I’ve learned quite a few things during my time here at the college.
First, I’ve learned that pop culture trends are not so easily to analyze.
Second, I’ve learned that some mainstream audiences have the weirdest tastes when it comes to movies, books and what they look for in people, especially when it comes to what women want in a romantic partner.
Yes, this week, I’ll tackle the question on everybody’s minds, especially if you’re a guy who keeps getting dragged into watching, reading or otherwise taking part in the madness that is the “Monster Romance” genre.
What makes monsters ideal for romance?
To understand why some women* are drawn to this sort of “forbidden love,” we must first take a look at the origins of these demons and their associated stories, and for that, we must start at the oral traditions of our ancestors.
Regardless of what cultural background you have, at one point in history, all traditions were oral, passed down from one generation to another by word of mouth and relying solely on memory and repetition.
This was back when things like a paper and pencil, as well as the very idea of literacy, were either non-existent, or really hard to come by.
It was also the time when there wasn’t all that much known about the world and the sciences were not a very illustrious career path.
As such, people looked to religion and the supernatural to explain calamities and maladies that befell them.
While most of them were lumped together as the work of nameless “evil spirits,” some of these demons began to have names attributed to them when they were used to explain certain aspects of human nature that are deemed “unnatural” by society.
Chief among these aspects were the ideas of lust, wrath, greed and gluttony. While there are many theories regarding whether these monsters had a basis in reality or were simply symbolic, they served the purpose of illustrating what happens when you give in to these impulses.
It is from these tales and traditions that we see the early forms of the vampire and werewolf, the lore of which is often interchanged, combined and even rewritten.
It was often during these periods when being a vampire or werewolf was used as an alibi, an excuse for criminals to do horrible things in the same manner in which one would blame parents or childhood.
So why have these cautionary tales and terrors become the object of affection and not despair?
One theory can be attributed to the very idea of counter-culture. Since the ‘50s, the “teenager” has been considered a separate entity from children and adults. In the eyes of marketers, it is a demographic that has the spending power of adults and the impulses of children.
It is because of this contrast that we also see the “rebellious teenager,” someone who feels like they should be in control of their own life without realizing just how much responsibility that actually entails.
As such, they latch on to things that don’t conform to traditional standards set by their parents. This is not a new concept, but it does explain why teens, particularly female teens, latch on to the idea of dating a demon.
It is the combination of two sets of imagination, a fairy-tale romance mixed with the thrills of rebellion and taboo.
It is a romance where everything is perfect, underpinned by a raw and overwhelming energy that has a very finite list of outlets.
It’s one of the very mindsets that fuels the production and consumption of escapist fantasy, where hardships are left behind for a while and a world of happiness and wonder comes to life.
In the end, the idea of women wanting to date vampires, werewolves, zombies, angels, vulcans, timelords, elves, mermaids or any other fictional entity is nothing new.
It’s merely a new form of escapism and fantasy that emerged to suit one person’s interests that ended up suiting the interests of many. Just be glad that most women can distinguish fiction from fact.
*For any female readers of this publication, let me take the time to illustrate that this is coming from a male perspective, as well as coming from the perspective of someone who studies pop culture trends. I understand that not all women are into that sort of thing, but given that it’s spawned multi-million dollar franchises and long-running television series on the CW, I’m not that far off in my assumptions.