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Storytelling is a talent passed down through the generations in my family. It is a way of life in that the more you live, the better the story; the deeper the experience, the broader the plain to connect with readers. Just like life is about people so writing is about people - about their love, their loss, their triumphs, their failures, and their x ever after. I write to understand myself and make sense of life. I share my work in order to find others who can relate to my characters, or their lives, or the moral of the story.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Horror geniuses... and stereotypes

Under scrutiny for the day: vampires.

Ironically, I have quite a few fiction books on vampires. Christopher Pike's The Last Vampire, one of Anne Rice's books which has Lestat at word (I forgot the name), Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, The Vampire Diaries and The Return Trilogy (still waiting for the third book to be published), and Dark Visions which features a psychic vampire, all written by L.J. Smith, I have garnered myself a small collection on the fictional creatures.

I also used to be a fan of Buffy, and later Angel (well, I was a fan up to the point where Cordelia was doing Angel's son, really WTF was up with that?). I've watched Queen of the Damned, Blade, Twilight, Vampires Suck (how could I not watch that?), Interview with a Vampire, Underworld, The Vampire Diaries series, and that other movie where a vampire can be made human again via brief exposure to the sun (I'm good at forgetting names, aren't I?)

Despite all I've watched and all I've read on vampires, ironically, I'm not a fan. You'd think me one, but I'm not. I suppose it's because I read too much into the characteristics of vampires and find them somewhat offensive and blasphemous to my beliefs. I have played with the idea of writing a vampire. Only once, and only briefly, but I just can't peptalk myself enough to try it out.

The thing about all the books and movies/TV shows I've watched is that they're all stereotype vampires. Back in the day Lestat was it, and surely has made his mark in the vampire realm as one of those vampires that will never be dethroned from his position in the literary world. But even he was stereotype - he later decided he wanted to become good, opposing his own brutal nature. I haven't yet read Bram Stokers Dracula, so I don't know whether Dracula decides he wants to fight his evil instincts as well.

So who set the trend?
Or more importantly, why has no one tried to set a new one?

I don't mean changing the qualities that make a vampire a vampire. Eliminating the fact that sunlight kills vampires and substituting it for some lame 'sparkle' excuse, or completely leaving out the matter that they have fangs that set them aside from the human species, is not setting a new trend for vampires. Maybe for cannibals who have blinding white skin because they never go into the sun, yeah, but for vampires, no. That's like sabotaging the fictional creation. That's accute to giving werewolves the sudden ability to talk to all animals and to have the power not to transform on a full moon just because they ate a bloody steak for supper and live with a house full of cats.

I mean the perspective people have on vampires. You can look at an object from a lot of angles, so why are writers not looking at vampires from a different view? Why is everyone copying the stereotype?

Blade was an interesting character, because he was a bit different from the others. He was a vampire himself, or half-vampire, I'm foggy on the details. But stereotypically, he was fighting his own kind because they posed a threat to humanity, and because he was batting for the other team (you know what I mean), he had to fight his own nature and become the 'good' guy.

The same goes for Stefan, and eventually Damon (sob sob), in the Vampire Diaries. Stefan fought his nature because he acknowledged it as evil, and tried to fit back into society. I always said Damon was the best next thing after Lestat and Dracula, because he admitted and accepted that his nature was wrong and he thrived in it. But now I can't say that anymore, hence his personality change in the Return trilogy, and the fact that he's become human at the end of the second book. Funny, yes, given he loved being a vampire, but ultimately I feel it butchered him as a vampire to set the new bench mark. No more Damon. My heart bleeds.

And then there's ol' Eddy. I won't go into Twilight much as I still find the similarities between that series and the VD series grossly revolting, but it comes down to Edward wanting to fit into society and fighting his nature in order not to go on a cannibalistic rampage through his high school (straight for Bella, apparently).

Angel eventually went down the same path. He fell in lurv with a human girl (what is WITH these human girls, I wonder?), had to fight his inner demon Angeles, and finally he set up a business to help humanity. Bad guy gone good. Over and over, again and again. It becomes monotonous after a while.

Now, there is this Swedish guy who watched Cloverfield, and loved the different perspective of the story on alien invation, and he found inspiration therein to write a vampire story that (I hope) is to set a new trend in the vampire franchise. A movie was produced based on his book, titled Let Me In.

Nothing of this vampire contradicted what everyone knows about vampires, but he still managed to cast this creature in a new light without sabotaging the fictional creation. It's about a young girl (the vampire) who moves into a block of flats in the middle of the night. She walks barefoot in the snow and claims that she doesn't 'get cold'. The human boy, who is actually the focus of the whole movie, tries to approach her, to which she responds that they can't be friends. Murders start taking place, only two of which she is personally responsible for. All the others are committed by the man whom the boy assumed was her father, but it turns out that the guy was just like the boy was - just a kid who befriended a vampire. The boy later tries to approach her again, and they gradually become friends. There are hints throughout the movie that suggest what she is, but it's not fully voiced until halfway into the movie, and even then I think the word 'vampire' was only mentioned once. The guy collecting blood, the pale, indifferent little girl who keeps telling the boy 'I'm not a girl' and is never seen outdoors except at night, who's windows are boarded up, who claims that she is stronger than she looks.

Aside from the fact that the girl is not upfront about what she is to the boy, she doesn't deny or try to hide her nature when the boy finally does discover what she is. She doesn't decide to try and fight herself and become good. She doesn't restrain her instincts. She goes feral and horrific when she feeds - it's not the delicate little bite in the neck, it's the attack of a savage monstrosity. Which is what a vampire is, or ought to be portrayed as. The main factor of a vampire is that it is something that once was human, but no longer is. Like a refined zombie, less the rotting flesh and mindless 'uuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhh'. I like that, breaking the stereotype, this vampire in particular has no silly notions to become more 'in tune' with her human side. She has fully accepted what she is.

It's not often you come across a vampire who is more vampire than human.

Anyway, I'd recommend you watch the movie. Vampires used to bore me or amuse me. Until I watched Let Me In. I will shamelessly admit that, if all vampires are like her, I'm very much afraid of vampires. More so than I am of zombies.
And that's saying a lot.

1 comment:

  1. Well with that logic you can't like Dante because he's all about fitting into society and being more in tune with his human half. Why else would he be more concerned with eating pizza and chillin' than anything else? What else do people do anyway? ;)

    Jokes aside, well done. Although....I have serious problems with Twilight. *goes to write about it* XD