December 8 2008

Teenage Vampires

What is with the surge in teenagers loving vampires?

I talked about this sudden love of vampires in Scattercast episode 20, but then when I spent my day in Hastings, I found even more evidence of it.  As I sat in one of the reading chairs to flip through a magazine, I found myself sitting across from the teen novels.  As one girl in a letterman’s jacket with “10” on the sleeve (oof… I feel old since mine had “89” on it), I noticed she was picking up one of the Twilight novels.  I just shook my head and went back to my magazine.

After the girl departed, I started scanning the racks and noticed another series of vampire novels for teens, Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schrieber.  I knew nothing of this series, so I looked it up and Amazon pointed me to this summary from Booklist:

Gr. 7-10. Sixteen-year-old Raven is a Goth surrounded by “lesser” folks: her parents have transformed themselves from hippie to corporate, and her only friend at school is an outsider everyone picks on. In Raven’s rich imaginary life, she is bold and special and in love with the idea of meeting a vampire. Schreiber uses a careful balance of humor, irony, pathos, and romance as she develops a plot that introduces the possibility of a real vampire–in the form of an extra-handsome boy, of course– while exploring how a girl like Raven finds ways to cope with a bully who is both class- and gender-conscious of his supposed superiority. Raven’s voice is immediately charming, in spite of her alleged bravado and coldheartedness. Her hometown could be any Small Town, USA, and its possibly haunted mansion just lightens the scene rather than making the story silly. This tale slides down easily and will be welcomed by Goths willing to look on the lighter side of their own culture as well as by readers who have an openminded appreciation for the vagaries of their peers and, perhaps, of themselves.

When I went to Ms. Schrieber’s site, I discovered a sixth book is scheduled for Summer ’09 and the seventh is on track for Summer ’10.

What in the world is going on?  What is this sudden teen obsession with vampires?  True, I understand they are romanticizing the concept to a ridiculous degree, but at the end of the day you are romanticizing creatures that are mass-murdering blood suckers!  Oh, yes, they are misunderstood and are outsiders like you… not really, no.  They drink the blood of people.

South Park sent up this whole craze in their 12th season finale, “The Ungroundable“, and as they do with many subjects, they seemed to boil it down to its essentials: It’s a fad for some, a way to empower others, such as Butters used it.  In the end most of it can be blamed on the clothing store chain Hot Topic… a concept I don’t wholly disagree with.  As I said in Scattercast, I can remember my gothy moments from my own teen years, but I certainly never went around putting in fake vampire teeth and drinking clamato juice.

As with all fads, I am sure this too will pass, and I am certainly not saying there is anything that horribly wrong with teens trying to find themselves, but why vampires?  Is it the immortality?  I would hope it isn’t the drinking blood angle, but maybe it is.  And what would these kids do if they ever met a real vampire?  It reminds me of a second season episode of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer entitled “Lie To Me” when Buffy’s fifth grade crush comes to town and takes her to a bar filled with kids obsessed with vampires who dress like them, or how they think they would dress.  When the real vampire’s show up, namely Spike’s gang, all of them freak out and want to go home realizing just how truly evil the real things are.  This episode should be required watching for this new generation of Vamp kids.

So, what say you?  Why is this the new fad amongst teens?  What do you make of it?

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