Transylvanian Romance

In a humorous article I recently came across, Vlad III, the prince of Wallachia, was declared to be in the top 10 list of royals who would not have been a good contestant for Facebook. Though not intentionally, this article is a reflection of the recent trend involving vampires. Whether loved or hated, one thing that cannot be ignored is the growing infatuation with vampires. One of American culture’s most recent fads has been the romanticization of these blood sucking creatures. Originally they were seen as cruel and vicious, bringing eternal terror to their victims. The actual person around whom the myth was created was Vlad III Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler, mentioned in the humurous article. It is thought that he impaled around 100,000 people during his short lifetime. Clearly there is nothing romantic about Vlad the Impaler. So why is it, then, that we have twisted his excessively ugly existence into something seductive and alluring? How did society go from Vlad the Impaler to the Twilight version of a vampire lover?

Twilight

It seems that there is something in our nature that does not want to accept the existence of such unrelenting cruelty. We have no way to cope with the presence of such a vile and dark infringement upon reality. And so, we have turned the ugly into the enticing, the profane to the esteemed. Rather than hide from the terrifying death that vampires embody, our culture has begun to flirt with the idea- literally. Possibly as a makeshift coping mechanism, we have romanticized the vampire and given him seductive appeal. This has gone so far as to penetrate into movies intended for children. The recent film Hotel Transylvania depicts a teenaged vampire girl who falls in love with a human boy. What was the catalyst for this shift in perspective on vampires? Or has this been a gradual change on a never ending spectrum? If it is a spectrum, what decides the direction in which it travels? Perhaps this vampire fad is the reflection of underlying cultural unrest. Deeper still, maybe there is something deeply flawed within humanity. Taking the embodiment of a cruel death and turning it into an object of sexual appeal could be viewed as the reflection of humanity’s never ending search for a permanent solution to death. We seem to be trying to control that which in uncontrollable. Rituals give us an accepted way to deal with and mourn for the dead, but they do not solve the problem of death. Perhaps society is searching for a solution to something that cannot be fixed.

-Sarah Hampton

 

2 responses to “Transylvanian Romance

  1. Lindsey Beth Max

    One thing that is important to note is that there is no universally identified definition or criteria for being a “vampire.” Similar concepts have been present in other cultures and societies for hundreds of years and, like our notion of the vampire, have continuously been evolving. Although I have not personally read any of the “Twilight” series or paid attention of the other vampires in pop culture, what I have been told by friends who are fans is that these are not “typical” vampires– they are nice, sparkle in the sun, and don’t eat other people. It is this humanization of vampires that enables them to be seen as romantic figures. I think we can find this in other aspects of our culture as well. Ghosts used to be scary remnants of a persons soul that haunted the living after their death, but then came the movie “Casper the Friendly Ghost” and their role was totally reversed. In the “Harry Potter” series many fearsome mythological creatures were transformed into playful, friendly characters. The general theme seems to be taking misconceptions or misguided fears of death and giving them more human characteristics so as to alleviate our fears, not only of them, but of death itself.

  2. Liv G. Nilsson Stutz

    The most interesting dimensions of the Twilight Saga and its success worldwide, resides, in my opinion, in the perspective it offers on the body, gender, class and sexuality. These topics have been explored academically (see for example http://www.amazon.com/Interdisciplinary-Approaches-Twilight-Contemporary-Experience/dp/9185509639/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352992158&sr=8-1&keywords=interdisciplinary+approaches+to+twilight) but my fascination basically focuses on how Bella, the heroine, is constructed as an awkward self critical female teen ager, who reaches her full potential only by giving herself to an upper class, beautiful and time less male (a process that is not only sexual but that also demands of her to give up everything she ever was before she met him). I find this very disturbing. At the same time, the Twilight Saga also represents a break through in the redefinition of a traditionally male/boy dominated genre of fantasy literature and film. Ironic and fascinating.

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