Sunday, April 25, 2010

Edward Cullen: Vampire, or Perfect Mormon Boy?

With the premiere of the next Twilight film only SLIGHTLY MORE THAN TWO MONTHS AWAY OMG, God Spam's thoughts turn to devout Mormons with vampire fetishes. Prior to 2005, such Mormons lived in the shadows, secretly writing G-rated fan fiction on their home PCs. Then one of them got a publishing deal, and now the words "Mormon" and "vampire" appear in the same sentence together more often than not. (It's true. Google it.)

While the feminist in me is wary of all things Twilight, I'm also a person who owns well-worn copies of both No One Knows My History and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Series. So I do find the idea of Mormon vampire fiction pretty irresistible. The most obvious reference to Meyers' faith is leading-man vampire Edward Cullen's strict moral code; in the words of Mormon-raised blogger stoney321:

Edward ... doesn't believe in open mouth kissing, swearing, chewing tobacco, drinking caffeine, and enjoys time with his family. HE IS THE PERFECT MORMON BOY.

But stoney321 goes one step further, suggesting that Cullen is actually modeled (subconsciously by Meyer) on Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. To wit:

Every time SMeyers would write about Edward, I would just boggle. She was drawing from everything we Mormons were taught about Good Ol' Joe - he was handsome, shockingly so, he could draw you in with just his presence, let alone when he spoke, down to his freaking nose and hair color. HI THERE CREEPY AUTHOR WANTING TO BONE YOUR PROPHET.

In a less cheeky article in Touchstone Magazine, John Granger suggests that Twilight is both an analogy for Mormon conversion and a critique of Mormon culture:

Twilight is essentially an allegory of one gentile seeker’s coming to the fullness of Latter-day Saint faith and life. Bella, though, as Mrs. Meyer’s stand-in, is also a modern American woman who struggles with Edward’s patronizing misogyny and over-protectiveness. Her mind is the only one in the book not open to him, which serves both as an indication of her reverential reserve towards him as God or prophet and her resistance to being totally subject to him. Though devoted to and in love with him, she sounds notes throughout the series that reflect something like feminism.

I suspect Granger is giving Meyer too much credit here, but the books definitely seem rooted in traditional Mormon family values, as Samira K. Mehta discusses over at Religion Dispatches.

So if vampires and Latter-day Saints are one and the same, what does that mean for the world as we know it? Joseph Laycock, author of the definitive vampire religion book Vampires Today, thinks that it's bad news for bloodsuckers:

"I’m a little concerned about Twilight, because these are the most unrebellious vampires we’ve ever seen. They are essentially Mormon vampires... The vampire has gone from being a horrible monster to the kid next door. So we’ll see what happens. Perhaps Edward Cullen will be the last vampire."

Robert-Pattinson-as-Mormon image from stoney321.
Mormon underwear image from Altarkation.