For & Against: Bats8 October 2019
By Tilli Franks
There is only 80 million years of difference between humans and bats. The common ancestor of all placental mammals is estimated to have lived around 400,000 years after the dinosaurs met their particularly nasty end. One could argue that bats got a reasonably good deal from the evolutionary lotto: they are the only mammals who can fly. They’re far more environmentally friendly than humans, and they also shun capitalism and hate white supremacy. Additionally, in the Finnish language, the word for bat is slang for lesbian, making them a Gay Icon. On the downside they do eat either exclusively fruit or other small animals like insects, which isn’t really my vibe, but I’d be willing to give it a go if it’s the key to revolution.
Bats are also fucking beautiful. They’re a wildly diverse species, making up 20% of the Mammalian class. Some are big, some are small. Some are monogamous, some are polyamorous. Some are herbivorous, some are carnivorous. Some look like cuddly winged Tasmanian devils, some look like tiny little flying rhinoceroses with furry capes on. Some turn into blood-sucking humans and live in decaying Transylvanian castles, some are just your average Joe-bat with absolutely no vampiric tendencies to speak of.
The Vampire Bat is the most likely to be a human in disguise. However, Mr Bram Stoker gave them a rather bad rap, probably because he was jealous of their flying abilities. They do feed off blood, but don’t typically draw enough to kill the larger mammals they prey on—although disease can be another issue. Their salvia also clots the blood as they drink it, which I think is quite nice of them. And honestly, considering regular humans literally raise and kill around 56 billion land animals each year, I don’t think we have much room to talk. They do a good deal of charity work re-pollinating the world we are doing our damn best to destroy, so I say we sacrifice the Australian Liberal Party to satisfy their batty blood lust, and get on with saving the earth (they unfortunately won’t die, they’ll just hopefully be too weak to make stupid decisions).
I’ve never met a bat I didn’t like, in contrast to the many humans who have attempted to drain the life out of me. In that 80 million years, humans have really done fucked up the entire planet, and each other, while the bats have just been zooming about minding their own damn business. Thus, therefore, and hence: bats are better than humans.
By Jocelyn Deane
Bats probably have the largest ratio of good-thing-inspires-lame-thing in history. Bats themselves? Adorable sky-puppies, locating prey by doing a scream real loud. A beautiful hybrid of fluff and wings humans regard enviously. Humans and other mammals have dreamed of flying for centuries and we have been chastened by essentially a very small fox with big eyes. For our hubris, the bat has wreaked a terrible vengeance on the world. Where the bat is a collapse of binaries and categories, we have made—in its image, like an Ayn Rand-reader trying to simulate compassion—Vampires(1) (basically 19th century upper class British People with tuberculosis and sex issues who read Nietzsche one time) Batman (a white boy who takes personal responsibility very very seriously), every bad metal cover in history and Meatloaf a.k.a what if has-been white jump-suit Elvis and Ronald Reagan were spliced together in the teleport from The Fly? What I’m saying is bats are indirectly responsible for CisHet culture, and we must never forgive them. But what about the good that bats have inspired, you ask, champing down on irritation and your dawning sense of existential horror, like bite-play in kink, or the leather boom of the early 2000s? I would reply that it only takes one person to shit in a pool for everyone to get cholera. Like Rick and Morty, Bernie Bros, David Foster Wallace, Warhammer 40 000, The Coen Brothers, Kendrick Lamar and other cultural artefacts that cis straight white dudes patronise, any kind of appreciation is insuperable from their shittier qualities/fandom, and what they have become. As a wonderful, amalgam creature of the night, I weep for the bat, but as a cultural touchstone my heart is as cold as my rage.
(1) Vampires are actually brilliant I love them and wonderful sites of fluidity and critique and I’m sorry for libelling them this article was really difficult and I needed to make up the space somehow oh god.