Real Vampires Don’t Sparkle… but maybe that’s the point

Ok, I can’t quite believe that I’m going to attempt this. Perhaps I should start with a disclaimer. I love Gothic fiction. I’m a big fan of the horror genre in film. I particularly love vampire flicks, and I like my vampires to have fangs. I’m interested in film. Interesting film. I’m interested in literature. Interesting literature. I consider myself a feminist. I say all this, and I could say so much more, as a kind of begging for forgiveness in advance. Because, what I’m about to do, and I can’t quite believe it myself, is offer a kind of apology for The Twilight Saga. No. More than that, offer a reason for its popularity. And more than that, suggest that, despite its deeply suspect ideology, it’s not so bad really. Bear with me, readers.

I ought to make it clear, I haven’t read a single word of a single one of the Twilight books. I don’t intend to. I probably wouldn’t like them. Which is fine. I’m fairly certain I’m not the target audience anyway. I have, however, over the past couple of weeks, watched all five of the films. I thought it was about time to have a look at just what it is, precisely, that has been preoccupying the kidz over the past few years. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself. My initial reaction was one of horror. The wrong kind of horror. I watched the films in the wrong order, starting with Breaking Dawn: part 1, which with its unflinching pro-life subtext (actually not so much of the ‘sub’) left me fearing for the ideological hearts, not to mention the psychological, and indeed physical, well-being of our teenagers. And then there’s the stalking, controlling, coercive boyfriend. And the mind games. And the ‘no sex before marriage’ clause. And the heroine seemingly free from any agency at all. And Wolfy (sorry, Jacob) imprinting on a new born babe – I’ve tried like mad to rationalise this one, but really, whichever way you look at it, it’s just creepy. And. And. And…

And what about adding to the body of Vampire mythology? Harmless ‘vegetarians’? Repeating high school ad infinitum? Driving around in Volvos and Mercedes? Living in (unaccountably affluent) peace in a Scandinavian style lodge? It’s not that this is all a bit off canon, so much as this is all a bit lame. And then there’s the sparkling. Sparkling, I tell you. Vampires don’t sparkle. They chow down on your neck with bloody great fangs. They exist as a metaphor for sex, repression, fear, desire. They offer a safe space for transgression. They explore the other. They explore the id. They DON’T BLOODY WELL SPARKLE.

But then maybe that’s the point. Maybe Edward, in all his toothless, sparkling glory is so non-threatening that the sinister undercurrents of his behaviour are rendered utterly meaningless. Maybe the adolescent and the pre-pubescent fans buy into the unreconstructed gender fantasy because it so clearly is fantasy, and requires so little exertion on their part. Maybe, surrounded as they are by a hyper-sexual, disposable culture, the innate conservatism of The Twilight Saga offers some breathing space. Maybe they just fancy Robert Pattinson. Or Kristen Stewart. Maybe they’re frightened of growing up, and they find something reassuring in Bella and Edward achieving a state of stasis while still teenagers. Or maybe they like waiting ’til the final film for Bella to actually get some muscles – a kind of delayed gratification.

Or maybe I should give up the ghost and direct you to this biting Buffy/Twilight mashup instead…

Thanks for the reminder that Real Slayers Stake Vampires. Especially if they sparkle.

Google ‘real vampires don’t sparkle’ and click on images. Go on, it’s fun.

Many thanks to Shannon for the lightbulb moment. Cheers.

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10 comments

  1. sugarspunsister101

    Don’t you dare abandon this blog. Clever and funny. We’re laughing out loud here!
    I could not summon the inspiration to enter the realm of vacuous and ‘sparkly’ vampires … even in the name of getting down with the kidz. You’ve done the job admirably for me and I may quote you.

  2. averythorne

    Maybe it is all of these things. But that’s the problem with analyzing books. I could come up with a metaphor for anything. Prove to my Stephanie Meyer was thinking of a single thing other than hot sparkly vampire abs while writing this and I shall give you my soul.

    Which I may have already sold. Does an IOU work?

    • whatsthepointofblogging

      An IOU would work in principal, but really I think it’s beyond my capabilities to prove that Stephanie Meyer is thinking anything at all. I’ll have to concede defeat here.

      I’ve just had a quick glance at Blood Over Ithaca… I shall enjoy reading it.

  3. anywayoya

    I went to theatre to watch Twillight and swore I wouldn’t waste money on the following ones. However, I did go to theatre to watch New Moon because my sister asked me to go with her eventually. It was dull… I regretted going with my sister. I am certainly not into the story but I watched the rest of the saga when I wanted to kill time. I’m just glad that at least I discovered some nice songs through the movies of the Twillight Saga.
    By the way, I did google ‘real vampires don’t sparkle’ and I love this one the most: http://lanternhollow.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/vampires-don-t-sparkle-critical-analysis-of-twilight-11792319-400-300.jpg
    It’s hilarious!!!

  4. marion2301

    Ok, time for a little honesty : I did read the books (all of them), a long time ago, and I have to say they were far more interesting that the movies.
    Now, despite the fact that Robert Pattinson looks like he never showered in his life, I suspect that it is reassuring to see that Bella the ultimate loser manages to find some kind of hot protective boyfriend.?

  5. whatsthepointofblogging

    I think it’s allowed to say that you’ve read the books (all of them, gulp). There won’t be a collective scream echoing around the blogosphere. Honestly. 😉

    Can’t speak for the books, but in the films Edward is actually a bit crap at protecting Bella, who also doesn’t really need protecting from that much at all until she gets involved with him. Instead, what is superficially presented as protective behaviour is in fact kind of creepy, coercive and controlling. Hence the Buffy/Twilight mashup above.

    He does, with his bare vampire hands, save her from the dozy school kid driving the out of control van early in the the first film, I’ll grant you that. But I’m not sure this outweighs his buggering the starter motor on her car because he doesn’t want her to go and see her friend; repeatedly sneaking into her bedroom when she’s out cold because he likes watching her, and later sneaking around her room and rifling through her personal possessions when she’s not there; listening in to her private conversations and invading her privacy one minute and then refusing to speak to her the next without any explanation… Really not sure how hot all this is. Also, and really there’s no forgiving this one, he’s just a bit, well, dull. I mean, all the things he could be doing with the benefit of 107 years on the planet, and he just repeats high school. Again. And again. Shouldn’t vampires be a bit more rock’n’roll than that?

    On the other hand, I did watch all five films, so I guess there must be something compelling about them…

  6. Pingback: Everything That’s Wrong With Twilight In 6 Minutes Or Less (Video) | Off the record, on the QT and very Hush-Hush

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