There are lots of debates about what ‘goth’ culture actually is. Some goths love the stereotypes. Some goths rebel against the stereotypes. Some goths don’t care. As far as I can see, none of that matters. We all have a general idea of what the subculture stands for even if we don’t agree on the specifics.
Some people have said that the goth subculture represents a revival of romanticism. It’s basically about emotional authenticity and valuing all emotions, even some of the most negative ones. Goths do focus on the dark side of life, including the parts of life that a lot of people like to ignore and the parts of life that a lot of people like to rationalize away. People all have different ways of coping with their own mortality. Goths deny that avoiding the subject altogether is the best way of going about it.
Goths have a tendency to focus on a lot of the darker and creepier things that humanity has invented in order to cope with mortality. This is partly a matter of us trying to find new ways to cope with it ourselves. It’s also just partly about liking the dramatic aspects of everything dark and ghoulish. If you’re a person who wants to be able to really experience emotions authentically in a culture that tries to suppress them, than focusing on almost anything dramatic is a good way to bring all of that out.
Goths have a tendency to like a lot of stuff that’s old-fashioned in some ways, which is also a part of rejecting certain aspects of modern culture and reviving some aspects of nineteenth century romanticism. People who are interested in the goth subculture have a tendency to care more about fitting into their own personal vision of how they should look than the one that’s currently popular.
Being a goth isn’t about having a style that no one else has. People often use goths as a symbol of the notion that people who are rebelling against the ‘system’ are just conforming in a different way. They’re misinterpreting what goths are about, and confusing us with some hippies. It’s not about rejecting the entire system. It’s about rejecting certain parts of it. The obsession with denying that the dark side of life exists has real consequences. Encouraging people to suppress all feelings that aren’t positive or socially sanctioned is a problem. The goth subculture is about letting go of that aspect of the mainstream culture.