Twilight, Edward Cullen, and the death of cool Vampires
I like vampires as much as the next guy, which come to think of it probably isn’t that much.
I mean, from a guy’s point of view, what’s really to like about them in the first place? Traditionally there are two types of vampires: the ridiculously sex-crazed aggressive dudes who are suave and cool (think of the Lost Boys) and would make every other male feel totally inadequate being around them, or the ridiculously sex-crazed, old ass creepy guys who obsess over and stalk girls (the forefathers of vampires, Nosferatu and Dracula, both based on Bram Stoker’s novel, both fit in here).
Either way it’s like being out in downtown Ottawa on Saturday night, where not only are there more men per capita than any other major urban centre, it seems, but where most of them get so worked up over the prospect of even talking to a girl that things tend to get violent when they’re left standing on the dance floor without a girl when the lights come on. Sure, you could say this is a far-reaching analogy, but expressing your anger through causing after-bar fights or expressing it through attacking unsuspecting victims with your fangs isn’t that far off.
And yes, I realize there are exceptions to the rule, like the female vampires Salma Hayek, Aaliyah and Elvira, not to mention the unquestionable homo erotic undertones that inevitably sneak in to almost every vampire flick, whether intentional or not (the fact that when you Google vampire porn the first page is full of gay porn sites is more than just coincidence).
But when you think of the well-known, big screen names, they can usually fall under one of these two definitions: one young and cool, one old and crusty, both totally obsessed with sex and blood.
Which brings me to the Twilight series, and it’s main male vampire, the brooding, sensitive, man-pretty Edward Cullen (or his real life version, the brooding, man-pretty Robert Pattinson). Unlike say, Interview With A Vampire’s Lestat (played by Tom Cruise, which is a messed up way of how life imitates art), who uses his vampire powers to charm the panties off every female and bi-curious male he comes across before putting them through some sort of hyper-sexualized, slow, agonizing death, Edward Cullen is known for his patience and unwillingness to give in to the sexually deviant voices that were naturally embedded in his head when he became part of the vampire family. Here’s how the Times put it in a profile of Meyers:
“Resisting that temptation is a constant struggle. Edward’s choice–and the willingness to
choose a different way in general–is a major theme in Meyer’s books.”I really think that’s the
underlying metaphor of my vampires,” she says. “It doesn’t matter where you’re stuck in life or
what you think you have to do; you can always choose something else. There’s always a different path.”
That’s great and all, but put Cullen up against any one of the Lost Boys, even the squirrelly one that was never in a decent movie ever again, and he would get his butt whooped Blade style. In fact, other than say, Eddie Munster, Cullen may be the most PG vampire in the history of vampires. To top it off, the first two Twilight movies have been all about how Edward wants Bella so bad but just can’t bring himself to make a move, whether it be sexual, or whether it be turning her into a vampire.
But that’s just part of what makes him such an interesting character, you say? It’s also what makes him wussiest vampire of all time. Even Sesame Street’s the Count, with all the OCD-induced endless counting was more intimidating.
The fact that the book was written by Meyers, a practicing Mormon, probably has a lot to do with that – no sex before marriage, whether symbolic (biting and drawing blood), or actual. It’s like he’s the fourth Jonas Brother but was kicked out of the band for being too pale and not conditioning his hair regularly. And like the Jonas Brothers, he is so insanely popular that he could have any teenage girl or lonely mother on the planet, but he would rather just wait.
It’s not even like this huge popularity is an odd thing either – every 10 years or so vampires are literally the thing to be. And I know I keep mentioning the Lost Boys, but really, if you think back to when that came out they looked like a combination of INXS, Duran Duran and a ton of mescaline. I don’t know what that would look like today, but back then it was pretty bad ass.
Today, vampires look like they’re out of the latest J. Crew catalogue, and rather than advancing the plot by giving in to their endless sexual and blood thirsty urges, they would rather practice abstinence and think about consequences. Needless to say, they’ve lost a bit of edge.
Even by the third addition to the Twilight franchise, Eclipse, when Bella and Edward finally do have sex, it’s only ever alluded to, so I imagine that the movie version will take the same moral high ground and keep the rating nice and PG. In the book, more attention is given to the fact that Bella is in pain and covered in bruises afterwards, and that Edward is sorry. A thinly veiled way to say that sex comes with its consequences.
“I get some pressure to put a big sex scene in,” Meyers told the Times in the same interview mentioned above. “But you can go anywhere for graphic sex. It’s harder to find a romance where they dwell on the hand-holding.”
Yes you can go anywhere for graphic sex – it’s called vampire novels and movies. Now enough with all the patient hand holding and moralities already. I think it’s time for Meyer’s vampires to, you know, start acting like vampires and entertain me with their sexual deviances and blood drinking debauchery.
Oh ya, and why not grow a pair while they’re at it?