February 4, 2011

I Don't Do Vampires

        A vampire is an undead, demonic monster that preys on the blood and souls of living humans.  This, in my humble opinion, is a Bad Thing.  "Nosferatu" represents the true nature of vampires.  He's horrifying, he's gruesome, and in the classic 1922 silent movie he doesn't even need scary music to  make him seriously creepy.  People all around the world have had folk tales of demons and monsters that suck the life force of the living, but our current conception of vampires comes from the Eastern European tradition, and was formed almost entirely in the nineteenth century.
        As one of many excellent mythological monster options, vampires serve their purpose, but where I got lost was when books and movies started to present vampires as cool.  It isn't that I don't allow people to reimagine traditional fantasy
creatures.  Indeed, I think some of the most interesting stories come when we allow our expectations to be tweaked.  (And I can mention right away two non-scary vampires of whom I'm fond: The Count from Sesame Street and Otto Chriek from The Truth and various other Terry Pratchett books.)  Fine.  If you want to see what happens when vampires aren't evil monsters, we can imagine vampires who take the pledge to refrain from human blood.  Fine.  Or let's imagine vampires who repent of their evil and want to re-earn their souls.  Fine…
        But when it comes to vampires, I have my limit: everything in me rebels at the idea that I should find vampires sexy.  Sexy???  An undead monster risen from its rotting grave to suck my life's blood is supposed to be sexy?  Will sexy zombies be next?  I don't care what famous actor you cast in the role - the cannibalistic reanimated corpse of a villain so evil he has no soul can never be anything but disgusting.  So please, let's not feed our YA readers the message that someone who hurts you and sucks you dry is hot.  Let's not try to claim that sparkly skin - or any form of physical beauty - is enough to make blood-sucking monsters into paragons of perfection.  Let's not keep confusing danger and desirability - particularly not when the danger involves semi-decomposed evil corpses disguised as eye candy with fangs.  In my opinion a sadistic undead monster coming on to me could never be anything but abhorrent.
        And that's why I don't do vampires.

[Pictures: film still from "Nosferatu," directed by F.W. Murnau, 1922;
Count von Count from "Sesame Street," conceived by Norman Stiles in 1972, performed by Jerry Nelson.]

10 comments:

  1. I hate to tell you this, but yes...zombie romance novels are now trendy. I am hoping this trend will "die out" (pun intended) very quickly. Yuck!

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  2. Great post! My daughter (16) and I found the whole Twilight thing pretty creepy - in a disgusting way. I think you summed it up well.

    I'm a big fan of Otto von Chriek, too. He certainly tells it like it is when he confronts William's father.

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  3. I guess I really shouldn't be surprised. D says Rule 34 of the internet states that "If you can imagine it, there's porn of it," and presumably romantic fantasy fiction, too. But I'm not even going to bother explaining why I don't think getting my brains ripped out and devoured sounds romantically appealing!

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  4. Hello, Jeannette. Thanks for commenting! My daughter is 8 now, and I certainly hope she has your daughter's good sense when she's 16! =)

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  5. Is it a symptom of a civilization or culture or group of people in decline that they need to keep ratcheting up whatever it takes to create a "thrill"? Fortunately I possess an "off" button on my technological purveyors of entertainment, and a good public library full of alternatives. Thanks, Anne, for expressing so clearly why this particular emperor has no clothes.

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  6. You're missing a huge part of the Vampires abilities "the Allure of the Vampire". True the twitlight freaks are nothing more than faeries, NOT VAMPIRES! But Nosferatu was one of the biggest contributor of the lies of films. Nosferatu started the whole sunlight BS, Look at the legends and myths they show a ton of differences than the movies. Even if the Vampire is not the man of his or her dreams they mesmerize there prey to see them as they choose them to. Do not forget about the incubus that feeds on the life force as there prey sleeps and they are just the aura of the creature which they make themselves look hover they need to to get a good feeding.

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  7. Thanks for commenting, Father JP!
    I think the sunlight is neither here nor there, although you're right that many of the characteristics commonly associated with vampires are the product of the nineteenth century, not the ancient folktales. Your point about the "allure" is a good one. If you have magic mesmerizing you then you might well not be able to resist no matter how abhorrent the monster actually is. Still, my point here is that vampires are not in any way cool or sexy, even if they might be able to trick a victim into thinking for a while that they are!

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  8. Thanks for this. People tend to look at me like I'm crazy when I've expressed this opinion. Vampires are PARASITES. Definitely not sexy.

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  9. Hello, brandy-painter. Thanks for the comment. We anti-vampiricists (is that a good word for it?) need to stick together!

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  10. Wasn't part of the original sexiness that the swooning victim didn't really know what was going on--she was lost in the seduction or enchantment of the moment? The Twilight series, on the other hand, creates romances where everyone knows the danger, violence, physical pain, etc.--and still defines it as love. I agree there is a great creepiness here--and an equating of love with violence and inflicting/experiencing pain. (Not to mention how it sets femininism back a hundred years.)

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