Hey there, Internet!
So when I uploaded the 15 words for your next goth festival in Germany video to Youtube I mentioned the word ‘Grufti’ and the discussion happening on that term amongst german goths. Afterwards I received quite a lot (compared to the number of views for that video) mails of non-German people asking for more information on this, I answered, short way. But maybe this requires a bit more background information than just the two sentences I sent to them.
You probably have seen people arguing about what is goth / gothic and what is not. There are several great books on that topic in general and on how ‘everything began’ in the 1980’s including informations on post-punk and new wave, so I won’t go into the details here.
The word Grufti according to the Duden / German dictionary is decribed as:
Jugendlicher, der schwarz gekleidet, mit schwarz gefärbtem Haar und weiß geschminktem Gesicht auftritt und (zusammen mit Gleichgesinnten) besonders Friedhöfe als Versammlungsort wählt
Vaguely: Young person, black dressed, black dyed hair and wearing white make up who especially likes to gather (with kindred spirits) at cemetaries. Funny sidenote, the other use for that word is for really old people, ‘Gruft’ means ‘crypt’ in German so you probably can see why.
In Germany there is the collective word ‘Schwarze Szene’ (black scene) which holds a lot of darkly inclined sub-cultures (and ttheir sub-sub-cultures). The explanation from the German dictionary pretty much would imply not all members of the Schwarze Szene are Gruftis, a lot of people agree with that, others use the term simply as German equivalent for goth.
Some goths see the term ‘Grufti’ as an insult, maybe due to the other explanation in the dictionary, maybe due to it being adapted as description for the subculture by mainstream magazines and media of all kind with articles that quite often consist of prejudice, made up ideas or stereotypes, leading to stultify of an individual or the subculture in general.
My opinion (short) – To me the discussion of what makes a Grufti and what not is a bit strange, exactly like the entire goth discussion. Sure the word itself described the ‘average’ member of the subculture back in the days but those people and the subculture itself changed and kind of evolved. So maybe there is some elitism (as in ‘points’ for looking, behaving a certain way, listening to only that kind of music) going on on something that seems not to be exactly clear in its own definition? If it would be all about the look, sure, it would be quite easy to tell but then again isn’t the goth community as well as the schwarze szene proud to be free minded and brimming with creativity? I mean, even with the describtion from the dictionary, would people lose all their points when they would not like cemetaries or maybe have bleached hair instead of black or not putting on makeup on a lazy day?
Do you have an opinion on this term? Are there other words, maybe in other languages, that you have heard of similar debates? Have a nice evening!