Friday, October 12, 2012

Draculette

Last weekend I finished marathoning yet another tv series. Catching up on The Vampire Diaries, more exactly - in the process remembering why I've first given up on it right in the middle of the second season. The writing on this show is embarrassing! The string of plot twists is absolutely ridiculous. I understand the need to keep the viewer engaged but there has to be a limit to how many times you can kill a character and then resurrect him/her, or to how many hidden "clauses" a spell can have. Yes, True Blood is even more ADD-like. The difference is: True Blood doesn't take itself too seriously. It doesn't spend too much time on, you know, FEELINGS and character development.

The writing aside, The Vampire Diaries has a serious witch problem. A very serious witch problem. Up until one point, all the witches on this show are black ('cause you know, Blacks and their voodoo and juju and all that. UGH!). Up until one point - because later on we find out that the original witch is... white. Of course! This makes me so angry that if I could cast a spell on this show, it would be a very dark one.

However, I must be the one under a spell, or under compulsion because I massively enjoy watching this show. So much that I've already re:watched the first season plus the first eight episodes of the second season. I'm not sure if mine is a teenage heart or a teenage mind. The former is not so bad, but the latter... The truth is that so and so tv shows are seem mildly better when marathoned. The explanation is a simple one. Marathoning a tv series - as opposed to watching one weekly episode and then waiting for the new season for months - allows you to really immerse into the story, as flawed as it is, and to better empathize with the characters. And to better notice certain things. With stories like The Vampire Diaries and Twilight, it's easy to focus only on femininity stereotypes. Damsels in distress, maternal to the point of annoyance, etc. But these stories also say a lot about masculinity as a - you know it's coming - a "social construct." Power, money, muscles, knight in shining armor. Boys are taught this is what girls want. Girls are taught to expect this from boys. In Twilight, all this is embarrassingly transparent, especially the money aspect. In TVD, it's a little more toned down, mainly because Elena also comes from a family with a lot of history, a family of aristocrats. So although she herself is not exactly rich, the class difference is not that obvious. Twilight, on the other hand, is a straightforward Cinderella story. Yes, Stefan also has the impressive mansion, the flashy sports car. However, it was smth less obvious that clicked, that directed my attention towards the construct of masculinity in these two vampire stories. The moment Stefan takes Elena for a private ride on the ferris wheel in the middle of the night reminded me of a similar moment from the first season of the Romanian version of The Bachelor, when this misogynistic a-hole, whose name will not be mentioned in this space, took one of the girls for a ride on a hot air balloon at sunrise.

The Vampire Diaries (season 2, episode 2: "Brave New World")

Obviously, I am aware it's not exactly the same thing. In TVD, this boy/man/vampire (whatever) is doing a romantic gesture for his girlfriend, whom he loves, because he knows that's what she wants. That's what she needs. In The Bachelor, there is nothing romantic about the gesture this man does, starting with the fact that the girl could have been any other girl - they were all interchangeable. The bachelor's purpose is strictly to impress, to show off his power. And that's exactly where these two gestures intersect: power. Money-power, to be more specific. In Stefan's case, compulsion is his currency. (IRL, he would have had to bribe the guard to let him use the ferris wheel.) Needless to say, that moment on The Bachelor was absolutely sickening. Well, everything about that show was sickening. What was particularly sickening about these big empty gestures on The Bachelor was that not only the girls on the show were expected to be impressed by them, but also the female viewers were expected to be impressed. The problem is: men who do big gestures like these to impress their dates are usually the men who treat women as accessories, as trophies. Ha. In a way, these men really are vampires. This misogynistic a-hole of a bachelor used to go on and on about how the woman on a man's arm represents him, about how he has to invest in her. Make her. Transform her. Call it however you like, but this jerk's views on heterosexual relationships is exactly what's going on in both Twilight and The Vampire Diaries. Edward's power is transferred to Bella. Stefan's power is transferred to Elena. Both girls are transformed. They become vampires. They become women. As if their transition to vampirism/womanhood would have been impossible in the absence of these powerful men. These might be another type of fairy tales, but the gender stereotypes remain the same. And don't be fooled, stereotypes is what they really sell. Love is just a cover-up. And yet: being aware of all this doesn't change the fact that I enjoy these vampire stories way more than I should / than it's healthy.

Going on a rant about the freaking Vampire Diaries was not my intention when I started this post, though. (There is actually another theme I was surprised to find in the third season of TVD: domestic violence. But I'll leave that for another time.) This was supposed to be just a quick post about the patterns formed by my pop cultural consumption.

(Later edit: the TV.com photo recaps are hilarious!)

Found on The Vampire Diaries Facebook page earlier today:


According to an article I found flipping through an old magazine last night, Damon is right. Dracula is a she.

Strange that I should stumble upon this exactly when I'm reading Dracula.


LUCEAFĂRUL - Almanah Estival '88

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