Vampires have gone from Buffy to fluffy, says Donald Clarke
‘Sorry? Do I have this right?” I don’t really hear you say. “Screenwriter is writing about the sudden preponderance of vampires in movies? Wow. You’re up with the times, daddyo. Why not write a piece about women’s suffrage or the presence of Visigoths south of the Danube?”
Fair point, imaginary jerk-face. The fresh advance of the vampire across all forms of popular culture actually began more than a decade ago with Buffy and, as noted often in these pages, has escalated wildly in the last two years.
A column on the phenomenon does, indeed, seem a little behind the curve. Except nobody really had any idea quite how absurdly comprehensive the bloodsucker would be in his and her colonisation of all known media. Here’s a list of recent movies, books and TV shows for you to ponder: True Blood, Cirque du
“The vampire is now a loveable staple of adolescent fiction”
Freak, Twilight, Let the Right One In, The Strain, Dracula: The Undead, Being Human, Thirst, Daybreakers. Even a year ago, when the first
Twilight film emerged, this level of undead action would have seemed quite inconceivable. Rumours abound that Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains
of the Day, recently abandoned a vampire novel because he felt the market was already absurdly oversaturated.
If you walk into your local bookshop you will, most likely, find a table devoted to the undead that contains at least as many books as sit stupidly in the mind, body and spirit section. There’s been nothing like this since some bloke found a nugget of yellow stuff in a California river two centuries ago.
Now, we don’t have the space to run through the various half-assed theories that have been devised to explain the phenomenon. You know how it goes, anyway. Blah, blah, blah burgeoning sexuality blah, blah, blah metaphor for menstruation blah, blah, blah identifying with the excluded blah blah blah.
Let’s just say that, whatever the reason for the phenomenon, we should be grateful that teenagers are now devoting their attention to the illicit pleasures of the undead rather than the reactionary covetousness of the
Sex and the City morons. But hang on a moment. In what sense does the vampire entertainment retain any of its supposed “illicit” character? It seems hard to believe now, but watching horror films was once regarded as a dangerous pastime that could lead children into the arms of the devil. Barely a day went past without some tabloid blaming the latest mass murder on the latest possessed doll flick. In the 1950s, a congressional hearing was set up to investigate the effects of horror comics on American children.
Now, however, the vampire is a loveable staple of adolescent fiction. He appears on lunchboxes and key fobs. Somehow Baron von Sulky Teen has become a My Little Pony for the new century.
Inevitably a delicious frisson has been lost along the way. We want our bloodsuckers to be dangerous again. Maybe it’s time to starts a tabloid scare. “Twilight fans ate my kitten.” “True Blood enthusiasts stomped on my begonias.” Stop this sick filth!