Vampires are not ruined. Deal with it.

Spike

Not ruined.

For my entire adult life… hell, my entire adolescence and most of my pre-teen years… I’ve been hearing that someone’s gone and ruined vampires.

Seriously, this has been going on since I knew what a vampire was. First, it was Anne Rice. Then Mark Rein-Hagen and his pretentious crowd of White Wolfers. Joss Whedon came along and messed everything up with Angel. And then Spike. Laurell K. Hamilton committed the atrocious crime of not skimming what happens between bites. Lately, Stephenie Meyer apparently made vampires too pretty in the sun.

The complaints are always the same. Vampires are supposed to be monsters. They’re supposed to be the bad guys. But some dastardly person has just come along and ruined them. Made them sympathetic. Angsty. Emo. Worse, girls like it. And it’s totally gay.

The worst part is that those of us working in vampire media have internalized it. White Wolf’s books have wasted a great deal of space trying to say that being a vampire shouldn’t be fun, that most vampires aren’t pretty, that “angst” is really the wrong word to be using.

We even turn on each other. I have too many con stories about people involved in vampire media bitching about Buffy or Twilight. We congratulate ourselves on how unhip and how evil our vampires are. We practically cackle about it.

This is a fucking embarrassment, even before you get to the gendered subtext. Ever hear anybody complain that Vampirella was too much of a goody-goody? Question the sexuality of Christopher Moore’s Bloodsucking Fiend? Say there was too much sex in Carmilla?

So, I’m taking a hard look in an empty mirror. I can’t promise to be a cheerleader for all things vampire (The Thirst really did suck), but I’m getting off the bandwagon of complaining that vampires are ruined every three years. And I’m not going to fill my books with little apologies for it being fun to identify with the monsters anymore.

14 thoughts on “Vampires are not ruined. Deal with it.

  1. I assume vampires–much like zombies–are merely being adapted to stories that speak to particular audiences at that time. The roving-murder-gang story just doesn’t get around much today, so the Near Dark vampires lose out. Likewise the rave scene is not quite the boogieman it was from the 90s, so we don’t need Blade to shoot up the dance floor. And really, almost all vampire narratives of the 20th century have the vampire character we’re supposed to identify with. It’s almost too convenient to not have a byronic vampire. Sonya Blue and movie Blade are both functionally vampires. And it’s easy to forget that for the majority of the film Caleb was the vegetarian vampire everyone rails against. If it wasn’t for the miracle blood transfusion, Caleb very easily could have turned into an Angel or Edward type character. I may think that Kathryn Bigelow would have made a much better version in general, but that’s the approach and not the idea.

  2. Well, my sister (much younger than I) has admitted to swooning over Edward Cullen, so I’m not really sure what to think about it. And my brother (younger than I) really likes the Underworld series, so I am likely to give that one a pass.

    Damn it though, everything since Polidori has been pretty lame. Thinly veiled, homoerotic paeons to Lord Byron is what it was all originally about.

  3. While I’m perfectly capable of disliking Twilight on it’s own merits (abusive relationships! abstinence == twu lurve! mary sues get douchebag boyfriends with informed awesomeness! bad vampires are catholics!), there is some Adorno-grade concern trolling occurring within the, shall we say ‘vampire profiteer community’. You can’t ruin a mythological archetype. That’s like saying ‘You ruined Ēostre by getting your dudeface messianic figure all over it.’ It’s not an exhaustible resource, and shockingly, this appropriation is no different from yours. Hell, if you play your cards right, it’s good for you, as it will encourage interest in what *you* make. Sneering at the younger generation for liking what you liked (but BAD and WRONG and BAD AND WRONG TOGETHER) is some childish, special-snowflake shit.

    Your youth culture is not superior to mine, nor mine to someone else’s, by virtue of it’s old-schoolosity. You are not fooling anyone when you claim that #GenericNewVampireThingWhichIsObjectedTo is dumb or girly; we can all see your penis shriveling at the idea of a teenage girl liking something that was cool and edgy when you did it, however many years ago. And if my culture doesn’t speak to them, or vice-versa….well, duh. Youth Culture: bite-sized (hur hur) teenage rebellion, specific to it’s time. Cultural touchstones will necessarily update to reflect the desires of the newly young, newly rebelling future corporate drone servants. And insofar as the monster within is, um, I don’t know, possibly related to sex and puberty and mortality, I am shocked (SHOCKED! I SAY!) to see that has been re-re-re-re-re-appropriated by a new generation, eager to do naughty things to the eternal sex symbol.

  4. Soooo… does this mean World of Darkness’ Vamps will sparkle in the sun? Sunrings maybe??? 😉

    Good post.

  5. I really rather enjoyed the White Wolf take on vampires. It made them anywhere from poofy (damn Toreadors) to downright scary (classic Nosferatu).

    Now I don’t think every vampire has to be an evil mother to get attention. I liked Whedon’s take on it. Even evil vampires were capable of love, loyalty, and even adhering to a code of ethics (albeit a screwed up code).

    Now, I’ll admit, Stephanie Meyer kinda went wrong in my opinion. Having a vampire in the sun stand out like a one man gay pride parade just screams wrong to me. And I don’t think she ruined all vampires aside from this one fact (and the fact that the woman just plain can’t write). But her characterization of the main two – Bella and Edward really bothers me more than her take on vampirism.

    The great thing about vampirism is that it can be seen so many different ways and has evolved as our understanding of life and science has evolved (except for the glitter. Really, what the hell is up with that?). If you imagine the medical knowledge in the Bram Stoker era when vampire lore was gaining popularity to now, I’d say we’ve come light years so it’s only natural the concept should evolve. Just my take. Vampires have, in their own way, a life. And as long as you have life and consciousness you will have a personality to go with it and that’s wholly dependent on the writer and reader.

  6. i wouldn’t say it was ruined, and joss whedons approach i allways found cool, the fact that both Spike and Angel had their souls restored meant that they became increasingly human, thus granting them compassion, passion, remorse all that.

    When it comes to twilight, im a nono, i dont like it, it did not ruin vampire, but it ruined twilight.

    As for an alternative that proved a success for me is True Blood, how Bill was able to fall in love with a human, and still be a really demented sociopath at heart was interresting.

  7. I know I’m a bit behind on replying to this (I’ve been away from the WoD for some years), but I wanted to take the time to say what a good read this article was. Thank you for it. It’s good to know that the guy in charge of Requiem doesn’t feel the need to waste space on pedantic bollocks when all people want to do is play the game and enjoy it as much as they possibly can. Again, nice one.

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