"Pale Gals and Twilight Lovers"
I have to admit, the movie in production that I may be most excited about these days may be one I know the least about: Amy Heckerling’s Vamps. It’s not just the reunion of Clueless‘s director and lead, although that should be enough to get every woman in about a 30-year age range pretty damn excited. It’s not just the inclusion of the adorable Krysten Ritter. Honestly, I think it’s just that I’m excited to have some female vampire leads for a change, women who are vampires when the movie, or series of novels, or TV show they’re in begins.
Perhaps that sounds semantic. But in the three biggest vampire pop culture franchises right now, the vampire leads are all male. Whether it’s Edward Cullen in Twilight, Bill and Eric in True Blood, or the good-boy-bad-boy vamp brothers in The Vampire Diaries, the main vampire characters are always men. There are female vampires in the picture, but they’re always supporting characters, even if they’re semi-awesome, like Alice Cullen, perhaps the only Twilight character I liked, or Pam in True Blood. And they’re generally fairly focused inward on the vampire community. The male lead vamps are always attracted to girls who are at minimum metaphorical virgins (and literal virgins in Twilight and True Blood). Getting bit is pretty much the same thing as getting fucked for the first time, if you’ll pardon my language: you bleed, and you’re changed.
I think Herckerling’s formula, which makes the main characters female vampires, and makes them romantic-comedy age, rather than coming-of-age, will upset that sexual dynamic, which besides being problematic, is just boring. I don’t know precisely what it’ll look like: will we see Ritter and Alicia Silverstone, her co-star, as predators? As thoughtful vampires like Angel and Spike? Whatever they are, they’ll be different. And if Heckerling could do for the vampire craze (and hey, maybe even for romantic comedies) what she did for teen movies, I will be eternally grateful.