Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Is with the Vampires?!

Christy Hewitt
ENGL 299
Critical Essay, Option #4

Alright, I’m going to say it, I am a Twilight Fan. Though I do not take any shame in being a fan of sparkling vampires I understand that many people are probably rolling their eyes. Authors write books for people to read them, they write books to attract a fan base. Stephanie Meyer is one of these authors (even though some people wouldn’t even call her an author), and she has also paved the way for authors that just so happen to write about vampires.

A fan base is defined as “the regular supporters and enthusiasts of a team, musician or musical group, entertainer, or other celebrity.” I have been a fan of vampires since 1997 when Buffy the Vampire Slayer came onto television. Anything and everything that has to do with vampires I am usually tuned right in.

I first heard about Twilight in the summer of 2008, I saw a name on the Internet, Edward Cullen and I wanted to learn more about it, so I googled him and got his Wikipedia page. I immediately thought, “It’s a vampire series, perfect,” so I ordered the first two books and started reading them. Within the first three chapters I was already in love (probably because I’m a girl). I finished the four book series by the end of summer and eagerly awaited the arrival of the first movie. While I do credit myself for many people reading this series I only think I expanded the fan base a little. By the end of 2008 Twilight was a name everyone knew. They knew about the sexy vampires and the love story and even though there were plenty of people who wanted nothing to do with it, there were plenty more that wanted every piece of this series as I did.

The fans were growing and growing and soon the name “Twi-hards” was coined. This name was given to us and we embraced it. We stood in line at midnight to buy Breaking Dawn, we stood in light at midnight when the first movie was released and we bought every trinket imaginable that could relate to this series. I convinced as many friends as I could to read the books and they jumped on the bandwagon as well.

The question that has haunted me for the past two years (and I’m sure others) is why vampires, why now? They have been around in history and entertainment forever, literally, they don’t die. All of a sudden in the past 2-3 years they have become one of the most admired things in TV, movies, books, even music. Along with Twilight came the surge of TV shows like True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries (both based on a book series). Movies like 30 Days of Night, Underworld, Daybreakers, and even Wolfman became extremely successful. Other book series like House of Night, Vampire Academy, and even spoof novels on vampires are popular. I’ve been trying to come up with a reason why all of these things are so popular now and the only thing that makes sense is that it is the new pop culture phenomenon. With the rising popularity of fantasy fiction, vampires have jumped on its coattails and helped progress the genre as well. At first it was The Hobbit and Chronicles of Narnia, then it was Harry Potter, now it’s vampires, specifically Twilight. There have been thousands of fantasy novels made in the past ten years but only a couple have caught the eye of the public.

Honestly, I think half of it has to do with gender. Ninety-nine percent of the fans of these vampire series are women and even if men are fans it’s not like they would tell people that. There are very few females out there who don’t watch, read, or enjoy at least one of these vampire series. Another thing that helps is the extremely good-looking men cast to play these vampires. These actors are being chased around the mall because women genuinely want the men to bite them. The stories that accompany these novels are well written (even though some people believe they aren’t), and they are portrayed in film and TV very well. The suspense factor keeps us on the edge of our seats. With all of that said it seems as if the entertainment industry is the one to thank for the progression of this new obsession. We love vampires, we have made that clear, so what do they do? They push out as many vampire series as they can and the public just eats it up. The make sure the series has a cast of good looking actors that brood very well, they make sure the stories will keep an audience on edge, and they made sure we want to come back for more.

Something else that I am sure Hollywood knows it that people watch most of these series because they want to escape the norm, to get away from everyday life and dive into something completely unnatural. These vampire series allow them to do this. Twilight lets its fans jump into the world of supernatural vampires.

Fans also want something to continue following. Whether you are a fan of a music artist, a celebrity, or a book series the most important thing that a fan needs is material and that is what Twilight gave. The fans aren’t obsessed with this book just because of the love story. There is a really cool supernatural element that captures the attention of each of its readers. They escape into this world of vampires and as soon as they come out of it, five more vampire series are at their fingertips.

Stephanie Meyer created a phenomenon whether people like to say it or not. How did she do it? She simply wrote a love story about a vampire and a human. There have been plenty of these types of stories in the past, like one of the originals, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air I was certain that there wouldn’t be anything like it, but then Twilight came along I was taken back by the material and story that accompanied this author.

So what if Stephanie Meyer was influenced by Joss Whedon and the Buffy universe, who takes the ultimate prize? In my book that’s easy, Buffy…hands down. Buffy the Vampire Slayer lasted for seven seasons on the air and help the audiences attention during that whole time, maybe a disappoint season here or there. All Stephanie Meyer did was take what she knew about vampires and created a world around it proving these facts true or false. Joss Whedon created a world, in which vampires existed, and they were evil, and there was one girl who could stop them. A girl that both fell in love with vampires and killed them on a daily basis, which got me thinking…maybe this is where some women fell for the idea of vampires. Maybe back in 1997 the entertainment industry caught wind of this vampire phenomenon and they’ve been shoving it in our face since then. The fact that there are very few stories told in which a girl is the heroine may have influenced Joss Whedon to make this kick ass character. Buffy has a take no prisoners mentality and a confidence that most women should have and there just so happened to be vampires involved in her world. The vampires were really the icing on top of a great concept for a show (I mean really, has anyone seen the musical episode)! Stephanie Meyer may have developed a huge hit and she may have changed the face of the entertainment business when it comes to stories about vampires but lets be honest, Joss Whedon will always be king of vampire stories in my book.

Vampire novels are so successful today because Hollywood wanted them to be successful. They started off with Twilight and have moved on to other series. These series allow fans to escape into a world that is unnatural and that is what they keep coming back for. Joss Whedon and Stephanie Meyer created a stories that skyrocketed vampires into the forefront of today’s pop culture and whether people like it or not, vampires don’t seem to be going anywhere soon.

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