Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sparkling Vampires

Vampires have been among the most interesting creatures of the night ever since “The Vampyre” by John Polidori. During the last two decades, though, the vampires have experienced quite some changes. The ‘sparkling’ vampires in the “Twilight” series are just the current high point (or maybe low point) of this development.

The first ‘good’ vampire I came across was Louis from Anne Rice’s novel “Interview with a vampire.” But the first ‘good’ vampire on TV was Nick Knight in the series “Forever Knight.” He was a vampire who wanted to be human again and fought beside humans (especially his partner at the police who had no idea he was working with a vampire … and also had a liking for garlic). But at that time (until far into the 90s), vampires like Nick, Louis or Angel were an exception from the rule.

Today, at least by the look of it, they seem to be the norm. While I can live with – and like – the occasional ‘good’ vampire, I prefer the bad ones, actually. And, judging from the number of captions about ‘sparkly’ vampires of celebrity lol, so do most other people as well.

Fact is vampires are monsters. They are dangerous and feast on human blood. That’s the basic idea (well, the most basic idea is that they feast on human life energy, but blood is traditional by now). Their character is one of the main reason why they are so interesting. Vampires seduce not to bed (even though some may), but essentially to kill. They make people fall in love with them (or at least burn with lust for them) in order to drink their blood later on. In most vampire novels (before “Twilight,” that is), the drinking of blood and the subsequent killing of the human being is a vampire’s equivalent not so much for food, but for drugs and sex.

When Jonathan Harker in “Dracula” not falls victim to the count himself (even though it is hinted that Dracula, too, drank some of his blood), but to the three “brides,” this is a subtext for sex. The three ladies (if this they can be called) basically orally rape their victim – and to a certain degree he enjoys it, because this is part of the vampire myth as it exists today as well. Dracula himself preys on women, on Lucy and Mina who react differently to him. Strangely enough, the first really hunting vampire in literature isn’t Dracula or the vampire in Polidori’s novel, it’s a woman: Carmilla from Sheridan LeFanu’s novel with the same title. But Carmilla preys on women, making her not just the first very active female vampire, but also the first lesbian one (she still is, in movies, together with Elisabeth Bathory, a real person from history and one of the few female serial killers). (By the way: Elisabeth appears in the sequel to “Dracula” written by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt, “Dracula The Un-Dead.”)

I just hope I won’t see the ‘evil’ vampires as an exception from the rule in the future, that would really be a shame. Where’s the dark and dangerous lover ready to suck your blood when you need it?

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