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Short Story Study: The Foolish Wishes by Charles Perrault

The Foolish Wishes illustration_from_Fairy_tales_of_Charles_Perrault_(Clarke,_1922)

Also known as The Ridiculous Wishes or The Three Ridiculous Wishes.

This exact fairytale passed me by as a kid, but there are no shortage of tales about characters who are granted three wishes by some sort of genie/supernatural  being. I’d find myself thinking, “Don’t waste the last one! Just wish for more wishes!” I wonder if everyone listening to these stories thinks exactly the same thing, but I’m put in mind of my neighbour, who told me recently that when he was made to attend Sunday school as a boy, they were required to pray, but they weren’t to pray for selfish things such as ‘growing an inch taller over summer’ or ‘a bike for Christmas’. Their prayers had to be altruistic or they wouldn’t ‘work’.

I think perhaps there are some cultural parallels between the nature of religious prayer and fairytale wishing: They must be altruistic and they must come from a good place.

Content Note: After reading this story you may find you never feel the same way about black pudding again. Also, if you live in Australia, you may think of black pudding whenever you see a black snake.

Wasteful Wishing is a common trope of modern comedies. Wishing for food items is a common one. No doubt fairytales such as this one have been influential in the emergence of this trope.

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Short Story Study: Bluebeard by Charles Perrault

I never encountered this story growing up, as it was left out of my childhood fairytale anthologies. With images like this, I’m not surprised:

illustration by Beauge Bertall

illustration by Beauge Bertall

As a mental mouthwash, I suggest you read Angela Carter’s feminist version of Bluebeard after reading this much earlier one by the misogynist Perrault. Carter’s story is called The Bloody Chamber.

The original French title is La Barbe bleue.

Disturbing as it is, the Bluebeard story has an influence on many modern stories, so is worth a read for that reason.

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Short Story Study: Puss In Boots by Charles Perrault

These days, modern children are probably most likely to have encountered Puss In Boots in the second Shrek movie. The most resonant scene for us all is probably the bit where Puss is revealed to be a manipulative little bastard, making his eyes big and cute in order to get what he wants. I admit, it’s a real triumph of animation.

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Short Story Study: Sleeping Beauty In The Woods by Charles Perrault

Sleeping Beauty Angela Carter

If you’ve already read Angela Carter’s original short stories, in which she rewrites famous tales as feminist ones, you may well hear her scoffing silently in your head as you read these ones, mostly by Charles Perrault, who added his own paternalistic, misogynist morals as paragraphs at the ends. And if you’ve never read these tales by Perrault — and you may not have, because many different versions have been written since — it’s worth a look. This tale is quite different from any I read as a child. This is probably because modern tellers of this tale have simplified it.

This 1982 collection of fairytales translated into English from French by Angela Carter is illustrated by Michael Foreman, who has had a prolific career since then. You may have seen his work in the books of Michael Morpurgo for instance. He’s been working from the 1960s through to now. It seems he can produce up to about 8 or 9 books per year — a phenomenal work rate, especially considering his painterly style.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PERRAULT’S TALE AND MODERN ONES

Sleeping Beauty Ladybird well loved tales

In Perrault’s version of Sleeping Beauty from the 1700s, there is not one but two wicked women — the version I remember from the childhood stories is one of the Ladybird Well-Loved Tales.

In this much simplified story from Ladybird there is no second ‘chapter’. The prince arrives, Beauty and Prince get married and they ‘live happily ever after’. In order to beef out the story a bit we have a succession of princes who try to get through the thick brambles that grow around the castle, but none of them is able to get through until the lucky dude who arrives at exactly the right time, at the 100 year point.

Both Sleeping Beauty and Snow White have been bowdlerised for modern children in a similar way, to the point where you might even get them a bit mixed up if you’re out somewhere and your kid asks you to recount a fairytale from memory. In modern adaptations of both stories Beauty is awakened by a passing Prince, she marries him and they live happily ever after. It’s all good.

There is no happily ever after in the earlier version of Sleeping Beauty; nor is it a tale easily conflated with Snow White.

Illustrators vary how they portray the fairies. In the Ladybird version above, the fairies all look like youthful Miss America finalists from the 1970s, with their long, blonde hair contrasting with the part witchy/part nunnery black costume of the old, evil fairy. Think a bit harder about what this says about women’s worth in general: Women are only ‘good’ if they are sexually alluring. An old woman dressed in a cross between a witch’s costume and a habit is as far away from sexual as you could possibly get. Therefore, we are to assume, she is no good. It’s therefore a slight feminist improvement that the most recent adaptations of Sleeping Beauty tend to feature ‘Tinkerbell’ type fairies rather than this Ladybird woman from the 1970s.

Perrault’s version of Sleeping Beauty isn’t even the worst one. It seems he sanitised it his own self.

Still older versions of the same tale type, among them Sun, Moon, and Talia, replace the prince with an already married king. In these versions, he rapes the princess while she lies sleeping and she gives birth to twins before waking up when one of the babies sucks the splinter out of her finger. The cannibalistic queen in this case is the king’s wife. Compare The Brown Bear of the Green Glen“.

TV Tropes, Sleeping Beauty entry

CHARACTERS

In Perrault’s version we have not one but two evil women: first the evil fairy, next the evil mother-in-law. The girl never sees her own parents again, for although they’ve made all their staff and attendants fall asleep so she will be well looked after when she awakes, the bereaved parents leave their castle forever and go somewhere far away. There are two distinct parts to Perrault’s version, translated by Angela Carter in 1982. Honestly, it’s not ‘going-to-sleep’ book, as the title may seem to imply. This is a young adult tale, designed to warn young women not to rush into marriage. Now, it baffles me how Charles Perrault drew this particular moral from the tale, considering the girl in question had already been asleep and dreaming of this prince for 100 years!

STORY STRUCTURE

Whose story is this? While the title tells us the tale is about ‘Sleeping Beauty’, the girl is only a plot tool of a character. She has zero agency. At first I thought this was a story about the girl, but when I try to fill out the story structure it becomes obvious that actually the main character in this story is her evil mother in law. The whole thing about the evil fairy, that’s what Hitchcock would have called a MacGuffin: an event to get the story going. In the end, we don’t even think about what happened to that evil fairy.

maleficent-fairies

The good fairies from Maleficent

WEAKNESS

The mother of the prince — I assume — feels usurped by the beautiful new daughter in law and is envious of the time her beloved son now spends with her.

DESIRE

She wishes her daughter-in-law gone and her son back.

OPPONENT

Sleeping Beauty, whose very beauty and privilege of birth mean she has lost her own boy forever.

PLAN

She will first eat her two grandchildren and then she will eat her daughter-in-law. (She is part ogre.) But her plans change once she realises the son’s wife and children are not dead at all, that they have been hidden in the cellar by a sympathetic servant man. Now she plans to kill Beauty in the most heinous way herself. She orders a huge vat to be brought into the courtyard, filled with horrible creatures. She’ll have the daughter-in-law and her children thrown into it.

BATTLE

This part is much truncated and rather unsatisfying in Perrault’s version. All we know is that the king comes back early from faraway. He gallops into the courtyard and presumably there is some sort of showdown that the reader doesn’t get to read about. The evil queen rather impetuously, I feel, throws her own self into the vat of vipers instead.

SELF-REVELATION

The self-revelations of Perrault’s tale are actually ‘reader revelations’ and they come by way of the ‘Moral’ tacked onto the end of each transliteration. Don’t rush into marriage or you’ll end up with a mother-in-law who wants to eat you, is what Perrault gets from the story.

NEW EQUILIBRIUM

“The king could not help grieving a little; after all, she was his mother. But his beautiful wife and children soon made him happy again.”

 

SLEEPING BEAUTY AND CANNIBALISM

Sleeping Beauty love quote

Strangely enough, the cannibalistic nana has been left out of modern versions for kids. But look around at other fairytales and you’ll find that kid-munching mummies aren’t all that rare. These tales date from much earlier eras in which famines were common, and mothers did occasionally eat their own children:

George Devereaux, citing “Multatuli (1868),” pseudonym of novelist Edward Douwes Dekker, reports that during medieval famines and “even during the great postrevolutionary famine in Russia” the “actual eating of one’s children or the marketing of their flesh” occurred. He concludes that “the eating of children in times of food shortage is far from rare.”

Voracious Children: Who eats whom in children’s literature

But Maria Tatar argues that although mothers did eat their children, it was generally only due to mental derangement caused by her own starvation. In medical/legal documents it was always a baby who was eaten rather than an older child. The child eating mothers of yesteryear are therefore mostly a myth, but have captured the public imagination and been incorporated into oft-shared tales, much like an urban legend of today. (Urban legends often have their origins in bits taken from real-life heinous crimes which have been sensationalised by the media.)

SLEEPING BEAUTY AND MODERN FILM

Writing of Sunset Boulevard, John Truby describes Norma’s house in what is a separate kingdom of Hollywood (a fairytale world):

This fairy-tale world, with its haunted house, its thorns, and its Sleeping Beauty, is also the home of a vampire. […] Sunset Boulevard does not end with the death of the hero. The opponent literally descends into madness. Her ability to distinguish fantasy from reality now gone, she is both her character—“Down below, they’re waiting for the Princess”—and an actress performing in another Hollywood movie. As the newsreel cameras roll, Norma walks down the grand staircase of the “palace” into a deep sleep from which no prince will awaken her.

Notes From: John Truby. “The Anatomy of Story.”

Annex - Swanson, Gloria (Sunset Boulevard)_06

Maleficent promised to be excellent, as a dive into the backstory of that evil fairy. But the 2014 film did not get good critical reviews. When will filmmakers understand that when you change the best known version of a well-loved tale too much you’re going to run into strife? The other problem for filmmakers though: Which version do you take as the ‘true’ version of the tale? Fairytales change so much, it’s not surprising they make huge alterations themselves in the name of original art.

In 2011, Australia produced a film called Sleeping Beauty — a rather disturbing look into a certain kind of sex work. (The girl is drugged unconscious and used by men with a certain kind of fetish.)

Sleeping_Beauty_film

FOR FURTHER INVESTIGATION

Sleeping Beauties: Transformation and Codification from Karen Healey

Sleeping Beauty, zombified and turned into a comic from Mary Sue

Angela Carter utilised Perrault’s  Sleeping Beauty in her radio play Vampirella and in its prose variation The Lady of the House of Love.

…she felt as if she had become the heroine of “The Sleeping Beauty” and this feeling started manifesting itself in her daily behaviour.

a documented case of someone hallucinating a fairytale.

The ‘Forced Sleep Trope’ is used in many different modern stories, in which a character is forced to fall asleep by means of a spell or magic potion. This can get very dark in stories about date rape and so on.

TV Study: Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks promo poster

Genre Blend

Freaks and Geeks is a

  • coming-of-age
  • comedy
  • drama

This category of story is about the eternal adolescent quest to find out which version of yourself is the “true” one.

How This Show Is Different From Other High School Dramas

It doesn’t fall into the category of ‘cringe comedy’ even though teenagehood inevitably includes embarrassing scenes.

Lindsay's sceptical look

Lindsay’s teenage sceptical look

The creators were determined not to end each show with a typical “happy ending”. One notable exception is the pilot episode, which the creators purposely wrote as a self-contained story, in case the show was never picked up for production. This is also why you see a fully fleshed story in the pilot episode and why I’ve chosen to break it down as a story unto itself.

There is plenty of crossover between quite vastly different social arenas, with a main character weaving between all of them. (Though all the families are white.) Most high school dramas have set-in-stone cliques before the audience meets the characters, and the main character is usually an underdog, or a newcomer trying to work out which group to fit into (e.g. Mean Girls). Lindsay is more interesting than that, because although she’s not new to the school but she’s trying to actively switch groups.

Storyworld

Detroit

  • Fictional William McKinley High School during the 1980–1981 school year in the town of Chippewa, Michigan, a fictional suburb of Detroit
  • A middle-class suburban home near the school
  • The surrounding neighbourhood, including some rougher parts of town
  • The bleachers are a good place to hide under, to do things teachers can’t see.
  • The corridors can be either a walk of shame or a place to parade down. Lockers lining corridors also provide opportunity for characters who hate each other to get together, since lockers are assigned from above.
  • The guidance counsellor’s room is a place for moral questions to be posed and discussed.
  • Upper middle class (Neal) middle class (Lindsay and Sam) meets working class (Bill) meets military class (Nick) meets houseos (Kim).
  • The high school is a miniature battle field, where the mottos are about conquer or lose and men must be men. The school cafeteria is a good venue for enemies to be thrown together by force, as everyone has to eat lunch. Classrooms are good venues for characters to be bullied and victimised in front of a small audience.
  • The suburbs are cosy at first glance, with their manicured lawns and a 1980s apparent utopia, but dangers lurk around the corner, where you could meet your high school adversary at any time.
dining room table

This cosy scene feels stifling to Lindsay.

Freaks and geeks sam cafeteria

Cafeterias and corridors are particularly hazardous.

a walk down the school corridor is like running the gauntlet

a walk down the school corridor is like running the gauntlet

Lindsay is being asked to make big decisions about her life and has no clue. In 1980 there was a strong professional/working class divide.

Lindsay is being asked to make big decisions about her life and has no clue. In 1980 there was a strong professional/working class divide.

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A Reminder For Not Just Difficult Books And Art

Just because you're struggling

It’s an anonymous quotation from Tim Flannery’s Atmosphere of Hope.

What’s behind the wide appeal of horrible, brooding, YA boyfriends?

Ezra seems legit

THE BOYFRIEND RECIPE

  1. Handsome
  2. In a white kind of way
  3. Muscled but not too muscled — not like he works at it
  4. Well groomed and fairly nubile — not much body hair
  5. Remarkable eyes and gaze
  6. A bit older than the female protagonist
  7. A bit taller
  8. Maybe a bit richer (though sometimes he’s an underdog, financially speaking)
  9. Not like other typical guys — interested in literature rather than sport
  10. Though he’s not the uncoordinated, klutzy type either
  11. Loves reading, though he may be embarrassed to be seen doing something so sensitive and girly
  12. Perhaps writes poetry in his spare time
  13. May be on the periphery of a group of guy friends but is basically a loner
  14. Inexplicably falls instantly in love with the beautiful (though sometimes just girl-next-door looking) female protagonist
  15. There will be some reason why he cannot be with her right away (he’s a teacher/vampire/she’s already taken…)
  16. But he must be with her nonetheless, though their love is based on very little really
  17. This might lead to some stalking
  18. Or otherwise taboo/unethical boundary crossing
  19. And will definitely lead to much brooding
  20. Because he is not fully in control of his own sexual impulses
  21. I cannot stand seeing her with another boy
  22. Even if they’re just friends
  23. There will probably be a lot of mansplaining, in which he explains things about love and life to the female, and even if she balks occasionally, the reader/viewer will actually see he has a point
  24. He is experienced in love. It helps his attractiveness that he’s had previous girlfriends; as long as this girl is his last, that’s fine.

See more at: BroodingYAHero twitter account.

Ezra French Food

Pretty Little Liars, impressed by money and autonomy, because at this age it’s a pretty low bar

THE APPEAL

  1. The Fantasy Of Love At First Sight — this article makes a distinction between romantic intensity and romantic profundity
  2. The Erotics Of Abstinence — lengthy months of yearning, which is at least half of the fun. Stephenie Meyer’s books are well-known for this aspect, and are thought to stem from her Mormon background, which preaches abstinence before marriage.
  3. The Expectation Of Hypergamy — in which the man is always a little bit more of something — a bit taller/richer/older/streetwise.
  4. The Fantasy Of Being Looked After Unconditionally And Forever — a return to the safety of the early years and I’m sure we could get all psychoanalytic right here. The girl only has to exist — he doesn’t ask anything of her.
  5. The Fantasy of Being Delivered From Obscurity by a Dazzling, Powerful Man — like one of those classic novels in which the ordinary but pretty common girl is chosen by the lord of the castle or something. Because until very recently, that has been a woman’s only hope at social mobility. (In Titanic you see the same thing but the economics are in reverse.)
  6. The Florence Nightingale effect — in which a caregiver develops romantic and/or sexual feelings for his/her patient, even if very little communication or contact takes place outside of basic care. A depressed/melancholic/damaged man seems appealing because in order to be attracted to someone as a partner you have to feel you can improve their life in some way. Our ghosts make us vulnerable. Vulnerability is attractive. Of Edward Cullen it has been said that “His anguish makes him volatile enough to keep things interesting but dependent enough that he will never be tempted to leave.”
  7. Stockholm Syndrome — feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor
  8. The Wish To Have A ‘Real Man’ — in a culture in which men and women are increasingly similar in life expectations
  9. The Wish To Have A Fantastic Boyfriend Who Doesn’t Pressure You To Have Sex — related to the erotics of abstinence above.  A boyfriend who can’t/won’t have sex with you is a safe person to have when you’re both terrified and curious.
  10. The Desire To Be Dominated — not always in real life, but quite often in fantasy, as was discovered by E.L. James

 

 

Ezra Aria holding hands

First year tortured English teacher inappropriately holds hands with senior in Pretty Little Liars

Jessie taking the piss out of Luke

Jess from Gilmore Girls

Jess possessive

Of Rory’s boyfriends, Jess is perhaps the most possessive and creepy.

Jessie outbidding Dean

Jess has just made a concerted attempt to ‘out-do’ Dean and supplant him as boyfriend, catching the prize of smalltown pretty girl. Though Rory’s onto him, that doesn’t stop her from falling for it.

Sleep my bella

Edward plays piano

Even better if he can play a musical instrument. Or dance. It’s a better indicator than big feet.

Purple Adjectives, Plain Adjectives; Every adjective has a home

ON PURPLE PROSE

Apart from the fact that certain types of writing demand flowery language — a subset of the romance genre being a case in point — there are other uses for the sort of prose which otherwise reads so beautifully that it draws attention to itself. Sometimes such language has the unintended effect of drawing the reader out of the story. At other times there is a reason for it.

The Idea Of Perfection cover

 

This is the opening of Chapter 12 from Kate Grenville’s The Idea Of Perfection:

Out at The Bent Bridge, the men were having their smoko. They had got the fire going, twigs crackling under the billy, the flames invisible in the brilliant morning light. Smoke drifted away blue under the trees and turned the slanting sunlight into great organ-pipes of powdery light.

In a story set in the Australian bush, this paragraph almost seems out of place, with its excess adjectives (brilliant, blue, great) and alliteration (slanting sunlight) and its grandiose metaphor (organ-pipes) and original but tenuous use of ‘powdery’ rather than ‘dusty’. But the prose continues like this, with an abrupt change in tone:

The red-headed one they all called Blue opened his sandwich up, showing the flap of grainy grey devon inside. He had caught the sun across his bare freckled back and his eyes were bloodshot.

Er, yuk, he said, and peeled it off the bread.

It was stuck like wallpaper.

He flung it into the fire where it lay across a stick, curling, darkening, starting to sizzle. He stuck the two slices of bread back against each other.

It now becomes clear why the first paragraph had been so beautifully written: To contrast with the earthiness of the men working on the bridge.

The ‘red-headed one they all called Blue’ is an example of typically Australian irony, in which case colour is mentioned now for a different effect — to bring us back to the reality of ‘Australia’. The Australian-ness of this man is continued with the colour red — his freckles, his bloodshot eyes. There is no longer any glamour associated with adjectives of colour.

The devon sausage sounds even more disgusting than it is when contrasted against the ‘organ pipes of powdery light’, especially since ‘powdery’ is a word that could equally be used to describe devon, albeit with a completely different emotional outcome.

The dialogue, too, of ‘Er, yuk’ portrays unembellished laconic disgust, with its harsh ‘k’ sound.

‘It was stuck like wallpaper’ is another kind of imagery — a simile this time — but it has a quite different ring to it, because wallpaper is such an ordinary thing found in old houses, whereas ‘organ-pipes’ conjures up a cathedral with its high ceilings, spirituality and melodious sounds.

Next we have the colloquial verbs of ‘flung’ and ‘stuck’; Germanic-derived words which emphasise the harshness of the environs.

All of this works much better, of course, because it occurs in opposition to a flowery opening paragraph, which shows off the author’s flair for language, but with an end in mind… other than showing off.

ON PLAIN PROSE

The Beasts Of Clawstone Castle cover

Critique groups will often advise beginning writers to avoid meaningless adjectives such as ‘nice’ and ‘good. But again, sometimes these adjectives are used for a reason. Take the following introduction to the heroes of The Beasts of Clawstone Castle, by Eva Ibbotson:

The children lived in a ground-floor flat in a pleasant part of South London. Their parents were funny and clever and nice, but they were apt to be a little bit frantic because of their jobs. Mrs Hamilton ran an experimental theatre which put on interesting plays but kept on running out of money, and Mr Hamilton was a designer and had to have good ideas about what people should do with their houses.

  1. The parents are not important to the story. The author’s job at the beginning of the story is simply to get them out of the way. If the author were to give examples of ‘funny’ and ‘clever’ and ‘nice’ then the story would be about the parents and the action would be suspended.
  2. The repetition of these fairly meaningless adjectives underscores the fairly meaningless lives our protagonists lead at the beginning of the story. Since their lives are uneventful and their home is sheltered, the only way they will grow as people is by leaving their secure and uneventful environment to go on an adventure elsewhere.

Picturebook Study: The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen (1837)

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE STORY

Although this is an original tale published by Hans Christian Andersen rather than one based on the oral tradition, Andersen still borrows a lot from the oral tradition. So it feels almost like it might have been an older tale.

No coincidence there — The Emperor’s New Clothes is quite similar to

Libro de los ejemplos (or El Conde Lucanor, 1335), a medieval Spanish collection of fifty-one cautionary tales with various sources such as Aesop and other classical writers and Persian folktales, by Juan Manuel, Prince of Villena (1282–1348). Andersen did not know the Spanish original but read the tale in a German translation titled “So ist der Lauf der Welt”.

Wikipedia

 

The Emperor’s New Clothes has been translated into over 100 languages, inspired lots of other stories, become a metaphor for lack of substance, and is known around the world.

STORYWORLD

This tale along with:

  • The Nightingale
  • The Bell
  • The Snow Queen

is about the administrative changes taking place in Denmark 1820s-30s. This is the era in which Denmark put an end to aristocratic privilege. As Maria Tatar writes, “older bureaucrats, in an effort to retain their positions, joined forces with their younger colleagues in the reform movements sweeping Europe.” All of these stories mock the grandiose titles given to ordinary people — titles designed entirely to elevate their position.

Maria Tatar speculates that Andersen himself was annoyed with all of this hierarchy because he was never truly accepted. He wasn’t so removed that he refused the honors bestowed upon him, however. Andersen wasn’t exactly a good-looking chap, either, and this may explain partly why he rejected all of this pomp and ceremony.

THE CHARACTER OF EMPEROR

My childhood versions of this tale all depict a very full-bodied figure, and I had therefore remembered the image of a man who lies around all day eating food brought to him by servants. (Because in fairy tales we are lead to believe that obesity correlates 1:1 with greed and sloth.) But now that I look at other more diverse depictions of the Emperor, I see that not all illustrators have drawn him as such. The image below, illustrated by Harry Clarke around the 1920s, depict a man described by Maria Tatar as ‘effete’.  This is by any standards a ‘feminine’ (or effeminate) pose, subconsciously linking narcissism with the superficiality of femininity.

Emperor admires himself Harry Clarke

by Harry Clarke

by Harry Clarke

by Harry Clarke

Beverlie Manson - 1970s

by Beverlie Manson – 1970s

Emperor Joyce Mercer

by Joyce Mercer

The latter half of the twentieth century, gives us more obese Emperors, and I can only guess at the cultural reasons for this. Either way: take your pick of subtle messages of censure. The vices embodied by the Emperor are most often either tied to femme phobic weaknesses or to obesity and overweight.

by Vladimir Panov Russia, 1983

by Vladimir Panov Russia, 1983

However, this isn’t always the case. Here we have a regular guy:

Margaret W. Tarrant c1920

Margaret W. Tarrant c1920

The fact is, it is so much fun for illustrators to ham up the femininity and ostentatiousness of this unpleasant and foolish character.

Emperor drinking tea A. Kashkurevich, 1984

Modern illustrations often seem to be a parody of gay masculinity. But this was written in an age when homosexuality was invisible. I believe Andersen was aiming simply for a ‘fop’:

Fop became a pejorative term for a foolish man excessively concerned with his appearance and clothes in 17th-century England. Some of the very many similar alternative terms are: “coxcomb”, fribble,”popinjay” (meaning “parrot”), fashion-monger, and “ninny”. “Macaroni” was another term, of the 18th century, more specifically concerned with fashion.

A modern-day fop may also be a reference to a foolish person who is excessively concerned about his clothing, luxuries, minor details, refined language and leisurely hobbies. He is generally incapable of engaging in conversations, activities or thoughts without the idealism of aesthetics or pleasures.

The word “fop” is first recorded in 1440, and for several centuries just meant a fool of any kind.

Wikipedia

The fop is more related to the modern goth (for its shared androgyny) than to gay subculture. It is still interesting, however, that ‘androgyny’ seems to mean affectation of feminine body language in so many cases, rather than the other way around — probably because male body language is the ‘normal’, unmarked version, and because the Emperor is himself male, so in order to appear different and interesting he needs to behave in marked fashion in the illustrations.

We tend to modify our body language according to our dress. There are numerous studies about how girls’ clothing stops them from running around as much as same-aged boys, for example. Numerous illustrations of an effete Emperor lead me to wonder if the ostentatious masculine fashions of the early 1800s indeed lead to body language we would now describe as effeminate, or if those men, even dressed in their high heels and wigs and plastered in make-up, behaved just as manly men behave today, striding along with large steps, closing doors noisily behind them, man-spreading on horse-drawn carts.

STORY STRUCTURE

WEAKNESS/NEED

The Emperor has a number of weaknesses:

Psychological — he needs to be surrounded by sycophants and adored by the public. He is shallow, possibly narcissistic. Easily duped.

Moral — he judges others’ competence based on what they look like.

DESIRE

He wants to look lovely in the eyes of his public and thereby win their respect.

OPPONENT

The two swindlers, who are classic tricksters of the common fairytale archetype. These swindlers are much smarter than anyone in the town.

PLAN

The Emperor plans to have two tailors make the most magnificent garment so he can parade in front of all his people.

A. Kashkurevich, 1984

A. Kashkurevich, 1984

BATTLE

The battle scene is the parade itself, when the reality of the nakedness is up against the clear-eyed innocence of a child.

SELF-REVELATION

The child has a complete revelation and this spreads throughout the crowd.

George G. Harrap, 1932

George G. Harrap, 1932

There is a partial self-revelation on the part of the Emperor when he sees people whispering that he is naked.

NEW EQUILIBRIUM

The Emperor continues on anyway, because he has no choice.

Edmund Dulac

Edmund Dulac

A. Kashkurevich, 1984

A. Kashkurevich, 1984

Emperor's New Clothes China stamp

Monro S. Orr

Emperor Michael Hague 10.55.23 AM

Have you ever wondered what happened to the town after that, though? I wonder if the Emperor continued to rule the land with quite the same authority as he had before. For those who would like to know what the new equilibrium is like, we can go to the original Spanish version. In this story, the king is forced to admit his foolishness.

What’s A Goth?

 

If you need pictures of Goths, here’s a blog which features pictures of Goths Up Trees. Or try Goth Or Not website — a cousin of the Hot Or Not website — where you rate photos of people who are wondering whether they qualify. Or whatever.

YOU KNOW A GOTH WHEN YOU SEE ONE BECAUSE OF THE BLACK CLOTHES, WHITE FACE OR SIMILAR, BUT WHAT DO GOTHS ACTUALLY BELIEVE?

Goth lifestyle allows for both commonalities AND differences from the dominant culture. But generally, goths hate the mall, mass media, popular fashion and hate doing things they’re told to do by marketing gurus.

Goths live their whole lives ironically. The most popular age group to be a goth is teens to mid-twenties — the goth subculture evolves as each generation of young people come in and out of it, each bringing their own particular ideologies and rebellions.

Scientists Explain Why Goths Stay Goth For Life from The Frisky

It has been said a number of times that ‘goth has made a comeback’, but goths tend to resist this, because it was never popular in the first place, so can hardly be ‘back in fashion’. On the other hand, The continually accelerating cycles of consumer fashion means no one is really ‘in style’. Except goths.

Each generation is slightly different. Goth subculture in the 90s was heavily influenced by automata, dissection, prosthesis.

Goth subculture is basically a kick back against mainstream culture, in which everyone wears what they’re told to wear, buys what they’re told to buy, listens to the music they’re told to listen to. Goth is anti- the passivity of the majority.

Of course, goth chic itself has become commercialized and somewhat mainstream, which is what happens when a subculture takes off, and now looks like pseudo-individuation. Goth is now also just as consumerist and commodity orientated as mainstream culture. This wasn’t meant to happen. ( See: An Assortment Of Spooky Goodies To Delight Your Inner Goth from Gala Darling.) Most people buy what they’re told to buy. The goth ‘appropriates’. The goth ‘selects’.

Goth is anti commercialisation, anti-The System and resistant to hegemonic capitalism, symbolic or otherwise. It has this in common with the hipsters. (See: Things Goths Hate, a blog in the style of Things White People Like) Goths know they’re dressing up as a kind of costume/performance. If hipsters dress a certain way, they don’t intend for it to be anything other than the way they dress.

Goths don’t like malls but do like second-hand shops, market stalls and mail-order services.

Goths feel inequalities keenly. They may be angry about things that happened in the past but also about the inequalities of the present. Goths are anti-violence and anti-prejudice, but because they share some tastes in music and fashion with the Trenchcoat Mafia (the Columbine types), they tend to be vilified and misunderstood. The media has been particularly unkind to goths since the late 90s when the Columbine shootings happened.

If goths are interested in the supernatural (vampires, ghosts etc.) it’s because as Anne Rice has said of her writing, exploration of the supernatural is the best way of telling the truth about reality.

Goths see beauty in the sinister, the arcane, the cadaverous, the morbid and the funereal, but also have a healthy respect for it. It’s not death that goths covet, but rather escaping everyday life. They desire some other world, not like this one. Dressing up lets them live a fantasy.

If goths turn sadness into a fetish, it’s only because mainstream turns happiness into a fetish. There’s a perverse pleasure in propagating gloom when the culture feels like it’s on Prozac. Goths don’t smile; they smirk. But most goths downplay the miserable aspects and are instead positive about goth stuff.

 

Goths pride themselves on having a creative personality and a strong aesthetic sense.

That said, a lot of young people are drawn to the goth movement not for any political reasons, but for the camaraderie and the aesthetic alone.

MIGHT WE THINK OF GOTH SUBCULTURE AS A KIND OF RELIGION?

goth

To be a religion, there needs to be some sort of supernatural power, or other spiritual beings, in which case goth subculture can be described as a parareligion at best. While most goths tend to be a bit skeptical about religion, being a goth doesn’t mean you can’t also be a Christian or belong to some other world religion. Parareligions are like religions in many ways, but lack the supernatural, powerful being (god).

Hanging out in goth spaces may involve psychotropic drugs and frantic dancing which lead to ecstasy-like experiences commonly associated with religions such as Pentecostal.

Goth nightclubs are a kind of church because they evoke a certain atmosphere. Smoke machines emit an odour which adds to the vibe of the place, in the same way that incense might be used in a church to remind the church-goer of place.

There’s a lot of religious iconography in goth subculture, but mostly it doesn’t signify anything.

Vampires have a bit of parareligious feel about them: The drinking of blood is sort of like a perverse Eucharist. Vampires are transgressive and reject death. Religions are pretty heavy on death, thinking about it a lot, performing rituals. By imagining vampire-like existence, that’s one way of mulling over death. Fantasy is pivotal for goths. The level of emotion vampire enactments/stories/imaginings can evoke parallel that of the world religions.

(Why are so many vampire stories so weak, asks io9)

WHERE DID GOTH SUBCULTURE COME FROM?

Goth was at first barbaric, then romantic, then there was goth subculture.

Goth subculture emerged with the decline of Thatcherite politics late 1970s Britain once punk itself started to be exploited as a commercial thing. (Commodification is one way a subculture can disappear.) Goth subculture grew out of punk, which itself drew on fringe cultures: Dada, garage rock etc. Goth is the first form of rock which couldn’t be traced back to rhythm and blues.

The goth scene, however, emerged n the 90s, post 80s punk. By the mid-1990s, goth subculture had mostly disappeared from public view but was left with a number of true devotees. But big money could no longer be made from the trend.

While goth subculture have its roots in punk, but whereas punk is militant, asexual anarchy, goth is romantic, obsessed with death, darkness, perverse sexuality. It is carnivalesque and androgynous.

The most important starting point of Goth was Bauhaus, especially the single ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ (1979). Northampton. The song features macabre, funereal, lyrical references to the undead, deep-voiced eerie vocals, a dark twisted form of androgyny. Bela Lugosi was a Hollywood actor born 1882, famous for playing Dracula.)

Joy Division was one of the first post-punk bands which is gothlike in its melancholy. When one of the band members killed himself on the eve of their first USA tour, the band seemed even more embraced by the goth community. Joy Divison’s promo material and record company seems to draw attention to absences in the same way as Freud describes melancholia.

Related to Melancholy: Saudade, a word with no direct equivalent in English.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudade

Unlike grief after the death of someone or something known, melancholy is the feeling you get when you’re grieving for something and you don’t know what that something is. Goths find a certain pleasure in that very feeling.

 

note the negative white space

The surviving band members became New Order.

Goth subculture draws from and is influenced by:

  • punk, especially The Sex Pistols
  • vampires
  • literary-historical traditions
  • horror movies
  • B-movie camp
  • Celtic/Pagan/Egyptian/Christian mythology
  • cyborg/techno cultures
  • sexual fetish cultures
  • subeterranean drug cultures
  • the pre-Raphaelites
  • Nietzsche
  • Lautreamont
  • Dali
  • Sartre
  • The Velvet Underground, The Doors and other 60s dark psychedelic rock
  • the mysterious and supernatural
  • David Bowie (for his androgyny and deep voice)
  • Before the Internet there were goth fanzines: Kaleidoscope, BRV Magazine, Tomb Raver, Meltdown, Gothic Times, Dawn Rising, The Black Box, Naked Truth
  • NME and Melody Maker were music mags from the 1980s
  • Whitby Gothic Weekend, The Bizarre Bazaar is part of the Whitby Gothic Weekend, where goths can buy their gear

WHY THE BLACK CLOTHES AND THE WHITE FACE?

The dark hair/white face goth dominatrix persona was popularised by Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie Sioux and the Banshees. Sioux is famous for her ice queen persona. Their whiteness has nothing to do with white supremacy – it’s all about death.

Siouxsie Sioux

This kind of makeup is the inverse of traditional youthful beauty: rosy cheeks, red lips, healthy complexion. It’s a finger up to those who tell others what they should look like. It’s saying, I don’t exist to please your eye.

Death chic has its roots in Victorian invalidism. The female body has historically been pathologised – a diseased object. In Japan, this takes a slightly different form — or perhaps only the name is different:

Ganguro — tanned face, white lipstick, white eye-liner

The interest in ‘sickness fashion’, when taken to the extreme, looks a little like Body Integrity Disorder, in which someone wishes for illness. In Japan, there is the bandage fashion.

Specimen started the ripped fishnet stockings, mesh tops, and other see-through fabrics. Dark hair, pointed boots, tight black jeans, shades comes from The Sisters Of Mercy.

Goth clothes are mostly stripped of their sexual connotations, even if they’re purchased from sex shops (PVC, fishnets)

If they buy or wear anything that happens to be popular, they’re only doing it ironically.

Makeup Bag: World Goth Day Edition, from Frisky

WHY DO MALE GOTHS OFTEN DRESS LIKE WOMEN?

Whereas female goths rebel against feminine beauty with the Siouxsie Sioux make up, the best way for male goths to rebel is by dressing as women. This is a rebellion against the pressure to conform to the mainstream culture’s idea of masculinity, which is very narrow and restricting. For males, androgyny offers a way to manipulate the straight male gaze, but first inviting it, then turning it on its head. It’s a way of dealing with the domination of other men. (Men are as much contending with the partriarchy as women are)Goth is resistant to gender and sexual norms that have upheld capitalism since the 18th C Goth subculture is ideologically against the gender binary, embracing people of all genders/sexualities/sexes. When male goths dress in traditionally feminine clothes they are often mistaken for cross-dressers/transvestites/gay, but in fact they’re aspiring to androgyny, David Bowie style. Bowie makes no effort to pass as a woman on stage. He’s aiming for no gender in particular.

There is no female androgyny because there’s nothing masculine about a woman in pants.

Types of goth fashion:

  • high chic
  • antique
  • retro-kitsch
  • punk
  • fetish
  • secondhand trash or a combo

DOES THIS MEAN GOTH SUBCULTURE IS MORE FEMALE FRIENDLY THAN MAINSTERAM CULTURE?

You would hope so, and this is probably the aim.  Goth men are more likely to touch each other, and there is a veneration of sexual ambiguity.

While the industrial scene and goth rock is male dominated, the goth-scene is indeed more even in terms of gender representation. Goth culture allows men to display sensitivity, emotion, theatricality and artiness, whereas the hyper-masculinity of the dominant culture does not, but what often happens is that androgynous men take up the spaces which might otherwise have been occupied by women. Women are pretty much absent from certain subgenres of goth music (heavy metal), for example. The stage is occupied entirely by feminized men.

Nick Cave is a good example of an Australian goth influencer whose work is ironic and also sexist. The irony doesn’t take away from the sexism, because ironic sexism is still sexism.

But overall, the case can be made for goth subculture to be slightly less sexist than mainstream culture, at least in the music scene. There’s better gender balance in the goth music scene than in other styles and in other styles the women are almost always singers. In pop music, the role for women in general is that of ‘fan’, but in goth world, about half of women making stuff were in clothes. There’s still few female DJs. Some prominent women in goth world: Siouxsie Sioux, Danielle Dax.

In the end, each goth meeting place has its own subculture. Many goth night clubs in big cities are a relatively safe space to come out if you’re trying out a different sexuality or gender. Putting on a goth costume which all but masks your real identity helps in that.

(Examples of popular clubs: Slimelight a London goth club, also The Phono, Toreador, the Mercat, The Barrel Organ, Full Tilt, The Deviant Society, The Batcave, in London)

CRITICISMS OF GOTH SUBCULTURE

Goths can sometimes emphasise the irrational and supernatural at the expense of accurate historical analysis and rationality, preoccupied with psychology rather than history.

Some critics think that goth subculture suits teenage girls, who are all doomed romantics, and self-obsessed, passive and inward looking, while punk is a more masculine subculture. This reinforces gender stereotypes, of exactly the kind that goths want to break down. It’s often said that they’re ‘faking’ being miserable because they’re often white middle class and can’t possibly be miserable.

Many goths aspire to death chic. It challenges dominant beauty ideals which are based on health, and on femininity. (The beauty of men is less noticed.)

Unfortunately, men who are into the death chic look only end up contributing to the fetishization of such a body. There is a lot of fat hatred too, especially of female goths, in a subculture which fetishizes death chic. Goth subculture may well spurn traditional beauty standards, but instead they’ve supplanted it with their own: tall, thin, pale, no body hair, part Asian — that’s the ideal. Other types of bodies do not escape scrutiny, especially when dressing in PVC. There’s a lot of body-hatred among teenage goth girls.

There are also rules, even though Goth subculture likes to think they’re rebelling against rules: Goths who are too much into the horror/vampire stuff are looked down upon by the community — too serious, too stereotypical. So it’s definitely possible to be Not A Proper Goth. Marilyn Manson is blamed for the proliferation of ‘baby goths’ — 15 year olds jumping about in Marilyn Manson t-shirts with short hair and a little bit of eyeliner. Conformity is the rule, in a way:

Other girls wear different gear every weekend ‘plurality of selves’. They really need to make their minds up about who they really are.

The political stand of inclusiveness and equality doesn’t mean there aren’t extreme right-wing, racist views among some goths, including some high profile goth influencers. Before he killed himself, Ian Curtis of Joy Division voted conservative and was sometimes openly racist. Although the whiteness most often associated with goth subculture is most often depicting the pallor of a dead person, it might also be interpreted by some as emphasising whiteness.

WHAT DO GOTHS LIKE?

All goths are different but here are some typical examples:

  • Canonical and avant-garde gothic writing: Anne Radcliffe, Edgar Allan Poe, Sheridan Le Fanu, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, H.P. Lovecraft
  • The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James
  • Vampires (sometimes ironically)
  • Contemporary gothic writing: Anne Rice, Storm Constantine, Ian McEwan, William Gibson, Poppy Z. Brite, Nick Cave
  • The illustrations of Edward Gorey and art by Andy Warhol, who managed The Velvet Underground
  • Bands such as Play Dead, The Birthday Party, Alien Sex Fiend, UK Decay, Sex Gang Children, Virgin Prunes, Specimen, The Sisters Of Mercy, The Mission (the acrimonious off-shoot of The Sisters Of Mercy), The Danse Society, Play Dead, the Cult
  • Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy are no more. They’ve been replaced by newer bands: Lycia, Faith and the Muse, Type O Negative, Nine Inch Nails, Interpol
  • Industrial music was also pretty popular among goths
  • Other bands: Fields of the Nephilim, All About Eve, The Cult, The Cure. (The Cure doesn’t self-identify as gothic, but goths see it as such.)
  • Depeche Mode, Dead or Alive, Echo and The Bunnymen have a tenuous link to goth subculture.
  • Nine Inch Nails fuses goth rock and industrial dance music.
  • Marilyn Manson is “Alice Cooper reincarnated” and is heavy metal rather than goth, but his androgyny makes him gothy.
  • Many goths look down upon Nick Cave, Neff and Skeletal Family
  • Clothes made from: leather, velvet, silk, PVC, chains, lace
  • Clothes may include: sunglasses, top hats, capes, corsets, cravats, riding crop, lunchbox purses
  • Hair: red, black, purple, Kabuki inspired
  • The 1983 film ‘The Hunger’ is an arty Hollywood vampire film which is big in gothworld. (Soundtrack: Bela Lugosi’s Dead)
  • Edward Scissorhands (1990), which has achieved cult status with a few different groups, including goths. This is because it “restages a familiar tale of teenage alienation by exploiting a filmic nostalgia that paradoxically locates moral and psychological authenticity in the amateurish technologies of Tim Burton’s beloved 1950s and 1960s monster movies.” (from Goth: Undead Subculture)
  • Romantic poets, Pre-Raphaelite painters, vampire-aristocrats, decadent aesthetes are hallowed icons.
  • Things that transform themselves into something else. Vampires are one example, which explains the popularity of Dracula, who transforms himself into a flock of crows.
  • Propaganda was a popular goth mag.
  • Friday Playlist: Every Day Is Halloween — 14 songs from a former goth, compiled by a writer at Rookie Mag
  • Even some fantasy has been called goth: Terry Pratchett, Anne McCaffrey, Isobelle Carmody – they all use the word ‘miasma‘ at some point.
  • Crucifixes, churches, graveyards, bats
  • Black pet cats
  • Extended black eyeliner
  • Cheekbone accentuating blusher
  • Darkened rooms
  • Stage smoke
  • 18th and 19th century fashion for females: dark corsets, bodices, lacy/velvet tops/dresses
  • Fake fangs, coloured contact lenses
  • silver jewellery

WHAT ARE SOME OTHER SUBCULTURES SIMILAR TO GOTH?

“Industrial” subculture is like goth but more masculine than androgynous

  • punk – goth has survived better than punk, which takes an angry sort of glee in displaying the swastika and other repulsive signs simply for shock value. Punks seek to empty such signs of their historical value, seeking to turn them into irony, but perhaps the world isn’t well-attuned enough to such irony.
  • grunge – has all but gone since the mid 90s, but goth lives on
  • crust punk – goth may have most in common with this kind of punk
  • cyberpunk
  • mods and rockers
  • new romantics – romanticise death
  • beatniks – black shades, black turtlenecks, long black dresses with layers of meaning. With goth there’s a darker side: a bit sexy, a bit evil, somehow threatening, not wholesome.
  • emos (Real Emo Has Nothing to Do With Hot Topic from Good Men Project). From Urban Dictionary: In the early 90s there was a movement in the hardcore genre that came to be known as “Emotive Hardcore,” spearheaded by Rites Of Spring. Harder-core-than-thou kids, who swore by Dischord Records a la Minor Threat, actually coined the term “Emo” as something of a put-down for the kids who really liked Rites Of Spring, Indian Summer and this new wave of “Emotive” Hardcore bands. How Emo Got Political.

WHAT IS SOME SPECIFICALLY GOTH TERMINOLOGY?

  • Goths call people of the dominant culture “normals” and speak of “mainstream culture” or “trendies”
  • Mainstream music is sometimes referred to as “bubblegum music”, compared to “serious music”.
  • Capitalist is used as an insult.
  • Goths who only adopt certain parts of the subculture are labeled ‘part-timer’
  • ‘Gother than thou syndrome’ – sleep in coffins and then tell everyone they do it
  • Unheimlich is a Freudian term which means ‘uncanny’ and refers to the class of things that lead us back to what is known and familiar. Its counterpart is heimlich, which means canny or homey.
  • Gothadelic
  • ‘Gothdom’ refers to goth subculture generally
  • Goth-spotting
  • Getting ‘gothed-up’
  • Goth types: tail-coaty, vampiry, Nephilimy goth, baby-goths
  • It’s not a ‘subculture’ or a ‘tribe’. It’s a lifestyle.
  • Here are more specifically goth words, many relating to fashion at Stripy Tights and Dark Delights.
  • Bambi Wicca – a type of modern witchcraft which focuses on the ponies and rainbows side of life

What about goth sexuality? Anything different there?

Goth subcultures can fetishize certain objects – anything at all can be fetishized of course, but it’s often the fashion and accoutrements and the props. People with sexual fetishes are often thought to be hypersexual but in fact a fetish can stand in for intercourse. Mainstream interpretation of this kind of fetishistic outlook is in direct opposition to say, the hippies, who get naked and have lots of intercourse, but goth sexuality may have more in common with a Catholic sort of taboo on sexual activity, in which the forbidden becomes more erotic. Goth subculture eroticizes asceticism. For example, goth fashion often (but not always) covers the entire body (long skirts, not mini skirts), boots (not bare feet). The ubergoth would be a necrophiliac, but they are very rare.

There is no irony in fetishism. Fetishists are very serious about it.

So what does Goth subculture have to do with the 18th and 19th C goth?

Critique of bourgeois culture

WHAT DOES GOTHIC SOUTHERN AMERICAN LITERATURE HAVE TO DO WITH THOSE YOUNG PEOPLE DRESSED IN BLACK?

Irony, from what I can gather. And a preoccupation with death and the supernatural.

See: Origins Of Gothic Literature from Interesting Literature

Southern Gothic does not actually exist as a Library of Congress subject heading, however widely used the term. The following writers have been called ‘Southern gothic’, and if you’ve read any of them you should have a general sense: William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Cormac McCarthy, Harry Crews, Shirley Ann Grau, Doris Betts, Padgett Powell, Mark Steadman, Poppy Z. Brite and Nick Cave, who writes parody of the genre. (I’m not sure how many of those authors dressed in black.

Here’s the Wikipedia entry on Southern gothic literature.

The following is from an essay from Goth: Undead Subculture:

Snakes in the trees, plantations on every block — these images, though at odds with each other, are familiar components of the southern mystique. Writers working in the southern gothic tradition, notably William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor, have simultaneously contributed to and undone this fantastical construction of The South. It makes perfect sense to us that Faulkner and O’Conner set their fiction down south; where else would they, and why would we want them to set it anywhere else? What seems more surprising is that so much contemporary fiction associated with goth subculture is set in the South. Southern gothic writers appeared to have no choice but to write about the South, to voice some truth about their region: what, then, is the South’s appeal for goth writers, and what does it look like in their work?

– “Ah Am Witness To Its Authenticity”: Goth style in postmodern Southern writing

That final question is an important one, and here are some further points from the essay:

  • In the popular imagination, the South is deep and dark, and so writers don’t need any further justification for including violence set there. Same goes for supernatural.
  • Dark humour depends on “a distancing of social actuality” — lack of attention on the origins of class oppression.
  • Goth writing depends on the supernatural. Southern goth writing is more realist. What’s figurative in Southern goth writing is literalized in plain goth writing. The South is America’s ‘ideological other’. Anything is expected ‘down there’ – why not ghosts and vampires also?
  • The gothic trope of the haunted house is translated, in southern literary terms, as the haunted plantation. Southern gothic is often a ghost story without the ghost.
  • Goth writing includes: parody, pastiche. Parody is maybe the only type of power available to a writer/critic living in this age, where nothing is original because it’s been done already. [Goth chic is a parody of the Western beauty standard, so that makes sense.]
  • Southern goth writing takes the supernatural as its very subject.
  • By humanizing the inhuman — animating houses, making flesh-and-blood heroes of vampires, turning a hunchback mute punching bag into the star of a big book — goth writers reverse the southern gothic’s concealed dehumanization of the South. Southern gothic encourages our “alienated and unsympathetic” response to the South, whereas goth writing solicits sympathy for the traditionally unsympathetic, inhuman (or sort of human) subjects. In this way, goth writing tries to rouse us from our rote approach to reading the South. Goth writing has given Southern writing a shot in the arm. Goth might achieve its aim in exploding the myth of the South by completely overdoing the supernatural.

Are there goths in Australia? Why?

The more mainstream culture tries to define what’s Australian, the more scope there is to rebel against the definition. There has been a lot of talk about what’s ‘un-Australian’ in recent years, which by default defines what’s ‘Australian’.

The next essay in the same book of essays is about Australian goths. If goth subculture is anachronistic, goths in Australia seem in the wrong place as well — nothing contrasts more with black garb than bright blue skies. Yet there is a definite gothicness about Australian literature which stretches right back to convict times, “emerging at the origins of settlement and consolidating itself in the 1890s in gothic romance based both in the bush and the city, and then underwriting the subsequent canonical works of Christina Stead and Patrick White as well as more recent literature from Louis Nowra, Peter Carey and Elizabeth Jolley, among many others”.

Daniel Nettheim’s film Angst (2000) is the first Australian film to feature a goth as one of its protagonists. (Um, it’s got 5.9 on IMDb.)

Edward Dunglass is Home and Away’s own out-of-place Australian goth.

The Music Of Razors is an example of an Australian goth sub-cultural book. Then you’ve got the books of Nick Cave, the latest of which was written entirely on his mobile phone. (Judge from that its quality, if you’re inclined to pre-judgement.) See also Kim Wilkins, author of speculative fiction for adults and YA.

See also: Fear and Loathing In The Australian Bush, in which Aboriginal cultures are seen as Australia’s ‘Other’.

GOTH INFLUENCES ON MAINSTREAM CULTURE

Goth subculture has influenced The Matrix, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hot Topic (a “counter-cultural” shopping mall chain), Emily The Strange, Sid and Nancy (the movie), Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Edward Scissorhands.

GS has featured less in pop culture since the 1990s, after a series of Columbine-like murders — there’s been a swing toward hypermasculinity

The Matrix detaches goth style from goth sensibility.

Donnie Darko does the reverse – Donnie doesn’t wear goth clothes even though the film is set in 1988, at the height of goth fashion

Buffy is popular because it privileges the communal ideal outside the family values sit-coms, unlike Anne Rice’s books which privilege individualism.

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