The recent resurgence of vampires in popular culture could be due to the fact that the Twilight books and movies play on gender stereotypes and teen sexuality. Or maybe vampires are coming into the light, so to speak, because they have found a new way to move undetected among humans and are spending their long-held wealth on media depictions of their own kind. Given this possibility, it is important to recognize potential vampires among our students so that we can study them sociologically. I have one student that I suspect could be a vampire, based on the following facts:
- The student reports sleeping very little each night (it is unknown whether this sleep takes place in a coffin)
- The student has a widow’s peak (a classic giveaway)
- The student is relatively pale (and seems to have no interest in tanning)
- The student drinks a red liquid daily (this liquid is in a Code Red Mt. Dew bottle but it is unlikely that the liquid is actually Code Red Mt. Dew because Code Red Mt. Dew is nearly undrinkable)
- The student gets good grades (hard work or the accumulation of centuries of knowledge?)
- The student’s parents are reportedly much older than normal (they are also retired)
- The student’s clothing is slightly anachronistic (a student who’s clothing is too trendy might also be suspicious)
On the other side of the ledger is the fact that vampires are widely thought to be fictional. I’m taking a wait-and-see approach to this student’s place on the scale ranging from living to undead. In case the student does turn out to be a vampire I am planning a large-scale vampire survey and ethnography that will redefine my career before forming the Society for the Sociological Study of Vampires (SSSV).
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Posted in Arts and Letters, Gender, Moving Pictures, The Electronic Age, tagged Bella Swan, Eclipse, Entertainment Weekly, Gender, Romance, Sociology, Teenagers, Twilight on July 20, 2010 |
Like love (and Christmas), sociology is all around us. It is always interesting to see entertainment outlets take sociological approaches to the media. Entertainment Weekly recently examined the conflicting views of Bella Swan and her supernatural friends in the Twilight series of books and films, arguing that one’s view of the characters is connected to differing ideals “of what love and sex and romance should look like and feel like, of what they should be“:
A movie like Eclipse may be a far cry from art, but it’s increasingly clear, at least to me, that the movie hits a nerve, even in people who say they hate it, because it embodies a paradigm shift: a swooning re-embrace of traditional, damsel-meets-caveman values by a new generation of young women who are hearkening back, quite consciously, to the romantic-erotic myths of the past. The Bella Swan view of the world may, on the surface, be the opposite of “rebellious,” but the reason her story sets so many hearts aflame is that it is, in a way, a rebellion — against the authority represented by a generation of women’s-studies classes. Bella’s story is, by nature, a meditative, even meandering one because it’s the story of how she wants to be acted upon, to be loved, desired, coveted, fought over, protected. A movie like Eclipse represents nothing less than a new and unambiguous embrace, by women, of the male gaze.
This analysis is even more enlightening when you consider that the world of Twilight, especially in the books, is a place with dial-up internet where a vampire lends his human girlfriend (who he is constantly terrified will be harmed) his cell phone because she doesn’t have one of her own and where a junior in high school who has gone on one date with a boy in her class before prom hopes that is enough to lead to a first kiss on prom night. In contrast to media descriptions of teen binge drinking and hook ups, I’m not surprised that this world has found an audience who yearns (morosely, if they follow the lead of their favorite characters) for a different image of teen life.
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I went to see New Moon this weekend but beyond the “vampires and abstinence” storyline the most sociologically interesting aspect came before the film. One of the trailers that preceded New Moon was for Robert Pattinson’s upcoming movie, Remember Me (which also stars Pierce Brosnan and Emilie de Ravin of Lost). The trailer is below (pay particular attention around the 1:10 mark):
Here is a summary of the relevant portion:
de Ravin: I don’t date sociology majors.
Pattinson: Lucky for you I’m, I’m undecided.
de Ravin: ‘Bout what?
Because of the popularity of New Moon, this means that a large number of young people have now heard the line “I don’t date sociology majors.” I suppose this could be a deterrent to potential future sociologists. On the other hand, a large number of young people have now heard of sociology.
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