I love BK bacon burgers and I’m not afraid to admit that a few Saturdays ago I indulged in some greasy afternoon convenience. And what did I notice as I walked through the door at Burger King? An ad for a teen vampire romance. I was instantly fascinated and my overactive deconstructionist tendencies kicked in. “What do burgers and vampires have in common anyway?” I thought. Don’t laugh—these are the kinds of things I mull over during the week—but I think I’ve made a few connections. Teen vampire romance and burgers have exactly two things in common: instant gratification and lingering guilt.
Carnivorous Aristocracy VS Teenaged Vampire Emo Kids: Emo Wins Every Time
Historically, the vampire myth has gotten plenty of mileage. In all of its variations, the vampire represents an alien presence that comes to feast on the innocent and pervert the natural cycles of life and death. The 18th & 19th century versions are all about bringing power to the little people. The town vampire = the blood sucking aristocracy. The emerging middle class = victim. Later, post WWI Europe had its hideous Nasferatu symbolic of rampant death and disease. Then came the handsome and suave vampire of the roaring twenties that may have been a way of dealing with sexual guilt. Then came the Anne Rice styled self-aware sad vampire. Maybe a mirror of our own socially-aware self-doubts? And while I’m all for myths shifting meaning over time, there’s something strange when a symbol is tweaked with.
What’s With That 400 Year Old Dude Doing Hanging Around Teenagers?
True to form, Twilight’s vampire is a blood sucking clarivoyant 400-year-old (in a teenage body, of course) but don’t be fooled! He’s actually an ethically aware vampire (the author, Stefanie Meyer, is a professed Mormon) that belongs to a coven that feasts on animal blood rather than human. So, you know, he’s beastly but…he’s divided, complicated and mysterious. Luckily, Twilight’s protagonist, Bella, is a complicated, misunderstood teenager. It’s a match made in heaven!
Wordly Remorse And The Self-Salvation Project
Over the last couple months I’ve been following Doug Wilson’s posts on Twilight and his insistence—a la Michael Jones—that horror fiction revolves around guilt. Here’s the big idea: The Monster is the personification of the guilty conscience that has come to bring judgment on the sinner. But the monster is a vehicle for a sort of unrepentant remorse that affords a self-salvation project in wordly sorrow. The theory is interesting and worth considering in light of the horror genre (and for death metal for that matter but that’s for another time!) but I’m not quite sure it applies to Twilight. It didn’t quite seem like the Mormon Vampirism Lite fit Wilson’s theory. In the end, Twilight seems more young adult drama with fangs and trench coats than vicarious guilt theory. But according to John Granger’s (the author of How Harry Cast His Spell) worthwhile article, there’re more than just a few Mormon theology references.
In part II of Mormon Burger I’ll discuss the Militant Authenticity Ethic and The Monster Symbol and Guilt….