Whither the Werewolf?

by Gail Z. Martin

Werewolves are the new hot, hairy heartthrobs.  Whether it’s Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series or the uber-handsome werewolves in MaryJanice Davidson’s Queen Betsy books, or Quentin in Dark Shadows, or even the tragic Remus Lupin in Harry Potter, werewolves are the bad boys you can’t help but love.

In many ways, the werewolf has always depicted the brutal side of male behavior. And the truth is, there’s nothing sexy about domestic violence.  (Read Tanith Lee’s take on the Little Red Riding Hood story in Red as Blood to turn this trope on its head.) Yet today’s werewolves manage to soften that brutality by focusing their aggression outwards against threats to the mate, rather than internally against their family.

So here’s my question—how domesticated can we make werewolves before they become puppy dogs?  Are we reflecting a desire to find a wolf—or a golden retriever?  And if the wolf is a little too scary, is a German shepherd or a pit bull good enough?

Don’t get me wrong—I think there’s room for people to want a broad spectrum of werewolves, from alpha males to Yorkies (well, maybe that’s going a little far).  And perhaps it’s no different than the trend to shift a vampire from being a monster to being a ultimate-warrior male who is tender at home and rips heads off out in the street (it’s business, not personal).

Yet in many ways, werewolves are traditionally more duel natured than vampires, because vampires never cease being undead, while werewolves are just like the rest of us except around the full moon.  I’ve always thought that real violence is more a part of the werewolf mythos than the vampire trope because a vampire can take blood without killing, and even provide an orgasm for the donor.  Getting gnawed on by a wolf, on the other hand, is more of a downer.

Is there a point to this rambling?  Probably not.  Just some random observations and a few unanswered questions.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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