I was walking through the Arden Faire Mall the other day when I passed closely by a group of goth kids. I looked back (mainly because this one girl in the group was really hot. There always seems to be one.) and one of the kids flashed his fake, but I must add, very professional looking, fangs at me. This got me to wondering about why people are so fascinated by vampires. Why does it hold such a romantic interest with people? Why does it seem such a desirable state to be in? What is it that’s different about a vampire from other ghouls?
The little goths probably get their asses kicked all over the place, but by golly, if one day they became vampires, why, then they would should those bullies! Or something like that. Throw in some bad parenting, and voila! Bad poetry and fangs in public.
Err, then they would show those bullies.
They are characterized as strong, erotic creatures. The idea of feeding off another’s blood would have a tremendous appeal for those who have an approach/avoidance conflict with intimacy. By feeding, you are both using the victim and yet at the same time, becoming very intimate with them. And best of all, they die after the encounter. Immortality is a huge hook for vampires as well. Those who have lived for multiple centuries have same appeal as a well-traveled person.
What does bad parenting have to do with it?
Letting your kid run around dressed like a humorous caricature of Robert Whatzhisnutz from The Cure while wearing fangs? That’s just fucked up. Ya ya, let your little angel express themselves and all, but there is a line. I’d just as soon let my (teenaged) kid run around dressed as Mickey Mouse. Kids don’t know any better; It’s the parents job to point them the right way.
Well, I’ve known a few people who had a thing for werewolves, and some people are fixated on ghosts, zombies, or various other things that go bump in the night. However, vampires and to a lesser extent werewolves seem to be the only ones that people actually want to be rather than enjoy fiction about or maybe meet.
I don’t think I’ve ever met or even heard of anyone for whom the folkloric vampire held “romantic interest”, probably because the folkloric vampire is a disgusting, disease-bearing, blood-sucking animated corpse. The vampire that people become obsessed with is the literary/cinematic vampire. You know, the suave, sexy, powerful, wealthy aristocrat who just happens to be undead. Pretty much every popular fictional vampire from Lord Ruthven to Lestat fits this mold. It’s not hard to see why this character type would appeal to some people, nor why a certain type of teenager would wish to emulate it. It’s the rare teen who wouldn’t like to be cool, sexy, powerful, rich…and maybe a little scary. Some try to live out this fantasy by becoming/pretending to be football heroes, rock or rap stars, or criminals of some sort. Others play vampire. Why not?
I guess the vampire fantasy has a little extra going for it in that, according to most popular works on the subject, one becomes a vampire by being bitten by or drinking the blood of another vampire. It doesn’t take any special skills, talent, or even hard work. (Getting together one of those elaborate Goth outfits does take plenty of effort, but not every vampire fan is a Goth or cares to dress the part.) So even if you’re an insecure teen and suspect that you’re a pathetic loser who’ll never be good at anything, you could probably still suspend your disbelief enough to fantasize about becoming a vampire.
The vampire role is also open to girls in a way that a lot of other teen fantasy types are not. Even a girl who’s, say, a really great tennis player or guitarist probably knows that her chances of stardom are slim compared to a boy’s, especially if she’s not pretty on top of being talented. Of course, to attract much positive attention as a Goth Chick it helps to be pretty too, like the “really hot girl” mentioned in the OP, but again one can be obsessed with vampires without being a member of the Goth subculture. And one can be a Goth without being especially interested in vampires.
I really don’t mean this to sound the wrong way, Brutus, but you sound like exactly the kind of parent any kid would rebel against like crazy.
Relaxed indifference is a better strategy, unless the kid’s actually doing harm or moving into “seriously stupid” territory. If my kid wants to go to the mall dressed like Mickey Mouse or Robert Whatiznutz, well, there are worse things he could do.
As to vampirism:
1. People are scared of vampires. People also tend to be a little twingy around weirdly dressed teeners acting peculiar in the mall, if they’re extreme enough. Fear is power. Teeners don’t have any power, so they think this is cool.
**2. Vampires can kick anyone’s ass. ** Admittedly, this is not true of punked out Goth kids, but they can dream, can’t they?
3. Vampires are sexy. Sex is desirable. Sex is power… at least in the society we have created. Admittedly, dressing up like a vampire does not necessarily make you sexy – I personally tend to find obese goths rather humorous – but, again, they can dream, can’t they?
4. Everyone’s doing it. Well, everyone in this little group of teeners that hangs out in the food court at the mall, anyway. They are cool, ergo, if I dress like them and hang out with them, I too will be cool.
In short, it’s about coolness, power, sexiness, and belonging… like a great many other human moieties.
The poster for THE LOST BOYS said it all-
Sleep all day. Party all night.
Never grow old. Never die.
It’s fun being a vampire.
Heh. This brought to mind a little conversation I had with a friend of mine who kept talking about how ‘cool’ being a vampire would be. I reminded her that she’d never see sunlight again (and she already had seasonal depression). She didn’t care. It would still be cool. I asked her where she would work. “Vampires don’t need to work. They don’t eat.” Okay. Where would you live? No answer. Would it bother you that you’d be drinking only blood for the rest of your existance, that the rest of your friends and loved ones would grow old and die before your eyes? That you’d likely be hunted as something that killed people?
It didn’t matter to her. It would still be ‘cool’. This is a late-twentys-year-old woman…
It still just boggles my mind.
Far as I’m concerned, they’re blood sucking fiends from beyond the grave.
Hmmm. I really like what you said about the intimacy part. That seems very insightful and is something I have never heard before.
Arden Fair Mall? Suburban Plankton is heading there this afternoon…I’ll have him look for the Vampire kids. LOL!
Man, I had that conversation with a goth-y friend back in seventh grade. It weirded me out then and it still weirds me out. Besides, have none of these people ever watched Buffy or Angel? Being a vampire is terrible! The Slayer is after you all the time, and if you end up cursed with a soul you can’t have sex with her anyway because of convoluted plot complications!
But if you really think a bite can’t be sexy, check out the Buffy season 3 two-part season finale, Graduation. Yow.
Actually, at least up until the Buffy series finale, a vampire could count on a nice, Slayer-free existence by inhabiting the 99.999% of the planet that DIDN’T HAPPEN TO BE SUNNYDALE!
Let me also be the first to mention the episode “Lie To Me,” wherein some vampire wannabes – no doubt frequent visitors to the Arden Faire Mall – try to earn their immortality by delivering the Slayer to Spike.
At one time vampires were barely more than zombies, only difference was they sucked blood and hung around their old homes because some part of them remembered being there and having a family. They had no memory and were merely the shells of the people they were who’s only goal was to drink blood and survive.
Then you start getting people writing about them, starting to form them into our modern view of vampires.
Why they are so cool:
[li]Vampires are sexy. Very few people write as vampires being ugly things to pity anymore, the human softness is torn away and the animal within is revealed. It strikes a chord within IMHO, no longer are we the top dog but the vampires are, and they are not mindless animals relatively easy to evade.[/li]
[li]Stay up all night, sleep all day. Apparently no worries whatsoever except where the next meal or party will be. Lots of vampires appear to have disposable income at no cost to themselves. They can do what they want, when they want and have no one to tell them otherwise.[/li]
[li]The intimacy of it. See KidCharlemagne.[/li]
[li]The power. No longer are you the weaker, you can feed off your enemies and kick some serious ass.[/li]
[li]The angst. What is more angsty then someone who will live for eternity, lose everyone they love, their family, their lives…? Soon enough they will be outside of time watching the world go by with nothing but ennui to take them.[/ul][/li]
That’s just off the top of my head. And yeah, not everyone who’s a vampire fan sticks out. I’m quite a vampire fan myself, but I know I would never want to be one.
Some of my fave vampire books involve realities of that life. Seriously, if vampires existed they have to make money somehow… live somehow. They can’t just hide away and party all the time. I’ve come across a couple stories that are interesting with vampires that actually work for a living, cuz they have to pay the rent too.
Also a lot of the interest generated has to do with the games IMHO, because it fleshes them out. It gives them this whole secret underground culture that there is only one way in, and one way out… death. Anything else is just superficial.
I also wrote this because I am really looking forward to Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines.
Exactly. The thing the creeps me out about vamp-wannabes is that, unlike people who pretend they’re sports stars or whatnot, these types aspire to be serial killers. After all, what is a vampire if not a plae, well-dressed murderer, someone who leaves a trail of innocent victims wherever he or she goes? Barring your odd pigs-blood-drinking vamp-with-a-soul (and who wants to live on pig’s blood?) that’s the crux (ha!) of the matter. Morally speaking, there’s no difference between aspiring to this particular form of “immortality” and dreaming about climbing a clock tower with a high-powered rifle.
I’d like to believe that if I somehow found myself a vampire, I’d spend a night on the town trying out my new powers and then head down to the beach to greet the morning sun. Because there is such a thing as the Golden Rule.
Yeah I’d heard they were making another V:tM computer game… man I may have to buy a new computer just to get that one… or maybe not.
I can’t provide explicit links because I’m at work, however, if peruse the Erotica section Fictionwise.com, you should be able to find a few Vampire Erotica stories for sale. Not my kind of reading material, but there seems to be enough to form a sub-genre.
I blame the whole phenomena on a hack who wrote a mediocre vampire novel filled with homoeroticism and sophomore existentialism. The book started a cult following and spawned even sillier sequels with pseudo-religious/mythical overtones and an adoration of rock-n-roll narcissism.
If you replace the vampire’s existential angst of the novels with real life teenager’s existential angst, some of the popularity can be explained. Psychologically vampires are no different than a bunch a dumb teenagers.
I’m baffled by it. I remember when I first got internet access and I stumbled across an Ann Rice chat room. It was just too weird for me. I guess it is pretty sexy in an “eeew, I don’t want to actually DO it…just talk about it” way. I get a kick out of the little Goth-lettes you see hanging at the mall. They truly believe they’re onto something big!