Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Things That Need to Go Away for a Little While: Vampires
I always loved vampires when I was a little kid. I had this book about vampires that described all of their traits (sleep in coffins, suck blood, hate garlic, etc.), and in the 6th grade, I read Bram Stoker's "Dracula" in it's entirety. Vampires are cool- they're powerful and kind of dangerous. Plus they're walking, talking sex metaphors, so there's that too.
So, it's not like I was surprised when the popularity of vampires kind of exploded over the course of the last few years. "True Blood", "Buffy" and the God-awful "Twilight" series seem to be everywhere. It seems like you can't turn on the TV without seeing somebody sucking someone else's blood nowadays. Book store shelves are FULL of urban fantasy books, and even comic book conventions seem to be swarming with vamp fans.
The thing is, I think we've reached the point of absolute saturation. I think there's officially too much vampire stuff out there. It's gotten to the point where every vampire book, movie, TV show feels basically the same- dangerous centuries old male vampire seduces a hesitant female human, and in between, wacky vampire hi-jinks ensue.
Other over used vampire media tropes:
* The more down to earth werewolf romantic rival
* The vampire stating that he is "not like the vampires in stories" and then explaining how he doesn't turn into a bat, or sparkles or whatever. You know what? I kind of miss vampires turning into bats and clouds of mist.
* Even though he has to kill other people to stay alive, the vampire has a heart of gold which puts him in direct opposition to vampire authorities.
* The female protagonist refusing to be turned into a vampire, even though it would clearly be wicked awesome to turn into a vampire.
* Usually, if a female vampire shows up, she's really unpleasant. Male vampires- bloodsuckers with hearts of gold. Female vampires- soulless jerks.
* At some point, the male vampire really struggles with his vampire nature, and almost, but doesn't quite give into it.
* Vampires are not scary, but beautiful or handsome.
There's a million of these. My main point is that there's too much vampire media, and what's out there is repetitive, and unoriginal. So here's my proposal- put it on the shelf. Let's stop writing vampire books, vampire movies, and vampire TV shows for a few years (let's say 5). Put a moratorium on the whole vampire thing. Then, after that time is up, take vampires off the shelf and start over by telling some really unique, new vampire stories.
Just as a side note, my favorite, totally unique portrayal of vampires comes from China Mieville's second Bas-Lag novel "The Scar". In "The Scar", we learn that vampires in Bas-Lag mostly live in a vast necropolis. The Necropolis has a rigid caste system with lich's at the top, and vamps at the bottom. The vampires live in slums, and everyday, have to go into the city to beg the humans who live there (who are higher up on the caste system than vampires) for a little blood so that they can live. The main vampire character in "The Scar" is the Brucolac, who fled the necropolis and lives on the floating city of Armada where he is the de facto leader of the vampires who live there.