"I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be truly disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man."

14 July 2010

The Universe Giveth...

The Universe Giveth...

Me something to rant about to distract me from the problems of life.

Dracula, My Love - Gag Me with a Stake

(We now have Emma and the Vampires, as well)

I don't even know where to start with the wrongness... The sad truth is I will read it. I will probably even buy it when it's released. However, that doesn't keep me from wanting to scream to the heavens: WHY DO YOU KEEP LETTING PEOPLE RUIN MY FAVORITE BOOK?!?!
I'm sure there's a not-small group of Austenites who feel the same way about so many re-imaginings of her novels (supernatural or otherwise), and I want you to know that as much as these reworks entertain me, I feel your pain. Really. Feel. It.
It's not that someone holds a different perspective on the novel and wants to express and explore that perspective. That's cool. Get down with your own biased opinion. What is not cool to me is the continual breaking down of the characters and themes in this novel and warping them into something completely different than what Stoker wrote.
To change one character changes them all -- this is something I have seen in EVERY re-working of the novel I've read. The characters changed most often from their book persona are Van Helsing and Dracula. I get that, to a point, for those who want to make both characters seem a little less archaic (though that is kind of the point in the novel anyway). However in instances such as this, what possesses me to throw a grand mal hissy is crafting a story in which Dracula is set up as a romantic hero (or even anti-hero). The amount of *headdesking* this inspires in me gives me headaches, because here's the thing: DRACULA. IS. EVIL.
He's not a tortured soul looking for redemption. He's not a crestfallen former warrior wanting to return to the good old days of having multiple wives and (literally) spiking dignitaries (OK, maybe a little bit of that one). He's not a seductive, sexy creature of the night who just wants to love and be loved. He's an evil sonofabitch who, not satisfied with continuing the barbarous ways he engendered during his 'youth,' seeks to make a new life in a new country where he can blend in and kill at will without having to worry about interference from pesky, superstitious gypsies... and if he gets to make a few companions to go tearing through the English countryside and bustling London with as well, so much the more fun.
The concept that the human heroes and sheroes of Stoker's novel could be so enchanted by Dracula that they begin to love him is utterly ridiculous. Yes, Skippy (aka Jonathan Harker) may not have the biggest brain or the most common sense, but he does improve as the novel goes on, and more than anything he improves greatly once the life of his beloved is at stake (no pun intended). Mina is a devoted wife, a new woman in more ways than she realizes, and not the sort of person to abandon her husband -- or even contemplate abandoning him -- to make time with the creepy foreigner who killed her best friend for sport.
Dracula's motives are simple: kill people, take up residence in England and blend in... so he can kill more people. The other characters have far more complex motivations which drive them to hunt down Dracula (as if stopping a mass murderer who kills and transforms a woman all the main characters love into a soulless, bloodsucking fiend isn't motive enough). Above everything else their motives are driven forward most forcefully by love. Not pity, not jealousy, not even revenge that they have every right to desire. They destroy Dracula because he is a plague that threatens not only them but everyone in England, and the world.
I can stomach a lot of tweaks and silliness people write about in regards to the themes in Dracula. Yet I always draw the line in two specific areas: evil and love/sex. Anytime someone tries to devalue the passionate, evolved take on good versus evil and/or attempts to turn every glance or suggestive word into an orgy, I instinctively leap on my soapbox and turn into a screaming nutter.
The sad truth is people today want to relate everything to a sexual act or feeling when they cannot understand a motivation (and I'm not just talking everyday folk here, I've seen people with advance degrees in literature pull this BS). This reduction in the value of platonic human bonds makes me more than sad, it makes me livid and depressed. The even sadder (and frankly, scarier) truth is that society now deems it irregular and bizarre to hold a belief in such an idea as evil. Everything needs an explanation or motive other than a sinful desire (and really I use sinful as a contextual word to encompass a concept many people no longer believe in, not necessarily reflecting a religious connotation... because I could use a word like 'taboo' and easily be misunderstood further).
Due to my riled, frenetic mind at the insanity of these 'beliefs' I am drawn, as usual, to words someone else wrote that express an idea better than I can do at present.

Methos: Do you really think there's no such thing as evil?
Fake: Only fear.
Methos: So what? Genghis Khan and Hitler were just children playing up?
Fake: They were men, driven by fear to commit evil acts.
Methos: And if their mothers had loved them truly, it would have been a different world.

Right, because genocide fueled by blind hatred is not evil. It's just fear.

If you believe that, then you probably do believe Dracula isn't such a bad guy and deserves to be loved...

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