Friday, July 24, 2009

Why Choose a Vampire? Fiction and Society

Slowly, blood pooled at his feet. Stunned by the sight, he stared at the slippery liquid as it drained down his chest. The sensation felt both eerie and frightening since it reminded him of slithering snakes, and the inescapable approach of his own death. Yet, he also felt a strange elation, almost erotic attraction.

Unable to speak, for seconds he mentally pleaded with his attacker, Please don't kill me. I have a family. Then felt his muscles weaken and fail.

His heart slowed, stuttered, and stopped. Now, he knew he was beyond the hope of the living.

He felt lips graze his neck, pulling the last drops from within him. Then, as if life was nothing more than a single liquid moment, a large orb of thick cool blood coated his lips, his mouth as he opened it and gasped in air.

His heart resumed pumping, but it felt and sounded vastly different. He could not understand what happened, as strong hands easily lifted him to his feet and a voice said, "Drink this. It is life after death. Do as I command, and live forever."

He obeyed, tasted the eternal elixir, desired another swallow, and begged, "Please, I need more."

He felt too weak to reach out, and leaned against his savior without realizing that he who saved him after death had, beforehand, taken his mortal life without remorse.


In the 1980s, bookstores had shelves established for the horror genre. Those years were filled with the fear of world war, high inflation, recession, corruption, and more.

The 1980s gave writers like Stephen King and Anne Rice an opportunity, which both accepted and prospered from.

Then came the Clinton years. Somehow, Bill Clinton brought with him a new optimism. However, many old style politicians, including younger ones who resisted change, immediately went after him as if hope for the future was somehow a threat to their desired goals, which seemed to be maintaining the despair and fear of the past.

They appeared more interested in stopping change, than in welcoming the future as a time of renewed vigor. Of course, Bill Clinton was his own worst enemy, but those who wanted to destroy him wanted to destroy what he symbolically represented too.

During the 1990s, publishers announced that Horror fiction was dead. Bookstores removed it as a separate genre and combined it with science fiction. True science fiction rebounded and carried with it the promise of adventure, and technological advancements that would create a world of equality and promise.

Then came 9/11. The idea "look what science did or failed to do" eroded society. Humanity's cruelest crept from beneath the rocks of Afghanistan, and reminded us that the past was not the only time when men like Hitler boot stomped across innocent life with unjustifiable motivation.

Fiction horror was back, but this time tamed by "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer." Somehow, the once nearly invincible vampire emerged as a vulnerable lovesick boy. Occasionally, the vampire seemed to miss mother's touch more than he cared for his gift of immortality. Movies, TV, and books hunted these creatures of the night as if to replace, or appease the need to crush those who killed without validation.

So, I ask why vampires? Why praise them? Why hunt and slay them? Why do we fear them, yet cannot get enough of what they offer?

Perhaps what they offer somehow makes their existence desirable to us. Immortality, no death, no disease, no fear, no war, no corruption. Injuries heal themselves. Every person is attractive to them and longs for their touch, in spite of the knowledge that a vampire's gift of death and rebirth may well mean the end of life.

2008 reminded me of 1992. An election of hope. I wondered if horror would again be diminished and replaced by true science fiction or another hope-filled genre.

Apparently not this time. Perhaps the despair and hopelessness -- driven by like-minded people such as those who derailed change in the 1990s -- that haunted us since 2001 remains fixed, an immovable object that divided us as a people, so that we now refuse to seek common ground for the most basic of human needs.

Why vampires?

Why not? At least they act logically. We can predict their outcome, their goals, and find some solace in that knowledge.
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1 comment:

Kelly Moran said...

great description and scene set up.
your in sc? i miss it there. my family is there. i'm in milwaukee now.
i'm following you now. pop on over and check mine out.
nice to meet you.

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