Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Comparing Sexuality and Power in Dracula and Buffy the Vampire Slayer E

Comparing Sexuality and Power in Dracula and Buffy the Vampire Slayer    At first glance, Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," the hour-long TV series which premiered in 1997 and is now in its third season, bears little resemblance to the book which started the vampire craze -- Bram Stoker's Dracula, published a century earlier. And yet, looks can be deceiving. Although the trendy -- and often skimpy -- clothing and bandied about pop-culture references of "Buffy" clearly mark the series as a product of a far different culture than that of the Victorian England of Dracula, the underlying tensions of the two texts are far similar than one might think. Beneath the surface differences in the treatment of their heroines, the two texts converge in similarly problematic anxieties about gender and sexuality. Unlike other latter-day adaptations of the vampire legend -- such as films like The Hunger and Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire novels -- which actively shatter accepted tenets of vampirism, such as the danger of sunlight or crosses to vampires, "Buffy" relies heavily on the guidelines for vampirism established by Stoker in his novel. In "Buffy," as in Dracula, vampires can be killed by direct sunlight and harmed by holy water and crucifixes (Golden 125). When, for instance, Buffy's crucifix necklace touches her vampire boyfriend Angel's chest, it leaves a burn-mark similar to that left on vampire-defiled Mina Harker's forehead by application of a Holy Wafer in Dracula ("Angel;" Stoker 302). And unlike the sympathetic portrayals of vampires advanced in Rice's novels and in the 1960s soap opera "Dark Shadows," the vampires shown are not good or even human. They are, in the words of Buffy's Watcher Giles "demon at the c... ...sitive depiction of their sexual relationship. For Mina, however, renunciation of Dracula's evil must include the renunciation of her own physical needs and desires. The roles played by social mores and conceptions of gender and sexuality are, in the end, more than incidental. Indeed, the difference between Victorian England and 1990s America causes the subtle -- but significant -- valuation of the connections between good and evil and women and sexuality in two in many ways similar texts. Works Cited Golden, Christopher and Nancy Holder. The Watcher's Guide. New York: Pocket Books, 1998. Leatherdale, Clive. Dracula: The Novel and the Legend. East Sussex, England: Desert Island Books, 1985. Stoker, Bram. Dracula. New York: Signet, 1992. Whedon, Joss, creator and executive producer. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Twentieth Century Fox Television, 1997.

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