Every now and then our world gets swayed by a media vampire mania. I bet that must be a real pain in the ass for real vampires (and not the good kind). But what is it about vampires that we find so appealing? Why do we need them, why do we keep creating and recreating them in books and movies? Vampires are the ultimate tragic anti-heroes, so it is somewhat hard to believe that we can actually identify ourselves with such characters, or is it?
Vampires and their image in literature and popular culture has been constantly changing and evolving with every new author. We can say that it was John Polidori who first brought Vampires to the light of the day, but without any doubt it was Bram Stoker who made them immortal.
Vampire legends have spread across the Europe from Balkans, where, even today, you can find villages with very much vibrant vampire legends. Whether that’s only a symptom of lack of civilization norms or something more I can’t tell… Not to go into mythology and folklore, let's examine what’s happened to our pop culture vampires as our society has evolved.
Vampire (anti) heroes seem to emerge in crucial times in our history and in a way they depict the current state of society.
Back in the days of Bram Stoker vampires brought sexual liberation and strange passions to the public eye. There was something kinky and deviant about them, they had the freedom everyone else wanted. Beginning of the twentieth century is called by historians the Great Binge, referring to excessive use of newly developed drugs and alcohol. Thus the need for bizarre passions and exploring them. Simply, vampires where there to infect people with the new intriguing ideas of sexuality.
Not to mention the vast population of those who’ve always felt out of this world, tragic heroes of destiny, those who’ve felt the world has done them wrong; life has done them wrong… what better than to look up to a vampire. A creature that has defeated death itself and yet remains living misunderstood and often full of sorrow. When you get tired of Russian suicidal poets, you can always turn to vampires for some consolidation. We may grow fond of them, but we know that they will end tragically, that is the destiny of freaks in our world.
From the greatest vampire of the past Dracula to Anne Rice’s vampires, they’ve kept their role of highly intelligent, magnetic outcasts.
Rice’s Vampires emerge when the world is facing AIDS as a real, unbeatable threat. Her Vampires are clever, outstanding individuals, slightly bizarre, unordinary, and despite their intellect and superiority, they end tragically. Those were the exact people who were facing the AIDS, the unknown disease was killing them simply for being different… or so it seemed.
Until the 21st century the world was “normal”, prude and simple. Vampires were weird and unusual, freakish. Thus, both feared and loved.
Then in new times the roles changed somewhat. Nothing is unusual anymore. Remember how twenty years ago it was unusual to see gay couple in public; to admit watching porn, to have transgendered neighbours, entire country of pregnant 15 year olds… need I go on? Reality TV has made everyone a star, the more bizzare you are, the longer you shall shine in the showbiz.
Family values that some right winged politicians are still preaching about are at the very least corrupted or distorted. Nothing is weird anymore.
And in that kind of surrounding we get a new big vampire sensations – True Blood.
True Blood is a black comedy that in fact reveals oh so much truth about our own vampire – free society. Vampires are no longer freaks. We are.
Humans are freaks, they desire sexual encounters with vampires, they abuse drugs, they are not even humans, but shape-shifters or wolves! Humans want to drink vampire blood, they want to experience the higher spheres of existence, the world is no longer enough (to put it in James Bond's words, who I'm sure would be outraged at the reality society). The obvious message here is – everyone is a freak, even those who pretend not to be. Post racial and post gay America has produced this new breed of Vampires. They are no longer out of this world, they now fit in perfectly. The roles have changed. In society where everyone is a freak . no one is freak. Yes, we are the vampires of our society. Vampires are far more normal and less freakish than the rest of us. Finally, we show that we accept what was once abnormal and strange, or do we?
Vampire mania will pass away, everything does, until some new peak in our history. But before that happens, advertisers will make sure to suck us out good.