Vampires don’t sparkle, dammit!

6 04 2009

I’ve long been a fan of Tony Woodlief, and I never imagined the day when I would have to respectfully chide him on his writing, but alas, that time has come.  In his recent column for National Review, he stated that:

We have fully reversed the symbolism of Stoker’s vampire, who represented a demonic assault on a virtuous community. Today’s vampire is the hip Other, and the community around him is either bungling, intolerant, or simply a source of comedic relief (as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Lost Boys, and Fright Night, for example). The modern vampire is in touch with his sexuality, but the community suppresses it. The modern vampire is coming to take away your girlfriend, and she kind of likes it. The modern vampire is the guy you wish you had been in high school, or the guy you wish you’d dated in high school, and Meyer has turned that into gold.

He’s perfectly on point, up until the time he throws Buffy, the Vampire Slayer into the mix with the rest of the vampire tripe.  Mr. Woodlief doesn’t specify, but for purposes of this explication, I will assume he’s talking about the successful television series, and not the abomination that was the earlier movie.

Now, I admit to being a Joss Whedon fanboy, first coming to the Master with Firefly and then getting into Buffy.  I have to say that Mr. Woodlief got Buffy 180 degrees backwards.  Sunnydale, the setting for Buffy, is not just simply a source of comic relief, but instead represents Everytown (at least, Everytown that sits on a Hellmouth).  Sure, the residents can be dolts, but they also exhibit every other human characteristic, as well.  We can see those qualities in Buffy’s Mom and the Scooby Gang, especially Xander.  Xander has no special powers or abilities, yet consistenly rises to the occasion when called upon, and being the voice of reason and restraint when necessary.

I think Buffy also demonstrates that the vampire, as Other, is not to be aspired to.  In one episode, a group of vampire wanna-bes try to entice a vampire to turn them.  They are, without exception, losers who would never be turned and are simply a buffet for the vamps.  Also, in one of the very first episodes, Xander is confronted by one of his best friends, recently turned, who was “the guy you wish you had been in high school, or the guy you wish you’d dated in high school.”  He tries to convince Xander that being a vampire was great, inadvertently showing how empty his justification was.

Finally, remember that the sympathetic vampire (Angel, and in later seasons, Spike) were only sympathetic because they had souls and were seeking redemption for their past evils.  Other vamps (Darla, Harmony) who were portrayed sympathetically at times were ultimately shown to be irredeemable and could be counted on only for betrayal. (Vamps are consistently shown as such, as opposed to demons, who have the same range of personalities and drives as humans.  Think of Clem in Buffy or Lorne in Angel.)

In short, Buffy portrays the vampire in a manner that is diametrically opposed to the vampire of Twilight.  Vampires don’t sparkle, they burst into flames.  The difference matters.

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2 responses

12 12 2009
lonjuiliNum

Cool blogpost, didn’t thought this was going to be so great when I klicked at the title.

2 02 2010
lumps937

Sorry I was a little tardy on approving the post – I don’t get many comments and hadn’t checked recently. Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it. Can you tell me how you found the blog?

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