Vampire Culture in Our Society (Guest Blog by Maria Ramos)
Maria is a writer interested in comic books, cycling, and horror films. Her hobbies include cooking, doodling, and finding local shops around the city. She currently lives in Chicago with her two pet turtles, Franklin and Roy.
You can follow her on Twitter @MariaRamos1889
Find her earlier guest blog about Bram Stoker’s Dracula here..
Vampire Culture in Our Society
The myth of the vampire has existed almost as long as civilization has existed, and longer than just about any other monster myth. Whether tagged with the label ‘vampire’ or not, creatures with the telltale characteristics of rising from the dead and having an insatiable lust for blood have populated the mythologies of various cultures back hundreds of years.
Today’s vampires are a far cry from their historical counterparts, having evolved over the years and with the times, as any enduring monster myth is prone to do. Still, with the abundance of today’s vampire stories catering to a younger and more mixed demographic by portraying the creature as sexy, brooding, and sometimes essentially good, it’s refreshing to see a series like The Strain with its at times ridiculous and slightly silly portrayals of the monsters who are nonetheless the scary monsters they were always meant to be.
Vampires, like zombies and other mythical monsters, have come to represent the fears and threats of whatever times in which they are created or resurrected. Our modern ideal of the vampire can invariably be traced back to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, composed in 1897. Even then, Stoker’s creation was a reflection of the fears of the times, both a commentary on the negative repercussions of sexual promiscuity within the strict Victorian society and a representative of the monstrous Jack the Ripper, who was haunting London streets at the turn of the century. What the original Dracula was not, until further evolution at the hands of later pop cultures, was sexy or alluring.
Even though Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula in the 1931 movie of the same name had already begun to change the original character into a younger, darker, and more aristocratic version of the monster – but he was still a monster in his own right and reflective of the fears of the times, including a fear of foreigners infiltrating and destroying all in their path. Fast forward several decades to the cold war era in which Christopher Lee’s version of Dracula was considered the epitome of all things foreign and evil, to the vampires of the 1960’s and 1970’s, enjoying sexual freedom without morals or discrimination, on to the Anne Rice vampires of the 1980’s, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer versions of the 1990’s, and to the True Blood, Vampire Diaries, and Twilight series vampires of today, looking so much like us but yet not us at all.
Given the influx over the last couple of decades of vampires geared toward a mostly teenaged and twenty-something audience featuring vampires that are defined by their brooding good looks and attacks of conscience, the creatures depicted in Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s novel trilogy turned television series are refreshingly monstrous throwbacks to the legendary roots of the vampire – while still maintaining a side that’s unique and original.
The vampires of The Strain don’t look like us (I mean, just look at that tongue, for instance) or act like us, and they certainly don’t maintain any type of sexual appetite after the disease effectively removes all trace of sexual organs as it runs its course. And yet they are supposedly mutated from human beings by way of a parasitic infection. Moreover, the infection of vampires in the novels have lead to a highly polluted New York in which the sky is dark all the time allowing the vampires to roam freely.
In a way, these vampires potentially represent our very real fears of the spread of global illnesses or epidemics and the effects on humanity.Many speculate that human activity, if left unchecked, could lead to a world like this of substantial pollution and quickly dwindling resources. Unless humanity starts paying closer attention and takes action in common sense situations, such as recycling and seeking renewable resources from energy providers and gas companies, we could end up in a post-apocalyptic society ourselves.
With the ongoing success of such franchises as True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, there’s no denying the audience appeal for vampires that resemble darker, scarier, and less inhibited versions of today’s teenagers, college students, and young professionals. But, just as with any mythical monster, as times change and global issues continue to evolve, so too will our vampire fictions.