Posted Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009, at 11:36 AM
The real root of the vampire trend, according to Stephen Marche at Esquire , is that straight women want to have sex with gay guys . It’s an interesting thesis, but I’m not buying it.
Marche argues that Twilight ’s Bella falls for Edward because he’s "strange, beautiful, and seemingly repulsed by her"-just like why the straight girls at his high school lusted after gay dudes. But the common thread among the triumvirate of recent vampire hotties-Edward, True Blood ’s Bill, and Buffy ’s Angel-isn’t that they’re "strange, beautiful, and seemingly repulsed by" the nonvamp women who love them. What they share is being hot, strong, and supremely protective. They lurk in shadows, lending a slaying hand when Buffy is outnumbered; avenging Sookie’s childhood molestation; stopping the car on a collision course with Bella. That seems just about as heteronormative a fantasy as you can get.
Marche’s argument continues:
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.
OK, I guess all of that sounds good. But how is having sex with someone who could kill you with a hickey "nonthreatening"? In most modern vampire dramas, the vamps are exerting tremendous, nonstop self-control to keep from chomping the woman they love. Having sex with them is the ultimate risk. As they usually tell their soon-to-be-lover in hushed undead pillow talk, they worry that once they let go a little, they’ll lose control entirely. And that’s not a groundless fear- look what happened to Angel .
Marche goes on to claim that True Blood "connects vampirism to homosexuality explicitly." His proof: the roadside sign in the opening credits that says "God hates fangs" and general talk of "mainstreaming" vamps. Well, that points to the "vampires as social outcasts" theme. But it seems a big leap to get from that to "vampire craze as proof that all girls want to schtup gay guys." I see the vampires' fight for equal rights in True Blood as similar to the struggles of mutants in X-Men . But in X-Men , that mutant/non-mutant tension seems more a stand-in for the relationship between blacks and whites (with Xavier as MLK and Magneto as Malcolm X) than a gay/straight thing. So, would Marche also says that X-Men comic books popular with nerdy boys because all nerdy boys want to have sex with black men? Or something?