Onward and upward, I say. Nothing more will be mentioned about the brouhaha involving the Courant and my contributions there. I thought, on this gorgeous Sunday in the city, that I should write something that would make you all laugh and/or pick a fight with me. And I apologize in advance to all of my friends who are probably going to hate me after I say what I’m about to say. Here we go.
It is the epic epicenter of suck. It could be studied by Stephen Hawking for his black hole theories. Oh, it sucks so bad.
Now, before you all bite my head off (pun intended), let me just say that I am a voracious reader of fiction, particularly fantasy and sci-fi. I’m writing my own book right now and it’s getting increasingly hard not to steal from Tolkien at least every ten sentences or so. It’s embarrassing how often I tried to recreate classic scenes from medieval literature in my backyard when I was 8. And 16. And 19. And 23. But anyway.
One of my dearest loves has always been vampire lit. Before Stephanie Meyer ruined vampires for me forever, Anne Rice introduced me to the world of the charismatic, sensual, villainous vamp. In her books, I found vampires who not only were incinerated in sunlight and drank blood, they actually killed people. Killed people, and liked it. Their fingernails looked like glass. They spent a lot of money on clothes they didn’t need, and partied till dawn until they crawled back home to sleep in their coffins before the sun flayed their skin. They had sex. They didn’t bitch and moan about their existence. They relished their eternal damnation. My favorite is Lestat de Lioncourt, an obvious choice. He’s brash and charismatic and bold, and legitimately enjoys his work. He’s also a bit of a fashionista; he’ll stop midnarration to talk about the coat he has on, which I always found hilarious. When I read them now I feel sad that Anne abandoned her Vampire Chronicles to write the abysmal Christ the Lord series.
Vampire movies also rank pretty high on my list of enjoyable things. Interview with the Vampire is one of my favorite movies, even though it stars Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt and I usually hate them with the fire of a thousand suns. It completely freaked me out as a child when I caught it on TBS one night at the unfortunate moment when Lestat sinks his teeth into Louis’ neck and blood pours to the floor. And the scene where he kills the Creole hookers? GAH. Vampires in that world kind of rock out with their brutality. The Underworld series vampires, too, impressed me with all of their leatherbound and guntoting glory but those vampires are more in the vein of zombie horrorshow archetypes than traditional vamps. There’s very little mysticism and sensuality in those stories, if you don’t count Lucian and Sonja.
Just realized that this entire harangue is going to make me sound like the biggest geek on the planet. This may be true.
Anne Rice obviously isn’t the only name in vampire fiction. Bram Stoker practically invented the genre. One of my favorite books of the past ten years (or the Aughties) has been Elizabeth Kostova’s opus The Historian, which sets up the idea that Vlad the Impaler was really a vampire in a Da Vinci Code-esque narrative but with longer chapters (and, um, better writing). And of course, the thousands of vampire books that have come out over the past few years such as the Sookie Stackhouse series which inspired True Blood on HBO.
When Twilight came out, I unintentionally put it on the backburner. I was entering my junior year of college at the time and didn’t have brainspace for recreational reading. Last year, at the request of several of my friends, I stopped in a bookstore, picked up a copy of Twilight, and before I went up to the cashier I read the first few chapters, just to make sure it was my cup of tea before purchasing.
Now, let me get this straight. They’re vampires, but they can be in the sunlight? But they…sparkle? And they’re vegetarian vampires, but they feed on animal blood (PETA would have a heart attack). And they don’t like feeding on humans…because it’s…morally wrong?
And did I mention they sparkle?
However, the piece de resistance of the whole debacle? They don’t have fangs. They just have unusually sharp teeth. So really, what you have here are strange emo-punk glitter fairies who abuse dental insurance.
Oh dear Akasha, what hath Stephanie Meyer wrought?
My vampires do not sparkle. My vampires do not feed on animals because they don’t want to hurt itty witty humans (although Louis de Pointe du Lac may disagree with me on this). They bite into human necks and tear in until they hear arteries snap, and they drain them dry. With fangs. Whatever happened to these vampires, the ones that used to terrify me?
If Twilight vampires were human I would hate them. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate them.
They’d wallow in bowls of cookie dough unwrapped straight from the freezer and to hell with the salmonella risk. They’d listen to really bad music. I’d pass them on stoops outside of Union Square, reading Dante with an obvious air to their face (although you can’t see it because it’s under bug sunglasses) a beret perched on their head. On their cigarette-thin frame (enhanced with, well, a cigarette) is thrown together pencil jeans and a Salute Your Shorts shirt, worn with the kind of self-referential irony that makes me want to kick every hipster I see. They’d eat seitan wrapped in lettuce and drink vegan fizzy wine, gallivanting to poetry readings in the East Village so they can talk about it loudly the next day at Joe the Art Of Coffee while making plans to see Antichrist at the Angelika. When they feel like the world doesn’t understand them they will weep to their Livejournals and post passive-aggressive Facebook status updates and take to their Twitters with Churchill-like vitriol, then press the @ over a period of hours to check on who supports them.
Now, I know I’m getting a bit aggressive. And granted if I were just talking about the book, I would stop now. But I haven’t even gotten to the best part.
Now, I have not seen the movie. And I almost went to see it because of Rob Pattinson, because I am a huge Harry Potter fan and Cedric Diggory is one of my favorite characters from Goblet of Fire, because you want to hate him for stealing Cho from Harry but he’s a genuinely nice guy. I’m also a fan of them getting Katherine Hardwicke to direct (although I knew she would take it into a warped, Thirteen-ish direction which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). But oy. It just looked so dreary and depressing to me that I skipped it. Plus, the girls who were waiting in line to see it when I went to see Revolutionary Road were the kind of girls that I really, really hate. They were so “OMG KAWAII” about the whole thing it turned me off from seeing it altogether.
The casting of Kristin Stewart as Bella, however, was the final nail in the coffin. Her casting made it impossible for me to attempt sitting through it, although I will admit she was wonderful in Adventureland (then again that movie was impossible to screw up, and her character was minimal enough so that it didn’t take me out of the story).
Her general ‘blah’ face bugs me. People who look that bummed out by life all the time really just annoy me in general. You’ve got an awesome life, sweetheart. Enough of the “Oh, my life is so hard, no one understands me, I’m gonna sit here and hide behind my tangled hair and my ripped up jeans, wah wah waaah” nonsense. You’re the star of one of the biggest movie series of the past few years and on your off hours you get to make out with Cedric Diggory. And you get the unGodly chance of getting to portray Joan Jett in a film.
So, smile every once and a while darling. Life could be worse.
Will I see New Moon? I don’t think I will. But there is a glitch in this plan. One of my favorite actors on the planet, Michael Sheen (he played Tony Blair in The Queen and Lucian in the Underworld series) was cast as Aro, the leader of the vampire clan called the Volturi. To see this man that I associate with werewolves play a vampire would be unbearably cool, but I have to remain strong.
In my opinion there should be more vampire fiction in the world, so on one hand I applaud Stephanie Meyer for bring them into the pop culture realm more handily than most other authors (and the fact that she didn’t do any vampire research before writing the books explains a hell of a lot). And I’m told reading her books is addictive. But just don’t call it a vampire story. Because they aren’t vampires.
Me? I can’t wait until werewolves come back into vogue. Give me some lycanthropy any time!