South Park Self

Nosferatu doesn't share his toffees

The drawback - or, possibly, the advantage - of wearing quirky t-shirts pretty much continuously, these non-working days, is that you find yourself in the odd position of having to deconstruct them to your therapist. She is a sharp lady who has been remarkably game about delving into the academic discourse of non-realist fiction, mostly on account of how its weirder corners are absolutely central to my self-definition. Today she went "Hmmm" a lot, and proceeded to prod me into an in-depth analysis of Gothic fictional tropes and their representative status vis-a-vis certain aspects of my life. My head is spinning slightly. On the other hand, deconstructing my T-shirt was fun, so I'm going to do it properly.

This is a Scary-Go-Round shirt, quite my favourite example of John Allison's severely lateral thought processes. It's weird and niche enough that it wasn't a popular shirt, alas, and is no longer available, but I do encourage you to peruse the other SGR shirts if you mind unhinges in that particular way. I think there may be a Major Teacup Space Patrol in my immediate future. And a "Devour your enemies", for those psychotic PMT days.

This is, of course, on the most obvious layer a self-consciously Goth shirt, all dark grey and black and vampires and shit. It gains serious Goth points for its use of "Nosferatu" rather than "Dracula" - "Dracula doesn't share his toffees" is far less euphonious, somehow, but also lacks the force which the self-conscious invocation of quite the most pretentious and gloom-laden version of Dracula permits. Apart from being pretentious, "Nosferatu" recalls both the hunched, grotesque, goblinoid figure of the Murnau and Herzog films of that name, and the heavily black-and-white German Expressionist gloom which permeates them. This is not, it says, your suave, sexy Dracula.

All of the above simply sets up the beautiful elegance with which the juxtaposition of "Nosferatu" and "toffees" punches a hole in Goth pretentions. The blood-lust hunger of the vampire, its obvious evil, is refigured as simple greed for sweeties, a trivialisation of evil into naughtiness which is reflected in the vampire's possessive pose - more pantomime than monstrous. It's a peculiarly childhood transgression, refusal to share. That deflation is echoed in the artwork, the minimalist cartoon both succinctly referencing Klaus Kinski's grotestque, bald Nosferatu, and rendering it innocently cute. The movement in the picture is also significantly away from some unidentified toffee-stealing threat - the vampire as vulnerable, prey rather than predator.

Above all, "toffees" is genius because their most obvious quality is their chewiness, the way they stick to your teeth. Vampires are all about the teeth, and the self-indulgent ordinariness in the idea of sticking your mouth up with toffees both defangs the vampire in a particularly comic fashion, and echoes, on another level, the deflation embodied by of the greed for sweets replacing the lust for blood. The bite becomes the chew. It's beautiful.

I love this shirt. I'm never sure anyone else ever really gets it, probably because this depth of random analysis is the particular vice of the academic. But now you do, whether you like it or not. There is no end to my evil!
  • Current Mood: contemplative randomly analytical
Oh, hooray! Given as how it's a piece of sheer and absolute self-indulgence, it's a wonderful bonus if other people actually enjoy it. I'm glad you did.
I am thinking if I'd had better teaching, or examples, I might have gotten into this concept. Because this is the nicest piece of deconstruction I've ever seen. Thank you!
No, thank you. This kind of poster art is a free gift to teaching detailed analysis, actually: back in the day when I was teaching skills courses, I used to borrow wolverine_nun's poster for The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and make the class analyse it. Apart from anything else, Today's Yoof tend to be a lot more sussed about images than they are about words, but you can seduce them into looking at the words by tying them to images. As above. Bonus point, it's fun!
Why, thank you! except that this is really standard issue academic analysis, I just choose to apply it frivolously and for pure purposes of pleasure.