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Have Vampires Lost Their Bite?

Entertainment_weekly_vampires_cover The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly is dedicated to vampires. Basically, it looks like the gothic horror version of Tiger Beat, complete with a spread of the "20 Greatest Vampires of All Time." However, with the popularity of the sparkly vegetarian vampires of the Twilight series and the Tru Blood suckers of Bon Temps, is the blood and gore of the vampire genre getting a tad watered down? 

I know all you Twilight geeks (a club of which I am admittedly a member) are shrieking, "NO! ALL EDWARD ALL THE TIME!" but let's give it some careful, objective thought. Have we reached a saturation point on the vampire thing? Neil Gaiman seems to think so. In the above-mentioned issued of EW, Gaiman reflects upon the last 25 years of pop culture, stating, "Vampires go in waves, and it kind of feels like we’re now finishing a vampire wave, because at the point where they’re everywhere it’s probably time to go back underground for another 20 years or another 25 years." 

He may have a point.

Sure, I think Edward's hot—in a jaibaity, sparkly undead sort of way—and I still get all those tingly, wrong feelings in my lady bits when I watch Spike pull on his leather overcoat. Even so, vampires do seem a tad ubiquitous in our pop culture. Over the last 25 years or so, we've had Anne Rice's broody, emo Vampire Chronicles, The Lost Boys, Buffy the Vampire Slayer in movie, television and comic book form, and now Twilight and True Blood, plus some others I'm sure I've overlooked.

Each of these incarnations has projected some fluffy bunny aspects onto the once terrifying image of O.G. Dracula, whether by becoming the butts of jokes, switching from blood to Soylent Red, falling in love with slayers and waitresses, or spending more of eternity whining about immortality and insatiable bloodlust than actually indulging said insatiable bloodlust. I mean, can you imagine a face-off between Buffy from BTVS and Louis from Interview with a Vampire? Or Edward? She probably couldn't be bothered to give them splinters, let alone a full-on heart staking. If you throw The Count from Sesame Street into the mix, it becomes pretty clear  that vamps could use a new PR strategy if they wish to continue striking fear into the hearts of the living. 

Perhaps in order to reclaim their edge, vampires should look to zombies for guidance. Sure, there have been some forays into the realm of silly for vampires' clumsier and less attractive undead brethren, but for the most part, zombies remain pretty fucking scary. I mean, did you *see* 28 Days Later? I still have nightmares. Mark my words: you're never going to find a zombie who's like, "Oh, wah! I can't eat her brains! I LOVE HER!" Zombies have a simple and terrifying agenda—to eat your hot, chewy medulla oblongata. You have to admire how single-minded and goal-oriented they are, really.

While Gaiman proposes that vampires go underground for a couple years and re-emerge as something different, I don't think it would hurt if The Lonely Ones went back to some of their tried and true vampire roots. So here are some pointers, to the Edwards and the Bills out there:

  1. If you are a vampire of the sparkly persuasion, try applying some matte face powder or heavy shine-free foundation. How am I supposed to be scared of you if you look like a raver? What are you gonna do, hug me to death?  
  2. Stop focusing so much on the past with that tortured emo schtick. Sure, you were human once, but circumstances are always subject to change, and what's done is done. As Polonius sagely advised, "To thine own self be true." So come on: less sulking, more skulking.     
  3. Do the bat thing. None of you guys turns into a bat anymore! While I've got to hand it to you that losing the irrational fear of garlic was an important step forward, it's a shame that you moved away from this particular Draculesque tradition. Transmogrification is dope, y'all.
  4. And for Nosferatu's sake, grow a set and eat some humans. 

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Comments

Ed

I have very mixed feelings about this. Yes, there's something Just Wrong about vampires being cuddly and sparkly and Mormon. OTOH, if it weren't for my cousin's daughter's addiction to the Twilight series, their house would have no bookshelves at all. It's got the kid reading actual books, so to some extent I just have to put a clothespeg on my nose and let the Vampire-Lite authors pander to the masses.

Besides, a guy I went to high school with turned out to be a right-wing know-nothing. He lives up in that area now, so I get some schadenfreude listening to him complain about all the Twilight tourists disturbing the local rednecks.

DianaCLT

Pure awesome!

TwoBusy

I, for one, had real issues with EW's revisionist history and ranking of vampires over the years... I realize that selling magazines and appealing to broad demographics is important, but anyone who can seriously create a 1-20 list of the "Best Vampires" and put the glittervamps at the top while relegating the down, dirty and scary-as-hell social outliers of Near Dark to the bottom is unfit to create a ranking in the first place.

Also: your "raver" comment? Worthy of a legit cackle.

Grace

This post is made of pure awesome.

From what I can see, though, there is at least a little bit of bad in Whedon's vampires. Edward and his ilk have just taken the fluffy too far.

AmandaG

Lost Boys! That's what I was thinking about. Anywhoo... I agree with the turning in to bats bit. Who told them to stop doing that? And I can't wait for cuddly zombies.

Jessi

I love vampire lore and legend and I am always glad to have some more of it. On the other hand, when they are on the cover of magazines, it just feels like, well, like a sellout, although I'm not sure how that works. But some things should not ever be pop culture, they should be the alt culture or counter culture or underground or whatever the word of the week is.

However, I agree with Ed. Anything that gets kids who are not readers, reading is like ice cream with sprinkles for me.

tinababy

I had to come out of lurkdom solely because of:

"to eat your hot, chewy medulla oblongata"

I die at the fabulousness........

Darcey

Louis may have griped about his lonely existence, but he was certainly not afraid to stir some things up and get the blood he needed.

Though he'd definitely be a TruBlood drinker, given the choice.

Andrew

It's unfortunate that I have to correct my lovely wife, but the baddies in 28 Days Later were NOT zombies! They were freaky, ragin', infected humans.

On a related note, is anyone else sick of fast zombies (or infected humans)? I thought the scariest part of zombies was the shuffling, slow inevitability.

Snarky Amber

Terribly sorry, sweetheart, but "Rage virus infected humans" is just a nicey nice, PC way of saying "ZOMBIE." It's a reanimated corpse that has a single-minded agenda to feed on human flesh.

And slow zombies are about as scary as a shark with dentures.

WE'LL SETTLE THIS LATER!

Andrew

But, but, but... In 28 Days Later they weren't reanimated corpses! They never died in the first place!

bd

Great post.

Bec

Whether zombies or angry humans, the baddies in 28 Days (and Weeks) Later were seriously, freakishly scary. To the point where bladder control and twenty-something dignity was an issue!

Redneck Mommy

"Zombies have a simple and terrifying agenda—to eat your hot, chewy medulla oblongata."

Best sentence I have read all damn day.

SherpaMom

http://blip.tv/file/2261825/ Buffy vs Edward - he comes off as so whiny (but then I'm NOT a fan)

MeL

I just watched 30 Days of Night and, forgetting the lame-ish ending to the movie, now THOSE were some scary mother-effing vampires! No conversation, no love agenda... just "our dude kills your dogs so we can come out and eat you for 30 days with no sunshine!" GAH. That said, I'm still panting over New Moon in November. Because I am in touch with my inner 13-year-old girl. (I blame the Edward obsession on her. It makes me feel less cougar-ish)




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