Now that the TV pilot for "The Vampire Diaries", based off of a book series of the same name by wonderful author L.J. Smith, has been picked up, it's gotten quite a bit of attention. Fan sites have been springing up everywhere, and since it is vampire fiction, fans of other vampire fiction series' have been checking it out. Now, believe me when I say that I am so happy for the continued success of Ms. Smith's work. She's been a favorite author of mine for many, many years and the attention is well-deserved. However, I've been noticing a trend that is upsetting me.
A lot of people have begun to compare "The Vampire Diaries" to "Twilight". Now, putting aside my disdain for the latter book series, this is just plain wrong. So, as a long-time fan of Ms. Smith and her incredible work, I decided to write a blog on why the two should never be compared. Ever.
First of all, let's discuss what is similar and different about each aspect of the stories. Here are a few points I think are particularly important:
- The characters are completely different. The characters in "The Vampire Diaries" are much deeper and well-done than in "Twilight". Stephanie Meyer, author of the "Twilight" series, specifically gave no description or characterization to Bella so readers could imagine themselves as her when they read. This clearly makes the heroine of "The Vampire Diaries", Elena, rounder and more developed. Also, while most of the characters in "Twilight" are all vampires (with a few werewolves thrown in), the cast of "The Vampire Diaries" is mostly human, save for a few ghosts and evil powers, the two main vampires, and one werewolf.
- The vampires are handled completely differently. I know i've discussed this in previous blogs, but it needs to be repeated. Besides the classic sparkling of the vampires in "Twilight", there are other key differences. The vampires in "The Vampire Diaries" are much more traditional; they burn in sunlight, need to be invited in to a home before they can enter, and are actually frightening and monstrous, something that I think Ms. Meyer left out in favor of making her vampires pretty to look at. Getting rid of the horror aspect of vampires really takes away a great pool of possible plot line with which you could really deepen and enrich a vampire story.
- The purpose and focus of each series seem to be very, very different. "Twilight" is quite obviously meant to be a romance, designed for you to meet these two main characters, see the attraction between them, and then watch the action and see if their love will persevere. "The Vampire Diaries" does have a human/vampire romance, and it does affect most of what goes on in the story, but the books are also largely about the place in which the characters live, Fell's Church, and some of the ancient evils that live there. The town happens to be situated on top of a place filled with much evil, and the main vampiric character, Stefan, does mention that it wasn't just Elena, but the evil in Fell's Church that drew him to the town. The romance is not nearly as central to the story as it is in "Twilight", but in my opinion that really allows for more satisfying storyline, both for the main characters and the side-characters.
Hopefully reading the above is enough to show you why both of these series' should never be compared. However, what started my desire to write this blog was not what you see above, but what will you will see below. There are several ramifications to comparing both of these books, and here are some of them.
- The crossover of fandoms could be very, very detrimental. We all have seen the stories about some of the more...passionate "Twilight" fans who go out of their way to hurt people, break things, or just plain torture people for not liking the series. Now before the "Twilight" fans reading this jump on me, I am very aware that not every "Twilight" fan is like this. In fact, I know a couple of fans of the series who are very intelligent and respectful of others' choice to not like "Twilight", and are even also fans of "The Vampire Diaries", although these fans are VERY rare. However, a great, big chunk of the "Twilight" fandom is immature, uncontrolled, and downright cruel and violent. I have spoken with Ms. Smith personally over MySpace a few times, and I am a subscriber to her blog, and from those brief encounters I can tell you that if these fans ever crossed over and became as destructive over her books as they are over "Twilight", she would be heartbroken. That kind of violence and negativity has no place in Ms. Smith's fanbase, and I think that comparing the two could lure these fans in and really do more harm than good.
- You could very easily alienate potential fans by comparing the two. If people who dislike "Twilight" but have never read "The Vampire Diaries" hear the two being compared, that can instantly turn those people off, even though they really are not alike at all. Unfortunately, we live in a society where people judge books by their covers, and so many fans who would genuinely love and appreciate Ms. Smith's work would never get to even read it if they were turned off by such a thing. I also would like to think that those who love Ms. Smith's work but never read "Twilight" and want to because they're being compared would be horrified at the troubling themes that are involved in those books (relationship abuse and youth pregnancy to name a few), but the masses in general clearly have no problem with these themes, hence the series' huge success. I really wanted to elaborate on this point, but I think that, for the sake of balance in this blog, it is best left untouched.
I hope this made you aware of the ramifications and plain inaccuracy of comparing "The Vampire Diaries" and "Twilight". The two really are nothing alike, and I truly hope that when people pick up one or the other (or even both), they keep them separate in their minds so that they can form a full and accurate opinion of both pieces of literature as separate entities and not as one genre, because as I hope the above illustrated, they are simply not.
Now go pick up some L.J. Smith and tune in for "The Vampire Diaries"' TV pilot debut this fall on the CW. Sometimes in September I think it will be. You won't regret it!