Analysis of “Becoming Clickbait”
“Wait a minute, you’ve done this before!”
Yup, welcome to another special edition of me being a complete narcissist. If you’re new to this, let me explain: every now and then I write a short story that I believe is so intricate, it deserves an analysis of its hidden meaning. Trouble is, in my experience, even university professors refused to look between the lines of my writing and judged my stories solely on its surface, despite teaching us all about the hidden meanings of all the super cool dead guys. So I figured, fuck it, if no one else is looking into the subtext of my stories, I’ll have to pull a Thanos and do it myself.
When you read my short stories, imagine me sitting next to you, staring at you, studying every single one of your facial reactions and determining whether they were the right ones, followed by me asking whether you noticed the very particular minute details. While I would love to do that to each and every one of you, I do have a dayjob and travelling is expensive. So instead, I will write up my own analysis of a particular story for all of you to read and agree that the whackfest below was totally what you thought was going on in the story, too.
“But, Alex, doesn’t dissecting a story destroy its mystery and wonder?”
Shut up, I made the thing and I can kill it. So before I light the fuse of my spoiler bomb, this is your last chance to read the story in question, “Becoming Clickbait”
DISCLAIMER: The philosophy “I made the thing and I can kill it” should only be adapted in relation to material creations. If you apply this to your children, don’t drag me into it.
The Making of “Becoming Clickbait”
Before I tear apart the bony limbs of the story, I need to tell you what inspired me to write this. For the past few months I have become good friends with fellow blogger Luana van Dragonhyde. If you haven’t already, you should check out her blog because she is incredibly creative and, most importantly, hilarious. This also applies to chatting with her. I’m not sure Luana is aware of it, but she has a knack for kickstarting the most random conversations and guiding them into a swamp of madness by pulling the weirdest nonsense out of your brain. This is how the Wall People were born. A casual conversation ending with “Don’t worry about the Wall People”.
Once the story idea was set, I brainstormed with my artist, Aisha, who was dying to test out her Microsoft Surface Book Pro for some digital art. She created a quick sketch and had about 2.5 weeks to finish the image. But as her alter ego, Procrastinaisha, she managed to wait until one freaking day before publishing to actually start and finish the whole picture. Despite the last minute stress, she nailed it. I mean, look at it:
The two characters, in a dimly lit room, kept apart by the creepiest hands I’ve ever seen, coming right out of the wall. In the centre of the image: the dreaded couch; not only a reminder of the girls’ past mistakes, but also the catalyst of her (literal) downfall. Did you also notice the hidden faces in the shadows? There’s three of them. They’ve been there this whole time, watching you. Perfect imagery for the core concept of the story.
But what the fuck is the story actually about? Let’s dig in with our long, creepy claws, and find out!
Who is Lana?
Lana is the unwilling participant in the Wall People’s scheme of changing reality. With a special ability unknown to her, she drifts in and out of other worlds, creating new ones in the process, and sometimes dragging things from those worlds into the next. Basically like a painter thinking of an image and painting it, a writer making up a story and writing it, or a con-artist inventing a new scheme and…conning it.
I loosely based this character on my aforementioned friend Luana as a thanks for helping me create this story. At first, she was not amused about the idea of being killed, but just like a burning hot metal rod stabbing through human flesh, I eased her into it.
What are the Wall People?
The Wall People are creatures from another world that Lana unintentionally dragged with her into the world where the story took place. Notice how I didn’t just say “dragged them to her home”. That’s because the setting in the story is just another world that Lana visits. It’s not her home, it’s not normal reality. The world itself is Lana’s creation and the Wall People are her fanbase following her into that world. Unfortunately, the Wall People followed because they were promised something great and not an inhabitable planet for their species where they are forced to live within the confines of cramped, dark spaces. Similar to how people get tricked into following a link to a disappointing Youtube video that had barely anything to do with the title. You know, like clickbait.
Representing a toxic fanbase starved for content, the Wall People are super thin motherfuckers, craving more and more. They are mostly blind and traverse the plains of existence by clicking around with their claws, like your average bored internet user clicking and scrolling through the web for something that can hold their attention. Once they find it, they dig their claws in deep and don’t let go until it’s entirely consumed.
Like any shitty fanbase, these Wall People are not satisfied with Lana’s creation and want to change it their way. While this would be understandable if the world was a boring slog of Trades Federation debates, toxic fans go all out when they see something wrong with the content they’re presented with. In order to fix everything they see wrong with it, they want to use Lana’s power, even if it mangles her body and spirit.
The fuck is Tristan doing then?
Is Tristan just a crazy weirdo who’s in love with Lana and murders her to save the world? Well, not “just”.
Tristan seems awfully familiar with the Wall People and Lana’s power. Also, similar to the monsters, he himself was always near her. You see, not all fans have to be assholes. Some accept the changes and new concepts of their favourite creators and embrace them. Tristan is what the Wall People would have been if they too would accept the world Lana created as it was. This explains why he has a psychic link to the monsters. He is one of them, only he adapted to the different environment. He’s a fan that managed to love both old and new ideas. Of course, he doesn’t stay on the good side of fandom for long since he murders Lana to prevent the end of the world. Been there, done that, am I right?
The Wall People needed Lana’s power to change reality, but Tristan had already adapted to that new reality. He then becomes just another spectrum of a toxic fan that finds it necessary to get involved with a piece of art for his own personal gain. Unlike the Wall People who want to change the creation, Tristan wants to preserve it but thereby prohibiting anything new to surface. But he’s still on the fence about it and it shows in his actions and emotions. He bandaged Lana’s wounds and is visibly upset about murdering her, whereas the Wall People wouldn’t hesitate to rip Lana’s head open and harvest her creativity. In the end, he showers in her ashes, trying anything he can to keep Lana close to him, to keep the franchise or art close to him.
I wanted his actions to be morally ambiguous. Would you destroy the thing you love to preserve another? Lana died, Tristan was about to get mangled by the Wall People, and the Wall People themselves would not survive any longer in that world. But the world would still be there with all its inhabitants. The art would stay preserved even after the death of the artist and the garbage fans who like to shout things on twitter. Just like with lots of literature which didn’t land with the readers of their time and became legendary classics centuries later.
Alright, so what’s the point?
Well, fuck, if that’s not good enough for you then you might wanna read all my other short stories and see if any of those tickle your fancy. Then come up with your own analysis and I’ll tell you how wrong you are.
Excuse me for trying to create something spooky and thought provoking at the same time. Ugh, it’s like I’m surrounded by Wall People.
Anybody else hear that weird skittering sound?