Evolution of Vampire Culture

By Chris Morgan:

Originally, vampire folklore depicted vampires as savage, parasitic and, of course, bloodthirsty monsters more similar to how zombies are now depicted. They would be generally mindless and animalistic, their only motivation being blood, and they would appear to me little more than a reanimated corpse. The legends spawned when unexplained deaths of local village people and livestock were attributed by travelers to be the work of such supernatural creatures.

It wasn’t until the late 1800’s, with the publishing of “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, that the image of the vampire first turned toward the intelligent, corrupt and seductive vampires that we know today. Stoker depicted a dark and mysterious sort of anti hero, having superhuman powers and beauty as well as vast wealth and near immortality. He would seduce and corrupt women and once they were corrupt he discards them and he must live a wretched existence for his transgressions. This is suggested to be representative of sexual repression and the desire for male dominance during the Victorian Gothic era, as Dracula embodied forbidden sexuality and escape from death.

In the last few decades the image of the vampire has evolved into many different incarnations. The two main changes to the vampire was to make them more scientifically logical and to make them more visually stimulating. Blade film trilogy depicted a half human vampire who, as a result of his humanity, has “all of a vampires strengths, and none of their weaknesses”. He becomes a badass vampire hunter, employing a host of silver weapons and Kung Fu moves to take them down. Then the Underworld film trilogy seemed to merge both vampire and werewolf genre and created a action packed conflict between the two that was unprecedented, though vampire and werewolf mythology is similar in many aspects, the idea obviously became popular. The newest and most popular forms yet are the very sexual and socially dramatic stories such as the Twilight series and True Blood, among others.

Twilight in particular has glamorized the image of the vampire, and sold it to the teenagers. The Cullens, the vampire family of the series, do not drink human blood, they aren’t harmed by sunlight they in fact glitter, of all things. They keep most of the traditional powers otherwise. This eliminates the general darkness of the vampire, which heightens the desirable and sexual traits and makes him a all in all more widely received icon, especially for a young audience.

This entry was posted in Section 1, Student Posts, Winter 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

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