Why Does Everyone Love Vampires? - Macleans.ca

Why Does Everyone Love Vampires?


This is a question that’s been going around for a while, what with the smash success of some vampire-related franchises that aren’t all that good: Twilight and TV’s True Blood, whose season finale last night was yet another sign that Alan Ball will never live up to the early promise of Oh, Grow Up. When you factor in guys like Joss Whedon whose only mainstream successes have been with shows that starred vampires or featured the word “vampire” in the title, you have to wonder: why is it that anything with vampires in it is a hit? (Update: Yes, that’s hyperbole. But hyperbole is no excuse for inaccuracy; there are lots of non-hits with vampires.)

Everyone has their answer to that question, so here’s my attempt: vampires have the kind of cross-gender appeal that is valuable to producers and especially valuable in television. Monster stories are considered to be primarily a boy thing. Brooding romance stories, or sex-drenched soap operas (True Blood fits into the latter category) are considered to be primarily a girl thing. A vampire story offers a soapy or romantic tale, but with monsters and violence. That brings in men and women. (Okay, I don’t know how many men went to see the Twilight movies, but I’m going to guess that it wasn’t fewer than would have gone to see a similar story without vampires.) It also appeals to writer/creators because it allows them to use the organizing principle of science fiction — tell fantasy stories that are clearly about our own world and our own time — but reach a broader audience than metaphor-heavy science fiction usually appeals to. True Blood is trying to do metaphorical social commentary, just like Battlestar Galactica did, but because it’s about vampires rather than space travelers, it doesn’t have to be pigeonholed as a “geek” show.

And of course vampires are appealing because of the wish-fulfilment aspect. That’s familiar enough, the idea that there’s something cool about being a vampire: you get eternal youth and beauty, and you get to keep most of the outward trappings of humanity. (Werewolves may have a certain wish-fulfilment element, based on our longing to be tough and primal, but werewolves don’t get to be pretty and they don’t get girls. Not usually, anyway.) Even the vampires who don’t live in cool castles like Dracula are kind of like the idle rich, people who live by different rules, have exotic appetites, and can do unusual things. And yet, unlike witches, they don’t have so many powers that writing for them becomes impossible. They’re magical enough to be cool, not magical enough to make plotting difficult.

*No, I’m not kidding.

Filed under:

Why Does Everyone Love Vampires?

  1. yet for every Buffy, there must be a Forever Knight.

  2. For anyone out there that is a real movie freak – vampires were never considered all that romantic from the begining see nosferatu . Even Bela Lugosi' was somewhat original but more frightening than anything else however there was one movie and a TV series that greatly influenced the presnt sitaution of the public image – Frank Lngella and then this englis tv series Dark Shadows (at l;east I think that was it) in either event after these 2 films it was like all producers suddenly started to focus on the sexy powerful side of the lord of the night! at least this is my opinion …

  3. I have also long been a fan of the Vampire genre and I don't really know why. Probably the whole monster thing.

    I was a big fan of Night Stalker growing up and I remeber a great Teleplay that I think was from the BBC with Louis Jordan as Dracula.

    As for the sexiness, well, when somebody like Winona Ryder is the mark then things can't help but be sexy.

  4. It really DOES seem like everything in the last, say, three or four years featuring vampires has become a big hit. When the awful Vampire Diaries can score nearly 5 million viewers, that's a sign vampires aren't going away.

  5. For anyone out there that is a real movie freak – vampires were never considered all that romantic from the begining

    Not specifically "romantic", but the element of desire and sensuality was there from the start in Bram Stoker's Dracula. The difference is that they've been substantially woobiefied since then.

  6. That's a nice video of Gary Bettman.

  7. We are interested in Vampires and beings from other Realms. Alien Reptilians that are merged with Humans. Bloodsuckers!
    Did you know that the Galactica Has been here many thousand years ago. What is the original Human Cylon Jihad about? Why did the crew search for Earth the final 13th colony? Are you a Cylon, or are you a Human Adamus getting ready for the Ascension process. Kara Thrace follows the SUN Signs to find her home planet. Ascension is now. SO SAY WE ALL !


  8. Good point about how this genre is one of the few that TV producers can count on to draw both genders. I've been writing romance for five years for an almost totally female readership, but my new vampire dating book is getting almost as much male interest as female. My theory is that regardless of gender, in interacting with vampires, one has a chance to explore the darker side of the psyche. And as INXS once sang, every single one of us has a devil inside!

    –Diana Laurence, author of "How to Catch and Keep a Vampire" (http://www.howtocatchandkeepavampire.com)

  9. I don't think the current vampire fad is necessarily more intense or ubiquitous than previous manias (Anne Rice in the 90s, Dark Shadows in the 60s). I think the Internet has amplified it, and the media is even more imitative now than ever, because there is so much more competition now. Vampires have always been sexual in folklore, and they were by no means always ugly and icky. Fictional vampires have expressed remorse and angst at least since Sir Francis Varney in the 1840s. The vampire genre is truly immortal because it changes with the culture, but there's very little new in the current trends. It's all been done!