Monday, December 1, 2008

Vampire fiction: take 2

A few weeks ago, I posted a quick article reference that raised the question, what makes vampire fiction so popular?  I'm fairly sure that article had the most comments I've seen around this blog for a while, some of them from fans of vampire fiction that took offense at the assertions in the original article.

It quickly became clear however that the fans did not have the time, energy, or interest to offer an alternative explanation.  How did vampires move from one of the scariest iconic villains of all time to one of the most popular bad-good-guys all over our ever-expanding modern offerings?

At last I have found someone willing to explain the popularity of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series.  It is a longish article, but one that profoundly answers the original question.  She does not quite answer it directly, as in why vampires, but her account of the appeal of the book to the adolescent girl rings quite true.  It is not a difficult leap from there to "why vampires?", being only vehicles for the themes raised in the article.

Here is one relevant bit:

"TWILIGHT IS FANTASTIC. It’s a page-turner that pops out a lurching, frightening ending I never saw coming. It’s also the first book that seemed at long last to rekindle something of the girl-reader in me. In fact, there were times when the novel—no work of literature, to be sure, no school for style; hugged mainly to the slender chests of very young teenage girls, whose regard for it is on a par with the regard with which just yesterday they held Hannah Montana—stirred something in me so long forgotten that I felt embarrassed by it. Reading the book, I sometimes experienced what I imagine long-married men must feel when they get an unexpected glimpse at pornography: slingshot back to a world of sensation that, through sheer force of will and dutiful acceptance of life’s fortunes, I thought I had subdued. The Twilight series is not based on a true story, of course, but within it is the true story, the original one. Twilight centers on a boy who loves a girl so much that he refuses to defile her, and on a girl who loves him so dearly that she is desperate for him to do just that, even if the wages of the act are expulsion from her family and from everything she has ever known. We haven’t seen that tale in a girls’ book in a very long time. And it’s selling through the roof."

Why do I have an eerie feeling that I'll be dealing with this in a few years with my own daughters?  Whoever said parenting wasn't an adventure?


Anonymous said...

Refuse to teach them to read.

Problem solved.


James Wood said...

ted, you are a cynic, methinks.

Jason, I think you found the root of the issue. John Eldredge talks about this in his book Epic. The stories which are most popular are those stories which touch most closely on the tale which God is telling.

In that light I would change the statement you quoted to reflect the story which God is telling. Little girls are drawn into the romance of one who would leave power and security for the love of them, one who would not force his love on them, and one who values them for who they really are. To me that sounds like the story of the Incarnation.

Tim Lewis said...

Did I mention vampires are lame?

Jake Shore said...

The scary thing to me isn't what books are popular, but what books aren't being written (or published). Stephanie Meyer has simply tapped into a specific market that, apparently, no else is paying attention too. Isn't it a failure of Christian artists and authors to produce anything that has an appeal outside the faith community? Think of Lewis, Chesterton, MacDonald and Tolkien. Did they not tap into the imagination of people everywhere?; to the creative impulse that finds its source in our creator? James is right - God's story appeals to everyone (whether they realize or not).