Maymay's prompt )
These recs run from light to heavy. I’ve been considering whether to point out Maleficent to you. It has a nominally-Dom/awesome-Sub relationship - Maleficent’s raven for the win, you guys. If unquietpirate’s around, she might appreciate the titular character in monster furry!feels and Goth!feels ways. And it has other aspects that are hella cool, but also spoiler-y, so … suffice it to say that this movie broke with Disney’s usual formulas on a number of different levels. Or if spoilers don’t bother you, I can go into more details.

I also think you might like V for Vendetta. I love V, and Evey, and Valerie’s whole monologue - our dignity sells for so little, but it’s all we really have. It is the very last inch of us - seems blisteringly relevant to the facet of rolequeerness that’s about separating our sense of self from the stories society tells us about ourselves. V for Vendetta was deeply personal for me. I was touched that the movie respected the way V self-defined and didn’t unmask him, even in death. And V was the closest thing to a protagonist that I could actually consider heroic that I’d seen in Western media in a very long time. I don’t approve of his being watered down from an actual anarchist into a … violent proponent of democracy, obviously. But the graphic novel is very sexist, and I’m glad the movie filtered that out. And the movie actually challenged the modern use of “terrorist,” and the criminal behavior of the state. It’s rather extraordinary that, not that long after September 11, someone had the guts to include the line - If our own government was responsible for the deaths of almost a hundred thousand [of its own] people… would you really want to know? That’s the reality it’s trying to wake people up to: one where the “protectors” are the very thing everyone needs the most protection from.

But both of those are stories that I liked as an adult. One (of many) movies that was formative for me as a kid was Wuthering Heights, the version with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon. It was the first love story that I can remember resonating with me. Romance was an aspect of fiction that I suffered through, overall; an obligatory part of most movies but definitely not something I could appreciate. All the stupid singing and googly eyes and exaggerated declarations of tender feelings, you know? And Wuthering Heights portrayed a love that I could relate to, a love that was fierce, intensely personal, and amoral. I was bitterly disappointed that I couldn’t find more romances with that kind of fire and depth to them, and it broke my heart that other characters who didn’t understand Cathy ultimately managed to tame her. It wasn’t a happy story, but it had two characters who were really in love. This was an affinity that they’d kill for, or die for, and with good reason. This was the loyalty of two people who could be true to each other by being true to themselves, and a oneness that needed no compromise; no watering down of harshness, no above and no below. This was wildness and perfection and passion, and I cherished them. WH spoilers below. )

I wonder if the progression of vampires from disgusting to desirable tracks with the progression of female sexual expression from taboo to mandatory.  In all cases they’re the boyfriend who won’t take no for an answer, and what’s changed with the times is whether that provokes “how awful, only your husband should do that” or “how wonderful, this is what sexy romance is supposed to look like.”


I disagree. I've been a fan of vampires since I first read Bram Stoker's Dracula, and the recent stuff? Twilight and such? These are not vampires. We'd already be having this conversation if we were talking about, frex, sexy thieves who don't actually steal anything or violate any relevant social convention.

We should be having this conversation whenever we're talking about a villain archetype that's being watered down into a socially acceptable anti-hero.

That's happening a lot lately - media creators are trying to capitalize on the widespread popularity of villains by tampering with their personality until they stop saying and doing things that make society uncomfortable. With Buffy, they had a fucking joke for a vampire boyfriend. Angel, who not only doesn't eat people, he's plagued with guilt over his villainous past. He had his fans, but ... let's just say he wasn't poaching people from the villain-fan pools. And then Spike. He was alright until Whedon became concerned about his popularity, and tried to discourage it with the (notorious) abortive rape attempt. That backfired spectacularly, so they shifted gears and made Spike less and less of a villain, sacrificing most of the things that fans who like villains liked about him in the process.

By the time Twilight rolls around, you have vampires who are waiting for marriage. I haven't read it, and overall I don't plan to bash it. But as far as I can tell, Edward is just another boring hero who's trying to hide his boring hero-ness behind "noo, I'm a bad boy! Look, I wear black!"

Society hasn't become so different and progressive that a vampire, a foreign, genderfluid, relationship anarchic, bestial, otherkin, serial killing, Satan worshipping, Madonna seducing,  sex-death-and-eternal-youth vampire is the triumphant male lead of any commercial story. It has, unfortunately, slapped a lot of edgy, deceptive labels on the same old conventional bullshit (and deprived us of legitimate contemporary versions of some great villains in the process).