Deliberate misinterpretation of folklore & mythos in modern fiction

Now, I understand wholeheartedly that when a deliberate misunderstanding, misinterpretation or misrepresentation of mythos serves purpose in the creation of a story, or a universe of stories, you kind of turn a blind eye to the basis for your creations and let your pen or keyboard go about its merry way. Its very easy to say "the reason for the way this creature has been portrayed is because of 'this'," but I think that when an author is remiss in at least referencing those myths, when they don't share with the readers how the 'misinterpretation' came about (assuming that their creatures are the 'real deal' and thus the myths are fabrications based off human thinking as to why the creatures behaved in certain fashions,or say deliberate misinformation placed by the creatures, themselves). Everyone knows I'm not a fan of Twilight, but at the very least, I felt Meyer established the basis of the 'burning in the sun myth' was that her vampires shied away from sunlight because in direct sunlight, the fact that they were not human became blatantly obvious. True, I didn't like her brand of misinterpretation, because it totally ignored the deeper and exceedingly more complicated reasons behind all the old superstitions about vampires.

By that measure, Dracula was not intended to set the standard for ALL vampires. He was one creature. He didn't like crosses because he felt that God had betrayed him and, thus, what he'd become was an affront to God. He didn't have a reflection, because he lost his soul, not because he was a vampire. The sunlight thing is a little more complex, but if you follow the logic, it begins to make sense as to why this superstition exists. The sun was once 'god', as religions and beliefs were usurped and merged, the sun was no longer god, but became the light of god. See?

Then there's the whole flesh-eating zombie thing. Zombies aren't supposed to eat flesh. Blame Romero. When he took flesh-eating undead ghouls and stamped them as zombies, it was all down hill from there. Don't believe me? G'head and google zombies & voodoo. I'll wait.

And angels, for crying out loud, angels are not supposed to be all sweetness and light. They are the messengers, they deliver everything from words, to justice, to SWIFT VENGEANCE. They're portrayed carrying flaming swords in some medieval paintings. So, really, deciding that angels are sunshine and kittens 'cause they're of the Lord is really a severe misinterpretation. Go back and read the sections of the bible in which angels appear.

Anyway . . . .

What I'm on about today in this regard? Incubus, or incubi, as the case may be. I've just about had it up to my eyeballs with seeing some super hot guy on a book cover and the story tells us that he's an incubus. My problem with this is that traditionally, an incubus is not young and hot (no, no, ladies- feel free to get pissed now, 'cause succubi, the female creatures that seduce men & drain their energy ARE supposed to be gorgeous), incubi are actually said to resemble old, gnarled men. Now, if a single one of these authors would acknowledge, I don't know. maybe that the 'real incubi' had started those tales of them looking like gnarled old men so know one would suspect them of what they truly are, then I would take no issue.

Here's the thing, though. I'm pretty sure that many of the writers that make this mistake don't realize they're making a mistake. They've read a billion and one tales of this creature or that creature, and since 'this piece right here' is a constant in all the stories they've read, clearly that must be the one thing that stems from the base mythology for that type of being. They don't bother to actually do any research. And I guess that's okay, depending on the readers ability to suspend disbelief, but the problem is when you take these creatures that come from actual folklore & myth, from established superstition, and you set the story in our world, then you create the problem by not acknowledging that in 'our world' we should be expecting to see something other than what this creature really is.

Like I've always had a huge issue when I played the superhero MMORPGs and there were players who created succubus characters. Their character bios were always some nonsense about how they gave off this scent that basically turned everyone in the room (yup, regardless of gender, species, or sexual preference) into drooling, horny fools that would do anything said succubus asked. They, too, fell into the trap of not researching. A succubus is not intended to have that kind of innate, always switched on power. The purpose of her seductive abilities is supposed to be to ensnare a male victim and drain his energy to sustain herself. That means targeted application of the power, that means actively controlled by the succubus. That also means she should only be able to focus it on one victim at a time. I hate to go there, 'cause I actually sort of liked the show, but "Lost Girl," for example. Bo can only drain more than one person at a time when she taps into a deep, inner level that she wasn't even aware she could do, but it had to be something that was brought out, it wasn't something she could just 'do' whenever she felt like it. But if I recall correctly, there were extenuating circumstances with her character that made her some sort of fae uber-baby or something. And they already botched the mythos by making every non-human creature some type of fae, anyways, so perhaps that shouldn't apply, and anyway they had her drain a small group of people, not accidentally seducing every supernatural creature in a packed dance club.

Okay, I got a little ranty there. My point is simply this, if you're writing about a particular creature that you know exists in old world folklore and has its own stories & myriad superstitions tacked onto its name, no matter how many novels you've read 'about' them, at least do a little bit of research, enough to know what the creatures are actually 'supposed' to be like, so that you can address the misconception  (the 'why' of your representation of said creature being different from what folklore and myth say about them) rather than assuming you know what's what based on the fictions of others.


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