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Fads, Fights and Teenage Vampire Love.

by Dear Jon
February 10, 2009

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ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

Why do all the new fads cause so much violence? I ask because I have heard many horror stories of attacks by fans of a certain supernatural love story. The cause of the fights are often because someone disagrees with them. Why do they refuse to accept other people's opinions?
 
 

Dear Unsigned,

I think fans of the new fad of leaving letters unsigned should be smacked upside the head. Meanwhile, I agree with you that violence is a problem.

I'm guessing that what you have in mind is that movie, based on a series of books, about teenaged vampires falling in love. This is an old motif in literature which, on the one hand, disguises the violence of actually feeding on someone else's blood, and yet on the other hand tells a parable of how a person can be charming in the beginning, but is really an abuser who sucks the life out of those who get too close.

Vampire fans and cultists are caught up in the seduction that comes before the atrocity. It is no great shock that some might react violently when their fantasy is threatened by the reality that the charm has not worked on others. The violent reaction has at least three causes:

First, vampirism is about disguising violence under layers of sexual pretense to begin with, so some fans will resort to the violence when the pretenses come under threat.

Second, those who lack confidence in their own identities will cling to external sources of identity, such as sports teams or movie franchises or nationalism (through the lens of a particular party) or a religious sect. In clutching their external source, they will defend their identity by being belligerent with those who prefer other sports teams or movies or nations or sects or who, most threatening of all, have enough self-confidence to critically evaluate all of these things. Self-confident, thoughtful people have often been martyred, and the two biggest reasons have been that either their patriotism has been accused of being treasonous, or their faith has been accused of being heretical. However, reports have emerged of persons who have also been martyred for wearing the wrong team jersey.

To test whether martyrdom may take shape as a result of fiction franchising, try dressing normally, then walk into a Star Wars convention. When you are offered a rubber Ewok mask to wear, simply state:

"I would rather not look like a dweeb, thanks."

Then see if you make it out of the convention alive.

Third, the Progressive hope that society will be "saved" through free compulsive public education, is proving false. The more that civil values of diversity and toleration and humanist optimism are imposed in the classroom, the less civil that society has become in general. The more that laws are made to restrain human behavior, the more that people are looking to skirt the law, to find loop-holes, or to find their empowerment in breaking those laws.

The reasoning in the personal ego goes like this: "I am ME, I am SPECIAL, because I am driving 75 miles per hour where 65 is the posted limit." That same reasoning transfers to the movie fan: "By adopting the suave characteristics of a charming vampire I saw in the move, I can become ME, I can be SPECIAL. But YOU are not swooning before my charms. Therefore I hate you. Since you are hurting my ego, I will hit your face."

Getting caught up in fiction franchises to the point of doing violence to others, is evidence that human beings DO have a need to identify with something larger than themselves. That the violence is done purely for the sake of disagreement over aesthetics, is evidence that a departure from absolutes has many people confused about proper behavior. Not knowing what to believe, people do not know how to behave. The spectre of Nazi Germany reminds us that people WILL flock to believe SOMETHING, and then they will behave accordingly.

That "something larger" which we innately desire, is something we turn to externals to find. However, it is better to pursue not external things, but rather things that are supreme and transcendant--things which in their nature are "holy" in that they surpass a movie franchise or a sports team in terms of universal significance and meaning. Those martyrs to nationalism and religion have, more often than not, grounded their identity in the "holy."

Vampire movies might be fun, but they are far from "holy."

Since holiness has been removed from the classroom of public schools, the most crucial dimension to forming maturity and identity is missing. Ergo, we now require weapons detectors in school entrances, and police officers assigned to patrol hallways, and the more we take these measures of external control, the more that kids are fighting each other over their favorite movies.

Maybe this article is not the funniest Dear Jon has ever written. But then, you have the answer to the question you asked.

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