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Are mermaids the new vampires?
August 3, 2013 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Articles at ABC, Huffpost, Vulture, The Atlantic Wire, The New Inquiry all claim that mermaids are the next big thing in popular culture. Among other signs, some authors point to the fact that Netflix's has acquired first-run rights to show the Australian show Mako Mermaids in several markets. At Slate, however, Forrest Wickman disagrees stating, "I can give you one simple reason that mermaids aren’t the new vampires, and never will be: genitals. If you want people to fantasize about you, or about being you, genitals are pretty much a requirement."
posted by Area Man (258 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Merman, dad. Merman.
posted by ian1977 at 8:25 AM on August 3, 2013 [17 favorites]


God, I had joked about this being the next big thing, because it's ridiculous. Please say it ain't so.
posted by gc at 8:26 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah a vampire movie can take place anywhere. A mermaid movie is kinda limited.

Next big thing should be wererats. Duh
posted by ian1977 at 8:27 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, if the internet has taught me anything, it's that human being are pretty damn capable of putting genitalia on things they think are sexy enough. Off the top of my head, Cars Rule 34.

Yeah.

Yeah.
posted by gc at 8:29 AM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you were seven years old when The Little Mermaid was released, you're thirty now.
posted by box at 8:30 AM on August 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


Sitterson: Oh, man, I'm sorry.
Hadley: He had the conch in his hands!
Sitterson: I know. In a couple more minutes, who knows what might have happened. Yes.
Hadley: I am never gonna see a merman. Ever.
Sitterson: Dude, be thankful. Those things are terrifying. And the cleanup on them is a nightmare.

posted by Artw at 8:30 AM on August 3, 2013 [39 favorites]


I was thinking about this because my wife is reading a YA series about mermaids who live in Lake Superior.
posted by Area Man at 8:30 AM on August 3, 2013


I kept *hearing* that merfolk where the Next Big Thing for like two years now and I always suspected it was some kind of long, subtle troll.
posted by The Whelk at 8:31 AM on August 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


( that or a cabal of highly placed mer fetishists)
posted by The Whelk at 8:31 AM on August 3, 2013


Yeah, it's not going to be mermaids.

The only thing more boring than mermaids is, like...leprechauns or something. Maybe nothing.

Besides, aren't zombies like the new vampires? Or do these wannabe Twilight types mean: the next supernatural thing to be the object of teenage crush-lust?

I'm going to go with badger-moles.

Sparkly badger-moles...
posted by Fists O'Fury at 8:31 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy's The Wake is pretty great.
posted by Artw at 8:33 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you were seven years old when The Little Mermaid was released, you're thirty now.

Thanks for the reminder.
posted by asnider at 8:33 AM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Zombies are like fifty times being over, they where over when Walking Dead premiered.

My bets are on ghosts. Spooks. Poltergeists. Wraiths. They can be good, bad, alien, etc and thier LOOOOOVE IS STROOOONGER THAN THE GRAAAAAVE.
posted by The Whelk at 8:33 AM on August 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


I can see it. The lack of external genitals is actually a plus, because then you can stay relatively "family friendly". You've got built-in shirtlessness for the sexy factor. Plus there's the bonus of scandalized conservative media commentators being distraught about youth getting excited to fertilize eggs.
posted by Mizu at 8:33 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


My childhood was pretty much Splash and The Little Mermaid and I don't have any sort of mermaid affinity at 33.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:34 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


As someone with a lifelong fondness for mermaids, I can state that once I liked them in part because they didn't have genitals. When I was a little girl, I was constantly drawing them three-quarters fish so that they didn't have the things that made kids giggle and grownups hiss. They were, to me, a fantasy about belonging to the horizon, always being able to swim away. I intuited that not having gross parts -- no butt, no "front butt", nothing you weren't supposed to touch -- was part of that.

Now I prefer the kind of sea people who go mad trying to conceal their own natures from everyone around them, then eventually kill and eat people and return to the sea to dwell in wonder and glory forever. This, too, is an immature fantasy, but rather more grownup.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:34 AM on August 3, 2013 [26 favorites]


( actually god wait I have a mermaid in my book, except I went for the Scary Frog Person/Aquatic ape route)
posted by The Whelk at 8:35 AM on August 3, 2013


Displacer beasts. You heard it here first.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:35 AM on August 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


Rust monsters ruin everything.
posted by The Whelk at 8:36 AM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Mermaids. Meh.
Still waiting for mindflayers to take off.
posted by hot_monster at 8:36 AM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


All I know is this:

Mermaid Vulva.

Band name: Claimed.
posted by delfin at 8:36 AM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


We're not seafaring enough for mermaids to really work. They're really quite easy to avoid. Unless you get tiny merpeople that live in water pipes or sewage systems.
Or lived in a society highly dependent on canals.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 8:37 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]




Global warming is a plot by mermaids to get the sea level to rise enough so that they might invade our cities!
posted by Mizu at 8:37 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're all wrong. The new hotness is the gelatinous cube. Sexy, tempting gelatinous cubes.
posted by Gin and Comics at 8:38 AM on August 3, 2013 [17 favorites]


I'm gonna let y'all in on the ground floor here...

(whispers) gay mummies
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:39 AM on August 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Mermaid Vulva.

"Mulva?"
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:39 AM on August 3, 2013 [18 favorites]


There was some Australian show on Netflix where if these teenage girls contacted water they turned into mermaids for awhile. Yep.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:39 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The supernatural Next Big Thing does not start until my lich romance novel finds a publisher.

"I want to gaze into your beautiful eyes forever ALSO TO FEED UPON THE SOULS OF THE LIVING AND SEE THE MORTAL WORLD FALL BENEATH GLACIAL ICE god you are so special."
posted by emmtee at 8:40 AM on August 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Hooray for the inanimate carbon broad!
posted by Teakettle at 8:40 AM on August 3, 2013


Beholders don't have genitalia either, but they sure can make out.
posted by michaelh at 8:41 AM on August 3, 2013


Fantasizing about mermaids isn't hard. They have mouths, they can breath underwater, we exist in a universe where there are hot tubs; it's not exactly rocket science, people.

EXAMPLE ENTIRELY HYPOTHETICAL AND DEFINITELY NOT DRAWN FROM DISNEY PRINCESSES EROTIC TEXT ADVENTURE
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:41 AM on August 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


gay mummies

That's already a thing, they're called Gummies. I think Stefon mentioned them once.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:42 AM on August 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


All that gold and jewels, seriously what mummy isn't gay?
posted by The Whelk at 8:43 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


You don't have to be gay to have style, okay?
posted by Mizu at 8:44 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why are we interested in monsters as romantic partners? Is it discontent with the current dating pool? Which could now have mermaids in it.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 8:44 AM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't like shallow mermaids. Give me the Deep Ones.
posted by longbaugh at 8:45 AM on August 3, 2013 [20 favorites]


You just have to be eternally trapped in a gilded prison of your own making.
posted by Mizu at 8:45 AM on August 3, 2013


I have read Alan Moore's Neonomicon. Please don't give me the Deep Ones
posted by longbaugh at 8:45 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I dunno. I think sexualized mermaids can be a thing. Especially bisexual sexualized mermaids...
posted by 2N2222 at 8:47 AM on August 3, 2013


I don't think mermaid fascination is something new or even something growing just because it's being written about in the media. I read the NYT Weekie Watchie piece and it made me recall many women I've met who have a mermaid obsession, or at least an inclination. There's a reason that Christmas Tree Shops and beach schlocky stores have had home dec, jewelry and clothing items featuring mermaids for decades. See also: charm bracelets, appliqued bags, etc. I't's something a particular subgroup of people enjoy thinking about. Whether it's actually going to be more of a "thing" in pop culture just has to do with whether corporations can convince more people to be swayed.

AS for genitals problem - I agree that part of the fascination with mermaids is probably that ultimate inability to sexually conquer them in the patriarchal sense. Elusiveness and independence from the usual set of rules - loving a mermaid would demand a relationship with entirely different rules and assumptions.

That's why selkies are more matter-of-factly sexier in the usual traditional sense.
posted by Miko at 8:47 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wasn't Azealia Banks trying to make this happen for a while (in between being comically horrible to literally everyone she came into contact with)?
posted by Merzbau at 8:48 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Merman could certainly have genitalia.
posted by graymouser at 8:49 AM on August 3, 2013


Haunted dolls, with haunted pasts.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 8:49 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why are we interested in monsters as romantic partners? Is it discontent with the current dating pool?

Actually, I believe that it is, although I don't know if it's the "current" dating pool so much as the technology. Sensitive young women in bad spots frequently find that it is difficult to tell if young men in fact consider them to be human beings. The idea of a male partner who is equally struggling to be considered human, and who takes the female partner's humanity for granted, is very appealing.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:49 AM on August 3, 2013 [34 favorites]


Mermaids could definitely have a cloaca. They're not usually depicted with that detail though.
posted by Miko at 8:49 AM on August 3, 2013


I thought zombies were the new vampires, at least when it came to writing pastiches of them with famous literary figures.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:49 AM on August 3, 2013


Global warming is a plot by mermaids to get the sea level to rise enough so that they might invade our cities!

You know, add that to the no-genitals, reproduces-by-spawning business — and all the metaphorical coldness and untouchability that goes with it — and you'd have a decent setup for some good old-fashioned 19th-century-style dystopian/romantic fantasy.

The mermaids are tough, cruel, adaptable, unsentimental, and basically uninterested in the kinds of pleasure or beauty that human beings can comprehend. They don't particularly care about our history, or our buildings, or our art, or any of the accomplishments that we're proud of. AND THEY'RE FLOODING OVER OUR CITIES. Look on our works, ye mighty, and glub glub glub.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 8:50 AM on August 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


And the poor, poor, werewolf. Always a bridesmaid and never a pop-culture bride.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:50 AM on August 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


I have read Alan Moore's Neonomicon. Please don't give me the Deep Ones

It's a romantic comedy.
posted by Artw at 8:50 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is like that time in the 90s that everyone thought that Ska was going to be the "next big thing", which means that Netflix show is probably going to be the Reel Big Fish of TV
posted by Kiablokirk at 8:50 AM on August 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Mermaids will be cooler than vampires the day Aquaman becomes cooler than Batman. Until I see a trailer for Christopher Nolan's The Wet Knight Rises, this isn't a thing.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:53 AM on August 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


The problem that brought Futurama's mermaid story to a sudden halt.
posted by roystgnr at 8:54 AM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I kept *hearing* that merfolk where the Next Big Thing for like two years now and I always suspected it was some kind

Using "trolling" in the same sentence as merfolk is insensitive. Do you know how many merfolk are killed by commercial fishing every year?
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:55 AM on August 3, 2013 [26 favorites]


Countess Elena I think that's really interesting - we seem to have less monsters of the moment (and the social/societal changes they reflect) and now humanise previously monstrous creatures. As per your comment, maybe it reflects a wish to have our humanity recognised or tendencies to recognise humanity in people who were previously other.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 8:55 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


At least we know that owlbears are the least sexy mythical creature (nsfw).
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:55 AM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


You just have to be eternally trapped in a gilded prison of your own making

Or a gilled prison, for that matter....
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:56 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why not combine mermaids with the sexy-undead trend? Rusalki, basically. Wikipedia tells me there is a Rusalki week just like shark week, and they sometimes tickle their victims to death. This idea can't go wrong.
posted by stopgap at 8:56 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh for pete's sake, I thought Steampunk was the next goldmine! *throws out book* *retrieves book from trash, adds sexy steampunk merpeople chapter*
posted by Erasmouse at 8:57 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The mermaids are tough, cruel, adaptable, unsentimental, and basically uninterested in the kinds of pleasure or beauty that human beings can comprehend. They don't particularly care about our history, or our buildings, or our art, or any of the accomplishments that we're proud of.

Oh god oh god I have a book proposal from a billion years ago that was basically a 19th century anthropologist/explorer/Richard Burton type and his investigations into a mysterious island full of strange societies and he encounters a budding merfolk/Selkie war and dear god the Mermaids are terrifying and that was the sample I used and maybe I should finish that cause apparently 19th century ideas of anthropology hitting mystical creatures is an idea I can't get out of my head apparently.
posted by The Whelk at 9:00 AM on August 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


We are long past peak-Steampunk. Thank god.
posted by Artw at 9:05 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


You sure you're not thinking of Dinotopia, The Whelk?
posted by Mizu at 9:06 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was thinking about this because my wife is reading a YA series about mermaids who live in Lake Superior.

*blink* I live on Lake Superior and love it all to hell, but.... I assume these are migratory merfolk? Because that lake out there is colder then... well a reeeeeeealy cold thing for most of the year (believe me, I've jumped in once in February.... once), there is significant ice involved here, and last I checked those merfolks aint shopping down at the local Carhartt outlet for long underwear.
posted by edgeways at 9:06 AM on August 3, 2013


Strange Interlude, it seems we are brothers in ooze.

Slime for the slime god!
posted by Gin and Comics at 9:07 AM on August 3, 2013


Eugene Mirman should be the next big thing.

MIRMAAAAAAN! MAN OF THE SEA!
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:08 AM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


So, I'm watching Mako Mermaids right now. The major plot point, in every episode, is indeed that the characters grow mermaid tails when they get so much as splashed with water. Or other liquids. That might be problematic in the romance department. Plus, as gimmicks go, it's kind of lame. But hey, I would have thought "sparkles in the sun" would be too lame a gimmick, and here we are.

I do kind of like working our way through the monster manual and adding "sexy" in front, and just seeing what sticks though. Sexy otyugh. Sexy rust monster. Sexy tiefling. (Hey! That one might work!)

Huh. The mermaids just got fin rot, apparently.
posted by mrgoat at 9:08 AM on August 3, 2013


I'm always hoping there will be no next big thing in popular culture.
posted by pracowity at 9:09 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


You sure you're not thinking of Dinotopia, The Whelk?

I didn't put in any dinosaurs, no sir.

There where some ants that shat gold however.
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 AM on August 3, 2013


Also, lack of genitalia is potentially a plus, not a minus, for the "paranormal teen romance" crowd. Part of the whole appeal of Twilight was that it was always just on the edge of full-on sexuality. Yeah, they eventually had sex, but that was in the final book, and that was after marriage, and whatever eroticism it was supposed to have (if any) was trumped by the infinitely more memborable, Cronenbergian "dental C-section" bit.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:10 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Azealia Banks
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:10 AM on August 3, 2013


*blink* I live on Lake Superior and love it all to hell, but.... I assume these are migratory merfolk? Because that lake out there is colder then... well a reeeeeeealy cold thing for most of the year (believe me, I've jumped in once in February.... once), there is significant ice involved here, and last I checked those merfolks aint shopping down at the local Carhartt outlet for long underwear.

I made the same point and didn't get much an answer from my wife except that she said the books acknowledge the coldness of the lake. She also said something about the mermaids interacting with the (undead?) victims of shipwrecks.

My idea: the mermaids have lots of blubber. More cushion for the pushin'!
posted by Area Man at 9:14 AM on August 3, 2013


Isn't the lack of genitals kind of the unstated point of mermaid stories? The guy falls in love with her without the vagina, and only then she magically gets one. Right?

It's sort of like a gender-swapped Frog Prince or Beauty & the Beast sort of thing. Also, it's like Cinderella, only instead of being poor, she's a fish from the waist down. Also, it's like Sleeping Beauty, only instead of being in a coma, she's a fish from the waist down.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:16 AM on August 3, 2013 [20 favorites]


This is clearly an attempt by Namor to move the cultural Overton Window and make himself a popular sex symbol after he heard Sue Storm liked Twilight.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:17 AM on August 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


But mermen smell like fish. Slimy, scale-y fish. Ew.
posted by discopolo at 9:18 AM on August 3, 2013


In modern-day mermaid stories, isn't the idea that the mermaids have human lower halves, until they are splashed with water? Are these Splash rules? Was Splash the first to do this?
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:19 AM on August 3, 2013


What about a Nim Chimpsky type situation, human researchers raise a merperson from infancy in an attempt to understand their cognition/language better and it goes horribly cause the poor merperson imprints on humans and doesn't understand other merfolk and lusts for human attention which is awful cause their funding gets cut and they have to release it back to the sea.
posted by The Whelk at 9:19 AM on August 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


last I checked those merfolks aint shopping down at the local Carhartt outlet for long underwear

To be sure, Carhartt probably doesn't normally stock long underwear that would be appropriate for mermaids.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:20 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Isn't the lack of genitals kind of the unstated point of mermaid stories? The guy falls in love with her without the vagina, and then she magically gets one. Right?

Traditionally she thinks he won't be interested because she doesn't have one, she goes through horrific tortures to get one, he ignores her anyway and then she dies and is denied a decent afterlife.
posted by Artw at 9:21 AM on August 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


The original Starbucks logo with the spread eagle mermaid seemed to solve the genitalia issue.

And if mermaids are a thing then porn valley will make sure there is genitalia in the parody videos.
posted by birdherder at 9:23 AM on August 3, 2013


the mermaids interacting with the (undead?) victims of shipwrecks.

Quick, get Gordon Lightfoot on the phone. It's time for a sequel to The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald, codenamed: The Ship of the (really cold) Damned!

Anyhoo, yeah blubber may help... more like sealmaids then mermaids.
posted by edgeways at 9:24 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


But yeah seriously coming up with a sexualized angle is not hard here. Off the top of my head...
  1. Mermaids as temptingly pretty but incorruptible Lolitas.
  2. Mermaids as The Farmer's Daughter, inherently virginal and innocent but capable of being corrupted by a human who Shows Her What She's Missing — and (crucially) old enough to give consent so it's technically not a pedophilic fantasy anymore.
  3. Mermaids as cruel sex-withholding dominatrixes.
  4. Mermaids as the straight dude's innocent-lesbian-slumber-party fantasy. (Topless! Giggling! Frolicking in the surf!)
  5. Mermaids as actual stone butches — or better yet as the romanticized ultracool retro version of stone butches that everyone started fantasizing about when they read Leslie Feinberg for the first time. (Okay, I would watch the shit out of that one.)
  6. Mermaids as frustrated voyeurs, obsessively fascinated by things like fire and walking and orgasms that they can never participate in themselves.
  7. Mermaids as service-oriented bottoms, uninterested in their own pleasure and dedicated to getting you off.
  8. Mermaids as service-oriented tops, uninterested in their own pleasure and dedicated to inflicting all sorts of perverted shit on you.
  9. Mermaid-human LDRs, all pining and longing and hot hot phone sex and unquenchable desire which will never be consummated due to incompatible habitat requirements.
  10. Humans with one-sided crushes on mermaids, getting all frustrated and violent with the inconsummability of it all, and sometimes one of the humans finally snaps and goes apeshit and the show is basically a grimdark underwater Special Victims Unit thing.
  11. Mermaids with one-sided crushes on humans — all the ego boost of being the target of someone's sexual obsession, with none of the actual scary risks that go with it because mumble mumble handwave handwave no genitals therefore not threatening.
  12. Mermaids as sexually inert puritans — with a tiny persecuted minority who have active libidos, all meeting up in back-alley bars with secret passwords and shit, and the audience fantasizing about being the sort of badass rockstar sex radicals that they imagine pre-AIDS queers to have been.
  13. Shapeshifter-type mermaids as creepy-ass sex tourists, taking human form to get some naaasty forbidden pleasures. (Also an SVU-type show.)
  14. Shapeshifter-type mermaids as martyrs to love/lust, giving up their home and their true form so they can bonk that guy they just can't resist bonking.
  15. Shapeshifter-type mermaids as the overt trans* icons that shapeshifters have always been, but maybe pop culture is ready for it finally. (Please?)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:25 AM on August 3, 2013 [54 favorites]


His smoldering gaze captured hers and she watched entranced as he masterfully milted the ocean floor.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:25 AM on August 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Obviously it's going to be djinni next, a trend that will be founded by a remake of I Dream of Jeannie. The Teahadists will be able to wail about corruption of the youth and Sharia Law at the same time!
posted by XMLicious at 9:26 AM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Guys guys guys I found my proposal. I totally forgot there are no Mermen, the mermaids basically kidnap dudes from ships and shorelines and then drown them post mating.
posted by The Whelk at 9:27 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


and maybe I should finish that cause apparently 19th century ideas of anthropology hitting mystical creatures is an idea I can't get out of my head apparently.

Hi! Nice to meet you! I'm your target audience! Don't make me chain you up in my basement with a typewriter!
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:27 AM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I remember last decade when there were a bunch of stories about how fairies were the next big thing. Many of them quoted a Disney veep who said something along the lines of "Little girls grow out of the strictures of princesshood and into wanting the freedom of being a fairy."

I wonder if that VP still has a job at the Mouse. I wonder if he was the only one pushing the inevitability of Tinkerbell narrative on his media contacts. I wonder if this glut of mermaid stories is the same way.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:27 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Basically, slightly more evil Dolphins
posted by The Whelk at 9:27 AM on August 3, 2013


Also, it's like Sleeping Beauty, only instead of being in a coma, she's a fish from the waist down.

This looks like fun:

It's like King Arthur, only instead of being destined King of all England, she's a fish from the waist down.

It's like Joan of Arc, only instead of being a peasant inspired by visions to save France from England, she's a fish from the waist down.

it's like Reds, only instead of being a journalist caught up in the Russian Revolution, she's a fish from the waist down.

This could be the best party game!
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:32 AM on August 3, 2013 [24 favorites]


Quick, get Gordon Lightfoot on the phone. It's time for a sequel to The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald , codenamed: The Ship of the (really cold) Damned!

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
posted by Area Man at 9:32 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Guys, the whole "genitals" issue has already been solved.
posted by curious nu at 9:33 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, I always tend to remember the mermaid who seduces the sailor into the sea and then eats them. The whole point is subverting the male sex-drive for food...
posted by kaibutsu at 9:33 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's like Moby Dick, only instead of being a large sea mammal serving as a symbol of the brutal power of the natural world, she's a fish from the waist down.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:34 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


As long as the next big thing is anything except salted fucking caramel this-and-that, I'm OK. Actually, no I'm not. I'm tired of Next Big Things taking the place of old small ordinary things I like, everywhere I go.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:34 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, guys, I know what the next big thing is! It's....

[examines climate]

[examines wrist-watch]

[rolls 2d12]

Sexy hill giants!
posted by kaibutsu at 9:35 AM on August 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


My imperialist explorer's description of a mermiad he makes contact with (right before she tries to ...kill him)

"I held up my hands and leaned back, turning to pick up a fish I had caught for just this situation. I held the fish out in front of her, waving it back and forth. Her mouth closed, she came forward slowly, and snatched it out of my hands with a quickness I can only call animal. While she ate I was able to examine her features in greater detail. Her hair was dark and kelp-like, cut short around her shoulders. Her lip-less face was completely flat, only two thin slits served as a nose and similar openings for ears. What I thought were bony protrusions were revealed to be animal teeth stuck through her skin, a savage adornment and I imagine a form of armor.

Her eyes were large and human but contained a third translucent white membrane which preceded her blinks. I saw no visible gills and her fingers were longer than average, slightly webbed and sporting long black nails. On her back was a rudimentary dorsal fin with large bite marks around the edge.
"
posted by The Whelk at 9:38 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


There was an old Night Gallery episode where at the end the mermaid got bottom-half human-legs, top-half fish-torso (is torso right for a fish? Probably not) very similar to the "reverse mermaid" in curious nu's link.
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:38 AM on August 3, 2013


It's like Heart of Darkness, only instead of being the entire continent of Africa, she's a fish from the waist down.

It's like Citizen Kane, only instead of being a sled, she's a fish from the waist down.

It's like Euclid's Geometry, only instead of being the unique line through a point not on a given line and parallel to the given line, she's a fish from the waist down.

posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:39 AM on August 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


Cut to the chase: incubi and succubi, your choice...
posted by jim in austin at 9:39 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am still personally a little surprised that there was never a big surge of Mage: the Ascension type of wizards. I don't really know what happened to that universe in a canon sense, but I always thought it was a goldmine of Hollywood action/thrillers. That kind of setting basically lets you do the Matrix without having to worry about explaining the role of computers. I guess Harry Potter kind of spoiled magic for awhile.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:44 AM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


No, the next big thing is truckers! Again!
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:45 AM on August 3, 2013


There are so many monsters out there to be the next thing. But so few of them are known by the general populace only a handful are marketable. Vampires, werewolves, and zombies have been done to death.

I guess what I am saying is we need a Swamp Thing show back on the air.
posted by munchingzombie at 9:46 AM on August 3, 2013


There was an old Night Gallery episode where at the end the mermaid got bottom-half human-legs, top-half fish-torso (is torso right for a fish? Probably not) very similar to the "reverse mermaid" in curious nu's link.

Yeah, I remember that. Here it is on Hulu.
posted by DarkForest at 9:49 AM on August 3, 2013


You heard it here first: sexy nukekubi.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:50 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suppose you could try sexy Kasa-obake....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:53 AM on August 3, 2013


I'm gonna say penanggalan again - really its my merman.
posted by Artw at 9:57 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


So the Gelatinous Cube is right out, then?
posted by thelonius at 9:59 AM on August 3, 2013


I guess this means my "Emo Frankenstein" treatment stays on the shelf another season.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:03 AM on August 3, 2013


Dude, Frankenstein's monster IS Emo Frankenstein.
posted by The Whelk at 10:04 AM on August 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


Twilight over Innsmouth
posted by the_artificer at 10:06 AM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Lindsey Ellis and co wrote that it's called Awoken.
posted by The Whelk at 10:07 AM on August 3, 2013


Twilight over Innsmouth

The Dreams in the Sorority-House
posted by jason_steakums at 10:08 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


> Why are we interested in monsters as romantic partners

Because Forbidden Love is romantic and there isn't a whole lot that's forbidden. We can marry outside our class, or our clan, or our race. But monsters, oooh, that's a no-no.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:11 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Surprised not to see http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/09/29 in the main post...
posted by Sand at 10:11 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Obviously it's going to be djinni next, a trend that will be founded by a remake of I Dream of Jeannie.

Now that you mention it, I am truly startled this hasn't happened yet.
posted by Miko at 10:25 AM on August 3, 2013


They have sexy cloaca.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:26 AM on August 3, 2013


Ok, Vampires are popular because they are basically pure sex, and have been for a long time. Zombies got popular because they emphasized how smart the geeks who first were fans were, for planning survival scenarios and such, then later, because they are the all-time easiest enemy to write into a script or game. I don't get Mermen/Mermaids. They are hard to write in, they only show up in a limited number of places, and they aren't sexy from the waist down.

I like the ghost/wraith idea a lot, that would be cool.
posted by Canageek at 10:29 AM on August 3, 2013


GHOST SEX.
posted by The Whelk at 10:34 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Next big thing? This. Only because I grew up in Wolfe County.

But seriously, Mermaids? Never mind the genitals, where do they poop?
posted by Mcable at 10:35 AM on August 3, 2013


My votes on Peter Capaldi.

Wait, what? What were we talking about?
posted by zoo at 10:39 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Someone made a comment a year or two ago saying angels were going to be the next hot trend in children's literature. I took it with a pinch of salt, but lately I have been seeing series of hot angel action piling up on the teen fiction table every time I go to the bookshop. Is there some kind of zodiac calendar we can consult to predict these things now?
posted by rollick at 10:49 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't believe we're this far into a conversation about mermaid genitals without a reference to how Red Dwarf solved this problem...

Well ok curious nu was on the same track...
posted by cirhosis at 10:58 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I can give you one simple reason that mermaids aren’t the new vampires, and never will be: genitals.

Someone hasn't read much fanfiction.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:59 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


You could switch things around and have mermaids that are fish on top and human below the waist. Still exotic half-fish/half-human creatures, now with standard genitals. Sexy!
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:01 AM on August 3, 2013


>Demons, or succubi/incubi. Also like pretty much every other episode of Supernatural has a seed for the next big thing, probably.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:01 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oops, on preview, I see that's been done. Still running with it though.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:02 AM on August 3, 2013


Canageek: The usual theory on vampires vs. zombies is that vampires represent the threat of oppression by a small, privileged minority. They are a biologically reified aristocracy, in some ways superior to us, but still dependent on us (for blood, natch). Parasites, much like actual aristocracy. Zombies, at least in most modern incarnations, represent the threat of the mob, individual will subverted to the group beyond the point of no return, the horror of watching people we know become mindless killers, etc. (You can play this game for other well-established bits of modern folklore, too; e.g. werewolves almost always represent passions overtaking reason, or at least generally the struggle between the two, and how they're represented is a good clue to the author's take on the relative merits of each. The more prudish the author, the more terrifying werewolves are.)

But at any rate, at least the vampire/zombie spectrum pokes at pretty basic fears on either end, at least to people in an urban society with some sort of class structure. And I think that's why they work so well.

But I agree, it's not really clear where mermaids fit in to a framework like that. What deep-seated strings, either of fear or longing, are they pulling at in the modern consciousness? What are they supposed to represent?

Maybe in the context of YA / stories aimed at adolescents, there's the possibility of the mermaid representing both the longing for what can't be had (either physical maturity or adult expressions of sexuality) or just plain dissatisfaction with one's body and its limitations. But there are a lot of other ways of doing that.

There's pure asexual escapism: mermaids don't have to deal with sex, at least if they're not given any genitals, and they get to swim around in the ocean, which is an environment basically off-limits to people for the most part. But I don't know how strong the desire for asexual escapes are, compared to the desire for lusty aristos or violent one-versus-many survival fantasies provided by vampires and zombies. It seems like a niche thing by comparison.

They seem like a tough species to take on. The only way they seem to work is as a reasonably inoffensive, desexualized Mary Sue ... which might appeal to parents uncomfortable with their kids sexuality, or authors who want to write YA without dealing with the specter of underage sex, but I don't know it really resonates with readers. (At least, I don't think it would have resonated well with me when I was in that age range, obviously others may disagree, and it's a challenging enough age.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:03 AM on August 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


The Starbucks Mermaid had genitals, or so it appeared, because they revised their logo so that it wasn't looking like she was holding up her tail to show her choochie
posted by angrycat at 11:03 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember reading a while ago that witches were all set to become the next big thing in Hollywood. Angels were on the table too, but industry people found it challenging to get the visuals right. I could do angels.

Merfolks seem to be just as much of a challenge as angels from a visual perspective, if not more so.
posted by fatehunter at 11:07 AM on August 3, 2013


But I agree, it's not really clear where mermaids fit in to a framework like that. What deep-seated strings, either of fear or longing, are they pulling at in the modern consciousness? What are they supposed to represent?

Liminality. Border crossing and transition. The fear that if you cross over too far (as a human into the sea; as a mermaid onto land) you'll never be able to go back. The fear that if you don't cross over far enough, you'll always regret it.

In urban fantasy, faeries (and to some extent White Wolf-style less-bitey more-spiritual lycanthropes) seem to be the go-to critter for that set of associations. But that's kind of an accident of genre history, seems to me.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 11:09 AM on August 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


OK, this is what I find kind of funny about mermaids. If you have a sea-faring human, if anything they'd have to be another mammal, right? So you wouldn't have a fish's lower body but a dolphin's. And dolphin certainly are a randy bunch of genital brandishing creatures. So dolphin boners and vulvas for everyone. Everyone, back in the pool!
posted by Ber at 11:18 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I can give you one simple reason that mermaids aren’t the new vampires, and never will be: genitals. If you want people to fantasize about you, or about being you, genitals are pretty much a requirement."

Have you tried caviar?
posted by srboisvert at 11:18 AM on August 3, 2013


Azealia Banks

she was accused of scene jacking the seapunk tumblr crowd (mnsfw) - which is funny because seapunk is pretty hilarious as a concept and then them getting mad that someone stole their tumblr reblog motif just makes it better.

also, gaga and katy perry both did a little mermaid action on their last album cycle.

all of this to say - mermaids have seemingly been boiling under here and there and i could totally see it being a thing, even if it's just in fashion and not movies.
posted by nadawi at 11:20 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh god, this again?

People were saying that mermaids were the next big thing in 2009. That was because Stephenie Meyer said she was doing a siren project (which, if I recall correctly, turned out to be a music video). People were talking so much about it that I actually churned out a paranormal romance about a teenage girl and a merman in two months. Querying it was awful--almost all the agencies had already acquired their One Mermaid Book. Those books have mostly been published by now; to my knowledge, none of them have done particularly well. Know why?

Because Atlantis is Boring. Other than endless rehashes of The Little Mermaid, there isn't much to do with a merman. The sea is an awful, drab setting that's not conducive to characters with my humanity at all. And the fact that they're an endless source of snickering genital jokes doesn't help anything, either.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:22 AM on August 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


The answer to the question,"How can merfolk be the new vampires when humans can't have sex with merfolk" is that actual naughty-bits sex between humans and vampires is a relatively recent development in the literary genre.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:39 AM on August 3, 2013


Cartoonist Megan Rosalarian Gedris has written a whole erotic mermaid series (subscription or book only), and if you follow her Tumblr, frequently creates burlesque mermaid costumes for her act.

John Alison's Bad Machinery comic, "The Case of the Fire Inside" features a selkie mystery and delightful British preteens.

Emily Carroll (of "His Face All Red" linked previously here), has also written "The Prince and the Sea".

Mermaids might signal freedom from sexual angst to youngsters, but I always thought they were about power. Sirens were certainly not benevolent sex fantasies, they wanted to kill you and possibly eat you by luring you with sex. I think they represent repressed male guilt and also fear of women's revenge. Their genitals aren't important because you never actually get to sleep with them. Because you're dead.

Selkies are both a fantasy of escape and a sort of dreamlike explanation of the slavery women found themselves living in, a kind of acknowledgement that the treatment of women as property was an injustice and a denial of their true, free selves.
posted by emjaybee at 11:47 AM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Mermaids always remind me of Carol Shields' novel The Republic of Love--one of the protagonists is a folklore researcher who is writing an academic book on mermaids. At one point, she becomes exasperated by her subject:
Their writhing bodies. Their empty unblinking faces shrieking for love. . . . Not one of the mermaids she's seen had a whit of intelligence about her. The tiny annular mouths are greedy. Love, love, love is all they can dream up down there in their underwater homes. They're starved and vapid and stupid as fish. They're impoverished by love, maddened by love, they're crazy as . . . as crazy as Fay is herself.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:08 PM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Somewhere in the Monster Dimension a monster is complaing "not teen girls again! This trend is so over!"
posted by Artw at 12:13 PM on August 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


Are we sure mermaids don't have genitals? I always just assumed they concealed some sort of eldritch vulva behind a flap of scales. And mermen, in turn, are packing somewhere inside that fishtail.
posted by threeants at 12:14 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder which kind of mermaids fish themselves would find alluring - it is the top human/bottom fish traditional mermaids or the top fish/bottom human reverse ones?
posted by elizardbits at 12:14 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I spent an awkward 10 minutes at a Halloween party with a guy who shared his "hypothesis" that a mermaid would be the perfect girlfriend, because he'd never have to worry about pleasing her (given her lack of genitals) but he could still "get his jollies from her boobs and mouth."

(Reader, I fled him)
posted by argonauta at 12:15 PM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]




As Kadin2048 said, monsters reflect our worries. Vampires represent the aristocracy, stealing life from the rest of us while being rich, attractive, powerful and monstrous. Zombies represent the fear of the masses, the crowd run amok. Giant radioactive monster movies came out of the fears of the atomic age.

So the question for the next big thing is what are we afraid of now, and what monster best represents that fear?
posted by fings at 12:16 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mentioned this to the missus, and apparently daughter number two is utterly obsessed with something called "H2O Just Add Water". So there's that.
posted by zoo at 12:19 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can see it now: not content with Pride and Prejudice and Vampires, publishers will now bring out Louisa May Alcott's Little Mermaids and Little Mermen, Hemingway's The Old Merman and the Sea, Bolt's A Merman for All Seasons, Genet's The Mermaids, Steinbeck's Of Mice and Mermen...
posted by thomas j wise at 12:22 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is already Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters though.
posted by elizardbits at 12:25 PM on August 3, 2013


[High-pitched standup comic voice] If male mermaids are called mermen, why aren't female manatees called maidatees?
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:33 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


So the question for the next big thing is what are we afraid of now, and what monster best represents that fear?

Health Insurance Monster.
posted by Artw at 12:37 PM on August 3, 2013


Yeah I was gonna say "Medical Procedure Preapproval Demon" because seriously wtf.
posted by elizardbits at 12:39 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does this mean we get more 90s-style sluggishly bureaucratic alien/government conspiracies?
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 12:42 PM on August 3, 2013


Oh wait right yeah Dr. Who.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 12:43 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


An angry black monster marketed to viewers of Fox News? Oh, wait, that's already happening, right?
posted by Area Man at 12:47 PM on August 3, 2013


Well there is always banally evil kafkaesque senior civil servant demon.


Also, describing the anxiety underpinning modern zombies as simply a fear of the mob misses some of the nuance involved. The modern zombie isn't simply a mindless, but rather a mindless cannibal specifically created by late capitalism. John & Jean Comaroff have argued that the zonbi of West Africa and the Caribbean are the personification of the labor captured through seemingly magical methods, the result of the introduction of specifically colonial forms of capitalism to pre-capitalist societies (essentially, it answers the question "where are these people getting this wealth from?" with the idea that they must have captured the souls of dead people who now work for them. It also speaks to the novel forms of compulsion that capitalism introduces to the labor market). In contrast, the zombies of George Romero et al. represent the consumer in the final stages of late capitalism. They no longer work, only consume, and they are never satiated. They are literally driven mad by the need to consume more and more of the products of others' labor, represented in this case by actual human flesh.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:02 PM on August 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Dear The Whelk,

Here is your GHOST SEX
posted by kaibutsu at 1:05 PM on August 3, 2013


Zombies, at least in most modern incarnations, represent the threat of the mob, individual will subverted to the group beyond the point of no return, the horror of watching people we know become mindless killers, etc.

I think in the Romero tradition the zombie is a bit more complex than that. Zombies are humans with their humanity stripped away. The punchline is that racism, war, and commercialism already are in the process of doing that to varying degrees.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:12 PM on August 3, 2013


What, no elves or faeries?
posted by Karmakaze at 1:13 PM on August 3, 2013


Strange Interlude: "Sexy, brooding gelatinous cubes."

But you never get your toys back! Hmmmmmph. Too expensive.
posted by Samizdata at 1:14 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, I'm pretty sure that there exist pretty long antecedants for demons-as-bureaucrats (or at the very least, as lawyers) and started doing some additional research to see what I could find beyond the Devil and Daniel Webster.

And I came across this, which is probably the most eponysterical book I've ever witnessed.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:16 PM on August 3, 2013


A few years back they had almost real life mermaids as a job at Disneyland.

A search for (Disneyland mermaids site:metafilter.com) pulled up this gem in regards to Salvador Dali.
posted by bukvich at 1:16 PM on August 3, 2013


demons-as-bureaucrats

Mmm, Dick Roman.
posted by elizardbits at 1:17 PM on August 3, 2013


You can't beat Dick.
posted by The Whelk at 1:17 PM on August 3, 2013


actually that plotline used a lot of modern day fears, over food additives and corporate monopolies and the treatment of livestock, etc
posted by The Whelk at 1:18 PM on August 3, 2013


Oops, on preview, I see that's been done. Still running with it though.

You sure can't run with the standard model mermaid, they can only thrash about.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:19 PM on August 3, 2013


Congratulations, Metafilter, I now have very strong opinions about a topic I had given absolutely no thought towards ever before the last twenty minutes. Again.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:20 PM on August 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


banally evil kafkaesque senior civil servant demon

I confess, on first reading, I missed the "b." I was grateful I had not just taken a sip of beer.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:21 PM on August 3, 2013


Bob Benson.
posted by Artw at 1:31 PM on August 3, 2013




"Medical Procedure Preapproval Demon"

Like cenobites, but they just sort of tut about the paperwork.
posted by Artw at 1:33 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bob Benson.

He's already tapped for Companion when Christina Hendricks takes over as the 12th Doctor.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:34 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was at a fundraiser for the Gulf Coast Marine Specimen Lab back a couple of months ago, and one of the fundraising side-attractions was to pay five bucks to get your picture taken with a Mermaid, who was an attractive young woman in Mermaid get-up. She may have been a Weeki Watchi Mermaid, they have been doing Mermaid Shows since 1947 as a weird-Florida tourist attraction. This comment is partly an excuse to link to the Marine Lab, in the hopes that someone might wish to contribute to their very important non-mermaid-related research. They got a lot of unexpected extra work after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Disaster but no extra funding, and they rescue and release sea-turtles and are generally hoopy froods who know everything there is to know about sea critters.
posted by Cookiebastard at 1:38 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


GHOST SEX.

"Ghost? Oh, I thought you said goat."

Cut to the chase: incubi and succubi, your choice...

Succubi have already been a thing on soap operas for decades. I think the next big bad is going to be something from the oceans and/or deep below the earth, a la the most recent War of the Worlds film and Pacific Rim. I think it'll be tied to pollution or fracking or somesuch.
posted by fuse theorem at 1:39 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I watched the first few episodes of H2O: Just Add Water on Netflix sometime in 2011. I was hoping for some sort of Australian analogue to Buffy, but although there were some similarities I quickly realized that it was and would remain more like Wizards of Waverly Place.
posted by The Confessor at 1:39 PM on August 3, 2013


In Splash she eats, and if you eat you poop, and if you poop you have a butthole. The fact that it was present but subtle enough to be unseen in any rear shots can be extrapolated to mean her genitalia would also be thus. Therefor, mermaids have genitals, they just are, you know, hard to see. Subtle and or camouflaged.

Mermaids have breasts, ergo they are mammals.

Note: I just started to Google "dolphin vagina" but remembered that the NSA is watching.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:41 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Vampires had a fair bit of traction as metaphors for subcultures, sexuality, and HIV. My Best Friend is a Vampire is possibly one of the more explicit versions of this, with the newly turned teen protagonist ashamedly trying to get his fix of pig's blood from the all-night butcher, only to get a conspiratorial wink. It was a fad that fit in perfectly with some of the cultural tensions of the last 30-odd years.

Mermaids? I don't know. I live in a coastal city but it doesn't feel like a maritime culture. The millions of dollars that pass through the docks get unloaded onto yards, and from there, directly onto the rail and truck terminals. The whole thing is mechanized and industrialized. There's not really a sense that the sea is necessary, unknowable, and dangerous. It's a tourist attraction and recreational site.

And is sea punk for real, because that has got to be the ugliest non-porn tag search I've ever seen.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:45 PM on August 3, 2013


seapunk is absolutely real.
posted by nadawi at 1:49 PM on August 3, 2013


i mean, done with an air of joking nearly always - but certainly real.
posted by nadawi at 1:49 PM on August 3, 2013


Tempted to really take on this seapunk thing just to confuse the hell out of my students next term....
posted by kaibutsu at 1:58 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whatever it takes to get Pushing Daisies back, man.
posted by tzikeh at 2:01 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


From gelatinouscubefacts.com:
FACT: Gelatinous cubes have helped adventurers with their encumbrance troubles for centuries.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:02 PM on August 3, 2013


We've had a ton of mermaid statues in Norfolk for some time now. When they were first installed there was a bit of a stir and some graffiti, but these days they're left alone. However, now I'm waiting for someone* to go around drawing genitalia on them.
*If this actually happens, I would like to go ahead and state my innocence.
posted by sephira at 2:04 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like cenobites, but they just sort of tut about the paperwork.

We have such forms to show you....
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:22 PM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


We don't have too many popular demonic bureaucracies cause part of the appeal of vampires, werewolves, zombies,etc is that we know we can defeat them.
posted by The Whelk at 2:32 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even in hell your previous condition is legendary! /slams door.
posted by Artw at 2:33 PM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


WE WILL TEAR YOUR MR-10735-J/M APART!
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:40 PM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Boto is the new vampire! A sexy shapeshifting river dolphin, what's not to like?
posted by Tom-B at 2:49 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


i would fuck the hell out of a hill giant, use his asshole as aladian's cave.
posted by PinkMoose at 2:57 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


this is a weird thread
posted by The Whelk at 2:58 PM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


did i cross a line with the hill giant comment?
posted by PinkMoose at 2:59 PM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


What is happening is a revival of '90s paranormal interest, and mermaids have been big in the crazier corners of cryptozoology lately. I don't think they can sustain a trend on their own.

What's bigger than mermaids right now are Gray Aliens, because they are fucking terrifying, and they tap into the new class fears where middle class prosperity is disappearing - Zombies were all "Oh my god, I don't want to become one of the unwashed poor masses."

Well, it's too late. The foreclosure went through and the unemployment ran out, and you still owe a quarter million in student loans. You are them. Now that you're poor, you realize that forces beyond your control, with resources you can't understand, intend to do bad fucking things to you for reasons that don't make sense.

On the other hand, Hero Robots are everywhere in indie sci-fi short films, and were the focus on Pacific Rim. Expect more Hero Robots, and the optimism and fun that comes with them. Dystopias are a bit played out.
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:07 PM on August 3, 2013


H2O is a staple of the days when I babysit. It's much more palatable if you realize the Australian teenagers on the show are frequently drunk and therefore think they are a mermaid.
posted by honestcoyote at 3:10 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, Hero Robots are everywhere in indie sci-fi short films, and were the focus on Pacific Rim. Expect more Hero Robots, and the optimism and fun that comes with them. Dystopias are a bit played out.

The grays project Hero Robot movies on the sides of high, flat clouds. They become universally loved. Their invasion is welcomed.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:10 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


pinkmoose: Only if it wasn't consensual.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:27 PM on August 3, 2013


Slap*Happy: The REALLY big thing here in Kenya is the Illuminati. The other day I walked past a car that was blaring Illumnati nonsense out of some loudspeakers while two guys handled the DVD sales. This in addition to the Illuminati-flavored DVD's I see for sale on the roadside every hundred meters or so.

That's a REAL icon of the oppressed: The vast, invisible conspiracy which controls everything in the world, and is thus the real reason that your country is so fucked up. It's an easy excuse for the corruption of the country's so-called leadership (aka, democratically elected leaders and native sons). Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the pol's actively funded the DVD sales to keep expectations low.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:38 PM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


what i have always been fascinated with, is the connections between evangelical xians in the states and the Illuminati obsession. same kind of thing--you know, why is god not more powerful, because SATAN. i wonder if there is some connection b/w evangelical xianities, their goals in the states, and the evangelical culture given to them by the states...

also, hill giant sex is always consensual.
posted by PinkMoose at 3:41 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if you could sum up the dominant US anxiety of the age in a single sentence? I think it's something like "We fucked it up and it's not going to get any better". Or more bluntly: We failed. Can there be a single monster that idealizes that buzzing, growing horror that we broke the planet and everything is going to get much much worse.

For single monster doing this, I like the Doppleganger, and I thought Fringe heralded these themes really well with the Amber Universe always being on the brisk of total ecosystem collapse.
posted by The Whelk at 3:42 PM on August 3, 2013


HISTORY'S GREATEST MONSTER, STEPHEN MOFFAT
posted by Artw at 3:50 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


As always the English speaking world is stealing third world culture and repackaging to sell it back at an incredible markup.

There was not a single popular party I went to as a child where the game did not play Rigo Tovar's 'La Sirenita', from the seventies.

Rigo is scuba diving and falls in love with a mermaid. They get married. Rigo is intrigued that nothing happens after 9 months, but exactly one year after the wedding she gives birth to an angel faced and fish tailed baby boy. Shark Soldiers take Rigo to Neptune's court, where he us accused and found guilty of eating the mermaid for breakfast on a Friday during Lent. He is sentenced to death by shooting squad. Just in time the mermaid shows up and tells the true story, saving the day.

So I can say that it is canon since the seventies that:
1. Men and mermaid can have reproductive sex.
2. A mermaid's gestation period is one year.
3. Neptune has shark soldiers.
4. Neptune is Catholic.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 3:52 PM on August 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


In SF movies in anycase, there has been a steady progression of Crapsack Dystopian futures where everyone is poor and hungry for the last few years now. Part of the reason why I really liked Looper, the production design just made everything look shitty and used and make-do, indicating that there hasn't been anything new made (or bought) in a long time.
posted by The Whelk at 3:58 PM on August 3, 2013


its why i am excited to see eylsium--i think the juxtaposition b/w gleaming modernism and sad sack is pretty much the future (see los angeles, sao paulo, lagos)
posted by PinkMoose at 4:00 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a kind of tragic aspect to Tolkien's elves: Almost everyone's gone west already, but for a few who are hanging tight and watching everything go to shit. While glittering.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:01 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I once wrote an outline for an urban fantasy story under the tagline "Elves Ruin Everything."

(basically, why stay behind and not retire to the West? Well, to control humanity and make them think you're doing them a favor, duh, can't let the apes get ideas above their station.)
posted by The Whelk at 4:03 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


thats a book i would read, but i hate tolkein
posted by PinkMoose at 4:04 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eh, they where Elves from another dimension, with the departure point of history being 1983 when the first immgrants from the Alternate Toilkein-y dimension started to flood in. Smash cut to 2010 and just going outside requires a few decent protection and nullification charms cause you buy spells at the corner deli.
posted by The Whelk at 4:06 PM on August 3, 2013


Yeah I've been hearing this "mermaids are the new vampires" thing for ages too; I worked at a bookstore about a year ago and they kept trying to promote mermaid books because of it and it really wasn't catching on. They were all those books with the covers that are obviously targeted at preteen girls with that kind of fonts and bright colors and shit.

You can put me down as one of the people who finds selkies way more interesting than traditional mermaids, probably partly because I found a selkie erotica short story on that one website I forgot the name of (it was like Deviantart before Deviantart and was basically all fantasy art stuff) when I was at a really impressionable age (read: had no idea how to find good erotica), and then I grew up and read Seanan McGuire.

Also I keep thinking of Katamari Damacy's description of mermen: "Everybody loves a mermaid! A merman, not so much."
posted by NoraReed at 4:06 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Attwood's 'Year of the Flood' (I still haven't read Oryx and Crake, though) is one of the more plausible dystopias I've read. There are these massive ugly cities overflowing with desperation and tiny tiny heavily guarded bubbles where the scientists live who make the products that the megacorporations sell to the huddled masses who can just barely afford them. She never really mentions the executives, oddly enough; I kind of imagine they orbit the planet in a cruise ship or something. Maybe with a name like 'AXIOM.'
posted by kaibutsu at 4:08 PM on August 3, 2013


You don't know that mermaids don't have genitals. Have you ever met one?
posted by limeonaire at 4:09 PM on August 3, 2013


I wonder if you could sum up the dominant US anxiety of the age in a single sentence?

"The past was better."

I think "we fucked it up" is pretty optimistic, in that it indicates waaay too much self-awareness. I predict a lot of declinism, without any responsibility for it. Or maybe even with the responsibility pushed elsewhere: the return of the Yellow Peril, maybe. But basically a mix of "sorry you missed the party, kids, it was awesome!" and "everything sucks now."
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:18 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having this really unfortunate feeling that I maybe helped kill the thread with that turn towards dystopias. Let's try to bring things back on topic.... While still maintaining the flow of conversation....

So. Do you think Waterworld would have worked better with mermaids?
posted by kaibutsu at 4:38 PM on August 3, 2013


So. Do you think Waterworld would have worked better with mermaids?

It depends on how quickly they lured Kevin Costner to his doom, of course.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:47 PM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Take your pick.
posted by and for no one at 4:53 PM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Mermaids do a lot of oral and mermen are very happy.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:58 PM on August 3, 2013


You can put me down as one of the people who finds selkies way more interesting than traditional mermaids, probably partly because I found a selkie erotica short story on that one website I forgot the name of (it was like Deviantart before Deviantart and was basically all fantasy art stuff) when I was at a really impressionable age (read: had no idea how to find good erotica), and then I grew up and read Seanan McGuire.

Elfwood! Man, I loved Elfwood.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:02 PM on August 3, 2013


The real problem with mermen is that all they ever want to talk about is how big their codpieces are.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:07 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Artw: ""Medical Procedure Preapproval Demon"

Like cenobites, but they just sort of tut about the paperwork.
"

And they complain about the cost and depreciation on the machine that goes BWAAAAAAGGGGGGKKKKKKdeargodnopleasenotagainAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHKK!
posted by Samizdata at 5:48 PM on August 3, 2013


It's no problem. Mermaids can have a form of sex. They use a form of sonar like sound waves to 'stimulate' the nescessary pleasure parts. They are able to activate this ability in humans when they are with them. It's like orgastic magic.
posted by Jalliah at 6:06 PM on August 3, 2013


Angels keep showing up in YA fiction and keep looming like they're going to be the next big thing. I just don't see them out-sexying vampires. (Even though I can totally see how wings would require a lot more shirtlessness for guys and that can only be good.) Same with mermaids. They'll always have their proponents, but they'll largely be little girls deciding if they like mermaids or fairies better. (The answer is fairies.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 6:42 PM on August 3, 2013


The thing is that this conversation about "what's the next thing in YA paranormal romance?" and paranormal romance is pretty over right now. Readers are sick of it, editors are sick of it, agents are sick of it. Dystopians, too, now. Sci-fi is doing okay--the 5th Wave hit the NYTimes list and a bunch of them like the 100 are optioned for TV or movies. But I think we've largely exited the era of "girl falls in love with paranormal creature."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:54 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oddly enough, I've a few friends making good money as mermaids. They travel to events, hang out in a pool, and the little kids love them.
posted by _paegan_ at 7:21 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Angels keep showing up in YA fiction and keep looming like they're going to be the next big thing.

Hm. We did that in the 90s, though.
posted by Miko at 7:29 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


WORLD WAR M. (Yes, I got the idea from no relation's brilliant World War S)
posted by JHarris at 7:33 PM on August 3, 2013


There's a Neil Gaiman story in one of his collections, which dates from before he could just do whatever he wanted, where an editor was telling him angels were going to be bug, and then the same editor or a different one was telling him cars were going to be big, so he wrote a story about a cat angel.

Of course Gaimans work is like 60% angels and cats so that could just be an excuse.
posted by Artw at 7:34 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and LoadingReadyRun knows what the next teen trend will be. Cthulhus!
posted by JHarris at 7:36 PM on August 3, 2013


Wait, what Artw? Cars, cats? Going to be bug? I sense there are extensive typos in that comment. (I guess this because it seems like the kind of thing I would do.)
posted by JHarris at 7:38 PM on August 3, 2013


Next up on scyfy: Mermaido.
posted by shortyJBot at 7:38 PM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Car-bug is a typo, also the next big thing.
posted by Artw at 7:43 PM on August 3, 2013


A common problem young mermen tend to have is mischevious parents naming them Ethyl, which tends to brand them as an outcast in school. (A school of mer-people.)
posted by JHarris at 7:44 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


They eat the actual Paris, which is in France.
posted by Artw at 7:44 PM on August 3, 2013


Can there be a single monster that idealizes that buzzing, growing horror that we broke the planet and everything is going to get much much worse.

Dick Cheney.
posted by JHarris at 7:47 PM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]




Readers are sick of it, editors are sick of it, agents are sick of it. Dystopians, too, now.

Dystopian romance really was the last big thing: Fever, Divergent, Matched, Delirium: most of 'em have finished their trilogies or nearly done so and I guess the fad is starting to wind down.

Really, the last successful thing like Twilight was The Hunger Games, which lead to the popularity of a lot of other books that realized that the fandom really ate up the Peeta/Gale bullshit and a lot of dystopian novels that focused mostly on the romance managed to do pretty well. So we'll need to see something leading the way for this to take off, and I don't see that happening with mermaids, because the way that the paranormal romance books (or the paranormal books that have romance in them and are still targeted at girls) seem to work generally is that the main character is mostly normal (or at least mostly normal at first and then is revealed later to be half-angel/half-demon/half-vampire/magically immune to mind-reading/a construct/half werewolf/the daughter of someone powerful/some combination of the above) and the love interest is the one that's a vampire/an angel/a fallen angel/some demon thing/etc and she has to struggle to deal with that (and if she has some magical background herself that's usually thrown in as a wrench to get more drama and another book out of an already established romance).

A mermaid is female, though, so unless they're doing some kind of fall in love with a merman story (which seems rarer than Little Mermaid type stuff), the mermaid is really not the new vampire but the new princess: a status that makes the female protagonist an outsider in mainstream society but one who is "above" the common humans in some ways.
posted by NoraReed at 8:03 PM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I hope the next thing is ghosts and the attempts to right past wrongs, because that means that some of my favorite YA novels will come back into print. Wait Til Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn, The Ghosts of Departure Point by Eve Bunting, and others I can't remember the name of.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:13 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe Huldras could have their moment?
posted by Area Man at 8:21 PM on August 3, 2013


It's like a plate of beans, but it's a fish from the waist down.
posted by JHarris at 9:25 PM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


also, hill giant sex is always consensual.

I keep misreading that as "giant hill sex", which is very odd, but I guess also a fun and whimsical way to, like, explain the effects of continental drift on the formation of mountains, maybe?
posted by palomar at 9:34 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Medical Procedure Preapproval Demon"

If this idea appeals, you might like Liz Williams' novels that start from Snake Agent. A sort of cyberpunk-dystopia-meets-bureaucratic-Chinese-hells setting.
posted by hattifattener at 9:42 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh man so ages and ages ago I was at a party where someone had just finished her PhD on plate tectonics and decided to give an impromptu reenactment of it in which she got various volunteers from the audience to lie down on top of each other and then buckle and uplift in various ways and uh yeah that was some hot hill on hill action right there.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:42 PM on August 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


My money's on skeletons. They're the best Halloween creature, and they deserve a little sexy time.
posted by painquale at 10:22 PM on August 3, 2013


Skeletons?
posted by RobotHero at 10:53 PM on August 3, 2013


Kadin2048: Zombies, at least in most modern incarnations, represent the threat of the mob, individual will subverted to the group beyond the point of no return, the horror of watching people we know become mindless killers, etc. (You can play this game for other well-established bits of modern folklore, too; e.g. werewolves almost always represent passions overtaking reason, or at least generally the struggle between the two, and how they're represented is a good clue to the author's take on the relative merits of each. The more prudish the author, the more terrifying werewolves are.)

I've heard otherwise, that zombies started out as a metaphors for the ignorant society that surrounded geeks, and were basically the high school jock taken to an extreme. Thus geeks love them, as it gives them an excuse to show off how smart they are at surviving things. I mean, it may have moved beyond that, but I think that is why it got popular with books such as The Complete Zombie Survival Guide, and the endless 'best location to hide in a zombie apocalypse' arguments.


But I agree, it's not really clear where mermaids fit in to a framework like that. What deep-seated strings, either of fear or longing, are they pulling at in the modern consciousness? What are they supposed to represent?

The fear of being watched ALL THE TIME. Of having every bit of your life out for the public to see. However, I don't think the NSA would work in a tween paranormal romance book. A ghost might though, and it could watch you all the time. It even has the stalker thing down, ready for those tween how not to do a relationship books, I mean, Twilight-type books.
posted by Canageek at 2:08 AM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Megan Gedris is awesomely way ahead of the curve on this: Darlin it's betta down where its wetta.
posted by freya_lamb at 4:10 AM on August 4, 2013


I am so glad I got my mermaid novel out ahead of the rush.

(Atomic-powered robot space mermaids, just in case you thought I was going all fantasy-cliche on you.)
posted by cstross at 4:24 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


If mermaids reproduce like fish, you could make an overpopulation metaphor - huge seabeds of eggs ready to hatch and needing food. Maybe they could need the sea to expand so as a comment above, merpeople are pro- global warming.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 5:03 AM on August 4, 2013


They're like locusts, and only hatch once every five hundred years or so, which explains so many mermaids in old nautical literature and anceint times without so much inbetween.....
posted by kaibutsu at 5:18 AM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well. I hope this thread doesn't awaken anything in me.
posted by Gordafarin at 7:13 AM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is there a comparison to be made between the mermaid and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl?
posted by box at 9:31 AM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


box: you are looking for the manic pixie dream mermaid, yes?
posted by cstross at 9:48 AM on August 4, 2013


Well, I wouldn't say I was looking for her, but, one day, I was on my way to my boring soulless corporate job, sitting on the East River Ferry, reading the Wall Street Journal, and, long story short, I fell overboard, and there she was.
posted by box at 9:58 AM on August 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


Canageek: However, I don't think the NSA would work in a tween paranormal romance book.

A fair bit of juvenile and YA fiction is dystopian, probably stemming from the fact that teen roles in our culture involve this weird mix of giving and denying them responsibility. Protagonist against shadowy conspiracy goons are a reasonably popular sub-genre.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:17 PM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Australian show 'H20', the predecessor to Mako, is kinda sexy when I'm half asleep. But I'm kinda used to mythological mermaids as being variants of sirens, and I've seen them used that way in a short horror film.

Maybe combine them with Deep Ones for the 'caught between two worlds' pathos. And bring back the Creature from the Black Lagoon!
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:27 PM on August 4, 2013


But I agree, it's not really clear where mermaids fit in to a framework like that. What deep-seated strings, either of fear or longing, are they pulling at in the modern consciousness? What are they supposed to represent?

Well in H20: Just Add Water I think they illustrate the Australian fear of and fascination with the sea. Deadly, but beautiful.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:40 PM on August 4, 2013


Well, Dragon's Crown has a solution to how do you sexuallize mermaids. NSFW, if that wasn't oblivious

CBrachyrhynchos: Oh, I do recall that from when I was young, however, I was trying to make a joke about how you'd do Twilight but with the NSA and FBI for vampires and werewolves.
posted by Canageek at 7:51 PM on August 4, 2013


I don't like shallow mermaids. Give me the Deep Ones.

Come on down here to the sitting room, boy... we're gonna have some words if you're to start dating one of my daughters.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:12 PM on August 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Mermaids have vulvas, just like every other mammal.

Do yourself a favor, and believe me, instead of clicking on that link.

Seriously.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:26 AM on August 6, 2013


Is there a comparison to be made between the mermaid and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl?

You're thinking of the Manic Pixie Bream Girl.

I'll let myself out
posted by emmtee at 11:16 AM on August 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


Maybe mer sex is kind of like the angler fish, only there are no mermen so humans are the hapless males.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:25 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


My next project: an old-timey, product-placement-laden soap opera about the torrid romantic triangle between the Chicken of the Sea Mermaid, Mr. Bubble, and the Ty-D-Bol Man. Lots of not-tonight-dear-I-have-a-haddock-style puns, lots of underwater organ music, lots of romantic misunderstandings with guest spots from the Gorton's Fisherman and Charlie the Tuna, and we always cut away to the commercial with the dancing cigarettes whenever the audience starts to figure out how the sex thing works.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:25 PM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Meet Mermaid Shelly!, a mermaid who showed up in the Something Awful forums and inspired lots of people to wear mermaid outfits.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:38 PM on August 6, 2013


The Underpants Monster, the people in charge of planning Foodfight II would like to buy your script.
posted by JHarris at 7:24 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just came across what appeared to be a depiction of a harpy (or maybe a clawed, winged succubus) in "Amateur Night" within the 2012 anthology film V/H/S, available on Netflix.

Mark my word, McDonalds will be selling Harpy Meals soon - perhaps with a McRib covered in human blood instead of barbecue sauce.
posted by XMLicious at 10:57 PM on September 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


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