Steph Bowe: Staking sparkly vampires since the summer of ‘08

Monday, May 25, 2009

A rant on clichéd romance, and a quick vampire Q & A

This will sound bizarre, like most things on this here blog, but I don’t like romance; however, I love stories about love.

This is mainly because of the fact that in YA romance, the love interest tends to be a muscled, slightly older boy with amazing eyelashes and lips and eyes which our female protagonist could swim into. Now (and this is probably going to reflect my personal taste in the opposite gender, but bear with me folks), I like a flawed love interest. A shy, fat boy. Good. A strange looking psychopath. Better. A mentally unstable boy who’s dying of cancer. Better yet. A quick note: by ‘flawed’ I do not mean ‘vampiric’. If Stephenie Meyer had have exchanged ‘sparkly’ for ‘obese’ or ‘breathtakingly beautiful’ for ‘kleptomaniac’, I would have enjoyed Twilight. And yes, I realise that few people like freaks. I do. This is just me I’m talking about.

I like love stories that traverse things like ugliness, mental illness, etc. I mean, Romeo & Juliet was alright (I just thought of that because I’m listening to Romeo & Juliet by Dire Straits). I liked the whole feuding families thing. But if Juliet randomly set fire to things and Romeo was horribly deformed, it would have been better. Again, I don’t care if you have a sparkly vampire lover unless he’s a psycho or fat.

I can’t stand a novel where a girl falls in love with her male best friend who supported her through her break up with her dashingly handsome ex and she subsequently noticed that the best friend had been pining after her since they were both twelve. Or a novel where all that stands between Flatchested Heroine and Hot Older Guy with Awesome Car is her best friend, who is Hot Older Guy with Awesome Car’s younger sister. And then younger sister/best friend says, “Who am I to stand in the way of True Love/Underage Sex That May or May Not Be Legal?” And then Hot Older Guy with Awesome Car and Flatchested Heroine can be together.

If I read another book where this happens (or where female protagonist whines about her lack of breasts for 200 pages – I don’t care. I just don’t), I will put it in the ‘To be burned’ pile with the entire Twilight saga and that book that Robert Pattinson wrote, among others.

One more thing: I don’t like books where the main character can’t go on without a significant other. No, that’s nota thinly veiled attack on New Moon. It’s everywhere in YA. I want to say to every teenager: your own happiness is dependent solely on yourself.

Vampire hating and staking: question time.

Why are you a hater?
I’m not a hater. But everyone, even non-haters, needs something to hate. In Loathing Lola by William Kostakis, Courtney hates her stepmother Lola. In The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger, Marcy Lewis has her dad and Mr Stone. Political parties have one another to hate. Disenchanted women have men to hate. Disillusioned youths hate their parents. Aquarians hate Geminis. I strongly dislike sparkly vampires.

Why do you think so many people girls love Edward Cullen?
In case you didn’t notice, Edward Cullen has no personality, except for being utterly beautiful and vaguely James Dean-esque with the angst and the inner turmoil and the what-not. Thus, girls between the ages of twelve and (somewhat disturbingly) forty-something, siphon (for lack of a better word) all of their desires and hopes and perfect-ness into one neat vampiric package. It’s quite fabulous, really, for one character to represent Mr Right for several dozen million girls and women. If he were a real person, a jealous husband or boyfriend would have assassinated him by now. He would have bigger than Jesus. And appropriately James Dean-esque.

How does one kill a vampire?
Stake through the heart. Decapitation, I think, works as well. Whatever kills zombies will probably kill vampires, and vice versa.

Do you hate all vampires?
No. Only sparkly ones. I love Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys. I love Dracula. I love The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks. I love Angel from Buffy. And it’s not just because they aren’t sparkly (though that did contribute greatly). It’s because they’re FLAWED. They aren’t perfect. They could be real. Edward Cullen could never be real.

Do you like Bella?
I pity Bella for her weakness. I love the actress who plays her in the movie (her name evades me at the moment), because I think she’s been good in previous films (Speak immediately comes to mind). But I think Bella was basically just Stephenie Meyer turning herself into a Mary-Sue, making herself twenty years younger, and putting herself in a novel with a nice, virile young vampire that sparkles instead of melting because melting isn’t what a perfect vampire lover would do (when I write it out like that, it sounds like a fan fiction. Imagine Twilight as a Doctor Who/Harry Potter crossover fanfic where Draco and Harry are lovers). Stephenie Meyer should have done what most authors do with first novels; put it away in a drawer, then brought it out in a year or two and injected a dose of reality before sending it off to publishers. Or perhaps continued writing, and let Twilight stay in that drawer for an indeterminable amount of time, then written something that made a statement. Because I wish Twilight could have promoted racial equality, or something, because the impact that it has had so far could have really helped a social issue along, I’m sure. But instead, we have sparkly vampires and Bella popping out babies like a Pez dispenser (you know there’ll be another sequel. Afternoon Sun: Bella & Eddie’s Quintuplets).

Feel free to ask more questions about sparkly vampires. Though I think people will now believe I’m verging on a dangerous hating obsession. Edward Cullen is lucky he isn’t real, because I’m concerned for my sanity, and I have a lot of wooden stakes in my backyard.

EDIT: Just so you don’t get concerned, I’m kidding. I just talk about Twilight a lot because I have funny plots for possible future sequels. Like ‘Full Moon’ – ‘Bella becomes the mother-in-law of a cradlesnatching werewolf she once kissed. Tongue and all. #1 NYT bestseller.’ You can imagine that on the back cover, can’t you?

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