As a hardcore sceptic, conspiration theories, mechanism of gullibility and human stupidity has always been my favourite debate topics, but I have never written on them here for they aren’ fit in this blog’s policy. But there is always a first time, now I have found the contact point of con-theos and the dark-alternative subcultures: the case of Amy Mah.
Amy Mah is a thirty years old writer, who has started the business three years ago, has published several paperback books and hosts a succesful blog (her books on Amazon.com). Her style can be called metafiction; this narrative technique constantly raises the reader’s awarness on the fact that the artifact is merely an artifact. Usually this technique doesn’t let the reader get involved in the story, but combined with diary-like narrative the effects turn to the opposite, it becomes uncannily realistic.
A paralel example for easier understanding: metafiction is when characters in a film nows and tells they are in a film. This results in the viewer not believing what they see – except when it is a found footage film, in witch case it only enhances the sense of reality.
This technique can be demanding, as the autor basically has to be an actor, has to live the life of the character whose point of view the story is written (the guy with the camera), and has to tell the story with the words and style of that character.
Amy Mah uses the point of view of a sarcastic teenage vampire who has to face similar problems to human teenagers: friends, boyfriends, love, sex, adults and acne (caused by sunlight here). The books got mixed reviews: some say there isn’t enough description and backstory written, others say metafiction doesn’t even need descriptions. Some say it’s too explicit for children and too simple for adults, others claim that it’s the very meaning of Young Adult Fiction. I haaven’t read the books myself, only the blod, and my oppinion is that Amy is far from being Anne Rice YET, but she has talent and potential to create something great and beautiful.
Where’s the problem?
It’s a beginning of a beautiful carreer, you may say, why do I think it’s strange in any way?
The reason is that some of the critical voices, most of them actually aims not the books but the author. It seems that an innocent piece of teen-vampire-literature could outraged the so called vampire communities so much that the Facebook- and interne pages of Amy are constantly reported, her publisher was threatend to be sued, and she even got several death threats.
The most bizarre detail of the story are the reasons: the “real” vampires consider the books dangerous to their community because
- it ridicules real vampires
- it can stimulate mortals believing they’re vampires thus endangering their and other’s life, by jumping off somewhere thinking they can fly or going on a murdering spree in order to get blood,
- it is giving away the thousands years old secrets of the vampire community.
Erhmagerd, I don’t have enough hands to do the proper nuber of facepalms here.
I really intended to argue sensibly and give logical reasons, but for fuck’s sake…
Real vampires? Like REAL vampires? Whattehell?
I have seen things in my short life. I have seen my granny raising funds to free a fictional slave girl of a soap opera (note: a brasil soap opera titled A Escrava Isaura was a popular one in my country and elderly women giving all their money to free the main character was a real cultural and economic problem.); people tried to convince me that the Lich King and Slenderman (!) lives under the city lake in my hometown; one of my classmates firmly believed that she is married to Uchiha Itachi; and I know a girl who is deeply convinced that she is the Emperess of Lebanon and the last heiress of Árpád-house (firsd royal dinasty of my country). It’s hard to impress me, I know that reality and the wits of people are flexible. But this one is, just…
Who are these people anyway? It is hard to believe that there are people on earth who thinks they’re vampires, so before writting a raging article of passion I asked an expert, Anthony Hogg.
(I don’t have to emphasize they’re not real vampires, as vampires, in the mythological meaning of the word does not exist – right?)
Mr. Hogg told me that tese “vampire communities” brings together people who can identify themselves with the traditional or novel image of vampires.
So here’s a list of their ilks:
- Normal people of the subculture – perfectly normal and innocent people who adore vampire literature and folklore and the whole dark-alternative subculture grown around it. They have never claimed to be a vampire in the mythological sense.
- Roleplayers – moderately normal and perfectly innocent people who play vampire roleplay games like The Masquerade, or games they have made up. They regulary claim to be vampires, but they know it’s only a make-believe for them.
- Energy Vampires – They claim to be able to absorb and feed on the life energy of others. Well, I’m sceptic, and will never believe something unmeasurable and undemonstrable, but I can’t blame the believers – it’s more of a belief, a religion, than anything else. The idea of energy-vampirism is not a new thing, pcych’s of the 1930’s came up with it, it’s like the dark and evil twin of the energy-healing.
- Otherkin – This interesting subculture would deserve more publicity; it’s almost like a mixture of animism and LGBT culture. It’s members, like transgender people, believe that their soul was born in a wrong body, but instead of missing the gender they missed the species. So (unlike some of the types below) they know that they are humans, but claim that their soul is of a wolf/turtle/bat/unicorn/dragon, or, as expected, a vampire.
- Modern day vampires – Hard stuff. They believe to be real vampires, but in their system of believes the immortality and the blooddrinking are merely symbolical stuff: Immortality is in fact reincarnating again and again, thus has to “wake up” in every single life, and bloodsucking is a ritual of absorbing life energy (like energy-vampires do), where only some drops of real blood is enough. To be honest this one looks like a religion as well, but with somehow more complex mythology and rituals.
- Sangvinarians – It means exactly as you would think: people who regulary consume blood for any reasons. Opposite of “energy vampires”.
- Traditional vampires – The dead end. They claim to be hundreds or even thousands of years old mytical creatures who are feed on human blood and burned by sunlight. Seems totally legit.
Some psychologists call these beahiour VPD syndrome (Vampire Personality Disorder), commonly known as Renfield-syndrome, however, the offical position callifies the aformentioned conditions as schizophrenia and parasexuality (ill-conditioned cases of sexuality).
Long story short, Amy Mah is threatend by the craziest elements of this particular subculture, and their only reason is not being able to understand the concept of fiction.
Yes, there are people jumping off the third floor after watching Dragon Ball believing they can fly (tragic and memorable incident in our country, after which Dragon Ball was banned on TV), and yes, there are people who feel the urge to go on a killing spree after listening to The Beatles’ Helter Skelter (like Charles Manson), or reading The Catcher in the Rye (like Mark David Chapman, murderer of John Lennon), but in these cases something went horribly wrong in their heads way before getting in contact the “triggering” piece of art.
And yes, there are idiots who believe everything they read, so go on searching for the descendants of Jesus, or extraterrestrials in New Jersey, or vampires in New Orleans.
But this is not normal.
In the twenty-first century it’s not normal for a fantasy-writer to be afraid because of her works.
(On the other hand, people taking a piece of art so seriously is a great achievement for an artist – aster all, Orson Welles was also laughing inside while apologising for the panic his radio drama triggered.)
Why am I writting about this
Apart from finding amusement in the dark and twisted logic of clinically insane.
Browsing through the discourse on Amy’s books I have came across comments several times where brave defendants of the “real” vampires used the word “gothic” as the synonym for their vampire subculture, and this made me think. I know I have been fiercely arguing against excluding people of our subculture merely for not agreeing with their deeds, but this is just…
It’s one step too far.
As none of the dark-alternative subcultures are about depression, none of them are about lying/believing to be a thousands years old mythical creature – both are existing and serious psychiatric conditions in need of treatment. A subculture can’t be organised around an illness!
Of course, the vampire subculture is real, and (within reasonable limits) there’s nothing wrong with it, it sure shares elements and even members with the gothic community – but if you believe to be thousand of years old and need blood to stay alive, or that every written word is true, please, don’t hesitate to see your doctor!