By: JP Chabot
Imagine a story where a mind-shattering demonic entity more ancient than mankind takes on human form to confront the one thing he knows can stop him, a young woman.
Now resembling a smoldering teen heartthrob, he stares into her eyes and angrily declares that he’s an alien creature of pure darkness, and can’t go to the prom with her.
It’s totally ridiculous, and that’s the point of Awoken, a subtle satire of the current paranormal romance fad.
Awoken was crowd-sourced and masterminded by Internet comedians Lindsay Ellis and Antonella Inserra as an examination of all the story tropes that tend to make up current paranormal romances: the self-hating but flawless female protagonist, the “guy best friend” who acts as a romantic foil, the idea that a woman is nothing without a man, and defanged monsters that stray from their story of origin.
The writers used H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos stories as a deliberate way of demonstrating how they can mess with established stories, just as Twilight author Stephanie Meyer invented sparkling vampires.
Awoken has fun with itself, as when Lovecraft’s eldritch horror Nyarlathotep appears as a jovial shopkeeper.
The satire is subtle though, no fourth-wall breaking or winking at the camera occurs.
Like Andy Warhol’s series of paintings, Campbell’s Soup Cans, it’s about context rather than content.
However, the satire is so perfectly overwrought that it’s almost as irritating as the source material. For readers who hate teen drama, the deliberately contrived angst could be more maddening than Great Cthulhu himself.
Elinsen is the fake persona created by Awoken’s writers. Devout, flighty and very sensitive to criticism, Elinsen is a parody of the typical attitude of most supernatural romance authors. She even has a blog and Twitter account to maintain the farce. Her name is a portmanteau of the authors’.