We’ve had the vampires, cool, collected, tortured, ferocious and merciless while elegant and noble. With so many Twilight knock-offs, they’re out the door, though a few want to stick around.
We have zombies at the moment, metaphors for the numbing effects of society on man and creepy cannibals without brains (fast or slow depends on which adaptation you’re watching/reading). Not sure if this fad is peaked yet, but I think you could make an argument for affirmative and negative on this.
And werewolves, with Teen Wolf and The Wolf Gift rocking critics and bringing in the money, might still get their own fad (I’m hopeful they will, anyway). And why not? They can go from calm, human, and even meek to large, ferocious, and virile in a space of seconds and then back again. There’s something magnetic about that.
However quickly beating the werewolves to the popularity stage and joining the zombies are some ladies I didn’t see coming: witches. Double double, boil and trouble.
With Oz, The Great and Powerful making millions at the box office, a reboot of Sleeping Beauty based around Maleficent by Disney coming out next year, the Rob Zombie movie Lords of Salem starring his brilliant wife Sheri Moon Zombie coming out this coming this weekend, plus a whole slew of other works that I can’t list here and more that I don’t even know about, it’s safe to say that witches are getting their own turn in the supernatural spotlight.
Why witches? it can’t be the Harry Potter fandom looking for something to keep them occupied now that there are no more books or movies, is it? I seriously doubt it. In fact, I think it’s the idea of a woman taking power and fighting back against the cruel world with a tool all her own. Witches–or Wiccans, as they were first called–were seen as mediators between the physical world and and the spiritual worlds, making them objects of both admiration and fear. With the later demonisation of Wiccans, witches gained an official position of being for good or evil. And in the past hundred years, witches have taken a center status in the scale of good and evil, with the evil including the Evil Queen, The Wicked Witch of the West, and Maleficent, while the good include Glinda, Hermione, and Willow Rosenberg (that’s a Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference if you didn’t get it).
Until now, portrayals of witches has been somewhat sporadic. But I think now, with the women’s rights movement gaining a new prominence in our world and women showing men that yes, they can do many of the same things that men can do and sometimes even better, studios and authors are using witches to portray women in roles of leadership and power and able to do things that some say only men should do, including saving the free world, and are not usually desperate for love, though they don’t mind companionship in their lives. It’s a stunning archetype compared to women in zombie or vampire films, who are often damsels in need of saving and often only become warriors after a lot of prodding and are constantly looking for love.
So what can we expect? Perhaps a resurgence in older works centering around witches, like The Wizard of Oz and perhaps Anne Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair Wtiches trilogy. There might be a wave of magic-centric books with female protagonists (I know I’ve got one tucked away that I might pull out one of these days), plus movies and TV shows that remind us of Once Upon a Time while they try to be better than that show. And of course, as with vampires and zombies, there will be the detractors and parodies that always acoompany fads in fiction with this.
It’ll be interesting to see what materializes in the next couple of years if this fad takes hold, won’t it?
And as for my own stories about witches (and there are a couple, though only one features a magic that can be used only by women under normal circumstances), I’ll probably wait for a while. I don’t like to follow fads in fiction, which is why I haven’t written a zombie novel yet or released my previous vampire novel (which I’ll rewrite at some point in the future, I’m sure). But hey, look on the bright side: when I do write these stories, you won’t have to worry about my stories being the same as everyone else’s.
Do you think witches will be the new zombies or vampires? How do you feel about that?