This month at Gothic Charm School, the Lady of the Manners is going to address a topic she knows she’s covered before, but realized that not only was she STILL getting mail about it, but that she still had some things to say.
Clichés. Clichés are what make the ElderGoths roll their eyes at the Babybats, when all the younger generation is doing is the same sort of silly stuff the ElderGoths did years ago. And yes, the Lady of the Manners can already hear some of you asking “But if it’s the same sort of stuff, why is it now okay to make fun of it?”
The answer is, it isn’t really okay to make fun of it, but people do. (Yes, even the Lady of the Manners has rolled her eyes and make quietly snarky comments to friends about other people’s eyeliner or badly-done Crow makeup.) You see, many people become uncomfortable when presented with living, breathing examples of how they behaved in the throes of youthful fervor. ElderGoths (usually) like to present themselves as terribly jaded and (again, usually) ennui-laden. “Oh, how *adorable*”, they’ll say in sarcasm-laden tones, “Look at that one with all the swirly eyeliner. Isn’t that … cute.”
However, clichés are the dirty little secrets at the heart of gothdom. No, the Lady of the Manners is serious about this. Most Goth styles are based on specific archetypes, and that fact is a thorn in the side of many people in the subculture. Everyone wants to believe they’re a beautiful and unique creature, not some silly person who wears black and reads a lot of books about vampires.
A specific example: the Lady of the Manners has gone on and on (and on and on and on and …) about how Friends Don’t Let Friends Dress Like The Crow. That dressing up like The Crow is considered by most Goths to be trite, overdone, and a bit like holding up a sign saying “Mostly Clueless”. But you know what? The Lady of the Manners *also* has said that if you really, really, REALLY want to dress up like The Crow, you should do it. If that is what makes you happy, if you think that would be the coolest Halloween costume for you ever, then do it. The Lady of the Manners does, however, have two pieces of advice for you. Firstly: accept the fact that there will be people who will roll their eyes, snicker, laugh at you, and generally try and make you feel like an idiot. Ignore them. Secondly: do the very best job you can with the makeup and assembling the costume. Apply the whiteface makeup evenly (over every bit of exposed skin, please, and that includes your ears and neck), and make sure the eyeliner and black streaks are symmetrical. Think long and hard about if you have the proper sort of physique to wear the costume; it is a sad, harsh fact that nothing becomes an object of ridicule faster than a heavier-set person dressed up as a character previously portrayed by Brandon Lee.
Now, back to the topic of gothy clichés in general. The Lady of the Manners has finally reached the point where she not only tries not to be quite as snarky about people embodying various gothy clichés, but also has accepted the fact that she is a walking collection of them herself. What this means is that not only does the Lady of the Manners now derive quite a bit of entertainment and amusement from her over-the-top moments of gothness, but tries to hone and refine the more clichéd aspects of herself, in order to make them the most quintessential examples of those clichés. It’s quite fun, actually.
The Lady of the Manners really does believe that if most of the snarklings out there in GothyLand would just accept that the whole thing is kind of silly and amusing, there would be a lot less angst. That doesn’t mean not to throw yourself into your black-clad, candle-lit life wholeheartedly or think that you’re a big faker, no, not at all! What it does mean is that you should not only accept that people might poke fun at you, but that you should be willing to do so yourself.
With that, the Lady of the Manners is wandering off to drink a glass of absinthe while watching a vampire movie. (The Lady of the Manners was serious about that whole ‘embracing her clichés’ thing, oh yes she was.) In the meantime, feel free to send any gothy etiquette questions you might have to firstname.lastname@example.org.