Mixtape – Damon Salvatore – Vampire Diaries – Part I

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Hugh Hefner, the Playboy founder who bedded many of his own magazines’ centrefolds, gave a simple answer when asked what his best pick-up line is. 

“Hi, my name is Hugh Hefner.” 

Now, we know Stefan loves eating bunnies, both the Thumper kind and apparently even the Playboy kind, back in the day (He tells Elena before their ill-fated double date with Care and Matt about the OTHER double date he’d been on: “’72 Hef and the twins. I got Miss June.” LOVE!)

But when it comes to TVD fandom as a whole, the vamp with the power to drop the panties of most women with the simple recitation of his name is Mr Damon Salvatore. Heck, he even comes attached to the ultimate set of bedroom eyes. 

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So, strip down to your pink panties if you’re a fangirl or rip open your shirt if you’re a fanboi. It is finally time to dance our hearts out to an in-depth Damon mixtape. 

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I’m going to use a slightly different format for Damon, because there is just so much to cover. I’ve chosen one song for major chapters of his life or characteristics he has displayed. His relationship with Stefan is so complex that I’m going to do a standalone Salvatoreo breakdown, so that’s why the Stefan/Damon dynamic isn’t mined as fully as it could be here. 

Even though it isn’t a Monday and that’s when I usually post mixtapes, after my fangirl drought because of Adelaide festival madness these last few weeks, I just can’t wait until next week and am going to post at least one edition per night for the rest of this week.

Here’s a little Splish!Splash!Damon for the road, courtesy of the awesome KJewls of TV Recappers Anonymous!

Mixtape Track #1 – Spanish Sahara – Foals 

Lyrics: 

So I walked through to the haze
And a million dirty waves
Now I see you lying there
Like a lilo, losing air… air
Black rocks on the shoreline surf
Still that summer I cannot bear
And I wipe the sand from my eyes
It’s the Spanish Sahara, the place that you’d wanna
leave the horror, yeah…
 

Forget the horror here
Forget the horror here
Leave it all down here
It’s future rust and then it’s future dust

Forget the horror here
Forget the horror here
Leave it all down here
It’s future rust and then it’s future dust…

Now the waves, they drag you down
Carry you to broken ground
Though I’ll find you in the sand
Wipe you clean with dirty hands
So god damn this boiling space
It’s the Spanish Sahara, the place that you’d wanna
leave the horror, yeah…

Forget the horror here
Forget the horror here
Leave it all down here
It’s future rust and it’s future dust
I’m the fury in your head
I’m the fury in your bed
I’m the ghost in the back of your head
Cause I am…
I’m the fury in your head
I’m the fury in your bed
I’m the ghost in the back of your head
Cause I am…
I’m the fury in your head
I’m the fury in your bed
I’m the ghost in the back of your head
Cause I am…

Forget the horror here
Forget the horror here
Leave it all down here
It’s future rust and it’s future dust

Calm the fury in your head
Calm the fury in your bed
I’m the ghost in the back of your head
Cause I am…
Quiet the fury in your head
Quiet the fury in your bed
I’m the ghost in the back of your head
Cause I am…
Quiet the fury in your head
Quiet the fury in your bed
I’m the ghost in the back of your head

Cause I am.

Damon Connection:

Aside from the shirtfulness in season two of The Vampire Diaries, I’ve only really been able to find fault with one other aspect of the wardrobe during the whole series: the slight ridiculousness that is the soldier uniforms various male cast members have been forced to wear. I veer between liking seeing men in uniform and screaming “mine eyes!!!!”

 Vampire Diaries  Rewind, Part 2: That's More Like It!

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The only redeeming feature of this costume is that it is associated with one of the central ironies of the series: Damon, a man who refused to fight the Civil War on the grounds of being a conscientious objector, and abhorred the thought of taking any human life, would be forced by his brother into becoming a creature that is not only devoid of humanity, but requires the life force of human beings to be at full strength (hence the disturbingly erotic image I used at the start of this post).

Even though this song directly references a man’s experience during the battles fought in the Spanish Sahara period, I think the essence of it captures the experiences Damon must have had during the war before he deserted. The suffering he would have witnessed when the “dust” of particular battles settled (“The horror”) may have been repugnant to him as a human, but the normalisation of death in a war is likely part of why he was able to embrace the darker aspects of his vampiric nature. Whereas Caroline, who has been turned in a modern era when America is at peace and wartorn countries are relegated to the evening news, would probably have a different view of death than Damon despite also being a vampire. I see a ruthlessness in Damon, and Stefan, for that matter, than I have never seen in Caroline.

Of course, one reason behind Damon’s desertion was the allure of Ms Katherine Pierce. Prior to setting off for battle, he and his younger brother became enamoured with this vixen, who turned out to be a vampire with a black book to make even Hefner proud. Upon his return, Damon fell madly and passionately, and it turns out, foolishly, in love with Katherine, a love that remained intact even when he learned about her being a vampire.

The founding families in Mystic Falls, including the Salvatores’ father, knew about the existence of vampires and were planning their genocide. Because of his love for Katherine, Damon sided on the vampire equation of the human vs vampire conflict. Kind of interesting that he was almost a conscientious objector for both humans and vampires at various points of his human life.

In The Descent, we find out that, more than anything, Damon misses being human. This was pretty shocking for me while watching the episode, because if there was anything I had been sure of up until then, it was that Damon relished the power and sexiness of being a vampire.

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I don’t care if you have a pulse or not – can you really tell me this doesn’t look hella fun?!

But, when you think about it, it fits with the character who we know once refused to fight in a war during a time where conscientious objectors were spurned by society rather than viewed as highly principled people standing up for a valid philosophical concern.

I would argue that he turned off the switch of his humanity as a young vampire for two reasons. First, he couldn’t handle missing being a human, something he will never be again, and feelings were a constant reminder of this. Second, in order to be the kind of man who could try to save Katherine, by biding his time alone for 145 years and plotting against countless people to break open the tomb, he had to become drastically different to the human Katherine described as “sweet” and “innocent” in The Return.

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I wish “sweet” and “innocent” could do this with me, Kat 😉

The lyric “It’s future rust and then it’s future dust” really captures the corrosive quality of Katherine’s influence over Damon. So desperate he was to be with Kat for eternity, that he learned the tricks of the trade of being a vampire while still human, helping her trick a passing carriage into stopping for her nightly feed and kissing her bloody mouth even though it visibly repulsed him to do so.

Initially, when Damon turned, he tried to be the good parts of a vampire, and Stefan, who turned at the same time, was the one who was out of control with bloodlust. But as the vampire Lexi, who would later become Stefan’s best friend, noted in a flashback scene, “you know this hate that you’re feeling towards Stefan, towards everyone? You think you have it under control, but you don’t. It will get the best of you.” Katherine, who he loved passionately, was also the person who instilled in him the ability to hate with a depth that I doubt would have been possible had she never entered his life.

In the season one finale, his humanity had clearly been switched back on again (too bad Kat was posing as Elena during this speech):

Damon: You know, I came to this town wanting to destroy it. Tonight I found myself wanting to protect it. How does that happen? I’m not a hero, Elena. I don’t do good. It’s not… in me.

“Elena”: Maybe it is.

Damon: No. No, it’s reserved for my brother, and you, and Bonnie… who even though she has every reason to hate me still helped Stefan save me.

“Elena”: Why do you sound so surprised?

Damon: Because she did it for you. Which means that somewhere along the way, you decided that I was worth saving. I wanted to thank you for that.

“Elena”: You’re welcome.

 

In season two, it is revealed that, as they get older, vampires lose the ability to turn their humanity off.

Damon has lashed out several times this season, even snapping the neck of the younger brother of Elena Gilbert, the human girl he has fallen in love with. There is no way to justify this action, but I can understand it – empathising is not the same as excusing, and one of the things that I love about the Damon character is that I can feel for him even as I hate some of his actions.

His recent lash outs have had an out of control nature that he never had in his kills prior to Fool Me Once. In the early days of season one, his madness was methodical, and the deaths all served their purpose of shaking up the inhabitants of Mystic Falls in ways that helped him achieve his goal: breaking open a magically sealed tomb that he thought Katherine was trapped in (though it turned out she had been free for a century and a half and hadn’t even bothered to let him know!).

Even his obsession with keeping Elena safe in season two hasn’t been something he has been able to approach in a wholly single-minded way, because there isn’t a distinctive set of steps to follow, as was the case with opening the tomb. Given the mindgames Kat’s return to Mystic Falls played on him, and the emotional strain of his unrequited love for Elena…

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…I’m not entirely surprised that he has tried to shut down his humanity by committing terrible acts – I think it is a measure of his desperation to be unfeeling like before, now that shutting off his humanity entirely is no longer possible.

Part II of the mixtape will be released tomorrow!

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About Spidey Sense

Pop culture junkie, fangirl, arts and theatre lover, and The Vampire Diaries, True Blood and The Walking Dead obsessive. View all posts by Spidey Sense

7 responses to “Mixtape – Damon Salvatore – Vampire Diaries – Part I

  • kjewls

    You know, ever since you teased the Damon Mixtape Post Series for me, a few weeks back, I’ve been eagerly anticipating its arrival, like a girl on Prom Night, waiting for her Hot Date. So, you can imagine the giddy thrill that rushed through my Damon-adoring body, when I found this Premiere Post in my inbox nearly a week early!

    This post is EPIC, Cherie! As a testament to how much I enjoyed reading this, when I read the last line, my lower lip protruded in a Big Baby Pout. “It’s over? I have to wait until NEXT WEEK to read more?” I thought to myself. (I may have even scrolled up and down a few times to make sure I wasn’t mistaken.)

    No one else puts a scholarly spin on my favorite TV show like you do. Who knew fangirling could be such an intellectual pursuit? Thank you for making me feel SMARTER for being a TVD fan! (And here I thought I was only watching for the half-naked hot boys, who occasionally dance to “Enjoy the Silence.”)

    Now, on to 1864 Damon, and his dorky soldier uniform . . . (Really, I think it’s that misshapen cap that sits WAY too high on his head, that’s the problem. Because the rest of the charcoal grey uniform actually kind of works for me. Though, honestly, it could stand being a little tighter in certain areas ;)).

    I love the parallels you’ve drawn between Damon’s past life, as a humanity lover / conscientious war deserter (Very much like Ian Somerhalder, in real life, I suspect ;)), and his most recent admission that he is actually ENVIOUS of humans. Like you, I was initially shocked to hear Damon admit this. Because I was always certain, that the elder Salvatore LOVED the superhuman qualities associated with vampirism more than any bloodsucker on the planet! However, given the 1864 Damon’s unadulterated ability to love Katherine, despite her “otherness,” his protectiveness toward his brother, despite their difference, and his feelings of kinship with his fellow man, in general, regardless of their “Union” or “Confederate” affiliations, the current so-called contradiction in his moral code suddenly makes a lot more sense to me.

    See? You’ve managed to give me an even better understanding of my favorite television character. I didn’t think that was possible! 🙂

    • Spidey Sense

      Aww, thanks! Don’t worry, I have four or five of these babies coming out over the next few days. Just think of it as my antidote to the hellacious hiatus we’re going through right now. (On a fan forum someone wrote about how Battlestar Galactica fans had to wait a YEAR for a hiatus to be over. So this gave me a little perspective about having to wait until April. Just an itty bitty bit ;))

      Well, I hope this post was the equivalent of you and a Hot Prom Date sticking your heads out of the top of a ridiculously over the top and awesome stretch limousine on your way to the party. It’s just a taste of things to come! There is so much to cover with Damon it was a little overwhelming trying to work out how to go about it. It also made me realise that I should maybe tackle some of the platonic pairings in the mixtapes too.

      The cleverness of your TVD recaps, plus the little running jokes you put in there for regulars, always makes me inner fangirl scholar squee, as much as the insanely hot screencaps you post with them. I love that TVD is so multilayered that it can be enjoyed as an enjoy-the-ride show, rich character study, hot supe soup, or all of the above.

      You’re absolute right. Remove the cap, and I bet I would find that soldier uniform hot. It is just one of those costumes that I can love or hate depending on my mood. Shirtlessness on the other hand… 😉

      I have a feeling that the next time Damon comes close to snapping and killing an innocent, he will hold himself in check. We first had him hurt Jeremy in the worst way possible. Then we had him compel Jessica while he battles his demons and comes close to defeating them, but ultimately gives into them and kills her after releasing her fleetingly. So I’m extremely curious to see if he allows his humanity to win out next time, as I suspect it will.

      Damon is such a complex creation and I feel like I could write a million mixtapes and never quite explain every facet of this character. But I hope you guys will enjoy those I can capture 😉

  • André

    Well you have again proven your skills in interpretation. And I finally know what Stefan said before that he got Miss June. The word “Hef” I never could decipher and among my peers I am the one with the most fluent English.
    However I think you have made one mistake. I just saw 2×09 again and Rose words were:
    “It’s a lie, you know. There is no switch you can turn off. Sure [at least I think that was the word she used] when you’re a newbie but after a couple hundred years you just have to pretend.”
    I understood that this means that the vampires cannot shut of their humanity and considered the strength of their emotions, the darker/destructive ones can of course overpower them as well. And although I don’t know how the writers see it but so far the vampires have shown me nothing that is really “inhuman”. Sure there are their feeding habits but that is as far as it goes in my eyes and even that is not more “freaky” than what many human cultures have in store when it comes to customs and snack habits.
    So considered the strength of their emotions it might be much easier for a TVD vampire to go from one extreme to the other if that is in him and this could easily be mistaken for an actual switch. After all in many of them, especially the young ones, there is this intense drive to kill and feed and if you simply give up fighting against/controlling it these needs could come to the forefront very fast and may mix with other dark desires. Of course it might not work at all to give in (a reason why I doubt Caroline will ever be a “ripper” so easily or that if Jeremy had become a vampire his pain would have ended) if they have no real inclination to do it – saying something is after all not the same as doing it.
    Obviously even among young ones it’s often “just pretend” that you don’t care. And considered that the TVD vampires are quintessentially human it is safe to assume that they work the same way as baseline humans do when it comes to their darker desires.
    This would of course mean that no matter how you put it, whatever the vampire in question does, it is not some sort of “other” or “it” who performs all these actions. It is him/her and no one else. No matter what comes, no matter what insanity, cruelty, bloodlust, rage, coldness and who knows what else, it is first and foremost always the vampire him/herself. And this would let the characters appear in an even darker light. And of course this would mean that the depiction of humanity in TVD as the vampires light side is a false construct and that these darker desires and thoughts are part of their humanity too. I think Damon’s behavior in Season illustrate it. Although he had “switched off” his humanity he still tried to get Katherine out of the tomb. Such attachment was clearly part of his “light side” so if that was turned off, why didn’t he just leave and not care? Sure he could have wanted revenge on Stefan even after all this time but why should he have cared about Katherine if he wasn’t able to feel love or attachment to anybody? So Damons behavior and practically that of every other vampire in the show convinces me that there really is no such thing as a switch and when they commit a crime it is themselves and no one else.

    • Spidey Sense

      Hey André! Glad that you enjoyed the first instalment of my Damon Mixtape Series!

      You know, I think that whether or not vampires can truly shut off their humanity at any point of their “lives” is open to interpretation. I actually took Rose’s words as implying that it is possible for newbies, but that after a couple of hundred years they can switch it off. To tell you the truth though, vampires have always seemed more emotional than humans on this show! Maybe it is a lie they tell themselves so that they can handle the flood of feeling that must come accompanied with everything being amplified. As Caroline told Tyler, in the beginning everything was heightened and she was very emotional. But, there is still the possibility that she simply didn’t shut off her humanity, and could still choose to do so as a baby vamp. In fact, I kind of hope that baby vamps CAN shut off their emotions, because I think an interesting arc would be seeing what Caroline would do if she turned off her emotions, however fleetingly.

      I think it is an interesting point that you raise about vampires in The Vampire Diaries mythology essentially being human. Vampires in Buffyverse were supposedly devoid of any humanity, yet still had earthly desires even when soulless (as the Judge pointed out when Spike and Dru raised him, they had a little humanity in them). I guess what they lacked was a conscience. So maybe it isn’t really feelings that vamps switch off in TVDverse when they shut off their humanity, but their conscience? Damon could still love and care for another vampire/person, as Spike and Dru did, but perhaps chosen not to care about his victims. Of course, matters have been complicated now that he has feelings for a human and he has opened himself up to his conscience again, as evident in his desire to protect Mystic Falls and its inhabitants that he talked about in the season one finale.

      • André

        Well if the vamps in TVD can shut off their emotions, we have never actually seen one so far doing it. No matter how you put it, S01 Damon did not react unemotionally, quite the contrary he was very emotionally from the start.

        Perhaps this switching off means shutting down the positive sides. But to be honest – as much as we might want to believe it – this is nothing inhuman. I think the Stanford-Prison-Experiment has shown how fast humans can become monsters, therefore I guess for a vampire that could work even faster, ergo “the switch”. And when you are older you simply know yourself better and therefore “lying” to yourself is more difficult.

  • Mixtape – Spidey Damon Salvatore – The Vampire Diaries – Part II « myspideysenseistingling

    […] into Part II of my Damon Mixtape Series with the most iconic song associated with him. Check out Part I if you haven’t already to get up to […]

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