In romance, the alpha male is strong, assertive, successful and driven. Nothing stands between him and his goal. He is not one to discuss his feelings or ask the heroine about hers. In the end, we learn that he loves as fiercely as he lives. In paranormals, the alpha male is taken to the extreme by the addition of a supernatural element, most notably, vampirism. If you think the millionaire business tycoon is an asshole, wait until you meet his centuries-old immortal counterpart!
And yet, as readers, we can't get enough of them. Whether its books, movies or television, we are obsessed with the human girl who falls in love with the vampire. Rather, we're obsessed with the vampire. Because we seem to HATE the human girl.
If you haven't visited a forum and read comments about Bella from the Twilight Saga or Elena from the Vampire Diaries, get ready for venom spewing not seen since the heyday of Ricki Lake, et al.
"[Elena]'s awful, annoying & whiny."
"Elena is a boring and self-righteous character."
"Bella is a pale-faced klutz."
Seriously, it's harsh.
But I don't blame the characters, I blame the authors.
Why do they believe strength means not listening to others or asking for help?
Strong women learn who they are dealing with and they make rational decisions based on the information available. They don't storm off into danger to prove they are grown and no one can tell them what to do. Examples:
A sadistic vampire is after Bella and Edward's family risk their lives to protect her. Unbeknownst to the Cullens, Bella gets a phone call where she's led to believe her mother's life is being threatened. The "bad" vampire tells Bella to come alone or he'll kill her mother. And she does.
This does not prove that Bella is strong and I hope Stephenie Meyer didn't believe it did. Bella is a human. She is no match for a vampire and there is nothing in her history that suggests she can outsmart him. Plus, she was surrounded by vampires who wanted to protect her. All she had to do was tell them what was going on and they could have come up with a plan. The Cullens end up saving her life anyway, but only after unnecessary angst and drama.
GOOD VAMPIRES: There's a bad vampire who is obsessed with you, Elena. He wants to kill you. Stay in the house. We'll figure out a way to protect you.
ELENA: No, this is all my fault. I will go and deal with the bad vampire myself.
They stand by and watch her go, only to end up saving her later.
Again, I blame the writers. Stop using stupidity as a plot devise!!
There is a maturity that comes with living for years. You learn a lot from your experience, whether you're 30 or 300; the benefit of years give you an advantage over those who've lived and seen less. Plus, men feel a need to protect those they love. It's a biological imperative. You put those things together and you're going to have men who "tell the women what to do."
Listening to them doesn't make women weak, nor does it make the alpha male vampire an asshole.
What do you think about alpha males (human or vampire) in fiction?