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Not All Vampires Sparkle
by vilawolf (vilawolf)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Not All Vampires Sparkle

forcesofgeek.com | not-all-vampires-sparkle


There is a myth in the world today that Twilight has made vampires “cool again.”

The question I have to ask is…when exactly did they stop being cool in the first place?

At what point in their long history as both pop culture icons and mythological creatures of the night might someone have said,

“Vampires?"

"Seriously?"

"Lame.”

Let’s just look at the facts here. Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Antonio Banderas, Nicholas Cage, Gary Oldman: ALL played vampires.

Not enough? Kirsten Dunst, Salma Hayek, Kate Beckinsale…also vampires!

STILL not enough?

Go to Amazon.com.

No really, I’m not kidding.

Open up a new window and go to Amazon.

Search for vampires.

What do you see?

When I did it, there were 63,233 books, 1,039 DvDs, 3,425 clothing items, and the list continued.

And I think you might notice that Twilight isn’t even on the first page of items, anywhere, in any incarnation. I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I’ve read the books and am a huge fan. They saved me from a very depressing year and I’m forever grateful, but they aren’t the greatest thing to ever happen to the genre.

Not by a long shot.

I don’t want to be unfair. I know that, as an old Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, we all tend to cling to our pet passions with cultish pride. But when I started to think about it, I realized that, even in my case, I’ve been exceptionally guilty. I’ve professed a hundred times how Buffy revolutionized the genre and really made me a fan.

But boy, what a hypocrite I was.

Let’s take a little backwards walk. We’ll do a little Memento rewind on this. I fell into Twilight because an old Buffy friend of mine said I would like it since I didn’t have my show anymore. I fell into Buffy after finishing what was then the last book in the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles and I needed someone dashing to replace my Lestat.

I’d watched Buffy before but I really became a fan after seeing the episode "Fool for Love".

In it, the character of Spike is shown as he was during the Boxer Rebellion…with his curly blonde hair, blue eyes, big nose, wide mouth, and bad ass, dare I say Brat Prince way of looking at the world?


I don’t know if any of you have read the books or even seen the film, but if that isn’t Lestat reborn, I don’t know what is.

So, I came to Buffy from Anne Rice. But it doesn’t even stop there.

I first saw Interview with the Vampire with my mother in 1995, when I was about twelve years old. She thought I would like it because I had loved Lost Boys so very much. How many of you remembered that before Jack Bauer was saving the world from terrorists, he was a teenage vampire with a mullet?

Alright, so we’ve got a long row for me to get to Twilight.

But it STILL isn’t over. Why did my mother choose to show a film about vampires to her preteen daughter? Well…she was a fan too, with her own long line of how she got there, going all the way back to Dark Shadows.

That’s right. One of the original television soap operas had a vampire as a main character:

Barnabas Collins, a 175-year-old vampire in search of his first love.

I think it’s important to note that my mother only got into Dark Shadows because my Grandmother insisted on watching it every day in complete silence. The severest punishments were always handed out to trouble makers during Grandma’s show. So now I’ve gone back through three generations of Vamp love in just my own family.

Twilighters, are you taking note?

The point I’m trying to make here is that there has never been a time when the vampire wasn’t revered as the pinnacle of the undead or supernatural forces in the world.

Human beings have feared the vampire almost since our race began, and the legends are there to prove it, in every culture from every country all over the world. Whether we’re talking about the Penanggal of Malaysia, the Rakshasa of India, or the Strigoii of Romania which might have included Vlad Tepes, the inspiration for Count Dracula himself, the theme remains the same: Vampires are bad ass and not to be toyed with.

Alright, we’ve talked about the history. Let’s talk about the present. What is really going on with Twilight?

Ever since the introduction of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, vampires have been more to the general public than simply blood sucking monsters. They’ve become symbols of problems great and small, ranging from representations of plague to the fear of government which slowly bleeds its people dry. However throughout its modern history, the vampire’s physical image has become fairly constant. Who doesn’t swoon just a little at the idea of the perfectly beautiful, aloof creature we’ve come to know as the new walking dead?

Even the skeptics have to agree that Edward Cullen meets a lot of the requirements we have for the modern vampire. He’s beautiful but harsh. He’s cold yet charming. He’s loving but tortured. Today’s vampires are more akin to Louis de Pointe du Lac than they are to Vlad Tepes, but they’re still here.

Just look at your TV guide if you don’t believe me. If I’m not mistaken, there’s a new episode of True Blood this Sunday, and, if it’s anything like last season, it’ll get the best ratings on HBO’s lineup. That’s a fact, not an opinion.

Last Sunday it brought in 3.9 million viewers, a series high. The long standing hit Entourage only brought in 3.4 million, which was its largest audience in almost two years. The results are in: Vampires are still hot. And, most importantly, Bill Compton and Eric Northman are just as likely to suck your blood as they are to kiss your neck.

They’ve got an edge of danger that, sadly, the vampires of Twilight are sorely lacking.

What’s the bottom line?

Twilight
is a great book.

It’s an even greater series. It has characters that are relatable and a love story that is truly beautiful. It teaches good morals and stimulates the imagination. All good things! But vampires are bigger and better than that. They are going to be rooted in the human psyche from now until the end of time, and maybe longer, all things considered.

They are immortal after all.

Vampires are here to stay, with or without Edward Cullen.