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May
6th
2014

From sadfic to literature · 2:19am May 6th, 2014

Just-fics

Some pony stories are well-written and very popular, but leave me unsatisfied because they're just-fics. I use the words sadfic, happyfic, darkfic, grimfic, etc., for stories that just want to make the reader sad, happy, etc., and so they describe one event that is sad, happy, etc., and then stop. Then readers fill the comments with "DAWWWW!"s. "Cupcakes" is a grimfic. (Okay, I haven't actually read "Cupcakes". Maybe it is a masterpiece of dark humor. But that's not what I've heard.)

It seems most just-fics are sadfics. "From the Mouths of Fillies" seems to me to be a sadfic. (I deliberately picked a story by somebody who isn't following me, so please don't PM him to tell him about this post.) Derpy has cancer. Dinky doesn't understand. Derpy dies. The end.

A just-fic doesn't have to be an inferior type of fic, I guess. I haven't read or watched Old Yeller in a long, long time, but my recollection is that it's just a sadfic. But a lot of people liked it. Pull on the heartstrings hard enough and something becomes a (children's?) classic.

But your sadfic about Twilight crying on the graves of her friends won't be, unless you add something else. I'm not talking about adding description, characterization, or ornamentation, but something structural, something that you'd have to mention if someone asked you "What was the story about?"

Tension

Something may be lost and something may be gained. The reader is in suspense.

Decision

Someone must make a choice between two outcomes. A classic decision story is "The Lady or the Tiger?".

(Must it always be two things? In fiction, the choices presented are always between exactly two options (although a clever protagonist may respond with a third). Is this good writing, because more options is less dramatic; or is it just lazy?)

Tension and decision almost require each other. We usually call a resolution of tension without a protagonist's decision a deus ex machina, and call it bad. And a decision without important consequences is seldom interesting.

The decision doesn't have to be between the two outcomes that oppose to make the tension. In The Deer Hunter, in the Russian roulette scenes, the tension is between living and dying; but the decision is whether to play, or not to play.

In On the Beach, there is tension with no decision: Will everyone in the world die from nuclear fallout, or has someone in Seattle found a way to survive? The characters seek the answer to the question but have no control over it. But the main focus of the novel is not that tension, but how people respond (see below) to knowing they are all going to die soon.

Maybe Citizen Kane has tension without decision. Everybody wants to know who Rosebud was. The viewers eventually find out. But that's just a frame; you don't keep watching the film to find out who Rosebud was.

The only contemporary exceptions I can think of which have nothing but either tension or decision are weird existentialist fiction. The characters in Waiting for Godot must choose whether to keep waiting; one of the points of the play seems to be that their choice has no consequences. It is a decision without tension. "The Trial" by Kafka is a story about the fact that the protagonist never gets the chance to make a decision; it is tension without decision.

You might think horror and action movies have tension without decision, but they don't, as far as I know. Faceless cannon-fodder can be killed off at random, but their deaths don't resolve tension--they help create tension by showing that the characters we care about are at risk. Characters we care about almost always get to make a decision before being killed. And if some don't, well, that's just to make us more nervous about other characters who do.

Stephen King called horror a conservative, Republican kind of fiction. Characters get killed as punishment for some social infraction, like a woman choosing to have sex outside wedlock, or a man being kind of a jerk, or trying to learn secrets man was not meant to know. In Saw and its sequels, people have to choose between being maimed for life and dying. (I haven't seen them, but I've been told the people were chosen because they didn't value their lives, making it a punishment and making Saw another conservative horror story.) The people killed off in And Then There Were None were all themselves killers.

Even in action stories where you know the hero will succeed, he or she must make some decision near the end in order to succeed. Luke must trust the Force; Indy must both believe in the power of the Ark, and give up on ever seeing what's inside it. There are action movies where the heroes don't make any such decision. They are bad.

This strikes me as very peculiar. If fiction is supposed to be realistic, shouldn't it have plenty of stories where the outcomes are not in the heroes' own hands? The rarity of such fiction must be a clue to why we read fiction.

Drama

Drama is tension with a dramatic structure: The story builds up to an emotional climax where some issue that the reader's been worried about almost since the start of the story must be decided. I said "decided", not "resolved", because although tension in real life is usually resolved by outside forces, tension in a modern story must be resolved by a decision, as noted above.

Tension in Greek drama didn't always need to be resolved by a decision. The Greeks believed in gods who were not benevolent; the question of fate was therefore very important to them. Could the gods condemn them to a horrible fate even if they lived virtuous lives? Oedipus Rex is a 2500-year-old existentialist drama in which the resolution is that the prophecy was, inevitably, fulfilled. Like "The Trial", it's a story about the fact that Oedipus could not make any meaningful decisions; his fate was pre-ordained. Today, and especially in America, we believe that we control our fates, and so our stories operate only within the small set of possible worlds in which this is true. There's a reason existentialism didn't originate in America.

Tension and decision without drama is possible. Exhibit A: "My Little Dashie." The narrator decides that he wants Dash to be happy, even if it means that the only valuable thing he ever had will never have happened. If Celestia took Dash without his assent, it would be a sadfic. If we'd known he'd have to make that choice, it would be a drama. But the story leading up to the decision doesn't dramatize the decision; it lays the groundwork so that we understand its consequences.

Theme

This is my favorite. Literature is what you get when you have a story with character and plot, something that could get published on EQD, and take that as a starting point on which to build something bigger. The original story is like a lattice, and themes are like vines which the writer plants around it. As they grow he weaves them into the lattice. In the end, you can still see the shape of the lattice, but the vines may outweigh it.

In "Flowers for Algernon", Charlie is a mentally-retarded man who becomes a test subject for a treatment, then becomes a genius, but the effect is temporary, and he becomes stupid again. That's a sadfic, but the writer didn't stop there. He used it as the framework to build a much richer story on. That story is about what his friends really think of him, why they value him, what friendship means, and the relative value of happiness, intelligence, and truth.

What's a theme? Maybe it just means "a big idea". "Pinkie's last party" hints that you should live your life like it was a party: "I know that the worst way to ruin a party is to drag it out, trying to preserve a feeling that was always meant to be fleeting." Is that a theme? I think so.

Bonus points for more universal themes. Every theme has to be universal to be a theme at all--if a story kept returning to the point that the poorest countries have the best stamps, you wouldn't call that a theme, you'd call it OCD. But some themes are more universal than others. In The Natural, Robert Redford plays the world's greatest baseball player, who is gunned down before his first major-league game. 20 years later, he tries again. Everyone laughs at him because they think he's too old to play baseball. But he isn't. It's got a universal theme: You're never too old to pursue your dream. It may be a lie in the specific case of pro baseball, but it's a question everyone asks sooner or later.

Themes don't have to be deathly serious! "Pinkie Watches Paint Dry" is a crackfic plus a theme: Ontological philosophy, it says, is silly. It is something Pinkie would do, not something Twilight would do, and it can and should be rinsed out of one's mind by one real cupcake.

Character or relationship explanation

I didn't say "character exploration". Telling us things we already know about Celestia does not get you bonus points. Writing your own head-canon about her may get you bonus points, but doesn't, for me, rise above the level of the just-fic unless it's something important and non-obvious.

Chris just reviewed "Let's Just Say" (description: "Suppose I killed them all?") and concluded, "... there's not really a lot here other than the promised hypothetical." Sure, there's a crackfic here: Celestia muses about, just hypothetically, killing everypony off and finally having some peace. But I think there's a lot more than that. Imagine the story had instead been Twilight thinking, "Suppose, whenever somepony returned a library book with pages torn out, written in, or highlighted, I... just killed them? Would that be so bad? If a book makes its author immortal, then destroying it is murder..." and then ended with a knock on the library door. That might be funny, but it would be just a crackfic, because it wouldn't give us any new insight into Twilight.

(Yes, I saw "Testing, Testing!" I'm talking about my head-canon, non-canon, actually-gives-a-shit-about-library-books Twilight.)

"Let's Just Say" gives us a whole new head-canon about Celestia: Ponies follow her night and day, adoring her, asking her questions, "looking out for" her, making sure she fulfills her many royal duties. She feels like a prisoner, and she feels very tired:

She felt free for a flickering moment. Not free enough to forget that she was still the Princess and that inevitably, invariably she’d be found and brought back, but so what? ...

She was technically away from it all.... The ponies. Her loyal subjects. There were no sycophant upper-crust Canterlot ponies in these woods, nor were there any of the rustic Ponyville types, who’d throw themselves off a cliff if they thought their Princess would like the sound of the splatter. It was nice to be ten miles distant from either of them. She was, at any rate, sick of both of them.

... There were a few ponies who didn’t make her despair, but those were few and far in between. Most of the populace, though... Well, there was something wrong with them....

A squirrel scampered by, twisting and turning its way past her legs. Birds who hadn’t the good sense to go south already chirped in a lovely little chorus. Yes, this was lovely. The sort of thing a Princess needed when she wanted to get away from it all.

Not away from it all forever. She’d never get away from it forever.

Unless...

I hadn't imagined Celestia thinking things like that, but once Obs puts it out there... is it so hard to imagine thoughts like that sometimes flit behind her royal smile? Is this really just a crackfic?

Theme and character blend together when a story investigates human nature. Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is more than just a darkfic because it's about human nature. I heard a lecturer keep describing the action in it as "inhuman", but that was exactly wrong: The actions are human. That's why it's a great story. ("Inhuman" is only ever used to describe things that only humans do.) It's believable enough that some readers thought it was real, and wrote The New Yorker to ask where they could watch such a lottery.

Response

This is a sub-category of character explanation. Take a sadfic, then show how a character deals with the tragedy. Better yet, just infodump the entire sadfic in the first paragraph of the story, and go from there.

"Somewhere only we know" is a response fic. Rainbow doesn't have any choices; there is no hope and hence no tension. Rainbow responds to her horrible situation with a beautiful dream, and in the circumstances, it's kind of heroic. Rainbow is escapist, but this fic isn't escapism. On the Beach is another response fic.

Bubbles is another great response fic. It's a Derpy sadfic, and the sadness seems to be that Derpy is kind of... ditzy. The "something extra" is her mother's response to Derpy. (I think. Or maybe she's just nuts.)

"Pinkie's Last Party" sometimes gets accused of being just a sadfic: Pinkie dies. Be sad. But it's got more than that, especially in those last few paragraphs, where Pinkie feels sorry for Death and offers her a cupcake. That's a small but grand response to death that is perfectly Pinkie. That, not Pinkie dying, is what brings the tears, and they aren't tears of sadness.

"The Light Goes Out" could have been just a Twilight-is-dying sadfic, but Twilight's response has something to say about Twilight Sparkle:

"I don't want my accomplishments be tied to the expectations others hold of me. I don't want them to be defined by somepony else. Not even you." ...

Meticulous, precise, and organized to the last, needing permission, needing structure. Even as she claimed she didn't want her purpose to be dependent on another, those who loved her knew better. She needed the authority of it. She needed to know that she wasn't disobeying any regulations, wasn't breaking any rules. ... Twilight Sparkle sat before her teacher, seeking her final grade before allowing herself to be dismissed.

Putting it all together

Each element--the outcome of a drama, the things revealed about a character, the conclusion in a theme, the original just-fic itself--creates an emotion in the reader. If all these emotions are similar, all should be well. Outside that, some combinations are allowed, and some aren't. Sad fic plus postive-emotion something else is bittersweet or heroic. A steadfast response to a tragic event is heroic. So "Pinkie's last party" is a distant cousin of this line from a (non-fictional) 10th-century English war-poem,

Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare þe ure maegen lytlað

and of Tolkien's theft, translation, and expansion on it:

Heart shall be bolder, harder be purpose, more proud the spirit as our power lessens!
Mind shall not falter nor mood waver, though doom come and darkness conquer.

But happyfic plus sad something else--nopony wants to read that. When sad things happen, we want to know how to respond to them in a way that makes things better. When happy things happen, we don't want to know how to make them sadder.

So take your sadfic and add one, two, three, or all of these things to it. Some examples from my own stories:

The Corpse Bride: Sadfic + Drama + Themes. Twilight kills Fluttershy, again, and that's sad, but it is the outcome of a drama, and it's used to talk about friendship and hubris. Each component is sad: Sadfic + tragic flaw = tragedy.

Twenty Minutes: Sadfic + Character. Chapter 1 is about a pegasus who's a sex slave, and that's sad, but the story is really about the zebra who tries to help her, and why he does it, which is why chapter 2 is there. Sadfic + heroic character = terrible but tender story.

Alicorn Cider: Sadfic + Tension + Decision + Response + Themes. Mac loses/gives up Twilight, and that's sad, but it also says a lot about how Mac sees himself, and says something at the end about birth and freedom vs. destiny, service/religion as love, and the grace of offering such with no expectation of repayment. Sadfic + grace-ful response = bittersweet story.

Fluttershy's Night Out: Sadfic + Drama + Character. Fluttershy oh heck you can guess, and that's sad, but it happens only at the end of a drama and after a series of bad decisions, and is used to explore how Fluttershy feels about herself, both before and after, and show the vicious cycle she's in that has made her the mare she is at the start of season 1. Sadfic + unrecognized tragic flaw = sadder fic.

The divide between commercial or genre fiction and literature used to be something like this:

Commercial fiction: Must have drama. Character explanation is nice, but not necessary (see Twilight, The da Vinci Code). Should preferably not have controversial or upsetting themes, because we don't go for that literary crap.

Literary fiction: Must have themes. Should not have much tension, and certainly not action/adventure, because we are not circus entertainers.

Today, though, the short stories published in literary magazines today all (and I mean that literally, as in I don't recall a single clear exception in the dozens of lit-mag stories I've read this year) throw out the plot entirely, so that rather than starting with a just-fic and building on it, there isn't even a just-fic. There are vines, but no lattice. Character explanation is supreme. There is probably no tension, and drama is forbidden. A decision may be considered, but will be shown to be impossible; the characters must continue on as they have been doing. Themes may be present but must not be clear, and the author's opinion must remain ambiguous.

There's another distinction between commercial and literary fiction that has to do with the type of themes allowed. I think that literary fiction is supposed to challenge people, while commercial fiction is supposed to reassure them. But that's a subject for another blog post.

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Comments ( 29 )

Very nice. I'm bookmarketing this. But don't hurt your eyes over cupcakes.

2081299

Oh please. Cupcakes is a dead baby joke; the joke is that it's horrifying. She's a serial killer and she acts like her bubbly self the whole time.

The reactions were pure stupidity. Maybe 30 percent of people who go with Serial Killer Pinkie are in on the joke; the other 70 find it legitimately dark and disturbing: in short, they're dumb.

A very thoughtful rumination on the nature of fiction, well done. And although you primarily addressed "sadfics", it seems much of this is applicable to any story.

"Cupcakes" is a grimfic. (Okay, I haven't actually read "Cupcakes". Maybe it is a masterpiece of dark humor. But that's not what I've heard.)

Sergent Sprinkles says it's a trollfic disguised as a grimfic. Having never read it either, I'm inclined to take his word for it.

When you laid out the description of "literary fiction" I expected you to end with some kind of indictment of such distinctions as harmful to the form. Maybe it's that I'm the kind of simpleton who would make a point-blank statement like "snobbish categorization like that is stupid and also it's incorrect anyway!" and you are not.

A story may not need tension or drama, but it does need an ending, and what good is a low-tension intellectual thingy if it doesn't make use of a theme, or preach some kind of agenda, or show a change between the beginning and end, or end with an ironic "punch line," or SOMEthing aside from an inconclusive Kafka thing?

I don't think a lot of "just-fics" are stories at all. I think a lot of them are vignettes. They're about something which happened; they're not about a story. They're about versimilisilutude and realism. They're like anectdotes, little snippets of reality rather than some part of a greater whole. And I think a lot of them diverge from the universal engagement curve and yet are enjoyed by people anyway because the arousal of the emotion comes sufficiently early to keep them tied in - that, and a lot of them are quite short.

You can turn a vignette into a story by adding other things to it, but they aren't necessarily meant to be stories, and can stand as nothing more than what they are, and in at least some cases, are probably better as what they are than being something else.

Incidentally, regarding that particular sadfic: It is really part of a larger story, so while it is a vignette, it does tie into something larger.

And I have to admit that I enjoyed it, though I had read it long ago (and faved it). I think part of why I enjoyed that particular one, however, is that I understood the context it came from.

(Must it always be two things? In fiction, the choices presented are always between exactly two options (although a clever protagonist may respond with a third). Is this good writing, because more options is less dramatic; or is it just lazy?)

Well, part of it is surely laziness and lack of imagination; frequently, the writer comes up with a decision point because they wanted that decision point, without actually thinking about whether or not that decision point was in fact correct - maybe there were other decisions they could have or would have made.

Part of it is simplicity - two options is easier to choose from than more, which makes it easier to write and easier to understand.

The sad thing is, we know that many readers love to see people Take A Third Option, or go "off the rails" of decision making, especially heroes, because it goes against fate, a big thing that the West (and especially America) loves. It really is just laziness.

I don't have enough energy to read this right now, which is really annoying, because I read a section or two and then started skimming, and I really want to read this.

...so I guess I'll be back later, once all the good discussion is already over. As usual.

Still not buying that Twilight highlighting this book is some great act of heresy. I don't remember her being all that anal-retentive about books before, and I'm going to say that she'd be wiling to sacrifice the mint condition status of just one book, which may not be all that rare or valuable or even library property in the first place, to help a friend pass a test that can make or break that friend's dream.

2081559 I don't think a lot of "just-fics" are stories at all. I think a lot of them are vignettes. They're about something which happened; they're not about a story. They're about versimilisilutude and realism.

I don't mean vignettes. I mean stories that are designed to show you one sugary-sweet thing, one terrible sad thing, pretty much any variant on one X thing. Wuna does something unbearably cute. Fluttershy is secretly Scootaloo's mom. Celestia is secretly Twilight's mom. All Twilight's friends are dead. Twilight is dying. Pony X confesses her love to pony Y. Scootaloo tries to fly and dies. Those are not vignettes. A vignette is a slice-of-life, a character sketch, not a single hammer blow to a single nail.

2081404

That's probably the best description I've heard for it.

2081610 Canon Twi isn't anal-retentive about books. That's my problem. It doesn't make sense to me.

2081654
It was my understanding a vignette is a single scene meant to evoke a single thing. A soldier being shot and dying in a ditch, someone crying over the grave of their loved one, a child being ridiculously cute, a daredevil attempting their first/last stunt... those all strike me as vignettes, as much as someone going down to the grocery store to buy groceries or cooking dinner while waiting for their loved one to come home from work or staring at a blank page waiting for inspiration are.

I always thought of them as being a very literal slice of life, as in, you basically just cut out a bit of something and presented it on its own, like a picture or short video clip of someone's life.

2081607 REEEAD ITTTT!

Seriously though, what you've described here seems to be the same thing I've struggled with for years. In my mind though, it was framed as the battle between traditionalism, and modernism in the structure of narrative itself. All the science fiction and fantasy I loved as a kid, forward and future thinking as it was, actually seemed to follow the "old" narrative pyramid: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution.

When I first saw it summed up that way in a class though, I rebelled. Surely this amazingly awesome stuff I loved wasn't quite as simple as that "Hamlet" crap? But after learning more, I became quite fond of that "obsolete" and "traditional" story structure. Now, I think you've hit upon the detail I've been overlooking in it.

You used the metaphor of vines upon a trellis. The traditional narrative is the trellis to me. It is the actual "plot" of a story. Things are happening. Big things. Important things. Stuff That Matters! But the vines you suggest are what I realize has been missing from my view of a "good" story. The little details, subplots, and sheer complexity are what separates the mediocre from the marvelous. There are exceptions for especially poignant vignettes and other ultra-shorts or course, but in general, I require a good, old-fashioned, multi-act "plot" in my stories. But I also demand all those little fidgety details around it which bring it to life and provide the deep pallet of multi-dimensional color which only great stories can provide.

And yes, if you're wondering, I do insist that I eat must my cake and have it too. :pinkiehappy:

2081791 Detail is one thing that separates the mediocre from the marvelous, but we might be talking about different things. I was only thinking of short stories,so I don't mean the kind of expansion that turns a story into a novel. I mean adding something to the structure and meaning of the story.

This is hard. I didn't realize until just now that, while I know what I mean by "structure", I can't explain it. The most memorable part of King Lear is when they put out Glouchester's eyes. That it was the eyes is a critical detail for the story's impact, but isn't an essential part of the structure--the structural part there is that Glouchester's son betrayed him. That fits together with the structural part about Lear's children betraying him.

If somebody writes a story where Twilight gets cancer and dies, that story can't be made into a good story by adding details about her suffering, or about Spike waiting all day outside her room, or even by having all the other Mane 6 die off one by one of other ailments. It needs a qualitatively different piece of structure added.

I don't know how to explain what I mean! Does that mean I don't mean anything? :twilightoops:

2081722 Vignette doesn't have a clear definition, so I guess anything short without a plot could count as a vignette. But I think of it as slice-of-life too, which means no big secrets revealed, no major life events. To me, "Pony dies" can't be a vignette. Anything where the character is doing something very important to them isn't a vignette. Anything in which the main point is to evoke an emotion in the reader rather than to understand the character isn't a vignette. A vignette is some ordinary event that reveals character. We don't have a lot of them here.

2081704 My headcanon is that there's a spell which can remove highlighter marker from a book, so Twilight can highlight stuff without having to deface it permanently.

2082529 My headcanon is that it's a textbook, from an education supply company, and Twilight knows that textbooks are made to be abused.

2081654
I saw a comic strip that had Fluttershy as Scootaloo's older sister once, and Scootaloo is embarrassed about it. It was played for laughs.

2082115
I would have thought that hundreds of blog posts written by you would have given you ample practice to explain your ideas. :pinkiehappy:

2082529 2083502
Oh, those are both good answers.

For me, this was the most informational Bad Horse blog post yet in my quest to touch all things Bad Horse.

Like, it puts something I've been pondering for awhile into details I could actually understand. I know good stories that are engaging and thought provoking and build the mind are meaty. The thing is, I don't know what the meat is. Is it chicken, pork, beef... frog, alligator or platypus? Maybe nautilus?

You've broken it down good.

You've also put down what exactly you like into detail. Themes, eh? This may be useful in the future. And here I was, thinking vaguely that you just liked crushing minds, both metaphorically and physically, like in Fluttershy's Night Out and Twilight's Space Rock Operafic just for the sake of it. They're just a desirable after effect on the journey, ain't they?

2081607

...so I guess I'll be back later, once all the good discussion is already over.

That's no reason to hold back a response, even if it's a month "late". Remember to quote people in your post so we know it's there.

2082115 Heh, and I think I'm not explaining my view very well either. Your example with King Lear makes sense though, and I think I grasp what you're getting at, and my view is just sort of explaining it backwards. That is, the "details" I mean are ones that are important to what you're calling structure. So from my view (which probably needs better terminology), the "thing that happens" is he gets his eyes gouged out. That's the "story" on the surface, the general shape at a distance (the trellis). It's kinda interesting, but not what's important. To me the "detail," is who is doing it. Because it's his father, that's a betrayal, and what makes it much more important... and the whole purpose of a trellis is to help vines grow.

So I still think that it's similar to what you're trying to get at, but perhaps not.

Dang it, Horse! I read the first part of this the other day (up to about the Kafka reference), and when I woke up I realized that now I had the vocabulary to (partly. for some scenes) answer your question about "What is the purpose of this scene" in "Flight".

Which is useful to know, even if no-one else hears about it, but I already published it.

2084796
I sometimes do that. I (most of the time) remember to tag relevant people.

Is this a form of necro posting? If it's like 6 months late?

Also, since Stephen King considers horror to be a conservative form of literature, and I love horror too much, does that mean I'm conservative? Should I vote for all conservatives in provincial and federal elections if that's the case?

Does this mean that goths, who are very much engrossed in the beauty of horror, morbidity, death and occasionally justified punishment, are actually conservatives, despite being "edgy"(ie hosers), not being so liberal as most of them think themselves to be?

Are conservatives closeted horror fans?

...I cannot keep a straight face as I type this. Personally, this is the dumbest train of logic I've rode on. And possibly shortest. And kinda amusing.
XD

2087660 since Stephen King considers horror to be a conservative form of literature, and I love horror too much, does that mean I'm conservative?

That's the true horror. :pinkiecrazy:

I think King was talking about classic horror, like fifties B-movies. I'll tell you what King said, as I remember it:

- In a normal story, conflict arises between members of the community, exposing some problem in the community, and flaws in members of the community. One side of the conflict may be more in the wrong than the other, or it may just be a misunderstanding or misalignment of goals; but the people on both sides have motivation for what they're doing.

- In a classic horror story, an evil entity with no known motivation enters the community from outside (metaphorically, from Mexico). It might find allies in corrupt members of the community. The community fights back. Individual members of the community with moral failings may die. These moral failings have no causal connection with their deaths, but are always present--the cheerleader who sleeps around, the angry guy who yells at people, they'll die in Act 2. Eventually, those who are pure and strong eventually win the day and cleanse the community of evil. The moral of the classic horror story are:

- you are good
- right and wrong are clear and obvious
- strangers, outsiders, and loners may be evil
- the only way to deal with evil is to kill all the evil people, even if you must purge your community of the unrighteous

This is spot on; it's both the essence of an old horror film and the essence of religious conservatism. The basic vampire and zombie narratives both fit this model. So do Stephen King's novels.

As to what those crazy kids are watching today, well, I don't know about that.

Does this mean that goths, who are very much engrossed in the beauty of horror, morbidity, death and occasionally justified punishment, are actually conservatives, despite being "edgy"(ie hosers), not being so liberal as most of them think themselves to be?

I hope so, because that would make a great story.

Comment posted by yamgoth deleted May 13th, 2014

2088763

(metaphorically, from Mexico)

You sure? It seems like a real and scary prospect to me.

I feel awful for posting that.

I hope so, because that would make a great story.

I was working the other day, chortling at your perceived sarcasm when I decided to listen to some Fields of the Nephilim.

When that sweet, deep baritone voice hit me and I realized it sounds like it could head a church hymnal. Well... kinda.

It was something I had actually forgotten: goth style borrows from religion. It can be seen a lot the jewelry, crosses and ankhs, pagan symbols and what have you. Some of it is worn as a mockery, some of it is worn in reverence and belief.

Heck, there are a lot of goths that are religious and go to church.

Some origins do stem from religious conservatism, so maybe it wouldn't be too much of a leap to say that there's a connection between goths and a conservative mindset? Maybe even find the rarest thing, a person who identifies as both a goth and a conservative? It certainly isn't as extreme as saying that punks are conservative XD

There are certainly enough subgroups of goth to make a good guess to a likely group a conservative goth associates with. Corporate, Victorian, Romantic, Traditional and Geek goths do seem to be the likeliest candidates. goth has been such an umbrella term, hasn't it? Older goths who have become parents seem like a likely candidate, too.

It does seem like an interesting thing to research, and it would be fun to turn those kind of findings into some sort of fictional, possibly pony, story.

Personally, I identify as mostly a geeky goth. While I do have some conservative ideals, I do have some liberal ones, and I end up identifying with neither, although I am actually part of a conservative political party... it's another story for another day. It's kinda dumb. I live in arguably the most conservative province in Canada. I do like olds goth music, and I guess I dress (relatively) conservative. Maybe it won't be so hard to do hands on research? I kinda fit right in?

If that fails, I guess I can use the excursion as an excuse to get laid with some goth boiz and grrls or something of equal moral questionability. You know, to start up a instance of horror film RL. You really gotta piss of the righteous beings so that the ethically depraved ones come out, eh?

So far, I found that there was a domain name for "conservativegoths" that was purchased and subsequently dumped and ridiculed on a horror movie forum. I've also discovered that hippy goths like listening to Fields of the Nephilim, and was disgusted accordingly.

Yeah, this whole thing of finding a correlation between goths and conservatives has been going quite swimmingly. "Moonchild" might make a decnt songfic for something Luna related, though.

There are a few bronies I know of on site who have outright stated they're goths, or whom I consider "gothy". I guess I could interview them or something.

Some origins do stem from religious conservatism, so maybe it wouldn't be too much of a leap to say that there's a connection between goths and a conservative mindset?

You'd know better than me, but maybe some goths are something like cynics about conservative ethics. Cynics and nihilists look similar, but a cynic is an extreme idealist, at the other end of the spectrum from the nihilist, who's bitter & disappointed that nobody lives up to his ideals.

My impression is that goths identify with the monsters in horror, not with the townsfolk, so "horror is conservative" might not apply to them at all.

You know, to start up a instance of horror film RL.

:twilightoops:
I am not responsible for whatever it is you mean.

I've also discovered that hippy goths like listening to Fields of the Nephilim

hippy goths
hippy goths
:rainbowhuh:

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hippy goths

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...What?
It ain't too weird. Ok, I do think they're an affront against the natural order of things, an oxymoron that makes you want to bleach your eyeballs, but they're rather cool if you get to know them. I knew a gal who kinda was one in high school. Other than that, I have no other experience with them.

I'm surprised that you never saw such sins against gothdom wonderful, exciting people in your outings. I mean, you're the Burning Man Brony. Surely hippy goths ain't so rare as to not show up at Burning Man? The place is crawling with hippies so I'd assume it's a perfect fit for hippy goths. Either that, or the overall lack of black conceals them too well.

I would sincerely be shocked to hear that you haven't come across such creatures. Maybe look back at your Burning Man experience?

My impression is that goths identify with the monsters in horror, not with the townsfolk, so "horror is conservative" might not apply to them at all.

Perhaps fitting the average stereotype, yes? But, there are such things as goths who are religious. "Good", in a sense of the word. Those who follow the light more than the dark, yet seemingly drawn to both equally through their attire and mannerisms. I can see them identifying with the townsfolk.

It's more than an interest in the morbid and dark and evil and an outward expression of those things than what people see. It's something that can only be seen by goths and their kin: seeing the bright side of the dark side. goths see things different from others. Things might be scary and weird but to a goth, those things might be comforting or fascinating and cool.

Personally, I see it as a lifestyle and mindset that's rather open minded, free to use ideas of both the light and dark, good and evil. Personally, I prescribe to dark more, but there are times where I surround myself with nicer thoughts and points of views. I'd say that's why I come off as being rather villainous in one post and being rather kind in the next. It's an outward manifestation of this ideal, an ideal that can have its extreme ends at times. Really, why else would I be on a pony site if I was an evil asshole trolling all the time? >;P

Either that or I might be a bit bipolar or something and have no real control over the emotional aspect of my thoughts or ideals, which would suck considerably.

Oh, and the general open mindedness in regards to sexuality in gothdom is fucking awesome.

I think creepypastas are what kids are into nowadays.

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Personally, I see it as a lifestyle and mindset that's rather open minded, free to use ideas of both the light and dark, good and evil.

Like, "Ordinarily I'd dismember and kill you, but today I think I'll throw you a party instead"? :rainbowderp:

Suppose that we believe in good and evil. They aren't symmetrically opposed. Some people deliberately try to do good (good here = good for others). There aren't many people who deliberately try to do evil. There are people who try to do good, but have values "we" abhor, like the Nazis; and there are people who do what they want, without regard for others, like Stalin. It sounds to me like you're saying goths are the latter.

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