Sunday, June 14, 2009

Vampirism is so Overrated

You'd have to live under a rock not to know that vampires are all the rage these days. So prevalent are the bloodsuckers that we no longer think of them as something you see on occasion in an Anne Rice book, we have whole aisles in the bookstores now (at least where I live) that carry nothing but paranormal fiction-- with vampires in the starring role. And vampires have changed since Dracula's day. They are no longer the creepy guy outside your window, they're the hot guy at school ("Twilight") or the hot private detective (Moonlight, The Vampire Files). And vampires are not just for adults. "Twilight" made them the hottest thing among teenagers since V.C. Andrews, and just in time to capitalize on the phenomenon, the CW has just announced a just-for-TV vampire series. So why all the hype? I would blame Anne Rice for the vampire craze since she was probably among the first, and the most popular, writers who romanticized the vampire myth. But the current trends look more like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" than "Interview With a Vampire. Nowadays you can expect your vampire story to be full of sarcasm, romance and moody semi-dangerous vamps (they're called vamps now too). They may or may not be able to tolerate sunlight. They may or may not drink human blood. And they're very likely to become instantly fascinated with a sweet, shy ordinary girl and become helplessly devoted to her. What happened to the monstrous bloodsuckers I know and love? Just for fun, I'd like to take this a step further-- though on a bit of an off-the-wall tangent. If any one of us were to become a vampire, do we really think it would be as great as so many authors portray it? Seriously. If you read Stephanie Meyer-- or any other paranormal romance author, you'd think becoming a vampire was the best thing ever. You get to be fabulously good looking, wealthy and immortal. What a bargain! And all you have to do is drink a little blood now and then. How bad could that be? Personally, I think it would suck (no pun intended) and here's why. Vampires Cannot Tolerate Sunlight I don't care what Stephanie Meyer says, vampires cannot tolerate the sun. They do not shimmer, they burn and they die. Period. That's a real vampire. Being unable to go out in the sunlight really screws up your schedule. You can't work during the day (which would make it really hard to be a vampire P.I. IMHO) unless you're in a very sheltered environment (and how many bosses are going to accommodate that?) So you're stuck working nights, which makes sense since you're going to have to sleep days, and that's gotta limit your options. If you're the evil variety of vampire, this may not be a problem. You can likely keep a few humans in thrall and live off of them. But if you're the tortured, trying-to-retain-your-humanity variety of vampire, this could be a real problem. Sunlight kills, so traveling is limited to nighttime. You house also has to be sunlight free, which can really screw up a design plan. You're kind of stuck with something fairly Gothic, the heavy drapes and all, unless you're super rich (back to the job issue) and can afford darkened windows. You Gotta Drink Blood So, you need blood to live. A lot of books assume drinking animal blood is an option, but what if it's not? As far as I know we can't use animal blood as a substitute for human blood in medical transfusions (and wouldn't PETA have a fit if we tried?) What do you do? Do you keep a harem and feed off of them? Or do you bribe an employee of the local blood bank? And how does one go about actually bribing someone at a blood bank? Is that even possible? Do you feed off of anyone willing? Or do you turn into a vigilante vampire and stalk bad people and feed off of them? And if you choose the drink-from-bad-people option, how do find your victims? This would be a real dilemma. Immortality It sounds great at first. Live forever! Or at least until you get staked or beheaded. But never mind that. Here's the thing... First, you get to see all your family and friends die off. Okay, we know that. What I wonder is this-- am I going to look exactly the way I do right now for eternity? There might be hope for those of us who are a little overweight. I'm sure a blood-only diet will be good for the waistline. But am I going to look good? Or am I going to look like an old lady who's really into the heroin chic look? And going back to the job thing... remember, you have to find a way to financially support yourself--FOREVER. Socializing Once you settle into your vampire lifestyle you'll probably still want some companionship. Do you hang out with human beings or vampires? Imagine going out to dinner with your human friends, it's not like you can order off the menu. And if you really enjoyed food and wine in your previous life, it could be a real bummer to sit and watch other people enjoy the stuff you could no longer have. There'd also be the danger that if you really got bored, you might start looking at your friends as food rather than company, and that never ends well. Alright. I'm kidding. But you knew that. Truthfully though, I think I may have put more thought into the issue than a lot of writers of vampire fiction these days. Vampires have been turned into the romantic lead and the monster has disappeared-- which is essentially what I'm mocking here. I'm frankly tired of the vampire as the devoted, and semi-scary boyfriend. Yes, I love Charlaine Harris, but I'm making no more exceptions! No more cutsie vampire-lite fiction--please! Sigh. All this vampire overload is making me cranky.

12 comments:

Cassandra Jade said...

The whole vampire sparkling in the sunlight thing, really annoyed me. I gave Stephanie Meyers vampires the title of worst example of vampires in fiction, purely because they weren't vampires. Not only do they sparkle in the sun light, they don't have fangs, and they transform people by injecting venom (since when?).
That said, I love a good vampire story. Whether it is the buffy version (vamps are strange people who hang in sewers and are frequently mistake for gang members on drugs), the Anne Rice version (broody and dark but definitely blood suckers), or the more traditional night version, vampires have appeal in literature.

Thanks for a very amusing post.

AndrewPrice said...

Nice article SQT,

This has become a pet peeve of mine for some time. If you want a teen-soap, like 90210, just make one -- don't ruin a perfectly good undead creature to do it. Seriously, most of these shows are little more than romance novels with fangs.

Memory said...

Ha! I love me some vampires of all stripes, but you've made some great points.

I think the sunlight/daytime sleeping thing would be the biggest issue for me. I'm a total night owl, but I wouldn't like being passed out so much of the time. I'd feel horribly vulnerable. Plus, there are times when you just want to spend a little time in the sun.

Sullivan McPig said...

I love your article and I must say you have the same arguments I have used in the past when discussing vampires with friends (I'm a Vampire the masquerade rpg player I must confess).
That said: I'm a sucker for vampire and other supernatural romances as long as my vampires can't stand sunlight and have fangs. Twilight is too teensy for my taste.

SQT said...

Cassandra

I literally chucked the book across the room when the vampires started sparkling. That's just wrong.

I like good vampire fiction too. I still love Charlaine Harris. I just wish authors would remember that vampires are supposed to be monsters and quit romanticizing them.

Andrew

Thanks. Mostly I was just goofing around. But I am tired of feeling like the inspiration for most vampire fiction comes from 90210 and not Dracula.

Memory

I know. I am a night owl, but still, having to live entirely in the dark would be a drag.

Sullivan

I like all the paranormal creatures too. I just wish they were so wussified nowadays.

pussreboots said...

I don't read many vampire books for the reasons you posted. I'm chuckling at the inclusion of Grandma Munster in your post. :)

My favorite vampire who isn't a vampire is Duckula.

SQT said...

Puss

That picture is the best part of the post...

Sullivan McPig said...

SQT

I agree, they should stay predators and not be turned into soft cuddly lambs.

Ladybug said...

I quite enjoy all the different kinds of vampires being created(in books! LOL) but I do understand what you mean!

AndrewPrice said...

Sqt,

I know you were joking, but it is honestly becoming a pet peeve of mine. It seems like the only kind of vampire you can have now is the anquished teeny-pire. Come on, you're the lord of the undead. . . act like it!

McPig, I love the avatar!

Avery DeBow said...

And what if things don't change when you're turned? What if you're overweight, or have a crappy haircut, or need glasses? Politely ask your attacker to come back in three months after you've hit the gym/grown the locks out past that unsightly chin-level bob/gotten laser surgery? He probably wouldn't go for it. So, vampires who were turned in the eighties would be stuck with an eternity of feathered hair; in the nineties with that horrible, Ed-from-Northern-Exposure 'do; and last year a douchey fauxhawk and an eternal collection of unfortunate tattoos.

Karen said...

All the vampire/werewolf love stories are making me happy. It all started with Underworld for me. And when the CW's Vampire Diaries premieres I'll watch that too (unless it completely sucks). But if authors/filmmakers keep pumping out too much it's going to lose it's pop coolness. But I'll still like vampire stories though.

What did you think about 30 Days of Night with Josh Harnett? Those vampires had the monster vibe.