Another Post update:
The Tragic Death of Cultural Platonism
I do not know if there has ever been two bibliobloggers to do a joint post on the same stupid television show, but here goes; Polycarp takes part two.
For those in the audience that have not been living beneath a bomb shelter the past five years, there is this current trend in Hollywood as well as the novel industry that seeks to re-tell the story of the European myth of vampire, and in the process, from my view, re-affirm post-modern definitions of masculinity. [Note: for those who know my critique of post-modernity as a classist philosophy, know that this is not a good thing]. I could go on a rant about the violence and sexual promiscuity promoted by t.v. shows like True Blood or the Twilight series, but that really is not where I would like to focus my critique. Rather, I would like to point out the consumerist cultural viewpoints that are necessarily purported in these phenomena.
For starters, I see the nation’s cultural reconstruction and obsession with vampires as a metaphor. Vampires in the 21st century are persons who are half dead, yes, but also persons who live by their appetites, their desires, and emotions. There is no need for self-control. It is a hormonal-led lifestyle where human beings live by their wants. Philosophically, we are bombarded with commercials that tell us to “Just Do It,” to get that fourth meal at 3am because that what we want. I, along with other post-colonial scholars, wonder if post-modernity is just the latest faze in late capitalism, that of CEO-driven, corporation ran, anything goes, all desire is good, consume all you want attitude. Thus, I find a connection with much “post-modern” scholarship with its anti-Platonist polemic and the current social obsession with vampires. If vampires are re-conceived as creatures of corporatist lust, why, there is nothing from stopping us from liking them, is there? They are no longer dangerous, no need to fear them. They are our friends, and so are all of all desires. The distinction between right and wrong desire is blurred. But this is the consequence of what happens when we blindly do not appreciate what Platonism once offered us. The warning to us all that living by our appetites is a dangerous thing. From my studies on Clement of Alexandria, his Christology stands as a threat against the vampire religion of today. Christ, for Clement did not need to eat or drink, he just chose to (almost docetic) but at the same time, a possible protest against Roman Egyptians who lived as they deigned fit. For Clement, Christ stands as the supreme example and the one way in which humanity could live in self-control, to be truly autonomous from sin (perfection/theosis) by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Bill Compton and Edward represent the post-modern male, controlled by their wants, because, in a consumerist society, self-control is superfluous. Love is redefined, as one reviewer of Twilight correctly noted, as self-serving and teenage infatuations with abled, beautiful bodies. The popularity of a television show should not lead us to sugar coat its obvious moral implications, nor can we, as some have suggested, separate the “good writing and story structure” from the gratuitous nature of the product, but they must be seen as essential to the message being conveyed by the cultural producers of vampire-mania.
Without discernment of which wants are correct, we just end up with a society where bailouts and cultural censorship are deemed as necessary.