21st Century Vampires

Eric-In-VQ_Vampire-QuarterlyJenka Gurfinkal on her blog social-creature:

A month before the premiere of True Blood’s third season earlier this summer I wrote a post about the first 21st century superhero. The new Iron Man, as reimagined by Jon Favreau and portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., had broken the mold constricting the superhero archetype since its inception back in the late 1930’s, and in its place offered a vibrantly modern model for the character, reflecting the unique culture, ethos, and mores of the 21st century. True Blood, I’m realizing, is now doing the same for that other undying superhuman trope: the vampire.

Of course, the vampire has been undead for a lot longer. The earliest recorded vampire myth dates back to Babylonia, about 4,000 years ago, and over the millennia it has appeared in almost every culture. But lets cut to the chase: 1922 was year vampires broke ground in film (though, technically, they’d made a few cameos before then). It was the year F. W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu” came out.

Take a good look. That’s what a movie vampire used to be. A creature no teen girl, or anyone else for that matter, would want to see as a lead in a summer mystical romance franchise. In all the silent films that featured vampires there was always a clear and consistent view: here be monsters.

While this original archetype might have undergone a radical transformation over the past 80+ years of cinema — from grotesque monster to, ironically, heartthrob, a result of the only evolutionary force vampires are actually subject to: sexual selection, naturally — don’t be fooled. Just because Twilight’s Edward Cullen or the whatever-their-names-are characters of The Vampire Diaries happen to be getting panties in a twist at the moment, they are not in any way contemporary. Much has been made about the exceptionally “old-fashioned” gender roles in Twilight, but that analysis is basically missing the forest for one tree. Think about it: is there ANYTHING that happens in Twilight that could not have happened just as easily 50 years ago? You could turn Twilight into a 1950’s period piece and basically NOTHING about the major plot points, dialogue, personalities, relationships, or motivations — of either the vampires OR humans in this saga — would need to change. This does not a 21st century story make. In fact, if you’re curious about exactly why Twilight is so popular, the mechanics of this process are actually quite timeless:

[continues at social-creature]


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6 Comments on "21st Century Vampires"

  1. In my day, vampires sucked blood — not cock.

    Oh, how I love The Oatmeal.

  2. Adam Fogarty | Aug 14, 2010 at 1:16 am |

    Great point, about how today's bloodsucking vampire represents the perfect Alpha male, which all the chick get wet over.

    I think you just described Wall Street Bankers perfectly.

    Phnom Penh

  3. Gemmarama | Aug 14, 2010 at 10:28 am |

    i'd rather shag nosferatu than edward cullen any day.

  4. Tuna Ghost | Aug 14, 2010 at 9:10 pm |

    I used to look exactly like those vampires, it's pretty easy when you have a robust substance-abuse problem.

  5. Tuna Ghost | Aug 15, 2010 at 2:12 am |

    yeah, androgyny = gay, and gay is bad. Very enlightened of you.

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