Thursday, 27 January 2011

Playing it safe

The other day, flicking through a film magazine, I was reminded of the fact that it's not just Harry Potter who's had his final adventure split into two films. Sensing the opportunity to milk, slaughter and process their cash cow into delicious money burgers, the producers of the Twilight series have decided to make two movies out of Bella and Edward's final bow.

Anyone cringing in dread at the prospect of four hours of Breaking Dawn, can at least take solace in the fact that our perpetually perturbed pair finally get to satisfy their lustful urges. Within the bounds of unholy matrimony of course, but hey, it's a start.

Like countless millions of other viewers, I'm continually perplexed by the enduring popularity of the series, primarily because it neglects the two key components required in all vampire literature and film. Sex and blood.

For a moment, it looked as though Eclipse might finally do something right, when an epic battle took place between the good vampires, evil vampires and Native American werewolves. The trailer hinted at beheadings and limb removal on a scale that would make the battle of Helm's Deep look like a scuffle in BestBuy on Black Friday.

Instead, what we got was a bunch of vampires that shattered like Swarovski crystal animals. And the closest we came to sex was a bit of homoerotic interplay between vampire Edward and lupine Jacob, that came across like an elderly businessman trying to hook up with a plushie.

Thankfully, the producers of TV's Vampire Diaries have a much better grasp on the relevance of sex when it comes to fanged creatures of the night. Try googling 'vampire diaries sex' and you'll see stories about "hot cougar sex", "awkward sex" and "hot cave sex". That's a lot of sex.

Suddenly, the show's new ad campaign makes a little more sense. Along Sunset Boulevard and in Times Square, new billboards have been appearing to publicise the show's mid-season return, encouraging viewers to 'Catch VD'. Perhaps focus groups rejected the more explicit "Our show is so great it'll make your pee sting".

I suppose we could quibble about the appropriateness of encouraging sexually irresponsible behaviour amongst its target audience, but that's not really the issue. The campaign is certainly creating word-of-mouth, but I can't see too many people making a positive association between their favourite teen drama and gonorrhea.

Then again, maybe this is just the final point on a journey that began in the mid-eighties, when vampirism was raised from the story-telling dead and reappropriated as an AIDS analogy. High risk sexual behaviour, a condition transmitted by blood, an ostracised sub-culture - the stories practically wrote themselves.

If that all sounds a little too real world, you can always stick with the Twilight franchise, where the closest Kristen Stewart is going to come to a herpes sore is by chewing her own lip. Alternatively, if you enjoy the mix of sexuality and death, just wait for Lady Gaga's forthcoming fragrance, which promises a heady bouquet of semen and blood. A couple of dabs and you'll smell like Lestat in a bathhouse.

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