What happened to the gothic (sub)culture?

Posted by Aspasia Stephanou on July 09, 2009 in Blog tagged with
Oh it’s opening time
down on fascination street
so let’s cut the conversation
and get out for a bit
because I feel it all fading and paling…
‘Fascination Street’, by The Cure)
To be thinking about the gothic and monsters today is not an easy job, but it has never been; cyborgs, hybrids, cyberfeminism, vampirocommerce, the organism as a codescript, AIs, vampiric or other viruses, nightmares, contagious alliances and the posthumanist Gothic. This is the world of global capitalism, new media, new subjectivities, of different discourses of power and control. It is difficult to read or talk about the gothic without immediately being directed to reality’s own nightmares, the apocalyptic or inhuman.
Now, the postmodern gothic consumer is indulging in the consumption and nonproductive expenditure that takes place in gothic spaces, virtual worlds, dark fetish clubs, and the bloody-market of all sorts of strange becomings. Gothic virtual worlds transform and reconfigure subjectivity- the subject becomes an “in-flow-mational” (Gearoid Tauthail) product of global corporations. The movement to a technological induced apocalypse is not without its dangers, as the global subject can easily be assimilated by such smooth digitalization. In real space the smooth, seductive, glittering surface of vampiric capitalism is similarly threatening to a self that always needs to be undone and redone. It is not however a desire to become multiple, anarchic, uncontainable within an order of things, but rather a desire to be fixed inside another order of things, to be same as the rest of your goth friends, perhaps.
Watching the first of the Blade films I’m left wondering: a new kind of Théâtre des Vampires is performing- vampires dancing under a meat factory while blood sprinklers shower them in blood. The vampire of vampiric capitalism does not care about blood banks. Instead s/he enjoys blood/ the market in a carnivalistic indulgence of spending…
pleasure that is nonproductive. In a similar way the new generation of “Goths” that populate the underground gothic club scene are arguably consumer flâneurs. Fake blood, fetish and Victorian outfits, pvc and lace are what is needed to make you a goth. Of course looking like and being a goth are completely different things and masquerade is always a transition to a new becoming that is productive and positive. However, what is more interesting is not what the body looks like but mobile desires that produce multiple forms of pleasure. Are spaces like Torture Garden genuinely rebellious, or regulatory factories of “open”, “anarchic” subjectivities? Is there ever an outside of power?
And going back to the old good 1980s. What was it that made the Goths back then more anarchic? It seems that things are easier now. Or gothic fashion is more in fashion now.
But maybe it’s the nostalgia of an era that has passed. Seeing Morrissey live recently was a little bit sad. He had nothing of that dark, emotional self I saw in the videos. The performance was sleek, too perfect. Only the screens before his performance showing his past had something to do with what I thought I could recognize. But maybe a simulation of a simulation is more seductive than the real? The fact remains that what was called gothic music no longer exists. What has taken its place is cybergothic and the nostalgic neo-folk with all its (nazi) political undercurrents. The feeling of seeing for example The Cure is haunting. We crave for a fix of the gothic that talks to us in ways other than vampire consumers. As Icon of Coil remind us,
I became the consumer of the needs you created
Alienated myself
Through hell and higher grounds
Fascinated by static behavior

I’ll obtain what I want, recycle,
Echo, re-echo
I’ll set no limits for myself, no restraints
I’m the consumer of your needs

I’m in a loophole, inside, looking out
First shout, no sounds are coming out
It’s a fusion, of future, present and past
How long I’ll last, I’ll finally know.

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