Sunday, October 11, 2009
I was talking to my husband the other day about the current trends in vampire fiction, ranging from "Twilight" to "The Vampire Diaries," and it occurred to me that teenage girls seem to be driving the direction that genre is going. And it's driving me crazy. As the mother of a "tween" I can see why the trend has developed. Between "Hannah Montana" and "The Wizards of Waverly Place," and the marketing that goes along with them, it's not hard to see the power young girls have when it comes to getting mom and dad to pay lots of money to keep their little girls happy. But I wonder if the push to keep little girls happy has forced us all to compromise our taste and accept sub-standard entertainment. I'm not going to lie, "Twilight" represents all that is wrong with the world of vampire fiction as far as I'm concerned. I know, I know. It's hugely popular. I hear women all the time tell me how much they loooove it. They read it with their teenage daughters, join book clubs with other like-minded women and flock to see the movies. I get it. And I resent the heck out of everyone who has made it a phenomenon because vampires are losing their monster status. Vampires who roam about in the daylight and shimmer are not vampires. And let's face it, "Twilight" isn't about vampires, it's about the plain girl who gets the hot guy. It's vicarious wish fulfillment for every girl (and woman) who was ever the wallflower. Vampires have been hijacked by romantic comedy fans. It's unfair of me to judge. Really, I know that. Not everyone should have to share my taste in entertainment. But it drives me up a wall when Hollywood decides to go after a trend and drive a genre into the ground. We've all seen it happen before. Take Batman for example. No, teenage girls haven't ruined that franchise yet. But Batman went through a long dry period in which it was forgotten that he was supposed the dark, brooding guy we've all come to know and love. I remember growing up watching the 60's television series starring Adam West as the caped avenger in the campy show featuring silly graphics saying things like "Pow!" and "Bam!" every time Batman and Robin would get into a fight and I liked it. But I was a kid and didn't know any better. When the late 80's rolled around and Tim Burton took on the story it seemed like it was going back to its darker roots-- and Jack Nicholson made for a fairly terrific Joker. But it seemed as if Batman couldn't entirely escape the silliness that lingered long after the television series was over and, before we knew it, they put him in a suit with nipples. I'm just sayin'. Christopher Nolan, my hero, finally saved Batman with the wonderful "Batman Begins" in 2005, but it was a long time coming. I can't help but wonder, are we in for a long period of teenage romantic fantasies featuring vampires and werewolves? It isn't the fault of teenage audiences though. It isn't even the fault of the adult fans of paranormal romances. I like to think I'm the last one to judge. I love mass market fiction. I'm not afraid to say it. But I dislike it when Hollywood gets its teeth into a fad and buries anything else of value. Let's face it, Hollywood isn't known for being driven by quality, it's known for being driven by what makes money (despite any current anti-capitalistic rhetoric-- we all know Hollywood is all about the profit). Heck, any entertainment industry is like that. That isn't inherently a bad thing. But quality can be overlooked in that environment and who knows how long it will be before Hollywood remembers that Dracula started it all and he wasn't a broody hunk fighting his urge to drink blood. He was a monster. But I suppose there is hope on the horizon. There is "The Wolfman" starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins which looks like it will remember that a werewolf should be frightening. That is, unless The Vampire's Assistant doesn't ruin the genre forever by bringing in all the teenage boys. Sigh.