M.Snowe, by default, doesn't like to critique things she hasn't read or seen. So she won't say a word about THIS book or THIS movie, in terms of their literary or cinematic triumphs and failures (of which there is surely both, though probably more failures).
What she will talk about centers around these questions: What's with this vampire romance obsession, and why has vamp culture receded into the mists (or swamps of Transylvania?)?
The simple and recognizable mythologem of vampires, at least since the 18th century, has been one of stoic and impressive, pallid male figures lurking in the night and sucking the blood of unsuspecting villagers and otherwise common folk. The vampire has enjoyed a pretty unfaltering stint of popularity in the fictional realm. Despite the fear this carnal, yet immortal figure (who is almost always male) is supposed to engender, the greater population loves to read about him. Many have suggested (and it's generally accepted) that the concept of the vampire is a combined representation/juxtaposition of the themes of sexuality and fear of our mortality. Lots of characters and stories deal exclusively with these two themes of sex and death--James Bond comes instantly to mind.
But the problems M.Snowe has with these pop vampires isn't all the blood sucking and vague sexual innuendo--it's the fact that women today don't have a really good "vamp" counterpart to look to. Because the pop vampires of today have been translated into "loveable" (and we use that term ironically) characters--think Buffy's BF, Angel, and the twilight vampire, to name a few. M.Snowe might not be that old, but she does know that when she was growing up, there were lots of women "vamps" on television, and in books. And I'm sure if you look hard enough, you can still find some. But the mainstream culture, which by definition is a narrow and limiting stream at that, has sufficiently drowned any notion of really kick-ass leading ladies. Say what you will about Xena, Dr. Quinn, or even Buffy--but at least they didn't mind getting their hands dirty. And although there was sometimes a sappy storyline or two about falling in love (barf!), the women were never going to quit their jobs as intelligent, highly trained, kick-ass lady fighters with morality on their side.
What really grinds M.Snowe's gears is the current state of female "heroines" (M.Snowe detests this term, because by sticking "ines" at the end, she thinks it's a linguistic clue between misogynists that loosely translates into: "oh, not those crazy bitches again.") [This state of the female heroine can be seen in terms of political heroines too--Look at the popular treatment of Clinton vs. Palin. Sure some people recognized that Palin was "off her rocker" but generally she was an accepted and docile figure who "had it together" in terms of having a family, looking pretty, keeping her mouth shut, etc., etc. whereas Clinton was unfeminine (whatever THAT means!) and uptight, bitchy, and unlikeable--an unstable and unpopular character because of her strength.]
The twilight series, and others in it's vein (excuse the bloody vampire pun) create female characters that are entirely bent on desire for an unattainable sexual and immortal creature. Funnily enough, this is the one dude that will be most likely to suck all the life force out of the main character, but the docile and completely bland lead female doesn't seem to mind--in fact, it's a form of foreplay inside her warped sense of human relationships. But here's the funniest part--this series, though steeped in the vampire theme of sex, has no sex. I mean, if she's going to give up her dignity to follow around this creature, it's the least he could do. And despite their attraction as interesting fictional focal points, vampires are supposed to be feared, or better yet--avoided at all costs. Books and movies like this are basically saying: Accept and try to love those dastardly fellows who will take all you have and give nothing back. And that is the antithesis to any respectable, well-rounded and independent female vamp.
Add on Question: "But M.Snowe--You love Bronte's Jane Eyre so much--and wasn't she pining away for the vampirish, Byronic, Mr. Rochester?"
Answer: Charlotte Bronte's hero, Jane Eyre, was celebrated as an intelligent, independent thinker, who happened to have poor taste in men. However, she did not compromise her morals and belief in female Independence, and it is a defeated, blinded, and crippled Mr. Rochester who must kowtow to her, and ultimately put his own broken life in her hands. She makes a heroic and noble choice--and her independent nature shines throughout the novel--Rochester is the one who must change his act, a vampire slayed in the offing.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
"No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought."