What is it about vampires? They’ve come a long way from the dank, dusty recesses of Castle Dracula. Now they’re all rich, good-looking, sensitive, and drive cool cars. Some even dine out: blood banks spare their breathing compadres the worry.
Vampires, like ghosts, capture the popular imagination: they are sexy, they never die, they can fly, disappear, climb up and down walls, shape shift, and get away with murder. Being immortal, they have loads of free time to read up on the stock market, and can live long enough to collect. In modern movies and novels, they dress well and often have good hair; they’re always portrayed by the best-looking actors. They always, always get the prettiest girls. These glitzy beings bear no resemblance whatsoever to Nosferatu.
You knew it was the beginning of the end when Count Dracula became Count Chocula.
What with the advent of high spf sunscreens, they need no longer avoid daylight: you can see them at the Chanel store on Rodeo Drive, or golfing in Palm Springs. I’ve heard they even surf.
These days, the menace is gone. Face it: we live in postmodern times. The old monsters no longer shiver our spines – we’ve remade them into warm, fuzzy, supportive types who pour us tea and listen to our problems: almost like therapists, but less dorky. We have scientific explanations for their condition: they’re just anemic.
By removing the sizzle of fearsomeness, the overbites, the threat, the danger, the Godless aspect (you’ll remember that crucifixes held the bad, old vampires at bay), we’ve rendered them impotent. They have the power to charm but not to scare. Modern vampires are not the old bad creatures with halitosis, claws, and blood stains on their collars. There was no mistaking them for protagonists. They were evil, devilish, from hell. No question.
Now that vampires are like us (except they’re better looking and wealthier, with superpowers), they’ve become the heroes in romance novels. And we’ve granted them gifts that we lack (that the postmodern world has no room for): they are supranatural in a material world; they have paranormal powers although they look just like us (well, without weight issues, and as previously pointed out, with better hair). They sometimes save the day instead of ruining it.
And they always know which fork to use, no matter how many are on the table.
(Illustration is a painting by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, 1285-1348)