Goths: Montreal subculture may dress in black, but it has "a respect for life."

April 15, 2009

Nancy Kilpatrick author of "The Goth Bible" told the Montreal Gazette that despite their dark dress and depressed look goths "are some of the funniest people on the planet," though they may plan their own funerals the way some girls imagine their wedding day.

Dressed in black goths sometimes wear eyeliner.

Their music preferences may be a bit macabre, which include "somber lyrics."

But Kilpatrick claims, "Many [goth]...interests are things that society deems are macabre, but [goths] are not macabre."

The books goths favor often are about vampires, the paranormal or sorcery.

Some goths have even been known to buy their very own coffins.

The Goth movement, which was originally launched in Germany and England during the late 1970s and early 1980s, later spread to North America and across Europe.

The Internet has helped it to reportedly become popular in such far away places as Peru and the Philippines.

Much of gothic art, literature and music seem to be obsessed with death, but Kilpatrick suggests that we should not stereotype the movement as somehow too grim.

The author claims that the media has given the goths something of a bad rap, painting the subculture as not ambitious, depressed and obsessed teens.

Goths as geeks?

Kilpatrick insists that most goths work regular jobs and many are masters of information technology, graphic design and software.

One goth admitted to the Montreal Gazette that her subculture garb didn't fit into the corporate world.

"You don't have a choice. You wear a suit," she said.

A practical concession she said to "fit the job."

Many goths are high-school kids, but some can be found as old as 30s, 40s or 50s, according to Kilpatrick.

However, the author concedes that being an adult goth also requires passing as more mainstream.

Kilpartrick compares the corporate culture to goth subculture.

"Look at people who are corporate executives," the author observes. "To outsiders, it all looks the same. Everyone is wearing a suit. But within that range, people have their own styles. It's the same for goths."

Goths have a marked preference for black, Kilpatrick admits. "But within shades of black, there's an awful lot of variation."

As one goth told the Montreal Gazette, "I don't think I'm less goth because I'm not wearing black clothes. For me, goth is inside your head."

Kilpatrick agreed, "Goth is rooted in emotions, and in honesty ... and that is reflected in the music."

Goth music has ranged from specific artists such as Loreena McKennitt, to industrial and techno tunes. Some within the subculture also favor "medieval type music."

The Montreal, downtown nightclub scene has attracted goths, even sponsoring special "goth nights."

But older goths like Kilpatrick favor "dinner parties."

For example Kilpatrick staged an afternoon tea at the Ritz-Carlton, a seemingly proper affair, though some of her guests arrived in a hearse.

Another goth enthusiast organizes "annual goth picnics" at a local park in Montreal.

An online forum for Montreal's goths at was launched in 2001 and now has more than a thousand members.

Kilpatrick says that the worst stereotype concerning goths is that somehow they are "dangerous."

The author laments the false description of Columbine school killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold as "goths."

"It turns out they weren't goths. But what sticks in people's minds is the first thing that they read," Kilpatrick told the Montreal Gazette.

The creator of "The Gothic Bible" concluded, "If goth is an aesthetic sentiment...that's a quality that doesn't move anyone towards being aggressive in a violent manner...There's generally a respect for life."

Note: This news summary is based upon a report by Naomi Carniol titled "The Goths you think you know" published January 29, 2005 by the Montreal Gazette

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