By Ezra Robinson and Ryan Ressmeyer
It is amazing how relevant the messages of a 19th-century horror novel are today. The fear of reverse-colonization which Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula represents is still felt by many Westerners, although Britain has been replaced by America as the nation uneasy about its economic, technological, and military dominance. The presidential nomination of Donald Trump exemplifies the civilian response to this fear. Statements like a widely-mocked warning against the appearance of taco trucks on every corner demonstrate a fear of the United States becoming “mexicanized” in the same way fin-de-siècle britons feared becoming “Easternized”. However, the horror of an oppressed group uprising expressed in Dracula transcends nationality and ethnicity. As we explore in our short film, this concept is equally applicable to gender.
Western civilization has been male-dominated since its inception, and after thousands of years, men have become accustomed to power, both over their own opportunities and over those of women. As could be expected, many find it difficult to relinquish this power, which is why, throughout history, women have had to fight for their rights, whether that be suffrage, the right to work, sexual freedom, or equal pay. Every step women take towards equality, men lose a bit of control. Thus, their response to a woman acting in a traditionally “male” way has often been a personal fear of emasculation, which manifests externally in anger. However, men acting in traditionally “female” ways is found outright terrifying. If men cannot trust each other to uphold the patriarchy and enforce gender roles, what hope is there? Surely, this is the end of America.
We draw the parallel between our film and Dracula through this idea. In Stoker’s novel, the vampire represents the East and Count Dracula’s move to London stands in for the then-greatly-feared process of reverse-colonization in the wake of Britain's decline. In our film, we build off of Stoker’s elaborately sexual descriptions of Dracula’s female kin to make the vampire a symbol of femininity. Instead of “Easternizing” those whom she bites, she literally “feminizes” them, and in doing so, brings out the great fears of society.
We, as creative filmmakers, obviously present this action sarcastically. The feminist movement is is no way about hating, eliminating, or trying to “feminize” men, and emasculation is not something to fear, but to welcome. The truth is that gender roles are not just harmful to women, but to men as well. They confine males to specific standards of toughness and power, which prevent them from expressing emotion and admitting delicacy. People of all genders would be much healthier, both physically and mentally, if they did not feel forced to conform to damaging societal ideals. With this piece, we aim to help dissolve the ridiculous fear of males expressing femininity by exaggerating and making fun of it. Hopefully, men will begin follow the lead of our main actor, and realize there is no horror in the loss of traditional masculinity.