Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Sexy Vampire

My friend asked me to go see the latest silly woman falls in love with sexy vampire movie last weekend. She has read all of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books and even started a book club . . . guess which book they read first? You are so clever. She insisted that these books were different than other vampire books, which left me wondering how many vampire books she's actually read, since the idea of the sexy vampire in love with a human woman has been around for a while, and while I'm not an expert, Buffy and Angel leap to mind. It's not a new concept.

My kids are big fans of Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series. I only read the first one, Dead Until Dark, about a telepathic waitress named Sookie Stackhouse who works in a northern Louisiana bar. This book has a great opening line: I'd been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar. It was funny and clever, but I wasn't motivated to read any more. True Blood is the new TV series based on the books. It stars Anna Paquin, and is a bit too bloody and pornographic for my taste, but in it an attractive and trusting psychic girl falls in love with a dangerous, good-hearted vampire. As in Twilight, there's a lot of posturing and posing by the vampires.  The hero spends a lot of his time looking pained.

This blog has received scores of hits on the search terms: our fascination with vampires, and the truth about vampires and a Google search finds much is being written on the topic of women's fascination with sexy vampire men. I think it's all about how hard it is for ordinary mortal women to be aroused by and have orgasms with ordinary mortal men. Real life, real men are so mundane and boring, so indecisive, so clumsy. Most women have to boss them around to get them to do anything. And most of the well-dressed ones appear to be unavailable (to the opposite sex, anyway). Vampires are handsome, fashionably elegant, rich (not sure how they accomplish that, but money never seems to be a problem), and apparently when they turn it on, they are irresistible. Most guys don't have that kind of mojo. 

So, it's all about sex and power. I think we've figured that much out. Each author, TV or movie producer comes up with a different angle, but there are common denominators that we have come to expect. A tortured vampire who doesn't want to suck blood and kill people like the other vampires and a woman who loves him, usually unconditionally, and other "bad" vampires who want to kill her? Not new.

In the movie, Twilight, the gimmick is a group of nice teenage "vegetarian" vampires, who survive on animal blood, but still have to fight the urge to dine on their human neighbors. They are also unusually attractive, stylish and spend most of their time sitting or standing around artificially posing. The only time in the movie they showed any personality, other than pouty or brooding, was when they played baseball in the woods. They each have a different ability (hmm, anyone thinking Heroes?), such as fast speed, ability to tell the future, super strength, whatever, and they can go out in sunlight, but prefer not to, as it makes their skin glow like it is coated in diamond dust, and people would figure out they are "different," and then they would have to move again, and it would be all so inconvenient.

As the hero Edward tells Bella, the besotted, starry-eyed teenage girlfriend whose thoughts he cannot read (oh my!), sucking animal blood is like eating tofu, not nearly as satisfying as the real thing. He nobly explains to her that he is not a nice guy, that he has killed people (he is especially solemn with that line), and part of him would really like to taste her blood, but the teenage girl, whose brain cells have been fried by love (what teenage girl has not experienced this?), declares vacuously that she doesn't care (doesn't care that he's killed people? how amoral of her), she knows that he won't hurt HER (emphasis on HER). This is followed by several silly scenes of them in the forest, culminating with an overhead view of them lying chastely side-by-side in green grass dotted with charming, possibly artificial flowers.

I don't care what you've done.
I love you anyway.
I know you won't hurt me.
Is this the kind of stuff you want your daughter saying to her boyfriend? Is this what you are saying to your boyfriend? These are silly declarations by a silly girl who will grow up to be a silly woman, willing to sacrifice everything important for LOVE, like that lasts, or like the man who receives her gift will value it as much as she does. That is the lesson being taught here to our daughters. If you love him, give it all up. Hold nothing back. Lie to your parents. Run away from home. Have sex. Be willing to become a vampire. Screw women's lib. Live for him. You don't matter. The premise here is a bad one.

Are we supposed to believe this girl knows what true love is? She wasn't that good an actress, and no 16 year-old teenager, boy or girl, knows what true love is, although many think they do. They are not finished growing up. Their brains are not fully developed, especially that frontal lobe part that tells them when they should run away from danger. 

The most appealing characters in this movie are the "bad" vampires, who lust after the blood of our silly heroine. They, at least, are true to their natures. In the final scene, the "bad" female vampire is seen spying on our young lovers, plotting, no doubt, to do them harm in the next movie. I wish her well in her quest. Someone needs to take this lot down. I don't doubt she will fail and probably die violently, but at least she knows what she wants and understands the cost. I doubt Bella does.

More on this subject:  The Truth About Vampires

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