megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
[personal profile] megwrites
I won't pretend I'm not a fan of some vampire novels, TV shows, and movies. I am. I like the idea of vampires, I like the rather strange, twisted places you can go with them.

But one thing that no writer, creator, artist, moviemaker or other such creature has explained to me is why crosses are deadly to vampires, but no other religious symbols are. A Star of David, a Star and Crescent, the image of the Buddha and all the other sacred icons of other religions are completely ineffective, but the cross does the magic trick where the undead are concerned?

Does anyone else taste the rancid flavor of bigotry inherent in that? Because I do.



Furthermore, if crosses really are the only religious symbol that can hurt vampires, why don't all the vampires just move to, say, India or China or something? They have just as much night time there as we do here. It's not like the sun doesn't set in Calcutta. And bonus, not only do they have large populations of people, but most of them are not likely to be wearing or carrying crosses.

I know the reason for the whole cross thing, in reality. The reason is that most of the vampire literature I'm exposed to is created by people working from a European and Christian mythology, most of whom, if they are not personally Christian, at least have that cultural background.

And frankly, it really bothers me. It bothers me because I really don't like one sided, monocultural mythologies in my books. Even outside of the vampire genre (and yes, vampires are their own genre), it bothers me when somebody does urban fantasy world building and only uses creatures and legends from one part of the world.

I've seen the tired old recycling of Celtic mythology more than I care to. And frankly, I think there's more than a little xenophobia inherent in it.

More than that, I get tired of seeing fairies, witches, vampires, and werewolves all recycled over and over again to the point where we've got books like Twilight (yes, let me go on the record as saying I think it's a terrible book) while the very fascinating myths and beliefs of other cultures go completely unexamined in the various genres where vampires pop up.

Speaking of Twilight and it's kin: America is becoming an increasingly diverse place, and it'd be really nice if the vampire literature moved on from the same tale of angsty white middle-class teenagers that writers have been telling for ages.

I caught the whole Outcast White Teen Girl and Her Sparkly Vampire Boyfriend Show when it was called Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it bugged me then, too.

Wouldn't Twilight have been a far superior book if, say, Bella had been a black teenager finding herself transplanted out of the environment she's usually used to? Or from a family of recent immigrants struggling to get by in their new country?

I think it would be fascinating to tell the story of a teenager dealing with straddling a cultural divide between what's seen as "American" and her family's original culture and finding love with someone who, being a vampire, might understand being caught between worlds? Or, scrap the vampire even - what if a mythological creature from her native culture followed her family to America?

What if Bella had been a lesbian teenager trying to figure out her sexuality? Or if Bella had been a teenage girl coming to terms with the fact that she really wanted to be a boy? What if Edward liked her better when she was a boy? Teen romance with a transgender twist would be unbelievably awesome in my book.

Or, what it Bella had been in some way disabled? What if Bella had even just been really overweight?

So while everyone keeps harping about how Twilight is "every girl's secret fantasy", they neglect all the girls who aren't like Bella at all. They neglect the girls of color, the girls who aren't straight, the fat girls, the girls who don't fit into the Bella box. What about their fantasies?

There are mythologies out there for them, but somebody has to write it. Somebody has to stop rehashing the same old material.

Maybe it's just that writers feel they need to write what they know, after all that's the old standard that gets beaten into our head in every workshop and "how to write" book out there.

But if that's so, why not go out and learn about another culture - if only their mythology - so you can know?

Why is it that all these people who are supposed to be so creative and imaginative can't break out of their cultural boxes?

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