The Hidden Wealth of Vampires

The Cullen Family

When vampires meet great wealth through the stock market, what do they do with it? Apparently, they hoard. Sound like any one-percenters you know?

To my readers: I haven’t blogged for a while – sorry! I’ve been readying one novel for publication, and finishing another.

But I’m back, and ready to discuss something that’s annoyed me about the Twilight series ever since I finished reading Breaking Dawn, about to be released as two separate movies, which in my opinion the book neither needs nor deserves. And it’s practically Halloween, the perfect time to talk about vampires, treats, and tricks. Oh, those tricks.

A number of people regard Breaking Dawn as the best book of the series. Fine. Opinions differ. To me, it was diffuse and fulsome and too neat, too happy-ending, and contained a lot of white space and egregious errors – such as snowflakes possessing eight points (page 535). Where were its editors?

But one aspect of the saintly Cullen family (the “vegetarian” vampires who go after animals rather than humans, thus earning PETA’s undying enmity – if the Cullens haven’t dazzled PETA, too) that absolutely stuck in my craw was the fact that, as described, they are so much like the 1% we’re hearing about now.

When Bella goes searching for cash to spend on false IDs for her daughter and Jacob – she fears that she and Edward may not survive a coming encounter with the vampire powers-that-be – where does she go? To a bank? Please. She searches places in the Cullen house where money is hidden. Big money. “I had it all paper-clipped into five-thousand-dollar increments,” she notes. Her sister-in-law Alice, who possesses foresight and an apparently amazing online stocks portfolio, has enabled the Cullens to own multiple heavyweight accounts. Bella refers to these on page 647: “. . . the bloated accounts that existed all over the world with the Cullens’ various names on them, there was enough cash stashed all over the house to keep a small country afloat for a decade . . ..”

Wait a minute. Yes, the Cullens may need some sneak-away money to convey them elsewhere, should the jig be up in rainy Forks, Washington. Collectively, they have hundreds of years of experience in the art of the scram. But Alice would still be able to access online trading. Even on the run, she could do that from any public library in the US. Setting up a new checking account – even if she were unable to access the “bloated accounts” – would be equally easy. With a new place for cash and the ability to spot when to sell high, bam! The Cullens would be sitting pretty within days. Chances are, too, that those stuffed accounts are in places (Switzerland comes to mind) where the Cullens can be anonymous and avoid paying taxes on their interest gains. In fact, it sounds suspiciously like the vampires are gaming the system.

If even the money kept in the house is enough to keep a small country afloat for a decade, it’s billions of dollars. Why keep this excess, which the Cullens clearly don’t need? More to the point, why not do something useful with it? Why not, in fact, benefit Forks, or the county, or Washington State? Or some of the thousands of nonprofits that get things done in the US and overseas? Since they themselves can never die (unless attacked and burned by other vampires), why are the Cullens stockpiling assets instead of using them to help their neighbors?

Where is the Cullens’ sense of social justice?

I’m referring especially to the elder Cullens, Carlisle and Esme, who act as foster parents to the rest. Carlisle has centuries of experience under his belt. As drawn, he and Esme fit the image of ideal Mormon parents. They set the tone for the rest, their “children”. Yet they apparently don’t give much to their community (except in Carlisle’s practice as an emergency room physician) and there’s ample evidence that Alice, at least, is obsessed with costly designer clothes, and that Esme spends a great deal of money on home improvement and decorating. The young men buy expensive cars. Bella’s new vehicle, after she becomes a vampire, is a high-tech imported sports car, a gift from Edward.

Is this vampire trickle-down economics? Didn’t the Cullens get the message, that trickle-down is voodoo, that it just doesn’t work?

Whatever. The Twilight phenomenon began with the publication of the first book in 2005. For six years, the Cullens have been adored by numerous fans who have made author Stephenie Meyer wealthy in her own right.

What we need, at this point – bearing in mind that the first film of Breaking Dawn is due in American theaters on November 18, only three weeks from now – is to make it clear that the Cullens inhabit the 1% of the US wealthy. They are the super-wealthy.

Placards, signs, bullhorns. The protests of Occupy Wall Street and its progeny should have been made for the past ten years. After six years, it’s time to pull the disguising curtain from the Cullens, who – even ignoring their vampirism and immortality – in no way represent the average American family.

Occupy Breaking Dawn. There’s a certain justice there.

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October 31, 2011 · 12:54 am

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