Art Exhibition,  English

Vampires: dark and evil or sparkly and romantic?

When thinking of dark romanticism, I am plagued with thoughts of dark, sultry mystery. Especially encompassing the supernatural, dark romanticism is essentially the humanising of all things evil and hellish. This includes vampires, werewolves, ghouls, devils, the whole gamut. Having just come off of a most epic two month Buffy-binge, I get it. But authors like Stephanie Meyer, have taken what was once the essence of evil and torture and literally turned them into shiny, happy beings.

Franz von Stuck, The Kiss of the Sphinx, after 1895.
Charcoal, black stone and white highlights on light-brown paper,55 x 48.5 cm.
Private collection.

I’m not entirely ashamed to say I’ve read the entire Twilight series, as it gives me ground to stand on whilst making this argument. Surely the portrayal of vampires (non-existent, I knnooowwww) as kind, loving, caring creatures who don’t prey on weak humans, but rather stalk them in a romantic, sexy, exhibition of ‘true love’ is an unhealthy view to give young girls (as well as us older girls who are still easily sucked into teen fiction). It’s NEVER okay to be or get stalked. At the end of it all, we’re supposed to focus on the heroines of these stories as some kind of role models, and frankly I’d much rather cheer Buffy on than be anything like the ever-needy, self-destructive Bella.

Johann Heinrich Füssli, The Nightmare, 1781.
Oil on canvas.101.6 x 126.7 cm.
Founders Society, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit.

It’s almost as if Meyer took Buffy and turned her character upside down – giving her weak, unstable characteristics and making her dependent on, for all intents and purposes, monsters. Sure, Buffy fell in love with not one, but two said-monsters, but it was not without grief, struggle, death, and a hell of a lot of heartbreak. The worst thing Edward the Shiny does to Bella is leave her for ‘her own good’ – which, of course, does not stick. I say, give us William the Bloody and Angelus over glitter any day. At least we can be sure of their dark capabilities and not have to wonder if they’re going to eat our loved ones when we’re not looking.

William Bouguereau, Dante and Virgil, 1850.
Oil on canvas 280.5 x 225.3 cm.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

I could go on and on about the unrealistic expectations readers/viewers are given about Prince Charming in relation to Edward as well as the supposed innocence of werewolves, but these posts can only be so long. Visit the Musée d’Orsay to see The Angel of Odd and get your fill of true dark romanticism until something better than Twilight comes about. The exhibition will end on 9 June, so hurry!

-Le Lorrain Andrews

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