Monday, October 30, 2006

Transylvanian concubine. I have recovered from my stint as the Scrooge of Halloween and will now talk about a subject very dear to my ghoulish heart: Vampires. I admit, ever since I saw "Interview with the Vampire" in middle school, I have been wary of sleeping with my neck exposed else some nocturnal hematophage happens upon me. There's something about Vampires that really gets to people, isn't there? Vampires are distinctly human in form except without that pesky superego getting in the way of all the fun. Plus, they add a demonic note to that age-old "Where do we go after we die?" question. With Vampires, the answer is that you come back to feast on the flesh of the living. That's exciting if you're a Goth but terrifying if you're a Hungarian peasant.

I've noticed a transition between the historic soulless-Vampire-as-pure-evil and the current Hollywood Vampiric incarnation. Whereas once the eternal Vampire instilled fear, now it is a source of erotic excitement. You see it in the homoerotic undertones between Lestat and Louie in "Interview," the skin-tight cat suits and lingering sex scenes of "Underworld," and the romance-beyond-death theme of "Bram Stoker's Dracula." Even the Vampire's "kiss" is portrayed in slow-motion, close-up, open-mouthed, wet with dripping saliva. Then the camera pans to the victim's face. Her emotions are ambiguous, with her wide eyes and parted lips. Is she in pain or intense pleasure? Is there even a difference?

But enough of this. I don't want to talk about victims. I want to talk about heroes!

As many of you know--and I should probably be embarrassed about this--I am a huge "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fan. I even wrote my college entrance essay about Buffy-as-feminist-icon (Hey, don't judge. It worked). I realize that "Buffy" started out as a pathetic little movie about a stereotypical blond cheerleader who inconveniently must battle the forces of darkness and make out with Luke Perry, but if you know anything about Joss Whedon, you know it was not meant to be like this.

Oh no. No no. We were not supposed to have cheerleader-and-phallic-symbol fetishism. Nonsense! We were supposed to see the traditional blond victim walk into the Vampire's lair and not only survive, but triumph. The TV version of "Buffy" is kind of like revenge porn--it's not every day that you get to see a petite blond kicking ass and taking names. We weren't even supposed to care about the Vampires. Think about how terrible the show was when Dracula showed up. Here's the most legendary and feared character in the Vampire canon, and he comes off as a fey David Copperfield wanna-be desperately in need of bronzer. Even the initially-feared Spike turned into a love-sick, if grumpy, puppy.

It's interesting to go from the woman-as-Vampire-victim Hollywood aesthetic to woman-as-Vampire-slayer theme. Women were either dinner or devil in the Vampire legends of yore. Now they are the avengers, fighting for some moral principle or saving the earth from destruction at the hands of some latent but lingering evil.

Yes, the cleavage is still there, and we still have the overly-moussed love interest. But the Vampire motif seems to be evolving beyond the traditional blood-lust and gore. Suddenly, women are the heroes, the Chosen, the leaders destined to deliver us from evil. The current trend in Vampire lore seems to reject snuff films in favor of heroism. Men become the sidekicks, and we're supposed to lust after the strong, gun- or crossbow-wielding heroine. She's the one's who's going to get the job done.

A small, blond chick walks into a Vampire's lair with nothing more than a pointy piece of wood. A battle ensues. Who do you think is going to win?

1 comment:


really cool topic done justice.

But I must say: One should NEVER be embarrassed about loving the greatest TV show of all time.