Sunday, June 14, 2009
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.