Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Vampire-Werewolf Triangle

So there I was watching Twilight: New Moon, and I get to thinking...what's with the recurring love triangle thing with werewolves and vampires. Laurell K. Hamilton has Anita Blake struggling with the triangle between hunky werewolf Jason and hunky vampire Jean Claude. Charlaine Harris has Sookie Stackhouse mooning over hunky vampire Bill and hunky werewolf Alcide (and several other shapeshifters along the way). Patricia Briggs has Mercy Thompson and her love triangle.

What the hell? Is there a struggle between being attracted to hairy guys, but wanting to wake up to Mr. Smooth? If this pattern happened once or twice, but it is a dominant trope or theme. Guys going to the bar take note..try shaving half your face, turn first one way and then the other when hitting on a woman, throw her off balance.

Movie Bob wrote: "The vampire is the slick sophisticated guy, the werewolf is the butch blue-collar guy, the girl can only pick one..."

Is that what is really happening, is there some sort of class statement going on? I find that hard to believe. However, if it is so, then I would be fascinated to see a detailed demographic of the fans of this twist in paranormal romance to see what their backgrounds are, politically and economically, as well as their ages. Are they twenty-somethings? Are they employed? Are they older women? 

Or is it something else. 

Is it instead possible that the vampire represents one type of sexuality and the werewolf the other. The vampire is slick, seductive, his lovemaking is slow and a form of wish-fulfillment. In his ability to reach into the psyche of the woman, he is the ultimate male --- sensitive to her needs, even the needs she never knew she possessed. On the other hand, the werewolf is a beast. He doesn't care about her needs, but is driven by raw lust. No real committment here, unless the commitment follows the path of the pack. 

Wanna date a werewolf? Hide the breakables.

The above ponderance about this triangle sounds flippant. However, I think it is something worth discussion. Maybe even on a panel at a convention, with Edward fans on one side of the aisle and Jacob fans on the other. As writers, it's worth analyzing audience behavior and understanding how to direct our narratives to reach an audience intentionally or unintentionally.

And what about zombies?

You notice no one is interested in bedding the zombie? It would be sort of like being married. Your husband watches TV and occasionally shows interest, but his performance is mundane and predictable. 


SQT said...

I think women just like the love triangle and paranormal romances bring that to the table with fantasy elements. Vampires and werewolves are probably the best choices if you want a monster-love-triangle. Like you mentioned, zombies aren't exactly romantic. I've seen a few try their hand with demons, but that doesn't tend to go far. Ghosts? Hard to make that work unless they become corporeal.

Many authors also take the werewolf thing and just change the animal-- like Rachel Vincent and her big cat weres.

But it is funny how this has become an archetype. You see vampires and werewolves as love interests more than fae princes these days. In fact, the fairies are mostly villains now.

AvDeeBee said...

I personally don't want to get sweaty with either a dead man or a half-animal. But, to give the discussion its due, I'll respond like I'm actually considering the option. To do that, I'll first have to bring in the Monkey. See, the Monkey is the little part of jabbering ape left inside me, the vestigial tail of my psyche. The Monkey tells me that it would behoove me to reproduce, to find a big, strong man with whom to set up house, so that I may be physically protected--and possibly dragged around a cave by my hair. The Monkey doesn't care about societal influences, trends, manscaping, or anything other than basic biologic imperatives. The Monkey (if I let it drive the bus) would want the werewolf.

Now, the rest of me would take into consideration the grim notion of convincing a beer-guzzling, flannel-clad, manly man to accompany me to anything other than a football game. It would then consider the allure of a sensitive man who knew what I was thinking, a man who would unflinchingly go with me to art shows, concerts, the ballet--and look damn fashionable doing it. The rest of me would want the vampire.

I think it's definitely a matter of reaching into the dualistic cravings of our own female desires. We want the big, outdoorsy man, but we also want him to be sensitive, well-kempt, and worldly. We crave aspects of both, but rarely do all of those traits ever inhabit the same body. Some wise writers have caught on to this, and have laid out the feminine fantasy in print.

The skill lies in the drawing out of the two (LKH seems to have mastered that), keeping the female readers suspended in the fantasy seemingly forever, letting them enjoy the dichotomy in which they cannot indulge in real life. The reader knows some day a choice will have to be made, but can suspend that knowledge indefinitely--as long as the author keeps them willingly ping-ponging between "teams" along with the protagonist. I think that skill is where all writers, can draw knowledge from.

Christina said...

"Guys going to the bar take note..try shaving half your face, turn first one way and then the other when hitting on a woman, throw her off balance."

That is some quotable stuff right there. Funny as hell. I read that to Emory and we shared a really hard laugh.

Anyway, the vampire and the werewolf are both very unpredictable characters. The vampire is a cunning, luring killer and the werewolf is a charging, rough and vicious killer, and they are both hunters. Maybe the women who read that feel like they want a little danger. Maybe they're masochists and love the thrill of putting their life in someone's hands who is dangerous. Never know if tonights love making will leave you cold for the cops to find in the graveyard. (Just my opinion)

I've read so many of these stories and in my younger years, they were really exciting. I use to be for the vampires, then I saw Queen of the Damn, the apple-crunch of biting into skin changed my mind. That's way too slow of a way to die. If I was going to put my life in danger, I'd take my chance with werewolves. I think I'd rather die under something that is 104 degrees than something that's however cold dead bodies are.

However, some writers have domesticated the monsters so maybe they aren't killers at all any more.

If you were going to have a discussion with Twilight Fans, I'd call in riot cops to keep the peace. I'm hearing some crazy stories on the Internet.

Sullivan McPig said...

There are a couple of Zombie romances out there actually, but most of those are not very good.
My owner is trying to write an Urban Fantasy story where the zombies will get some love, but it's far from finished.

Stewart Sternberg said...

SQT I have examined the world of paranormal romance and have found that while I could dance there occasionally, I probably couldn't pull off an entire night's celebration. I think you are right about the convenience of the vampire and the werewolf. It certainly beats the love triangle with the serial killer living in mom's basement and the catatonic slug who communicates through drooling.

Avery, it disturbs me to see you attacking this discussion at such a personal level, and it's kind of hot, which disturbs me even more. I do like your point that the skill is drawing out the two, and I agree, Hamilton tends to do so fairly well, or at least she did that well in the first six or seven books of the series. It was when we had pregnant women through vampiric sex and condoms on vampires that I tended to roll my eyes and walk away.

Christina, you're correct. It really is about co-opting the monster for a personal agenda.

Jon said...

If a vampire wed a werewolf, would their offspring be sexually perfect?
If a vampire bites a werewolf, does the were get all classy?
Just questions of the uneducated.

Anonymous said...

I think the class issue is an interesting take on the love triangle. It does seem that the vampires tend to be rich while the werewolves tend to be blue collar.

I'm sorry, what was I saying. I was distracted by a picture of a well-muscled bare chest.

Stewart Sternberg said...

My wife and I have been talking about class and writers and readers. You know, I think too often writers ignore the concept entirely, often idealizing a reading audience.

L.A. Mitchell said...

Wow. You had me at the first picture then completely lost me at the second :O

I don't read enough vampire and werewolf characters to add anything to the thoughtful posts here, but comparing class to the two is an interesting concept. I prefer my characters undead and less hairy.

Hope you are well, Stewart :)

AvDeeBee said...

*Backing away with hands in the air* You think you're disturbed? ; )

Truth be told, I haven't read much paranormal romance. I did the Anne Rice thing in college, and read LKH's first ten or so books (never got to the condoms or baby-having parts--WTF??), but I didn't want to attack my theories on the current fascination by speaking for the entire female race. So, I made it a more personal discussion based on what I think the universal allure might be, and--unfortunately--the few brief conversations I've allowed the very real Monkey to have with the rest of my psyche.

SQT said...

Stu-- I never thought of different classes as part of the reading audience, but it makes so much sense. I get enough publicists contacting me to know that the marketing departments are always busy trying to sell their products, but I do wonder what factors they take into consideration when selling a book. Do they just look at genre or do they factor in age and gender? And do socio-economics come into play at all?