I Can Explain… Vampires!

This past Sunday, on Halloween, you wouldn’t have been surprised to see the typical array of ghouls and ghosts wandering the street in search of their next feed (i.e. Candy). But given the current state of popular culture and the sudden fixation on the vampire phenomenon, seeing a blood sucker has become common place in television shows, movies, and books throughout the year. So what are these new vampires like and why the sudden trend? Please remove your fangs from my neck so that… I can explain!

Vampire lore and its infusion into our popular culture is nothing new. It started with a short story in 1819 called The Vampyre by John Polidori, continued in 1897 with Bram Stoker’s pivotal piece Dracula, and more recently picked up with movie trilogies like Blade and The Lost Boys. In the past few years this genre of horror has resurfaced once again though the reason is uncertain. Many theorize that the trend reflects current issues of immigration, religion, or AIDS, while Stephen Marche in Esquire Magazine suggests that vampires have become popular again because “young straight women want to have sex with gay [Read: Unattainable] men.”

Whatever the reason for the sudden insurgence over the past few years, it’s relatively safe to blame Twilight for bringing vampires back out of their coffins. A series of four books written by Stephenie Moyer, the stories tell the tale of Isabella “Bella” Swan and her infatuation with a quiet, uninterested high school peer named Edward Cullen, who, of course, turns out to be a vampire. Complications ensue as a love triangle starts with werewolf Jacob Black and vampires continually try to kill Bella.

HBO’s True Blood has a different take on vampires. Having existed for centuries, vampires in True Blood have recently surfaced and begun to try and mainstream. This means that rather then hiding they are trying to be accepted by society. Many have stopped killing humans and drink a blood substitute branded as “True Blood,” which comes in flavours like O-Negative and AB-Positive. Taking place in a small town in America’s south, the first season’s strife is caused by the prejudice against vampires. When waitress Sookie falls in love with a vampire named Bill, the town must choose sides. The idea of what it means to be human is explored in a blatant way, but the ideas proposed are often intriguing. Certainly vampires lose control and kill, but are humans not as equally volatile? Interesting. The vampires as a minority trying to gain equal rights is also an allegory for the gay rights movement according to the show’s creator.

Not all the vampire fiction uses the same lore. Whether it’s Edward or Bill, there are many commonalities and differences between modern vampires. For example, while Edward sparkles in the sunlight, Bill burns to ash.

Whatever the reason, vampires will be with us for a while longer. The final Twilight book is going to be divided into two movies coming out over the next couple of years and season 4 of True Blood comes out in the summer of 2011. That said, this vampire trend is not immortal and eventually a new or old trend will be the stake to the heart to vampire’s popularity. Hopefully, that trend will be zombies, but that’s just me wishing. In any case, prepare for some more bat-filled nights and if you were wondering why you saw so many fanged kiddies this Halloween well… I can explain!

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