So mermaids are apparently the supernatural creature du jour in the world of young adult fiction, according to io9. Posts like this always make me raise my eyebrows a bit; over the past few years, I’ve been hearing that angels and, perhaps more alarmingly, zombies are the new hotness, but from where I’m standing, such new trends really haven’t made a dent in pop culture. Twilight, at least until the last film comes out, still reigns supreme (have y’all seen Lee Pace’s hostage face on his character poster? It’s something to behold), True Blood still holds thrall, and The Vampire Diaries is quite popular. Of course, there’s always been something sexual about vampires, especially since Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, but the recent rise of the vampire in pop culture has forgotten something crucial to the vampire mythology: eternal damnation. Or so I thought until recently.
So I’ve mentioned that I like Russell Brand before, yes? (This links. I always link!) One of the things I like about him is that he’s pretty honest about himself; a common theme he talks about in his stand-up is his search for salvation through finding love, having previously tried drugs and fame. In a secular society, the argument goes, religion is no longer a constant avenue for salvation, and so we, as a society, have turned to the idea of true love and the concept of “the one” as an avenue accessible to everyone.
Now place your run-of-the-mill sexy vampire into this equation. Previously, those bloodsucking creatures of the night preying on our womenfolk were eternally damned, soulless. Nowadays? Poetic, gentlemanly, chivalric, and overwhelmingly sexy lovers. Even Twilight, with all its problematic issues about women, is pretty honest about female desire for male bodies, as it’s a plot point that Bella wants to sleep with Edward; I always refer to the films when I try to define female gaze versus male gaze. Oh, sometimes it’s played with, as in the first season or so of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and probably in a lot of paranormal romance that I haven’t read yet, but the stigma and the violence of the vampire is fading away until we end up with someone like Matthew from A Discovery of Witches, where there is absolutely no drawback to being a vampire. If a vampire can love, then he is capable of salvation. If he is capable of salvation, he can’t be a monster.
And so, while I think a lot of these new depictions gloss over or ignore the more unsavory aspects of being a vampire, I also think that you can draw a clear line between these two different takes on the vampire: the eternally damned monster and the redeemed lover. It’s a line I’ve been missing and puzzling over for quite a while, but I think I get it now.
Of course, getting it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
I moved back to college on Friday; so much stuff. I’m going to hit the ground running this week and then leap into Dragon*Con mode. I’ve finished my Fili costume, and I’m quite pleased with it, to the point I had an anxiety dream about the embellishments falling off. We’ll see how it goes! In terms of reading, I’m still pushing through Rock and Roll is Here to Stay, although I’ve got some shorter books I might blast through to make sure you guys are taken care of until after con.
Tor/Forge is giving away a Cory Doctorow bundle until September 4. The Baen Free Library is full of free downloads, including The Shadow of the Lion and On Basilisk Station. Night Shade Books is offering Butcher Bird and Grey as free downloads at the moment. Vertigo Comics is offering free downloads of the first issue of several series, including Fables, The Unwritten, and Y: The Last Man. (And you will go download The Unwritten.) Small Beer Press offers several of their books as free downloads, including Kelly Link’s Magic for Beginners. If I’ve missed your giveaway or freebie, drop me a line!
What do you make of the trajectory between the old-school vampire and the new-school?