Yes, today I took a picture of my TV, and yes, I'm going to write about this picture, but first I want to make something clear: I generally dislike people who try to enforce certain behaviors on subcultures they don't like or understand. Not that they're a subculture, per se, but earlier tonight I had to entertain a conversation with someone who didn't understand why he, a white guy, nor I, a white guy, could call someone a "nigger" or a "nappy-headed ho." I detest people who make broad sweeping statements like, "Why can't all black people act like Bill Cosby?" or, "Why can't all lesbians act like Ellen?" or, "Why can't you kids behave more like Lloyd Braun?"*
Now, knowing that, please indulge me when I ask, why can't more goths dress and act like The Addam's Family?
Obviously I realize that the goths aren't accountable to me or anyone else for the way they look or act, and the current incarnation of goth culture doesn't confuse or frighten me. Two of the best critiques of goth culture, written by outsiders are "American Goth" by Sarah Vowell and "Something Wicked This Way Comes" by Chuck Klosterman. I count both of those pieces as some of the best works by their respective authors. I also cite them as one of the reasons I'm so sympathetic to the goth culture.
When I was in high school (which wasn't very long ago, unless you factor in how much things have changed since I graduated in 2001) I hung out with a wide array of people. Nerds, drama club geeks, mathletes, punks, skaters, freaks, potheads, hopheads, deadheads, etc. Of course, these rings are all part of the "unpopular" tree, so maybe my social circle wasn't as diverse as I imagined. In spite of all of this I can't think of anyone I hung out with who was truly "goth."
I had metalhead friends who wore dark clothes and wallet chains, but they didn't seem to embrace the darkness of metal culture as much as they embraced the loudness; I had pothead friends with long, dark hair who listened to the Smiths after the Smiths were popular and before the Smiths were popular again; and I had a friend who was obsessed with Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and tried to kill himself by drinking anti-freeze, but now that I think about it that was more pre-emo culture emo than actual goth.
By and large most of these people shed their dark, rebellious skin as they went through college and the workforce, which is fine. I think it's a sign of maturity when you walk by Hot Topic and you get a little annoyed. Of course, a lot of these folks are still going strong with their black eyeliner and their tiny notebooks, and that's okay, too. In my own mind, I've always likened it to the BUG phase lots of college girls go through.
BUG (or, "Bi Until Graduation") girls are the type to make out with other women at bars and frat parties, but then abruptly stop once they have diploma in hand. Now they're going out to conquer the real world and need to convince men that they're one of the boys; strong, heterosexual, etc. Real lesbians stick with it, and I admire that. That's personally why I don't trust lesbians under 25.
Anyway, back to goths. Like college graduation for BUG girls, college itself is a way of separating the wheat from the chaff in the goth world, the real ones stick with it, the rest either tone it down, save it for the weekends, or give it up all together.
I would like to suggest a fourth option: The Addams Family Goth. Not too odd, not too crazy; more "kooky" and "ookey."
Over the weekend I caught about fifteen minutes of Addams Family Values and today I caught the actual TV show, and I realized something: Gomez and Morticia were always regarded rather well, mainly because they presented themselves well. Honestly, the only people who were afraid of them were the incredibly uptight squares that confused them with someone else. Most of the time they were regarded as quirky, but well-to-do members of society who happened to have a hairy cousin and a pet hand in a box.**
Plus, while I was watching them I got a feeling I rarely get anymore: Envy. Maybe it's me maturing, getting married, settling down and all that nonsense, but I found myself wishing I could be like Gomez Addams - well-dressed, well-spoken, cultured, wise, and confident - when I become the paterfamilias of my little family. That's something I've rarely wished from the goth camp, but, by my own admission, I don't know them very well. The goths have always seemed a little gloomy for my taste, but the Addams family was always optimistic, wild-eyed, and awestruck with the world around them. Perhaps that's what happens when your house is a museum.
*Bonus points if you got that reference.
**By the way, if and when I ever develop any type of musical acumen, I hereby reserve the band name "Hairy Cousin and the Hand In the Box" for myself. Thank you for your understanding.