Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Vampires and the Mainstream

Disclaimer (Just in case it's not already obvious): I do not believe that vampires exist in reality. I do not believe that I am a vampire. XD

This was touched on briefly on our Facebook forum while we were discussing the impact of mainstream culture on Steampunk, and I used this example...

'I didn't stop loving Vampire-culture just because it was mauled and mangled by the mainstream, I just waited for things to simmer down, which they did.'

And that got my mind working. I mean, I like Steampunk a lot, but I love Vampire aesthetics the same way hardcore Steampunkers and Steampunk fans do. It is a part of my soul and something I've been attracted to my whole life.


For me, vampires represent something deep within my mass of grey matter that resonates with me.
Honestly, I'm not sure if now is the time to write about that, as it's nearly 3am and I am getting sleepy. Perhaps that will be a post for a later date, if I'm feeling brave enough. 

So vampire legends, belief and stories have been part of human culture for thousands of years, with many different civilisations having their own interpretation of a creature that, at the most basic level, feeds off human blood. Some crafty writers, such as Bram Stoker, noticed this legend that was capable of creating real fear in people, so he wrote a story about it, Dracula. What is even scarier is that he based the character off a real, violent person, Vlad Tepes. Not to mention that there are real human beings that have possess vampiric qualites throughout history. Erzsébet Báthory, for example, was a woman who believed the blood of virgins kept her beautiful.


It is clear that vampires have been part of culture since for ever, so why is now at all different? (Contiued to be edited at a very reasonable hour when my brain was no longer slush) Well, in some ways it isn't. Vampires have still been used to scare people, but they've taken on a romantic illicit appeal. Think of the grandeur of Christopher Lee or the sex appeal in The Lost Boys.
In the last 10 years things took a turn for the worst however, with Twilight essentially making vampires 'Tame'. They were no longer exclusively scary, dark and evil beings. Not to mention that they were essentially immortal and had no weaknesses what so ever, except multiple other vampires. So relatable! (Sarcasm.) Sure there were a few evil-ish ones, but the main characters were 'vegetarian' and SPARKLED! NOT SCARY! (Enough allcaps...)

Vampires were now squeaky clean for a few years, with people asking me every day 'Have you read Twilight? I think you would like it.'
The answer is 'yes' I have read Twilight. I've read each of the four books, and I don't like it. Most Twi-haters, however, have not read the books. I don't see how anyone can hate something they haven't experienced, but I guess prejudice is all too common in society at the moment.

I actually believe that despite the Twilight-mania that we all had to suffer through is dying down, Twilight has impacted vampires for evermore. We wont ever get back to how things were before, but now mundanes who normally would roll their eyes, shudder or even avoid me, now show slight amounts of interest or at least don't mutter expressions of 'freak!' to their friends.


I don't think all vampires need to be scary, but I do think that vampire lore is important, an if an author is going to remove/add/change or vary vampire lore they need to do it right! They need to make it believeable. Anne Rice did this. She reinvented vampires and vampire lore and it worked oh so well. Stephanie Meyer also did this, by removing every single piece of vampire lore (Even fangs! Shock horror!), and replaced it with glitter. Not to mention the ultra-conservative views that are not so subtly injected into the book, many which conflict with my values and personal choices... ahem.
So I spent a few years fuming about the destruction of vampire culture. At that time I hated True Blood and didn't want to watch the show or read the books by Charlaine Harris. (That changed...) I refused to buy any of the shirts that had fangs printed on it or slogans such as 'Most girls want to be a princess, I want to be a vampire'! And honestly, I do regret that, not because of the cheap clothing with the wanky print, but to cut up and to mod and customise into new stuff. Especially because nowadays you don't see those sorts of pieces anywhere.

Anyway, last summer, when I was finished with high school, recently separated from my first serious 2 year relationship and waiting for uni to start. I was pretty bored and upset, so I spent the time watched True Blood season one and a bit of season two, as well as lots and lots of other junky shows and movies. And yes, I got hooked on True Blood. I liked the sexy vampires, the large quantities of blood, the booze, the fact that the show deals with lots of real issues such as sexuality, drugs, religion and racism. Finally it seemed that the mainstream had gotten it right! These vampires represented everything I wanted in a vampire TV show. Real fangs (although it peeves me that they are not the incisors. I'm a purest!), an aversion to sunlight and silver as a weakness. These vampires were vulnerable and actually in a lot of danger due to their addictive blood. Not to mention I loved Harris' new interpretation of vampires and the acceptance of vampires within society. 'Coming out of the coffin'. That's just great. It's new and fresh, but enough lore to be faithful to vampire legends.


So I'll continue to watch vampire films, read vampire novels both tasteful and trashy, and wear vampiric attire on ocassion. I don't really care if the mainstream have another vampire-fad, I just hope that it is not so squeaky clean. That these beings are capable of creating a lot of harm if necessary to the plot.
I'll continue to indulge in thick red drinks and lots of red wine, red lip colour and pointed nails even if every single teenager is doing that very same thing, or vampires vanish into obscurity. And I won't stop loving (almost) everything vampiric any time soon.

Anyone else who is feeling disillusioned it whatever used to make their heart beat that little more, I say 'Please don't give up, yet!' Things will get better eventually, whether you're into games and the popularity of casual games has left a bitter taste in your mouth, or a passionate fan of Steampunk who utters a little cry everytime they see something like Justin Bieber attempting (failing) to do Sp and then have to watch in horror as all the little fiends want to cram cogs onto their school jackets. =(
Just stick things out, maybe take a little break if it really is depressing and making you loose faith in life, but rest assured that like all things in pop culture, people will get bored and quickly look for something else to satisfy their increasingly short attention spans. And then we can emerge, relatively unharmed and continue to revel in what we love.

Please, share any other experiences in the comments below!

xxx Lilly


  1. That line is almost exactly how it was for me. I was into Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, the classic stuff. Twilight nearly killed it for me, it was so teeth grinding painful to hear all that crap. I don't necessarily hate it but the fans are annoying and I am not a fan of the vegan vampire thing. Give me the throat rippers anyday! And the books were kind of boring to me. I have tried to read them several times and given up. But I got over it and started reading Anne Rice again and remembered how I love it! And now I watch The Vampire Diaries, which is my guilty pleasure, but it isn't really that bad, it is utterly gothic with all the forbidden desire, and murder, and resurrection, and loads of torture! I have also read all the True Blood/ Southern Vampire Mysteries, and enjoyed them! They were a lot of fun! I find Bathory fascinating, I might write something based on her one day!

    1. Trust me, don't force yourself to read them. There not high enough quality books to be choked down. XD
      We all have our guilty pleasures! Eg. when I'm not sleepy at 3 in the morning I'll often put on Van Helsing or Queen of the Damned just to have some vampires goodness to soak up rather than to watch high quality pieces of cinema. Oh, and my boyfriend is in Queen of the Damned, so that helps!!! XD

  2. Even though I do enjoy the more modern books, TV shows, etc. The Anne Rice books were the ones that really resonated with me, that meant something to me, and I haven't found any vampire work like that since!

    1. Indeed Anna Rice did something special. She was the first author to give vampires human characteristics and qualities rather than just being monsters. That in itself is amazing! I like both modern and period vampires, and Anne Rice had that perfect combination of the two.

  3. I was guilty of being a Twi-wh*re when it came to cheap imitation vampire stuff when I was 11 or 12...I read all of the Twilight saga back then but I kind of outgrew it by the time I was 13.

    Later on I read Interview With The Vampire, Dracula, and discovered movies like Lost Boys, which I found I liked much more due to their more substantial, dynamic characters and plots. ^-v-^

    On the steampunk thing: I remember the Bieber Steampunk kerfuffle. I just about vomited. I knew it wouldn't last though, and it hasn't! Huzzah!

    1. What we were talking about was the Taylor Swift this recently. http://www.buzzfeed.com/steampunk/steampunk-taylor-swift-at-the-grammys-3n9d And how the writer totally missed the point by saying it was Steampunk. Then we were all face*palming about that fashion-writing faux pas. XD

    2. P.S Being a Twi-hard is nothing bad! Honestly! Especially when you have such refined taste otherwise. (as refined as vamp-Lit can be, at least)

      It's true that Anna Rice and Stoker do have more complexity. I think that's because they're actually written for adults. Not many people realise that Twilight is for children- well, young teens at least!

  4. Totally agree. I read the twilight books a few years ago and my thoughts were "wow... all these vampires are whiny little bitches". I find myself getting pretty peeved if I hear anything like "I love vampires! I read/watched Twilight!".
    It's sad that a lot of people's exposure to vampires are just Twilight... 'cuz it sucks.
    I did find myself just absolutely in love with Spike from Buffy, though. I don't know if you'd count him as a good example of a vampire or not, but he's one of the very few vampire I like from modern culture.

    1. Yeah, you've said it here just, ugh, completely. I don't want peoples only experience of vampires to be Twilight, because, let's face it, they can't really do worse than that, as far as I know.
      And TBH I haven't really watched enough of Buffy at all! =( I want to though! Being my age I was certainly too young to watch it on TV in the '90's! XD So, yeah anything Buffy is a win from me. Opinions on Underworld?

    2. I enjoyed the first one, and Rise of the Lycans but I wasn't a big fan of the second one.

    3. Totally agree with you there! I and III were great, II was just meh, and IV was rubbish. Just my opinion.

    4. I didn't even know there was a fourth one! Sounds like I'm not missing much though.