Since the latest “Twilight” movie either just came out, is coming out this week, or will be coming out pretty soon (I can’t keep up with the release dates on this; it’s like trying wrestle with greased pigs), we are provided an opportunity to examine one of the great issues of our time.
No, it isn’t whether you should be Team Edward or Team Jacob. I think that’s been decided.
And, no, it isn’t…
Hold on. ‘What’s “Twilight,”?’ you ask. You know, that paranormal movie franchise with the angsty teens, the werewolves that can’t keep their shirts on, and the vampires that glow–some might even say ‘sparkle’–in the sunlight?
It’s also the franchise (both book and movie) that lots and lots of people, myself included, like to make fun of, mostly because we don’t think that vampires should sparkle. At worst, vampires should only sparkle a little bit when exposed to sunlight, and that only right before exploding into vampire goo a la the remake of 1985’s “Fright Night”, or 1987’s “Lost Boys”, or the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series, or, well, every other piece of vampire fiction and lore ever published in a book or onscreen or whispered while huddled around a campfire.
Really, how are we supposed to prepare for the inevitable vampirepocalypse if we’re given inaccurate information?
But I don’t want to get into the sparkly thing right now, mostly because there are lots and lots of people who really like the “Twilight” series and I don’t want them mad at me. No, there’s a much more important issue being developed in the vampire genre as a whole than whether or not vampires should or should not look like 1970s-era disco balls. This issue goes right back to Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, “Dracula,” wherein his four-hundred-plus-year-old vampire, Count Dracula (not to be confused with the cereal spokes-vampire of nearly the same name) woos (sort of) young Lucy and young Mina.
That’s right, “Dracula,” rather than being a morality tale about ultimate evil, is a tale of the ultimate May-December romance, even though nobody in the story seems to notice this part, focusing instead on how best to administer stake-to-heart CPR.
This is because what would, in any other circumstances, be considered culturally dubious misbehavior, if not morally and ethically wrong (depending on whether the girl-in-question’s father has a shotgun or not), is, in vampire fiction, completely overlooked because the vampire is good-looking. Let’s take a look at the standard set-up, what you will see if you refer to any given plot of any seven out of ten vampire novels/movies/tv shows out there right now:
Girl is in high school. She’s pretty. Angsty.
Girl meets mysterious stranger. He’s pale. Has sharp teeth. Broods a lot.
Girl falls for mysterious stranger because, well, he’s very handsome. Knows a lot of stuff, like languages and history, but not math. Plus, he broods.
Girl finds out that mysterious stranger (let’s call him Ed) is actually a vampire, but he’s alright, doesn’t eat people–or tries not to anyway, which is the same thing–and falls for him even more because…um…well, I’m unclear on this part, but probably something about all that experience. Oh, and his sense of humor. Wait, no, that’s not it. Gotta remember the ‘brooding’ part. Can’t brood AND have a sense of humor. Just doesn’t work.
Sorry, back to the point. After that, there’s some conflicts and stuff, mostly dilemmas that keep threatening the eternal love that the Angsty Girl has with the Brooding Vampire Ed. In the end, though, they surmount the odds and love happily ever after, which for vampires is a very long time, barring stake-to-heart CPR, in which case there’s the Eternal Love in the Afterlife option, which has the advantage of allowing the audience to brood and by angsty.
What’s the problem, right? Let’s take a closer look at some of the Girls and Vampires involved in these stories:
“Twilight”: Girl: 17, Vampire Love Interest: 105.
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”: Girl: 15, Vampire Love Interest: 262ish
“Dracula”: Lucy: 19, Mina: er, a year or two older, Vampire Love Interest: 400+
“True Blood”: Girl: 25, Vampire Love Interest #1: 173, Vampire Love Interest #2: 1000+
“The Vampire Diaries”: Girl: 18, Vampire Love Interest: 164
Of course, a possible sub-text here is that the old adage that age doesn’t matter in relationships is correct–well, except in the case of the lovers in “Twilight” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” where, in most states, this type of relationship is referred to by another old adage: statutory rape.
What comes across more strongly, however, is that, unlike yet another old adage, it isn’t how old you feel that’s important, it’s how old other people think you look.
If you look like you’re seventeen, even if you’re 105, then it’s apparently okay to hang around high schools and hit on the underage girls, because I’m betting that if you actually looked like you were 105–or, heck, thirty–doing the same thing would get you put on a few sexual offender watch lists.
Even in those other cases–the ones that wouldn’t end with criminal indictments–I’m betting that the line “But, Sookie, I feel like I’m in my twenties” would not go very far toward convincing said 25-year-old that you were datable material if you looked like you were 173 (or 1000, in the case of Vampire Love Interest #2). Nope, you’d better also have a lot of disposable income, be Hugh Hefner, or both.
The vice versa of this is also true. Yup, if love really is about how you feel inside, and the outside doesn’t matter, then shouldn’t most vampires, no matter what they look like, be pursuing romance in a nursing home somewhere? Because those long-lived folk have a lot more in common with said vampire than the high schooler does.
At least the conversations would be less likely to turn on whether or not you were Team Edward or Team Jacob.
[The author doesn’t have anything against our vampire overlords. In fact, if there are any vampires out there who would like to make him an immortal creature of the night, they can contact him in the Comments section, below. Follow him @Parablehead on Twitter]