As a kid, I remember watching An American Werewolf in London for the first time. The movie features an amazing transformation scene. It is a comedy yet is still horrifying, especially in 1981. That same year, The Howling and Wolfen were also released.
Somewhere along the journey from then to now, werewolves became pigeonholed. Instead of something potentially terrible- a metaphor for the monster inside all of us, a warning about giving in to our baser instincts- the wolf became some kind of half-animal sex symbol. A schoolgirl’s furry wet dream.
That one or two properties have relegated this mythical beast to such an ignoble role (or even sexist, if I complained about such things) is not the point. I understand what fantasy wish fulfillment is. What boggles my mind is that this is the standard treatment of werewolves now: several shirtless hunks all trying to out-Alpha each other to win the shy girl’s attention.
It’s great that vampires and ghosts and the like have been able to stray from their gothic horror trappings and venture into other territories. Including romance. An American Werewolf in London is a comedy, after all. But where are the more interesting takes? Where is the push to make werewolves more dynamic as characters?
In the Seventh Sons, the outlaw motorcycle club is made up of the beasts. Female werewolves are included too. In fact, a woman is the leader of the gang. How’s that for Alpha?
And that’s all I’m advocating for. Let’s break out of the familiar tropes. Let’s see something new. I want to read about believable people with a purpose. With their own lives. Their own motivations.
And even, hopefully, with their own shirts.
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