i vant to suck your ballvs
I've said this before: there's so much I can't talk about on this blog that it boggles the mind. One thing in particular will make for years of entries down the road, but another - our actual careers - remains frustratingly impossible to discuss. However, there is one thing I'm willing to go out on a limb on... or, as they say, there is one thing on which I will go out on a limb: fucking vampires.
I am so goddamn sick and tired of vampires I can barely see straight. When I was a kid, there were two vampires: the laughable one from old movies, and the Count from Sesame Street. In middle school, Anne Rice started her vampire novels, and I thought the attention to detail and the historical scope were cheesy yet awesome. Now you can't swing a dead cat around this town without hitting a vampire script, and it's just so... simultaneously boring and confusing.
I think the Twilight movies are turgid snoozefests, but I do see the appeal for tween girls - you've got a sullen female protagonist falling for a wickedly-handsome (and Morrissey doppleganger) eternal teen who loves her with a white-hot passion but can never actually penetrate her sexually. I mean, that's goddamn perfect. The only problem is that in the plot, NOTHING EVER HAPPENS.
it's the eskimo blood in their veins
As for the other shows, like True Blood and Vampire Diaries and the other ones in development, I have to confess, I don't get it. It's not that I'm old, or hopelessly out of touch, I just genuinely can't fathom the appeal. Our buddy David Petrarca directed the last True Blood and it was GORGEOUS and I STILL don't get its popularity. And can someone please explain the vampire/werewolf hostility? Are they morally different somehow, or do they just hate each other because the script says so? And if that's the case, where are the mermaids?
And while I'm being a crusty old fuck who farts in his golf pants, the amount of blood used in the ad campaigns - which includes Dexter, by the way - makes me nauseous. The spattering, the dripping, the gore... I'm not offended by the subject matter, just the constant, constant use of a liquid that is only released during excruciating pain. It's just not, like, funny to me anymore, or something.
As far as cultural memes go, this one has lasted far too long. I've had it. Or at least I have until Tessa and I are suddenly paid $6 million to write "O-Negative - The Bloodlove Jugular Chronicles" for Chilean television.
Posted by Ian Williams at July 12, 2010 11:32 PM
As I recall, Dracula and The Wolf Man first squared off in House of Dracula in the 40s. (That was a sequel to House of Frankenstein, but I don't actually recall the plot of that one.) They also fought in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Those movies were essentially a gimmick to bring together all of the Universal monsters and there really wasn't anything better to do than have them fight each other. I don't recall any older literature featuring the rivalry between vamps and weres - not sure it has its roots there. Dark Shadows referenced the rivalry, but it seemed to really pick up steam in fiction in the 90s. It was also part of the role-playing game, Vampire: The Masquerade (referencing that is a tacit - and embarrassing - acknowledgement that I actually played that game). I think the bottom line is that we just like seeing supernatural/superpowered creatures beat up each other up.
Vampires do have some serious lasting power, though. Although they're having a real moment right now, there's always been an enormous amount of books, films, and TV shows about them. Up to this point, though, they've mostly been genre fare. I think the real change is how mainstream they've become. But I actually don't know that this is such a bad or a boring thing. These are essentially exciting romance tales now, heavily marketed for young women (and grown-up women who relate to it because they were once young women). (Dracula is one of my favorite books, partly because the Victorian sexual panic is so palpable - all those blood transfusions! In the latter half of the 20th century, vampires in genre fiction/film became the embodiment for so many cultural panics... but that symbolism has been largely lost in the move to the mainstream.)
This is a half-baked idea at best, but I'm thinking that all of these girl-driven supernatural romance tales might actually be some kind of a response to the sexualization/pornification of so much youth culture these days. These chaste romances seem pretty, well, civilized compared to so much other stuff out there (esp. stuff manufactured for and consumed by men/young men). It's like a romance backlash to hardcore. This is just a hunch, though.
Tangentially, the Sookie Stackhouse novels are straight up romance/action, definitely written for women. The television adaptations have definitely been put through a drama/porn machine to yield a smart/trashy show that nets a wider audience. Kind of fascinating, actually.
Meh. I'm just about your age, Ian, and I had plenty of other postitive vampire role models from The Count.
Probably the earliest one was the quite sinister recurring vampire played by Morgan Freeman on "The Electric Company". Sometimes he was called "Vincent the Vegetable Vampire"; at least once, he identified as Dracula. Regardless, he was cool.
For those of us who lived near NYC in the late 1970s, there was a local Dracula fad inspired by the Broadway play with the awesome Edward Gorey set and Frank Langella as Dracula (later Raul Julia).
And yes, 'Salem's Lot. That's still one of my three favorite Stephen King books, maybe even my favorite of his full length novels.
After the camp of Lost Boys, I got bored or old or something. The only way Twi-Hard amuses me at all is if I read it as a deadly serious Mormon allegory. Then it's more hilarious than Jack Chick.
I admit I read the books.
1) Because I had just had a baby and I was up constantly in the wee hours of the night nursing him and didn't want to turn on the tv while everyone else was sleeping. Something mindless totally fit the bill in my sleep-deprived state. I plowed through all four books in about two weeks worth of night feedings.
2) Because I am a fan of pop culture and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I like to be in on the joke.
Eh, it was mildly entertaining, that's all I got. *shrugs*
And I've seen two of the movies with girlfriends just for the fun of watching it together. I thought the first movie was lame and laughable, but the second was not too terrible. I think a couple of us are planning to go see the third this weekend.
But I totally don't get the vampire craze as a whole. The True Blood thing totally stumps me. Have zero interest in that.
GFWD, your list cracked me up! :-)
i agree, media is totally oversatureated with the teen vamp stuff, but i never liked teen-girl-specific stuff like horse stories either so i'm probably not the best judge.
but as just a construct or genre, it's not all about the teen stuff - i like true blood but i have no desire to see the twilight series, two completely different things to me. there are great stories and really bad stories just like any other genre.
but i do think there might be less to offer character driven story fans than other genres. or at least maybe the fantasy devices get more in the way for the character oriented fans and they kind of can't suspend belief enough to get past it or something. i think they tend to want their main characters to feel more familiar and grounded in the real-world so it's a barrier.
the fantasy worlds always have similar constructs, right, vampires, werewolves, superheros, and zombies, have the rules of their worlds are usually so deeply ingrained in the audience, you get to jump right in to a different set of issues. so true blood, for example, has turned into this drug cartel/mafia type thing this season, and it's just set within this alternative set of rules. it's practically the sopranos with superpowers in a lot of ways. last season primary storyline was around the evangelical right trying to wipe out the vampires, which had a lot of thinly veiled metaphors and a great resolution when the vampires shut them down. lot of progressive political allegory about freedom from prosecution for being different, seeing the vampires on CNN battling the right wing, etc. good times!!
really i think the evolution of graphic novels has really allowed this type of storytelling to explode. even japanese manga and anime. at the end of the day it's just a way to set up a set of conflicts, right, like the unrequited love stories, tests of loyalty, immortality vs. aging and loss of beauty, humans as superior animals vs. vulnerable prey, crime, politics, anything goes, really. reminds me that there's actually a cool graphic novel series about fairy tale characters living in exile in NYC called fables: http://www.dccomics.com/vertigo/graphic_novels/?gn=1606. highly entertaining.
The Twilight series is much more fun to read in the context of the author's Mormonism. Think of Bella and Edward not as annoying teenagers, but as an ideailzed Mormon couple, bonded and exclusive for all eternity. The whole series is an argument for chastity. Poor Edward (spoiler!) doesn't even get to suck Bella's blood when they are married and she's becoming a vampire. Oh, the restraint!
And this is what the author does well: she evokes the longing and aching of being a teenage girl in love with a boy she can't have. (As Bridget said earlier.)
(But the books are crap otherwise, really. I lived overseas when I read them; options were limited. Also, I didn't go see the movies in theaters and am pretty horrified by the moms who are all into these books with their tweens. Ew.)
Now, the Sookie Stackhouse books, the source material for True Blood, are delightful. I wrote my MA thesis on Moby Dick and a bunch of other American Renaissance types--after having been an English major at UNC--so it's not like I have no experience with good stuff. Sookie is a great character, feisty and funny. True Blood started out pretty good, but they left the source material and added in some stuff that doesn't work (ie, zombies and some very stereotypical black characters). But, I will say this about True Blood: damn that is one sexy show. At least when you're a mid 30s married gal like me. The books are pretty sexy too.
For the record, I *hate* zombies. They totally creep me out. So I'll take crappy vampires if they're crowding out the other walking dead.