I was going to skip seeing Only Lovers Left Alive because the promotional blurb described the plot like this: “Set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangier, an underground musician, deeply depressed by the direction of human activities, reunites with his resilient and enigmatic lover.”
I've never read a single books published by romance giant Harlequin and so I carried Julie Kagawa's The Immortal Rules to the library checkout counter with some trepidation. Would this be a romance novel with a veneer of vampire smeared on top?
'Tis the season of the perennial teenage supernatural romance. New film Beautiful Creatures is a chicken-and-dumplings plate with a heapin' helping of that angst-filled young love so common to tween fantasy, spiced with Flannery O'Conner-flavored Southern Gothic and topped off with a healthy side of Civil War history and folklore.
It's not about a smell, or a particular shade of yellow the pages become. I like a musty paperback as much as the next girl, but I will read Persuasion on a tablet or Jane Eyre in a spare browser tab. The dirty secret of old books—the ones you've heard of, the one's you may cringe at the thought of reading—is that they are often dirty too. And if they are skimpy on sex, they are brim-full with melodrama. This is what I can't get enough of: a crazy-ass plot buried beneath the prim patina of age. Madame Bovary: lots of carriage sex. Ulysses: actually mostly farts. Moby-Dick: a "sperm squeezing" scene that is even more masturbatory than you can imagine. Obviously these works are also rich and complicated and subtle, too, but that's no reason not to enjoy their crassness, their buffoonery, their animal charm. (And why deny yourself the bragging rights?)
I recently read a book I've been meaning to devour forever: Dracula.
What all vampire stories are about, ultimately, is sex. Full of nighttime assignations, penetration, the exchange of fluids, visceral desire and latent shame, and the fear of contagion, of contamination, of death—Dracula is no different.
We've mostly talked about established icons of feminist interest, but now I want to look to a legacy that hasn't quite taken shape yet. Over the course of this week, we're going to talk about the how icons get to be icons, and Sookie, with her world of glitter, wisps of the unknown, and pushing boundaries, is the perfect character with which to start. The protagonist of the Southern Vampire Mysteries throws up a number of questions around the kinds of characters one sees represented, and what one might be looking for in a feminist character.
Bitch Popaganda: It's like The View, except with less leg-crossing.
Kelsey, Sara and Kjerstin saw a very special preview of New Moon this past Thursday night. Not only were we privy to the latest in the Twilight phenom, we got a chance to talk with fans of all ages before and after the movie to see what they thought before we put in our own two cents in our makeshift recording studio (aka Kelsey's car). Enjoy as we discuss Bella's new pastimes, dating the supernatural, and of course, if we're on Team Jacob or not. Plus very special commentary from Twilight fans!
You can listen below, download the file, or subscribe on iTunes!
Full disclosure: I have not actually read anything by YA fiction author Maggie Stiefvater. However, I was tipped off to her existence earlier this week while reading Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and was instantly charmed. Watch this video, in which Stievfater predicts which mythological creature will usurp the vampire in YA romance popularity:
Those of us who watch HBO's True Blood would have a hard time denying the show's sex appeal (or at least, sex). After all, Bon Temps, Lousiana (the fictional setting for the show) is one seeexxxy town. Vampires banging humans? Check. Humans banging shape-shifting farm animals? Check. A racy sex website hosted by a main character? Check. A crazed ancient goddess who makes everyone around her bang each other? Check. But female rape fantasies realized by gentlemanly Civil War-era vampires? Um, no, actually.
The current issue of Nylon Magazine features an interview with Anna Paquin (main character Sookie Stackhouse), Stephen Moyer (her boyfriend Vampire Bill), and the show's creator Alan Ball. Much of the interview revolves around Anna Paquin's nipples and hair color (thanks, Nylon! I guess blondes really do have more fun!) but this final quote from Stephen Moyer has me sharpening my stakes (and not just because I think Vampire Bill is kind of a douche):
Epilogue: Stephen Moyer, on Vampire Sex:
The thing about vampirism is that it taps into a female point of view – you have an old-fashioned gentleman with manners who is a fucking killer… it's an interesting duality, because in our present society it would be an odd thing for a woman to say, 'I want my man to be physical with me.' How, as a modern man, can you fucking work that? It's one thing to be polite and gentle… But when do you know it's OK to crawl out of the mud and rape her [as Bill does in one scene]?... It's difficult stuff for a bloke, but a vampire gets away with it…. I think that's the attraction of the show – it's looking back at a romantic time when men were men, but they were still charming."
Behold, Sookie Stackhouse living out every modern woman's fantasy (or... not). Image via Icons of Fright
WTF, Vampire Bill? Was raping women a "gentlemanly" activity when you were growing up during the Civil War? (Yes, he grew up during the Civil War.) Do you think that forcing yourself on a woman and sucking her blood is the "romantic" realization of every frigid, non-Vampire-dating woman's fantasy? And am I the only one who read that coming-out-of-the-grave scene as completely consensual (if a bit unhygienic)? Let's discuss.
This article was originally published on July 1 at WIMN's Voices (don't worry -- they gave us permission to re-post it!)
By Jonathan McIntosh
I usually try to stay away from the forces of darkness, but last week I killed a famous vampire – and let me tell you, it was fun! Actually, I didn't stake him myself — I used new media tools to allow one of the strongest female television characters of our generation to do it. OK, let me back up a minute. Last week, at the Open Video Conference at NYU Law School, I debuted my feminist mash-up video, Buffy v. Edward. It's an example of transformative storytelling which reinterprets the movie Twilight by re-cutting and combining it with the TV series Buffy: The Vampire Slayer.
Read the rest of Jonathan's article after the jump!
We've taken a slight break from covering Twilight news on the blog because we thought our vampire jokes might be sucking the life out of you (zing!), but the New Moon trailer aired earlier this week and posting it here became as irresistible as Bella's sweet-smelling heroin plasma. Warning: The following video contains clunky dialogue, paranormal teen angst, and more damsel-in-distress scenarios than you could shake a wooden stake at.
Some of the players may have changed, but it looks as though Bella's role as the defenseless female who is both abused and protected by males has remained the same. Also, the werewolf looks cheesy.