Goth culture provides an outlet for youngsters alienated by mainstream life to express themselves, an expert said today
Jodi Jones’s boyfriend Luke Mitchell was a self-confessed follower.
In a school essay he aligned himself with the movement popularly associated with dark clothing, pale skin, heavy make-up and depressing music.
Mitchell defiantly wrote: “So what if I am a Goth in a Catholic school? So what if I dress in baggy clothes?”
Among the satanic scrawls on his school jotter covers, he had also daubed the words “gothic depressive“.
Jodi’s friends denied in press reports around the time of her death that the schoolgirl was a Goth herself.
But whether they adopted the full Goth look or not, it is certainly true that both teenagers reflected elements of what one would associate with Goth culture in their lifestyles.
Both wore dark, loose clothing and were known to frequent well-known Goth hang-outs such as Edinburgh’s Cockburn Street and the historic Greyfriars Churchyard.
Both were known to enjoy the music of the melancholic rock band Nirvana, whose frontman Kurt Cobain committed suicide, and that of “shock Goth rocker” Marilyn Manson.
Dr Paul Hodkinson, author of the book Goth: Identity, Style And Subculture, says that Goth culture has always had an appeal for teenagers.
“Goth beliefs centre around music and style. There is quite a focus upon expressing yourself through fashion and through music, rather than being dominated by whatever happens to be in fashion.
“There are significant numbers of people who seem to find the Goth scene particularly attractive because it offers a social life, a form of feeling important, which isn’t provided in mainstream school or college.
“There are quite a lot of Goths that in one way or another feel something of a lack of social status, whether at school or more generally.
“Having discovered it through friends or the media, they find this tight-knit group, where previously they have been rather low in status in mainstream society, they are suddenly able to gain greater status because of a different set of values.”
The expert, a sociology lecturer at the University of Surrey, says that the culture emerged out of the punk scene in the 1970s with bands such as Siouxsie and the Banshees.
He said: “It’s about people getting into a distinctive style of dress to go with a distinctive style of music.”
Yet the numbers of those who can truly be considered Goth are relatively small – perhaps around 10,000 people in Britain – Dr Hodkinson said.
He said: “They tend to dislike a number of other groups which call themselves Goths.
“There are wider groups into bands like Korn, that sort of thing, that quite often get called ‘spooky kids’.
“A lot of Goths dislike that and see it as not doing it right.
“Some music which is called Goth actually sounds much more like metal and thrash metal and some Goths dislike it intensely and don’t want anything to do with it.
“The real arguments begin when you start talking about someone like Marilyn Manson who some people regard as Goth as you can get, and whom others regard as absolutely not Goth at all, although he has still got a lot of imagery of Goth in his lyrics and in the way that he looks.”
Mitchell also had an interest in Satanism.
He told the police he scratched the Satanic numbers 666 on to his forearm with a pair of compasses during a school break as a dare.
A knife pouch with 666, Jodi’s initials and the years of her birth and death written on it, found in Mitchell’s bedroom, was described in court as a “memento” and a “trophy” following Jodi’s killing.
It is not unheard-of for those adhering to Goth culture to display an interest in Satanism, but Dr Hodkinson plays down its importance.
He said: “There are one or two people that get into that side of it, but I think there is a distinction between enjoying this provocative imagery and actually really knowing anything about Satanism.”
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