As a litt. student ( I never consider my education as being over even after I’ve taken the classes and gotten the degrees), I have a personal hatred toward the entire Twilight Series. It affects me perhaps more than other people who have not read Bram Stoker’s original ( and first) version of our blood sucking Count, because a certain Ms.Meyer killed the whole idea, completely dead and still like Dracula’s victims. It completely went to hell, without any chance of being salvaged, and one of my greatest fears is that people of any age will remember a teenager with skin that sparkled in the sun as the first vampire figure that ever existed. It puts to shame, well, the entire Cullen family ( and I hate that I know the name) does anyway, to the educated and ambitious Count Dracula; who had a library bigger than half of London, wanted to invade foreign shores and very amusingly cause panic among the English who were paranoid about invasions from the continent, more specifically from the French or the Germans. Seeing as Dracula is neither, Stoker probably aimed to create a new reason for the English running around in circles with their hands in the air and screams issuing from their mouths that would make Banshees and Justin Bieber fangirls cute in comparison. There was something rather cosmopolitan about Transylvania and I sometimes wonder if the mix of the Magyars, the Huns, the Germans and the Hungarians gave birth to a culture that was as dark and unknowable as the creature that could crawl up walls and ceilings without batting a blood thirsty eye.
So what happened?
Why wasn’t he good enough? Why change a perfectly interesting character into a teenage dream brighter than the sun?
There’s nothing wrong with adding a touch of modernity to classic art; and goodness knows I’m grateful for Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock as much as I am for Dr. Conan Doyle’s man. I like them both, and I don’t think Mark Gatiss ruined it for any of us ( that’s what I’d like to believe anyway).
So yes, why, I ask myself. And you.
I was reading a rather interesting BBC post this morning; link’s here if you want it:
It all started with this- it made me talk about something I’ve been thinking about for years, and years, and years, and years. Much like the immortality of all vampires, Count or not.
One of the many things I’ve got against Twilight is how it completely flips the male-female paradigm and sits on your table as an anti-feminist, more religious than called for bound book that worships the idea of virginity. Mina and Lucy cross seas and the Count’s female ‘friends’ bring to mind the proper love ins of the very first hippie generations who dug their toes into the soil that Jonathan Harker feared in good old Transylvania.
Bella Swan and her Cullen conundrum presents itself to a lot of teenage girls, and it sure as hell is conceptualised by an institution that tells women what to do with their bodies and when. It tells 30 year old women and 16 year old high school sweethearts that taking control of their own bodies and making their own decisions despite what the leader of their flock or their parents waiting anxiously by the door at six every evening think of em or what they tell em. As always I’m not saying my opinion should be or is axiomatic.
As you were.
Another problem I’ve got with Mr. and Mrs. death baby is that they’ve sort of changed Dracula from an enigmatic, foreign character into a high school wallflower. They’re supposed to be feared, but they ask for empathy at the same time. Why does he look at the girl whose talent is easily outstripped by Elmo and the Muppet Babies, why can’t he sleep, why is he tormented when he’s around her, and why do you want him to get closer to whatshername during Biology?
He’s mysterious, he’s enigmatic, he looked better as Cedric Diggory, but you also root for him in some way.
Cause he could just be that kid who leans on the wall next to the water cooler and stares off into the distance with perfect, clear amber/green eyes and never speaks a word. He’s mysterious, he’s interesting.
And he’s also a kid at school.
That’s what changed.
Loving Stoker’s Dracula was out of the question; being in love and entering an intimate relationship was as forbidden and ridiculous as trying to land a job in Europe with a non EU passport. It ain’t gonna happen.
But our resident man of mystery in Forks, wherever it was (shot in BC, by the way), fell in love. He wanted to make it with Bella ( charmingly original names, don’t you think?) , he wanted to marry her and she was attracted to him. It was forbidden on one level, but it was also something the reader would want. In their heads, in the heads of a lot of people, they want the relationship to work because it’s forbidding nature makes it all the more special. Not like James Franco and the 16, (or was it 17?) year old Instagram chippie, but like Romeo and Juliet except without all the good writing and sophistication.
Don’t judge a nation or a generation by what they read, they said. My professors and many other people before them who put pen to paper and found the pot of fame at the end of the rainbow of insanity.
Alright. But let’s try and keep Dracula alive, because his immortality isn’t going to save him in the era of One Direction ( or as I like to call them, No Direction), selfies, any number of shades of grey, or Lucas Films being sold to Disney.
You don’t have to be high brow or have two litt. degrees; read whatever you like. That’s the liberal lefty side of my head talking.
Just remember where it all came from. When Robin Williams and a gaggle of school boys recite Captain Oh Captain, think of Walt Whitman. When you see t-shirts with “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”, think of Oscar Wilde. When you hear or read “Live, laugh, love,” smile if you like. I prefer to actively control my increasing feeling of nausea, but that’s just me.
Read Twilight all you like, but remember where it comes from.