Man, it’s one thing to read a contemporary novel and then see a contemporary film based on it, but reading a historical novel after seeing a multitude of films ‘based’ on it—it’s a bit like seeing the original photo after countless Xeroxes of Xeroxes, only at some point, somebody drew a butterfly on one of the Xeroxes so you’re like “Where da fuck did that butterfly come from?”
And the biggest case of that is Lucy Westenra. In the book, she’s pretty indistinguishable from Mina—she’s a modest, innocent young Victorian woman and she spends most of her ‘screentime’ afflicted with Draculitis. So, since she’s introduced getting marriage proposals from three different men, it’s excusable that the ‘memetic’ version of her is the flirty girl to Mina’s more sensible and inexperienced characterization, even though the literary Lucy agrees to the first guy’s proposal, tells the other two as much, and feels sorry that she’s inadvertently caused them heartbreak. WHO-AH, WHAT A SLUT!
But what’s really interesting is how far the rabbit hole goes. Here’s an excerpt from the book.
She seemed like a nightmare of Lucy as she lay there, the pointed teeth, the bloodstained, voluptuous mouth—which it made one shudder to see—the whole carnal and unspiritual appearance, seeming like a devilish mockery of Lucy’s sweet purity.
So there are a few instances where Lucy, in becoming a vampire, tries to ‘kiss’ her fiance and when she’s fully a vampire, she makes a pretty implicitly sexual pass at him. But that’s her being a vampire, and it’s meant to contrast with her real personality. It’s the Victorian equivalent of the little girl in The Exorcist talking about dick-sucking. It’s scary because this isn’t supposed to happen. Your dead fiancee’s reanimated corpse should not be walking around, drinking blood from little kids and coming onto you. By making her super-sexy from the get-go, you’re missing the entire point.
What’s more, and I’m not sure where this started, but I think by the time of Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, the Lucy/Mina relationship has become a full-on Madonna/Whore affair.
Try and guess which one is gonna fuck a werewolf.
Meanwhile, ol’ Drac—the guy with three concubines who he fed a fucking baby to in the book—becomes more and more a romantic lead. And so, as if to make him unaccountable for the slow and systematic murder of a young woman, Lucy becomes a trollop who openly talks about giving beejs, as if the source material has somehow picked up an eighties slasher movie’s “sex equals death” morality. By the time of last year’s Dracula TV show, Dracula outright states that he’s killing and vampirizing Lucy for being such a slut.
Killing multiple innocent women is one thing, but sleeping with someone’s boyfriend? You have offended Dracula’s morality, madam!
Anyway, just a hella weird thing I noticed, that in adapting a very, very old-fashioned literary work, there’s a ton of modern writers who think the best way to update it is to add sexism to it.
And Keanu Reeves. So much Keanu Reeves.