Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Not Too Trendy, Please

So apparently in a recent interview Stephanie Meyer said something to the effect that there will be more books written in the Twilight universe some day. Sigh.

Look. I actually really enjoy vampire stories quite a bit. My favorite examples come from shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Moonlight, books like The Dresden Files, and movies like the (first two) Underworld films.

I read the Twilight books, sure. I even kind of enjoyed them. But they went off the rails a bit at the end, and the movie was just laughably awful. I mean, yeah, laughable, so that's not terrible. But let's look at these things for what they truly are folks, okay?

The Twilight books are just really high profile trashy romance novels with a supernatural bent.

That's it. No, I'm not kidding. I suspect that it is even possible (probable) that the quality of writing in trashy romance novels hold up much better under scrutiny than Meyer's famous books. I somehow doubt any of them feature a character with the godawful name of Renesmee. (Seriously, Stephanie? What the hell?) But whatever. Who cares. I am not going to use the fact that they are actually YA to justify the horrible writing (and I don't just mean her style, I mean some of the lessons she is putting out there under the guise of "it's just a story" about how relationships can/do/should work between friends/lovers/families). That fact, if anything, makes the horrible writing aspect worse. But these books, like Harry Potter before them, are responsible for getting a large chunk of the youth population reading--and reading more than just Twilight. I can forgive much of Meyer's issues on that merit alone, truth be told.

But I digress.

I am the last person in the world who would call myself a hipster. I'm not gonna try to claim that I was all into vampires before they became cool and whatnot. That's just silly. And not true. I was into them before Twilight came along, sure, but so were a ton of other people. But it used to be that whenever I heard that a new book/movie/show was about vampires, my interest would be peaked, and I would be at least 85% likely to check it out. Now, I just kind of roll my eyes and groan. We have reached the saturation point in vampire stories. We hit it quite some time ago, actually. For instance, I still haven't seen True Blood. Mostly because I don't have HBO, but you know what, I did have HBO when it started airing. So if I am being honest with myself, it is also because I heard it was about vampires and got a little bit turned off, so never checked it out. (I know, I know, by all accounts I am doing myself a great disservice here, and I am sure one day I might get on board that particular bus, but at the moment, I just can't make myself.)

Then, we moved on to zombies, which I was never really all that enamored with in the first place. Now it seems like everywhere I look, there's something going on with zombies. It seems to me like zombies took off even faster than vampires did. It's like multiple someones said all at the same time, hey, look how vampires caught on after that whole Twilight thing happened! Let's see if we can make zombies the next big thing! And oh my goodness they did. Sigh. I am so over zombies. I have enjoyed one or two of the zombified entries we've gotten out of the craze (*cough*Zombieland*cough*) but mostly, no, I am done. Can we make the next big thing a few smaller big things please?

Just leave the werewolves alone. I would like you to not ruin werewolves for me please, entertainment industry, okay?

You know what would be nice? I would like it if more themes took a lesson from Jack the Ripper.

I know, I know. What?!? Lemme 'splain.

The other day I saw a preview for a new Doctor Who comic story featuring none other than Jack the Ripper, and then the other night when watching Sanctuary (which through some wibbly-wobbly-time-wimey stuff actually features the notorious fiend as a character (no, I won't explain it further than that, watch the show if you are curious, it is awesome-sauce)), I made the connection and it got me thinking. At least one other series I have enjoyed, Babylon 5, has featured an episode about this iconic character from our past. Many others have had episodes or stories that featured this unsolved mystery. There have been plenty of books and movies over the years as well, and lots of speculation on the matter. But though this fascinating (and absolutely horrible, don't get me wrong, this was a bad bad dude, I am not in any way trying to say that the actual serial killer was cool) case has sparked the imagination of many creative people, mentions, tributes, homages, and theories about the Jack the Ripper case have almost always remained quietly in the background. Every now and again something new pops up. But it's never become a huge trend like, say, vampires or zombies.

Certainly, the idea of Jack the Ripper being glorified or turned into something consumers can identify is on par with vampires at least. Think about it, seriously. Maybe what has kept it from breaking out as "the next big thing" is that it is based on something verifiably real, and as such, makes creators uncomfortable playing in that realm? Though if you ask me, that challenge makes it a far more interesting prospect than vampires. But I love historical fiction precisely because it is intriguing to me how someone can take known facts, add a bit of "what if" and take off running to make something entirely new and engaging. I will note that most of the appearances I have seen of Jack the Ripper in my fiction have featured some sort of supernatural or science fictional explanation for his crimes/existence. I don't know if that is because the mystery lends itself more to the genre or if that is just the type of story I am most often exposed to.

My point is that it seems to me that vampires (and zombies) used to be like Jack. They were ever-present, available to the reader/watcher in many different forms and flavors, but never really in the spotlight. This managed to increase the longevity of their appeal and allowed people, for the most part, to discover them without too many preconceptions. These days, too many people hear "vampires" and just roll their eyes and shrug, many of them turning away without even giving the project a second look. There is so much out there that the really good stuff is getting lost in all the crap, and I think that does us all a disservice. I am just once more ready for the day when vampires subside back into their dark corners and shadows,* hanging out with Jack. There when I need them, sometimes when I don't expect them, but never just shoved in the public's collective faces.

A girl can hope, can't she?

*Oh, and yes, I am actually totally stoked about the Johnny Depp Dark Shadows remake. Sometimes there's enough there to overcome the ennui. Sue me.

1 comment:

  1. Amen, sister. That's why I liked "The Twelve" so much, I think.