The birth and death of a scene

All things have their time and place. Things begin, they grow, they flourish, they stabilize, they fade, they die. 

At least, this is how things that are natural and organic progress. 

But not everything is natural in this world. We have artifice. We have constructions.


Constructions are not inherently bad things. We often use them to make the world a better place.

Thus–it’s not the fact that something is a construction or is artificial that makes it bad. 

What can be bad is when people mistake the artificial for a natural thing, and make assumptions based on this mistake.

Let me talk of an application of this process by talking about something important to me, namely, a subculture that I’ve been a part of for more than half of my life…

I’m talking of the goth/industrial scene.



 I started to become part of this scene late in high school.  I had been introduced to the music (skinny puppy) by a friend without even knowing what it was.  By 1990, I had gotten to know more of the music and by 1991 had been introduced to a dance club where they played such music.  I was becoming part of a scene, even if I didn’t know it.. 

I was not alone in this.  There were many of us. We were there for various reasons–and I do not claim to speak for all of us, but I know why I was there.  I was there because of where I came from.. there were specific social and material conditions that led me to this place and made me fit in there.  I was one tree growing up in a forest… 

It was natural and unplanned.  We had our place, we knew the time, we showed up. 

But natural things grow, mature, and die. 

goth is dead

It has been over 20 years since I got involved in this scene.  I’ve been a part of it as much as I could.  I met my best half in this scene. I’ve found many, many friends in this scene–some of my best. 

But I’ve also watched the scene move into its latter stages.. and I’ve seen it start to fade, I’ve seen it struggle, and I’m pretty sure that it’s dead. 

The reason I think this can be summed up in one observation.

A subculture that is alive and thriving does not bother with advertising itself. It does not need to promote itself, it merely has to exist–because it exists through the communal desire of everyone to be there.

The goth/industrial scene is no longer at that place. It has been depleted.  Many who used to feel at home there, have left it.. moved on to other places.  To them, the need to be there is absent.  This does not mean that some people have not found the scene and become a part of it–they have–but they have not been there in nearly the numbers that were there before.

Because of this, the scene has had to compete for attention to survive.  This means that it has to promote itself.  It has to fight against other scenes to host its events. It suffers from failures of attendance at crucial events.

The scene has become a construct. It is no longer a natural thing. When it is just one of many options for people–then it has stopped being a scene and it is just a club, a flavor, a choice.

It has become something to consume, a product. That doesn’t make it wrong or bad or a failure–but it is not the same as it was before.  It is no longer an organic, growing thing. It is something that I will continue to support and will feel a part of, but it is dead, and I know it. 

Now–to be a bit snarky for a moment–I do have a recommendation for how the scene–or something like it could be reborn. Here are the steps:
1. People invested in the scene should reset their priorities.
2. They should move to the suburbs.
3. If they have a significant other, they should think about having some kids.
4. They should then raise the kids in a manner that prizes boredom, the normal life, and conformity above all else.
5. They should also start voting Tea Party Republican to produce the kind of political and social climate that helped generate industrial music in the first place.

Then, in about 15 years, there will be a whole new crop of youngsters who felt as we did.

And a new scene will be born. 


About Prof. Woland

I contain multitudes. Come meet us.
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2 Responses to The birth and death of a scene

  1. Jerry says:

    Your advice reminds me of God Emperor of Dune. Using oppressive conditions as a pressure cooker to foster an explosion of creativity.

    • Prof. Woland says:

      Heh. I hadn’t thought of that–but it does make sense… at least for the kinds of conditions that led to industrial music. There’s another sci-fi book about something similar–Frederick Pohl’s Starburst–where a crew of smart people are sent on a colonizing mission to Alpha Centauri to a planet that doesn’t exist.. mainly to force them to deal with limited resources to push their mental development and problem solving abilities. The premise has some flaws and it goes a bit overboard.. but it was an interesting tread…

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