screen wriTer

Vam­pires have gone from Buffy to fluffy, says Don­ald Clarke

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Opinion - dclarke@irish­times.com

‘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!

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