A Study of Gothic Subculture

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Salt Lake Tribune
May 18, 1997

Put Away Broad Brush

Nancy Rector (Forum, April 27) is raising the Klaxon for greater scrutiny of the "Goth" subculture. The only problem is, she's doing it with a terrible lack of real information and an enormous amount of alarmist hyperbole. What Mrs. Rector bemoans as "a growing problem" has actually been around this valley for years. The reason for the current hype is the way in which the media seize upon a single event and try to paint an entire cosmological truth with it. A teen-ager died at a "Goth" function; therefore, all Goth culture is sinister and dangerous. This is ridiculous. My art has placed me in and among this city's Goth culture for years, and all of Mrs. Rector's darkest fears apply to a tiny minority of the participants. What does this tell you? That this entire subculture is bent on "self-destruction", "Satanism" (people in Utah wouldn't know a real Satanist if one stabbed them in the butt with a pitchfork), and all things "dark and evil"? No. It tells me that you will find people like her children, who get some kind of sick glory out of self-mutilation and substance addiction, in all walks of life.

The therapist rolls are replete with mainstream, bored housewives slowly choking the lives out of themselves with anti-depressants, alcohol and hopelessness. More than one dutiful Mormon man or woman has silently gone mad and shuffled off this mortal coil by closing themselves into a garage and turning on the car. These are tragedies that plague all of humanity, and all of these people should have gotten help. I truly feel for Mrs. Rector and her obviously messed-up kids. But she must realize that she opens a terrible Pandora's box when she calls for an address of "this problem right now" based almost solely on her personal family tragedy. If your kids are cutting themselves up with razor blades and dabbling with occult arts that they have little if any understanding of, get them some help now. Do not go after an entire subculture with your broad brush. The last time they did that, lots of people ended up dying in dunking chairs, gallows and burning stakes.

Scott Jorgensen, Salt Lake City UT