Sunday, December 6, 2009

Angel Appeal

angel button

What is the appeal of the angel in modern fiction?  Is it the same as for other paranormal heroes like vampires and werewolves?  Are angels, as themselves, attractive at all, or do they need to be modified into more visceral creatures to be sexy?

Like vampires, angels are usually immortal, with amazing powers.  Unlike vampires, however, their traditional mythos has them as helpers to humanity--or, more specifically, as messengers.  In fact, the very word angel means messenger.  Although angels are figures in Christian, Judaic, and Islamic (re: monotheistic) religions, they originated in Sumerian, Babylonian, and Ancient Egyptian culture.  Good angels serve as liasons between god[s] and humanity; fallen angels try to misdirect humans.  Because angels can go between worlds, they seem to be equal part spirit and flesh--beings of light and "man of god."  Exactly how much they mingle with humans is up for debate, but they don't feed off humanity like vampires do.

Vampires are children of the earth--hungry for both sex and power, they have no ability to move on, to ascend.  With vampires, immortality does sound like a drag.  They represent what humanity most fears that it truly is.

Angels, on the other hand, are the ideal, icons of what humanity can be.  Or at least that's their traditional symbolism.

The problem with "angels being the new vampires" is that, instead of providing a counterpoint to vampires, they seem to be becoming vampires.  Hungry for power and sex, their existence is rarely connected to a higher power; and they're at the very least conflicted and hardly ever good.  What does this say about our current culture?  Do we love bad boys so much we can't work up an interest in anything else?  Or is hope and spirituality so fantastical it seems safer to adapt angels to a familiar vampiric narrative?

With these "new" angels comes new tropes that have already infiltrated genre fiction--but more about that when I write my concluding post to Angel Month!

What do you think is the appeal of angels in fiction?  Can they really replace vampires?

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