Friday, May 4, 2012

why the f*ck friday (1)

Welcome to a new weekly meme post. I'll be asking myself a single question--normally a thought on a book or a bookish subject--that I've been pondering for the past week. This week it's "Why the f*ck is Twilight the comparison point for all vampires?"



I'm currently in the middle of watching Vampire Diaries for the first time and I'm enjoying the show so far. The reactions from my female friends and coworkers are generally positive; a guy point-of-view on the show is always welcome. However, a trend I've noticed is that most vampires are now compared to the Stephanie Meyer brand of vampire: the sparkle-y vegetarian virgin known Edward Cullen.

There are three names that always come into play when vampires are brought up: Lestat, Edward Cullen, and Damon Salvatore. (Lestat being Anne Rice's vampire in Interview With the Vampire.)  It's from these three names that I noticed a trend:

  • Edward Cullen is considered the weakest kind of vampire but the most romantic.
  • Lestat is considered a more traditional vampire.
  • Damon Salvatore is f*cking crazy. A good crazy, though.

The trend is also generational. I noticed the older women in my office tend to bring up Bram Stoker's Dracula or The Lost Boys. These are generally considered to be good vampire movies, but the more realistic of the two is Bram Stoker's version, not the one with Vampire Kiefer Sutherland.

My personal favorite vampire is Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The bad guy turned good guy turned bad guy given a soul kind of vampire. But even bringing up Spike brings us back to the comparison to Edward Cullen. 

So why the f*ck is Edward Cullen the comparison point for all vampires? Why is he the golden standard that all other vampires must now be held up to? I realized the answer while talking to a friend about Angel.

If you're a boy: chances are you're comparing vampires to Edward Cullen because you don't consider him a good vampire (or a vampire at all, as I'm finding out).
If you're a girl: you're comparing vampires to Edward Cullen based off of the romance factor (you might even consider him to be a terrible vampire).

So it's not that the comparison is a positive one, it's actually negative. Edward Cullen isn't being held up as the Perfect Vampire Standard by most of the population: he's being compared to all other vampires because he's considered the worst vampire.

The next time you're in a conversation about vampires take note of the fact that Edward Cullen is brought into the fold in a negative light, and that he's compared to both traditional vampires and the new age vampires. The comparison is not used on Lestat or Damon or Spike. The conversation will always focus around the Cullens and Twilight. Fascinating, right?

And those are my thoughts for this week's why the f*ck friday. Feel free to dispute me or berate me below. I enjoy hearing the bookish and nerdy thoughts of others.

Note:  I'm not trying to bash Twilight. And I do not consider Edward Cullen the worst vampire (that honor goes to the character Sex Machine in From Dusk Till Dawn).

23 comments:

  1. All vampires are compared to Edward Cullen because for better ( or worse) Stephanie Meyer started the Vampire Era in 2009. Before Edward and his crew hit bookstores all over the world - we had this vampire and that vampire. BUT - vampire fiction was NOT "popular"

    There was no hard-core fandom, no legions of teenage girls ( and boys) and no people dying in cinemas after watching the birth scene in Breaking Dawn. Meyer took vampires to a whole new level.

    Like Harry Potter ( but now really because HP is really awesome and Twilight was oooookay) Twilight was a turning point YA fiction. Therefore all vampires are compared to sparkly Edward - the father of the vampire era.

    And there is nothing romantic about a 100 and something year pedophile ( WHO WATCHES SOMEONE SLEEP?) who sparkles.

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    1. Well put Badass Bookie! I agree that the vampire subculture has always been there and that Meyer brought it to the forefront. The way that it happened was odd, wasn't it? It was teenage girls who made these particular brand of vampires popular, the kind we're suppose to sympathize with.

      I think Edward is probably the father of the modern vampire era, but before him there was Lestat, a more traditional vampire that I would rather have a comparison point to.

      I did not want to bash Twilight in this post (it's been done to death), I just wanted to point out that Edward is our comparison point now for what we consider to be a good or bad vampire.

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  2. I think Edward hits on a lot of 'attraction buttons' for young girls/women. He is handsome, mysterious, dangerous, brooding, unattainable (sort of) and has made Bella (who most readers imagine themselves to be) into the axis of his entire world (whether that is healthy or not is another matter). It is my sincere hope that readers are not actually searching out this ideal in the real world, as it would surely lead to pain, heartbreak and, possibly, dangerous situations.

    Because he became such a pop phenomenon with Twilight fans and "Twilight Moms" *shudder*, we can't seem to have any discussion on vampires without SOMEONE bringing him up, either a fan espousing his attractiveness or a hater sputtering about sparkles. It is very telling that you felt the need to explain who Lestat is, but Damon and Edward went without explanation. We end up discussing them simply because everyone knows who they ARE, even if they aren't a vampire fan or even a reader.

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    1. Thank yoi for commenting!

      Excellent points! Our culture is very saturated with all things Twilight. I think it becomes official when there's an SNL skit of it (or maybe just satire in general).

      I sometimes forget that people my age didn't grow up reading Anne Rice because of their mothers. It's mostly the teenagers who don't know who Leatat is, although I am doing my best to educate them.

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  3. I don't really have a problem with Edward being the comparison point for all vampires. Really, I don't. Unless TWILIGHT is the comparison point for books and movies. That annoys me a good bit. (The Hunger Games too but that's another Friday discussion altogether.)

    I don't mind that Edward is a 'different' kind of vampire, all sparkly and handsome and whatever. What bothers me about Edward is the weirdo Twilight Moms. They are sooo creepy. I have a friend that I always go to the midnight showings with (they're always at my birthday, so it's a thing) and we sit there, almost afraid of the people around us. It's SO BIZARRE that along with the target audience there are people WAY older than them, probably with children at home in bed, wearing the T-shirts and with fake teethmarks painted on their necks.

    I don't think you're hating on Twilight or Edward, which is a good thing, because I don't think it is necessary. Like with Hunger Games, it got people to reading. But it isn't even the best vampire stuff out there and to a non-reading world, stuff like this is what I call dangerous. You know what I mean?

    It is a shame, though, that Edward/Twilight is seen as negative to lots of the reading or bookish crowd. But you're right, it is.

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    1. Have you seen the fans with Twilight tattoos? That's a bit too far I think.

      I agree with you, though. It got more people reading and that a good thing.

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  4. I'm always a little sad that when vampires are brought up no one ever seems to mention Nosferatu's Count Orlak.

    I realize it's a German silent horror film from the 1920's, but the vampire is neither hot, nor romantic. He's quite the creeper with that angular face and clawed hands. The shadow creeping up the staircase scene is enough to give one nightmares for a week.

    I'd love for that to be the standard for which all vampires are measured.

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    1. You bring up an interesting idea, though. That the vampires we always compare anything to aren't the scary kind. We always like the kind that we could envision ourselves as.

      Also, most vampire stories now aren't even horror based; they're romances.

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  5. Next week's meme to be reviewed should be the "Actual Cannibal, Shia Lebeouf" meme that's popped up on Tumblr.

    Just because I find it awesome.

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    1. I have no idea what you're talking about. Have you seen my Tumblr?

      http://hittingongirls.tumblr.com/

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  6. My personal favorite is the very tortured and sensitive Louis from Interview with a Vampire...RAWR!

    But you're totally right...Edward is always in the Cons column when being compared to others.

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    1. Louis was cool too.

      I found it odd that I didn't notice it before considering I have a vampire related discussion at least once a week.

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  7. I don't think that Edward's appeal has anything to do with him being a vampire - except in the attributes that it gives him - dangerous, mysterious etc. So I agree that he's not a good comparison when discussing vampires. Plus, Stephenie Meyer completely made up her own mythology, which makes her world even more difficult to look at next to the more traditional vamp stories. If someone asked me to recommend a vampire book to them, I wouldn't pick Twilight. However, if someone wanted a romance, I'd recommend it.

    I think that so many women love Edward because of who he represents as a romantic hero. Beyond the characteristics I mentioned above, he's closed off and it takes an innocent girl to wake him up. Doesn't every girl fantasize about being the one who gets through to the bad boy? I actually have a lot of friends who loved the Twilight series that were not into paranormal and had never read anything about vampires (and probably won't read anything else about them). Also, there are several now popular books that started as Twilight fan fiction, but their characters are not paranormal, showing that Edward's appeal goes beyond the fact that he's a vampire. The Fifty Shades trilogy and Sempre are two of those books.

    That said, I do agree that Edward made vampires and paranormal fiction in general, crazy popular. So I think the other members of the undead should be thanking him for what he's done for them.

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    1. Another for the side of "Edward isn't really a vampire". I hadn't considered that Stephanie Meyer created her own mythology for them, but now that I think about it she did change quite a few things (as far as vampire origins and abilities go).

      And you're right. We probably should thank Edward in some way for making paranormal books more popular.

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  8. The fact that you watch TVD and read Twilight bodes well for you. Also, I really enjoyed the kitty and tequila picture, looks like he's having a good time.

    That's all I have. Everyone else has hit on the points I would have posted.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! I'm an odd guy, but Twilight has gotten me dates, and Vampire Diaries? Well, it's just a good show. A bit ridiculous sometimes, but that's why I like it.

      The kitty picture is not mine, I found it online. I've decided it's a her. And I'm calling her Tequila Kitteh.

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  9. I freaking love this post. I try to bash Twilight as often as possible! The characters are terrible and the story is horrible. Yes, I've read them. Yes, I've even seen the movies (which are way worse than the books!). Give me a blood-sucking human-killing vampire any day of the week over a weak, sparkly one!

    Way to go Adam! Looking forward to the next WTF Friday post!

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    1. It's kind of hard to talk about Twilight and not bash it. I find that to be kind of funny.

      Thank you Richard!

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  10. Love The Lost Boys movie. Classic (the newer 2nd one sucked).

    I have to say people compare to him b/c he's one of the newer vampires. Dunno. I really don't compare vampires. To each their own. I do prefer Damon though. He has some of the funniest lines in TVD.

    Looking forward to this weekly meme!

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    1. I actually forced myself to sit through the entire 2nd movie. I regretted it.

      I think we need to enforce some kind of rule when vampires are brought up. Kind of like Godwin's Law. Godwin's Law states that in any political debate Nazis will eventually be used as an example. The person who brings up Nazis has lost their argument. Maybe we can make an Edward's Law?

      Thanks! I look forward to doing it!

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  11. What annoys me is the people who act like Twilight started the vampire trend. Sure Twilight started the biggest one but I find it has come in cycles. I remember vampires being huge when I was in junior high with Buffy being so popular and LJ Smith was writing her Nightworld series. Also, the Vampire Diaries books were originally published in the early '90s and they were popular then too. Not to mention the '80s with Lost Boys and Interview with a Vampire. That's at least once a decade that the vampires have become trendy so at this rate we're almost due for another resurgence. Although Twilight may have burned a lot of people out for a while.

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  12. So you like Damon and hate Edward. Yet they are very similiar. They both like to watch teenager girls sleep without their permission, for example. Though, I have to say that at least Edward didn't caress Bella's cheek while she slept.
    But they have other things in common like their controlling tendances, they are both creepy stalkers and they are both abusive towards the girl they have an obsession for.

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