'New Moon,' A New Day for Vampires

Pop-culture expert weighs in on implications of 'New Moon' on vampire image.

Written by Cory Chandler

Twilight Book Cover

The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer charts a period in the life of Isabella "Bella" Swan, a teenage girl who falls in love with a 104-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen.
Image credit: stepheniemeyer.com

He’s a vampire fit to meet the family: hunky, lovesick and more interested in kissing lips than biting necks.

Meet Edward Cullen, model undead citizen and epitome of so-called "vampire lite."

Rob Weiner, a pop-culture author and expert at Texas Tech University, weighs in on Stephenie Meyers’ fanged teen romance saga as moviegoers snap up tickets for the Nov. 20 release of "New Moon."

Weiner is an associate humanities librarian for the Texas Tech Libraries who lectures on the history of horror cinema.

He said Meyers’ protagonists are an example of recent vampire literature and filmmaking – dubbed vampire lite –that waters a traditionally bloody genre down to something more palatable for younger audiences.

These are not the eating machines of movies like “30 Days of Night” – or even “Dracula.” No, the ghouls of yore have been scrubbed down, cleaned up and housebroken.

“Everyone in the movie is pretty,” Weiner said. “These are vampire stories for young girls.”

In other words, dark movies that parents are comfortable letting their teenagers watch.

Which could explain why the vampire franchise is still sucking in new fans while other horror genres have stumbled in recent years, he said.

Authors like Anne Rice fueled an image of the sex-icon vampire, and Weiner pointed out that Meyers, a Mormon, managed to replicate Rice’s formula while subtracting most of the actual sex from her equation.

“The sensuality is still there, but the eroticism isn’t,” he said. “Anne Rice is all about sex, but the Twilight books actually have a conservative bent to them.”

And while “New Moon” will have its critics, Weiner said he is fascinated by the way Meyers’ characters have captured the public’s imagination – after all, he admitted he’ll be in line to see them.

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