Understanding Vampires: From Dracula to Edward

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Alyssa Wilder
The Broadside

Suddenly the feared monster of yore has come out from under the bed to lying on top of it, beckoning alluringly.

The ancient evil has arisen again, and it wants you… badly. In the last 30 years or so, vampires have taken a bite out of pop-culture, according to Terry Krueger who teaches Folklore & US Popular Culture at Central Oregon Community College.

Mentioning vampires around campus elicits groans and grins alike.

“The story line is horrible, the characters aren’t really that fantastic either,” said psychology major Quin Beckner about Twilight. But Nursing major, Brandinne Maddox is a fan of both the Twlight books and movies.

“I actually liked them,” she said. “I’m waiting for the third movie to come out on DVD.”

The Twlight series as well as HBO’s popular vampire drama,  True Blood, showcase the youthcultures view of the “new” vampire.

“Vampires,” said Krueger, “are sexy, cool and sophisticated.”

It’s not just the pubescent girls bickering over Edward versus Jacob that have been afflicted with vampire fever, however. Women of all ages have been bitten by the vampire bug.

“This is due, in part, to the sexual revolution,” said Krueger.

“Twilight Moms…are attracted to a male in a position of power who doesn’t take advantage.”

Modern vampires are, on the whole, not really so evil. Take Edward, from Twilight. He sparkles in the sunlight.

“They took all of the monster out of the monster,” said Beckner, “except that Edward is a creepy stalker.”

Contemporary vampire stories can serve as a political metaphor as well, according to Krueger. In True Blood, references are made to vampires finally being able to “come out of the closet” and publicly embrace who they are. During news clips shown in the show, right-wing and religious conservatives are subtly demonized by their rejection of the “oppressed” vampire population.

“To me,” Alan Ball, the creator of True Blood, said in an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, “vampires are sex.” They probably wouldn’t have the same appeal if they all resembled Roseanne Barr and John Goodman. Today’s vampires exhibit “eternal youth, endless beauty and unlimited
sexuality,” as Krueger put it.

Popular culture puts great stock in the value of these traits, and, at times, the pursuit can seem bloodthirsty.

Some people aren’t as pleased by the vampire’s transition to day-walker. “I suppose that had to happen to the vampire. The monster is now just a human. It’s disappointing,” said Beckner.

Vampires have taken popculture by the jugular. It’s been at least thousand years since the birth of the vampire mythos but today’s society is not sure if they want to scream in terror or ecstasy.

Fortunately the question doesn’t really need to be asked; as Krueger said, “Vampires don’t really exist.”

Alyssa Wilder can be reached at afwilder@cocc.edu.

 

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