Friday, August 6, 2010

Battle of The Vampire Babes, Part Une

You could be forgiven for thinking we're in the midst of an unprecedented madness for vampires with True Blood, Vampire Diaries, and The Twilight Saga being all the rage these days. A better question might be, why vampires ever? Looking back, it's hard to think of a period when we weren't in the middle of a vampire craze.

Beginning in 1897 with Bram Stoker's gothic horror novel, Dracula, since then there have been numerous adaptations and appearances in the media. In 1922, the first vampire movie, Nosferatu was released in theater. Followed by numerous Dracula movies throughout the 1920s to 1960s. In the late 1970s, Anne Rice started raking in the money with Interview With the Vampire, and movies like Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre and the comedy Love at First Bite were critical hits. Then came The Lost Boys, Near Dark, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Innocent Blood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the movie), four more Anne Rice books, and Interview With the Vampire (the movie)—which could all be lumped into a rage for vampires that lasted clear through from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s. Vampires were back again in the mid-1990s, with Buffy (the TV show), the Blade movies, Southern Vampire Mysteries (the book series), and From Dusk Till Dawn. And now we've arrived at the highly touted mid- to late-2000s vogue of Underworld, Twilight (books and movies), True Blood (based on Southern Vampire Mysteries), and The Vampire Diaries. So you see, we might be further along in the vampire craze than what you have imagined.

However, I want to focus more on the contemporary occurrences (this is, after all, a pop-culture blog). Within the last decade there have only been, in my opinion, four significant vampire-madness-inducing franchises in the media. They are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Twilight Saga, True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries. Now, we could go onto deep discussions concerning those four particular franchises, but we're not going to do that since it will only spark endless debates. I want to focus more on one aspect, which is the protagonists of each franchises. From my observation, I could gather that contemporary vampire franchises have shifted their focus on the vampire characters to the protagonists who are all happen to be females with the vampire characters being reduced to be the female protagonists' love interests or mere supporting characters. This might indicate a new wave of feminism in this era. What I want to do now is pit all these ladies together to find out who is THE best feminist cultural icon of the decade.Oh, and for those teenage girls who think Bella Swan is a good role model, I'm here to set things straight. Someone is going DOWN!!!

I'm gonna start with Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Created by Joss Whedon, Buffy is a high school cheerleader who learns that she is the Slayer, a Chosen One gifted with the strength and skills to fight vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness. The character of Buffy was created to subvert the stereotypical and cliched female horror film victim, the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every film. Whedon wanted to create a strong female cultural icon.  Buffy avoids the "final girl" character trope seen in horror films, where the androgynous and celibate heroine gets to outlive her friends and exact revenge on their killer. She gets to have sex with boys and still kill the monster. 

Over the course of seven seasons and 144 episodes, Buffy has saved the world a lot of times, died twice, had sex with more than one vampire, lost loved ones, grew up without parents (her father left before the start of the series and her mother died during her sophomore year of college), and had to drop out to support her younger sister. She had to do all of these between battling forces of darkness on a daily basis and studying for exam, yet she still managed to find time to party.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer's thematic and metaphorical elements have inspired countless studies and academia. Buffy is notable for attracting the interest of scholars of popular culture as a subset of popular culture studies. Academic settings increasingly include the show as a topic of literary study and analysis. Buffy eventually led to the publication of around twenty books and hundreds of articles examining the themes of the show from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives including sociology, Speech Communication, psychology, philosophy, and women's studies.

Now if that's not amazing, I don't know what is.


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