Okay, so it’s not a new phenomenon- something gets noticed, becomes popular and is then repeated by every tom/dick/harry with a media company. Twilight, true blood, lather rinse repeat.
This year’s insufferable culture haemorrhage is vampires. First exploited in the late 1700s in poetry and then notably in 1897 by Bram Stoker with Dracula, the vampire went from being a great piece of folk legend to a kind of sassy undead Casanova. Bram threw in some elements of Irish folklore to do with seduction and mystery and made a great novel- but sadly he also planted the seeds for modern vampire stories where vampires get all sexy and sweaty over the act of feeding on people and generally the curse of unbeing is considered to be not so bad after all. Oh, woe is me, I am cursed to swan around with metrosexuals ‘till the end of time. Okay, maybe that is torture.
Grecian vrykolakas and Slavic Strigoi are among many folk beliefs from pre-industrial Europe which contributed to the mythos- but these guys were not pretty. Swollen, off-colour corpses bloated with blood roam the hillsides spreading disease and dismay. There’s no biting of the neck to sire a new person into a life of mystery, but rather it can happen to any dead person who’s body is mucked about with by an animal, or wasn’t married before death, or simply talked to himself a lot. However, interestingly, the dhampir stuff about human-vamp children who detect vampires is pretty solidly founded on Romani legends.
The point is that at some juncture, maybe via White Wolf publishing and their ilk, the legends became a modern myth about a breed of vampires that look just like people but are capable of astonishing feats of power, who troll the nightlife of the urban world looking for sexy people to seduce and suck the blood from. Should that be from whom to suck the blood?
Each new version of this seems to water it down or add some ridunkulous powers- like flight (I’m looking at you True Blood. You were doing so well up ‘till then). Aside from that we have super senses (why?) and super speed (corpses known for their agility) and strange blood related magic which speaks to the sympathetic mage in me but tends to just look like more diluted artistry when applied to the TV screen. Bringing science into the mix- the old ‘it’s a virus’ routine- works great for sci fi but removes all mystery and spirit from the idea.
Some of these products touch well on the black woeful curse aspect, doomed to live a life of yada yada, no sunlight ever again; okay, we have a tension and drawback dynamic there. Brill. Even Buffy and Angel got that right and Whedon was trying to take the piss out of vampires. Then along comes Twilight and decides that vampires don’t go out in the daylight because… what, they burn up? They go into an animal frenzy and lose all their fragile attachment to a humanity long since fled? No, they sparkle. They go all shiny and pretty. Aww.
What the hell is wrong with you Meyers? Shiny sparkly supernatural love stories. Baseball with super powers. Even True Blood, which I actually love due to fantastic characters and a rich setting, has a grating ‘vampires are no longer kept secret’ get-out clause to make the story safer and simpler. Fangs are retractable for some unknown reason, making them able to wander around among the cattle. Where’s the edge, people? I’m all for bringing new ideas to an old concept, even turning a concept on it’s head, but this just feels like disarming it.
Stop making vampire stuff please, or at least find a new name for your totally made up supernatural creatures. Don’t even mention the Vampire’s Assistant to me. Regardless of my acidic sniping please send me copies of your books and films to review them despite this rant. Maybe I’d be more sympathetic if I could get to grips with the non-screenified source material.
I vant to suck your bloughd.