Thursday, October 29, 2009

Losing The Fangs: Vampires Go Mainstream

An ad for the synthetic blood vampires drink in HBO’s True Blood

By Daniel Ring

The Halloween season in full swing and the supernatural is all over our television and movie screens. However, the creature of the night that people can’t get enough of at the moment has to be the vampire. Whether it’s the moody, angst-ridden Twilight saga, the high-school drama style of Vampire Diaries or the gory, sexy True Blood – “vamp-mania” has gripped the nation.

Vampires have made a major comeback in the last year or so. This glut of new franchises all have their own interesting twists on the traditional vampire myth, whether it’s the lack of fangs, immunity to sunlight or that vampires have become an ethnic minority. The one thing they all have in common however is their distinctly American take on the idea. These new breed of stories are a far cry from Dracula. Though its under debate as to whether this is a good thing.

Alex, a student at SUNY Plattsburgh, thinks that most of the current vampiric output is geared towards girls, “its not horror – not in the same way that classic vampire films are, there is too much focus on how attractive the vampires are, the real monster element has been lost.” The main narrative in all these current shows is, after all, romance.

True Blood is different again; it has traditional vampire themes entwined with southern ideas and beliefs, producing a show that is politically charged and distinctly American. The shadowy beings have become part of the mainstream, attempting to gain social acceptance, they turn to synthetic Tru-Blood for sustenance. However like most minorities, they have to deal with many prejudices.

Sexuality plays a major part in all the shows. However, True Blood aside, the focus is on abstaining from desire and lust rather than pursuing it. Twilight is the best example of teen lust versus moral responsibility. According to Ruth La Ferla, a journalist for The New York Times, “Impulse-control is an especially resonant theme in the current era of conflicts and cutbacks.”

Protagonists Bella and Edward from teen hit Twilight.

Hannah, another student from SUNY Plattsburgh and a big fan of the Twilight saga, explains how these new breed of vampire flicks actually give more meaning to the myth, “Its a non conventional view of the vampire story, it brings the archaic stereotype up to date...the abstinence themes of Twilight and Vampire Diaries aren’t really an issue because these are vampire stories in the first place, immediately making them more edgy and interesting.”

But has this new breed of bloodsuckers really lost their bite? Despite the interesting twists these films and shows make to the conventional vampire theme, it’s impossible not to draw links with sexual abstinence, a major issue that has been promoted by many teen pop culture icons. Gone is the sexual and moral exploration and adventure of adult cult classics like Interview With a Vampire – replaced with an abundance of teen angst and sexual frustration.

Now if only those rings weren’t silver...

New Moon will be on general release on 11/20/09
Vampire Diaries airs every Saturday at 8pm EST on The CW.


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