Published in Us Magazine, The News International. February 08. 2013.
It’s America. You know it’s America. You may pretend to act all discrete and wise, but deep inside that four ventricled organ of yours, you blame America. For everything bad that happens around, that is. I do that too, and I promise that is frequent enough, but only when I come across America’s latest and arguably the most gibberish present to the rest of the world: contemporary vampire fiction. You may be learned enough to point out the concept originated in Europe, yet we all were doing happily in our lives, with an occasional mention of Dracula at our chatty bests, until America came out to play and made the vampires an occasional sight for our vision. Stephanie Meyer, L. J. Smith and Charlaine Harris; the authors of the Twilight Series, The Vampire Diaries and The Sookie Stackhouse novels respectively – are specifically to be blamed – they all contributed profoundly to spread the concept of mindlessness globally. But, if they don’t use their brains, why should we? Presenting you a myopic and dispassionate summary of Vampire fiction…
Vampires suck. And so does their fiction.
A protagonist is to a story what idiocy is to vampire fiction – symbiosis. We always need a protagonist on whose shoulders the plot of our story is carried forward – and it may be deemed as a paradox since there isn’t much story involved. Yet! Kick-starting the discussion: since we are sort of partial, a human always scores best at playing the protagonist – else there won’t be any catharsis. And since we’re quite sexist, too, it has to be a girl. I say girl because there’s only this much my vocabulary allows. In reality, it’s just loser-ness personified. The girl’s life is an ordeal at best and a 3D depiction of hell at worst. She is in an incessant need of getting a life – and has such hefty problems in life that’d put even the unlucky courtesan “Umrao Jaan” to shame. The girl, by virtue of her irritatingly dependent nature, makes the concept of women empowerment scratch its face – she’s the anti-thesis to the idea of an independent woman. She (definitely) is not the crowd’s favourite and doesn’t have many (skip the m) friends. She’s a sly opportunist at heart and uses any guy accessible for personal good. She could be considered to have mental derangements, and we know that vampires have a thing for the mentally upset. She is enveloped by tribulations at every front: personal, social, emotional (not political and economical because she isn’t smart enough to figure out what these are). One word: she’s a weirdo! And since no one around us is shallow enough to judge by looks, the girl’s got a gorgeous face and a supple figure to compensate for the absence of everything else. Let’s be realist: dumber girls have prettier faces. Or so the vampire stories want us to believe!
And so we get to the actual stars of the show: vampires. First things first: there has to be the main, central vampire who goes head-over-heels for our lady-good-for-nothing. Now, honestly, who in their right minds can resist such a girl! And since we aren’t shallow enough to judge by appearances, our vampire is a brand ambassador of a product that’s something between Fair and Handsome whitening cream and whey protein shakes. Perfect body, perfect skin, perfect hair. This is only natural; who, after all, in the name of heavens has ever spotted a vampire without Roman muscles and chiselled jaw-lines? Okay, and assuming you’d already know that vampires were once humans, too, there have to be good v/s the bad ones. The good vampires are usually, wait, about one. (Just as well, heroes stand alone). The bad vampires are the rest of the entire populace of the creatures. And since we’re somewhat racist, too, there must be one or two black amongst the latter. Anyhow, the tussle between the good and bad vampires is rife, and usually hovers around a simple issue: feasting on the girl. The bad vampires are firm believers in the concept of euthanasia, and are of the view that since the girl’s being is no more than a tragedy to herself and those around her, sucking her blood till the last drop would be the sanest thing to do. The good vampire is sort of a sadist and loves observing the girl dwell in her hopeless state of hopelessness – he’d rather watch her sleep! Excuse me, who were the good and bad vampires, again?
Bad news: Success is a bitch. It usually has a sticking for rules. Good news: The rules for creating vampire fiction are absurd enough and easy to follow. Here you go:
n The girl should be capable enough to show all the losers how it’s really done.
n Make it a love-story. What good is love anyway if we can’t make such obscene use of it?
n Creating a love triangle always comes in handy. Keep the audiences guessing as to who will be the girl’s choice? (Hint: both)
n Fangs aren’t pretty to see. But our vampires are. So restrict the depiction of fangs to the utmost minimum.
n The vampires aren’t the sunlight’s favourites. They’ll either start glittering like sugar or get roasted if they come out in the day. (Ask any vampire and he’ll affirm this for you). Save them for the night.
n Since some are of the view that vampires don’t exist, they may find the concept hard to digest. The best way out is to give them more indigestibles to wreak confusion: werewolves, shape-changers, witches and ghosts. Confusion always works wonders for vampire fiction, as if you hadn’t guessed that already!
n Three things get better with age: rice, wine and vampires. The age of the vampire must not be less than three digits, this way you can always add some sub-plots about blasts-from-the-past, the Civil War – or even the Big Bang!
The vampire falls for the girl, never mind the technical gap of various generations between the two. The girl falls back, which is pretty predictable since she falls for almost anything. Both indulge in cheesy romance that makes Nicholas Sparks pluck his hair. Then the vampire instigates expanse between the two, and the reasons may vary from a demented state of mind or the bad vampires’ couple-thwarting schemes. (Or maybe it’s deliberate – and we don’t blame him!) In the meanwhile, the lady-love, desolate as always, clings with all her sinew to the nearest entity that, even remotely, exudes a hint of masculinity; to heal the wounds inflicted by the first lover. She again indulges in cheesy romance with her new lover, and somewhere along the way we get the news of Nicholas Sparks turning bald. And then, as fate would have it, the vampire returns, and more often than not, discovers his love and her new love in some ‘compromising’ state. And so starts an epic tale of love, action, deceit, drama and emotions. Just kidding, the usual lameness continues. The girl, at first, chews over marrying all her prospects, but then realises that polyandry doesn’t gel well in popular fiction.
Confused on how to proceed? Conclude the book. Finish the shoot. End the season. This gives one ample time to come up with more profanities!