Thursday, August 6
Kill the Vampire
Entertainment Weekly's Christina Amoroso asks Neil Gaiman how vampires became such a viable cultural commodity through the years, from monsters they have become anti-heroes. Gaiman thinks it has a lot to do with what vampires get to represent. Bram Stoker's vampire was more about repeated seduction in the Victorian era. The next great vampire reincarnation happened when Stephen King wanted to do a vampire story in a small town in Maine--Salem's Lot. The vampire is almost always "The Other," always about "people exiled to the fringes." This is the story of every vampire in popular culture, from Anne Rice's melancholy blood suckers to Sesame Street's The Count. "Vampires," Gaiman thinks, "should be outsiders. They should probably be sexual outsiders. They need to be charismatic. They need to be elegant. They need to be attractive in some way. But they aren’t buying nice suits and calling the shots. And if they are, the book is about something else."
Gaiman thinks that vampires in fiction arrive in waves. From the Victorians to Stephen King and Sesame Street, they have remained viable as figures in ficion because of the constantly renewed figure of the outsider. But Gaiman posits that what changed the game about vampires in fiction, and what gave them a new lease on life and death was AIDS: "You hit the early ‘80s, and suddenly you have something in the blood that is an exchange of blood that kills and is altogether fundamentally about sex. And vampirism essentially came out of the closet as a metaphor for the act of love that kills. Stephen King once said, using the Erica Jung quote, that vampirism is the ultimate zipless f—."
But now that vampires are everywhere, most notably the extreme popularity of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, Gaiman thinks that the wave reached its crest and vampires should go back and hibernate in their coffins for another 20 to 25 years. "Come out the next time as something really different, that would be cool."
The gazillions of teenage girls who find Edward Cullen cute will surely hate this, but I tend to agree with Gaiman. Someone should drive a stake on the sparkly Cullen dude with the weird hair, and come back out when he has a nice hair day. Curiously, I Googled "Kill Edward Cullen" for an image to accompany this blog post and there are 247,000 hits and 307,000 web results. So I'm not alone in this. But for the sake of diplomacy and to avoid getting flamed by the Edward & Bella fans, I opted for a classic Dracula-with-a-stake-through-the-heart pic.