Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Problem with Vampires

OK, so the title of this post is not referring to me having a problem like, vampires following me or something. It's referring to my problem with vampires in the media.

Not these vampires.

These ones:

I'm going to be upfront: I have never seen True Blood, so I cannot fully critique it. I just really... can't get behind the idea of it. (I have seen the first Twilight movie though.) Which is why I'm glad that FeministFrequency has so diligently followed and aptly critiqued the show. So I don't have to. Because I really have no desire to watch this show on my own.

I think there are a lot of really good points in this video (she also has a great one about Twilight, check it out) that can be applied not only to True Blood, but to all of the current sexy-vampire mania:

1.) Sexy-Vampire-Mania (hereafter known as SVM) perpetuates weak female characters and puts them in contrast with powerful (vampire), domineering, patriarchal and macho male characters.

2.) SVM perpetuates these scary-addictive women-in-danger plot lines. I'm sure such plot lines are addicting. You watch and HOPE that something good will happen. And if the only thing writers can think of is that the girl gets saved by the guy... eh? As FF said, women like to see women in power! Buffy the Vampire Slayer was on air for a really long time! And yet, Buffy did not play into the same old sexist traps as other SVM vehicles. When Buffy (WARNING! SPOILER!) lost her virginity to Angel (a vampire), he lost his soul, and the show got a lot of flack for that. And even after Angel turned evil, Buffy had these really complex feelings for him, but still managed to condemn him to hell. To protect herself. That's right, protect herself.

3.) SVM also teaches viewers(/readers) that women are passive creatures who must submit to the will of their masculine saviors. Excuse me while I vomit. Really? It's 2010 and that's really what we're watching?? (Where the HELL are Veronica Mars, Xena, and Buffy when we need them?!) It's just really frustrating to constantly see women in these terrible, lame, passive (but sexualized) positions in which they need to be saved. (This isn't just in the SVM genre--advertising is too often guilty of making women look rapeable.) I know I've already posted this video, but "Buffy Vs. Edward: Remixed" is just really too good. How women should act when faced with scary, sexualized, stalkery, emotional violence.

4.) SVM also has these weird, weird sexual messages. Whether it's the conservative, Mormon undertones of Twilight (marriage before sex! babies before death!), or the virgin/whore dichotomies in True Blood, no viewer (mostly young girls) is going to get any sort of healthy or productive knowledge about sexuality from that. This great article, "Vampire Shows Glorify Chastidy and Sexual Violence" breaks it down pretty clearly:
In both series, sex is spiked with danger. A man’s protection and a woman’s desire are intimately connected to violence. Sookie frequently finds herself the subject of Bill’s wrath while he is trying to protect her. In Twilight, Edward’s penchant for pointing out all the ways in which he could maim Bella by accident borders on S & M foreplay. This would have never gone down with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Latoya Peterson.)
It's just very troubling to me that there are all these young girls (I work at summer camp--I know) fantasizing over these flawed, scary and unhealthy depictions of sex and sex roles.

5.) I also have a problem with unnecessary violence. I think we see far too much of it, and that it's really not something that should be made into entertainment. There are far to many people actually suffering from violence for others of us to treat violence as something entertaining. That being said, I do watch a lot of action movies, and there is a considerable amount of violence in some of my favorite shows like Xena: Warrior Princess, Bones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Law & Order, and Veronica Mars. However, the violence in these contexts is generally condemned. It is violence that is not made sexy, but shown to demonstrate that violence is bad and scary and that when the good characters fight back, it is not in an inherently violent way, but in self-defense. SVM is sexualizing violence and turning it into something that we are supposed to watch and think is titillating. Which is just something that is not at all needed or good or ... entertaining!

(from Vampire Diaries)
I mean, vampires historically have been portrayed as these evil seducers, and the whole biting the neck thing is a very symbolic image of violent sex for more repressed times. Now, vampires are being portrayed as much more sexy beings and these sort of violent, sexual images are much more clear and much more graphic. Take for example, the above picture. The connotation is that the main female character (played by Nina Dobrev) has these two sexy male actors all over her in a consensual way.

Well, how would this image appear to you if the two men featured were not attractive? It's disturbing to me that we are letting these scary, rape-y images be treated as something sexy and wanted. Also, look back to the True Blood cover of Rolling Stone. Note how Anna Paquin is in the center. One guy in front, and one in back. How does that seem to you? The blood all over them is a nod to the show, but at the same time... I don't know. The whole thing is just too reminiscent of rape to me, GANG rape at that, and that's just not something that we should be applauding.

As for Sexy-Vampire-Mania? I'm pretty turned off.


  1. Excellent post. Couldn't agree more.

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