How Society Defanged The Vampire

Robert Rath

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How Society Defanged The Vampire

Are bloodsuckers losing their mystique? As Halloween approaches at the end of this month, Robert looks at the vampire and what it has become.

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Thaluikhain

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Eh, let them fade away and be replaced by something new. Christ, anything new.

One of my gripes with vampires (and similar monsters), is that despite not existing, they are easily recognisable, with rules that are set in stone (sparkling vampires are bad because it's a bad idea, not because it's "raping the mythos" or somesuch nonsense).

Mind you, zombies have it worse. Nothing like zombies have ever existed, and yet everyone recognises them. But whenever they are created out of nowhere in a movie, they follow the same rather silly rules (for some reason) and nobody in the story knows what they are (for some reason). There are exceptions, of course, but they are exceptions.
 

CaitSeith

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I remember my grandfather's funeral. I knew he was dead and he wouldn't move, but when I looked at his corpse, I had the unsettling feeling that he was going to open his eyes and sit up in any minute. No videogame I have played has been creepier than that real-life moment.

RIP gramps.
 

Casual Shinji

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Let the Right One In also seemed to present the modern day vampire as kind of a drifter/homeless -- someone for whom there is no place left in the world. It actually made being a vampire seem more like a curse, with the inability to enter any building that housed people unless invited, and only being able to consume blood and nothing else.
 

RealRT

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thaluikhain said:
Eh, let them fade away and be replaced by something new. Christ, anything new.

One of my gripes with vampires (and similar monsters), is that despite not existing, they are easily recognisable, with rules that are set in stone (sparkling vampires are bad because it's a bad idea, not because it's "raping the mythos" or somesuch nonsense).

Mind you, zombies have it worse. Nothing like zombies have ever existed, and yet everyone recognises them. But whenever they are created out of nowhere in a movie, they follow the same rather silly rules (for some reason) and nobody in the story knows what they are (for some reason). There are exceptions, of course, but they are exceptions.
Well, that's the thing: virtually NO vampire rule bar "They drink blood" is set in stone. The sun? Dracula could give it middle fingers all day. Religious symbols? Blade vampires don't give a fuck. Neither of those are scary for Kain and his lieutenants, but water on the other hand is his acid. Night Watch and Let the Right One In vampires have to be invited to enter people's homes, while most just ignore it. Is it silver that works against them (weird export from Werewolf mythos) or iron like in Supernatural? How do you kill them? Is just a stake in the heart enough or you should also cut their head off, put it upside down in their corpse and throw the coffin into the river? What kind of abilities they have? Vampires endure because they have little to no clear ruleset.
 

Saetha

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thaluikhain said:
Eh, let them fade away and be replaced by something new. Christ, anything new.

One of my gripes with vampires (and similar monsters), is that despite not existing, they are easily recognisable, with rules that are set in stone (sparkling vampires are bad because it's a bad idea, not because it's "raping the mythos" or somesuch nonsense).

Mind you, zombies have it worse. Nothing like zombies have ever existed, and yet everyone recognises them. But whenever they are created out of nowhere in a movie, they follow the same rather silly rules (for some reason) and nobody in the story knows what they are (for some reason). There are exceptions, of course, but they are exceptions.
I dunno, I kinda like there being a (somewhat) consistent, public mythos that stretches across works of art from countless authors and artists. I see no problem with people using vampires, and continuing to use vampires, just as I see no problem with people using dwarves, or werwolves, or mummies. They're a stable of the genre. Detective novels have femme fatales and incompetent police forces. Scci-fi novels have space travel and aliens. Fantasy has vampires and elves. You can still do interesting things with them and keep in with the mythology. And you can still tell an interesting story with absolutely boring vampires. I don't see anything wrong with them.
 

Robert Rath

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thaluikhain said:
Eh, let them fade away and be replaced by something new. Christ, anything new.

One of my gripes with vampires (and similar monsters), is that despite not existing, they are easily recognisable, with rules that are set in stone (sparkling vampires are bad because it's a bad idea, not because it's "raping the mythos" or somesuch nonsense).

Mind you, zombies have it worse. Nothing like zombies have ever existed, and yet everyone recognises them. But whenever they are created out of nowhere in a movie, they follow the same rather silly rules (for some reason) and nobody in the story knows what they are (for some reason). There are exceptions, of course, but they are exceptions.

Are you quite sure that "nothing like zombies has ever existed"? Because the whole point of this article is that vampires, zombies, werewolves and all that exist. As a symbol of our very real fears.

Why do you think zombie movies became so popular recently? In this society of huge toxic cities where we meet hundreds of people walking on the street, but never talk to them?


I must say, in any caqse, that I really enjoyed this article. It's nothing that I didn't already imagine, but it's pleasant to see it written on paper (well... on screen)!
 

Jacked Assassin

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I think in order to be anywhere near scary people would have to somehow eliminate Sexy Cosplay, eternal youth, & the other sexual aspects. In todays society Vampires have become this odd way of accepting at least fictional necrophilia.

The whole being bitten to become a vampire would also have to be removed. Instead maybe a pact one would make with devils. And even then these devils would only be interested in people who were wealthy during their lives. So most people couldn't be given the offer to become a vampire. Especially if they were poor.

"Corporations are Vampires, my friend." Although that might be a shift from scary to offensive. Still on some level that's financially scary. And that wouldn't prevent some people from finding power sexy.

....

Oh well back to The Food Network! There's this giant on it that has an amazing way to make bread!
 

vid87

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Focusing strictly on the sex metaphor, I've always felt they represented rape and predatory tendencies in lieu of actual emotion, their being physically dead but in human form a kind of illusion of love and human intimacy that gives way to, since we're talking blood here, feral interactions that corrupts a live-creating act. I believe the older incarnations involve hypnotism and that you had to voluntarily invite one to be with you for them to get close. Plus, they're often charming, regal, sophisticated men or sexually drenched succubae, something that (at least in the stereotypes) attracts the opposite sex. I think a major reason vampires have lost their...bite is because we are not only more open about sex but have begun supporting sexual independence. I think it happened in something like Vampire Diaries (heard about it only), but the predatory aspect kind of fades when someone WANTS to be turned - it's a shift in the power dynamic.
 

gorfias

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I like the note from the article that we've lost a lot of our fear because of the religious nature of vampires and we're just not that religious anymore.

So, use them in other ways: The Strain treats vampirism like a virus/parasite plague we fear in the Ebola laden times, though
there is a Nosferatu like master

RealRT said:
Is just a stake in the heart enough or you should also cut their head off, put it upside down in their corpse and throw the coffin into the river? What kind of abilities they have? Vampires endure because they have little to no clear ruleset.
In, I think, Dracula 2000, they determine Dracula is actually THE Judas and susceptible to religious symbolism and silver (as he sold Jesus out for Silver). But they don't tend to have clear rule sets. In the Strain, they are different acting and looking than any vampire I've ever heard of

But I do love when they mix old wives tails into a movie.

Another recent Dracula: throw some handfuls of corn around a vampire. He has to count each kernel and the hope is, it takes him so long the sun rises before he can finish and it will kill him. (They cheat in the movie and he counts them super fast. The trick barely slows him down).

EDIT: In Bram Stoker's Dracula, they don't even put a wooden stake in his heart. He's stabbed with a bowie knife. And, "Harker shears Dracula through the throat with a kukri"

Other old view of Vampires: they are literally animated corpses. They don't burst into flames in sunlight: they just rot faster than they would in the dank dark. And they're not super skinny and pale. They ruddy and fat, like a full Tick.

Watching the Strain, I think there's a lot of room left for these guys to still be scary.
 

RealRT

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Gorfias said:
In, I think, Dracula 2000, they determine Dracula is actually THE Judas and susceptible to religious symbolism and silver (as he sold Jesus out for Silver). But they don't tend to have clear rule sets. In the Strain, they are different acting and looking than any vampire I've ever heard of

But I do love when they mix old wives tails into a movie.

Another recent Dracula: throw some handfuls of corn around a vampire. He has to count each kernel and the hope is, it takes him so long the sun rises before he can finish and it will kill him. (They cheat in the movie and he counts them super fast. The trick barely slows him down).

EDIT: In Bram Stoker's Dracula, they don't even put a wooden stake in his heart. He's stabbed with a bowie knife. And, "Harker shears Dracula through the throat with a kukri"

Other old view of Vampires: they are literally animated corpses. They don't burst into flames in sunlight: they just rot faster than they would in the dank dark. And they're not super skinny and pale. They ruddy and fat, like a full Tick.

Watching the Strain, I think there's a lot of room left for these guys to still be scary.
Actually the one about counting is a very old one.

I like Stephen King's Salem's Lot vampires - those (except for their Dracula-like patriarch) are basically animals that talk only to lure their victims in.
 

Asclepion

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Saetha said:
I dunno, I kinda like there being a (somewhat) consistent, public mythos that stretches across works of art from countless authors and artists. I see no problem with people using vampires, and continuing to use vampires, just as I see no problem with people using dwarves, or werwolves, or mummies. They're a stable of the genre. Detective novels have femme fatales and incompetent police forces. Scci-fi novels have space travel and aliens. Fantasy has vampires and elves. You can still do interesting things with them and keep in with the mythology. And you can still tell an interesting story with absolutely boring vampires. I don't see anything wrong with them.
Agreed. Using staples like elves and dragons is evocative of the fantasy genre, and a story that focuses on the characters and their adventure can still be compelling if it doesn't attempt to be an original setting. Using genre staples can be a useful shorthand: viewers will have expectations when they see sword-wielding heroes in a tavern, so exposition is not needed to understand their world.
 

Uriel_Hayabusa

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The way I see it, the vampire isn't so much ''defanged'' as it is yet another thing subject to being sanitized/romanticized/whatever-you-wanna-call-it by people who find certain aspects of them appealing while ignoring or ironing out the aspects that were meant to be seen as cautionary (don't know if that's the right word).

See also: pirates and gangsters.
 

IamLEAM1983

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I wouldn't worry all that much. We have The Reluctant Dragon, but we also have Smaug. We've got Edward Cullen, sure, but we also have Daybreakers' take on vampires. For every literary or cinematographic current that's going to focus on using the vampire as a metaphor for the outsider or the outcast, we'll still have other projects that will find ways to use it as a marker of existential dread. Disease, war profiteering and corporate hegemony really are the new existential evils of the 21st century, when you think about it.

I figure Dracula needs to ogle the White House and use Western society's remaining fears of class-based or race-based discrimination to push a vampire-led modern war. We'd have a perfect metaphor and call-back to the military-industrial complex, which is itself a political and military "vampire" of sorts.
 

gorfias

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RealRT said:
Actually the one about counting is a very old one.
That's why I was so pleased to see it in a movie, except, then they cheat by having him count super fast. First time I'd heard of it was in black and white Vampira magazine around 1976 in summer camp. It had about a dozen other old wives tales about vampires.

I like Stephen King's Salem's Lot vampires - those (except for their Dracula-like patriarch) are basically animals that talk only to lure their victims in.
The book or the show(s) (original and a remake)? Might get it on books on tape if the book is what is advisable.
 

RealRT

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Gorfias said:
The book or the show(s) (original and a remake)? Might get it on books on tape if the book is what is advisable.
I wholeheartedly recommend you the book. The shows... well, they are not worth it.
 

gorfias

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RealRT said:
Gorfias said:
The book or the show(s) (original and a remake)? Might get it on books on tape if the book is what is advisable.
I wholeheartedly recommend you the book. The shows... well, they are not worth it.
I just listened to a clip at audible.com. Sounds great! I've 2/7 of The Saga of Seven Suns books left to listen to, then this! Thanks for the referral.
 

inkheart_artist

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Reading this article got my mind firing on how to "re-fang" the vampire, so to speak, as a horror figure for the modern world. It's taking off from the corporate greed bleeding the world dry aspect of Daybreakers, going around towards the more classic singular monster terrorizing a town with modern fears and concerns and it's starting to get pretty fun. I was thinking of naming him Baron Munchausen but forgot they already made a movie with a character by that name. Still, feels like its coming together nicely.
 
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Perhaps vampires should give way to a mythical creature that speaks to the fears of modern society?

I propose: The Feminazi. An evil seductress who works behind the scenes, pulling strings and warping the world into the image she desires. There's nowhere her claws can't reach, even some of the men who she victimizes will be drawn to kneel at her side. These thralls are known only as the "White Knights".

Her victims aren't just people, she feeds on the quality of the media. Through her influence media will be forced to feature capable female characters who're beholden to no man and minorities as protagonists (legends of the Feminazi overlap frequently with those of the Social Justice Wights). Hollywood writers touched by her inevitably take their own lives, unable to live with the horror of the monstrosities their hands have wrought.

She speaks lies of the virtue of men, poisoning the masses against them. With a mere point of her finger, she'll incite a vicious mob to bring about their ruin.

Those who bear her sign (a uterus) will be bestowed with gifts and boons, the right to which they have none. The jobs of more qualified man are forfeit to the unqualified bearers of the uterus. Society will collapse under their untrained hands and her evil desires shall finally be sated.

However, every great villain needs opposition, and there is none nobler than the Feminazi's. A secret society, lurking in the shadows rallying forces against Her. To the world, they do not exist, but in the wake of a Feminazi they will raise their standards emblazoned with their sign: "M. R. A.". Yes, I speak of the fabled Patriarchy. Whenever a Feminazi rises to power they shall meet her and put the foul beast in its place.

[small]Also, I heard someone in another thread say that Social Justice Wights terrify them, so there is already a lot of potential for horror coming from this vein[/small]
 

Sylocat

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I liked Peter Watts's take [http://www.rifters.com/blindsight/vampires.htm] on vampires.

In this age, we're wrapped up in a quest for identity and terrified of losing connections to each other. Well, vampires, since they evolved to prey on us, are incapable of connecting to each other, or to humans on an emotional level, since they're also sociopaths. So, if you want the hyperintelligence/omnisavantism/super-speed and other goodies, you also have to deal with losing your conscience, and the loneliness that will come with it.