Raising Goth Kids In Today's Disney Society
Gothtopia is currently sitting on an advance copy of the Girls Rock Camp Houston DVD, which was filmed at Walter's and showcased several bands of young girls performing their original compositions. We are currently waiting for a firm release date on the disc before bringing you our take on it, but it did get us thinking.
All the girls we saw in the video managed to be adorable without being precious. It was honestly like looking at miniature Lita Fords and Nicos. How can goth parents inspire that kind of individualism in their own kids? We took a bracing shot of absinthe served in a paper cup made of the insert from a Joy Division single and summoned the Gothic Council to debate the issue.
Joining the Council this week is Sarah Fanning, one of the founders of Punky Moms; Batty, acclaimed goth designer and owner of Azreal's Accomplice; artist Ars Moriendi; Spleen of Ex-Voto; and Lynda Rouner, aka The Wife With One F, who is providing gory desserts for this weekend's 12th Annual Gothic Beauty Pageant.
Sarah Fanning: The challenge is raising a child in a goth/punk home when all their friends are sucked into the Disney bullshit...
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Batty: Disney isn't all bullshit, it has - or had - the world's best villains. I wanted to be the evil queen when I was a kid, and Cruella's hair? Come on, it was awesome!
Spleen: I like Disney.
Fanning: The villains are pretty good, but the princess poison has so permeated Little Girl World that it takes a constant concerted effort to battle their efforts to turn the younger generation into a pink, frilly Borg. Thank the gods for Tim Burton! Without Nightmare, Corpse Bride, Beetlejuice, etc. I would have a harder fight to keep my girl out of the princess collective.
Batty: I think there is nothing wrong with the princess thing. Princesses show fantasy and whimsy of times past, an aesthetic important to this subculture. Goth is not a color, I love frills, and I like pink. Tim Burton is so cliché. When I was a kid I found things that seemed goth in many other outlets, even ones not marketed as spooky. I think if a kid wants to be spooky they will find a way, princesses or not.
Fanning: My little girl does find ways to be spooky, and mixes it well with Disney nonsense. But it is so much harder than when we were children. Disney has branded damn near every conceivable piece of child paraphernalia with the visages of the princesses, that resistance is almost futile.
And when I speak of pink, I mean it not as the color, but in the Disney Princess Pink sense. It is as if they have co-opted the color for their massive brainwashing agenda... as far as the color itself goes, while I hate it, my girl wears it and most of her room accessories are pink. I prefer purple, blue, and green...
Princesses in general are not necessarily evil, when left in the realm of storybooks and imagination. I am a huge supporter of imaginative play and have taught my spawn much about the fantasy genre. But the way these princesses are peddled to our toddlers, it is more a guide to what they begin to think a girl should be.
And in the case of most of the Disney princesses, they were weak-willed girls waiting for the prince to save them and make everything happily ever after. All they had to do was sing, dance and be beautiful.
Seriously, I have sat down with my girl and made lists of the redeeming qualities of each princess. Neither of us can find much good in most of them. The newer ones are a bit better, but not much.
I don't disagree that Burton is a cliché of himself. Really, every story/movie is cliché in an archetypal sense. But his stories have stronger female characters. Barbara defeats Beetlejuice. Sally saves Jack. Emily is the strong prevailing character in Corpse Bride. And these characters aren't afraid to be themselves.
Batty: I guess maybe my biggest thing with goth and kids is that it's all good as long as parents raise their kids to be what the kids want instead of pushing goth gown their throats. It's very cool your kid and you debate things like Disney princesses vs. villains and that your daughter is making her own decisions on things. I see way too many spooky parents trying to force their kids to be spooky. As long as you don't do that it's all good in my book.
Lynda Rouner: Sarah, I am soooo not looking forward to dealing with The Mommies. Jef and Katy are most important to me, but like you, I also do not define myself by my child. I think Katy will have a fondness for spooky things because they will remind her of home, a place where she is loved and cherished.
Although we do keep the Halloween-themed clothes around all year long, whether Katy chooses to be spooky or not is up to her. Jef and I are very much about letting Katy be who she is, and not forcing any style upon her. We like to keep a good mix of both spooky and non-spooky things for Katy, and it sounds like you do the same with Lily and Gareth. Balance is key.
Batty, you are so right. People who insist that their child be exactly like them are just sad and wrong. While that kind of parenting makes me very angry, when goths - as well as all people who identify with any kind of non-mainstream subculture - do this, it also makes me laugh, because they are doing just what they accuse their own parents of: trying to make their child fit into a neat little mold.
Ars Moriendi: I was not allowed to wear black or be frightening on Halloween as a child, and it is to this I attribute my life-long death obsession and subsequent fashion choices.
Gothtopia: It seems the Council decides that children must be protected from the brainwashing, but not at the expense of individual choice. Meeting adjourned!
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