Interview with the Vampire Recap
It’s time to talk about Lestat. You remember Lestat, don’t you? The one who came up out of nowhere to take these books in a completely different direction, the one who eventually could do no wrong?
We’ll be covering a slightly shorter segment of actual text this round, since there’s a whole bunch of setup and context we need to discuss before going forward. Also, this book is a good deal longer than Interview (my 1st edition of IWTV clocks in at a little over 300 pages, while my trade copy of TVL runs 550, with thinner pages and smaller typeset), so we’ll probably be riding this train on into the new year. Hopefully it’s an entertaining ride.
….I also better reiterate my fondness for these books right here and now, because the claws are gonna come out for a bit.
During the summer of 1997, Mulan was seven year old Vrai’s very favorite movie; during the fall of 1997, it was therefore assured that a costume from the movie. What that small child quickly found, however, is that while they wanted to dress up as Ping, all that the stores were selling was the matchmaker dress. Nobody thought it worth selling the masculine clothes when obviously the girly girl no really totally a girl bit was obviously more appealing. This trend never stopped. Your author just got more bitter about it.
As for why it’s come up now, a story: I’ve been inundated lately with comments about how I should watch Voltron: Legendary Defender. It’s the Legend of Korra writing team. It’s really clever and adorable. And, most alluringly, it supposedly had a canonically non-binary character. I’m nothing if not predictable.
[Minor Voltron spoilers follow]
Here is what I knew about Ghostbusters prior to this weekend: there are proton packs, one shouldn’t cross the streams, there’s a bit with a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, the cartoon (in which Slimer was mascot) came on before Digimon, and if the song was playing that meant they were going to break out the smoke machines at the local roller rink.
Yes, despite my love for supernaturally-tinted 80s movies and a frankly alarming number of viewings of The Blues Brothers and What About Bob?, I managed to go 26 years without ever quite making time for the original Ghostbusters – I’d remember that I’d been meaning to watch it only to find that the copy from the library had been stolen, or it had been removed from Netflix the week prior, and it was never enough of an urgent concern to pay money for. That might make me the ideal experimental viewing audience for the new reboot.
Or it’s possible that I am not a True Fan, and that my opinion is completely invalid at best and propaganda at worst – because I liked it, you see. But let’s stave off that inescapable cultural context just for a moment, though, and look at the movie on its own merits.
The question of “How Do I Feminism?” is something the media has grappled with for years. Too often the answer falls into the Strong Female Character, who can punch things really good and is an absolute asshole to everyone until the male Chosen One comes along to surpass her and also melt her stunted heart. While there’s nothing wrong with physical strength, the niggling problem of it all is, of course, diversity. Too often writers (mostly Straight White Men) mistake physical strength for depth and respectful treatment, creating a stopgap that lets themselves pat themselves on the back for their progress without having to actually examine their writing (see also the “writing the exact woman I, the writer, would like to sleep with over and over again” school that your Joss Whedons and Stephen Moffats tend to fall into).
Longtime readers will know that it’s traditional for this blog to run two Consulting Analyst series at a time – it provides a little variety for readers who maybe aren’t into the main series going on, and it keeps yours truly from hitting the burnout train and thus not giving the main series its analytical due. That’s particularly true with Gankutsuou, which is easily the most research-intensive series that’s been featured on this series to date. Which is all a very long preamble to say that we’re counteracting the blue space vampire. With nostalgic trash vampires.
I mean Anne Rice. We’re doing – we’re reading Anne Rice. As to why, I suppose it’s once again Story Time With Auncle Vrai. Siddown, darlings, let me tell you a thing. Thanks to the internet it’s fairly easy nowadays to find lists detailing published novels that have prominent queer characters and relationships (if not as common on the bookshelf as it could be). And what big name publishers don’t provide? Well, there are boutique and self-published works, never mind the ever growing influx of quality writing online being recognized as legitimate forms of artistic expression. If you were, say, a middle schooler in the early 2000s, stranded with no resources or mentors and barely a clue of what they were looking for besides some astonishingly low-quality browsing on FF.net? The last of which, might I ask, a person better damn well hide lest they be seen as perverted weirdos taking perfectly good media and “making it gay?” Friends, for that kid The Vampire Chronicles were a revelation.
Say friend, have you heard the cute news?
There’s a difference, ever blurrier with the advent of social media, between being an audience member and being a critic. I don’t mean that in a social stratification sense of one being better than the other, with obviously more high minded and trustworthy opinions. The theoretical leveling of the playing field in terms of media analysis is one of the best things about the internet, allowing a panoply of voices to bring attention to issues that might otherwise be ignored in popular media or to sing the praises of works that were dismissed or overlooked by the mainstream culture of their time.
But there’s a different set of skills involved in talking about a work as a fan, where personal experience and comfort are paramount, and examining it as a critic. One isn’t objective and the other subjective – all reviews and critiques are informed by what the writer finds valuable – but the latter involves a conscious effort to look at the big picture. In other words, there’s a sense that you’re speaking to an audience outside of people who know you and your perspective.
Whether you mean to or not, you’re taking on the position of an authority; so even if only two people read your work, there’s always the possibility that it will wind up speaking to many people, who will then go on to quote it as if you knew what you were talking about. Careful thought is the tradeoff for having your opinion valued by strangers – or at least, that’s the mentality that’s always fueled this particular blog. If longtime readers notice an unusually high ratio of “I” statements running rampant through today’s essay, put it down to the hard-pounded-in knowledge that ultimately all you can do is explain yourself and hope the theory makes sense, rather than handing down mandates to others.