“Twilight” as a cautionary tale about traditional gender roles

As seen on Reddit, of all places. Snip:

Bella is warned by numerous people and events throughout the course of the story that she is actively pursuing her own destruction – but she’s so dependent on Edward and caught up in the idea of the romance that she refuses to see the situation for what it is. Charlie tells her Edward is bad news. Edward tells her that he believes he is damned, and devoid of a soul. He further tells her that making her like him is the most selfish thing he will ever do. Jacob warns her numerous times that Edward is a threat to her life and well-being. She even has examples of other women who have become involved with monsters – Emily Young bears severe and permanent facial disfigurement due to her entanglement with Sam Uley.

… [Ultimately], her entire identity – everything that made her who she was – has been erased.

This is powerfully underscored on p. 506, when Charlie Swan (remember, the conscience of the story) sees his own daughter for the first time after her transformation:

“Charlie’s blank expression told me how off my voice was. His eyes zeroed in on me and widened. Shock. Disbelief. Pain. Loss. Fear. Anger. Suspicion. More pain.”

He goes through the entire grieving process right there – because at that moment, he recognizes what so many readers don’t – Bella Swan is dead.

The most tragic part of the whole story is that this empty shell of a person – which at this point is nothing more than a frozen echo of Bella, twisted and destroyed as she is by her co-dependence with Edward, fails to see what has happened to her. She ends the story in denial – empty, annihilated, and having learned nothing.

I would say that read in the proper light, it’s a powerful cautionary tale about accepting traditional gender roles and conforming to expected societal norms. Particularly with regard to male dominance (rather than partnership) in relationships.

Read the whole thing here.

P.S. I haven’t actually read any of the Twilight novels, but my understanding is that they’re popularly seen as a weird parable about sexual abstinence.

If you want decent vampire stuff, then here are my personal recommendations. Please feel free to apply gender-related deconstruction to them, or to share your own in the comments:
* The movie “Night Watch” (originally of Russia)
* The song “I’m A Vampire” by the Future Bible Heroes
* Neil Gaiman’s “Vampire Sestina
* The comic “Vamps” by Elaine Lee, if you can find it (I just wrote about it!)
* The novel Blindsight by Peter Watts (free to read online)
* The novel Agyar by Steven Brust (one of my favorites)
* The classic roleplaying game “Vampire: The Masquerade” (non-nerds need not apply)

113 comments for ““Twilight” as a cautionary tale about traditional gender roles

  1. December 6, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Near Dark, Kathryn Bigelow’s cult classic about vampires traveling the Southwest in an RV. It predates her Oscar-winning Hurt Locker and the guilty pleasure Point Break. And it has Jeanette Goldstein, best known for playing Vazquez in Aliens, Lance Henriksen, and Bill Paxton.

  2. Sheelzebub
    December 6, 2011 at 11:18 am

    I hate the sexy vampire meme (THEY ARE HUMAN FLUKE WORMS, PEOPLE), and I thought Twilight was a romanticized version of a controlling and abusive relationship. Ugh.

  3. Theora23
    December 6, 2011 at 11:25 am

    A role-playing game gets the nerd advisory but comic books don’t? In a post about tween abstinence porn? What an odd bias. I guess the geek hierarchy chart was right.

    I second the recommendation of “Near Dark”, though. The word vampire is never mentioned once, nor does one see fangs, and yet it’s an excellent take on vampires as nomadic predators.

  4. December 6, 2011 at 11:29 am

    I think monster genres serve largely allegorical roles, allowing exploration of areas of human affairs that authors and audiences see both attraction and danger in: vampires for sexuality; werewolves for violence; Frankenstein’s monster (in its reimagining much more than in Shelley’s original text, I think) for technology. Zombies and ghosts mostly exist to work through anxieties as well, the first about crowds and social dynamics, the second about mortality.

    In that sense, either reading of Twilight is consistent with the vampire canon.

  5. December 6, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Since we’re on the topic, I’ll take the opportunity that all the naysayers about True Blood were correct (and I was unduly optimistic) in how the writers handled Jason’s rape. It was whitewashed immediately with no trauma and no processing, because the writers are soulless pieces of shit. I’ll probably still watch it, but I’ll never forgive them.

  6. Thyrso
    December 6, 2011 at 11:39 am

    More decent vampire stuff: Fever Dream by George R.R. Martin

  7. William
    December 6, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I’d like to give a nod to the original 30 Days of Night comic book and the surprisingly good film adaptation as an excellent example of how vampires can be used as symbols of predation rather than sexuality. Ben Templesmith’s vampires are drawn with all the sex appeal of a shark attack, nothing but oil-black eyes and huge teeth underneath something that could only be mistaken for human from a distance. The film translation added something birdlike to the mix that I found incredibly unsettling and is worth a look for the overhead tracking shot of a feeding frenzy in a snowbound Alaskan town alone.

  8. Kara
    December 6, 2011 at 11:46 am

    More decent vampire stuff…

    “Ultraviolet” (British TV series)
    “Let Me In”/”Let the Right One In” (US movie/based on Swedish novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist)
    “The Night Inside” (book by Nancy Baker)

  9. Sheelzebub
    December 6, 2011 at 11:46 am

    William: I’d like to give a nod to the original 30 Days of Night comic book and the surprisingly good film adaptation as an excellent example of how vampires can be used as symbols of predation rather than sexuality.

    Oh, yeah, I loved that movie. The vamps were ugly. And creepy. And scary. You kinda wanted to drop kick them in the face, not kiss them.

  10. emily
    December 6, 2011 at 11:54 am

    I’m a sucker for cheesy vampire crap. I want to second the whole Night Watch franchise, books and movies. Lost Souls by Billy Martin (formally Poppy Z. Brite). The DC Vertigo comic Dhampire. Real Vampires Have Curves and that series if you are into the cheese. The 1990s series Kindred: the Embraced, based on the Masquerade game.

    Re. Twilight, I’m such a Twilight apologist. Yes, they are poorly written crap and may have dangerous messages. *But* if you turn your head and squint (and don’t read becoming a vampire as dying) you can almost read Breaking Dawn as a pro-choice story. Bella faced pressure from her family and friends to make a certain decision regarding her reproductive situation, but she went against what everyone thought was right to do what she thought was best for her. (But in doing so she teamed up with anti-choice Rosalie who wanted everyone to make the same choices she would have made.) Being for choice, I think, means letting people make their own decisions and supporting them, even if you disagree with them. (I really hope I don’t start a firestorm. I realize I’m a Twilight apologist and I’m just trying to view them as not entirely anti-feminist. I realizing it’s a losing battle.)

  11. tawaen
    December 6, 2011 at 11:59 am

    And!

    Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines the video game! Available on Steam. One of the best PC RPGs out there. (Warning: Will need to dowload and install a patch to play. Violent content and problematic themes. Duh, you’re one of the bad guys since your character drinks blood for fun and profit. Highly addictive.)

  12. William
    December 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Lost Souls by Billy Martin (formally Poppy Z. Brite).

    Thanks for bringing me back to a time when I thought a fat guy like me could wear a lace cravat, and I had almost forgotten…heh. Chartreuse is still delicious, though…

    Also, they had a name change? I did not know that. Do you know if they also switched pronouns?

  13. December 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I love Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles… though I will admit I’ve always read them purely for fun and have actively tried not to deconstruct them.

    Scott Snyder’s American Vampire is a comic book series (written by my former fiction professor!) with a really interesting and fresh premise.

    Twilight… scares me. It concerns me that young women consuming this franchise will develop into adults who actively seek out these damaging relationships. As if young women didn’t get coerced and manipulated into them enough, now they will actively seek out abuse.

  14. Rachel
    December 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Buffy.

  15. December 6, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Jessica Isabel: I love Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles… though I will admit I’ve always read them purely for fun and have actively tried not to deconstruct them.

    Ain’t no vampire like an Anne Rice Vampire! *dances*

    Anyway, I’m a bigger fan of her Mayfair Witch Trilogy.. I’d actually like to go back and read it and deconstruct it, as it’s kind of interesting in that it’s about a family of very powerful (in more ways than one) women.

  16. Hannah
    December 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Jessica Isabel: IloveAnneRice’sVampireChronicles…thoughIwilladmitI’vealwaysreadthempurelyforfunandhaveactivelytriednottodeconstructthem.ScottSnyder’sAmericanVampireisacomicbookseries(writtenbymyformerfictionprofessor!)withareallyinterestingandfreshpremise.Twilight…scaresme.Itconcernsmethatyoungwomenconsumingthisfranchisewilldevelopintoadultswhoactivelyseekoutthesedamagingrelationships.Asifyoungwomendidn’tgetcoercedandmanipulatedintothemenough,nowtheywillactivelyseekoutabuse.

    I have to admit I think this predates Twilight.
    Logan/Veronica in Veronica Mars, Buffy/Spike, Buffy/Angel from well…Buffy, Chuck/Blair in Gossip Girl and I can probably list many others all set up ideal relationships that are more founded on obsession and the need to create weekly drama than is probably healthy, I know operating in that framework allowed me to deny my own abusive relationship for much longer than I may have without it

  17. Kara
    December 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Rachel:
    Buffy.

    How could I have forgotten about Buffy??!!!

    Though honestly, I think that the series went downhill pretty fast after the first half of season four. The high school years – though lacking in the special effects department – were much better.

  18. midnightsky
    December 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Twilight is an attempt to show a high-passion, high-drama relationship that doesn’t culminate in sex. My guess is that this is where all the “abuse” and “stalking” and whatnot came from — Meyer was trying her best to resolve the tension and convey lust/passion in a way that it doesn’t normally go in romance novels, and I expect that’s fairly hard to do, because the classic pattern is “people fall in love, people do lovey things, people have sex.”

    As someone who hasn’t read the novels, I’m not stained with heavy opinions, so I have to give her a few points for unorthodoxy in the romance-novel world. (So many romance novels are an excuse for porn, or at least assume that Sex Must Happen.) I hear they’re not terrific books in general, though, so I can’t say if that saves them or not.

  19. hmm
    December 6, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Buffy was a great show, but I’m not sure I’d say it was the best model for healthy relationships. (Still better than Twilight in every way.)

  20. Puggins
    December 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Scott Snyder’s American Vampire is a comic book series (written by my former fiction professor!) with a really interesting and fresh premise.

    Scott Snyder was your fiction professor? I’m insanely jealous. He’s one of the best comic book writers working today. His Batman book is the only one worth reading, and his Swamp Thing run has barely started, but it’s offbeat, weird and fun.

    Anyway, back on topic:

    * Seriously love the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris. They’re the ones that True Blood is based on. I haven’t seen the series, but I gather that it’s a bit different. There are tons of strong female characters throughout the books, though I’d warn everyone that there are lots of serious trigger events scattered throughout the series, including a couple of torture scenes. Sookie, to me, is a strong-willed woman in control of her life and relationships, despite being surrounded by supernatural monsters that can (and occasionly almost) rip her to bits. Since this is a hybrid horror/romance story, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Harris’ Louisiana seems to have more supermodel-level gorgeous people per capita than your average Paris fashion show.

    Let Me In/Let the Right One In: Seriously awesome stuff. Throws the sex out the window and examines the morality of vampiric existence.

    The Anne Rice Novels: If you want to link vampires with sexuality, this is the one to read.

  21. December 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Jessica: Agreed on Anne Rice.

    Rachel: Definitely agree on Buffy.

    As for Twilight, I admit that I read them. I had just had my first baby and was drowning in that post-natal hormonal haze not unlike puberty, and these books appealed to those hormones. They are also extremely poorly written, which made them ideal for stop-and-start reading when my newborn napped.

    The problem as I saw it, with Bella’s love for Edward, is that it never matured beyond the stereotypical teenage obsession. Bella never had a chance to grow up and learn how to have a healthy relationship. Instead, she let her feelings for Edward consume her. When he left her in New Moon, the pages of the novel are left blank, showing how Bella was not even present in her own life for several months, so deep into her loss and depression was she. Then he comes back, they get married, she gets knocked up with a half-breed vampire baby, and then things get really weird.

    Re. Twilight, I’m such a Twilight apologist. Yes, they are poorly written crap and may have dangerous messages. *But* if you turn your head and squint (and don’t read becoming a vampire as dying) you can almost read Breaking Dawn as a pro-choice story. Bella faced pressure from her family and friends to make a certain decision regarding her reproductive situation, but she went against what everyone thought was right to do what she thought was best for her. (But in doing so she teamed up with anti-choice Rosalie who wanted everyone to make the same choices she would have made.) Being for choice, I think, means letting people make their own decisions and supporting them, even if you disagree with them. (I really hope I don’t start a firestorm. I realize I’m a Twilight apologist and I’m just trying to view them as not entirely anti-feminist. I realizing it’s a losing battle.)

    Yes, as pro-choice feminists we have to be careful to respect all choices, even ones we don’t agree with, but I found Bella’s situation to be extreme: there was no chance the baby wasn’t going to kill her with it’s birth, and yet Bella moved forward with the pregnancy anyway. What I found disturbing about this part of Breaking Dawn was not Bella’s choice, but that with her pregnancy, as with every other aspect of her life concerning Edward, she put on blinders and would not so much as entertain the notion that there were other options out there.

    I’m not trying to start a firestorm with you, because in theory I agree with you. If Bella had been at all open to listening to Edward or to Doctor Daddy Cullen (whose name slips my mind right now), had sat down with them and had a real back-and-forth and took into account their positions, and then made her decision anyway, I might be more supportive. But in a series written for adolescent young women, I just cannot support the creation of a character who romanticizes complete 100% maternal surrender and sacrifice for the sake of her child, and I’m saying that as a mother. (I also wonder why Bella and Edward didn’t use protection even if they didn’t really think pregnancy was a possibility.) This choice of Bella’s – which is really more of a childish, stubborn insistence on being right, as per Bella’s character – is symptomatic of a larger problem with her character in the book, which is that no matter how much pain she is in, she absolutely will not seek help because she does not want to hurt the feelings of those around her. During her transition to vampire, she feels a level of pain that has driven others almost to insanity, yet she sucks it up and forces herself to not react so that the Cullens won’t worry about her. And again, it is this kind of romanticization of complete self-sacrifice that worries me most when I think of young, impressionable women reading this book: “My love for (insert here) is the only thing that matters, even if it kills me.”

    I now have two sons – well, one son and one son-to-be – but if I had a daughter and she wanted to read this book, I think we’d have to read it together and have lots of heartfelt chats going through the series. There is no way I’d hand this series to a young woman and then walk away.

  22. Cagey
    December 6, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I disagree for the simple fact that you can’t create an analysis like this that actively ignores the books particularly mythology on vampirism. Meyer never states that her vampires are dead. Frozen in time yes, and Edward thinks of himself as monstrous, but it’s never confirmed that vampires in this world are actually the blood-sucking undead. That’s ignoring the text (or lack thereof) to fit your point. There has never been anything beyond Edwards self-loathing to suggest life as a vampire is inherently empty, annihilating and wrong. Again, this is twisting the text to fit an analysis, which is just bad analysis.

    The thing that fascinates me about this is that Bella doesn’t actually want marriage. The entire series up until the last book is the odd give and take between her and the vampire Edward. She wants sex, he being a vampire fears it will hurt her so he says no. She wants to be a vampire, but he thinks being a vampire is akin to being a monster so he says no. He wants marriage, she thinks marriage is a bad idea because her parents got divorced and she has no faith in it, so she says no. The first three books are them coming to various compromises on all of these things. In this sense, Bella has been given exactly what she wanted: vampirism. But to link vampirism with traditional gender roles is strange here I think. When we consider that the vampires are leagues more powerful than any human in this story, as well as having more financial power (they’re all rich for some reason) and being exceptionally beautiful, one could see her becoming a vampire as the only way she and Edward can be in a relationship as equals.

  23. Sarah
    December 6, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I think I could agree with the analysis, except that the author clearly wants us to think of Bella’s transformation as a positive change. Personally I think the Twilight books contribute basically nothing to literature as a whole, except perhaps to highlight how screwed up our culture is, and I believe in the idea of Death of the Author, but Stephanie Meyer wrote her vampires to be the same thing vampires have always been: eerily sexy gothic date-rapists, only hers are the good guys. I can’t remember who said it, but “Every author has a work in which he appears as either Christ or Faust”. Meyer just happened to write a character who starts as one and ends as the other, but treats it as a fall TO grace rather than from it. In the end, it’s just another wish-fulfillment fantasy that highlights what the current generation feels is most important: instant, meaningless fame and recognition for being special.

  24. Sarah
    December 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    derp I forgot other vampire materials:

    White Wolf publishes the Vampire: the Requiem (the new reboot of Vampire: the Masquerade), and although there aren’t any novels associated with it, for those of us with a creative streak, the world and mythos it presents for its vampires is a lot of fun to work with.

    Different but related: Changeling: the Lost, which has a lot of the mystique and sexytimes associated with vampires, but playing on the old stories of the Fair Folk stealing children into faerie land, only to have them escape as something not quite human. If vampires are date-rapists, Changelings are survivors of child abuse.

  25. December 6, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Andie: Anyway, I’m a bigger fan of her Mayfair Witch Trilogy.. I’d actually like to go back and read it and deconstruct it, as it’s kind of interesting in that it’s about a family of very powerful (in more ways than one) women.

    Oh, the Mayfair Witches trilogy. If the wingnuts are right and gay marriage will lead to people being able to marry anyone or any*thing* they please, I will totally marry those books. I love the epic feel of the family history, and how she moves them through time and around the world, and especially that rather than all of the women being TOTES POWERFUL WITCHES ROAR the power manifests itself to extremely varying degrees in each person.

    Also, I love the name Rowan :)

  26. December 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    (I should note: love the name as a woman’s name, which it is in these books and which, prior to reading them, I’d never seen before, only as a man’s name.)

  27. December 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I love vampire media. My mother let me watch the old Hammer Draculas when I was in single digits (our CBS station cleaned them up for 4 PM movie viewing) As a teen, I watched them for the porn factor, lots of bosomy blondes in low-cut nightgowns made my little proto-lesbian heart go pitt-a-pat.

    I like Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Mina is preparing to work, learning to type (a skill dominated by men in that era) and having a life while her fiance is away on business.

    I like Anne Rice more as an adult than I did as a teen. I’m doing a Buffy rewatch right now. 3rd season is still the best. The relationships are acknowledged to be bad as the characters mature. Or as we fans say of Joss, “Happiness=impending death.”

    The Hunger was a turning point for me in vampire lore: the virus concept was just awesome, the book was wonderful and the movie was ALL about the women. Also, no fangs.

    Couldn’t get into Sookie Stackhouse, and while I love Anita Blake, I think she fizzled with Narcissus in Chains. Anita is tiny, strong-willed and very very good at her job. It’s when she’s not working the books go off the rails.

    I have friends who write vampire novels as well as other types of horror. Elizabeth Donald’s Nocturnal Urges series features a lot of strong women: vampires, cops and street kids. These are mysteries and political thrillers in a Memphis where vampires are second class citizens. My own Power in the Blood comes out n January, focused less on vampires than on vampire hunters.

  28. December 6, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Alison: (I should note: love the name as a woman’s name, which it is in these books and which, prior to reading them, I’d never seen before, only as a man’s name.)

    I feel similarly about the name Stella after reading it. (not the ‘knowing it as a guy’s name’ though)

  29. Brennan
    December 6, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I remember reading Twilight when I was about 17 myself. I spent the first half of the book just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I remember thinking it was decent, apart from the simplistic prose; it had a nice creepy feel to it. With all those loving portrayals of Edward and his vamp pack, it felt like the beginning of a dystopian YA novel–the part where the heroine is marveling at all the cool magic/technology/whatever of her world before she figures out that the people in charge of the cool stuff are evil. I figured that any minute now the shiny veneer would come off, we’d start to get hints about how the vampires are not nice people, events would spiral out of control, and Bella would have to rely on her own wits to escape the dangerous situation she’d put herself in. And instead . . . we got some different “bad” vampires, they chase Bella, but her boyfriend rescues her in the end, so it’s all good. I was left going . . . O_o . . . that’s different . . .

    Reading the reinterpretation really helped me understand my early reaction (from before I’d written the books off as crap). It makes sense if you see it as a story without a happy ending.

    (Geek alert, continue at your own risk) Re Buffy, while it’s true that some of the Buffy relationships had very similar elements, what sets the series apart for me is that the creators always went out of their way to portray the relationships as unhealthy. IIRC, Whedon talked about basing the Buffy/Angel relationship around the idea that she was falling for a guy who was completely wrong for her. There’s a heavy-handed example of this in an episode called “Beauty and the Beasts.” In the ep, Buffy is trying to help a girl who is dating a teenage Jekyll/Hyde and at the same time dealing with seeing Angel for the first time since he tried to destroy the world and she sent him to a hell dimension. Angel’s back–no longer world-destroyingly evil, but very messed-up ’cause hell will do that to you–and Buffy is trying to care for him. The end of the episode would be a cliched scene of reconciliation–he saves her life and then falls to his knees and embraces her–had it not occurred while Buffy was staring at the bodies of the now-dead Girlfriend and Hyde Boyfriend and remembering that Hyde’s girlfriend kept going back to him too.

    tl;dr: I think Buffy worked very hard to subvert the abuse-is-love trope, but the elements were there, so I can see that going over the heads of casual fans and first-time viewers.

  30. anon
    December 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Midnightsky: You give SMeyer too much credit. The books were highly shaped by her Mormon beliefs. Also, considering that mainstream “romance” often includes elements of stalking and coercion, I wouldn’t call her work “unorthodox” at all.

    I’m not surprised that nobody has yet mentioned Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Comte Saint-Germain series, featuring a 3,000-year-old vampire and his romantic and political adventures across time and geography. The villains are pretty two-dimensional, and you can see the conclusions from a mile off, but the books are a lot of fun.

    I’ve also heard good things about A Taint in the Blood, though I haven’t read it.

  31. Medea
    December 6, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Sunshine, by Robin McKinley.

  32. December 6, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    “Night Watch”, “Day Watch”, “Twilight watch” and finally “Last watch” are several BOOKS and vampires have little to nothing to do with it. Yes, it has supernatural creatures in it but they are just props to tel a story about good and evil and the grey muck all in between of it which mark everyday life and decisions.
    Also… the movies are nothing like the awesome and interesting books.
    However, there are some issues with the author who can’t create and write a good female character even if his life depended on it, so be prepared to be a bit annoyed from it. ;)

  33. Cimarr
    December 6, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Fledgling, one of Octavia Butler’s last books, is an amazing twist on vampires and just when you think there’s nothing new about the genre.

  34. karak
    December 6, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I loved the Dark-Hunter series, which is a romance novel with a slightly different take on vampire but ends up in the same place they all do–wonderful, tormented insanely handsome men fall in love with women who’s love actually redeems them of being immportal undead-things.

    I’m not going to it’s not problematic–there are a lot of scenes that are–but there isn’t any outright rape or coerced rape (I’m pretty sure) and then women are all normal women. And they actually have sex. That’s the best part. Idealized sex, but they’re all adults and can sleep with whoever they want to, and it’s give-and-take sex–oral for both parties, orgasm for both parties, checking on partner’s well-being and consent…

    There are no gay/bi people, as far as I read, and every relationship ends in marriage and babies (of course, it IS a romance novel series) but it’s light-years ahead of Twilight.

    Do the right thing, Give young women REAL porn, not just blah porn.

  35. Athenia
    December 6, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Interesting take.

    But the series ends with Bella sacrificing nothing (well, maybe her family). She has her love, her baby, immortality and has become the most powerful vampire at the end.

    So, you could say, going with the standard gender roles really works out for Bella.

    I don’t think Twilight is really any different than any other vampire story out there. Vampires exist because gender inequality. Bella’s story, like others, is about that horror.

  36. Chantal
    December 6, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Sunshine, by Robin McKinley, is my favorite vampire novel EVER. It’s about a young woman who experiences a traumatic event and discovers a unique power and an inner well of strength. Plus, the vampires are truly frightening – nothing more than ugly, walking corpses that smell of death. Even the “good” vampire.

    As a teenager, I had a very well-worn copy of Look for Me by Moonlight by Mary Downing Hahn. Which is… actually sort of like Twilight, if I’m understanding it correctly, except that the vampire love interest is *actually* a dangerous monster that the heroine has to get away from.

    And I need to add my love to Let the Right One In, the Swedish film by Tomas Alfredson (I haven’t seen the American remake). It’s such a fantastic movie.

  37. Katya
    December 6, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    I liked Justin Cronin’s The Passage, which has a totally non-sexy take on vampires. I didn’t think too much about the gender politics, but there are several strong and interesting female characters.

  38. Seisy
    December 6, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    I like Karen Chance’s books…probably the only ‘sexy’ vampires that don’t drive me crazy (well, that and Jim Butcher, but that’s kind of a different thing). They’re not all sexy, of course, but I think the author is good at lulling the reader into kind of forgetting that they are vampires, and then throwing in a few casual mentions that make it very apparent that for all the culture and the charm, they’re operating off a very different set of principles…and are very dangerous.

    I also like that one of the ongoing issues in one of her series is that the heroine is constantly fighting and confirming her autonomy against efforts to make her into/treat her as the pampered pet, protected and imprisoned. A lot of its political, but some of it is relationship based…and I like that the story has never made any bones of the fact that the heroine’s lover’s desire to control/protect/whatever is a bad thing that’s going to eventually cause the relationship to implode. (They aren’t really relationship-focused books…the relationship stuff is kind of on par with the romantic subplots of action/adventure movies. Though you’d never know it based on the marketing copy).

  39. December 6, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Brennan: tl;dr: I think Buffy worked very hard to subvert the abuse-is-love trope, but the elements were there, so I can see that going over the heads of casual fans and first-time viewers.

    I think that they also did a good job of driving home the idea that the Buffy/Angel romance was a completely screwed up teenage fantasy relationship. As Buffy gets older, she wants to date “normal” guys and it’s clear that the Willow/Tara and Xander/Anya relationships are much better than anything she gets, even though they both end up combusting (because Joss Whedon’s characters can’t have nice things).

    Seconding Fledgling. I haven’t gotten all the way through it (damn you library renewal limits!) but I’ve really liked what I’ve gotten to.

    And, as much as I want to recommend Anita Blake, I started getting irritated with the series by Book 8 (Blue Moon) and completely hating the series by book 10 (Narcissus in Chains). Why, Laurel K. Hamilton?! Why did you have to ruin an awesome independent, smart, snarky character? Why did you have to make her completely sex obsessed? Why did you have to have her reliant on all of the super-dudes in her life? WHY?!?!

    Sadface.

  40. SherryH
    December 6, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    It’s been years since I’ve read them, so I don’t know how well they’ve held up, but I was quite impressed with Tanya Huff’s ‘Blood’ series: Blood Price; Blood Trail; Blood Lines; Blood Pact; and Blood Debt.

    In the series, private investigator Vicki Nelson joins forces with centuries-old vampire Henry Fitzroy to deal with a variety of supernatural bad things. To me, it was an interesting take on the vampire. Predators, definitely, and no longer human, but beings with complex psyches and not entirely inhuman, either. I should dig out the series and reread them – and replace the one book we lent out and never got back…

    I have not read all of them, but I second anon’s rec of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Comte Saint-Germain series. I very much enjoyed the ones I have read.

  41. Katya
    December 6, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    But the series ends with Bella sacrificing nothing

    Except that she’s not Bella anymore. Her self has been completely annihilated. So she “wins,” but at the cost of losing her humanity. The books may take the view that it’s a happy ending, but certainly readers can disagree. There’s no doubt that the Edward-Bella relationship is a pretty textbook abusive relationship–stalking, control, isolation, dependence, loss of self, and obsession.

  42. KJ
    December 6, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Katya:
    IlikedJustinCronin’sThePassage,whichhasatotallynon-sexytakeonvampires.Ididn’tthinktoomuchaboutthegenderpolitics,butthereareseveralstrongandinterestingfemalecharacters.

    The Passage is very cool. Did you know the author wrote the story with his 12 year old daughter?

  43. Caisara
    December 6, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    hmm: Buffy was a great show, but I’m not sure I’d say it was the best model for healthy relationships. (Still better than Twilight in every way.)

    She left her abusive relationship and was ultimately ok with being single. How isn’t that healthy? (At least up until season five. I stopped watching when it made sense for the series to end.)

  44. hmm
    December 6, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Re Buffy, while it’s true that some of the Buffy relationships had very similar elements, what sets the series apart for me is that the creators always went out of their way to portray the relationships as unhealthy.

    I was going to say something like that too, but I was thinking more about Spike than Angel. I guess it depends how you interpret things, but I always thought Buffy’s attraction to Spike was portrayed as extremely unhealthy.

    On the other hand, I hated the way the writers ended things with Riley. Riley gets a chip on his shoulder about not being strong enough for Buffy, goes off and basically cheats on her by having vampire hookers suck his blood, blames her for it, and then tells her she has to either forgive him immediately or he’ll disappear forever. Talk about manipulative. And then Xander scolds Buffy and convinces her it was all her fault and she should go beg forgiveness from Riley! Bleh. I did not like how that went down.

    As Buffy gets older, she wants to date “normal” guys and it’s clear that the Willow/Tara and Xander/Anya relationships are much better than anything she gets, even though they both end up combusting (because Joss Whedon’s characters can’t have nice things).

    I’m also not sure I can get behind the idea of Xander/Anya as a healthy relationship (do I need to elaborate?). Willow/Tara mostly had a really good relationship, and when Willow did her memory spell, the dialogue explicitly pointed out how wrong it was and she suffered serious consequences for it. So that was a good portrayal all around of the lines between healthy and unhealthy relationships.

    She left her abusive relationship and was ultimately ok with being single. How isn’t that healthy? (At least up until season five. I stopped watching when it made sense for the series to end.)

    Well… I was referring mostly to stuff that happened in season 6. So, um… I guess if you’re going to ignore two whole seasons, its hard to engage in discussions about things that “ultimately” happened on the show.

    Anyway, what I was really referring to in my original comment about unhealthy relationships on the show was Buffy/Spike.

    Now that I’ve been reading more of this thread and thinking about it more, I guess there is also stuff to say about Buffy/Angel, but I think they handled that one pretty well. It was unhealthy, but they realized that and dealt with it by separating. Overall, I like how the show portrayed most things – when I complain, its with the flavor of “I love this show so much, but here’s one little thing that didn’t work” not “this is terrible and people shouldn’t watch it”.

  45. December 6, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Vampire: The Requiem is not recommended in comparison to Vampire: The Masquerade. At least not by me. What a terrible “updated version”. The makers have tacitly recognized this by re-releasing Masquerade this year, notwithstanding the fact that it’s technically the “old version” of the game. Both versions of Changeling are excellent, however. (Relatedly, SomethingAwful.com has done a hilarious RPG mockery series, which goes after both the art of Vampire and Changeling.)

    I wanted to read the Night Watch novels, but I’ve heard that the English translations are all terrible. That’s why I recommended the movie.

  46. Sarah
    December 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    It’s true. VtM > VtR, for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that Masquerade doesn’t go with the assumption that undead = no perspective. (Also, Malkovian? What?)

  47. Annaleigh
    December 6, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I admit I’m very curmudgeonly about my vampire media, be it books or films, I tend to prefer pre-1965 stuff (most of what I like ranges from the 1920’s to the 1950’s), although I’ve seen a few episodes of Dark Shadows and thought it wasn’t bad at all, same with Anne Rice’s books which I’m just starting to get into, so perhaps I’m not a reliable judge of what’s good out there right now in vampire media. But I think the Twilight series is dreadful.

  48. Chataya
    December 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    What, no Discworld yet?

    Carpe Jugulum by Terry Prachett. I’d be tempted to call it a parody of Twilight if it hadn’t been published 7 years before it. The perfect family of vampires are actually really horrible, and as far as strong female characters go, you don’t get much better than Granny Weatherwax.

  49. December 6, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    hmm- Yeah, obviously there were major issues in Xander/Anya and Willow/Tara, but I think that the way the show dealt with it was pretty good in general. I liked that Xander didn’t get a free pass on being a douchnozzle. And I liked that Tara firmly establishes her boundaries.

    The whole Riley thing was super fucked up, though, and I remember yelling at my tv screen that scene with Xander.

    I also remember really liking Willow/Oz (though I haven’t watched those episodes since I was 18 or so) and I was soooo sad when it ended, though that could be because I adore both Seth Green and Alyson Hannigan.

  50. Aris Merquoni
    December 6, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    If you’re looking for good old-fashioned farce and violence, Bite Me! by Dylan Meconis is highly recommended, and it’s all online for free: http://www.bitemecomic.com/

  51. Politicalguineapig
    December 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Chataya: You beat me to it. Personally, I like Agnes a bit better; she doesn’t have Granny Weatherwax’s power or experience, but she beats the vampire influence in her own way. Also, in Thud!, a female vampire joins the watch, The Truth has a vampire photographer and there’s a vampire in Monstrous Regiment. (To make it even funnier, all three of the latter are members of the Black Ribbon movement- Al-anon for vampires.)

    As for other vampire things: Um, no one mentioned Hellsing, Blood+, Rosario+ Vampire or Trinity Blood? If I had to pick one, I’d recommend Blood+. Saya is just awesome. Yes, she starts off as an amnesiac vampire who freezes up in combat situations, but by the end of the series, she’s kicking ass and taking names.

    Rosario is good, but has too much fanservice. Hellsing is ok; Alucard is pretty sociopathic and whimsical, but pretty normal by vampiric standards, and he does have a lurking sense of honor. Trinity Blood is good, but suffered from terrible editing and worse dubbing.
    I’d also recommend Night School, though the vampires are pretty peripheral in the first series. The protagonist, Alex, purchases a fake ‘school pass’ from a vampire, who also sneaks his human girlfriend into the school. The main plot is about Alex’s quest to get her older sister back from a magical dimension she vanished into while working at the school.

    • December 6, 2011 at 7:57 pm

      <3 "Hellsing". So good. Integra is one of my favorite characters ever. Also, that episode where those of us who have played Vampire the game would recognize Chimerstry ….

  52. Typical Ventrue
    December 6, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Also, that episode where those of us who have played Vampire the game would recognize Chimerstry ….

    I, for one, am thankful that the Week of Nightmares has granted us some well deserved respite from that kind of affair.

  53. emily
    December 6, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    I forgot to recommend Vamped by David Sosnowski. It takes place in a world where most people have been turned into vampires, and it’s pretty funny.

  54. December 6, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    If someone is commenting as Typical Ventrue then I might just have to rename myself as Typical Toreador.

  55. Caisara
    December 6, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    hmm: Well… I was referring mostly to stuff that happened in season 6. So, um… I guess if you’re going to ignore two whole seasons, its hard to engage in discussions about things that “ultimately” happened on the show.

    Really? You don’t think Angel’s the archetypal abusive boyfriend? For that matter, aren’t vampires really symbolize emotional abuse?

    Fair enough, though. I’ve heart that the last two seasons really weren’t worth it. Well, aside from Once More With Feeling. (I did watch that.)

  56. Caisara
    December 6, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Sorry, posted before I deleted the first half of my comment. Ignore the first paragraph.

  57. Brennan
    December 6, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Anyway, what I was really referring to in my original comment about unhealthy relationships on the show was Buffy/Spike.

    Yeah, there are (very) unhealthy dynamics in both relationships. I just used an Angel example because (1) I’m only at season 5 in my rewatch and it was fresher in my mind and (2) I see more Twilight parallels with Angel, what with the ages of the girls, the sex-is-forbidden aspect, and the general tortured-and-brooding routine. I say this with nothing but platonic love in my heart for Angel as a character, but, seriously, the Edward parallels are creepy. They both even went through an only-eat-the-bad-people phase. With Spike the dynamic was probably more dangerous but somewhat clear-cut. It went from one-sided obsession to hate-sex and just spiraled out of control from there. There was never any question that it was a bad idea for her to be screwing a literally soulless fiend. Angel, on the other hand, was a guy who took her on dates and gave her sentimental gifts and made her the envy of some of her classmates but just happened to have this other side.

  58. Donna L
    December 6, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    “Let the Right One In,” the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist that was the basis for the Swedish movie of the same name. I liked them both a great deal. (I had no interest in seeing the American remake.)

  59. Kari
    December 6, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    I’m seconding Fledgling by Octavia Butler as an amazing take on the genre. Highly recommended.

  60. Anonymouse
    December 6, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    I loved The Passage! Also, Shadow of the Vampire, the 2000 film with Willem Dafoe is great. Amazingly creepy and a really interesting take on gender dynamics in vampire films, as well as acting and the relationship between director and actors, especially women actors. Really multilayered and pretty pomo, but it’s ultimately about filmmaking more so than vampirism. But as someone pointed out above, monsters are metaphors.

    Oh, and Christopher Moore’s Bloodsucking Fiends/You Suck books are awesome and hilarious. Abby Normal, the teenaged goth “minion” is pretty priceless.

  61. Mallory
    December 6, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    OKay this… version of the most recent Twilight movie is amazing.
    “If Twilight 4 was 10 times shorter and 100 times more honest”

    http://www.cracked.com/article_19582_if-twilight-4-was-10-times-shorter-100-times-more-honest.html

  62. superior olive
    December 6, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    It’s been years since I’ve read them, so I don’t know how well they’ve held up, but I was quite impressed with Tanya Huff’s ‘Blood’ series:

    I’ve been meaning to read these books ever since I saw the TV series. Loved the Vicki character, and the dynamic between her and Henry. Did you watch the series? Was it similar to the books?

    As for Twilight–I’ve never read the books, nor seen the movies, yet I somehow know all about them. It’s irritating, even if I wanted to escape it’s impossible. Hands down the best thing I’ve read about them was from a livejournal post by stoney321, a former Mormon (um, wow, say that 3x fast: formermormon formermormon formermormon). Her theory is that SMeyers made Edward to be in the image of Joseph Smith, but didn’t realize it. As stoney puts it:

    Every time SMeyers would write about Edward, I would just boggle. She was drawing from everything we Mormons were taught about Good Ol’ Joe – he was handsome, shockingly so, he could draw you in with just his presence, let alone when he spoke, down to his freaking nose and hair color. HI THERE CREEPY AUTHOR WANTING TO BONE YOUR PROPHET. (I have no problem with bible slash, etc. Just… I don’t think she knows she’s doing it.)

    Every time SMeyers would write about Edward, I would just boggle. She was drawing from everything we Mormons were taught about Good Ol’ Joe – he was handsome, shockingly so, he could draw you in with just his presence, let alone when he spoke, down to his freaking nose and hair color. HI THERE CREEPY AUTHOR WANTING TO BONE YOUR PROPHET. (I have no problem with bible slash, etc. Just… I don’t think she knows she’s doing it.)
    Worth a read, if only to get to the picture of the underwear. Dear god, the underwear! How in the blue bloody hell are there so many Mormons with that underwear??!? Anyway, check it out: Sparkledammerung!!1!!

    I think I’m all vampired out on account of the Twilight saturation, but i still love the sci-fi supernatural shows. I’ve been really into Lost Girl–lots of mythical creatures worked into the backstory on that show. Plus, the main character, Bo, is awesome. She’s a succubus who was raised by humans and didn’t know she was supernatural (they’re called Fae in the show), or even adopted, until she was a teenager and she sucked the life out of her boyfriend in the backseat of his car. She ran away, eventually discovered the world of the Fae, and has carved out a life operating independently of the Light and Dark Fae. She’s a bisexual succubus with a heart of gold–what’s not to love? It airs in Canada on Showcase, and I think Sci-Fi (or SyFy or WTFever) is showing it from the beginning in January.

  63. superior olive
    December 6, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    Whoops, I should have mentioned that the link in the previous post is image heavy. Hilarious images, lots of them, in the link!

  64. Annaleigh
    December 7, 2011 at 12:08 am

    Has anyone read The Historian? I’m very interested in that one because of Elizabeth Kostova’s affinity for/knowledge about Bulgaria, and eventually I will get around to reading my copy, but right now my “hefty” read among my current reading phile is War and Peace, which I’ve slowly been working though…

    I’ve also read Barbara Hambly’s Renfield, which was decent, and at least tried something different by taking Renfield’s viewpoint, although I think the inclusion of Elizabeth Bathory as one of Dracula’s wives was not subtle at all.

  65. Serad Anon
    December 7, 2011 at 5:01 am

    One of the best vampire stories I read is Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories, like Butler’s Fledgling it deals with racism and sexism- and it has a main character who is bisexual.
    Susan Petry’s Gifts of Blood is another good but relatively unknown vampire book, it’s not great in terms of sexism, but not as bad as a fair amount of the vampire genre.

  66. Eslam
    December 7, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Nice read! I love Twilight! ;)
    Been a fan of Twilight and Harry Potter for more than 2 years now… lol

    For those who dont know already, there’s actually an official showdown between the latest Harry Potter and Twilight movie at movievote.info :o

    OMG, who to pick??? Can’t decide :D Guess I’m going with Twilight ;)
    <3 Taylor Lautner, OMG hes so hawt ;3

  67. December 7, 2011 at 8:25 am

    The Rosario anime is unwatchable because of way too many panty shots. The manga is decent despite a bit too much jiggle which is not allowed to totally destroy the work.

  68. Kara
    December 7, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Man, am I getting a lot of awesome book recommendations out of reading these comments or what? Thanks all! Time to go give my library card a workout….

    (And another vampire TV show I don’t think has been mentioned yet. “Being Human”, which features a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost who are housemates. The British version is better then the American version, though.)

  69. Storyphile
    December 7, 2011 at 9:19 am

    As a big SF/F fan I second quite a few of the recs made here, but I really have to mention the most original take on vampires I have ever read: The Madness Season by C. S. Freidman. After humanity is conquered by aliens, the only known remaining vampire/shapeshifter (naturally evolved, not undead in any way) fights to save himself and ultimately the remainder of the human race. The plot twist at the end blew my mind awesomely.

  70. Aj
    December 7, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I have been really turned on to werewolves lol. Jake is just way hot plus he is the good guy without a sun problem.

    I do hate the emo back n forth in these films. I would never pay money myself to see it. If my man pays then great :) Most the time I just watch them at http://freenewflix.info its an ok place. Its free which is good for broke me.

  71. Eve
    December 7, 2011 at 10:15 am

    More great vampire stuff:

    Being Human (BBC, havn’t seen teh US one so can’t make a judgements)

    And CBBC’s Young Dracula.
    Yeah it’s on kids TV, but wow is it great!

  72. Elizabeth
    December 7, 2011 at 10:54 am

    The Historian is my favorite vampire novel, and I was surpirsed no one had mentioned it before Annaleigh. It’s more fun than War and Peace. And the American remake, Let Me In, was better than I thought it would be. Actually quite good, though I am still wondering why we in the US need to remake perfectly good films from Scandinavia within a year of the release, like this one and the Steig Larssen films. Are we really out of stories?

  73. hmm
    December 7, 2011 at 11:11 am

    As for Angel/Buffy, I think the plot with Angel is complicated by how much you want to view Angel and Angelus as separate people. Angelus is a pretty abusive boyfriend/ex-boyfriend, for sure. But I tend to buy into Angel as a mostly separate person, having watched the whole Angel series too. If you view them as the same person (like a guy who is nice until he gets drunk) then the situation is a bit different. But anyway, the relationship between Buffy and Angel (not Angelus) is unhealthy for a lot of reasons, but like we all said above, the show dealt with it well by having them realize that and end it.

    I definitely see the parallells with Twilight, but I think the big difference is in overall tone and message. Bella basically gives up every other part of herself in order to be with Edward. Buffy, on the other hand, has this whole calling and stuff that are ultimately her life, but she also has an attraction to Angel and she struggles with it and ultimately gives it up. Whole different message overall. Also, I think the part where Angel turns into Angelus and kills her friends brings the creepy, and as far as I know, Edward never did anything like that. Also, Bella is week and clumsy, and treated as a prize to be protected, while Buffy is strong and can hold her own in a fight against any of these guys, and does so repeatedly.

    (Re: not watching the last two seasons of Buffy. If I were you I’d watch the last two seasons, if only to be able to discuss them. They weren’t perfect, but I don’t agree that they were so terrible they weren’t worth watching. I’d definitely change some things if I could, but I still enjoyed them. Still much better than most of what’s on TV.)

  74. Katya
    December 7, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    The Passage is very cool. Did you know the author wrote the story with his 12 year old daughter?

    Apparently, she told him she wanted a story in which a girl saves the world. So he wrote one.

    I second, or third, or whatever, the recommendation for The Historian. Fantastic book.

  75. superior olive
    December 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    And another vampire TV show I don’t think has been mentioned yet. “Being Human”, which features a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost who are housemates. The British version is better then the American version, though.)

    Oh, I love that show! And the British version is totally better than the American! I saw teh British show first, I wonder if that has anything to do with it? It was weird watching basically the same show with American accents. It was like I could hear the British echo in my head or something. Plus, the American version has that “everybody is distractingly good looking” thing that American TV can’t get rid of. I mean, the original British cast is also super good looking, but there’s still normal looking people everywhere. I haven’t seen as much of teh American version, so I don’t know about the acting, but the British version had great supporting actors. That Henrik dude is so super creepy. OK, so I guess I’m not completely vampired out–I still like the genre, especially when there’s other beasties in the mix.

  76. Politicalguineapig
    December 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    s.r. Westwood: Yes, to everything about the Rosario + franchise. Oh, and I totally forgot about Negima, which has the same problem, along with a hefty dose of inappropriate love interests. (I mean, seriously, a 14 year old girl crushing on a 10 year old boy? That’s all kinds of creepy.I In one case, it actually veers very close to incest. Cough *Ayaka* cough.)
    Anyway, Negima has Eva, the eternal ten-year-old vampire, and she’s cynical as all hell. Despite her size, she is a total powerhouse, and manages to give the main character a drubbing. And she has two mechanical servants who kick ass.

  77. Ruthie
    December 7, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Rachel: Buffy

    How did this get left out of the original post?

  78. December 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Ruthie: How did this get left out of the original post?

    Because the author — contrary to the unwritten law that feminist writers must be able to represent every feminist, ever — has never seen “Buffy” and doesn’t typically care for TV shows, with the notable exceptions of anime, “Battlestar Galactica” and “La Femme Nikita” (old version with Peta Wilson).

  79. Sheelzebub
    December 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    If we’re going to talk about gender roles and monsters, I loved the movie Ginger Snaps. Teenage girl as a werewolf with all kinds of coming of age connections drawn in. Also it was scary as fuck.

  80. Athenia
    December 7, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    @Katya

    But where does Emily fit in? She has not sacrificed her humanity, but is also in an abusive relationship.

    Also, I’m not sure if Bella exactly had a “self” to begin with. Do the Cullens, Jacob etc also do not have a self by extension?

  81. miga
    December 7, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Sunshine!!!!!!!!!!! BEST (Post-Anne Rice) Vamp novel EVA!!!11!!!

  82. Kristen J.
    December 7, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Clarisse Thorn: Because the author — contrary to the unwritten law that feminist writers must be able to represent every feminist, ever — has never seen “Buffy” and doesn’t typically care for TV shows, with the notable exceptions of anime, “Battlestar Galactica” and “La Femme Nikita” (old version with Peta Wilson).

    Notice of Non-Compliance. You have 60 days to watch all seven seasons of Buffy. Failure to comply will result in the immediate suspension of Feminist license.

    • December 7, 2011 at 10:36 pm

      Do I lose my Feminist License if I admit that I have seen one episode of Buffy, hated it, and never watched it again?

  83. William
    December 7, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Do I lose my Feminist License if I admit that I have seen one episode of Buffy, hated it, and never watched it again?

    I’m not expert, but I think that makes you Margret Thatcher…

  84. librarygoose
    December 7, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    superior olive: Oh, I love that show! And the British version is totally better than the American!

    That’s because the British version has Russel Tovey. Everything ever is better with Russel Tovey (or John Barrowman).

  85. Politicalguineapig
    December 7, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    I was too young when the first season started. Parents said no, I watched it anyway.. I ended up watching five minutes of it before turning the TV off. From nine to twelve I was a hard-core Janeway fan and preferred science fiction to fantasy anyway.
    I forgot another vampire series: Karin or Chibi Vampire. The protagonist, Karin Maaka is the odd one out in her family of vampires; she hates the dark, is a scaredy-cat, and has to give blood instead of take it. It’s kind of like Twilight, because she falls in love with a human, but she has much more of a personality than Bella. (Yes, she occasionally whines, and she’s a klutz, but she tries very very hard to be normal. Which isn’t easy when you have to keep your family from snacking on your friends.)

  86. Kristen J.
    December 7, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Jill: Do I lose my Feminist License if I admit that I have seen one episode of Buffy, hated it, and never watched it again?

    Nah, you lost it for wearing a sailboat sweater. NO TOLERANCE.

  87. LC
    December 8, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Kristen J.: Nah, you lost it for wearing a sailboat sweater. NO TOLERANCE.

    ROTFL

  88. LC
    December 8, 2011 at 12:41 am

    I am going to have to read Fledgling.

    I second Ginger Snaps. Best coming-of-age feminist werewolf movie I’ve ever seen. (Sadly, also the only one.) I would avoid the sequels though.

    Clarisse, I have to ask, what’s so terrible about VtR? I only ever flipped through it (not much of a White Wolf fan overall, although I’ve played good games of WW material) but it struck me as an interesting remix – and getting rid of a lot of the fixed and hoary mythology to create something with more allowance for individual interpretation appealed.

  89. December 8, 2011 at 1:31 am

    My problems with Vampire: The Requiem are neatly summarized by this.

  90. Alecto
    December 8, 2011 at 3:40 am

    Annaleigh: Has anyone read The Historian?

    I read the Historian about four years ago, and it was a gripping read, I very much enjoyed it.

  91. Ceres
    December 8, 2011 at 5:34 am

    Have any of you read the 19th century short story ‘Carmilla’? I don’t think it makes any feminist points in particular, but it’s very well written. It takes care to leave open a lot of ambiguities, so that as a reader you can debate afterwards about the nature of evil and love in their world. Recommended!

    And Buffy is a really fun show that is also quite terrible at times. Joss Whedon is simply not the best at surrounding himself with talent and he’s hit-miss himself too. When he started to show less involvement in the show by the fourth season it would show and then especially the romantic relationships suffered. (though this was already apparent by the third season) You have to remember that in Buffy’s world, everything revolves around romance. Someone can destroy the world, but it’s okay since they’re now someone’s gf/bf, or someone could have saved the world, but if they ever looked even the wrong way, their partner will make that a big issue and might even start doing all sorts of unhealthy magical things because of the despair.

  92. Crys T
    December 8, 2011 at 6:41 am

    You have to remember that in Buffy’s world, everything revolves around romance.

    Sorry, no. Everything in Buffy revolves around power: what does it do to you?; how does it change your relationships?; what happens when the balance of power between people changes?; what happens when a person who previously didn’t have much power suddenly has more?

    I usually find that people who think Buffy went downhill after the high school years are trying to watch the show as only a soap opera about friendship/romantic relationships between young people. There is that element, but that’s only one layer. If it were just all about “romance,” then it would never have made so many academics specialising in literature and social science fall in love with it. No one would ever have compared its narrative to Milton.

    The high school years may have been more comfy and fun, but it was the last 4 series when the show got meaty. I suspect that a lot of people didn’t like that because they didn’t want to be shaken out of their comfort zones.

  93. Ceres
    December 8, 2011 at 6:46 am

    No, because the last four seasons are bad television.

  94. SunlessNick
    December 8, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Has anyone read The Historian? – Annaleigh

    Elizabeth said it first, but it’s my favourite too. Let me put it this way: it didn’t surprise me overmuch that Bram Stoker might not be the one to write my favourite vampire novel, much as I like Dracula,* but it surprised the hell out of me that after reading The Historian, he was no longer the author of my favourite Dracula novel.

    * I like Dracula, because despite every adaptation from the moment of publication onwards, Dracula isn’t a romantic figure. He’s monstrous and violating in the way he goes after Lucy and Mina (and Renfield for that matter). And I liked that the idea of hypnotising Mina so she can flip he mind link with Dracula and track him with it was her idea, not Van Helsing’s.

    Where some people are Twilight apologists, I’m a Vampire Diaries apologist (at least the TV series, I’ve not read the books).

    If roleplaying games are good to mention, there’s also Annalise (more of a story game for nerd-pedantry, but it’s much the same thing).

    And I like the vampires from Kat Richardson’s Greywalker books. (They have major roles in the first, fourth, and fifth, currently).

  95. LC
    December 8, 2011 at 10:46 am

    SunlessNick: I like Dracula, because despite every adaptation from the moment of publication onwards, Dracula isn’t a romantic figure.

    That’s always been my take on it, as well.
    What’s Annalise?

    As for the later seasons of Buffy, they have great moments, but never come together as full seasons. I like 4 a lot more than most people do, but 5 gets lost halfway through, six is an absolute mess in terms of pacing and theme, and 7 never quite gets going either. I agree that Buffy is about Power and what it does to you, though, in many ways. (Or possibly about Growing Up means accepting and choosing how you use your Power.)

  96. LC
    December 8, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Clarisse Thorn: My problems with Vampire: The Requiem are neatly summarized by this.

    Interesting. The bits about being all condescending sound annoying, but the whole idea of creating a system that mechanically reinforces the themes of the game and is less prone to being min/maxed to stupidity sounds good.

    Honestly, I never liked the WW system much anyway (but then i’m not a min-max guy). I found it very restrictive and often fought against interesting character concepts. I thought the mythos/world reboot seemed interesting, but never even looked into the system rewrite.

    Would you play the new world with the old dice rules?

  97. William
    December 8, 2011 at 11:15 am

    The high school years may have been more comfy and fun, but it was the last 4 series when the show got meaty. I suspect that a lot of people didn’t like that because they didn’t want to be shaken out of their comfort zones.

    I think thats an oversimplification. During the first three seasons Joss had an incredible metaphor (high school is hell) and an interesting idea (what if the traditional victims of horror had the ability to be the heroes?). It worked well, but the kids had to graduate and grow up and then the show stumbled. It regained it’s footing as it grew, but I don’t think it quite kept up with it’s ideas after Joss became less involved. The last four seasons had some of the greatest, most mature moments of the show’s time on the air (Giles quietly smothering an innocent man because he couldn’t ask anyone else to, Buffy being yanked back from the dead into a life that was hell for her) but you had to slog through so much poor writing and uninteresting melodrama to get to those moments. That unevenness, I think, only became more pronounced as time went on. Buffy was always a show with great peaks, but the valleys ceased to be consistently interesting or engaging after the first three years.

  98. SunlessNick
    December 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    What’s Annalise? – LC

    You can find it here. Everyone designs a character whose life is being infiltrated by a vampire, or something vampire-like, and improvise a storyline (including the specifics of the vampire) from there; the GMing job rotates around the group as different characters take centre stage. It aims for classic gothic moods, if not necessarily classic gothic settings, and treats vampires as definite monsters.

  99. December 8, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    One of the best vampire books out there is the Penguin Book of Vampire Stories, edited by Alan Ryan. It has Carmilla, and CL Moore’s Shambleau, Carl Jacobi’s Revelations in Black, Stoker’s Dracula’s Guest, CM Kornbluth’s The Mindworm, Tanith Lee’s Bite-me-not, and lots of others, including Robert Bloch, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Fritz Leiber.

    I do love Carmilla, but Shambleau is my favorite. It’s a vampire story set on Mars.

    @William, I identified more with Giles and Joyce as we watched Buffy, since my kids were teetering on the brink/in high school. It confirmed all my worries. Of course the nice boy is a monster. Of course my kid is involved in things too big for her to handle. Of course the principal is a repulsive troll. (Yeah, I’ve tangled with him about every kid of mine he’s had, and done my best Joyce on top of it.)

    But Buffy? I’m just here for the Ethan?Giles subtext (so blatant my 11 year old sees it)

  100. LC
    December 8, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    William at comment 99 pretty much is exactly my view of what happened with Buffy as well.

    Angelina Sparrow, I always used to joke that Buffy was odd to me because I was all about the supporting cast and didn’t really like the main character very much. I was all about Giles and Joyce.

  101. LC
    December 8, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Sunless Nick, Annalise looks like great fun.

  102. December 8, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    I totally wanna play Annalise. As for Vampire: The Requiem … I mean, I’d play it no matter what (as long as I had a good group), because I love vampires. But the system isn’t even the big thing that was lost from the old game … I don’t care as much about that (although it sure is nice to be able to regularly succeed at things, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to play a game where I feel like a badass rather than feeling regularly overwhelmed and pathetic). The old game just had about a million times more flavor. I get why White Wolf changed it; they wanted a game that was more easily customizable and could be fit more easily into an alternate vampire mythos; some of the designers also felt that they wanted a game that was more “serious”, and less “kewl” or “r0xx0r” or otherwise overstated. But I LIKED all the “kewl, r0xx0r” stuff that they decided was too kewl and r0xx0r.

  103. LC
    December 8, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Interesting. Does the new system prevent people from doing cool stuff? I actually find lots of systems do that (including original Vamp). Way too many systems depend on optimizing builds in order to be “badass” instead of giving the character stuff to make them interesting story wise. Any point wasted on something interesting means you are at a disadvantage, and I hate having to deal with that. I am totally with you about the whole “I want to feel badass” aspect though. At the very least, the stuff you are supposed to be badass in should involve you actually being badass in that stuff. (Why so many games make that so hard always boggles my mind.)

    I definitely prefer the customizable approach, but that’s because I never liked the splat book effect and the whole “you are playing in our world, and it doesn’t matter what you do, what matters are our NPCs” aspect of the old mythos. At least, that’s how it felt to me.

    I do recall seeing the Vamp fandom split pretty quickly between those who wanted to play a game about personal horror and those who wanted to play superheroes in leather pants. Most of the former seemed to start really disliking V:tM, and you know how fandoms get. I could definitely see V:tR being written by someone who felt Masquerade had “lost its way” and wanted to get back to it.

    I knew someone who actually played the Masquerade mythos with the Requiem rules, basically saying that the whole mythology from the old game was what the Prince of the City had taught everyone so they all thought it was true. :)

  104. LC
    December 8, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    I think i can safely assert from my extending this tangent as long as I have, Clarisse, that I am jonesing to game again, because it’s been a while. *grin*

    I’m not actually remotely this passionate about White Wolf, seeing as I only played it sporadically.

  105. December 8, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    The superheroes in leather pants aspect of the old Vampire could get annoying sometimes. But that was no excuse for forcibly stripping everything that could somehow, conceivably, be perceived as part of that out of the new game. :shrug:

    I am insanely passionate about White Wolf, or at least I was at one point. Not too invested in gaming anymore. Most of my love was wrapped up in Exalted by the end, anyways.

  106. LC
    December 9, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Exalted was the only one of that series I never played, actually.

  107. Andy
    December 9, 2011 at 11:05 am

    God damn did I love Exalted, but I feel like they could have made it a little more mechanically complicated. The sheer amount of shit even the players had to assimilate was staggering. “Wait, how many Essence did I spend this round? Can I activate Dipping Swallow Defense without lighting up the surrounding state with my Anima banner? Shit, I was I spending personal or peripheral Essence?”

  108. LC
    December 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Andy, that’s one of the reasons I’m a Heroquest/FATE guy. I just don’t want to bother with that, and that is the kind of thing that lends to Min/Maxing in weird ways. Give me the story and setting and don’t make me deal with that.

  109. Politicalguineapig
    December 9, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Hey, Caperton, what’s your opinion of ‘Vampire Knight?” I’ve leafed through a few volumes of it, but I can’t say I’m a fan. Way too much angst and I hate all the leads.

  110. William
    December 10, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    but that’s because I never liked the splat book effect and the whole “you are playing in our world, and it doesn’t matter what you do, what matters are our NPCs” aspect of the old mythos. At least, that’s how it felt to me.

    When I run V:tM I get around that by using Garou and the Technocracy in the background to kill off the big name NPCs just out of spite, letting players build elders, and running a political game focused on what happens when things change faster than the setting would like. Sure, the idea of personal horror in a world with no real chance for advancement is dark and all, but in my experience players want to do more than listen to Sisters of Mercy until they’re dominated into being short lived pawns.

  111. Raja
    January 3, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Vampire Diaries isn’t bad; you start off thinking its gonna be another Twilight clone but it gets better pretty quickly. Honestly, they could have gotten rid of Stefan and Damon would have rocked the show just fine without him.

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