August 15, 2009

Edward and Bella Barbies

Vampires ride 21st Century makeover

By Misty Harris"Our post-9/11 world no longer looks favourably on people or beings that hide in plain sight yet have the ability to kill us," says Mary Findley, a vampire scholar at Vermont Technical College. "Therefore, it isn't surprising that our vampires have recently become less monstrous . . . even living amongst us in relative peace in the True Blood (TV) series."

That Barbie is on the bandwagon is proof of this. The girlhood brand's preppier-than-thou Twilight dolls, which hit stores Nov. 1, look more apt to drink Beaujolais than blood, and are said to be appropriate playthings for kids aged six and up.

Horror expert Dave Alexander admits he loves the "unintentional soulless-fake person-parasite metaphor" of the bloodsucker Barbies, and believes vampire folklore lends itself well to such non-traditional interpretations.

"The vamp genre has given us everything from Bram Stoker's Dracula to Count Chocula, so why not Transylvania 90210?" says Alexander, managing editor of Toronto-based Rue Morgue magazine. He hastens to add, however, that the trend toward neutered vampires is not for the classic fan.

"It's as far away as you can get from the vampire mythos, where they're evil boogeymen out to eat the living," says Alexander. "There's nothing horrific about it, other than its popularity."

Pop-culture scholar Aaron Taylor says that cross-pollinating genres isn't necessarily akin to "aesthetic heresy" and in fact can bear rich fruit, as was the case with the horror-comedy Shaun of the Dead. But he isn't crazy about the extent to which the once-unholy terrors have been "defanged" and transformed into "so much empty product."

"The vampire as just another 'misunderstood' pin-up boy," says Taylor, an assistant professor at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta.
Comment:  A couple of interesting things about this:

1) There's no Jacob doll. Clearly no one thinks of Jacob as a hero on a par with Edward. Compared to the white boy and girl, no one cares about the Indian and his "Wolf Pack."

2) All the Twilight talk about the good werewolves and bad vampires is missing the mark. There's a whole cottage industry of articles about how Twilight has sanitized vampires for the masses--made them pure and white figuratively as well as literally.

The Cullen family's goodness outweighs all the vampiric evil in Twilight's world. The message is that pure-white vampires like Edward are tragic and misunderstood and worth romanticizing and swooning over.

For more on the subject, see White Edward vs. "Russet" Jacob and Quileute Werewolves in Twilight.

Below:  "Mattel is set to release Twilight Barbies in the likenesses of 'vegetarian vampire' Edward Cullen and his girlfriend Bella Swan. The fang-free dolls are at the frontlines of a marketing trend that's seeing vampires reinvented for the Hannah Montana crowd as kinder, gentler creatures." (Handout, Canwest News Service)

1 comment:

dmarks said...

I saw an Edward Cullen action figure at a store once. The description on the back said that Edward had a talent for "Ming reading".

No doubt it would prove useful at the Antiques Road Show if someone shoves an old Chinese vase in his face and asks what it worth.