Werewolves: The New Vampires

31 Mar

If you’ve read any of the Twilight series or seen any of the movies, even if you’re embarrassed that you have, and even if you’ve only seen promotional images like this, created by someone who calls themself “bitemecullen107“:

you’ve probably noticed that there’s a new version of werewolf in town. By the way, that picture elicited a response like this:

Yes, how do you feel about your “non” obsessive fans Mr. Lautner?

You might have also seen the preview for MTV’s new TV show version of Teen Wolf, if not, it’s over here (I would embed it, but apparently WordPress doesn’t like MTV’s embed link)…

It’s become extremely clear that, just like vampires before them, werewolves are officially making the big-ish journey from “terrifying-monster-who-will-kill-you” into “that-guy-is-too-hot-to-kill-me.” Sounds healthy, right? (Yes, I’m being sarcastic.)

What’s interesting, for me, about this new version of werewolf is that they rely more heavily on “dog” traits than on “wolf” traits. Primarily, they take on the role of guardian or protector, even if it’s from themselves. The audience is meant to empathize with their tragic (and often painful) transformations and hope they can find a way to control their actions, even when in werewolf state.

And, in at least one case, I’m there with them:

Yes, this is the American re-make of the show but no I have not seen the original so I’m just going to write about the one I’ve actually seen.

The reason I like how “Being Human” has dealt with this, and it helps that they also have a vampire and a ghost, is that they focus on the effects this transformation would have on your “human” life. Hence the show title. And, it has a pretty clear sense of humor about itself.

What I’m curious about though is how will we theorize about this? Vampires have long been talked about as symbols of sex: they penetrate you with their teeth, are often mind-numbingly attractive, and are immortal. I could go on but there are already enough people who have written about Vampire sex narratives before me.In fact, it was this sexified notion of vampirism that Steve Niles, author of “30 Days of Night,” says influenced him to write said title: because he wanted vampires to be scary again.

However, werewolves haven’t had the same popularity and illicit history. They’ve mainly banked on scary. Even when a cute boy (or girl, though less often) has played the werewolf it was rare that that character came out winning in the end.

So, while we wait around for a backlash for werewolves like Niles’ for vampires, let me know what you think: are werewolves sexy?

 

 

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4 Responses to “Werewolves: The New Vampires”

  1. Nikki March 31, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    After hearing you and 1L talk about the twilight series (and with my opinions before that), I have avoided them as much as possible. That said, there’s a werewolf in Harry Potter. He’s not sexy, but he is a great character. He connects with Harry in a way that only he and Sirus can, and he struggles with being a werewolf while human, but on the rare occassion that he actually does transition (painfully) into a werewolf, he doesn’t seem in control. Based on my limited knowledge, this does seem to be an accurate portral of a werewolf, but one of a more almost parental character rather than a sexual character.

    For the record – I think werewolfs are scary and all the hot-while-human can’t take that away from me!

    • redshana March 31, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

      How could I forget to mention Remus Lupin?!? Yes, good point. Another good example, though most-definitely less sexified. Though his relationship with Tonks is quite emotionally wrought and important throughout the HP series…

      Do you feel the same way about vampires?

  2. Autumn March 31, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    Prepare for the stream of consciousness:
    I wouldn’t put all the blame on Twilight for sexifying werewolves. Hollywood itself doesn’t see much point in casting the homely. Michael J. Fox wasn’t supposed to be scary and the pathetic special effects on BVS certainly didn’t overcome the appeal of Oz. Besides the increasing trend to domesticate these characters, the decision to I think bringing in the pack dynamic has forced more emphasis on personality that isn’t all that necessary for the loner/socio-path werewolf. And I think some story tellers have a hard time making developed characters unappealing, especially those that are supposed to be good guys. Now in Twilight, nothing superheroey can be ugly – but take True Blood and you will see plenty of unsexy, white trash examples of the werewolf villain form (Cooter seems to exemplify that in name alone) that contrast to LC’s textbook looks.

    And if this world of vampire and werewolf is supposed to be the new world of heroes and villains then I automatically compare them to, you guessed it, X-Men. Wolverine isn’t exactly a werewolf, but he has animalistic characteristics and his transformation to an adamantium killing machine has elements of the werewolf’s physical tragedy. Now, in all accounts, Wolverine really shouldn’t be sexy. All descriptions of him are short, hairy, grumpy and only reluctantly a good guy at times. His character has the capacity to be scary, but we know too much about him to see only as that and his writers certainly give him that primitive sexual appeal.

    And now that I think of it, isn’t the way that 30 days of Night made Vampires so undeniably scary. Take away their humanity? So, what are the chances of someone developing a character without humanity? And is sexiness all that pertinent without humanity?

    Hmmm, how do I tie this back to sexiness? As we become more interested in developing this new world of vampires and werewolves, the werewolf by necessity becomes more personable and developed, and like most superheroes and villains a crucial part of the fantasy is sexuality.

    • redshana March 31, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

      I see what you’re saying and I feel under-read in a way because I’ve only seen the first season of “True Blood.” But I guess what my question is, is why werewolves now? It’s not that there haven’t been werewolves before, like you said, but they never seemed to be quite as overtly sexualized as vampires.

      I agree with you in that the more we focus on the “human” aspects of characters the more we are bound to focus on other aspects of human relationships that we already like, and sex sells—no questions there—but I do wonder how werewolves, as opposed to vampires, can be read similarly. I think there’s a lot to think about. Thanks for your comments!

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