We are kicking off a new series from Susannah Clements, author of The Vampire Defanged, leading up to the new Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn (you know you are going to go see it). In this first post she offers some important insight into why we are so attracted to vampires:
With Halloween approaching, the stores have been filled with all kinds of vampire costumes—including classic Dracula outfits, Vampire princesses, rocker vampires with spiked hair and fake leather coats, and Twilight vampires for both boys and girls complete with twinkly lights so they sparkle like Edward and Bella.
Vampire costumes have been more abundant in the last few years because of the vampire craze in pop culture, but vampires have always been a popular choice for Halloween. We’ve been telling ourselves stories about vampires for a really long time, and they give us a way to explore certain issues that are important to us as humans. The vampire is a monster with a mostly human face – kind of like us, but with a more pronounced darkness or a more uncontrollable appetite. As such, vampire stories are a powerful way of exploring what it means to be human.
The vampire as a metaphor can mean what we want it to mean – which is why we keep going back to it. Although the vampire used to represent temptation, sin and evil, those traditional associations have faded recently as the vampire has become domesticated and even morphed into a romantic hero. Whether the vampire is portrayed positively or negatively in a story, it usually embodies some kind of craving, desire or need that must either be controlled or destroyed. That aspect of human nature strikes a chord in us, which is why I think we’re so attracted to vampire stories (and costumes).
We see versions of vampires around us all the time now. Vampires are still featured on a couple of very popular television shows. Sexy, brooding vampires are still the most popular heroes of paranormal romance novels. Count von Count is still counting the bats in his castle on Sesame Street. And men, women and children will be dressing up like vampires on Halloween—wearing a cape and fangs, or a Victorian corset and fishnet stockings, or twinkly lights like the lead characters from their favorite novels.
The pop culture phenomenon will almost certainly fade, but our interest in vampires isn’t likely to go away. We’ll keep telling ourselves stories about vampires because those stories have never been just about monsters. They’ve always been about us.