There has been a silent war raging for the past few years, and at this point, it seems that the wrong side has all but won. The land of Supernatural Fiction, once an arguably strong, proud and vaguely nerdy genre has suffered devastating losses and is now virtually a wasteland.
Dr Jekyll sits slumped and defeated as he earns what money he can by babysitting the over-primped and spoilt offspring of Bella and Edward as they smugly oversee a shabbily dressed Giles and Wesley wallpapering their ten-storey mansion with cash. In the living room, Oz is locked in a cage overseen by Jacob Black. The mail arrives. “You know what to do” growls Jacob. Oz looks up, broken, pleading. There is no sympathy. He has no choice. He removes his shirt, his dignity and any future possibility of being taken seriously as a werewolf.
A ray of sunlight catches the ‘vampire’ couple, and through an automatic disco kitsch iteration cycle, Rebecca Black’s Friday plays loudly over the town’s speakers. Lestat promptly vomits into a hedge.
Ten years ago, supernatural fiction conjured up images of the Victorian era, Ann Rice books, Stephen King novels, Joss Whedon series and men eating bugs. The terror it once held used to lie in the beasts, monsters and threat of sub-bed-dwelling poltmurdergeists. Now, this terror has been replaced with something more philosophical and haiku-inducing. The terror of the loss of terror. So what is the future of our supernatural beasts?
Vampires: The idea of an un-dead creature which feeds off your blood and obtains this either through sheer violence or seduction should be both frightening and disquieting. It is therefore grudgingly impressive that in the space of a few short years, vampires went from ‘creatures of the night’ to ‘sparkly in the sunlight’. Interview with the Vampire follows 200 years in the life of Louis, a character with depth, a background story and ethical conundrums. Twilight follows the story of Bella, an emotionally stunted teenager who moons after a vampire until he tears his unborn child out of her with his teeth. Apparently now fangs are less for killing, and more for Caesarean sections.
Werewolves: At least in fiction, werewolves should be as frightening as Ebola. They are snarling, bear-sized death machines, which if they don’t kill you, make you join them whilst probably leaving you with some bonus maiming. Harry Potter’s Fenrir Greyback certainly feeds into this, as do most of the werewolves featured on Buffy. Instead, if we go by The Southern Vampire Chronicles and, again, Twilight, you’re more likely to find a werewolf in a CK catalogue than chowing down on your leg. Now, the worst that will happen upon an encounter with a werewolf is that they will lend you their scarf and have an unrequited love at you. Probably whilst flashing their pecs.
Psychic Powers: Some things haven’t changed. If you meet someone with psychic powers their name will most likely be two syllables and contain double letters. However, now it’s more Sookie than Carrie, and instead of murdering you at prom, she will instead be bringing you a burger whilst mentally describing her outfit. For the third time that chapter.
Despite my ranting, I feel as though I’m partly to blame. I’ve read the True Blood books, and I went to see the first two Twilight movies – though the latter was mostly to flirt with death as I laughed my way through the ‘serious romantic moments’ whilst surrounded by recently pubsecent girls quietly mouthing the dialogue.
Books like The Southern Vampire Chronicles, despite being written in the style of fan-fiction and being 90% repetition (yes, WE GET THAT HE IS ELVIS) are so popular that they have been replicated within an inch of plagiarism, resulting in the need for book stores to have a ‘Supernatural Romance’ section. This section is readily identifiable by the fact that all the books have the same cover, featuring the lower half of a female face either sporting fangs or a violently coloured lipstick.
Motivations are irrelevant in the end. In the words of a friend putting the kibosh on us going to see Underworld: Awakening 3D – “It’s like natural selection. If you go see it, they’ll make another one.”
Elizabeth can also be found at her blog Harold is Cool.