Emo-Vamps and Weak Women: How Did We Get Here?

spike-angel_lThe internet has been a wealth of  interesting discussions about the relationship between Buffy and Twilight, and I’ve been unable to disconnect from the fascinating dialogue going on, despite my intentions.  As you know by now, I have a very love-hate relationship with Twilight.  I dislike the books and movies, but it’s given me a new space to think and talk (and blog) about a lot of very interesting topics.

The Edward Cullen/Buffy video mashup has been around and web and back again in the past few weeks.  With its pro-feminist, totally awesome Buffy-as- uber-Vampire-Slayer ending, I cheered to see Edward Cullen turn to dust.  Au revoir Mr. Sparkles!

But in the end, isn’t Buffy to blame for the rise of emo-y vampires that women swoon over despite the vamps stalker tendancies and the fact they they’re soulless demons created maim and kill?

Much has been made of the Buffy-Angel and Buffy-Spike relationships as parallels to Edward and Bella in Twilight.  Angel in Season 1 of BtVS stalked Buffy, watched her while she slept and was deliberately coy and creepy for a long time before love was in the air. However, as Jessica Ferri over at Bookslut points out, at least Buffy had the intelligence to be creeped out by Angel’s behavior, where as Bella is immediately obsessed with Edward’s bad attitude and overt hatred/passion for her.

Once the Angel story line ended, (or did it?) Spike stepped into the vampire void. More conflicted, weaker and violent than Angel, Spike could easily be identified as the ur-emo-vampire that spawned the creation of Edward Cullen.

In the end though, I’m not sure that it was BtVS that made vampires weak and wimpy.  I think the blame  can be shared by Anne Rice and her vampire series, and the Vampire Diaries books by L.J. Smith (which is seeing new life thanks to the CW network).  Rice, Smith and Whedon were all working in a similar time frame as well as with a similar subject.  Interview with the Vampier was published in 1976 but the cult book hit the mainstream when it was made into a feature film in 1994.  L.J. Smith published the first of the Vampire Diaries series in 1999. And the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer from Joss Whedon aired in 1997.  Clearly they were all “feeding” off the same perceived cultural need for this type of story line.

But how did we let it devolve into the mess that is Twilight?  What happened to the smart, independent and powerful women who could both love and leave her vampire boyfriend when she had to?  When did vampires become romance heroes rather than the stuff of nightmares?  Like Jessica Ferri, I am concerned about “the mass consumption of this sort of an ideology … It’s worrisome that total and complete co-dependence is still so appealing to those of us seeking a good fantasy novel.”

My questions to you are these:

  • what is it about the co-dependence in Twilight and vampire mythology that turns you on or turns you off?
  • How did we get to this rabid Twilight fandom?
  • Does it signify a giant step back for feminism?
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5 responses to “Emo-Vamps and Weak Women: How Did We Get Here?

  1. I think maybe it’s because Edward, Eric (undead and unwed), Angel etc, are good people deep down in their hearts and souls.
    In Twilight, Edward looks after Bella and they wait till after they are married to sleep together. I think that’s a great message for teens to read about.
    But I’m not into the True blood books or show. I have heard it’s like porn. I watched some of it on Youtube, but I’m not interested in seeing the rest. Twilight was the original, the others are just copies.
    Just like Star trek is the the original and the best. All the other sci fi shows are just copies.
    I’m sure twilight will fade away soon enough and be replaced by something else.
    I’m not sure about Feminism taking a step back. I would love a nice man to take care of me, look after me and love me unconditionally. And also be handsome and muscular.

  2. I’m confused about your “Twilight was the original” comment. Original what? It certainly wasn’t the original vampire book/movie. If you’re thinking Twilight came before True Blood, that would be half-way incorrect. True Blood is based on the Southern Vampire mystery series by Charlaine Harris. The first book, Dead Until Dark, was first published in 2001 and optioned soon after.

    Twilight isn’t the originator of anything except a whole lot of hype and seriously misguided notions about what makes a healthy relationship and puts us all decades back on issues of gender equality and self-worth.

  3. i think The twilight obsession has to do with the way it was written. Bella was obsessed, so the reader became obsessed to. The way it was written it made you feel like its you and Edward. When She describes him as beautiful everyone has their own gorgeous guy.I loved the book. the movie how ever, Edward was really creepy.

    I really liked the Buffy/ Angel relationship ’cause Angle was, well lack of a better term, gorgeous. Plus Buffy told him when he was being creepy . i think the Buffy / Spike relationship was OK. i would have loved to see Dawn and Spike get together.

    As for the vampire thing. i think it is people wanting to make the Big scary things less scary. In the words of Angel “I mean, they’re children making up bedtime stories of friendly vampires to comfort themselves in the dark.” Plus the mysterious thing is kind of sexy.

  4. thanks for the linkage! i’m with you.

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