Our Favorite Media Moment of the Day: The Inky Exploration of Philly Goth Culture


Is it easy to make jokes about the Inquirer’s decision to cover the decline of goth culture in Philadelphia? Yes. Are we going to do it anyway? Absolutely.

In fact, one could say that goth culture is a metaphor for print newspapering—or maybe the other way around. How so?

They’re both obsessed with the past:

In a sense, goths already are immortal: a culture revived from a different era. Inspired in part by the Victorians’ interest in Gothic art and literary obsession with the darker side of life, ’80s bands such as Joy Division, the Cure, and Bauhaus sparked a new genre of music and a generation of counterculturalists.

Whereas many of today’s print journalists were usually inspired by ’70s journalists (Woodward and Bernstein), ’90s profit margins, and a (pre-Internet) culture revived from a different era.

They persist even though the crowds have gone elsewhere:

Nocturne, a weekly event coordinated by the promoter Patrick Rodgers, was the hub of goth life in Philadelphia for more than a decade, drawing as many as 500 attendees. Rodgers said fans would sometimes come from Baltimore and New York to get a taste of the Wednesday night fantasy world for the darkly inclined.

A change in venue last year was enough to throw off the vibe, Rodgers said. Attendance dwindled, and promoters no longer could afford the clubs and artists to bring crowds back in full force.

In newspapers case, the crowds no longer in full force are both readers and the number of paid journalists. (Sigh.) This is making us sad. Let’s move on.

They don’t like adapting:

Now, theme nights feature goth classics paired with electronic music that has infiltrated the American music scene.

For goth purists, it strays too far. For promoters and artists, it’s an attempt to branch out and make money in a struggling niche culture. And it might be the future of the city’s underworld.

There are still a number of working journalists—in this town and elsewhere—who refuse to believe the Tweeting or taking pictures or doing the basic multitasking that digital journalism requires is a worthy thing. They miss the purity of the old days, which of course are never ever coming back.

The refusal to move on:

“Our movement died too soon,” said Rainer Chaney, of Newark, Del., black fingernails peeping out of clasped, ring-laden hands. “It’s almost like the eye of the storm. . . . What’s to come next?”

Yup.