1. High school sucked.
This is a universal. Being a teen is hard, which is why I’m in my twenties and still talking about it. Alas.
2. Especially if you were a mall goth.
Add “insane From First to Last worship” and “multiple Vampire Freaks profiles.”
3. Fortunately, Hot Topic existed.
Like how Urban Outfitters became a suburban hipster haven, Hot Topic was (and is!) the go-to for all your alternative clothing needs. Instead of an eye contact showdown between you and your enemy clique in the food court, you could escape here, listen to Christian metalcore, and paint your nails black. It ruled.
4. But have you noticed that, like, it’s totally different now?
In the past, it would have been Paramore standing in front of that Hot Topic–branded backdrop. They did have a song in one of the Twilight films, so maybe they’re onto something…
This dude isn’t even wearing the right kind of makeup.
I just learned that mall haul videos are a thing, and they’re destroying America. There was a reason PacSun is situated directly across the mall hallway from each Hot Topic: It’s supposed to be a face-off. You don’t shop at other stores. Get off our turf and we’ll stay off yours. Now everyone is, like, friends or something. But high school still sucks.
7. Articles like this are now void.
Alternate title: “How to Not Be Afraid at the Mall” followed by “If You Can’t Deal with Punks, How Will Your Mom Know to Go Into Hot Topic and Buy You All the Things.” They’ve made Hot Topic unintimidating, so instead of commodifying a subculture, they’ve made it more lucrative: It’s a subculture for everybody!
8. Employees have gone from looking like this…
Pretty sure facial piercings and/or spiderweb tattoos were, like, a prerequisite or something. At least they’re smiling! These guys totally would’ve been at my lunch table in high school.
What kind of hardworking individual would you be if you didn’t wear things exclusively from your place of employment?
10. …to this.
I mean, these dudes do look like they’re having a ball, but come on. There are so many colors!
11. Shoppers used to look like this…
The subtext: Everything they owned came from Hot Topic. It’s like they were born in there, or they waited for someone to bring them mesh shirts before stepping outside.
12. …and now they look like this.
Nothing against this kid, but he totally looks like he’s doing some back-to-school shopping. And wandered into the wrong store/world.
13. Even the store looks different now.
Oh, spiderweb vault, how I miss you. How I still fear I will one day lose my friend with the stupid nickname and end up trapped inside you forever. At least it’s not Spencer’s Gifts, right? No horror film paraphernalia?
16. LOOK AT ALL OF THOSE LIGHTS
Are the walls white?! The walls are white! I bet they’re blasting Taylor Swift in there. Whyyyyy?
17. Moms are totes down.
I remember my mom yelling at me when I bought a My Chemical Romance hoodie that had guns on it from Hot Topic. She called it the “weird kid store” and, more often than not, asked me why I wasn’t normal. She never wanted to go inside the store with me and the few times she did, she asked the employees why they would “choose” to “self-mutilate” (that’s mom for “have a nose piercing”).
18. Clothing has shifted from cool ’90s goth…
This is even too extreme for me, so I’ll just leave it here.
23. …to Sanrio things…
This is still cool, because Japan is cool, and Japanese things are cool.
24. …to full-on rave gear.
It probably happened at the moment Sonny Moore shed his emo exterior/flatiron and was reborn as Skrillex, but somewhere down the line, wearing black and going unseen was replaced with attention-grabbing(/seeking) neon colors.
Why this is an image of the signing of the Declaration of Independence with computers, I am not sure.
26. Even bands began being like “wtf.”
New Jersey post-hardcore outfit Thursday began making these shirts, mocking the very culture they were a part of. They had no idea that this shit would take off.
27. This is not a black T-shirt.
It looks like someone threw up on a Saved by the Bell PowerPoint presentation.
28. Someone even gave Perez Hilton his own clothing line.
Who did this? Why did they do this?
35. These are the most normal/well-adjusted looking people to ever walk into a Hot Topic.
36. The music has changed too.
Choice song titles: “Bulimic,” “Buried Myself Alive,” “A Box Full of Sharp Objects,” “Poetic Tragedy.” And of course, the hidden track, “Choke Me.”
I remember actually asking my dad to take me to see Cannibal Corpse, and he said no. I thank him for that every day.
38. Because more people prefer this…
Take a bunch of screamo frontmen and tell them to make a pop-punk record. They’ll do it, and they’ll make it painfully sweet.
40. R.I.P. Abrasive Music
And your beautifully violent imagery that goes against virtually every school’s dress code.
41. There’s now a “pop culture” tab on the Hot Topic website.
Which specializes in the cute stuff everyone loves.
42. Where you can enter to win themed stuff from the most popular prime-time television program.
If this means nerds everywhere are considered cool/entertaining now, I’m down. Progress looks good on you, Hot Topic.
43. Hot Topic was founded by some bro, but has been run by women since 2000.
You know, when it started to get popular. Betsy McLaughlin’s reign lasted until 2011, when she was replaced by Lisa Harper. She was dedicated to making Hot Topic accessible to everyone.
44. She went on to found the super-hip “Torrid,” a mall chain for plus-size ladies.
Seriously, this woman is committed to making the teenage experience easier. Hats off to her!
45. So here’s to you, Hot Topic…
May you continue to supply us with copies of Alternative Press magazine and obnoxious shades of eyeliner.
46. And the future ironic appreciation you’ll surely bestow upon tweens everywhere (America).
Is that a Celine Dion poster?