Gothic Vampire Fantasy, Part One

Cultural Priming and Sexual Objectification
Twilight and the Vampire Diaries are two forms of vampire media which have reached the heights of incredible popularity over the last decade. But one of the fundamental questions we must ask ourselves in developing an understand in an understanding of the teen gothic genre is: why? Why have such pervasive fantasies of dark, vampiric love reached such heights of popularity in modern culture?

Modern culture is full of a multitude of messages, some of contradictory. Messages concerning women and love, and how women are meant to love. These messages derive from culture, from a culture which seems to determined to instruct young women on how to conceive of both sex and desire.

Our current culture primes young women with two main ideas concerning love: first, that love is an all powerful, all consuming force that both completes and consumes young women. The second is the idea of polarization of certain types of love, as embodied by certain young men. This conception of the male madonna/whore, has been promoted throughout certain aspects of pop culture. We see it on tv shows and in movies, particularly teen dramas. Only observe some of the most popular teen love triangles to view evidence of this: Pacey Witter and Dawson Leery on Dawson’s Creek, Chuck Bass and Nate Archibald of Gossip Girl. These young men all possess one quality in common: one member of the pair will be the “good boy,”usually nice and tepid, but unsatisfactory in comparison to the bad boy, who will be the sexual seducer, the truly seductive male of the group.

Through constant access to media and television, women are trained to view men in terms of this dynamic, and view love in terms of a force which overwhelms. Both the Vampire Diaries and Twilight takes this dynamic, and elevate the appeal of the good/bad boy by raising it to levels of the supernatural. In most teen drama, the worst a boy could do is seduce you: but in the environs of the teen vampire genre, these good/bad aspects are heightened to a level of unbearable tension. In the Vampire Diaries, we are presented with the direct contrast of Damon and Stefan Salavatore. Damon is presented as the “bad,” brother the brother, who will seduces women and murders innocent people. Stefan stands as the “good,” brother, the brother who cares for innocent people, but still presents a dark appeal of his own.

This presentation of both males versus the others serves as an excellent mediation of these desires young women possess-both to have a stable partner and to have the presence of the dark devious seducer in their lives. In ordinary life, such contradictory urges are not able to be married in one person. We are primarily a monogamous society, and to have two partners at once is usually frowned down upon. But in the realm of fantasy, we can satisfy these urges, which remain married together in one person.

Twilight remain especially brilliant at this because it combines the good boy/ bad boy into one person, a feat which is usually made impossible in the realm of real life. The cruel and the dark desire t seduce do not normally mesh well in the theatre of the real: but in Edward, Meyer accomplishes this by dint of Edward’s terrific supernatural nature. Edward at once embodies angel and devil, vampire and human. Bella herself makes much of this angelic side and this desire on behalf of Edward to be the perfect boyfriend for Bella. However, through Edward’s desire to kill and consume Bella (both coded desires for sex) he is able to indulge in his bad side, his seducer side: because both fantasies originate from his vampire side: a side her remains ashamed of and is unable to control.