When news spread that Peter Murphy, the front man for the pioneering goth band Bauhaus, would appear in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" (in theaters Wednesday), many an Internet discussion revealed the contentious relationship between the popular vampire franchise and the goth subculture. One is a new phenomenon aimed squarely at tweens; the other dates back 30 years and is steeped in its own traditions.
Both obviously share a fascination with vampires. Bauhaus essentially launched goth-rock in 1979 with the nine-minute single "Bela Lugosi's Dead." Followers like Sisters of Mercy and Siouxsie and the Banshees developed their own macabre styles. And although Anne Rice's first vampire novel predated goth by a few years, she seemed inspired by it when she turned the hero of "The Vampire Lestat" (1985) into a rock musician.
So why won't some goths let "Twilight" in the club? Partly, it's because the movies (and their source novels) are so darn wholesome: Author Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon, and her young heroes remain conspicuously abstinent before marriage. By contrast, goths have long cultivated an aura of bisexuality, sadomasochism, moral depravity and overall ill health. It's difficult to imagine Bella Swan of "Twilight" listening to bands with names like Christian Death and Alien Sex Fiend.
In a way, casting Murphy in "Eclipse" is like casting Pope Benedict XVI in a "da Vinci Code" sequel - would that delight or disappoint the average Catholic? The difference, of course, is that most tween-age "Twilight" fans wouldn't recognize the 52-year-old Murphy if he bit them on the neck.