Here's what Stephen Marche says in Esquire: "Vampires have overwhelmed pop culture because young straight women want to have sex with gay men. Not all young straight women, of course, but many, if not most, of them." Well, who can argue with such an authoritative statement? It's like arguing with the friend who refuses to believe everyone isn't a leetle bit gay and just smiles smugly at your denial if and when you try to argue.
Yes, True Blood, with its "God Hates Fangs" credit sequence, makes an explicit, topical, X-Men-style parallel. I can buy that our alleged collective love of the undead indicates a new acceptance of the Other. Sure, sounds good! And I can even get behind vampire-as-collective-unease-in-rough-times, especially as these plots tend to involve understanding and taming the unknown forces. But here's where he loses me:
Edward, the romantic hero of the Twilight series, is a sweet, screwed-up high school kid, and at the beginning of his relationship with Bella, she is attracted to him because he is strange, beautiful, and seemingly repulsed by her. This exact scenario happened several times in my high school between straight girls and gay guys who either hadn't figured out they were gay or were still in the closet. Twilight's fantasy is that the gorgeous gay guy can be your boyfriend, and for the slightly awkward teenage girls who consume the books and movies, that's the clincher. Vampire fiction for young women is the equivalent of lesbian porn for men: Both create an atmosphere of sexual abandon that is nonthreatening. That's what everybody wants, isn't it? Sex that's dangerous and safe at the same time, risky but comfortable, gooey and violent but also traditional and loving. In the bedroom, we want to have one foot in the twenty-first century and another in the nineteenth.
Hello, scarecrow, how about some fire? I've written enough dubious college papers to know the technique of slipping a weird assertion between some inarguable ones. Sure, vampires deal with off-limits sex, This same argument has been made, with more credence, to suggest the perils of the sexual world vis a vis virginity. Sex is scary. But Twilight doesn't work because Edward's asexual - it works because he wants her so much, but loves her too much to endanger her. More to the point: liking gay boys? Not really a "thing." Sure, some people do. People also have crushes on straight guys. And hormones are raging and friendships are close and all kinds of heartbreaking things go down.
And so vampires have appeared to help America process its newfound acceptance of what so many once thought strange or abnormal. Adam and Steve who live on your corner with their adorable little son and run a bakery? The transgendered man who gave birth to a healthy baby? The teenage girl who wishes that all boys could be vampires? All part of the luscious and terrifying magic of today's sexual revolution.
Well, sure, but how is this the same as "young straight women want to have sex with gay men?" Because you can't just say that and then produce a couple of teens with unrequited crushes. Talk about reductive, Mister. For someone writing about acceptance, you're doing a lot of generalizing. In fact, I begin to worry that a lot of the blame for this bizarre theory rests with Ann Rice, who seems to have an obsession with both Nosferatu and, if the bit of A.N. Roquelaure I was forced to read is any indication, lusting after gay princes. But here's one generalization I do feel comfortable making: Ann Rice doesn't really speak for all of us. And yes, I see that smug, knowing smile.