July 12, 2010

i vant to suck your ballvs

7/12/10

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.

MorrisseyPattinson(bl).jpg
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
Comments
Posted by: emma at July 13, 2010 4:42 AM

Until this Twilight craze of the last three years, I loved all vampires, their myths and their stories. I loved Bram Stoker's Dracula. I loved Stephen King's Salem Lot. I even loved the Lost Boys with vampire Kiefer Southerland and other rugged, cute teenage vampires.
And then, all the ladies at work were going crazy over this Twilight stuff, so I read the first two and started the third. About 20 pages into the third, I said to myself, Bella is the most annoying character that I have ever encountered in a book. I am not going to waste another minute of my time on anything Twilight. I haven't seen a movie or even read a People magazine about the stars of the movie since.

I happen to have Bram Stoker's Dracula sitting by my bedside table and I intend to read it again for the tenth time probably over the next couple of months. And although Gary Oldman is not Morrissey like - he plays a good Dracula, I think.

Posted by: GFWD at July 13, 2010 5:00 AM

Ian, you're not being practical or realistic. While the vampires are new, the cop shows, the lawyer shows and the medical investigator/hospital shows are the most annoying re-treads. I want my cut for the following suggestions:

1. A mis-matched buddy show featuring an old grizzled vampire cop about to retire and his young lycan partner. It can be a dramedy.

2. CSI: Salem--the vampire version of Grissom has to determine which murders are real and which are because of vampires. Always some twists.

3. CSI: Lycans--same as #2 but with werewolves.

4. Dracul's Anatomy--Bram Stoker's grand daughter. Actually sleeps with a vampire before starting her residency only to find he's her attending.

5. Pack Cubs--Scrubs for Lycans.

Posted by: kent at July 13, 2010 5:14 AM

@GFWD -- yeah cop shows are kinda played. But have you seen "The Good Guys"? It's a little weak on the procedural side (think "Monk") but Bradley Whitford is brilliantly funny.

And honestly, if you want Police shows that you can give a shit about, try the BBC. I'm currently chewing through "Waking The Dead" which shows up "Cold Case" as the extremely weak beer it is.

Posted by: GFWD at July 13, 2010 5:39 AM

Kent, I was thinking about THE GOOD GUYS when I wrote that, cause I love Whitford from his days as Josh Lyman on The West Wing.

It's been fun since nothing else is going on and we finally finished LOST.

Posted by: Neva at July 13, 2010 5:43 AM

Emma, I am so relieved. I started reading your entry thinking.. please tell me Emma has not become one of those 40 something women attending all the Twilight movie premieres with the 12 year olds at midnight.

I haven't read the books and for all I know I might like them but there is something desperate about these older women googling over Twilight movies. I know I probably would have loved them as a tween but I also know I would have DIED if my Mom was also into them. So, for the sake of my own daughter (who thankfully is not old enough yet) I refuse to engage in this fad. Let the pubescent girls have their own thing ladies!

Posted by: Neva at July 13, 2010 5:44 AM

Oh, and GFWD - cop shows will always be cool - they just need fresh eyes/writers. I would love another season of the Wire!

Posted by: Cris at July 13, 2010 5:47 AM

I agree, enough with the vampires already. And even if someone becomes a vampire while a teenager, so that they look 16 for all eternity... after roaming the earth for a few centuries, are they still going to want to hang out with high school kids?

Because you asked where are the mermaids, I'll tell you: they're in my friend Anna Lawrence Pietroni's fabulous debut novel, Ruby's Spoon. I cannot cannot say enough good things about this book (nor can most reviews for that matter). It's utterly fantastic, I think everyone should read it, and I think you and Tessa should adapt a screenplay from it. That's my plug for the day.

Posted by: Tammy O. at July 13, 2010 6:25 AM

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.

Posted by: scruggs at July 13, 2010 7:16 AM

What really creeps me out about the whole Twilight phenom is the Team Edward/Team Jacob crap, especially with the mom set Neva mentions. I know a few neighborhood moms into all of that. Team Jacob? That Taylor Lautner kid just turned 18 this year. If my husband put up a screensaver of the girl from iCarly, it would be my cue to take the kids and run. Also, take away all the immortality and the "sexy," hair gel infused brooding, and Edward is just a possessive, obsessive stalker 2 years away from a restraining order.

Posted by: Piglet at July 13, 2010 7:51 AM

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.

Posted by: emma at July 13, 2010 7:56 AM

Neva - just to nitpick a little - I am not forty something yet. I am forty!

Posted by: LFMD at July 13, 2010 8:28 AM

I have no interest in vampires. In my opinion, Zombies are where it's at!

Posted by: Ian at July 13, 2010 9:08 AM

CSI: Salem is something I'd pay to watch.

Posted by: Neva at July 13, 2010 9:16 AM

So sorry Emma. Perhaps it is 41 looming so close that has me thinking forty-something!

Posted by: bridget at July 13, 2010 9:37 AM

ok - i hold my hands up. i have read all the twilight books, and saw the latest movie last weekend. i'm a pretty old mom to boot. for me, it's not so much about vampires, or team edward/jacob. but the books, especially, were really really good at tapping into those emotions you only really experience in high school - of first love, awakenings of lust, desire that makes you shake, loss that blackens every moment, awkward hopeful exchanges... I think the use of vampires makes it particularly easy to highlight those feelings and tell that story because in today's sexualized world - i'm not sure that that kind of yearning would be believable.

today's vampires are yesterday's zombies. maybe tomorrow (one can hope) will bring mermaids.

Posted by: CM at July 13, 2010 10:06 AM

I think any of us working in creative fields who are NOT writing novels, scripts, etc. about freakin' vampires are kinda annoyed with this trend. It's one of the longest fads ever. Away with it!

As for not understanding it, my teenage half-sister explained to me a few months ago, "It's about the romance of it." I'll buy that, but I still would rather read about normal people having romance.

I like the headline of this post.

Posted by: Jennifer at July 13, 2010 10:29 AM

I think The Oatmeal nails Twilight: http://theoatmeal.com/story/twilight

Cracked.com had a funny version, too, and my favorite line was "Get in the car, loser, we're going sparkling!"

Posted by: Salem's Little Sister at July 13, 2010 10:46 AM

It's silly. It's fun. And I love the books and movies. I am not intense about it and haven't seen the newest movie, but I will when I can. Not all of us Mom's who like the book are obsessed like the ones you read about and see on-line and on TV. The author, a 30 something stay at home mom did not initially set out to write a tween novel and I wouldn't let my tween(if I had one) read it any way because there is some sex and gore. She wrote the story after having a dream about the two main characters. No it's not high-brow lit and yes, it's silly but isn't there room for that too? And wasn't Harry Potter written for kids? No one is bagging on those adults who love that series, myself included. And in case you're wondering . . . Team Jacob. Just kidding, he'll always be Shark-Boy to me.

Posted by: craighill at July 13, 2010 10:55 AM

i downloaded that first twilight book to my iphone not too long after it came out because i thought it may be decent since 47 billion people had bought it and i was in a hurry. after about 5 minutes on the plane i realized that i'd mistakenly bought a children's book and deleted it. hard to believe every guy (and girl over the age of 15) on the planet didn't do the same. terrible.

Posted by: jje at July 13, 2010 11:21 AM

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! :-)

Posted by: xuxE at July 13, 2010 12:18 PM

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.

Posted by: Chip at July 13, 2010 5:20 PM

Jennifer posted what I think is the best take on Twilight, from the Oatmeal

Posted by: GFWD at July 13, 2010 9:05 PM

Neva, I would also enjoy another season of The Wire. Scruggs and I had dinner at Kona in Myrtle Beach two nights ago and I swear I thought I saw a window sticker on her minivan of Calvin pissing on Edward. But, based on her post, I guess I was wrong.

Posted by: jp at July 13, 2010 9:51 PM

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.

Posted by: jp at July 13, 2010 9:59 PM

And here's an article from Slate:
"The Garlic Years:
When have we not been in the midst of a vampire craze?"
Christopher Beam argues that we're (almost) always into vampires.

http://www.slate.com/id/2236177/

Posted by: Joanna at July 14, 2010 8:14 AM

To compare Twilight to True Blood is to compare Nurse Jackie to Trapper John, M.D. They're two completely different beasts.
True Blood is campy hilarious, sexy as hell and has great characters . (jp, Lafayette scenes are my favorite. Is his character really stereotypical?)
I've yet to find a heterosexual male who likes True Blood. I think the sexiness is lost on them. Maybe men go for, I don't know, cheerleaders and nurses and women are turned on by the undead.
As for a favorite vampire (who absolutely did not turn me on), Willem Dafoe in Shadow of the Vampire should not be missed.

Posted by: Joanna at July 14, 2010 8:16 AM

OOps, make that . . .
"To compare True Blood to Twilight . . ."
works better!

Posted by: jp at July 14, 2010 9:38 AM

Joanna, I do so love Lafayette, and I definitely wouldn't call him a walking stereotype, but... he's a "Drug-dealing black man who frequently calls women “bitches” and “hookers?”". So much stereotypical crap comes into play with the black characters on that show.

There's a great blog, Racialicious (where the above quote is from), which looks at pop culture and race, and they have had some great discussions about True Blood. Here's the first one from this season: http://www.racialicious.com/2010/06/22/racialicious-presents-the-true-blood-roundtable/

And the second one: http://www.racialicious.com/2010/06/29/%E2%80%9Cif-you-throw-a-punch-you%E2%80%99re-one-of-us%E2%80%9D-the-true-blood-round-table-for-episode-2/

It's a good read because they like the show in spite of its problems but also talk in detail about the problems.

Posted by: Ian at July 14, 2010 11:24 AM

You guys may have turned me on to True Blood... I guess I'll have to take it from the beginning.

Posted by: Joanna at July 14, 2010 12:13 PM

Oops again, make that True Blood/ Twilight to Nurse Jackie/ Doogie Howser.
Thanks for the Racialicious link, jp. Very interesting discussion. I'm wondering if calling women "hooker" could be a gay thing. I watch True Blood each week with my gay Caucasian friend who always greets me with, "Hey, hooker." We both loved it when Lafayette started that!

Posted by: GypSeaKat at July 21, 2010 12:32 PM

I think Frankenstein's monster got the short end of the stick in this whole thing. When is HIS day in the sun?

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