Whilst formally resigned to it's own section at the back of the book store I have been noticing an unyielding prevalence of romance novels in the best seller sections of late. The most inescapable being 50 Shades of Grey. This has been confusing me and the more I thought about it the more it has been making sense as well as infuriating me; I decided I needed to sort out why.
Firstly I believe the reason for the sudden influx of romance novels of late can be traced down to one source. Twilight... Why do I keep finding reasons for getting annoyed at this book. Twilight had revitalized and revamped romance and, whilst not creating, popularizing the 'paranormal romance' genre. Walking in Dymocks the last few days I saw; to my despair, that the paranormal romance section had ballooned to the size of the now joined Fantasy/Sci-fi genre. I don't believe this will be a permanent change; just like all trends it shall ebb and flow into a new one but the fact that paranormal romance is even separate from romance whilst fantasy is now lumped together with Sci-fi is somewhat baffling to me. This is for a very simple; and yet very complex, reason. The internal conflict is dramatically limited in paranormal romance, and yet comes from an almost universal source. And this is 'temptation'.
Before I dive into an analysis of temptation in literature I should first mention my utter distaste for using the word 'universal'. I'm saving my analysis of motivations and internal conflicts in works for a later date as it is truly to large to cover here.
Temptation is something that can be understood simply; a short term benefit for a long term risk. In romance this comes down simply to the more attractive but unstable partner vs the stable yet dull partner/life. Novels using temptation are a way for us to experience the riskier option without the consequences affecting us in real life. So far so good. I don't personally have a problem with romance novels although due to the ease of writing a 'temptation' plot I find a lot of the genre to be... simple at best and laughable at worst. However it still does allow some more conflicts and is not completely limiting.
Paranormal romance however takes this to the furthest level. Not only does it have to rely on temptation we are always aware of what we will be getting and what we will be giving up as a consequence. I cannot, at all, take the paranormal romance genre seriously. I don't mean to offend anyone who does; nor am I saying that any book writing in the genre is automatically worthless. My personal distaste for it comes from a very strong belief that the inherent promise of paranormal romance's temptation is a lie. You will be transformed into an ageless, unchanging frozen moment in time. Just because you biologically do not change does not mean that you are not changing. I'm willing to accept that it is perhaps more difficult for the world to inflict change upon you as you are no longer human but you are not in complete control of events. Things will still happen around you and they will have an affect on you. The point is you are not always going to be the same person as you are when you are 'changed/transformed/having given into the temptation' nor is your partner.
People changing is the inherent risk in romance, both in novels and in life. The chance that this person will not be the same person, five, ten fifty years down the road of being together is not even really a chance... it's a given. Real romances and the best love stories are the ones that cause you to believe that even when the couple change they will love the new partner as much as they loved the one they used to be and not just because of what they used to be. To me; this fact makes the temptation element in paranormal romances simply not worth it. Should the you drift apart in a romance novel you can find something new and meaningful in your world or with other connections such as friends or family. In paranormal romance you are completely isolated; not just from your previous life but from the world. Interview with a Vampire did a fantastic job of displaying and showing this isolation. This forces you to be completely dependent upon the other person for companionship and turns your secluded lovers nest into a personal prison you cannot escape as there is a world outside that you have no bearing on, no real understanding of and no way to enter.
Essentially I find paranormal romance as a genre to be incredibly limited as the core driving force appears to be so cemented in the idea of temptation in a form we have seen hundreds if not thousands of times before in basically every media there is. Why then, can I understand how Twilight has caused such a insurgence of the genre and appears to have given it more of a legitimacy to readers (except of course those who hate Twilight).
It's because the more I thought about it, the more I realized how incredibly innovative Twilight is for the genre... and yes, I do mean that sincerely. I was thinking over how I have defined temptation and how the paranormal romance genre uses it and I came to the startling revelation of Twilight's reversal of it. It is still very much focused around temptation; but it's not really the main character Bella who is being tempted; I don't think she is even being motivated by romance. Should Edward not have been in the story and Bella simply come across the other Cullens I think she still would have made the decision to become a vampire. The transformation simply does not hold the weight it does in other books; it is clearly established that you can be a vampire without completely loosing your humanity as you do not have to take human life to survive. You are not isolated as the vampires often form clans or in the case of the Cullens a 'family', as well as there being a structure to the vampire world that creates it's own sense of being an existence despite whatever the humans may be up to. It is even shown how the vampires are able to live, partially mind you, in the human world before moving on to another area.
If Bella is not being tempted than who is? Well, Edward is. And we; through projection onto Bella, are turned into the tempters ourselves. Other works have of course included the supernatural being falling for the mortal being, an example very close to the form of Twilight is the Nic Cage movie City of Angels. Yet then, we have the supernatural changing for the mortal. In Twilight the mortal is still the one who changes but the temptation is the supernatural; who has to chose if they corrupt the mortal to gain them for 'eternity' but force the one they love to give up their life for it. Now, disclaimer time. I am simply looking at the plot elements of Twilight, and based on what I'm saying you would think I recommend Twilight as it truly does bring an interesting new dynamic to a genre deeply routed in the traditional and cliched till it has become mundane. I am not. I do think there are some interesting ideas in Twilight that can be discussed and used to shape other ideas but any novelty with the plot is completely undermined by the terrible characterization. By having Edward being so controlling; no doubt a consequence of Stephen Myer being under the misconception that Heathcliff is a 'romantic' character. And Bella being so needy and co-dependent, we are left with a temptation that holds no weight. Edward's claims of not wanting to ruin her life come off as hallow when he controls her so much and she so willing lets him.
Paranormal Romance appears to be fading more into the background. With the last Twilight movie coming out soon I believe there may be a last small resurgence of it copy cat books however even fans are starting to become sick of it. No matter how much you enjoy a style, flooding the market with copy-cats works shall always make it become tiresome. Now being replaced by Twilight fanfiction... sigh. For better or worse it appears as though Romance shall now have it's time hogging the best-seller list; whilst I personally feel it's for worst it shall pass. All genres will time and time again return to the spot light after a sudden popular title inspires it's army of clones and I shall personally sit by and bide my time till Fantasy comes round again.
Vampire porn really should be it's own sub-genre, there's vampire teen porn such as Twilight (Check the link bellow for an amazing blog that trashes it completely) or more respected works such as Vampire Academy which I haven't read. Then there is adult vampire porn, things such as True Blood or my personal favorite and the topic of this blog Anita Blake Vampire Hunter.
Laurel K. Hamilton is a slight wonder as a writer, she has a technical skill level that is acceptable to good but amazingly manages to hit every cliche and stereotype you would expect this genre to have in dialogue, character and story. Reading the first in the series Guilty Pleasures was three of the funnest hours of my life. I had to stop at one point because I couldn't control my laughter.
Set in a similar world to that of True Blood, vampires have made their presence know in society and have even be recognised as citizens. Our hero, Anita Blake is a detective and also a necromancer, not a nymphomaniac... although from what I've heard of later books in the series she could be that as well. She is hired to investigate a murder of a vampire, but not without the proper motivation. As the vampires hypnotize a friend of hers, apparently vampires have the super abilities to completely control humans just by looking at them. I'll deal with the problems of this later, but Anita is somewhat immune due to her abilities as a necromancer. This is however the first in the large number of incredibly terrible things the supposed love interest does. Now. Ignoring the common trait of vampires getting a free-ride on anything terrible they do because they.... I don't know, usually talk with sexy accents. I don't know how anyone is meant to take Jean Claude Seriously. He is a french vampire who runs a special vampire strip club from which the book gets it's title, he wears... for the entire time, an open frilly poet shirt, with leather pants and thigh high leather boots over the leather pants. Just to give you the best idea I have included a picture from the graphic novel version.
We are meant to take this man seriously.
And I'm pretty sure most of his muscles don't really exist in anatomy... vampire or otherwise.
Anita is taken to meet the grand high eldest vampire of the city... and it is a little girl DUN DUN DUHHH. This book really is just a check list of vampire cliches. Lets see what have we had so far...
Human protagonist with vampire 'love' interest...
Main vampire having some form of accent... that is sexy...
Blatant corruption of innocence...
Anyway, after a brush with the vampire master one of the key plot points of the series gets dropped, and that is that Jean Claude has made the first step to turning Anita into a human servant. Now I'm going to repeat that, a human servant. Something that happens completely against her will. Yeah... this love story is really going to annoy me by the end of it. Anita continues to stumble along in her quest to solve the mystery of the vampire serial killer, involving a few other human characters and some other vampire characters. I have to ask, are there any non good looking guys in this world. I mean, I'm not really complaining, wohoo hot guys! But do they all have to have the most basic archetypal stereotypes of what woman are supposed to go for? There's the bad guy who I am going to call the Heathcliff, this would be the Jean Claude and the one we are meant to go for, please note that when I say attractive I mean the book keeps telling us he's attractive. There's the sweetie, the one who may be a little off in their arrogance but that's just cause they need someone to understand , the one who probably just needs a hug, let us call him... the Ryan Reynolds. And for this we have Philip, someone whose tortured past has led him to become an arrogant stripper and former vampire junkie. He also dies. Sorry if that was your type ladies, but he's the first in a long line so don't you worry. And then the bad ass, the one who has come here to kick ass and chew bubble gum... and he's all out of gum. Although a little different, no doubt due to the fact that he is American instead of British I am going to call him the Bond, James Bond. And so we meet Edward... sighhhhhh. Edward is introduced and gives Anita a shotgun as a present and kills more vampires then the supposed protagonist... and my god he is so fucking bad ass! I mean he's just the coolest fucking thing in this entire series!!! He's... *cough*
Soooo... ummm... back to the plot...
Essentially Anita discovers who is killing vampires, takes on and kills the head vampire, the 10 year old Nikolaos... whose name I have no idea how to pronounce and also kills the vampire Valentine. Valentine was what could have been an interesting plot device for future, Valentine attacked Anita and gave her a massive scar, and she scarred his face with holy water. Despite no doubt fighting stronger vampires this one had a place in the back of her mind because he was attacked her when she was still new and young and vulnerable. I really think killing him was a missed opportunity, it wasn't even some grand final fight, she injected him with liquid silver whilst he slept... what heart pounding action!
The main plot points to take away from this though is that Anita has received 2 or the 4 marks that will make her Jean Claude's, who has become master of the vampires in the city, human servant. She even has an opportunity to kill him but decides not to because, and I quote 'I may regret it later'. Gahhhh. Oh Anita, I'm sure you wouldn't have... its not like you don't know some attractive strong but not completely psycho guys... like Edward...
Link to Twilight bashing http://the-snarktress.blogspot.com/
I've been doing so many comics of late that I really felt I need a change, this is a movie that really slipped under the radar for a lot of people and I really don't think it should have. And while I would not put it on the level of comedy parodies such as Hot Fuzz it really was genuinely funny and really enjoyable. Lesbian Vampire Killers. And in answer to your first question this is about killers of lesbian vampire rather than lesbian killers of vampires.
When the second Twilight movie came out my friends and I enjoyed a movie marathon night called 'Real Vampires don't sparkle', in this aside from some of the classics we looked for new vampire movies and couldn't go past the title. This is a really upbeat movie that I'm not going to lie has a large amount of it's humour based in dick jokes. Normally this is the kind of humour that I really don't like and yet I've seen this so many times and still are not sick of it.
Focusing on our two main hero's, Fletch and Jimmy; played by James Corden and Mathew Horne, who have come to Cragwich on holiday hiking as Fletch has lost his job and Jimmy just got dumped, and neither have the money to do anything fun... I know the feeling. Little did they know that the town of Cragwich has an ancient curse over it, a curse that brings the infestation of really really hot chicks. And as night falls they, and some other hot chicks... from Sweden, have to fight for their lives against the Army of Darkness.... Groovy.
It's in the writing that the talent of this comedy duo really comes through, whilst I can't really call it 'witty' as the humour is all based solely around the idea of dicks and lesbians, two concepts that are somewhat dancing opposites there is something delightfully British about them. I know this may sound strange that I like the comedy simply because it's British, as though they have a free pass on making low brow dick jokes because of their high class accents but quiet frankly anyone who enjoyed watching the Python boys dressed as girls will probably enjoy at least some of the humour of Lesbian Vampire Killers. And if you haven't then what is wrong with you?
My copy autographed by Paul Mcgann, playing the Vicar.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.