By Sharon Eberson / Sunday, Nov. 9
My son and fellow pop culture geek Josh is working on a story about the phenomenon of "Twilight" for his high school newspaper, so I told him when a friend e-mailed me to say that stories about the movie version of the Stephenie Meyer (seen in a pic I took at Comic-Con) best-seller had the top five hits at Entertainment Weekly's Web site. "First time I've ever seen that," she said. " 'Twilight's going to be big, huh?"
Yeah, it's going to be big.
At Comic-Con International this summer in San Diego, the reaction to the young stars, including Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, was rock star hysteria. Girls and their moms lined up overnight to be first in the room that held their panel, and Pattinson, whose previous film experience was in another high-profile film version of a book - Cedric Diggory in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" - was so rattled, he could barely speak.
Unlike Josh, I haven't read the book, but I get the appeal of star-crossed lovers and vampires. He says he doesn't quite get the big deal (sex appeal, I think is what he's trying to say) of vampires. Obviously, he hasn't read any Ann Rice books. Or seen Frank Langella, in the late 1970s Broadway "Dracula" that inspired the movie, seduce audiences with a big pre-intermission bite. Oh my! (He's not the same guy 30 years later, of course, but go see him in "Frost/Nixon"; there's a lot of bite and a different type of appeal to his performance as Nixon, too.)
But I digress, as I often do . . . back to vampires and sex appeal.
"Obviously the act of feeding is a very blatant sexual metaphor," Alan Ball, the creator of HBO's vampire series, "True Blood," told starpulse.com. "There's penetration. There are bodily fluids exchanged. There's a cathartic, frenzied physical moment. You know how a lot of people are attracted to the bad boy or the femme fatale? The hot sexy, dangerous person you know is really not good for you? Your conscious mind is going, 'Ok, move away, walk away from this.'...The one you should want and know you should want, they don't turn you on as much."
Edi Gathegi, who plays the vampire Laurent in "Twilight," made a list of why vampires are sexy for reporters at Comic-Con: "Immortality, super strength, super speed. In the book they're described as -- I wouldn't be so pretentious to say that I am that -- but they're gorgeous, they're beautiful. That's just kinda like every guy wants to have that kind of speed and strength and seduce women with their eyes."
I tried to explain to my son that it was a boys are from Mars, girls are from Venus sort of thing. Pulling out all of the stereotypes, I said girls love the romance of "Twilight"; teenage boys are more likely to flock to the horny guy flicks, like "Superbad."
After that awkward conversation, I went to EW.com to see what the fuss was about on the "Twilight" heavy site, and there was a much more interesting story to me at that moment: Horrormeister Stephen King, writing an essay about chick lit vs. manfiction.
His thesis on books that click with chicks vs. those that men read: "Here's a concept so simple it's easy to miss: What men want from an Elmore Leonard novel is exactly what women want from a Nora Roberts novel - escape and entertainment. And while it's true that manfiction can be guilty of objectifying women, chick lit often does the same thing to men. . . . Is this a bad thing? From an entertainment standpoint, I'd say not. Women like stories in which a gal meets a handsome (and possibly dangerous) hunk on a tropic isle; men like to imagine going to war against an army of bad guys with a Beretta, a blowtorch, and a submachine gun (grenades hung on the belt optional)."
I have to say, I feel better about falling back on stereotypes knowing that Stephen King does it as well.