Last night South Park ended its 12th season with one of its better eps this year: “The Ungroundable,” a commentary on vampire chic, certain to surge to even more tiresome proportions tomorrow as giggly preteens bypass school for Twilight, and what this sudden influx of romantic bloodsuck’ry will mean to their proudly outcast forefathers, the Goth kids, who’ve been part of our cultural landscape for the last 30-plus years.
I haven’t read any of the books in the Twilight series, mostly because I prefer to avoid the pizza-grease sputterings of an uptight Mormon soccer mom who can’t spell her own first name. But I’d like to think my friend Kate had it right: Twilight is an indulgent li’l girl soap about a sexless hottie, the cardboard Troubled Boy o’ Secrets and Pain, who lives only for his one true love and is perfectly OK with marathon smooching (otherwise he’d “kill her,” i.e., render her unpure) and not going all the way ’til her bubble-lettered ball-point notebook prophecies come true. The only anomaly separating it from other self-obsessed-star-crossed-teen-lover detritus is a hackneyed nosferatu gimmick. But, then, preteen girls are hardly notorious for demanding multidimensional characters and plot development. Just give ’em a tortured dreamboat who occasionally goes shirtless and they’re blubbering candied tears into their Heelys.
Anyway, after last night’s South Park, I found myself wondering if Goth kids still existed, and if they still existed as depicted in the episode. They seemed to represent those of my generation, and of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s: militantly anti-commercial, swathed in black, their alabaster flesh powdered to an even more sepulchral tone save for fingernails stroked in careful, tenebrous hues. They smelled delicately of clove cigarettes, a light aroma the girls mixed with an intoxicating bouquet reminiscent of recently dead flowers, as if they’d slept and bathed in lilacs.
I no longer see such sights and sounds; today’s teenaged fashion seems to be a universal hybrid of ’70s/’80s metropolitan trends, nevertheless conformist in their attempts at individuality (same as it ever was!). The Goth kids seem to be no more, unless they’re engaged in the very Goth activity of alienation from their peers, smoking and drinking coffee all night at the local greasy spoon, savoring the irony of it all. They were never a large crowd, anyway. But if they are still around, I doubt they’d have a problem shopping at Hot Topic, since anyone can now purchase Goth-type accessories in bulk at Target or Claire’s with nary a shred of sellout remorse.