Have We Seen the “Twilight” of Goth?

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.



  1. SARS · November 25, 2008

    Now, I know the topic isn’t that serious, but I do agree with you definitely, especially about the gothic-wannabee fashion. I finally got around to watching this episode, and it did hit home, unsurprisingly. At my highschool, there are slews of trendy “punk” and “goth” kids walking around in their $75 Converse shoes, Doc Martens and dyed hair. Girls tend to go for hot pink or red, while boys usually opt for black. They go around in their skinny jeans and Twilight tee shirts and freaking vampire teeth. VAMPIRE TEETH! One girl in particular wears her vampire canines every, single, day. Along with her fishnet arm warmers most likely purchased at the mecca of trendy “rebellion”, Hot Topic. And the amount of Tripp pants being worn is also equally astonding. Although they don’t come close to outnumbering the ghetto-fabulous chicks and boys with colorful sneakers and their pants sagging. Funny thing is, I could bet you I can ask these kids about Joy Division or the Cure, which is mildly popular, and they won’t have any idea who they are. (I mean, if they don’t know like, Sex Gang Children, I would understand) I mean, as someone who wouldn’t even be able to afford the Hot Topic clothing and is stuck sewing and painting her items to express any fashion sense or shopping at thrift stores, I just find the money grabbing corporate take on it really annoying. Now, anyone can look dark and depressed and “individual”, especially if you’re toting the all mighty dollar.
    Also, this Twilight thing can really grate your nerves if you’re a highschool student, if you can imagine. “OMG EDWARD” this and “OMG BELLA” that. I don’t mean to sound pretentious when I say this, but I can’t help but laugh at my peers’ reading choice. I guess it annoys me (and others) because it was not a very well thought out book, and it’s sad how someone can pass off fanfiction for a published story. This type of writing is better left for composition notebooks and reading to your friends, and doesn’t really quite deserve the popularity it has recieved. I actually did try reading the book before all this hype started. And I didn’t like it at all. Not because it was popular or anything, but because it kind of sucked. My boyfriend and I were looking at it this way: it was this woman’s fantasy. This girl complains about her pale skin, moves to some crummy town, and meets the most gorgeous boy alive. Five guys want to date her on the first day. She calls her father by her first name (She’s SOO COOL!!!!) Then she gets hit by a van. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there, and she gets saved by Edward, who is a sparkly vampire. That is when I stopped reading. Sure, not every fan of Twilight is super annoying and giggly, but most are. If I want to read good vampire fiction, I go to Poppy Z Brite.

    By the way, I really apologize for the long comment.

  2. coryfrye · November 25, 2008

    Hey, thanks for your “long” (translation: thoughtful, well-considered) comment. I’m heartened to see a Goth faction that still adheres to many of its long-held principles; I’d cynically assumed those days had long passed under a level, paved indifference. Thanks for setting me straight.

    I reviewed TWILIGHT the film elsewhere on this site (what can I say? Part of my WRAZZ challenge is to venture past my comfort zone, and TWILIGHT qualifies) and had many of the same issues you had with the book. I can see why some enjoyed it so much: it’s the story of self-obsessed girl at the center of an entire town’s universe.

    Thanks again for the comment, and especially for reading.

  3. SARS · November 26, 2008

    (Yes, I am replying to a reply. What can I say? I’m in a class and bored…I hope you don’t mind.)

    Anyway, no problem. I actually have never replied to a blog post before…(I’m not sure if it’s bad ettiquette to reply back…?)
    Oh you are a glutton for punishment, aren’t you? lol. The day before the movie came out, Twilight fangirls raided the school parading their merchandise and boasting “TEAM EDWARD” slogans, perhaps truly believing they were vampires and some beautiful vampire lad will swoop down and stalk them. They talked constantly about the film and how “smexy” Edward is. Assuming you are not in highschool anymore, you can imagine the chattering of tons of little highschool “hardcore punk/goff”girls. It isn’t pleasant..

  4. sparks · January 6, 2009

    Wow, I’m impressed. three age groups (myself included, a late 90s-early millenium teen) who’ve evaluated and perhaps hold a deeper understanding of goth than most do? I don’t hope to prove my ‘street cred’, seeing that i know neither of you personally and have no idea how into goth you are, just to affirm that there are those of us who still know what goth is about. in high school i wore a trench coat, ok, but i also read ‘thanatopsis’ and ‘frankenstein’ and gave thought to death, not in terms of anyone swooping in to save me from it (nor to do any harm, of course). Good grief. I was sick of twilight as soon as i heard of it. But there are fans for every trend. And if this one doesn’t encourage anyone to beat up on goth kids, then fine. If it backfires and people suddenly decide they’re tired of it, they don’t want to see it anymore, we could see a new crop of misery stemming from ‘big guys’ attempting to pulverize anyone in a black uniform.

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