mercoledì 17 luglio 2013

Misrepresentations of alternatives in the media

Remember that time I was complaining about Sarah Manning in Orphan Black, 'cause, as many other characters in various media, she gives a quite negative connotation to alternative styles?
Well, since then I've been thinking about that a lot, and last night, while I was reading Anna Karenina (yes, I've reached 25 years - well, I'm reaching then tomorrow, but still - without having read it) (and yes, apparently Anna Karenina inspires me with this sort of stuff) I came up with quite a lot of examples. So I decided to gather them in one entry. This one.

What you're going to see is a list of "token alternative" characters, or better: characters that have gone through an alternative "phase" for some time. They mostly come from tv series, who give a problematic portrayal of goth and other subcultures. If you have other examples, please feel free to bring them up in the comments, I'd be super glad to add them :)

. Sarah Manning (Orphan Black)

Knowledge of the subculture
She labels herself as a "punk", but doesn't really look like one - she seems like a goth to me, someone in the comments of the entry where I mentioned her thought she looked grungy - and she only listens to the most obvious punk groups that anyone who's not even into punk might know.

Extremely troubled, she even states she is the most messed up of all the clones.
Adopted when she was a child, with which she has unsolved issues, she grows up as a punk (her foster mother says she's only taken the "attitude" of punk, and she says it in a derogative way), she's had a child at a very young age whom she left to her own foster mother when she escaped; she doesn't get along with her mother, she's described as rebellious, tormented girl and as some sort of a criminal; she's actually a drug dealer and it's hinted that she's involved with dangerous people. On top of that, she's been into an abusive relationship.
As the story goes on and she finds a boyfriend and kind of fixes her relationship with her foster mother, her outfits and make-up become more and more toned down.

Others' reactions
Her stepbrother welcomes her by saying that she looks horrible and that Beth, the first clone she mets, is basically her "with a nice haircut".
As she takes on Beth's identity, she meets Beth's boyfriend who comments on her Clash tee by saying she looks like a "punk rock ho".
Her foster mother once tells her that "just because she has nice clothes now" (and a nice car) that doesn't mean she's going to trust her with her daughter; this means by the way that her mother's noticed an "improvement".
She never shows up in front of her daughter with particularly edgy outfits.

. Deva Hopewell (Banshee)

Knowledge of the subculture
Totally unaware of her belonging to a subculture, at least in the three episodes I've seen her in. I'd say she looks like a punk.

Not very high: they sort of hint that, even though she acts like the typical rebellious teenager, she actually has boundaries and that deep down she's a good innocent girl. 
Which may be even worse because it's like they need to compensate for her punkness.
In the first episode we see slut shaming at its best: she comes home complaining about a teacher who looked under her skirt causing her to fight with him and her FUCKIN' FATHER (!) answers that it surely wasn't difficult, with that skirt (the one you can see above). She gets angry and (rightfully) answers that while she's been harassed her father's blaming it on her clothes instead of on the teacher who perpetrated the harassment, but of course she's saying that in a silly, grumbling voice that's meant to make her and her complaints sound ridiculous. Well, I'm not even going to go through how sexist this show is, but I think it's quite disgusting that her choice of clothes, which in this case belong to a subculture, is brought up as a justification for sexual harassment from a teacher.
She's also shown ditching school to go make out with a boy in his car and in the next episode she goes to a rave party where she takes some drugs, for which she's punished with the death of her boyfriend ("this'll teach you...!"). Oh no, excuse me, she's not her boyfriend, as she states at some point: she's someone whom she made out with, which makes her a SLUT.
So we have a SLUT who ditches school and takes drugs and, just to make sure everyone understands she's troubled, she's also some sort of punk. 'Cause, you know, you can't have a troubled kid wearing mainstream clothes. ALL kids start wearing alternative stuff when they're having their rebellious phase, and ALL alternative kids are like that because of the PHASE.
The PHASE, remember that word.

Other's reactions
I'm betting my ass that she'll stop wearing this SLUTTY clothes and all that make-up ("oh, honey, you'd look so good without all that make up on your face/with a nice coloured dress!"; they haven't said that explicitly, at least so far!, but it's implied by the way the style's associated with her behaviour) it'll be the moment she's solved all her issues, whatever those are - 'cause she doesn't really seem to have any, she just looks like the classical teen that's trying to prove her badassery, 'cause, you know, this is the not at all condescending way mainstream adults see us alternatives.
... ok, I'll admit it, this one's the one who probably bothered me the most; and I haven't even see the whole show yet!

. Dorrit Bradshaw (The Carrie Diaries)

Knowledge of the subculture
Quite bad.
I mean, they've made the effort of looking up "Bauhaus" and "Joy Division", but that's the same thing they did with Sarah Manning and The Clash. Also, Dorrit listens to the Smiths a lot; the Smiths do not belong to the goth subculture (even though their lyrics are way more depressing than those of any goth song I know...!) and she's very interested in the Sex Pistols, who are definitely not goth.
Since the best the authors can come up with is Joy Division, the Smiths and the Sex Pistols, I'm not going to assume they were trying to make her a polyhedric alternative; I have this feeling that they just had a lot of confusion on their minds.
Dorrit's the tormented kind of teen who's always sad and angry at anyone, so I guess they were trying to give her this doomy and gloomy vibe which is quite often associated with goth. But Dorrit's not a goth, even though she wears black stuff and black make-up.

Quite a bit.
She's trying to deal with the loss of her mother and with the changes her family's going through: she started putting on black clothes and make-up since the death of her mother. Her way of coping is quite negative: she shuts the world out, she refuses to open up with anyone (least of all her family), she feels like her sister is her father's sweetheart which leads her to always being rude with Carrie, she steals, she ditches school, she escapes in order to go to parties... the usual stuff teen alternatives who are "screaming for help" would do.
She stops behaving badly and wearing total black outfits when she finds a boyfriend.
Let's not even mention how sexist this is, let's just look at how condescending this is towards alternatives: again, the phase, the rebellion, the scream for help.
Eventually - since subcultures are only acceptable in teens, and those teens must be troubled, otherwise why would they even put on that stuff? If it's not a scream for help or an attempt to prove one's own badassery, what on earth might that even be?! - she grows out of it, to the delight of everyone around her.

Others' reactions
Her father looks extremely worried for the terrible amount of make-up she wears. As you can see above, she usually wears a black kajal and maybe some red lipstick. A shit ton of make-up, really..!
Her sister looks at her with condescendence and once persuades her to put on her mother's green dress; she promptly points out how good Dorrit looks in green.
When Dorrit stops wearing black clothes, everyone's happy.
I have to say Carrie also tells her not to quit her style because of a boy, but Dorrit states she's ok with her choice. The boy has made the miracle and now Dorrit's finally happy; and you can't be happy in a black sweater and combats, remember that, guys.

. Jessica Hamby (True Blood)

Knowledge of the subculture
They're not even trying to write an alternative character; to be honest; they're just trying to give the idea that she's rebellious and slutty, and a punkish outfit is apparently the best way to convey this message.

She just appears in the outfit above for a few minutes before she's peremptorily sent changing her clothes, but in that moment she's quite troubled: she's just been turned into a vampire, she's thirsty for blood, she's out of control and she's decided to quit her old life (where she was just the innocent older child of a very christian family) and to embrace the dark side: she's a good girl gone bad, she wants to let anyone know that she's dangerous and ready to raise a mess. There are slutty and punkish clothes to prove that!
(Note that I'm using the word "slutty" ironically, 'cause that's what was in the authors' intentions. I would never ever in my life define any outfit "slutty").
Others' reactions
As I said, she doesn't even get to keep these clothes for more than a couple minutes.
She changes them and puts on a nice, romantic yellow dress, she curls her hair and puts two nice little bows on them. Now she's a good girl - and this is when she finds a nice boy who'll make a honest woman out of her.

. Lily Aldrin (How I Met Your Mother)

Knowledge of the subculture
There's a preface to this: when the show starts, Lily's not a goth; she was one - or at least she dressed like one - in her high school years, and we see flashbacks of those years only a few times, so we don't get to know what she listened to or read or whatever.
Later, in her college years, she tones down her style and goes for a grungy one; she also dumps her boyfriend, whom she had been dating just because he looked like Kurt Cobain (who has nothing to do with goth whatsoever).
Now that Lily's in her thirties, she dresses mainstream. Which lets us know that, as any serious adult person would do, she's grown out of that phase.
(At some point she also claims she has grown out of her feminist phase, which I'm not even going to comment.)

Divorced parents, daddy issues (he's never been there for her her all life, 'cause he was too busy creating board games) and a straw feminist mother. She's also revealed to have been quite the bully when she was a kid, so, you know, the usual stuff. Troubled and troubling.

Other's reactions
We only see her husband in a flashback, which was set in their college years, wondering if he's really that into this gothish girl and wheter he wouldn't regret this decision in a long term, since he might prefer someone with a spanish kind of vibe.
Aside from that, nobody really ever comments on her past looks, but the mere fact that they're "past" and that she was portrayed as a bully when she had them speaks worlds.

. Robin Scherbatsky (How I Met Your Mother)

Knowledge of the subculture
As in Jessica Hamby's case, there's really no intention of creating a token alternative character; she's meant to have this grungy phase and she sings a song that can be perceived as kind of grungy. The style's appropriate, by the way; too bad she's not really into grunge.

She explicitly states that she's had this phase because she was suffering from being rejected by someone.
The derogation towards her style couldn't be more clear and it's meant to let us know that she's having issues. After all, black always means grief and depression, doesn't it...?

Others' reactions
"Canada's sweetheart", with her blonde locks and her pink tutus, shocked the whole country with her change of style.
A black dye and a flannel shirt, I mean, if there's any canadian reading, please tell me: are you really that easily shocked...?

. Effy Stonem (Skins)

Knowledge of the subculture
Zero. Which, at least at the beginning, had absolutely no importance because she was more than the token alternative character. Nobody ever mentioned her clothes; she was a fully developed character who had her own story, and she also happened to like punkish clothes.
I've thus never felt the need to check whether the authors knew anything about punk or not, because Effy wasn't a punk, there was no message beside her appearance: she just liked to dress like that and that was all, and I appreciated it.
She's a good match for Sarah Manning. But believe me, she was this close to being a well written alternative character. She was my baby and I was saddened to see what they did with her eventually.
By the way. The girl's definitely troubled, but I didn't pay it much attention, 'cause *everybody* is troubled in Skins: for instance, Cassie is at least as messed up as Effy is, at some point even more, but she never puts on black clothes or stuff.
I've been talking about the first generation so far, which means, the first two seasons.
Effy's the only character of the first generation to appear in the second one, so we see her for another two years. She's kept her punk/gothish style even though she's not a drug addict with selective mutism and troubles finding friends anymore: to say the truth, she's actually the most popular girl in town. Which is amazing for an alternative character, and I was delighted.
Until... until her psychiatric problems come up and she's locked up in a mental institution diagnosed with a psychotic depression, which leads her to break up with a loving boyfriend because she can't deal with a relationship while she's trying to cope with her own problems - which is awesome, if you ask me: how many times have you seen a girl putting her own mental health before the need for a boyfriend, and a caring one too?
Eventually she gets out of the institution and the first thing she does is burning all her punkish stuff. This is involved in the process of healing. I don't get why, in order to heal, she must get rid of her clothes, as if they were part of the problem. She probably wanted to cut ties with the past and her past self, but the only thing she really leaves behind is her style. Which had always been the least important think about her throughout her whole 4 years long development.
This really was a slip for Skins.

Others' reactions
Nobody cares. Seriously, nobody does.
In the first season she feels the need to hide how she dresses from her parents, because her father can be quite the bigoted asshole, but even when they find it out, they're mostly worried about her health after her od.
In the third and fourth season, when she quits middle school (where she had to wear a uniform), she dresses punk at school and nobody ever mentions it. EVER. This really was a good thing and I have to give Skins that.

. Jane Margolis (Breaking Bad)

Knowledge of the subculture
None. Well; they say heroine was the drug of choice for goths... but aside from that, regarding the goth subculture, she only shows interest in the clothes.

Oh well, I think she wins, and if you've seen the show you certainly know why. But I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet because Breaking Bad is one of the best shows on air and Jane was one of its best characters, so I'll only say the basic things you'd immediately know about her if you were watching the show.
As I said, she's a heroine addict. When she first appears she's trying to recover, but then she falls back into it. She has no mother and she's trying to gain back her father's trust after her first recover; she's clearly a troubled person.
Others' reactions
Almost no remarks. At some point, her father realizes that she has no coloured clothes in a wardrobe, just a dark blue dress. It's meant to stress how tragic this character is.

. Rich Hardbeck (Skins)

Knowledge of the subculture
Very good. Surprising, huh? Not only he's the only male alternative character I've met in a tv show so far, but the authors actually made an effort to make him credible.
He's a metalhead, 'cause, you know, goth is drama and drama is for girls, I think they thought; they needed something that mirrored his grumpy, aloof personality, and metal must have sounded good.
I mean, it's not like Rich's an asshole; he's usually actually quite friendly, when he's with people he trusts. But when he's around people he doesn't know, or doesn't like, or likes too much, he becomes... well, just look at the picture. Rude and quite close minded.
By the way, his clothes are extremely appropriate and so is the music he listens to. As any true metalhead, he only listens to metal and despises pretty much anyone who doesn't.

He's the poster boy for metalheads: socially awkward penguins who act like they take pride in being outsiders 'cause deep down they're really insecure, so they try to take revenge on the popular kids by treating them as if they were all shallow assholes. I've met many metalhead boys who are like this: this representation is kind of negative, but nobody can deny its verisimilitude - my boyfriend, who in his teen years was pretty much like Rich, stated that he was a pretty accurate representation of him and his metalhead friends back in the days.
I mean, I appreciate that they sticked to reality, but can we please, please for once create an alternative character that is a also well-adjusted member of society?
Well, to be honest, Rich's probably the only character in Skins to have a normal life and all in all he's a positive character, probably the most positive one I've seen in that show; his only problem is his being alternative itself. Also, he doesn't really have a story in Skins aside from being a metalhead that doesn't want to make friends with mainstream people: he only interacts with his girlfriend, whom you can see above, and the whole thing revolves around his refusal to blend with non-metalheads.
We have an alternative character who voluntarily shuts the world out because that's the alternative thing to do and who only lets go of his style when he faces a tragedy. As if to say: he has now bigger concerns than seeming badass, he's grown out now, he doesn't need those symbols of his teen rebellion anymore. Thanks a lot, Skins.
It's twisted, what they did. Rich's style didn't mean that he had troubles, because he didn't have any, or that he was going to cause troubles, 'cause all he did was hanging out with his friend Alo and playing guitar in a band, so, as I said, he really was an average kid. Rich's style only meant "I'm a teen and I want attention and this is how I'm going to get it", and also "I'm better than you shallow popular kids, you know!", which is certainly real, but did we need such a childish character representing us alternatives? Of course when something really bad happens he quits the style: as it appears, he only joined it during a phase in which he wanted to prove some points.
It particularly bothers me because, as he was presented in his first appearance, he really loved the music, they really spent a lot of time showing his world around, and he really was attached to his clothes. His girlfriend loves him as he is and she's also sad when he cuts his hair because she liked it long; she's never tried to change him with the power of love, so I'd thought that Skins had finally created an alternative character who was having a positive experience with the subculture he belonged to. But, again, I was wrong.

Others' reactions
As I said, his girlfriend likes him as he is; she only tries to persuade him to let more people in and to not be so prejudiced against cool kids; she makes him understand that, while he complains about cool kids judging him negatively all the time, he's literally doing the same thing towards them. Which is something may alternatives should learn, if you ask me.
Aside from that, the only person who seems to not like him is Mini, the stereotypical queen bitch, but she never addresses him directly with insults or something; we just know from Rich and Alo's words that she's mean to them, as she is to almost everyone anyway.
So, nothing worth of note here.

. Ellie Nash (Degrassi High)

Knowledge of the subculture
None. As usual, once they've dealt with the clothing, they think the work is pretty much done.

High. Absent father, alcoholic mother, bullied at school, she starts self harming. As these problems come to a resolution, her outfits progressively tone down until she's not an alternative anymore.

Others' reactions
Well, this show is quite aged, so of course her taste in clothing caused quite a lot of scandal.  I can't remember that well, because I saw it many many years ago, but I recall the popular girl bullying her.

. Ashley Kerwin (Degrassi High)

Knowledge of the subculture
See above. Very nice taste in clothing, though.

Quite high.
She used to be one of the cool kids, until she accidentally took drugs and accidentally made out with someone even though she had a boyfriend. She's labeled as a slut and abandoned by her former friends. As a reaction, and after meeting Ellie above, she starts wearing goth clothes.
The Degrassi Wikia literally says (I'm quoting):
"Her harsh style refelcted her bitterness and resentment towards her former friends."
She quits goth as she finds a nice boy to settle with.

Others' reactions
She's already an outsider and her style makes things worse: her classmates even call her a "vampire". Her boyfriend would like to see her get rid of all her goth stuff and she answers that if he doesn't like her as he is, she doesn't want to date him. Which would be great, except "a goth" isn't really who she is, since she quits her style soon after this break-up and takes inspiration from her next boyfriend's indie rock clothes.

. Aria Montgomery (Pretty Little Liars)

Knowledge of the subculture
They're not even trying, but I mean, it's PLL, they're not even trying with pretty much everything, so.
In the books she actually says she's been through a "punk" phase, but clearly the author doesn't have a clue what punk might be.

She actually wasn't troubled by the time she went through her punk phase, but that doesn't mean anything 'cause in the books we come to know that she's had many "phases" in her life and that she couldn't chose one.
So, yes, punk has absolutely no connection with her issues, but to her it's a phase she soon grows out of. By the time she comes back to Rosewood (after her father's sabbatic year in Iceland) she has long dismissed her old clothes and those pink streaks on her hair - she even seems ashamed of them the first time we see her on PLL.
This is the "alternative is just a phase in teen years" bullshit taken to the extreme.

Others' reactions
Her parents actually encourage her to find her true self, no matter what she might be. But her friend Emily, after one year apart, still remembers those pink streaks and when she talks about Aria's return with her mother, the latter says something along the lines of "doesn't she have parents? I don't understand that family, letting her go around with those pink streaks in her hair". It's true that Emily's mother's the Bigoted Character at the beginning of the show, but it's also true that Aria herself looks at those pink streaks with shame. So.

. Alex Dunphy (Modern Family)

Knowledge of the subculture
... I have to say this one really disgusted me. There was no intent of writing a goth character at all, so she just did the sterotypical stuff teen goths in tv shows do: wearing black clothes, being rude with her family, hanging around with goth friends (which she didn't have until the other day, but suddenly she's all BFF with all the goths in the neighbourhood, which are as much as a stereotype as she is), doing "rebellious" stuff such has shaving her hair just to prove her badass goth friend how badass she is - and the worst thing is that her goth friend actually does judge her basing on how many "rebellious" stuff Alex can manage to do. Thank you so much for this wonderful service you're doing us, Modern Family: "scary" and "weird" wasn't enough, you needed to add "posers", "bullies" and "judgy". 

Well, Alex's always been quite the outsider at school 'cause she's a nerd, she always gets high grades and she has no interest in clothing, make-up and boys (until some point, where all her amazing feminist speeches about how a girl doesn't need a boy to feel fulfilled are flushed down the toilet, 'cause feminism can't be a positive thing that lasts for longer than a "phase" and God forbid a woman can have a happy fulfilling life without a man). 
And let me add a side note on the horrible dichotomy the authors created with Alex and her sister Haley: Haley is very attractive, so she's portrayed as a shallow shopaholic and party girl who eventually gets kicked out of the only college she had miraculously managed to get in, she's dumb and she's quite mean with whoever isn't "popular"; goes without saying, she never leaves her sister alone. Alex is a quite average looking girl, she's a nerd, she despises her sister for not being intellectual enough and she takes proud in not being into all the superficial stuff her popular sister likes; she's proud that her life doesn't revolve around appearance like her sister's, as if caring about one's appearance was the worst thing one could ever do; except she changes her mind when she starts to take an interest in the other sex.
So much girl hate, slut shaming and special snowflake syndrome in just one show. They should really be ashamed.
But let's leave that aside because I could go on for hours about those two. Let's focus on Alex and her really brief goth phase.
When she appeared as you see her in the picture, I thought: ooh, yes. That's her natural evolution. I've met many girls who've found a way to get out of their roles of outsiders by becoming alternative and thus finding a way to have a style that wasn't necessarily the mainstream one.
Also, didn't she look terrific with that smokey make-up and that dark lipstick? I think goth makes people prettier, not uglier. But that's just me.
Eventually, I realized that she was just reacting to her sister leaving for college, and that she was trying to catch her attention and to send a message.
She literally quits the style in one episode time: in the end, her super mean goth friend who will only accept her if she does extreme things (apparently shaving a few hair is a huge deal in Modern Family) runs away from her house screaming that she never wants to see her again because Alex's mother has accidentally ruined her hair.
But Alex herself points out that she had never liked that girl anyway, 'cause goth characters can't be positive, keep that in mind.
I was seriously offended by this episode. All the things they could do wrong in representing alternative kids, they did.

Others' reactions
As she sees her, Haley starts yelling about how ashamed she is that she has a freak as a sister.
Her mother points a finger at her clothes in a quite accusing way and asks her if "this is about your new friend", because, you know, goth kids have such few personality that anyone who passes them by has the ability to influence them at such point. And I so, so hoped Alex would've proved her mother wrong, but nope. This show is written by bigoted adults after all, and we all know how bigoted adults see alternative teenagers.
Her mother also suggests that she might be doing this so that the cool kids would accept her, being again extremely condescending towards her daughter's choices.
She's so mature as an adult that she gives Alex's friend the nickname "Morticia", 'cause you know, it's super ok to give a kid a stupid nickname when you're a parent and you're twice her age, 'cause she's a goth and you've decided that since a goth she must be mean.

. Chloe McGruff (Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23)

Knowledge of the subculture
We don't know: all we see is this picture of when she was younger. Actually, it's the only time we see her like that, and that is a picture in a frame in her parents' house.

Hm, not bad I'd say. She has daddy and mommy issues.
She hates her mother because she draws her father's attention from her, and because when she was a child her mother was addicted to painkillers, wouldn't spend any time with her and never took her ice-skating or horseback riding; Chloe conveniently forgets that her mother was in a wheelchair.
She loves her father in a quite weird way, at the point that she would try to set him with her roommate just in order for him to cheat on her mother. She idolizes him and would always take his side.
When we see her, she's already grown out of her goth phase, even though it must be said that she surely hasn't solved her issues with her parents (and that her AMAZING outfits have kept some rockish, punkish and gothic vibes).

Others' reaction
We can't know.
[Fun fact: she's played by the same actress who plays Jane Margolis!]

Pheewww! Did you manage to read this far? :D
Of course this is only a list of the first characters that came to my mind; also, if you think I'm wrong about this of that character, I'd be glad to discuss it with you guys :).
Thank you for reading and have a nice day!

20 commenti:

  1. This was interesting even though I didn't recognize all characthers :D

    I really dont like how they created Dorrit Bradshaw. It's like.. she really just looks like a "baby bat alternative kid" from 2013, not 80-s at all O.o

    And I miss when Aria dressed more alternative, even though she wasn't truly a goth I really enjoyed some of her outfits in the first season.

    1. Thank you ^^
      Did you see "The Carrie Diaries"? I so agree with you, she wore clothes that were totally contemporary. Do they really think they sold skull prints in the eighties, or stuff like that...? Goth was really edgy at that time, either you were a goth (which meant combats, corsets, fishnets and REALLY heavy make-up) or you weren't. You'd never have seen outfits like Dorrit's.
      Aw, yes, Aria was so cute with those pink streaks on her hair <3 but she still wears weird stuff from time to time, one of my favourite things in PLL is looking at Aria's outfits XD

    2. Yes I watched some episodes but gave it up, I felt too old for the show :'D I couldn't relate to their problems.

    3. Yeah, well, they didn't really have many "problems" after all, that's why I couldn't relate either XD

  2. It's interesting that this stereotype predjudice goes on and on. Both in real life and on tv. When I read about these teenage caracters I thought of my own teens how I was judged by the way I looked when there were mainstream looking ones that had/were real troubles :P

    1. This is so true. I remember back in high school a girl spreading the rumour that I had mental problems, while she was the one who was known for faking a faint and falsely accusing a guy for rape, all in order to gain attention. But yeah, I was the one who had problems, because I wore black clothes. Oooook.

  3. I admit I did not read all of this post, since I don't know many of the characters you bring up. But I must say I disagree with the assessment of Sarah Manning from 'Orphan Black'.

    First - I don't remember her ever labeling herself as anything really (even though other characters in the show sometimes do), and I really don't see the need to either. Why does everyone who happens to dress in black and listen to different music than mainstream have to a) HAVE a label, and b) FIT PERFECTLY into that label? Lord knows I dressed in black and stayed away from mainstream music, but I never felt the need for a label.

    Secondly - She is a foster child raised by a stern woman in a foreign land. Why is she not allowed to have issues? The entire show is about clones - how untroubled do you expect them to be? And among all the different clones she is arguably (except for Cozima maybe) the one with the least problems.

    Thirdly - During the last few episodes of the (first) season, Sarah hardly had time to change clothes; Her daughter was in an accident and people were shooting at her, she was running all over the place trying to set things straight. And you are complaining about her not keeping up her goth (your word choice) look..? It is far more realistic her not having time to put on eye-liner or fix her hair.

    1. Uhm, first of all, hi, and thank you for commenting.

      Actually, Sarah at a certain point says "you were the one who introduced me to punk rock" to her foster mum, so yes, she does use a label on herself - a label in which she doesn't seem to really fit, because the authors didn't show a good knowledge of the punk culture.
      The point is not "having to" perfectly fit into one subculture, I myself don't really like labels and I don't feel like I belong to one single subcultre, much less I feel the need to. The point is bringing up a label because it sounded somehow cool and then showing no knowledge whatsoever of the subculture itself.

      I think you largely misunderstood what I was trying to say. If I had problems with people "who have issues", my favourite show wouldn't be Neon Genesis Evangelion :°D my problem is with alternatives in media always being the ones who have issues.

      And finally, my problem with Sarah is not her not having time to change clothes; it's her choosing to wear Beths'. In the first episode, she was wearing a quite edgy outfit; as she took on Beth's identity, she started to let go of her style, as if she was "growing out of it". I mean, she had her old clothes, why didn't she choose to wear them anymore?

      Aside from that; it seems to me like this analysis has kind of gotten to your nerves XD since you didn't even bother so say hi or use emoticons to tone down your words a little bit - you used capital instead, which in netiquette is basically screaming :) - and you sound kind of aggressive to me; I see no reason for that, since in the end we're talking about characters in a tv show. Characters and tv shows that I loved, just to be clear, so.

      By the way, thank you for reading and giving me your opinion ^^

    2. I'm sorry if I sounded aggressive, it was not my intention. When you reach 36 years of age, emoticons start to loose their meaning, and emphasis is difficult to accomplish in text. I apologize.

      That being said, I still disagree with your narrow analysis of some of these characters. I happen to love 'Orphan Black' and have written an article about the show. And it's just honest psychology that people who seek out different alternatives in clothing, music and presentation are often the same ones who don't always feel like they fit in, and the ones with honest issues.

      And lastly; Sarah (and some other clones) spent many episodes trying to pass as one of the other clones (most often as Alison) to fool someone. Styling herself in between would have been a waste of time at best, and getting in the way at worst.

      And this is for you: :)

    3. Hi again :)
      Well, maybe that didn't show from my analysis (which was strictly concerned over the representation of alternatives, not on the whole shows ^^) but I happen to *adore* Orphan Black :D and Sarah's also my favourite character in the show, so XD
      By the way, what you said about the choice of clothes and the presence of issues in a kid might not always be true; like, I love my style because I find it aesthetically agreeable, but I'm not trying to convey any messages, let alone to communicate my issues, supposing I had any XD.
      You know, I've seen a lot of alternatives pointing out that their choice of clothing is nothing but that: a choice of clothing, and that they find it condescending that people just assume that they do it because they have "troubles fitting in" or such stuff. It might be true in some cases, but that's because, well, issues are things that happen in life to everyone, including alternatives; aside from those cases, there's this stereotype about us that's starting to really annoy me.
      Also, that thing about the "phase" bothers me to no end, 'cause many of us do not get tired of our style as we grow older; to suggest that goth and punk and grunge or anything else are ok for kids and not ok for adults is just another prejudice and I'm kind of tired of prejudice against us ^^''.

    4. I totally agree with the "phase" thing. In many cases people are forced to change their look when getting a job where any "subculture" look (or even just a different look than the mainstream) is not accepted. This makes people think that these styles are something one "grows out of", something only teenagers do.

      When it comes to issues though, I can't think of one single person I have met who has a "subculture" look who doesn't have some issue or diagnosis (myself included). That is not saying that mainstream people don't have issues - they do too. But "issues" is a problematic concept in itself. Many "issues" according to society's standards are the healthier alternative according to me :)

      Lastly - I'm glad to meet a fellow lover of 'Orphan Black'!

    5. Well, of course you have met alternatives who have some issues, but that's because who doesn't have some :)? What I mean is that one shouldn't automatically *assume* that they're dressing like that because of those issues.

      :D I've loved Orphan Black, I can't wait for next season. I was so glad to find a show where the protagonist was such a badass woman, who could get by on her own without a man's help and who had the strength to handle her own troubles, and never gave up.
      Also, Tatiana Maslany is outstanding. You couldn't even tell that behind those different characters there was always the same person.

  4. Yuu could have spoken of rebecca from Californication also! She is quite interesting in this category I think, maybe not "goth" enough for your selection? :)

    1. Oh, no, that's not it ^^ actually this isn't a selection; I was just talking about the alternative characters from the shows I've watched, and I've never watched Californication, so I have no clue who this Rebecca girl might be :O.
      Do you reckon she may have this negative connotation that I've detected in the shows above? :)

    2. Hum sorry, I should have thought of this this of course, that's a good reason not to speak or her :)
      Actually she doesn't really have this negative connotation, she appears more as an intelligent and curious, cultured girl for her age, but she's definitely introvert, has some "depressed" moments, and all those aspects they usually associate with an alternative look. Guess that's hard to avoid this in a tv show as they just want to make us understand quite quickly who is a character. Anyway, your article is interesting, even if there are a lot of characters you're speaking about that I don"t know.

      (also, sorry for my mistakes, english isn't my mother tongue!)

    3. No problem ^^
      Yeah, that's it, most of the times it's just lazy writing: how can we let the audience understand that this kid is troubled, as quickly as possible? Ok, black clothes and heavy make-up sound like a good idea!
      Thank you for reading this "article" and commenting it ^^ and don't worry about your mistake, I'm not a native speaker of English either and I'm sure I've made a lot myself XD

  5. "the Smiths do not belong to the goth subculture "

    Actually, they do. All the Goths I know in the 40 and up crowd (as in the one's who were teens in the late 70s and 80s) LOVE The Smiths. And, have done so since they were preteens. Some even were turned on to the band because they heard it played at their local alternative night. There wasn't a whole lot of genre nitpicking back then (unlike now). So, basically, what people now are mislabeling as "goth music" actually just was the dark alternative music of the 80s. The reason no one can really pin down the definition of Goth is because Goth as people define it today never existed. But, Alternative has existed for sometime and has only added more layers to itself since it's fledgling days in the 50s (ever heard of the Beatniks?). Goth simply was a term used by lazy music journalists in order to pigeonhole the amorphic alternative scene of the time (and therefore was able to create themselves a cash cow). The alternative crowd at the time loathed the term and vehemently rejected it (along with other equally as silly terms such as "positive punks" and "new wavers"). It's funny to see how things have changed. Honestly, I think the wide usage of the term goth instead of alternative really ruined things.

    1. Uhm, I like the Smiths too. That doesn't mean I should force them into a category they don't belong to. Gothic rock was a precise music genre and the Smiths' music has nothing to do with it, in terms of sound.

    2. "Uhm, I like the Smiths too. That doesn't mean I should force them into a category they don't belong to."

      Of course that's true if we're only talking about you liking them. However, being a favorite by most in the 80s goth/alternative scene and being played in alternative/goth clubs back in the 80s does give them ties to the Goth scene. And, therefore, it does give them rights to the Goth title (I use alternative and goth interchangeably because the true definition of Goth is synonymous with the definition of alternative).

      "Gothic rock was a precise music genre and the Smiths' music has nothing to do with it, in terms of sound."

      Oh puh-lease, the legitimacy of Goth actually being a genre has been debated by pretty much everyone for the last 33 years. Anyway, there isn't an actual "goth sound". Gothic is an aesthetic and in certain genres there are bands who evoke this aesthetic. The Goth/Alternative subculture is a giant umbrella encapsulating all of these bands.

      As poignantly illustrated by Mitch Clem:

      "Goth" is only precise when people want to distance something from the goth subculture that would potentially give it bad press (i.e. Marilyn Manson). But like I said in previous time people didn't genre nitpicking like people do now. Alternative kids in the 80s listened to everything from Einstürzende Neubauten to Cabaret Voltaire to Klaus Nomi to The Cure.

    3. >being a favorite by most in the 80s goth/alternative scene and being played in alternative/goth clubs back in the 80s does give them ties to the Goth scene.

      They might give them ties, but the truth is that their music is different from the classically labeled "gothic music". Goths nowadays like, say, the Dresden Dolls, but would you say the Dresden Dolls are a gothic rock group? I wouldn't :).

      >Oh puh-lease

      Ok, if you want to comment in my blog, you're going to need to avoid such a patronizing attitude. We can discuss without being condescendent to each other.
      That said, gothic does not solely revolve around aesthetics; actually, the main point of the subculture was actually the music. Goths gathered in clubs, not in stores. So the sound *is* a very important part of the definition; I'd say the most important one.