Recently I’ve been spending some time with the world’s most boring vampires. That’s right, I’ve been watching the Twilight series on DVD.
I love vampire stories. I’ve read or watched hundreds and there are thousands more out there. The idea of a blood-sucking undead monster turns out to be surprisingly versatile. Horror, comedy, political satire – you can do almost anything with a pair of sharp teeth and a sacrificial virgin. So I was happy to give Twilight a go, on DVD at least – my life is too short to read the interminably verbose books. But it seems that Stephenie Meyer knows nothing about the history of vampire stories, or decided to wilfully ignore the genre.
You see, there are two non-negotiable elements in all vampire stories:
- This whole vampire thing is a metaphor for sex.
- The vampire appears to be glamorous and attractive but it is really an evil animated corpse.
These two elements give the story its moral dimension.
So it’s fine with me if the vampire is cute and drives an SUV. But the plot cannot simply revolve around, “OMG, he’s so cute, is he gonna kiss me?”
Where is the evil behind the mask??? Where is the moral element? Why doesn’t something bad happen to the vampire at the end?
These vampires aren’t evil. They are morally upstanding citizens. One’s a doctor. The rest are “vegetarian.” They don’t lie buried in coffins, spitting out the remains of their ancestors every time they creep from their cold dusty graves. They don’t have clawlike hands or turn into night creatures.
Edward tells Bella that if she becomes a vampire she will “lose her soul” but she never even bothers to ask what the implications of that might be.
These vampires do have one characteristic that gives them away. Their bodies sparkle in the sunlight. What? They’re supposed to wither into dust in the sunlight. What’s going on?
I can accept the fact that this is a watered-down tale for pre-teens. That doesn’t explain why so many grown women love it . Oh yeah – that would be the “impossibly beautiful” Edward with his slender but muscular body. But there still needs to be a suggestion of evil and a downfall at the end. Otherwise what is the moral message of the story?
The story tells us that impressionable young women fall for powerful and glamorous older men and that’s OK. It tells us that it’s cool for girls to be submissive and not ask questions. It tells us that you can be a total airhead and nothing bad will happen because a big strong man will look after you.
I don’t know about you but I think this makes Twilight far scarier than any traditional vampire tale.