Sexuality: A new spin in a old tale?

Since the days of Bram Stoker’s novel, sexuality has always been a topic much discussed and featured in contemporary vampire texts. They are filled with highly charged sexual tensions which explores the vampires thirst for blood and romance. We all have heard by now and as I had previously mentioned in my earlier post: Sex Sells. So what is sexuality in vampire pop culture which make it so appealing?

Firstly, we all love our fairy tales. The happy ever after conclusion is what soothes the mind after a major roller coaster ride in vampire texts. The longing of true love, the high charged sexual tensions among the characters help us bridge a connection we don’t realize that we have with them. As adolescents or teens or even young adults growing up, the struggle to understand the sexual desires are similar to the vampires’ bloodlust. And like in vampire texts, the struggle to control this lust is equivalent to the self control these fans have to learn about when experiencing these carnal desires. They also use these same vampire texts to interpret and understand their own sexuality and reconfirm their own self identity.

So, Hollywood, being the big money spinners that they are, bank on creating and using a new generation of vampire texts to bring in the cash.No longer do we see an old man with the stature of a noble man, we now have young attractive people playing the part of society’s outcast, creating a void or space which the fans could relate to them. Anti fans, non believers and even purists of the genre violently protest against their representation of the old tale, but do consumers care? It is evidently the old tale with a new spin, with new characters in place to warm and capture the hearts of these lonely, marketable fans.

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Vampires: An allegory of teenage angst

In current modern representation of vampires such as Buffy and Twilight, the characters are casted as mainly teenagers or young adults addressing modern day issues of human emotions. Angst, social anxieties are common topics showcased in every episode. So what makes them so endearing to the audience?

Well, to start, we have to know that the main target audience and fan base of these shows are teenage girls. They can relate easily to these topics. They find that there is some similarities in them to the main characters. In fact, they sometimes don’t understand that they are the reason that these shows has such high viewer ship and fan following. Because it IS about them. As a young teen growing up, looking for influences to change your life and feeling no one could understand you at all, you seek all the reassurance that what you are doing is right. Stereotypical words like ‘outcast’ or ’emo’ appear. They don’t know who they are and pressured to find out. They feel that they failed to fit in the human world, but they are not alone.

Vampires, the most often misunderstood creatures of all time, are just like them. They are creatures, aliens who struggle to fit in the modern world. Although they are immortal, they have until now not been able to solve the most common of problems humans face while growing up; teenage angst. What makes them so endearing to the young teen mind is that in the vampires, they see themselves.  That despite their immortality and their youth and exuberance, they struggle to be accepted and fit in society.

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Readership increases

Readership has increased to a certain extent after the birth of Twihards. Twihards are fanatics of the Twilight saga books. Bella, one of the main characters in the books, will mention the book ‘Wuthering Heights’ written by Emily Bronte time and again in the series. Due to the amount of adoration readers had for Bella, they bought the book she mentions in the series often to understand her character better. According to Nielsen Bookscan, in a particular week, a total of 2634 copies of ‘Wuthering Heights’ had been sold due to the influence of the Twilight saga.

 

 

The first book of the series itself has sold more than 17 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 37 different languages. More than 100 million copies of books were sold for the whole of the saga’s books.

 

 

Despite the controversies surrounding the series, the statistics prove that the books have encouraged people to read even in this tech-driven era.

 

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The Saga Continues…

Some fans of the Twilight saga are so passionate that they are not willing to let go of the story even after the last book’s release. There is a popular site called ‘Bella’s diary’ that continues the saga from Bella’s point of view. It even has diaries from Edward’s , Alice’s, and, Jacob’s point of view of the story starting from different points of the saga.

 

 

It is updated every few days or even consecutive days at times. The site explores the possibilities in the characters’ lives [if that is what you call for the ‘undead’ too] from the point the saga has concluded the plot. There are many twists and unexpected shifts in the story similar to that of the books itself.

 

 

The site has a Facebook page with over 44,000 followers. The figures display the amount of interest readers of the saga invest in these characters. Despite the author putting an end to the story, they still lust for more of the characters and the world of Twilight. Although the site is not run by Stephenie Meyer, the author of the saga, the number of followers does not seem like an insignificant number. Many seek happiness simply from reading more about what happens in these fictitious characters’ lives.

 

 

You do not need to be able to predict the future to figure out that these characters are here to stay rock solid for some time to come.

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How fans self-identify through cosplay?

Cosplay is a portmanteau of the English words “costume” and “play” that focuses on dressing as characters from anime, manga and video games. Cosplayers gather in Harajuku and Anime Conventions around the world to see others’ costumes, show off their own elaborate handmade creations and participate in costume contests.

Jenkins attributes non-fans’ uneasiness towards fans and their activities to the fact that they feel the natural and ominant hierarchical structure is challenged by the fans’ refusal to follow social rules (Textual Poachers, 18). These views have contributed to the establishment of an “us” versus “them” mentality between the general public and the ominous “other” (Jenson, 9, 19). Within a fandom, individuals must assimilate their own beliefs with those of the group. Those who do not believe the same things, who are seen as out of bounds, are not seen as fans.

So the question is what unites cosplayers internationally as cosplayers? What’s important, is that people are uniting around the concept of cosplay as a hobby that becomes a significant part of one’s lifestyle, and therefore sharing ideas and information across language and cultural borders that might not have been crossed by those people and in those ways, were it not for cosplay.

Fandom serves as an alternative social community whose membership is no longer defined by physical proximity, but through affinity (Jenkins, Fans, Bloggers and Gamers, 137); they are not defined by normal demographic means, but through their voluntary relationships with this common text (Jenkins, “Strangers,” 213; Meyrowitz, 65). In being a fan, they knowingly accept the role of the constantly criticized, but they also know they have a network to fall back on. That brings in the point of Twilight fans uniting together in Twilight Convention.

In a way, dressing up allows fans to be actors playing parts in their own version of a community-wide, completely improvised play.

Within any particular fandom, there is too much information for any one person to hold it all, so they often pool their knowledge. Once placed in a group, one’s self esteem is raised and one feels an increase in self-worth because of the group’s acceptance and the subsequent association with the group (Stets & Burke, 225, 233).  While in the group, one does not see herself or himself as an autonomous individual, but rather as an “embodiment of the in-group prototype” (Stets & Burke, 231).

Researchers speculate that there are many possible motivations behind people’s practice of cosplaying that may vary among individuals and may have multiple reasons. The reasons range from entertainment, wanting to show dedication to the series or character, personally identifying with a character, using it as an opportunity to make social connections, or as a way to figure out how the world works by immersing themselves in another character (Manifold, “Life as Theater,” 5; Manifold “Culture,” 3; Benesh-Liu, 2).

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Are you a fan of Vampire too?


The recent vampire fictions have given rise to a large vampire fan culture and numerous fan clubs. Media specially gave new roles and personality traits to these vampires which results in the increased popularity and obsession of vampires

Jenkins calls fans Textual Poachers, a term commonly used in fandom research, because they construct their own culture from borrowed materials, as an alternative social community defined through its cultural preferences and consumption practices (1992,24). However, he shows this poaching in a positive light and illustrates the fan community as its best: a community of hard-working authors and artists trying to become closer to their favorite stories, films, and television via reproduction.

 


These cultural artifacts, such as fan fiction and fan art, are also modes of communication around which fans have crafted their entire community.   The term culture may be ambiguous to many, but to fans the term refers to the activities and methods of communication that have give significance and importance to their existence.

Fans do not see themselves as thieves or plagiarizers, but as active readers of a particular work of media in which can be expanded by them to involve notable ideas and details.  Fans are using the creativity of others as the basis for their own creative endeavors and have produced cultural artifacts (Jenkins, 223) from this poaching.

 


Fan culture has its own language, sometimes called fanspeak where words and phrases have been adapted to create a jargon that only other fans fully understand. Fans create their own forms of literature and art, called fan fiction and fan art and even have their own form of music, called filk songs.

Another aspect of fan culture is a convention, an event in which people of similar interests, both amateur referring to fans or professional gather for business and social purposes.  Vampire cons usually consist of panels, where discussions of specific topics take place, as well as several special events, such as art shows, filk concerts, costume contests, and other exhibits.

So, have you participated in any of these?

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The Twilight Convention experience

When you first tell your friends or family that you are going to attend a fan convention, they will probably go like,” huh? Are you serious??!!” Well, the popularity of the vampire genres has lead to setting up of many fan conventions all over different areas. I think that it is extremely awesome if I am able to attend one myself too, since I am a big fan of Twilight.

Many tend to ask what is there to see or do during these conventions, seriously speaking, if you are one devoted fan, there is tons that u will be doing! In one of the recent Twilight convention, there are appearances by the famous Twilight cast members, private screenings, panel discussions, parties, auctions, autographs, photo taking session and musical performances. Dealers also have specific room set aside retailing everything from the twilight series ranging from Alice’s Cullen crest necklace, perfumes, twilight notebooks, lunchboxes to contact lenses.

The best thing about the convention was that fans were able to meet up with their favorite characters, interacting with fans of the genre, as well as having close up pictures with the characters. Fans do not have to worry about the process of pictures taking because the event is set indoor and all were guaranteed to get their autograph and photos with the celebrity they craved for.

There are many other vampire conventions being organized too, such as the vampire diaries insurgence convention, Buffy the vampire slayer – ghost of the robot convention and Get bitten at the True blood convention.

Teo Li Ping (S3256469)

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Vampires in Hollywood

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The merchandising of vampire series

Consumerism brings about consumerism and the popularity of the vampire genre like the vampire diaries and twilight have generated a wide range of merchandises for devoted fans. Merchandising has always been an important role in giving rise to fandom, it satisfy loyal and constant fans and continue to increase economic growth.

As Henry Jenkins has quoted, “ fandom is a ‘participatory culture,’ one in which people are bound together with a wide range of desires and expressed through an equally wide range of practices.” The boundless merchandising from numerous networks has successfully alleviated in producing a faithful fandom for popular series such as Twilight and Buffy the vampire slayer. It begets the releases of soundtracks, role-playing games and getting fans fully interact and get involved with the series by promoting real world experience with the texts. With this comprehensive set of merchandise and an increase in vampire series, we see vampire enthusiasts emerged with its own groups of creative community.  The popularity of vampire fan productions and circulation of media fans continue to keep series like the Twilight and Buffy the vampire slayer as a cultural product ongoing all thanks to the group of fan community and its complete range of network merchandises.

The fascination and appeal of vampire is more than sexual as fans are inspired to mimic his nocturnal feedings with their books and from the shows.  In addition, vampire fan culture has corresponded with the increasing popularity and profitability of vampire products and entertainment memorabilia such as the Twilight-Inspired Forks Perfume Oil and Buffy the vampire slayer soda.

Creating a fan community further contributed to the success of Twilight merchandises, which has already generated nearly $500 million!

Teo Li Ping (S3256469)

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Real vampires & the vampire subculture

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