Venom’s official trailer isn’t very good, but there’s one scene driving Tumblr up the wall.
The tongue sliding out of Venom’s mouth immediately captivated Tumblr. People began pointing out that Venom’s appearance came across as sexual. There are a number of examples, many too inappropriate to publish on this website, but the Tumblr post below sums the community’s response pretty accurately.
It’s easy to poke fun at the unusual response to Venom. The majority of reactions are in jest, jumping on the easy-to-make joke. But it’s a little more interesting when we retrace the evolution of teratophilia, described as an attraction to monsters or “deformed or monstrous people.” Tumblr’s instant reaction to Venom’s tongue is part of a wider subreddit that became prominent between 2010 and 2013, often referred to as “monster erotica” — other authors sometimes use “cryptozoological erotica” as a more specialized term.
Virginia Wade is a popular author who specializes in “monster erotica,” making a name for herself thanks to her erotic story about the mythical Bigfoot. Her book was downloaded more than 100,000 times through Amazon over the course of 2012, generating up to $30,000 a month, according to Business Insider.
Wade was just one of many popular authors, many of them women, making a living writing erotic fiction between monsters and humans. It wasn’t just that writers were creating these stories, but there was an audience of readers willing to spend money on it. Things came to a head in 2013, however, when Wade and other authors noticed their books were removed from Amazon’s marketplace.
Groups called out companies like Amazon for allowing authors to publish and sell this type of “filth” that promoted “graphic descriptions of bestiality,” according to Business Insider. While some companies, like Smashwords, stood behind monster erotica authors and their right to publish fantasy work, it didn’t stop people from condemning the type of content circulating on Amazon.
Though monster erotica isn’t exactly being promoted on Amazon’s front page, the culture around fantasy eroticism is still very much alive. There are more than 70 stories on FanFiction.net, one of the most popular fan fiction-dedicated sites on the internet, dedicated to Venom. Archive of Our Own, perhaps the most popular fan fiction-dedicated website, has more than 300 Venom stories; many of which partner Venom sexually with Peter Parker.
Granted, that isn’t anything compared to much more popular fan fiction ships — Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter, often referred to as Drarry, are at the center of tens of thousands stories — but it goes to show there is an audience, one that is very active on Tumblr.
Tumblr’s dedicated monster erotica community refers to themselves as “terato,” a shortened version of teratophilia. Type the term into Tumblr’s search bar, and there are a few other suggestions that pop up, dedicated to popular mythical creatures like orcs, dragons and, of course, dinosaurs, the most popular of the terato characters. Tumblr’s teratophilia community is deeply engaged with one another’s work, supporting different erotica or illustrations, and sharing those pieces whenever possible.
It should come as no surprise that Venom, an incredibly popular comic book character being played by Tom Hardy in a major motion picture, would be picked up by the Tumblr community. Especially with a tongue like that. As Elizabeth Banks said:
Looks like he’s eating a dick. https://t.co/CwvcPEAMeJ— Elizabeth Banks (@ElizabethBanks) April 24, 2018
Venom will be released on Oct. 5.