Coble has a great post about people being tickled that the vampire and gal at the center of the Twilight books decided to wait until they’re married to have sex. And it got me thinking about how we seem to be in the middle of some big cultural shifts about what vampires are helping us work out. Early vampires, who were more like how our zombies are now, were actual reanimated corpses that emerged from the grave to suck the blood of the living and drain their lives from them, and it’s pretty widely accepted that those vampires are about our anxieties about death and about the problem of telling when someone is really dead.
Then Stoker came along and vampires became about sex and death, which were pretty closely linked for our foremothers because of the risks of pregnancy.
And since The Lost Boys, we seem to be in the middle of a grand unacknowledged discussion of vampire as abusive boyfriend–someone who appears normal, charismatic, even, but who wishes you great harm, even if he doesn’t mean to (I think you see strong strains of that on True Blood). And I know there’s a lot of discussion about the way that Edward in the Twilight crap seems to have some weirdly abusive tendencies, but Coble’s post really has me wondering about this movement from vampire as monster to vampire as superhero.
I don’t know what to make of it and I love revisionist histories of fictional beings as much as the next person, but it seems to me that the vampire is kind of blanding out. Now he’s just misunderstood.
But it’s interesting that we’ve gone back and given the “undead who will kill you” role to zombies and folks like Freddie Kruger and Jason. I wonder what other monsters will get assigned vampires’ other duties until vampires come back as genuinely scary?
(Unless “vampire children who kill you” is them coming back as genuinely scary…)