Goth's Dark Empire by Carol Siegel
As I mentioned in my discussion of A Bang, a Whimper and a Beat by Karen Collins, I completely love it when I find academic studies of "non-academic" or subculture things that are important to me. I came across Carol Siegel's work when I heard that she'd written a book that not only discussed industrial music, but Trent Reznor, the man behind Nine Inch Nails. I proceeded to track this e-book down with a ferocity that is only seen from me when it is about Nine Inch Nails, Marvel fanfiction, or a new piece of technology.
Happily, this book did not disappoint! Siegel positions herself as a cultural historian, and I think that's a good way to describe what this is - a cultural history of the goth subculture which, for better or mostly worst, came to the forefront from many misconceptions about the Columbine shooters. I was "vaguely goth" in high school, but I am sensitive to defending it now (even though I don't identify with the subculture) as a lot of the music I do like is associated with it and gets lumped in with the misconceptions. I've actually blogged about this before, about the dangers of stereotyping people based on the music they listen to.
Siegel looks at the goth subculture as a way to resist cultural forces of sexual normalcy, including the various values placed on abstinence, goth male masochism
(including Trent Reznor) and Poppy Z. Brite, femme masculinities, and Asian-American goth masculinities.
I love the way that Siegel draws comparisons and connections between artistic works, the goth subculture, and music that I listen to (sometimes daily!). It made me look at works I'd taken for granted in whole new ways. For example, in her discussion of Revolting Cocks' cover [video not safe for work] of Rod Stewart's Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? (a cover which is, incidentally, on heavy rotation on my phone), Siegel frames the subversive effects of this reworking:
Siegel takes a song that I listen to often and enjoy and gives it context within the framework of industrial music and goth culture. Her work is also peppered with gems about subjects that I did not expect before reading the book - I didn't expect to read one of the best arguments against abstinence-only sex education I've ever read in a book about goths!
Anything involving Trent Reznor is going to be close to my heart, but this book earned its place on the "reread" list for the future.
Character (50%): Similarly to A Bang, a Whimper and a Beat goth culture itself fills the role of a "character," making this appeal factor strong for me in this work. Additionally, Trent Reznor's influence is seen throughout the whole work - indeed, Siegel states at the start that she enjoys his work. I sought this book out in my ongoing quest for any academic works about Nine Inch Nails, and enjoyed seeing this take on his own artistic works.
Language (50%): This is another work wherein I specifically enjoyed the academic tone, and enjoyed reading something dense and scholarly about a subject personally close to me.
Since this is a survey as opposed to an argumentative non-fiction work, story is not a main appeal factor for this work. Setting does not play a role in why this book appealed to me, either.