Lure of Goths for lonely and disaffected

Times Online/January 22, 2005
By Gillian Harris

Britain -- The Goth culture with its black dress code, bleak music and body art has provided a harmless outlet for countless disaffected teenagers. But Luke Mitchell had an obsession with the movement which went beyond adopting a tribal uniform and listening to melancholic lyrics.

Mitchell, who coined the phrase "Gothic depressive" and scrawled it on his school books, became enthralled by Satanism, the occult and, eventually, ritualistic killing. He and Jodi wore baggy, dark clothes, hung out with other Goths in Cockburn Street in Edinburgh and smoked cannabis in the city's Greyfriars cemetery.

Jodi's friends have said that despite her clothes and pierced lip she was only loosely associated with the culture. Mitchell, on the other hand, bragged in a school essay: "So what if I am a Goth in a Catholic school? So what if I dress in baggy clothes?" He also became immersed in the work of a shock-rocker, Marilyn Manson, a morbid fantasist with a following among alienated teenagers.

The trial jury was shown a Manson DVD, The Golden Age of Grotesque, bought by Mitchell in which two girls are tied together near a track and struggle as hoods are placed over their heads.

The court also heard that Mitchell may have developed an obsession with the unsolved murder of a 1940s Hollywood starlet in the so-called Black Dahlia case. Some of the wounds on Jodi's body bore similarities to those found on the body of actress Elizabeth Short, who was killed in 1947.

Paul Hodkinson, author of Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture, said the movement attracted teenagers. "Goth beliefs centre on music and style. There is quite a focus upon expressing yourself through fashion and through music, rather than being dominated by whatever happens to be in fashion," he said. "There are significant numbers of people who seem to find the Goth scene attractive because it offers a social life, a form of feeling important which isn't provided in school."

Mitchell's interest in Satanism probably developed out of his passion for Gothic culture. A knife pouch with the numbers 666, Jodi's initials and the years of her birth and death was described in court as a memento of her killing.

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