I was recently reading the latest book in The Vampire Chronicles, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis. After the many ups and all-too-frequent downs of the series, reading the new installments comes out of the same schadenfreude-y curiosity that presumably leads other people to watch the Kardashians: namely, wanting to know what on earth these disaster (non)humans are up to now.
One of the major worldbuilding developments in the most recent books has been, as one might guess from the title, the ascension of Lestat into a sort of mutually-agreed-upon rulership of the vampire community. Even Lestat has acquired some self-awareness, over the years; he knows that he is not going to have the attention span to attend to every issue of the community, and so he forms a court of vampiric elders from across the world. While this has the immediate benefit for the reader of putting all the major players of the series in one place to stand around and be beautiful at each other, it also lends a seriousness to Lestat’s rule. His princeship is not symbolic, and for the first time the vampire community is less an arbitrary group of metahumans connected only by the fluke of their condition and more of an organized nation. And that, of course, means there needs to be rules.
In an increasingly plugged in and hyper-vigilant world where the existence of vampires is a very poorly guarded secret, it’s more important than ever that vampires maintain a low profile. As part of this (and as part of the mentality that vampires are not inherently evil despite their predatory nature) they are expected to behave in reasonably moral ways.
Except for that whole “don’t turn children” rule. (via wikipedia)
Don’t kill; only take enough blood to sate your hunger. Don’t drink from innocents; only take blood from those who are clearly bad people (you know, like, sex traffickers, murderers, people who don’t use their turn signal). Don’t broadcast your existence to humans—a “do as I say, not as I do” rule given Lestat’s history—as this endangers the entire vampire community. However, despite the rather checkered history of how all these people actually became vampires, there don’t seem to be any rules forthcoming about who gets to be a vampire.
I’ve been slowly working my way through the backlog of Speculate! episodes, and in one older episode the hosts were discussing The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. It wasn’t until recently that I got to read it for myself and experience Black’s fascinating take on vampires. When I first started the novel, I thought that maybe it was a dig at Twilight and its sparkly, essentially non-threatening vampires, but as I read on, it didn’t seem to be specifically targeting Twilight—which is nice, because despite Twilight’s many faults, I think there’s enough room in the world for both Twilight’s sparkly vampires and the more traditional Dracula-esque vampires. What Coldtown‘s vampires seem to be critiquing is the idea of romanticizing danger. As Holly Black said in an interview with Parade:
For me, I think one of the key things I wanted to explore in the book is the idea of our love of danger—and what we do in the face of it on such a staggering scale. That’s where the reality TV aspect of it came. We like watching people get hurt—on TV, on YouTube. There’s that vicarious thrill. I wanted to take that to an extreme and see what happened. What would it really be like if we had a world with vampires in it, given our iPhone, camera-obsessed culture? We like the idea that we could get close to danger and survive. And also the idea that someone else could get close to danger and not survive.
The book does have some potentially meatier themes about being a human vs. being a monster, but unfortunately, much of it wasn’t followed through in a way I found satisfying. What I did find satisfying was the ways in which Black uses her vampires to examine the horrifying consequences of the media sensationalism that we have to deal with in the real world.
Spoilers for almost the whole story below the jump.
My favorite thing about Throwback Thursdays is that it gives me an excuse and an opportunity to revisit old childhood favorites that I remember loving, but have all but forgotten the specific details of. For this week’s installment, I bring you Blade, the iconic vampire movie starring Wesley Snipes. This movie was the reason I started to love vampires, but watching it all these years later, I was no longer as impressed with it as I was when I was twelve. But I feel like that’s bound to happen to most things we love as children, and Blade was still an enjoyable, grungy, bloody, and sometimes outright entertainingly disgusting vampire romp.
When you see the two versions of the same story compared to each other, the changes suggest that Meyer should’ve ignored complaints about Bella being a stereotype and maintained the value of what was undeniably a successful franchise. Instead, she ended up adding slight variations that feed into traditional gender stereotypes: Females receive more unnecessary physical description than their male counterparts did in Twilight and Bella almost cries where Beau doesn’t. (via Entertainment Weekly)
Thankfully, fandom is always there, and a group of dedicated fans have stepped in to create a reimagining that’s actually more progressive than either of these books. Twife or Death, originally titled the Twilight Lesbians Project, has sprung up in the last week on Tumblr, spearheaded by Tumblr user tallulademetriou.
I was thrilled when I got the chance to read M. Jess Peacock’s Such a Dark Thing: Theology of the Vampire Narrative in Popular Culture and review this academic treatise for our blog. Just seeing the title itself filled me with nerdy joy and anticipation. This is not the first time I’ve written about vampires and religion for this blog, and I hope it won’t be my last. Such intersections of fantastical genre pop culture media and religious studies/theology perfectly fits in with some of my own dearest interests, as well as the mission of the LGG&F blog, of course. The book does exactly what it says it will, looking at the symbolic value of the vampire in pop culture through a variety of theological lenses, some of which I’d thought of before, but many of which had never crossed my mind. Without further ado, let’s sink our teeth into this review (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist #punsarealwaysintended).
I recently got my hands on a copy of Only Lovers Left Alive, a 2013 vampire movie starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. Despite both me and my mom being super hyped about it prior to its release, we both failed miserably at getting ourselves to a theater in our area where it was actually playing. I’d nearly forgotten my desire to see the movie at all when lo and behold, someone who’d purchased the movie at a different location brought it into the store where I work to return it. Sensing the hand of divine providence, I snatched it up, and as soon as we had a chance to sit down with it (and a glass of wine or two) we popped it into the DVD player.
How to describe what happened after that? Suffice it to say, Only Lovers Left Alive is not like any other movie I’ve seen.
I really used to like True Blood at one point in time—or at least I liked it a lot better than I do now—but Season 3 has to be the worst season thus far. I wasn’t happy with Season 2 and its portrayal of religion through an extremist group, but at the very least I didn’t hate everything that was happening. That’s not true of Season 3. The Tara storyline made this season painful to watch, and though it was by far the worst storyline, it was hardly the only awful thing happening. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the writers purposefully went out of their way to make Season 3 the most offensive, difficult, triggering season possible. And Tara’s rape plot is sadly not its only devolution into straight up misogyny.
Spoilers and trigger warning for mutilation, slut-shaming, mental issues, rape, and abuse up ahead.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have a lotof issues with True Blood. It’s a good show, but it’s marred with problem after problem, and most of those problems are racist, sexist, or offensive in some regard. Unfortunately, the show also has a problem with consistency, at least when it comes to drinking vampire blood. While this problem is nowhere near as offensive as these others, it’s still a pretty big issue, since vampire blood is a central part of the story.
Well, after months of putting it off, I finally got around to finishing True Blood’s third season. Once again, I found myself absolutely adoring this show, while simultaneously hating a great deal of its themes. Last season put me off by its portrayal of religion, and it even featured a religious fanatic who attempted to sexually assault Sookie, because why the fuck not? This season also put me off by its gratuitous rape themes that existed for no damn reason. Despite being a really good show with an awesome female protagonist, True Blood’s biggest problem seems to be offensive clichés, and that is no more apparent than how the show treats both Tara and Eggs’s characters and their misogynistic and racist plotlines.
Magical powers can be bestowed in a variety of ways. Maybe characters are born with them, à la Harry Potter. Maybe power is accessible by anyone, but requires magical tools à la Supernatural. And maybe they’re inherited from someone else, or passed on via an object or ritual. A universe where power is received in this last way can offer a lot of interesting storytelling potential if done right. Think of the Aztec gold in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. All you need to have the power (okay, yes, the pirates consider it a curse, but they do ostensibly have magical powers) is to have a coin in your possession. Because there’s a large margin of error for this power to be abused, there are high stakes tied to who controls it.
I actually stumbled onto this idea as I read Anne Rice’s newest Vampire Chronicles offering, Prince Lestat. While the book itself was unfortunately representative of the self-indulgent wordiness of Rice’s later works, it did largely center on the theme of received power. Who is worthy of having power? What happens when that person becomes unworthy, and how and when should it be passed on?