Goth is most easily described as a subculture, which emerged in the early eighties from a fraction of the punk culture. The term “Goth” was probably first coined by Anthony Wilson, the manager of Joy Division who reportedly depicted the band’s music, when compared with then contemporary popular music, as “Gothic” (Gothic, of course, is a much older word, but when Wilson used it to describe the work of Joy Division it was suddenly used to define music, which later led it to define a new, still thriving culture).
Another version tells us that the term Goth was first made up by Ian Astbury in describing Andi Sex Gang as “Gothic Pixies”, and that the term was then spread to common knowledge by frequent use in the British music magazine NME.
Some elements often noted about modern Goth and those involved with the culture are, for example, the typical music, art and literature, the use of dark clothing, piercing, extraordinary hair styling and makeup. The symbolism is also an important factor and many wear symbols like crosses (Christian or others), the Ankh (an ancient Egyptian symbol), pentacles (Wiccan, inverted etc) or other symbols.
Many Goths are also pacifistic and firm believers in non-violence, which is important to keep in mind considering the recurring mistakes made by media when connecting Goth with acts of violence or assault. These accusations are generally faulty and based on bad or non-existent research.
Inherited from the punk scene was the tendency among Goth followers to distance themselves from, if not entirely reject, society, and to do this by presenting themselves in ways which affronted others, such as wearing shocking (often dark) attires or clothes. This inclination is however no absolute trait among those part of the Goth culture; today the overall attitude is more about not blindly accept what society tells you to do.
In the late eighties and early nineties, movies such as The Crow and Edward Scissorhands and similar films helped the culture grow and to give it a reputation as dark, eerie and even violent. Even though this isn’t true, the success of the films led many to find their own way to the actual Goth culture, and today there is a community in nearly every large city around the world.