THIS. I saw a post the other day that literally said if you do it to a fictional character, you’ll do it in real life.
No. Just NO.
I’m so glad someone put it into words.
In art, we can be fucking nuts.
Tag Archives: darkfic
if you’re going to urge people to think critically about the media they consume, you must accept that they might do that and come to a different conclusion to you.
the phrase ‘think critically…’ all too often comes with an unspoken assumption of ‘…and you’ll adopt my opinion, which is the right one’ which is both arrogant and contrary to the initial suggestion.
let people come to their own conclusions. you don’t have to adopt, support, or even like them but you should respect them.
(also stop assuming that people haven’t already ~thought critically~ about the media they consume before you deigned to show up. condescending intellectual elitism is not a good look.)
Here’s a hot take: villains should be relatable.
Not every villain, not every time, and certainly not to everyone at once, but there should be moments. We should, occasionally, be able to see ourselves in the bad guys, be able to understand how they got there.
Because it reminds us not to fucking go there.
Antis who get upset about villains having relatable qualities (often couched as being “romanticized” or “woobified”) are people who cannot bear to ever think of themselves as having the capability of being wrong.
Every human alive is capable of being a horrible person. Relatable villains remind us to keep an eye on that shit.
the thing is,
if i wanted to fictionalize the story of my abuse. if i wanted to tell it properly, the way a good story should be told; tell it so that it would be believed, so it would be felt
i would have to make the reader fall in love with her, the way that i was in love with her.
i’d have to tell them about her eyes. the way that they were gold-brown, a color i didn’t know before her. the way her black hair erupted in the sun into shades of deep reds and golds.
i’d have to tell them about how she dropped things when she looked at me. how when her voice broke on the phone as she confessed to being scared, i felt my life realign to care for her. how she touched me with trembling hands and called me “beautiful”, and told me she didn’t deserve me. that she dreamt of me. how she told me she knew i could be better, knew i could be amazing.
tell them about the tingles that raced all over my skin when she cornered me in the dark tech booth and leaned into me all night, making excuses until she didn’t. how she almost kissed me in the abandoned hallways after school, and in the office she’d sneak into while I TA’d, and in the classroom after everyone had left, and how every time it happened my heart beat so hard I felt bruised.
i’d have to tell them how she finally kissed me and how she’d meant to leave after one kiss but she didn’t, bent down and kissed me again and whispered “you have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that”, i’d have to tell them that I said, “i think i might” and pulled her back in and felt the world fade away.
and then i’d have to tell them about the second time she kissed me, when I tried to pull her in again and she pressed both hands to my throat until lights flashed in front of my eyes, until i considered that she might really kill me as she told me not to touch her.
how she changed her mind about that two days later and threatened to leave me because i wasn’t assertive enough.
and how she laid in bed with me, petting my hair and reading the sherlock holmes novels with me the day after. how we read at the exact same rate, turned pages in unison and she told me her mind fit mine like a puzzle piece.
the problem with edward cullen, with christian grey, is not that we as readers are meant to love them. that is arguably the only thing that the books get right, is how wildly charismatic, how intense, how perfect an abusive relationship can look at first.
if i wanted to really tell the story of my abuse, i’d have to make them love her like i did and hate her like i did and fear her like i did and long to protect her like i did. i’d have to make them sick with confusion, literally sick, so twisted that even bleeding on the side of the road they’re not sure what went wrong or whose fault it was.
i want them to sympathize with her, because i did, extensively, running antiseptic over the places she cut me watching my phone on the counter so i’d know if she texted me. i want them to know how someone gets to the point of worrying about the person who is hurting them even as they’re still doing it.
if i told the story of my abuse and it was not romantic, if the reader was not in love, if some part of them does not try to make excuses for her, if they don’t try to turn the pieces around in their head to find a way to have the joy without the agony – if they don’t ache with longing for the good parts, i have told the story wrong.
how can we talk about abuse if we cannot talk about why people stay? how can we deny fiction’s ability to explore every fractal: maybe in some universe i fix her. maybe in some universe she kills me. maybe in some universe i kill her. maybe i write a hundred endings to the story. see if any of them bring us peace.
Your post brought up a common predicament for writers, how do you write characters with questionable/abhorrent beliefs without causing readers to assume they reflect your own?
Well, unless you are going to only write stories in which nice things happen to nice people, you are going to write stories in which people who do not believe what you believe show up, just like they do in the world. And in which bad things happen, just as they do in the world. And that’s hard.
And if you are going to write awful people, you are going to have to put yourself into their shoes and into their head, just as you do when you write the ones who believe what you believe. Which is also hard.
I think that knowing what you believe, writing fiction informed by what you believe, and knowing that your fiction has a moral grounding (if it does) is the best thing for an author. And not worrying about what readers think of you, any more than you’d worry about what your parents or lovers might think if they read your fiction.
It’s something that I thought a lot about a long time ago, when one young man killed his lover, and then killed himself, and tried to frame Sandman (and me) for it. And the conclusion I came to was that you have to be good in your heart with what you’ve written. And beyond that, you cannot worry.
(For the curious: http://neil-gaiman.tumblr.com/post/54466572210/rebloggable-by-request-on-responsibility Is a link to the time I wrote about it here on tumblr. And https://nothingbutcomics.net/2018/02/26/sandmanmurder/ is a blog entry by someone else that gives more background and news links.)
In Marius’ defence; getting very personal
First of all, there has been some confusion here on Tumblr as to what my intentions are with this post. If you read this and honestly believe I condone pedophilia, I can tell you now; I don’t. Simple as that. If you read this post, written out of my own emotions and translate that to me not caring about yours, that’s simply false. Just because I share mine, doesn’t mean I don’t care about yours. Each their own. Simple as that.
If you truly believe I wrote this piece to trivialize abuse victims and/or glorify sexual predators, you think very poorly of me and I invite you to come and talk to me to get to know me better. I guarantee you, I’m a very nice, loving and caring person.
Secondly, we’re talking about a fandom. Almost in all fandoms, there is love for protagonists and antagonists alike. This does not mean we condone crime, rape and murder in real life. Look at the love for The Joker, Sephiroth, Moriarty, The Master, Mason Verger etc. Is everyone that loves these characters a bigot and contributor to the trivialising of crime victims? No. Wether it’s a villain that not so bad or a ‘hero’ that’s not all good; it is still fiction.
No matter how real our feelings are for certain fictional characters, this is not a real reflection of our stance in real life. Period.
Especially in VC, the fandom is based on loving killers. We love Lestat. We love Armand. All the vampires in VC have done horrible, horrid stuff, taken lives and committed an array of criminal acts to (for example) get undeniable wealth. To go into this and pin pointing one guy with a flaw that makes him in all honesty a villain (Marius in this case); is funny to me as they then all are. They are all criminals. They are all killers, arsonists and thieves and all have their own mental issues to cope with. I will gladly have discussions about individual characters and their crimes or contributions to the fandom, but don’t point fingers saying I discredit crime victims when the whole series does that in romanticizing vampirism in the first place. If you don’t like the books, I discourage you to read this post or anything I post on my Daniel blog.
If someone reads this and still finds me a horrible person, I insist you contact me personally in PM for an open conversation. Don’t hide behind others. If you want your voice to be heard, speak up. I am open to any civil, reasonable conversation.
ON TO THE ACTUAL POST.
One of my dear friends just messaged me about how she feels terrible about the fact that Marius is being portrait as an abusive monster by a lot of people of the fandom and nothing but that. And I just want to share with you my story to let you guys know why there are people out there that love him.
Reading this story take in account that I am religious.
When I was 15 I got into a particular fandom which stimulated my art, my creatively and my love for roleplay. I fell madly in love with one of the characters and RPed him for a looooong time. Nonstop. Only back then I did not know what a muse was. I did not know of the word. And darker forces took advantage of that. When it was revealed that this particular character died in the next book, it tore my heart to shreds. And instead of experiencing the muse as an inspirational source for my writing, it became a constant presence that would ‘talk’ to me. Said it came to be with me. Demand things of me. For almost two years this thing pretending to be him tried to isolate me and drag me down a dark path. I would be his and only his. I even broke up with a boyfriend back then whom I was crazy about. Because he told me to. And in the end he would even start telling me to off myself to truly be with him. Thank god something then clicked in me, only then realising this was going too far. I believe by recognising it, God reached out and expelled it. This thing left. But I didn’t realise it was my own strength- my own doing that did this. So I was distraught. It broke me. It left me depressed and unhappy for more years than I dare admit. It ruined my ability to be romantically involved with anyone which I still suffer from till this day.
But then something happened. I got introduced to the Vampire Chronicles fandom. I was scared at first. The confrontation with such strong, vibrant characters and the overwhelming subject of death made me so very weary for this fandom. But when I reached the point in The Vampire Lestat where Marius dug Lestat up and Lestat said he had never laid eyes on something so beautiful, I was roused. And as I kept reading, this Marius- this beautiful, man so full of life and optimism and love for life made me smile again. He was calm and wise and friendly and so extremely patient. An artist too and in love with everything beautiful in life. He appreciated the simple gesture of opening a door and all his strength and power made him humble towards weakness. Through his death, he only loved life more. All these lessons overwhelmed me. Shook me to my core. Slapped me in the face and told me this was the muse to follow.
And he saved me. He literally saved me.
I smiled again. I started appreciating life again. I went back to art school. I started appreciating the small beauties around me again. He opened my eyes again to the beauty of living.
Getting back into roleplay scared me but I met a girl who for the first time explained what a muse was and only then did I realise that I had been tricked. That I had been taken advantage of by darker forces. And so then I decided that if I was going to RP again, I was going to keep the now called muses at a distance. And I did. And I still do. And I can enjoy it again. I can enjoy life again.
In Marius’ defence
Yes, after reading all the books, I realise he has major issues. I know he made some really bad decisions and a million more mistakes. But let me tell you; I was happy to see he wasn’t perfect. I was relieved to know that even those we look up to are flawed. And yes, in the span of his life, which is over 20 lifetimes!!!!, it is really quite OKAY for him to make more mistakes than we do in a lifetime. But lets not forget he is a vampire. Do we blame a lion for killing the antelope? No. It’s in his nature. Do we blame a vampire for manipulating and taking lives? No. It’s in their nature. It is quite unfair to throw shade at Marius for faltering every now and then when he so desperately tries to be human.
And then there are some things I wish to point out that people seem to forget.
– If it wasn’t for Marius, The Parents would have died thousands of years ago and the vampire race would have gone extinct. There would literally be no VC if it wasn’t for Marius sacrificing his freedom to harness and protect the Core.
– The knowledge of Marius’ possible existence was the thing that kept Lestat going in TVL. It was Marius that dug him out of the ground for a second shot at life. It was Marius who showed Lestat there was more to vampirism than the pain he had suffered so far.
– Without Marius intervening, Daniel would have been lost. Despite Marius’ double agenda to kill his own loneliness or feeble attempts to make it up to Armand, taking Daniel in was an act of kindness. Marius saved Daniel and only could through his endless patience.
– Marius welcomes Mael into his house. This is such an important aspect of his endless attempts to be good. Do not forget Marius was a very, very happy man in his mortal days. Mael stole that away from him. He robbed him of a simple but wonderful life and tossed him into this whirlpool of death and loneliness and misery. And yet Marius lets him sleep under his roof and offers him his own clothes!! His kindness is often obscured by acts of petty behaviour, but in his heart he is a genuinely good man who wants peace. He tries. And that is what matters.
– It is Santino that destroyed Armand. Not Marius. It gets my blood boiling when people have Armand speak in defence of Santino and somehow dare to shove all the blame onto Marius. Despite his questionable ethics with children, Marius wanted nothing but to give the boys and especially Amadeo a second chance in life. He wanted to make him happy, knowledgeable, successful and powerful. Marius is not the one that set the Palazzo on fire. Marius is not the one that tossed children in a fire. Marius is not the one that cruelly made Amadeo kill his best friend.
Marius is the one that got burned to the bone and had to recover for 100 YEARS!! Marius is the one that had to suffer the loss of all his children. The loss of his happiness he experienced in Venice. The loss of his acolyte. The loss of his empire. His pupil. His lover. Marius is the one that served Akasha and was therefor told to leave Amadeo behind. I am not saying he was right in leaving Amadeo behind. Yes, t was one of the biggest mistakes he made. Despite being weak and in excruciating pain, he gave up on Amadeo because Santino had already tainted him. The fact that Amadeo forgot about his trauma’s in the past, Marius had a clean slate to make the best piece of art he had ever made. But Santino went over it with a sharpy and Marius, forever being the perfectionist, did not see a chance of saving it. And yes, that was wrong of him. And yes, he should have tried to get Amadeo back and save him. But it is extremely unfair to forget all these things in play. Marius suffered tremendously through this ordeal and caught his own traumas on the way.
– He stays positive. He couldn’t marry the girl he loved due to discrimination. He was kidnapped. He was robbed of his mortal life by a man whom he later had to safe by pulling his head off and putting it back the right way. Three of his houses got burned down to the ground. He sacrificed his own freedom for the sake of his kind by taking care of The Parents. Akasha then thanked him by crushing him and breaking all his bones. He lost his happiness and the love of his life by a Satan-worshipping cult. He suffered 100 years because he was set on fire. He got the chance to finally be with the woman he loved but literally missed the memo. And yet… he stays positive. His natural optimism of living a happy, mortal life is what kept him going. It’s what made him a child of the millennia. He is the eternal optimist because he knows how precious life is.
So again; I am not saying you don’t have any right or reasons to dislike Marius or distrust him. All I want to say with this, is that despite his flaws, he inspired and set in motion more than the fandom gives him credit for. He suffered more than the fandom gives him credit for.
He saved my life and therefor I will always defend him. He deserves it.
This is a long post, I’m sorry for the dash intrusion, and for making it even longer, but for a year and a half now I have often thought about this post. It’s one of the posts on tumblr that has most stuck with me in the past 5 years. I always wanted to reblog it, but didn’t have the courage until now, bc I felt that the spotlight that my blog can put on a post can sometimes exacerbate an issue. Such is the nature of social media 2.0, where controversy is what makes posts explode (do we still say “go viral”?) more often than not.
But I’m reblogging it now and I’ve bolded some things for ease of skipping around so as not to read through all of it. For what I have to add, tho, NO CUTS WE LONGPOST LIKE MEN.
I remember when I first saw this post in March of 2017, I was floored, immediately deeply respected it in its entirety, and how OP has kept it in their archive, even when challenged about it. I have often cited this post, referred to it, shared it privately with others. And in the event that OP ever deactivates or deletes this post, I wanted a version of it I could point to and say, with pride:
This is the kind of fan I aspire to be. Showing love for a fictional character who had a positive influence on them, a real person.
This character for sure has flaws, and has been interpreted at different times as being
problematic, and sometimes not at all. If I recall correctly, at least from the fics I was able to find during the war on fanfic the mid-1990′s, Marius was sometimes written as an uncool Dad figure, setting rules for Lestat & Co. to break, typically in silly!fics. At other times, I’ve known fans who found inspiration in his intense dedication to keeping TWMBK and the development of his art in painting and film, etc. and hardly focus on any other aspect of him. I personally see him as the adoptive benefactor trope, with some teacher/student kink, the dedication to his art, etc., and some of that romance novel stuff mixed in. I’m not a hardcore shipper of him with anyone but I do love the shippy fanart/fic people make, bc it’s made by fans as an expression of their love for the characters, it’s the artists and writers I love more than the fictional characters. And I know of people who are convinced that Marius is little more than a lure for Anne Rice’s alleged thinly-veiled pedophile propaganda.
^None of these ideas of him are totally wrong, and although there may be some things about him that more of us may agree on, to my mind, none of this is totally right, either, because he’s a fictional character and we all draw our own and equally valid interpretations based on our own educations and experiences. A person might find him as
inspiring as someone else might find him absolutely disgusting. Neither are right or wrong. It’s not that black and white, in my opinion.
I want to highlight this from OP:
“No matter how real our feelings are for certain fictional characters, this is not a real reflection of our stance in real life. Period.”
Your interpretation of a fictional character does not supersede anyone else’s, no matter how well-supported your arguments are, no matter what the author of the original work says about their characters, etc.
When a person claims that Character X saved their lives/made their life better/inspired them in a positive way, you don’t get to decide that Character X didn’t.
Granted, you can certainly flip that around and state: “When a person claims that Character X ruined their lives/made their life worse/inspired them in a negative way, you don’t get to decide that Character X didn’t.” That may be true, but if a fictional character had such negative impact on your life, wouldn’t you want to stop reading that book/series, at the very least? Which is what OP described above, and thankfully, they were able to unload that negative influence.
Personally, I would stop reading that book, I would find something I found more positively inspiring. Maybe I would seek therapy, I’m sure JAWS and IT sent people to seek professional help. I don’t mean that with any sarcasm, I have had therapy sessions in the past, and found it extremely helpful. I for sure wouldn’t have the energy or interest to try to preach that others see the light of how negative this character is. You can blame violent videogames and Marilyn Manson music for school shooters, doesn’t mean that that media is solely responsible, but I’m not providing links for that bc this is not a blog for that. @fiction-is-not-reality might better direct you on that.
It feels incredibly childish for me to say this but: I wish we could stop waging wars over characters. I don’t jump on posts or respond to asks that seem like they’re coming from a place of bad faith on this topic. I come to fandom for entertainment, to unwind, to be among my friends. I don’t have time for unwinnable arguments that are more about moral superiority than anything else.
Good or bad faith arguments about problematic characters, it doesn’t really matter either way, as it’s been around since long before the internet, it’s going to keep happening as long as people can communicate in whatever form it takes. It just seems to have escalated in fandom in the last few years and this is where we’re at right now, it seems, so my comments on this post are for OP, as an apology that I should have added these comments a year and a half ago, and my comments are for anyone who loves fictional characters, however problematic others may say they are, no matter how problematic they are in canon, no matter how problematic their own original authors say they are! Try to be as strong as OP and I when people come at you for liking, what is essentially, ink on a page.
Creation/consumption of ANY fiction =/= endorsement of it in real life.
Aye so I’m thinking of picking up the books but I heard they get pretty bad and u was just wondering what’s your opinion
Define “bad”? Problematic for sure. Squicky for some ppl. Cracky as heck.
I wanted to delete this ask bc an objective “bad” is so hard to define, especially with regard to fiction in this current wave of scrutiny about it. I think we can all agree on things that are bad in Real Life, but what we’re not agreeing on these days is the role of fiction and Real Life, that consumption/depiction of problematic things =/= endorsement of those things in Real Life.
(This is all aside from the criticism dealing with the writing itself on its own merits, which, I am pretty forgiving about. I don’t consider my palette as a reader to be all that refined, I’m more interested in the ideas, and I don’t mind as much about the skills of the writer, even one who may have been very good and then devolved over the years. So you’ll have to ask someone else if the writing style is your concern.)
Some books will be loved by some ppl and praised to high heaven, those same books despised by others and cursed for existing, and everything in between.
IDK we used to call the later books “the Vampire Crackicles,” and I for one, would love to bring that back!
At its core, it is my belief that VC as a whole is a means of demon exorcism and of wish-fulfillment for their author. Sure they have some higher value, if they didn’t, I don’t think the fandom would be as large and as loyal. But VC also has a ton of various kinds of porn, let’s be honest. As a mix of those elements I just described, they do not have to be that deep, they are whatever each individual reader wants them to be. Personally, I really enjoyed the first few, and have found enjoyable stuff even in the crackiest of later canon. If you don’t take them too seriously, it’s worth the effort. But then, I am pretty forgiving and I can do headcanon gymnastics for fun to explain stuff I don’t like, or treat it as AU.
So they can be considered shallow escapism with problematic dysfunctional hipster vampires:
Or, you can dive in and look for deeper meaning, and make richer analysis out of it. It could be that deep, if you want it to be!
When I got this ask ~6 months ago, it was close to Thanksgiving, I had more pressing real-life things going on like traveling and visiting with family. I also didn’t want to answer it bc I was thinking it might be from a troll. Might be someone asking this in order to trick me into some kind of response that could be a launching pad for Discourse.
Now, time has passed, and having absorbed plenty of fiction =/= reality, anti-anti-shipping, and pro-shipping blog posts, I’m not afraid. Of the two possible approaches above (and there are others, of course), you don’t need to pick a side. Sometimes it can be deep, and sometimes not. You don’t have to defend liking it one way or the other, it’s fiction. It’s whatever any individual reader wants it to be, and keep that in mind when you read. Your reading is your own. Your headcanon is your own. Don’t let ppl concern-troll you, policing what you enjoy in fiction. I’m being a little forceful here bc I want to give you the confidence to know and believe: You. Can. Read. AND. Write. Whatever. You. Want.
Anon, you might be a troll, but this is also an honest question ppl have had about this series over the years. I want to believe you’re coming to this honestly and not trying to start something.
I feel like I’m going to get redundant… to wrap up, the most recent and I would say, the Crackiest of the Crackicles, advertised as:
“There is always room for one more vampire novel.”
Couldn’t agree more ;D
^At Powell’s book store in Portland, Oregon. 10/30/17.
Hope that helped, Anon!
So I’ve been in the fandom for about…2 weeks. In the middle of the 4th book right now. I’ve heard that the books get worse and stuff and I wonder if I should read all of them or skip some or…?
This is really hard to answer, and I nearly answered it privately, bc I don’t want to sow dissension in the fandom, it’s something ppl love to scream into the void about. But I see you’ve already started drawing some fanart for the fandom, so I want to encourage you to stay with us!
Some fans would tell you that #4 onwards in canon have certain characters being forgotten or mistreated by the author. I would say that there are storylines that are dark to the point that, even with my very high threshold for Crazy Shit, even I’ve had to close whatever one of these later books and just say, “omgz Aaaaaanne, whyyyy… We didn’t want this, nobody wanted this…”
If you’ve come looking for perfect cinnamon rolls, we only have one, Mojo, and he’s a dog 😉
I’ve heard that the books get worse and stuff and I wonder if I should read all of them or skip some or…?
So this depends on your definition of “worse.” They are a pile of dysfunctional hipster trash vampires, and several characters, but specifically the main character in the books, do some exceedingly problematic stuff, and, arguably, he is not condemned by the author in the text. There are fans who choose to disregard all the books from #4 onwards bc of that, and that’s totally fine.
Your headcanon is your own, and you do NOT have to accept all of canon, and you do NOT have to interpret canon the way any other fan interprets it. Don’t let another fan bully you into thinking their interpretation is the Only one.
PERSONALLY, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way: back in the old days we called the later books #the Vampire Crackicles (spoilers in that tag) and enjoyed them for the silliness, bc there is plenty of humor still in the darkfic. And there are those, like me, who want to read darkfic, too. We want to go there in fiction, and explore what the consequences of even the most atrocious actions are. Can a character who’s committed X crime ever be redeemed? Redemption might not even be about forgiveness from the victim, but the effort of that character to strive to improve. That can be so cathartic for the reader, whether the character achieves it or not, the inspiration can come from the fact that they TRY and FAIL! repeatedly.
I always recommend that ppl give each of the books a chance, even the most cracky have some good stuff in them.
For the most part I think we’re a kinder fandom than others, since we suffered through our own fandom creator waging war on our fanfic and driving us underground for years.
And the fandom is pretty welcoming, but I’ve found it’s better if you know what happens in canon, and can talk about it with other fans, make fanworks about it, or whatev. Even to criticize.
Like any social media, though, your fandom experience is what you make of it, follow the #vampire chronicles tag, find some bloggers you like, and reach out!
“this ship/work of fiction could hypothetically hurt someone” is not an argument.
We don’t prohibit alcohol just because some people can hurt themselves/other people with it. People who can drink responsibly aren’t at fault for people who can’t.
You either believe in people to be personally responsible for themselves or you believe in a dystopia where all fiction is subject to censorship due to any possible cultural impact.
“In fairy tales, monsters exist to be a manifestation of something that we need to understand, not only a problem we need to overcome, but also they need to represent, much like angels represent the beautiful, pure, eternal side of the human spirit, monsters need to represent a more tangible, more mortal side of being human: aging, decay, darkness and so forth. And I believe that monsters originally, when we were cavemen and you know, sitting around a fire, we needed to explain the birth of the sun and the death of the moon and the phases of the moon and rain and thunder. And we invented creatures that made sense of the world: a serpent that ate the sun, a creature that ate the moon, a man in the moon living there, things like that. And as we became more and more sophisticated and created sort of a social structure, the real enigmas started not to be outside. The rain and the thunder were logical now. But the real enigmas became social. All those impulses that we were repressing: cannibalism, murder, these things needed an explanation. The sex drive, the need to hunt, the need to kill, these things then became personified in monsters. Werewolves, vampires, ogres, this and that. I feel that monsters are here in our world to help us understand it. They are an essential part of a fable.”
— Guillermo Del Toro (via iwearthecheeseyo)