Let me begin by saying that I do not dislike the first Twilight film. In fact, considering my expectations going in, I suppose it was a mild surprise that I was entertained for the 80, 90, 100 minutes? I don't remember how long it was. I will admit that I'm not rushing back to see it any time soon.
I do think, however, that Tiger Beat vampire cultures that are being spawned right now have more to do with slapping a cut out template onto a teen drama and little to do with the more traditional aspects of vampire literature.
Quite simply, Bram Stoker would be spinning is his daytime grave and Max Schreck would be flailing his arms wildly as the flash bulbs of a thousand teeny bopper cameras popped on the red carpet. I hardly think it would be too much of a stretch to expect Nosferatu 2: Dude Where's My Stake! pop up at a theater near you sometime soon.
The vampire mythos has taken a turn for the mundane. I know that Twilight is not the first or last story to bastardize all of the normal conventions that we believe about vampires, but it does seem a prime example of subjugating an archetype for sake of convenience at every turn. Why do I get the feeling that the first time Stephanie Meyer was confronted with questions about Twilight vampires not following the traditional conventions of the classic vampire character, her response was something along the lines of "well MY vampires CAN do that!"
And it's not that I mind predominantly female youth getting dragged into this quasi-vampire plotline. After all, I watched WAY worse films and WAY worse television in my time to ever have a right to pass universal judgement on anyone. It's simply that I fear that very soon the concept of Vampire 1.0 will be lost.
How many Twilight readers have read the original Dracula or looked up Vlad the Impaler? How many have come to discover vampires that could NEVER exist in daylight, or cast a reflection, or stand the smell of garlic. Hell, some vampires can't even be killed with wooden stakes anymore. What's a Van Helsing to do?
Vampires are supposed to live in creepy castles in Eastern Europe and scare the bejesus out of villagers with hypnotizing other in their charismatic thrall. Hell, the modern vampire is more likely to lust after a PSP than blood these days - which they can pick up at noon, in the middle of summer at the local mall because they're wearing some crazy ring or amulet or something that allows them to party in the sunlight... but are they really happy? No, they're all a bunch of gloomy angst-ridden teens that listen to My Chemical Romance.
And what the fuck is with the sparkling skin? Is everyone going out to a rave tonight in their "oh-so-trendy" Abercrombie and Fitch regalia?
Let's just run the list for my own gratification. I'm going to use Bram Stoker's Dracula as the comparator in this case, not because I believe it was necessarily the best vampire archetype of all time, but because it redefined the pop culture vampire of its time in a similar way to what Twilight is doing now.
Bram Stoker's vampires:
- Fangs - YES
- Reflection - NO
- Shadow - NO
- Kill with stake - YES
- Kill by sunlight - YES
- Decapitation - FATAL
- Drowning - FATAL
- Fire - FATAL
- Garlic - WEAKENS
- Crosses - WEAKENS
- Running Water - WEAKENS
- Fangs - NO
- Reflection - YES
- Shadow - YES
- Kill with stake - NO
- Kill by sunlight - NO
- Decapitation - ANNOYING
- Drowning - ANNOYING
- Fire - FATAL
- Garlic - NOTHING
- Crosses - NOTHING
- Running Water - NOTHING
Welcome to Vampire 7.0 beta. Apparently it doesn't have all the annoying crashes the earlier ones had. The Blue Screen of Death has been replaced by a Facebook logo as new age vamps look for parties to go to with their sparkly skin. Apparently nothing can really kill them except each other and they can only be hurt by an angst-ridden broken heart. They also live in fancy Frank Lloyd Wright houses in the hills and have BBQs on Sundays.
Again, I want to assure you that I can't hate this evolution. After all Bram Stoker's vampires were a far off bastardization of "folkloric tales [where] vampires often visited loved ones and caused mischief or deaths in the neighbourhoods they inhabited when they were alive. They wore shrouds and were often described as bloated and of ruddy or dark countenance." I guess I'm just unwilling to give up the vampire as a monster compared to some of the simpering, whining, high school seniors they seem to be now. Will the "traditional" vampire become, 100 years from now, equated with the Twilight archetype?
I get the entire vampire as an allegory for the struggles of teens growing up and coping in a modern society that alienates them and forces them to hide their true identities in their fortresses of solitude while secretly using their powers to save those that they love... wait... that sounds like Superman. Maybe Superman was a vampire. I think Superman should make appearance in a Twilight film just to shake things up. Then we could have Spock, Chewie and Gandalf come by to keep everybody happy.