27
Jan
2012
Civilized Discussions Between Reasonable People
Gaila vs. Rachel: the Salvatore Brothers
Gaila and Rachel
Civilized Discussions Between Reasonable People is a weekly chance for two Review to Be Named Staffers to come together and engage in a conversation about issues where they don't see eye to eye. Sure, the title may be more aspirational than accurate, and the tone may vary from week to week depending on the level of passion and the strength of discourse. Civilized Discussions Between Reasonable People will be an outlet for RTBN writers, who, for the most part, all love each other, to revel in the two things we love even more: pop culture and arguing.


THIS WEEK: Gaila vs. Rachel on the Salvatore Brothers from The Vampire Diaries

Gaila

As Elena Gilbert has demonstrated in incredibly painful fashion over the course of the last three years, trying to decide which Salvatore brother is better is basically the most difficult task in the history of the world (I really think that is only a slight exaggeration). And, as the heroine of the Vampire Diaries moves ever closer to choosing the older and probably not wiser Damon as her manfriend, it seems like a good time to really showcase the particular strengths and weaknesses of the hottest and most entertaining brothers on television.

I personally have always been a Stefan girl. This is not to say that Stefan is the better brother (I'd really hate to see Damon's face if someone ever actually said those words to him), but rather that there are specific qualities of Stefan's that I appreciate more. So, in an effort to quantify the allure of the two, in order to establish whether one is actually more desirable, I will explain in part my reasoning:

Stefan is supremely confident. When you strip Damon of everything (his bravado, his anger, his cockiness) the real impetus behind nearly everything he does is his self-consciousness. Stefan, on the other hand, knows he's the shit. Which is the reason, I think, that both Katherine and Elena were drawn to him, and why he is so magnetic and fun to watch, whether he's evil or crazy or in love. He doesn't really question his self-worth--he does have, I know, some wallowing, woe-is-me I'm a terrible person type depression moments, but I think those come more from the realization of what he is capable of than from insecurity. Stefan is sure of himself, in that he knows what he wants, he knows what he's going to do and he knows that he'll get it. When he's all guilty and tortuous at the beginning of the series, the confidence is less obvious, I know, but I think the sort of contemptuous way he treats Damon shows that he still knows he's better than Damon, that he still retains the knowledge that, while good he's always gonna be more noble and more moral than Damon, and that, while bad, he's going to be a hell of a lot more fun and definitely more cruel than his big brother. And, now that he's gone completely nuts and has decided he's the big bad, I've no doubt that same confidence is going to result in some incredibly awesome, incredibly terrible shit for the people of Mystic Falls. Basically, I think I'm attracted most to Stefan because he would never ever worry about whether he's the better brother...he knows he is.


Rachel

Whenever I try to compare the Salvatore Brothers, I have to think about Stephen Colbert's quip: great, or greatest? I mean, come on:

the Salvatores

But hey, being conflicted over the Salvatores is a great problem to have (you hear that, Elena?). So, for today at least, I'm throwing my lot in with Damon.

To pick up on the thread of self-confidence that you brought up, Gaila, I'd say that his insecurity is part of what makes Damon more attractive than Stefan and his infinite confidence. Because Damon's insecurity makes him more human, and that's saying something, considering we're talking about the undead here. Who wants a perfect supernatural being? I mean, it makes them so inaccessible. Damon's personal trials are so much more relatable than Stefan's: everyone knows a bully is a bully because he isn't secure with himself, and even if you never pass over into bully territory, we all feel that crippling self doubt that we negate through over-compensation at some point in our lives.

But, to play devil's advocate, I could say that in many ways, Damon is in fact moreconfidant than Stefan. In The Vampire Diaries, coming to terms with what you are (be it vampire, witch, werewolf, or hybrid) is a not-so-metaphorical representation of coming to terms with who you are. And in the young adult setting, this is the most potent theme of all. Damon is way more secure in his identity as a vampire than Stefan is. Stefan spends most of his time fighting the fact that he's a vampire, and when he does give into it, he only manages to do so by forgetting that he used to be human (and turning off his humanity, first as he is compelled to do by Klaus and later as he must do, as a defense mechanism). Damon, on the other hand, manages to better balance what he was and what he is, although I won't lie, he isn't always entirely successful. In a weird way, vampire-ness aside, Damon is infinitely more real than Stefan because he struggles so much; he doesn't always get it right (in fact, he more-often-than-not gets is very, very wrong), but his instinctual behavior, his struggles with his identity, and the fact that all of his decisions (in his own, twisted way) come out of love ultimately make his humanity his most attractive attribute (which is saying something...I mean, have you seen those eyes?)

Moving right along, sometimes Stefan (particularly in his earliest iterations) can be a real drag. Damon, in what I can remember, really only has one episode of debilitating wallowing, and even then, when he is on the brink of supernatural death following an unfortunate nibble from a werewolf, the wallowing is more contained than Stefan's ever was. Even as he starts to grow a conscience in the newer season, Damon is always down for a good time, a good drink, and a good laugh. Stefan, even when he's evil, has an ascetic demeanor: he's constantly sacrificing something, be it himself, his love, his humanity, etc. etc. I don't know which would be worse at a party: downer Stefan with his humanity, or evil Stefan with his cruelty. Damon, at least, would always make for some interesting adventures and a rousing drinking game.


Gaila

Those are all excellent points, Rachel, and definitely showcase why Damon would be a better person to have around in real life. However, I think the thing I relish most about television, and particularly about supernatural television such as the V Diaries is that I don't know, and will never know, the people on whom I am spying. I appreciate the intense beauty, crazy happenings, and insane plot twists that just don't exist in real life, and the exaggerated character types are a major part of that. Damon would be more fun to be friends with, whether we were drinking heavily, making jokes, or just running around, doing dumb shit. As all of these are important aspects of my friendships in real life, I think it's safe to say I'd definitely be down to be Damon's friend, were he to show up in Austin and randomly decide that my friendship is exactly what he wants (doubtful, I know). But in terms of watching people on television, I will always want Stefan, because everything he is and does is so much more awesome than anything that might happen in real life. In real life, a little bit of insecurity on a hot guy is great, because it makes him more interesting and more approachable. But on tv, I want my hot guys to have unshakable confidence, to own themselves and their actions and the fact that they are so much more awesome than normal people. Stefan, with his predilection for intense broodiness, overwhelming desires, and general badassery, is so much more fun and compelling to watch. In addition to all of that, Stefan makes the more compelling television: as he is so confident and so focused on himself and his desires, he is more unpredictable, more interesting, and infinitely more watchable. In the last few episodes alone, he's had at least three major personality shifts, changed sides at least four times, and has now decided that he's the villain of the show! Only someone who was fully invested in himself and what he wants could pull off the amount of crazy shit Stefan has in the two and a half seasons of the show, and it's amazing, and so much fun to watch.

Also, honestly, I prefer Stefan's hair. I know Damon makes jokes about his superhero haircut all the time, but Damon's hair always looks flat and sad. Stefan's love for gel knows no bounds, but it totally works for him.


Rachel

Ugh, the hair. Damon's hair is pretty ridiculous most of the time, so I will concede that that point has to go to Stefan.

But I must disagree: if you're looking for a spectacle, Damon is clearly the winner. He's ridiculous. I mean, he spends a bunch of the earlier episodes of The Vampire Diaries acting completely, certifiably insane, doing whatever he wants whenever he wants to whomever he wants. Plus, even now, he still makes a habit out of killing Alaric whenever he's frustrated. In that sense, he is much more awesome than anything that could happen in real life, in a way that is similar to Klaus and his general bad-assery, to use your term (I'm sort of Team Klaus these days. I have a thing for terrible men).

Damon is electric on screen, with his devil-may-care disregard for people's feelings (until Elena got to him, of course. Damn you, Gilbert!), his twisted loyalty to his brother, his apparent distaste for clothing and overwhelming appetite for alcohol, women, and adrenaline make him the perfect kind of TV crack I look for in shows like The Vampire Diaries. Plus, he does a great crazy eye. But I think I'd be entirely too afraid to be friends with him in real life because...well, for a large amount of time, he is incredibly unbalanced. He's getting more stable, which makes him more compelling from a real-life standpoint, and evil Stefan is definitely doing a great job picking up the slack. God forbid the writers ever being dumb enough to make them both nice at the same time...but with the current love triangle rearing its ugly head, I'm not too afraid of that happening anytime soon.

I digress. Back to Damon, and what makes him awesome. Damon's interactions with the supporting cast are way more fun than Stefan's, and he generally brings greater excitement or action to the screen because of it. I love his constant bickering with Bonnie. And, I mean, we have Damon to thank for Caroline being a vampire (perhaps generally a bad thing, but it definitely improved Caroline's character). Damon even butts heads with a bunch of dead witch spirits, to great comedic effect. My point with this is that Stefan very often turns his feelings totally inward, and while it makes for great brooding, if I wanted to watch attractive men brood in silence, I'd head down to my local hipster coffee shop and hide all the soy milk. The Vampire Diaries has really come into its own as an ensemble show, and Damon helps to really stimulate that dynamic in a way that keeps me coming back for more.


Gaila

Oh Rachel, you make such good points. But I still love Stefan more. And I think my last real argument is his love for his brother. Obviously, the two boys love each other a whole lot. But from what I can remember, Stefan has demonstrated his love often and in really difficult situations. In season one, when Damon was being so horrible and annoying (I'm still angry he killed Lexi. Why did that have to happen??), Stefan could have (and maybe should have) ended him then, thereby saving himself a lot of trouble and saving quite a few people's lives. But Stefan didn't, because he loves his big brother so much. Later, we found out that Stefan essentially turned Damon into a vampire, in part because he couldn't bear for Damon to die, but also because he wanted to enjoy his new life with his brother. For me, someone whose siblings are a huge part of my life and my identity, I can't help falling completely in love with people who love their siblings, and Stefan has demonstrated his love over and over on the show. In this season, Stefan essentially gave up his free will in order to save his brother's life, even when it meant the end of both his relationship and his sanity, and later he foiled a plan that would have meant the end of his problems, to keep Damon from being torn apart by hybrid vampire-werewolves.



It's funny when Damon gets angry at Stefan for continuously saving him, but I think it's also a testament to how much the younger brother cares about the welfare of the older, especially considering Damon's predilection for getting himself almost killed, or stabbed, or otherwise in grave danger. As awesome as Damon is, I'm going to have to go for Stefan in any discussion of their respective merits. He might be younger, but he's cooler, more confident, and definitely better at saving his brother's ass. Plus, have you seen him shirtless. No? Here you go:

the Salvatores

You're welcome.


Rachel

Gaila, you sure are a tough act to follow. I'd agree with you that Stefan's declarations of brotherly love often manifest more significantly, but, as I'm sure you'd agree, I don't think that necessarily means that Damon loves his brother any less. Stefan's grand gestures may actually stem from the fact that he made Damon a vampire, taking his mortal life away from him and giving him his new (but definitely tortured) life as a vampire. Clearly Stefan has manifested a lot of guilt over this, considering his intense insistence on Elena having the choice to become a vampire (even when it seems to be the chain of events that makes the most sense) and the huuuge fallout of evil Stefan's recent use of Elena's possibly becoming a vampire to blackmail Klaus.

To get back to the personal stuff, maybe I like Damon because he is way more like my own older brother: he may give you some tough love to your face (and I mean "tough love" in the traditional sense, where said brother seems, for all intents and purposes, to be a huge ass, but in the nicest way possible), but he always has your back, especially when it counts the most.

Clearly there is no wrong answer in this fight, so I'll just wrap this up by highlighting one more of Damon's great attributes: his love of bubble baths.


Damon

Ok no, I'm kidding. Sort of.


Tags: the Vampire Diaries
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