5 Goth Women of Film (And Why We Love Them)


I was walking in the mall the other day when I noticed Hot Topic was having its 25th anniversary. Had it really been two and half decades since I first started thinking horribly depraved things about its staff of part-time Suicide Girls? Apparently, it had. But in reality, I've been fascinated by darkly different women my entire life. Certain women came off the screen and spoke to me before I even had a distinct concept of sex or sexuality.

5 Goth Women of Film (And Why We Love Them)
Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images


A few years ago, Nathan Rabin coined the phrase "manic pixie dream girl" to describe the spate of quirky, unrealistic female characters that were dominating (and continue to dominate) scripts often drafted by men who have no true conception of women. Why do I mention that? No good reason actually, because I'll be doing no such thing here. No such consistent analysis is possible for the goth women of cinema. Yes, there have always been darkly sexual women on film, and it doesn't matter what you call them -- goth, punk, emo, bohemian-- they are the alternative to conventional beauty and charm. Still you can't group them all under one heading like "manic pixie dream girls," because they are more of an inkblot. Their ever-changing appeal depends on the viewer.

Are you impressed? Did you like that analysis? Good, because if it's alright with you, I'd like to now follow my personal timeline, counting off, chronologically, the goth chicks that drove me to distraction from birth to today, along with an analysis of their special appeal.

The Wicked Queen From Snow White

So I guess it started here when I was about three or four. It's like the old Woody Allen joke from Annie Hall where he says all the little boys fall for Snow White, but he was instantly attracted the evil Queen:

But that always made sense to me. Yes, you'd have to agree that the Queen (in her non-crone form) is stunningly attractive. Big eyes, high cheek bones, defined lips, and seemingly a killer bod underneath all those black capes. But even if you overlook that she's murderous and cruel and, y'know, evil, there's another reason she's hot.

What's the Attraction?

The key to lusting after the Queen lies in rejecting Snow White. Sure that magic mirror says Snow White's the fairest of them all, but clearly that mirror is a silly nancyboy/pedophile, because Snow White is bland and frightened and, most of all, very much a child. She's a cute little girl. Sweet and unassuming, and with a big round face like a baby's. The Queen is a woman. The question is what speaks more to your sexuality: women or girls? Are you the type of guy who hits on the Vampiress on Halloween or the Sexy Girl Scout? Yes, the freak is YOU. You're the pervert here (Weirdo).

5 Goth Women of Film (And Why We Love Them)

"Who's the fairest again, you twisted magic mirror pedo?"

Catwoman From Batman

I don't know about you, but when I was about five or six, they used to show reruns of the old Batman TV show from the '60s on syndicated television. I was too young to realize how campy it was and how much it sucked. To me, it was just a superhero show I loved, one in which people got beat up a lot. But even though I was too young to appreciate its complete lack of quality dialogue or dramatic structure, I apparently wasn't too young to respond to the incredibly sexy BDSM vibe of Julie Newmar's Catwoman.

5 Goth Women of Film (And Why We Love Them)


What's the Attraction?

Although not specifically stated, it's pretty clear that Newmar's Catwoman is a dominatrix. She dresses in black leather, likes tying dudes up as captives, and has a bunch of men minions to do her bidding. Newmar took an active role in designing her own costume to accentuate her long legs and tiny waist. She knew what she was doing. And also like a dominatrix, she seems to be engaging in all the bad behavior solely for her sub -- in this case, Batman. All her acting out, all her schemes, all this crime, is ultimately just to let Batman be the hero, which is the only way a guy like Adam West's Batman is really going to get off. There's no question that Newmar's sexy. The only question is: why was I responding to it at five years old?

5 Goth Women of Film (And Why We Love Them)

Pictured above: 80-year-old Julie Newmar looking fantastic and responding to me informing her she was my first real crush at five years old (Also, my face appears to have been flattened with a shovel moments before this picture was taken).

Lydia Deetz From Beetlejuice

Well, I got older, and as everyone except Cracked's own Felix Clay does, I went through puberty. And that was around the time Beetlejuice came out. Now, I was never into Winona Ryder, or even that movie really, but any list of gothy ladies of cinema would have to include this character.

5 Goth Women of Film (And Why We Love Them)

Of course, the youngsters in the audience might know Ms. Ryder better from the nine seconds she was on film in Star Trek.

What's the Attraction?

Well, here's the interesting thing about Ryder's character in Beetlejuice. She's kind of a mix of the Queen from Snow White and Snow White herself. I mean, like the Queen, she's all in black and clearly rejects the kind of charming girl-next-door cutesiness of Snow White. But while the Queen or Catwoman would eat you alive, she's tiny and frail. She couldn't lash out with anything more than an eye roll. So she's like a happy medium for guys who want that dark dangerous chick, but are huge wussies frightened by grown women.

5 Goth Women of Film (And Why We Love Them)

Vicki Vallencourt From The Waterboy

OK, I was a man when The Waterboy came out. The year was 1998. It was a magical time, when we believed Adam Sandler movies could be funny and a cameo appearance by Rob Schneider would not yet make us cringe with embarrassment from the wacky things he had to say about the pharmaceutical industry. As you probably know, The Waterboy tells the story of a backwards, backwater waterboy with a talent for tackling. He overcomes an oppressive mom and bullying teammates to become a football hero.

And how does it do it? With the help of his hot-as-balls goth girlfriend Vicki Vallencourt, played by Fairuza Balk.

5 Goth Women of Film (And Why We Love Them)

Super old dudes in the audience might remember Ms. Balk from her role as Dorothy in the craptastic Return to Oz.

What's the Attraction?

Well, let's state the obvious:

5 Goth Women of Film (And Why We Love Them)

Picture above: the first photograph to file a restraining order against me.

But there's something more important about the Vallencourt character. She fights for the underdog. This is a spin on the Winona Ryder character above. Instead of taking a dangerous goth girl and making her a cutesy, cuddly anime character like Ryder so that weak dudes wont be frightened, Vallencourt ups the ante on her badassness and make her a protector of weak dudes. Brilliant.

Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With Dragon Tattoo

Maybe you saw the original Swedish movies with Noomi Rapace, or maybe you saw the American version with Rooney Mara. It doesn't matter, because the character is Lisabeth Salander, the badass rape victim hacker seeking justice. She is a fist. She is tough as nails. She is bisexual, and based on appearances alone, might appear to only be interested in women. She is the most recent entry on this list chronologically, but she is also number one because she is not made for men. She is her own woman, and a challenge.

5 Goth Women of Film (And Why We Love Them)

And she comes in two flavors!

What's the Attraction?

Some goth women wear all the right dark and dangerous clothes, but at the end of the day, it's just another form of dressing up. They've traded in the leather jacket for the smart cardigan. Their blue hair is just another form of blonde beauty pageant cut. But Lisbeth dresses mostly to keep people away.

The appeal of Lisbeth -- aside from being impossibly tough and an incredible computer hacker -- is that she is a challenge. She dares you to see the beauty under the tats and piercings. She dares you to find the soft curves of a women beneath the leather. And if you can meet that challenge and see that appeal, then maybe she will give herself over to you, not as a trophy, not as a savior, but as an equal partner.



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