Saturday, October 3, 2009


Vampires. Love 'em, hate 'em, they're everywhere these days. It's like unicorns all over again, except people seemed to just ignore the fact that unicorns used to be this powerful, wild creature. I don't mean that unicorns were all death and destruction, but most people remember the virgin capture. It was to tame a unicorn. There was a wild creature there to tame.

So, why are some people so obsessed with vampires remaining monstrosities (because yes, any smart being who is always evil is a monstrosity)? It could be because of our most basic definitions of what a vampire is: a humanoid that sucks blood. Losing blood is a dramatic and gory way to die. Strictly speaking about pain, bleeding is not the worst way to go, but it looks bad, it sounds bad, and, if you are around, it smells bad. Scent gives a very visceral reaction.

The biggest complaint I hear is that vampires are being treated as sympathetic and/or kind creatures. The explanation I usually get is that you can see clearly by looking at Dracula, Nosferatu (and occasionally Carmilla) that vampires are evil beings. Pointing to these vampires as the original undermines the point that they are trying to make, as vampires predate the printing press by a long ways. Assyrian, Babylonian, and ancient Hebrew tradition have some written examples, and vampire myths exist in enough separate cultures to suggest a fairly universal idea. Not all these vampires were good, but as to whether they were actually evil...that's not always spelled out any more clearly than it would be for a human in a story. Not even getting into a debate of what is evil...

The secondary complaint I hear, which is usually latched onto the first, is that vampires are becoming hypersexualized. This is an...interesting argument, especially when coupled with a reference to Carmilla or Dracula. Dracula is a thinly veiled "those gol derned foreigners are comin' into our town and rapin' our wimmin!" (Apologies to anyone who actually talks like that or knows anyone who does.) [Note upon rereading: I like Dracula. I've read through it, and enjoyed the book. This is not an insult to the it.] Carmilla is a precursor for lesbian vampires everywhere. Even without that, vampires' lust for blood and lust for sex are commonly combined or conflated in one way or another. If you are saying that older is better, having borderline hypersexualized vampires is all but required.

Why does this bother me so much? Because this restricts vampires to forces, like a tornado, an earthquake or a tsunami. If a vampire just is evil, there is no motivation because there is no choice. A vampire by that definition, or indeed any being with no choice in his or her morality, is not a character, s/he is a force. Even if the vampire was good, that person is dead and gone.

The hypersexualization mostly bothers me because it is a part of the original myth. It would be like calling succubi or incubi hypersexualized. It is a centerpiece of the mythology. Making them without it is completely fine, but don't tell me that doing so is better.

In Summary: Vampires have no 'original' mythology. Don't tell me you, who probably hasn't even been around 100 years, know what happened when bloodsucking humanoid creatures were created. And please don't tell me that's the only way to write them.

P.S. Did you know sunlight didn't kill vampires until very recently? Usually it just de-powered them. True story. [Later: And, of course, really old vampires tended to not physically leave their graves.]

Tropes To Look At (WARNING: This site will ruin your life, suck up all your time, and may addict you to the point that you will no longer be able to have a normal conversation without thinking in tropes. Believe this troper. She knows.)
(Oh, reading anyway? Alright.)
[Note: None of these contain an actualy continuation of my blog post, they just are some of the tropes that got me thinking.]
How addicting is this site? While pulling those links up I started browsing through. I got to non-vampire related tropes, and I almost reflexively linked to wiki walk. Gah!
(And for those of you who want more on that beginning bit: )

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