“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” – Stephen King
If anyone out there is looking for some royal digs to call home, Bran Castle is now up for sale. For a cool $80 million and the approval of the current owners, you can enjoy the drafty coziness of a 57 room castle with underground tunnels and secret passageways perched on a 200 foot tall rock base between Transylvania and Wallachia.
Bran Castle and local lore about the strigoli served as inspiration for Bram Stroker’s Dracula. While tales of paranormal vampiric beings have a rich history rooted in ancient Babylonian blood-sucking ghosts, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the first to give vampires the ability to change into bats. The result was terrifyingly captivating, people still link Bran Castle with the undead despite the castle’s tenuous ties.
The Dracula character was inspired by Vlad the III nicknamed Vlad the Impaler posthumously because of his favorite form of torture. Vlad the Impaler didn’t kick back with blood cocktails, he was more into perching victims high on top of stakes, torching weak and disabled guests, cooking children and feeding them to their mothers, forcing men to consume their wives breasts and of course impaling anyone who was left standing. While Vlad was historically the worst host ever of dinner parties, he never actually owned Bran Castle which was home to Hungarian royalty. Vlad was imprisoned at Bran Castle somewhere between one night and two months but because of its literary association, Bran Castle is a major tourist draw, getting approximately 450,000 visitors a year. Buckingham Palace sees 50,000 visitors a year. To be fair, Buckingham Palace is only open to tourists 2 months out of the year, but conversely is far easier to get to than remote Bran Castle.
So for your $80 million, you are getting a castle Bram Stoker read about where a historically sick puppy slept as a prisoner to which very pale people flock to wander around with struggling actors dressed as family-friendly vampires. So basically, you get to be the proud owner your very own Goth Disney. Unfortunately none of those 57 rooms are bathrooms, so it’s probably more desirable real estate for the undead.
From the fictional vampires of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, to the cruelly dubbed PromBat, bats are making an unseasonably strong showing in headlines. Rihanna is being accused of having a monstrous streak cloaked beneath her Barbadian beauty, seemingly mocking one of her fans via social media not once, not twice, but three times because of her prom attire.
First the side by side with the unhappy face:
Then the follow-up with the Wu-Tang Clan logo:
And finally pointing out she’s just sharing the ridicule, she didn’t coin any of the cruelty:
High school student Alexis Carter was thrilled to wear a dress just like the one Rihanna sported on a red carpet to her Hollywood-themed prom. The teen had posted pics of herself on social media where PhotoShoppers made some modifications to the images and reposted the pics, dubbing Alexis Carter PromBat. My heart breaks for the sixteen-year-old who was so excited to wear the fashion homage to Rihanna, then became the target of cyberbullies with Rihanna eventually Tweeting the pics. According to the teen, “Now everyone is bashing me.”
I can’t imagine ridiculing a fan like that, especially a teen, which is why I hope something got lost in translation, Rihanna appears to be making fun of one of her own fans. Whatever our medium, artists are driven by a compulsion to create and we hope to reach just one other fellow human being. I am so deeply honored and humbled any of you are even reading this. Hi, temi! Your support means the world to me, it’s such a profound gratitude, I just can’t fathom at what point Rihanna would have lost hers.
Sadly, Alexis Carter was the victim of cyberbullying before the pics got to Rihanna, they had been taken off social media, doctored by PhotoShoppers and reposted with the PromBat hashtag. Rihanna’s Tweets with her more than 35 million followers have made the ridicule go supernova for the teen.
Perhaps the internet has desensitized us to the idea that there are actual people with actual feelings behind the online handles and hashtags and we’re becoming drained of our own humanity.
What is cyberbullying other than another form of torture? It’s linguistic vampirism. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, e-mails, and WordPress are just some of the ways in which technology has imbued us with the ability to harm other human beings without even having to leave the comforts of home.
There was a time when trolls were creatures of folk lore who collected tolls or were ridiculous looking dolls with brightly colored hair that were in need of a deep condition. Now we encounter them in every online comment section, some of us are accused of being trolls if we dare offer a differing opinion.
What happened with Alexis Carter represents the worst of what social media can do. Teenage victims of cyberbullying are twice as likely to commit suicide. Hopefully Alexis is strong enough to withstand the public ridicule that has come from trying to honor someone she once greatly admired. Sadly the internet brings out the worst in us sometimes and yet the monster is of our creation. The internet can’t be stopped with a stake through the heart, fire or a silver bullet, it’s not vulnerable to garlic, crosses or wolfsbane, we have created a monster that’s virtually impossible to destroy.
The question remains, how far is too far when it comes to Freedom of Speech? Do you think Rihanna owes Alexis Carter an apology?