I’ve read a fair bit of paranormal romance in my time, including those that feature vampire heroes. Some of them I’ve found truly sexy. In a sense, male vampires represent the ultimate bad boys: barely in control, driven by dark impulses, exotic, outsiders from society. On the printed page, amazingly enough, the fact they drank blood never seemed repulsive to me.
Then I watched the first season of True Blood.
I haven’t read the Sookie Stackhouse series, so I can’t comment on the accuracy of the books’ interpretations, but the writers and producers of the TV series went for a different vibe than what I’ve been used to, even in the edgier of my fiction. With their cinematic choices and my ex-physician’s eye, a vampire’s pallor presents as…sickly. The act of drinking blood is no longer an erotic exchange of body fluids during climax, but animalistic. Almost cruel.
I’m not sure I’m interested enough in what the series has to say to go in for the second season, but I’ve noticed something that’s disturbing: Their creative vision has altered my interpretation of the fiction on my bookshelf. I have different images in my head now, even when I read old favorites. I see horror instead of romance.
I’ve had similar things happen before after seeing a film adaptation of a specific novel to that novel, but I’ve never had it happen to an entire subgenre of fiction. Have you?
I don’t know if you’ve observed another trend, but there’s acute nostalgia at present for the 1930’s and 40’s. It can be seen in fashion, in the present well-buzzed batch of historical novels, even in the nominations for last night’s Oscars.
I’m not sure why that is — whether there’s a sense as a culture that we’re in for global conflict, belt-tightening, a need to rely more on our communities and country than we have of late, in our individualistic society. I don’t know if that’s made us seek reassurance that we’ve done it before and can, presumably, do it again. I’m uncertain of causality, but I detect its presence. Thus far, in my opinion, that era’s being romanticized.
Contrast that with the photos below. In this case, I prefer their stark and true beauty to the fictionalized renditions:
Aren’t these amazing? These are from the Library of Congress and are part of their series taken in the 1930’s. If you want to see more, and in a much larger print size, so you get their full effect, go to this link in the Denver Post. (Thanks to romance writer Viva Anna for pointing these out.)
So, a few questions: Do you feel visual media inhibits or enhances your enjoyment of fiction, on the whole?
If you’ve seen beyond season one of True Blood, do you think it improves?
Lastly, what do you think of those photos?