Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wednesday Reboot: Vampires Suck

Vampires Suck was released in 2010 and stars Jenn Proske, Matt Lanter and Diedrich Bader.  This movie is essentially a spoof of the Twilight saga in which, Rebecca must choose between Edward Sullen a vampire and Jacob White a werewolf.  Many of the scenes thave have become iconic in the series have been recreated with a huge spin.

Jenn Proske who plays Becca does a wonderful job of mimicking Kristen Stewart's portrayal of  Bella Swan.  From the constant lip biting, incoherent mumbling and blank meaningless stares, Proske has her down cold.  For his part Lanter who plays Edward does a passable job mocking Edward while proving just how emo his character truly is.

The movie opens with a brawl between team Eward and Team Jacob fans as Bella rushes to stop Edward from exposing himself.  Of course this was meant specifically attack the large female teenage audience of the series and construct them as gullible and angst ridden.  This in and of itself is almost paternalistic in its desire to control the viewing of young women.  To be sure, there are certainly problems with Twilight but critique based simply in the gender of those who are fans of the series is wrong.

The entire aim of Vampires Suck, is to skewer many of the negative images in the original text. It attacks the abstinence message by having  Rebecca bite Edward's abstinence ring from his finger. Rebecca pushes Edward forcefully and he is forced to slam her head with a lamp in order to fight off her advances. Of course he swears he is never going to hurt her, and then promptly throws a leather clad Rebecca through a ceiling. All of this is a very obvious way of pointing out Eward's abusive behaviour in the original text.

In an effort to mock many of the issues of the saga like the sexism and blatant racism, Vampires Suck ends up producing it's own share of problematic material.  Rebecca is at Edwards to celebrate her birthday and she accidentally cuts her hand, this of course causes Edwards brother Jemimah to attack. Those of you familiar with Twilight will recognize the series.  In this version, an Asian man shows up to deliver Chinese food.  Eward quickly offers him up to his family as a replacement for Rebecca and tells her to run claiming that they would be hungry again within half an hour. Jacob is supposedly still a Native American man who just happens to be Jewish as well.  Considering that the actor who played Jacob in the Twilight movies, discovered his indigenous heritage after making the second movie, and that the original text is coded with such clear negative racial implications of the Quileute people, Vampires Suck should have directed more energy to highlighting the racism that the Twilight books and movies engaged in.  

The original text is absolutely heterosexist in that there isn't a single GLBT character.  In Vampires Suck this was pointed out by having Rebecca refer to Jacob as her "gay little brother," in her rejection of his advances.  This is problematic on two levels:
  • it uses homophobia to emasculate a character
  • this occurs after once of his advances thus linking his creepy possessive behaviour with homophobia. 
The werewolf who've taken on the responsibility of keeping the area safe, burst into a version of "It's Raining Men," before ripping Laurent in two.  Using homophobia for a comedic moment while trying to skewer the original erasure does not make the point well. Bad representation is in not an improvement on erasure.

Billy Black is one of the few disabled characters in this genre.  In Vampires Suck he is fast wheeling and very present and active in the investigation of the murders, rather than being reduced to a wise Indian Elder as in the original text.  I do however feel it is worth noting that though this version of Billy is still a wheel chair user, he has movement in his legs, which he displays by kicking Bella's father. I am all for the idea of physically capable disabled people because we are often cast in a very opposite fashion however, this change should not have extended to the point where Billy had a greater range of motion than in the original film.

The movie did have real hilarious moments, like having Rebecca call herself a cougar for reaching the ripe old age of 18, and watching Edward practically mace himself to ensure that he had enough hairspray in his hair.  There was also Edward revealing that sparkling was caused by bling, rather than venom.

I think that Vampires Suck achieved all of it's aims.  Normally, I am not a fan of parodies, however, I really feel that there is a place in vampire lore for this film. We should actively be talking about the messages encoded regularly to urban fantasy texts because they are so quickly disseminated socially.