Falling in Love With the Vampire

By Joe Long Published on May 20, 2018

You can learn a lot about a society by looking at its trashy books. You know the sort I mean: books created for light reading, for entertainment. Books that reflect our daydreams, more than they do any great truths. Books created for escapism, which rarely escape society’s conventions.

Right now, a lot of our  society really stinks. Look at romance novels, and that weird new type called “paranormal romance.”

The Classic Formulas

The classic romance novel is formulaic. The romance often takes place in an exotic setting, but its elements are familiar. The heroine is very desirable, though she may not know it. Suitors compete for her. Often there’s a “bad boy” who needs taming.

Frequently, the romantic match involves a drastic rise in wealth and status. The heroine is headed for a happy (and wealthy) “ever after.” (Men have their trashy novels too. Think of the Conan series.) The man daydreams of winning respect and admiration; the woman, of being cherished.

Over the last couple of decade, however, something odd has happened. A huge and growing segment of the romance market has become “paranormal romance.”

The Supporting Vampire

In paranormal romance, the heroine’s romantic relationship is still central to the story. The supporting role, though, has changed. He might be a vampire, a demon, a were-wolf (or –bear or –tiger), or one of any number of other supernatural creatures. Often society considers “his kind” evil, but he turns out to be “misunderstood.” Persecution by bigots often helps establish his virtue — for the heroine, and for the reader. The “Twilight” series is the most famous example of the genre.

A century ago, being a werewolf was a “curse.” Vampires were evil. In paranormal romance, it’s usually more akin to having superpowers. Power is part of the romantic formula; the more powerful the male, the better the catch. These powers, however, are more godlike than human.

The new romances recast the line Satan used on Eve, “Ye shall be as gods,” as “You can charm gods and win their devotion.” This can all happen (at least in the stories) without having to put up with that difficult creature, the human male. Why put up with an inferior man when you can have a vampire?

Recently, a nonhuman romantic option has even been featured on the big screen. The film The Shape of Water matched a woman with a fish-creature for a torrid affair. A leftwing commentary site responded with an article about the new supposed popularity of “fish sex.” The explanation? Men are simply so awful — many reputedly even voting for Trump! — that women are turning to imaginary alternatives to “marauding straight men.”

Perhaps women’s disappointment with men does feed the paranormal romance craze. Perhaps the imaginary creatures are more accessible than men who’ve checked out of real life, into the virtual realm. That’s where the fantasy becomes dangerous.

Rebellious Imaginations

In his daydreams, a man wants to be respected. In hers, a woman wants to be cherished. Today’s sophisticated media eagerly provides counterfeits of both experiences, tailored to our tastes.Men can strive for conquests in a virtual world, or seek virtual concubines. Women can imagine themselves adored by creatures far superior to those men.

Instead of the old “winning the hand of the virtuous maiden,” the new male fantasies offer adoring, sexually insatiable beauties. Instead of the old “love of a good man,” the paranormal romances offer the adoration of a vampire who still might give in to his true nature and kill you.

When the assisted daydreams end, though, nobody winds up being respected or cherished. These aren’t fantasies like The Lord of the Rings that can teach you to be a hero. These fantasies teach you to look down on the natural goods you have.

In Psalm 2, elites rebel against God and his chosen representative. “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles,” they rage. The laws of nature, established by nature’s God, are those “chains and shackles.” Rebellious imaginations still seek to break them. Paranormal romance fantasies encourage women to long for something more, and better, than the men God created them for.

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