Thomas has autism and Alice is a goth

Speaking of cult status, which we were — try to keep up — there are several luminous examples among the screen media — among literature in general, in fact — of titles with especial resonance for certain niche groups. Let me be precise: groups which are obviously united by their neurology or their response to societal norms are often, in ways that are sometimes only loosely intuitive to the outside observer, drawn to specific works of literature. It’s true.

alice-burton-wonderlandFor example, it’s fairly easy to understand why those who identify as Gothic would also identify with, say, Tim Burton. It’s all the black scary things. Simple. But the part that is actually intriguing is the fact that goths everywhere (a certain type of goth, anyway) have an uncannily strong affinity with Alice, adventurer in Wonderland. Crazy blonde hair, powder-blue frock, poor self-control — it is easy to imagine her appealing to some groups. Pre-teen Disney fans, yes; socially inept bookish children, yes; lonely mathematicians with questionable motives, indeed. But the fact remains: dive into the world of Alice appreciation and you’ll inevitably find yourself rubbing shoulders with a gaggle of Gothic fans. Some will be delightful whimsigoths hanging out at Gorey Details; some, enterprising artists sharing their Tenniel hairpieces on Etsy; some lining up to see (and note the felicitous congruence here) Tim Burton’s adaptation, or Erich Hoeber’s, or one by Marilyn Manson too ghastly to link.

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Cult beauty products that are secretly horrid

History records a list of things–whether they be tragic novels, children’s movies, chocolate bars or strengthening exercises–that have achieved what is pleasingly referred to as cult status. You know the ones–Wuthering Heights, Babe, the Reese’s Piece, the burpee, this type of thing. Their virtue is respected regardless of personal preference; they transcend their decade of production; they unite consumers, and reveal oddities like Vegemite-haters and PB&J non-combiners and people who don’t like the Dixie Chicks.

Some cult beauty products, however, have achieved this status inexplicably. I do not refer to those products, like 8 Hour Cream, which are regrettably Wrong but Wromantic (apricot-scented petroleum jelly, sadly, cannot really be deserving, despite its loveliness), but of those that have all the actual charm of the Emperor’s clothes. Following, therefore, is a short list of beauty products that deserve to go the way of the Branch Davidians. Read on.

St Ives Apricot Scrub. This so-called cult product is essentially cheap sunscreen mixed with ground-up swimming-pool bottom. The smell alone is sickening, but the texture is the fascinating part: St Ive may as well have stuck with orthodoxy and pointed his disciples to a Brillo pad.

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm. It is, similarly, the smell that gives this one away; it’s reminiscent of an early stage in the manufacture of rubber cement, and feels a little like the goop that is customarily tinted blue and poured onto contestants on children’s television shows. Like all of these things, it should have been disposed of safely and respectfully in the 1980s.

Blotting papers of all kinds. The favoured ones when I was a gurl were from The Body Shop, but there are umpteen variations — lilliputian rectangles of rice paper, dusted on one side with powder and designed to absorb tiny droplets of sweat or oil from one’s mid-afternoon nose. People will buy anything, srsly. For interest’s sake, the correct product to use in this situation is a Starbucks napkin.