The Tribe On Air

Prince Lestat is analogous, in its content, of modern society, the age of social media, and the way in which it opens a closeted existence, and lays it bare for readers worldwide, to experience and interact, with content, and with one another. Social media, has paved the way to downgrade, and even eliminate, loneliness in those that feel isolated, separate, and overwhelmed by misunderstanding. Academically, the study of vampire fiction, is often the study of the outsider, feeling unwelcome in “normal” society, and alone, or misunderstood. This is a large reason for the general age of vampire readers, culturally centred on adolescents, who suffer that feeling daily. As the human mind grows, the existential crisis, born of introversion and self-analysis, blooms, and the feeling of isolation does so with it. Readers outside of this age group, that continue to read of this genre, are often those that have engendered a nostalgic connection to the genre, or continue to feel that sense of the other, of not quite slotting into a standard role in society.

As social media is becoming a societal norm, the sense of isolation is slowly being diminished, with the ability to connect with others, that contend with similar feelings, being a simple status update or tweet away. Knowing that there are others in existence that feel similarly, that suffer in much the same vein, is comforting to some, is bolstering, or even, exacerbating, to others. But the feeling of validation, solidarity in no longer being alone in one’s feelings is a step forward towards understanding and acknowledging that, the feeling is not unique, and, can be contended with, in some therapeutic fashion.

This can be seen in action on Anne Rice’s fan page on Facebook, which has expanded into a discussion page, more than a simple means for the author to advertise and remind readers of her presence. The author has turned the page into a place where readers can connect with her on all issues that they feel debateable, that they feel need to be discussed, or even simply expressed, with a picture, a poem, video, or just a comment. It is swiftly becoming one of the most political and societal fan pages on Facebook.

In the novel, Prince Lestat, Benji, Armand’s once human companion, and fledgling of Marius, does what the eldest of his kind are neglecting to do. Following the concept of social media, he reaches out to those feeling isolated and alone, blood drinkers that do not have the connection with the tight inner circle of the Coven of the Articulate, through a radio station, that broadcasts not just over airwaves, but, psychically as well, from one to the other of them, spreading messages, and information, to the young and ancient alike. The station also acts as a means of commiseration, that the ancient, the eldest, have seemingly abandoned the blood drinkers that rely on them, for clarity and meaning. Lost and isolated as the young are, Benji picks up on this emotion, and brings them together, not physically, but, through the sound of his voice, and his companion, Sybelle’s musical prowess.

Benji uses vampiric super-hearing to his advantage, by embedding messages and references into the general drone of the station, using higher frequency than what mortals can grasp. This action, not only binds together loners, that are somehow unwelcome in covens, or find themselves alone through abandonment, or false decisions. It also provides for an intriguing new aspect to the character of Benji himself. He is courageous enough to stand out, in the immortal forum, and publicly shame the ancients for going silent when the young are dying seemingly needlessly and cruelly at random. But also, strong-willed enough, to take on the overall outward seeming of an immortal far older than his actual age, and, equally as impacting, a mortal far older than his pre-adolescence before he was turned. He displays a strong grasp of the situation, that, the only way for the blood drinkers to overcome the seeming purging of fires, set at random, that obliterate entire covens and families, is for them to band together, not to scatter to such great distances and comically stick their heads in the hypothetical sand.

Anne on Air

It speaks of a deeper rhythm of human nature, that these lonesome individuals, can find some form of communication, or, even, just know, without reaching out, that someone is listening, and responding, to their most burning desires, and simple needs to be acknowledged. Anne Rice’s fan page does offer this luxury to her fans, who, so often, are deeply swayed by her work to be altered and groomed through it. It is comforting in a modern era, to know that, the outspoken orator on such a universal theme, such as solitude, is available through a seemingly common message board of sorts.

There is another intriguing level of sub-text that takes place in this novel, utilising Benji’s radio as its vehicle. Relating once more to the Facebook fanpage, Lestat’s absence, in the novel, Prince Lestat, is both fictional, but also closely tied to his absence in literature, over the twelve years that preceded this book’s release. As Benji clamours – for the sake of all blood drinkers – for Lestat to step out of the shadows and give the keening masses some hope, so too, have the People of the Page, been calling for the author’s penned return to her fanged hero. And so, this small inclusion in the latest release on Lestat’s journey, does appear to be a little curtsey to her fans, that have so blatantly refused to give up on the possibility of the Brat Prince’s re-emergence in Rice’s body of work.

It is, particularly, this segment of writing, in the entirety of Prince Lestat, which initially led me to believe that the novel is almost entirely symbolic and analogous, of what the author perceives in a culturally and socially expanding world. Twelve years ago, forums such as Facebook were practically unthinkable, insofar as joining members of the famed elite with the average fan attempting to somehow contact his idol. Now, it would be unthinkable for any writer (or artist of any facet) to claim not to know and answer what the public cries for. There are clear indications within Prince Lestat of Rice willingness to both acknowledge, and respond to, the requests of her impressive following.

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