Vampires have always been metaphors for sex — the forbidden, the craven, the sweaty pleasures of the carnal carnival. So has rock ‘n’ roll — even the name has sexual connotations.
But what happens when you remove the sex from both vampires and rock? You get the “Twilight” movies and the Jonas Brothers. And the two have more in common that you may think.
With “Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” we’re three movies in, and still no sex. Just shirtless boys (pale and feral, expertly coiffed) and enough repressed teen hormones to light up the Pacific Northwest.
Exhibit A: Pent-up passion
Up until this point, the entire “Twilight” franchise must hold the world record for scenes of nearly kissing. In the second movie, “New Moon,” almost-smooches are more frequent than action scenes. In fact, they are the action scenes. Or, inaction scenes. In fact, the “Twilight Saga” has been little more than a cinematic purity ring — a chastity promise that keeps its main characters (age 18 and 109) pent-up for four books. Series author Stephenie Meyer has been vocal about her views on sex before marriage.
Exhibit B: Not until you’re married
Each of the homeschooled Jonas Brothers has worn a purity ring. As Joe told US Weekly, the rings were “a promise to ourselves and to God that we’ll stay pure till marriage.” Their “pure till marriage” vow follows “Twilight’s” strategy — fans will have to wait until the fourth movie, or possibly fifth (the final book is being split into two movies) for some hot hot hot vampire lovin’. Within the bounds of marriage, of course.
Exhibit C: Hair
Both the Jonas Brothers and vampire Edward Cullen have the most amazing, architecturally unsound hairdos. A little known fact: Edward himself is 86 percent hair product, 14 percent gristle.
Exhibit D: All that glitters
Contrary to tradition, “Twilight’s” vampires don’t die when sunlight hits them. Instead, they sparkle — as if covered in glitter. The Jonas Brother sell glitter-covered concert T-shirts. Coincidence?
Exhibit E: Synergy
There was talk of the Jonas Brothers appearing on the “New Moon” soundtrack (they didn’t) and Kevin Jonas said he was “blown away” by the first movie. Rumors even surfaced that one of the brothers could score a role in the franchise. Kevin, however, told Access Hollywood that he wouldn’t want to be a vampire. “I’m happy where I’m at, so I’ll stick with living,” he joked. Girls (and record execs) everywhere sighed with relief.
Exhibit F: When angels sing
Instead of roles in “Twilight” adaptations, the JoBros were typecast as the voices of cherub angels in 2009’s “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.”
Exhibit G: Taylor-made
In “Twilight,” Taylor Lautner plays Bella’s lovelorn runner-up, a furry second fiddle to her leading vampire, Edward. In the Jonas Brothers, another Taylor — lead guitarist John Taylor — gets second billing. Even though he guides the band through its candy-coated pop anthems, he’s still just a backup player. Beware, Taylors everywhere.
Exhibit H: What’s that smell?
Initially, Edward is drawn to Bella because of her unique scent and blood type. (Why she’s drawn to him, we never really know. She doesn’t seem to want anything, has no dreams, no career aspirations — she’s just obsessed with being Edward’s eternal arm candy.) Teen mall magnet Hot Topic even released a perfume linked to the film — Twilight Perfume, a lavender and freesia-like fragrance in an apple-shaped bottle. Though the Jonas Brothers wear Prada and Polo Black, it’s only a matter of time before they get their own line. Anyone remember Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth spray?
Exhibit I: False danger
Both properties sell manufactured attitude, false intimacy and a safe rock ‘n’ roll rebelliousness that could only be marketed by Disney. Comedy Central’s “South Park” already expertly parodied the Jonas Brothers for selling sex to tweens while marketing a “pure” family image. All this while singing lyrics like, “I fell / So fast /Can’t hold myself back / high heels /red dress / all by yourself.” Is anyone else catching Little Red Riding Hood hypocrisy from the Jonas Brothers?
Exhibit J: Neutered and non-threatening
The Cullens are vampires, but not the bad kind of vampires. They live in a family structure, send their kids to school and don’t feed on humans. They are “vegetarians,” jokes Edward. Similarly, the Jonas Brothers are a rock band, but not the bad kind of rock band. They come from a good family of absolutely no threat to you or your daughter’s honor. It’s rock, but completely safe and neutered.
Verdict: Both lack bite
The Jonas Brothers and “Twilight” stretch the metaphors of rock and rebelliousness until both are fangless franchises that just plain bite.
Robert K. Elder runs the website itwasoverwhen.com.