Vampire fiction has been a popular topic throughout numerous cultures and centuries. Vampirism pop culture is riddled with taboo concepts; the allure of immortality, the seduction of a nocturnal creature, the erotic act of drinking blood. No doubt these images draw in those who seek a dark realm that only exists in a fantasy world. Although many cultures have perceived vampires differently, many of the core characteristics have remained stable. Vampires have always been generally viewed as undead monsters that stalk the night looking for human victims to consume or convert. They usually hold an aversion to holy or sacred objects. They live on the fringes of society, only intermingling to feed.
With these vampiric themes being so universal, it comes to question why the Twilight film series based on the stories by Stephanie Meyer have become grossly popular. A genre that was once only held interest for certain rejects of social groups is now a prevalent fad with the “popular kids”. I must preface with admitting that I haven’t read the books by Stephanie Meyer, nor have I watched the films. In this paper I want to examine this particular vein of vampire fiction and why I believe it has become so overwhelmingly popular. Meyer’s vampires do drink blood, but her lead character, Edward is a humanitarian vampire and only drinks the blood of animals (which I imagine doesn’t go over well with PETA). He can walk in the daylight with decreased power but his skin becomes sparkly, earning him the moniker “twinklepire”. He even attends high school although he is over a hundred years old. These characteristics are so different from other vampire fiction. What is it about Twilight that draws in teenagers and lonely housewives by the millions? It’s romance. While many fans believe they have found a new craze in vampirism, they are actually buying into an age old formula produced in a new package. Twilight has been compared to Romeo and Juliet, the classic story of forbidden love. Vampires vs. humans, werewolves vs. vampires and even a dividing of vampire clans bring in all the elements of warring tribes bridged by star crossed lovers from both sides. This theme has been repeated in history in many tales, folklore, literature, and film.
Many people who were vampire fans before Twilight are not fond of the movie because it doesn’t hold up to their image of what a vampire should be like. For instance, in high school I was a huge vampire fan. I love to research old vampire folklore, especially what stemmed from the Carpathian mountain region. I read Anne Rice’s vampire series before Interview with The Vampire was made in a feature film. These personal trends did not win me much popularity with my peers. I was shunned, ridiculed and treated as “weird”. This is not unlike what Bella’s, Meyer’s human heroine, experience is when she first arrives to the fictional town of Forks, WA in Twilight. She doesn’t want to hang with the in-crowd and they don’t really want her to either, so she is drawn into the mysterious world of Edward Cullen. While I can relate to Bella’s character it is ironic that people like her are not the ones who are fans. Imagine my fury and dismay when former high school bullies who looked down on me for my vampire fixation are now hard core Twilight fans. Even with Anne Rice’s romanticized Victorian vampires, there was still the element of a guiltless killer that is lost in this new fairytale. The main points of the films are about love found and lost and also the extremes one would go to fight for love. I feel that the twilight phenomena is a great example of how a product being marketed directly contradicts the purpose and group it’s being marketed to. Most Twilight fans do not realize that they are being sold a re-hashed bill of goods and like many followers of a fad, believe that they have discovered something unique to their subculture. – Angela Nolan