Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It might already be too late

At first, this bizarre Slate article comes across as a straight-up lament of the success of the sensitive emo vampires of the Twilight series, laying blame squarely at the the feet of Angel:
The first sign that something was awry came with the introduction of Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A prime example of the brooding, crying-on-the-inside, leather-jacketed emo boy of the '90s (see also: Dylan McKay, Beverly Hills, 90210; James Hurley, Twin Peaks), Angel was a vampire who had a soul. He fell in love with Buffy, teared up a lot, and believed in random acts of kindness. Angel, in short, sucked. Or, rather, he didn't suck, which was the problem. When he did suck, he took limited amounts of blood from consenting human women, or sucked blood against his will, or sucked rat blood.

Rat blood.

Think about it. Faced with the impact of his diet on humans, Angel accepts a yucky, cruelty-free substitute, then endlessly lectures other vampires about their moral failings because they don't do the same. He's not a vampire—he's a vegan.
Arguments about what makes a real vampire are something my geek self can get behind... and I'm sympathetic to this particular perspective, since I never "got" Buffy, as it always struck me as a Saved by the Bell clone with a cheesily portrayed and logically incoherent horror element tacked on. However, I do have to say that he blames entirely too little of this development on Ann Rice. As far as I know, Louis Pointe du Lac from Interview with a Vampire was the first vampire to eat rats to avoid killing humans... and he was such a freakin' whiner about his lost humanity that I couldn't even finish the damn book. Louis was definitely the first emo vampire, and absolutely the worst one. I really can't muster up much angst about Angel after suffering through Louis.

In the end, though... while I prefer my vampires more monstrous... doesn't it just come down to the fact that "edgy" (but not actually dangerous) guys are popular with teenage girls? I'd say vampires with morally based dietary restrictions are a fairly clever way to introduce said edginess without using the tired trope of the juvenile delinquent with a heart of gold from the bad part of town.

I'll admit that the idea of an old skool Dracula movie seems far fetched in this kind of environment, and that's a sad thing, but I'm not seeing where this argument is going...

Just as America's young men are being given deeply erroneous ideas about sex by what they watch on the Web, so, too, are America's young women receiving troubling misinformation about the male of the species from Twilight. These women are going to be shocked when the sensitive, emotionally available, poetry-writing boys of their dreams expect a bit more from a sleepover than dew-eyed gazes and chaste hugs. The young man, having been schooled in love online, will be expecting extreme bondage and a lesbian three-way.

The bigger problem here is that we're breeding sexually incompatible human beings, and vampires are to blame. I can see a time coming when the birth rate is going to precipitously decline. And what that means is that vampires are going to run out of food. But if Charlaine Harris, Laurel K. Hamilton, Stephenie Meyer, and all the others are right about the souls of their emo, Goth, velvet-wearing, crybaby vampire spawn, then maybe some kind of mass, Kurt Cobain-inspired, "You'll miss me when I'm gone," specieswide suicide is what vampires have been after all along.

I gotta say that I didn't see that coming.

Not being a teenager, I don't really care about how unrealistic their dating expectations are... but I feel like I have some responsibility to concern myself with the fate of the entire human race.

But ultimately I think it's worth the risk of emo vampires destroying our species to have 2000 young women camping out to get into a comic book convention. I mean, hello? 20 years ago girls still liked dark and brooding poets more than socially awkward Dungeons and Dragons fans, but I sure as hell didn't have the opportunity to accompany a female to a comic book convention... I didn't even get to a mention I even knew what a comic book was.

This, of course, brings us back full circle to Buffy/Angel... which, despite my dislike of the series, has to be acknowledged as a huge step forward for nerds who like girls. It might have led to Twilight, but it also led to young ladies primed to experiment with more hardcore geekiness.

Thus I would advise any young male nerd interested in courting to think of Twilight as a gateway to greater geekdom... not as disqualifying characteristic. She starts out mooning after sensitive vampires and before you know it she's min-maxing dark elf assassin builds. Well... ok... that's not terribly likely, but it's at least possible.

The downside? You'll probably have to watch Twilight movies... and worse... pretend you like them.

But that's why being a teen-aged boy sucks.

photo by flickr user Satsukiame used under a Creative Commons license