Monday, December 01, 2008

A vampire killing kit from the 1800s sold for nearly $15,000 last month

Vampires are so hot right now

Me and the gentleman friend have been obsessed with vampires lately, having watched all the episodes of HBO's "True Blood;" now going through withdraws since the first series ended. I am so into vampires right now that I even forced him to see "Twilight," a teensploitation flick starring some hot young actor from the Harry Potter series as a modern-day vampire that made all the girls in the theater yell and freak out.

Although, I'd say vampires have always been hot, what with all the vampire films produced since the beginning of the invention of the "movie." But it's interesting to see how this myth has been given the modern treatment lately. Instead of rehashing Victorian-era tales from Bram Stoker, or relying on historical fiction from Anne Rice, today we've got stories of this folkloric undead population trying to incorporate itself into a modern era where civil rights and traditional values aren't always so cut and dry.

Perhaps filmmakers and television producers are taking their cues from Bram Stoker himself. Stoker re-tooled the folklore masterfully, using it to express the sexual repression of the Victorian Era with such ferocity that the love story of Vlad and Mina still resonates with audiences. Perhaps that's why Mormon Stephanie Meyer, whose books provided the basis for "Twilight," was so effective in utilizing vampire tales--she projected the sexual frustration and oppressive abstinence practices associated with the Mormon community into the seductive stories of the undead.

Whatever it is, it's an amazing concept to take an old myth and re-appropriate it's symbology in order to expose the societal fears of the modern world. It seems obvious in the case of "True Blood" whose opening montage includes a church sign that reads "God Hates Fangs," and features characters saying such phrases as "coming out of the coffin," that vampires embody minority groups and the disenfranchised. Although very subtle, hints at what creator Alan Ball (American Beauty, "Six Feet Under") means to do with this series are incredibly refreshing and exciting to watch. Ball's fictitious, alternate world of vampires has not lost its presence on the internet, either. The blog BloodCopy is a hilarious resource of video "reportage" featuring characters from the show. Below is a "commercial" for TruBlood--the fictitious beverage of synthetic blood for vampires:

But what's brilliant about the vampire myth is that it can be interpreted as an expression of many things in our current political climate. The other day, I came across this column on the Huffington Post:

"...what is with the vampire craze right now? The vogue for them has ebbed and flowed over the last century, but at the moment the ventricles seem all the way open. A friend of mine suggested that this fad may represent our culture's unconscious efforts to depict in metaphorical terms the financial greed that has sucked blood money from the body politic--especially the subprime mortgage fiasco that started it. 'Mortgage' is derived from the Latin word for 'death,' after all."

I'd like to think the "vampire craze" is currently being utilized to expose the base bigotry and oppressive "morals" of the Religious Right. The vampire (or gay, or black, or sexually promiscuous) can be seen as a fun, campy way to address an American culture still struggling to see beyond traditional "family values" that espouse hate and bigotry.


Sean Wraight said...

VAmpity- Vampires are indeed the recession era undead. There seems to be a very real correlation in their popularity in times of economic uncertainty. 1930’s Bela Lugosi, late seventies Frank Langella, early nineties Tom Cruise and now Twilight and True Blood, as you mentioned. Very interesting metaphor methinks: Aristocratic, rich, good looking characters sucking the life out of the working class. Seems pretty clear to me…

Bless you movie monsters for ‘splainin our social ills in tumultuous times. (Kind of explains the whole zombie resurrection phase post 9/11 too.)

Great post!
Sean of the Dead

amityb said...

I think it could be interpreted that way, but I think True Blood is pretty transparent in the way they use vampires to represent homosexuals. Esp. one of the last episodes where they pass an amendment so that vampires can marry! But it is interesting to link it to the economy...