This video provides some interesting commentary, but I think it misses some key points, which I highlight below.

This romantic figure of the untouchable and misunderstood bad-boy is a standard motif. The same ideology plays out in the courtly/chivalric love tradition. The man (here, the vampire boy) posits the woman as his fantasy object that allows him to continue desiring and yet thwarts his every attempt at a “real encounter.” He goes on endless “quests” in her name, fights for her, even dies for her — or, in Bruno Mars’ terms, “catches a grenade” for her… In short, he gives his life meaning by positing her as this mysterious Thing that embodies the impossible combination of enjoyment and frustration, when, of course, she’s actually just a person like everybody else.

In effect, he stops just short of killing her in order to control her as his fantasy-object, to possess a paltry semblance of her actual person; this gives way to the ridiculous (and literal, in this case), movement toward and away from her, the oscillation that in both phases of the movement is really just a way for him to enjoy himself — his love is masturbatory. (Of course, the effect is even more pronounced in the vampire legends because, despite his best intentions, the vampire can’t help but evoke in the woman a strange sense of danger and foreboding, and also of longing and curiosity — this “aura” is a characteristic he possesses as physical feature; even if he tried to conceal his rage behind a veil of a romantic narrative, he couldn’t help but “lie through his teeth,” as it were). At the same time, she gains meaning in her life by being that object which controls his desire; she gets to watch him play out the ridiculous fantasy that he uses to structure his activity, the fantasy frame he’s created as a response to her “inexplicable” beauty. That’s not to say that her subject-position is powerful; on the contrary, the only way that she is allowed to exist in his fantasy world (and in masculinist culture in general), is to assume the position of a displaceable, controllable, empty placeholder for his desire, an objectified “other.”

So it’s not that we all want to have sex with vampires, but rather that they want to have sex with us: vampires are like Bruno Mars-types; they want to keep the woman at a tempting distance so that they can maintain her as a perpetual feed-trough for their desiring selves. The implication, of course, is that the woman has to realize this and not play into the male fantasy. The tragedy is that teen girls (and adults, men and women, whole cultures) buy into this story without questioning its basic premises.

Once she’s gotten into a mutually dependent relationship, then the moment the woman stops acting in accord with the male fantasy, that fantasy falls apart and he will do anything to get her back in that prior objectified state: because his whole life project has been structured around her as that thing which sustains the meaning of his activity (the quest, etc.), he can’t stand to let her go. By leaving him or showing her “real” self, he has gotten too close to the object of his desire and realizes the horrible fact that she is just a human being; she instantly becomes the grotesque Thing that denies him the coherence of his pathetic fantasy: he sees the reality of her freedom from him.

Think about Bruno Mars’ pathetic cry about catching the grenade and doing the other disgusting things to himself: this is simply an inward projection that masks his subdued homicidal rage. He hates her for leaving him, but he can’t kill her, because of course then he wouldn’t have his love-object, so he’ll direct all that rage inward, try to convince the woman (and himself) that his rage is really against himself, try to fit the rage within the framework of the traditional romantic/chivalric love fantasy (“I’ll die for you”), so that he might actually “win” her back.

The makers of the video above have some interesting thoughts on this, but the fact is that the anxieties of puberty or environmental catastrophe are purely circumstantial; these are contingent factors that don’t get at the real crux of the matter as I’ve outlined it above.

These are the basic coordinates of human desire; nothing new here. Maybe, then, we should consider Twilight a work of non-fiction; fictional fantasy (courtly love is just one example) is the reality that we live with every day, and it takes a hell of a lot of work to break out of it, to “traverse the fantasy,” as Lacan says.

In other words, reality is virtual. For more on this, please enjoy the following video lecture by Slavoj Zizek:

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