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Posts Tagged ‘Twilight’

The Twilight phenomenon… the four-book series by Stephanie Meyer and the Twilight Saga films based thereon… have not only achieved an astonishing popularity especially among teenagers and young adults but also a commercial success that is impressive, even by publishing and Hollywood standards.

As a confirmed Vampyre Snob [1], I have so far resisted both reading the books and seeing the movies.

What I have done over the last few years is speak to many people, mostly teenagers and young adults, about their personal opinions on the Twilight phenomenon. As a vampyre enthusiast, the whole spectacle intrigues me, albeit not so much as to make me want to partake in it myself… at least not yet.

What I immediately observed was the great divisions splitting the readership and viewership of the entire Twilight experience. I noticed many groups and sub-groups, some quite hostile to one another.

One of the first people I had occasion to speak with extensively on the subject went on at great length about the first book in the series, Twilight, published in 2005 and the film adaptation thereof, also entitled Twilight, released in 2008. The conversation took place within a month of the release of the movie and she was livid. She loved the book and looked forward to the movie with great anticipation. According to her, she could not have been more disappointed. This observation was fairly wide-spread within the sampling of Twilight fans with whom I spoke. There was general agreement, however, that by the second film, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, things had improved and the movie was of better overall quality and was more true to the book. Most viewers agreed that the success of the first movie gave the studio more confidence to give the film version of New Moon a bigger budget and better quality of film making.

One of the most amusing of the divisions, for me at any rate,  was the ‘Team Edward’ vs ‘Team Jacob’ split. Edward Cullen is the lead vampire of the series and Jacob Black is the werewolf. Both young men vie for the attention and affection of the female lead, Bella Swan. It was natural that Twilight fans would split, one side rooting for Cullen (Team Edward) and the other supporting Black (Team Jacob). The Onion produced a very funny ‘news piece‘ in June of 2010, about Al-Qaeda calling off an attack on Washington to spare the life of Twilight author Stephanie Meyer, parts of which deals with the Team Edward – Team Jacob split.

What is less discussed, perhaps for obvious reasons given the age of most Twilight fans, is the departure from the classic gothic paradigm of the vampyre as both a sexual and quite literal predator. From what I understand, the Edward Cullen character does not drink human blood but instead consumes animal blood. Also, based on my conversations with Twilight fans, much of the Twilight books and movies are taken up with Edward and Bella’s unconsummated love and yearning for each other. This, to my mind, misses the entire point of vampyre fiction. A vampyre that is not out to bite you and drain you, or anyone else for that matter, of blood? A vampyre that is both virtually toothless (pun intended) and celibate? A vampyre that is not destroyed by sunlight but merely ‘sparkles’? From all I can gather, the Edward Cullen character is the decaffeinated espresso of vampyres. Sure… you could have a decaf espresso and I am sure more than a few people do but… what’s the point?

I am not sure if I will ever read the books. I doubt it. My impression from the conversations I’ve had with Twilight fans is that they are written pretty much for teenage girls. I may break down and see the movies at one point but probably not for a while.

The two-part film adaptation of the final book, Breaking Dawn, is presently being filmed. Part 1 is expected to be released in November 2011 and Part 2 in November 2012. I’ll revisit the subject then to see how the Twilight fans react and if there is anything there that will cause me to change my mind on whether I will either read the books or watch the movies.

Right now, I am reading the Anita Blake: Vampire Slayer series by Laurell Hamilton. Much more my speed. [2]

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[1] See my previous piece on the subject of my vampyre infatuation and snobbery.

[2] ‘Speed’ is a very loose word when describing my reading of the Anita Blake series of novels. One vampyre girl I know (who, btw, provided me with much of the information for this piece) constantly mocks and ridicules me for how long it takes me to finish one of Hamilton’s books. I basically read at the same speed it takes one to recite the book outloud. She, on the other hand, can polish one off over the course of a long weekend.

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What is it about a vampyre? [1]

And I don’t mean the modern cheesy pop-ripoffs one sees cluttering the television and movie screens and littering the bookstore shelves.

I mean the honest to goodness real-McCoy genuine article gothic-literature bloodsucking sexy undead fangs-in-the-neck predator by whom we are both attracted and repulsed.

There is a more-than-usual modern-day fixation on vampyres even though they go back a long time.

Not that I’m against more vampyre-awareness in modern culture. I’m for it, of course.

OK, maybe not the Twilight series Edward-and-Bella teen-angst fad…

but as a general rule, yes, I’m for it.

Vampyres, to my mind, must be dangerous.

Gorgeous and sexy, yes… that is the bait…

but cold vicious killers…

…especially when it comes time for them to get down to business.

Another quality of the classic vampyre is that it is generally a solitary hunter. The loneliness of the centuries-old predator. Always on the prowl, always just out of sight, hiding in shadows, watching, waiting.

Times change, styles change, clothes change, societies change…

but the vampyre at its core, in its essence, remains the same. A monster.

How then to explain my lifelong infatuation with vampyres? Ever since I knew what vampyres were, I was fascinated by them.  I’m pretty sure I was aware of the character Dracula (as portrayed by Bela Lugosi) from an early age.

Other kids had normal crushes on television characters. My first TV crush was Morticia Addams. I was 9 years old when The Addams Family television show premiered.

I’ve been smitten with her ever since.

I’m afraid that I fancy myself a bit of a vampyre snob. Though I try not to project it too much, a self-satisfied feeling of superiority comes over me as I observe the most recent ‘vampire obsession’ in our modern culture. I’m like the person who enjoyed a particularly delightful vintage long before it became “popular”. I sneer when I walk by the banks of modern vampyre fiction. To me, Anne Rice, bless her little homoerotic-obsessed heart, is an upstart. The HBO series, True Blood, is a campy bit of fun and I do enjoy it.. but it’s not anything to be taken seriously.

To put it in gastronomic terms, True Blood and most of the other manifestations of the present ‘vampire craze’ are cheeseburgers. Definitely fun and popular and people never get tired of them. But it’s not exactly haute cuisine, is it? The present ‘vampire craze’ is rather like that charming little restaurant you discovered decades ago which suddenly became ‘popular’, expanded to take on more and ever-voracious customers, franchised itself across the country and, as a result, was completely ruined. And you mourn over its demise and your loss.

No. The vampyre… as opposed to the vampire… is my dark love. My cold undead paramour. My lifelong infatuation.

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[1] I prefer to spell it vampyre instead of the more traditional ‘vampire’. It looks cooler that way to me and, when it comes down to it, there’s not a lot of things cooler than a vampyre… literally or figuratively.

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