Musings of a YA author throwing herself into the fray. Join me on the journey ...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Caught VD? Or how to publicly discuss a guilty pleasure and not sound like a raving fangirl


Okay, I know the title of this post is deliberately lurid and should be beneath me, much like the show for which it is a campaign slogan, but damnit I can’t help myself—I lurve me some Vampire Diaries. This Thursday begins the highly-anticipated (by me)  3rd season of this dark, angsty, sexilicious show. It’s totally one of many my guilty pleasure. And I want to talk about it, like a lot, but it’s kind of embarrassing to wax poetic about a show that a)has a target demographic born after I graduated high school and b) whose ratings get better based on the number of times you see six-pack abs. However, using VD as my example, I’m going to share with you how you too can openly and publicly discuss any of your less than award-winning entertainment and actually make others believe that not only are you’re not actively losing brain cells because you love it so much, but it’s a worthwhile intellectual pursuit.

Based (loosely, I understand) on a series of books by L.J. Smith written in the early 90’s, this proto-Twilight story of vampires and werewolves and witches walking amongst us anchors itself with a love triangle.  In Mystic Falls, VA, beautiful, but tragically orphaned, Elena knows two brothers: one is her love(r), Stefan, and one is her friend, Damon—who would very much like to fulfill both roles. Naturally, they’re vampires (hence the show’s title) and she’s human. Also, all three are freakishly gorgeous (this is aired on the CW, afterall). Now, the key to a public discussion about  VD and shows of its ilk is to steer clear of referring to either guy as smokin’ hot, hard as that may be. Rather you want to speak in terms of their character archetypes, those recurring symbols or motifs found in literature (e.g. cowboys, femme fatale, etc.).

All characters can be described in terms of an archetype. For heroes there are 8 broad categories: chief, bad boy, best friend, charmer, professor, swashbuckler, warrior, lost soul. Han Solo=swashbuckler. William Wallace (Braveheart)=warrior. These days, vampires almost always are protrayed as lost soul heros—brooding, dark, tortured, intense and mysterious. And hot. Stefan and Damon are both lost souls, figuratively and literally, but they are layered with other archetypes to differentiate.       

Stefan, whose love for Elena would have him sacrifice himself and all that he has to protect her, is also a warrior with shades of a best friend. Though he has done bad, bloody things in the past, he wants to atone and is, at heart, a good, loyal guy. You can tell these things because he’s portrayed by a blond, which is the universal symbol of a “good” character in film.

Damon is obviously the reckless, dangerous bad-boy because he has dark hair and a love of black clothing. He struggles between wanting to be good to deserve Elena’s love and killing people willy-nilly because, well, he’s a frickin’ vampire and he enjoys it.
The object of their undying (pun intended) affection, Elena, is a former perky, popular cheerleader, but through tragedy (after tragedy, after tragedy) now introspective and earnest. In love with Stefan, but also drawn to Damon, she is the fragile human in this paranormal tug-of-war and a classic waif heroine (think damsel-in-distress), with some nurturer and the beginnings a crusader thrown in.

Now, let’s say I’m with Tracy and Emily and we’re having an intense discussion about story arc and the limitations of the three act structure (just go with me here, because in real life we mostly talk about hot celebrities and food), but what I really, really want to talk about is the epic VD episode from the previous night.  So, I say this:
I think we can agree, as best exemplified in the recent episode of the Vampire Diaries, that as it relates to a heroine’s character arc, for the romantic subplot it seems more judicious for a waif archetype to necessarily align herself  with a classic warrior hero to protect her, and she must avoid the temptation of the the morally-ambiguous bad-boy, who really requires a more seductress-type heroine to fully realize his own character potential.

Now didn’t that sound all intelligent and literary and not at all like what it really means? Which is that Elena should totally be with Stefan forevah, because he loves her more than life itself and has abs of steel, while Damon will always be bad and should be with someone equally as bad as he is. And as smokin’ hot. 

Tell me your guilty boob-tube characters and I’ll reveal their archetype so you too can have public discussions without blushing.

1 comment:

  1. Well, we all know that my quilty boob tube is Awkward. Which aired tonight, but I have not yet seen.
    Thus begins a classic conundrum. I do yoga on Wednesdays, which I figures gets my karma (or chi or whatever) back into balance. I always wonder just exactly how much shitty food/pop culture/alcohol I can load on the scales before the yoga has done no good whatsoever. For example, if I go to yoga and then make a run for the border on the way home, does the Taco Bell cancel out the yoga? What about Awkward? Can I have all three in the same day???

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