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).
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.