The vampire/werewolf drama genre has exploded since the Twilight series was published, and since then the genre has expanded to include the Twilight film saga, as well as numerous spin-off shows such as the “Vampire Diaries” and “True Blood.” What many people don’t know is that Vampire Diaries actually came out almost 15 years before Twilight also as a series of books. Nevertheless, it is indisputable that the Twilight saga brought vampire and monster drama back into the limelight.
Why Stephenie Meyer was able to do the whole vampire, young adult drama thing better than others is still up for debate. Some would argue that in fact, Stephenie Meyer’s books and movies pale in comparison to series like the “Vampire Diaries.” I found an article by Ari Karpel of the New York Post that lists out 5 reasons why “Vampire Diaries” trumps “Twilight.” Looking at her article, we can apply Kenneth Burke’s pentadic method of criticism (analyzing how Karpel views the act, agent, agency, scene, and purpose of each vampire drama) to get a clearer picture of what Karpel’s motives are for posing her argument.
First, let’s take a look at Karpel’s five main reasons why “Vampire Diaries” is better than “Twilight”:
1.) Believe it or not, “The Vampire Diaries” came first.
2.) The Vampire Diaries is bloody, gory and full of killing.
3.) These sexy vampires actually have sex!
4.) Elena is an independent young woman.
5.) Had it with the Twi-hype? “The Vampire Diaries” is the underdog.
From an exterior perspective, looking not into the content of the stories themselves but at their reception by the public, Karpel’s first point revolves around scene. The “Vampire Diaries” should be more highly regarded because it came on the scene first. That makes it more original, and therefore more deserving of praise within its genre.
Now, taking a look at the interior working of the two stories, Karpel argues that the blood, guts, and violence of “Vampire Diaries” makes for higher quality entertainment. This is an interior way of looking at the series’ agency. The series’ draw – how it attracts its audience – is achieved through unabashed shock value.
The third point relates to both agent and act. A big part of the monster allure is the exaggerated sex appeal of the half human/half monster men and women in both “Twilight” and “Vampire Diaries.” According to Karpel, “Vampire Diaries” has the complete package in that not only are there appealing agents within the stories, but they physically do what “Twilight” shies away from (S-E-X). The agent-agency combo is way more appealing when the agents act out in scandalous ways, increasing the entertainment value.
The fourth point is agent based. The “who” – the “people” – the “ones responsible for moving the action along” – of “Vampire Diaries” is stronger than “Twilight” because “Vampire Diaries” creates stronger characters, especially female characters. Karpel applauds the “Vampire Diaries” for strong-willed agents like Elena who can hold her own, not falling victim to lust or submissiveness as readily as “Twilight’s” Bella.
Finally, the last point has more to do with the author’s personal attitude, but seems to relate to purpose. Karpel appeals to the tendency we have to give preference to the underdog, saying that although “Vampire Diaries” did not initially have the cult-like following of “Twilight” it’s time to give it the credit it deserves. It serves the same purpose, which is to put on a sexy, somewhat scary show for those enthralled by vampires and various other monsters, and moralists will tell you to vote for “Vampire Diaries” because they deserve some recognition.
The meat of Karpel’s argument seems to center around an agent-act combo. For Karpel, the characters (agents) of “Vampire Diaries” are more dynamic and the plot (act) is more enticing.
Reading this article inevitably becomes a question of taking sides…who is copying who? Who deserves recognition for catalyzing this cultural obsession with paranormal teen romance? Who does vampires better? Karpel puts forth some convincing arguments in favor of “Vampire Diaries.”