after watching Tim Burton movies or if the local teens she interviewed were fucking with her.

I half expect to find a page where Kerry just says, “I’m watching Interview with a Vampire and I bet Goths dress exactly like Tom Cruise in this movie. Ha ha those little Nosferatu clowns totally do full Tom Cruise vampire cosplay every day.”

Oh, fuck. I was kidding! Come on, Kerry.

Kerry writes a lot about vampires being a big part of the Goth lifestyle and I don’t know enough about it to know if she’s wrong. But I do have my doubts this very square woman writing about a teen fad is right when she makes the same obvious observation a dumb idiot would make from a first impression of those teens. It feels like writing a book about Star Wars and saying, “Stoic Jedi leader Qui-Gon Jinn appeals mainly to Trekkies (as they are known in the fandom) who have butthole injuries.”

It’s fine, even normal, if your Goth is fascinated with the mystery of death. But if your Goth is killing animals, they “probably need psychological help.” And if your Goth is levitating over a dead animal, infused with the power given them by its living blood, stay calm and go to Chapter One: Gothic Architectural Features and Locksmiths in Your County Whose Names Start with “Goth-“.  There is a short section before the Siouxsie and the Banshees bio that explains how to bless a dagger.

No, shit, you went too far. Go back, go back!

No, this is from the section explaining Witchcraft. No, I have no idea if Paganism is Goth! The book doesn’t say, but if I had to put money on it, NO! The entire Wicca section from this already vague Goth book would be worse than useless even if we weren’t urgently trying to find the key to defeating a blood-hungry Goth! Please hurry!

If you’re not going to take this seriously, we are going to die.

Is this it? I… no, this is the very start of the Vampirism section where Kerry explains how it’s a common misconception that Goths are so stupid they think vampires are real. This is not always true. Why, some Goths even find this idea ridiculous. Look, hot dog reader and supporter, I know the conceit of this bit is that we’re being hunted by a vampire empowered by pet blood as we flip through a book together, but I want to pause here so we can enjoy how the author of The Goth Scene has an actual section on Vampirism and she reassures you most Goths know vampires aren’t real five times in the first five sentences. It’s really important to her you know they know that. I’ve written maybe more than anyone about insane bullshit, but I don’t know if I’ve ever had as much contempt for or misunderstanding of a subject matter as Kerry Acker has for Goths.

Now, let’s get back to finding a solution to our vampire problem.

This is… okay, this is officially the least amount of helpful information any book has ever contained about a subject. I’m starting to think it was a dumb idea to hire a Christian raccoon expert to ask 1999’s World Wide Web “what Goth?” It’s fucking ludicrous. It’s as dumb as hiring Wally Jordan to write a book about Hiding Gambling Losses from Charles Barkley’s Wife– wait, no. It was fine the way it was. It’s as dumb as hiring a Christian raccoon expert to write about The Goth Scene.

2 replies on “Let’s Read: The Goth Scene”

No Skinny Puppy on her list of bands that Goths like? Yep, she definitely doesn’t know a damn thing about Goths!

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