The Mist, TV Stereotypes In Search Of Plot And Motivation

Way back in the day, when Fibber Magee’s was the place to be, I was something of a goth. Or more correctly, a cybergoth. Though the two subcultures enjoyed much of the same aesthetic, there is no doubt that the former scene was the dominant one among the alternative-minded of my generation (quite possibly because it was better known and more of a “uniform” look for those with a non-conformist streak). Of course, Ireland being Ireland, you could have filled one small nightclub with every alt-orientated boy and girl in the country, and with plenty of room to spare. I doubt that statistic has changed too much in recent years. In fact, cyberpunks are almost a thing of the past, even in former European strongholds like London and Berlin. A phenomenon of the late 1990s and early 2000s that seems to be dying (or returned to its discrete, underground and rave roots).

However, this alternative past – among other things – has left me with a natural empathy for the cultural fringes of society. Or for those perceived as being on the fringe. I invariably dislike the “mainstream” in most areas of life and gravitate towards the edges. It’s where I am most comfortable, where I am most ready to defend others against bias or discrimination. And probably where some of my progressive and republican politics comes from (less Patrick H Pearse and more Iain M Banks, though An Piarsach was a bit of a Celtic Twilight goth, given his romantic nationalism and unrequited love for Eibhlín Nic Niocaill, the radical feminist whose death in 1909 arguably sent him off on his fatal path to Easter 1916).

He’s wearing eyeliner? Call the police!

Which brings me to The Mist, the American television adaptation of a Stephen King novella of the same name, first published in 1980. Previously dramatised as a surprisingly good horror movie in 2007 (if you watch director Frank Darabont’s preferred black-and-white print), in contrast the new TV version produced by the Spike network in the US is a rather poor affair. The writing, dialogue and characters are the wrong side of mediocre, with some dubious motivation and coincidences driving the storyline. However, what I have found annoying of late is a sudden plot twist in episode eight, “The Law of Nature”.

Out of nowhere one of the main characters, a teenage outsider called Adrian Garff, is revealed to be a rapist, a soon-to-be-murderer, and in the words of his disdainful father, “…a monster”. The primary foreshadowing for this revelation seems to be the boy’s confused sexuality – gay, straight or bi – and his preference for black eyeliner, nail varnish and clothing*. Which made me think to myself: have I gone back in time to 1999 and the supposed “loners” of the mythical Trenchcoat Mafia and the Columbine Shooting? Are we back in a reactionary era where a minority of teenagers who dress or act differently from the majority can be stereotyped as potential deviants or sociopaths? Honestly, I thought the United States had left behind that kind of redneck thinking long ago. What next? A revival of the movie-of-the-week genre, devoted to how playing Dungeons & Dragons can lead to devil-worship and child sacrifices?

* I wore black eyeliner and nail varnish at one stage. The only thing this foreshadowed was a shameful trail of licentiousness through the female population of North Dublin.

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8 comments

  1. Hah, brilliant ASF. I think I’m quite a bit older, but I was while not quite a goth, arguably a bit more metal/post-punk, had a lot of the appearance of same, long backcombed hair, dyed black on occasion, dressed in black (still do), etc. And I did love a lot of goth music Fields of the Nephilim, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, etc. Though later was much impressed by the more synth stuff like Covenant, VNV etc than a lot of guitar based goth. But sad to see the old negative stereotypes coming into view again.

    1. There were only nine or ten of us in the whole of Dublin, so god knows what the world thought of us. Easy to pass as a standard goth, all in black, until the dayglo dreads and cyberpunk gear went on. Then people assumed an S&M club was on tour! 😀

      I miss those days. Seems like a lifetime ago.

      Hah, I’m still in black, Converse and punkish gear. I get away with it. Just. Dreading the day when I have to switch to the oul geansaí!

      Yeah, I was surprised by that turn of events in the TV show. Though it is pretty mediocre. Not a patch on the book or movie.

      Trying to watch Marvel’s Iron Fist at the moment before looking at the Defenders. It may be even worse than The Mist. It’s definitely no Jessica Jones or Daredevil.

      Might switch to the last series of The Strain. Hokum but fun hokum.

      1. It’s odd, subsequently I’ve found the metalheads the least unwelcoming people as one of those social groups. But then the whole thing of distinct groups and micro-genres seems to have both been accentuated online and less so off line. Can’t work out is that a good or a bad thing.

        Poor old King, he just doesn’t get the breaks when it comes to adaptations.

          1. The book is better than the TV show but the latter is has its points. It’s pretty hardheaded when it comes to its characters, though not in the same league as the Walking Dead (which I stopped watching. Just too damn unremittingly depressing).

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