Vampire image has gone too far

Logan Mcdonald

You don’t need me to tell you that vampires are “in.” You’ve got vampire-based televisions shows such as “True Blood,” “The Gates” and “The Vampire Diaries.” Then there are movies such as “Daybreakers,” “Cirque Du Freak” and the “Twilight Saga.” And then you have books such as, again, the “Twilight Saga,” “Cirque du Freak” and the “Southern Vampire Mysteries,” on which “True Blood” is based.

The main difference between vampires and other “in” things such as “Jersey Shore” and “Shake Weight” is market saturation. Vampires are everywhere across all forms of media, ranging from the highly intelligent to the lowest brow. But just because vampires are widely popular now doesn’t make this some sort of new phenomenon.

The “Blade” series of movies and comics, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Salem’s Lot” — vampires have been pretty popular since their first appearances in motion pictures in the 1920s and ’30s. With several hundred films and thousands of novels published, it’s obvious vampires aren’t going anywhere soon. So then, what’s the deal with this article? The point is that this vampire movement has gone too far.

While I could base an argument around an oversaturation of the children’s literature publishing market with serialized vampire stories, I see a much more pressing issue is at hand. The desire for everything vampire has spread around the world. The “Twilight” novels have been translated into 37 different languages. The Russian vampire film “Night Watch” has become the nation’s highest-grossing film of all time. And now in Peru, the Team Edward fervor has pushed vampire fandom to the limits.

In recent weeks, over 500 Peruvians have been bit by vampire bats. While no one has been “turned” as a result, there have been at least four reported deaths, all children, from rabies infections. The Peruvian health ministry has provided mass immunizations to those people that were bit by vampires, but the question remains if a few shots in the stomach are enough to combat this ongoing vampire problem. I say no.

Its not just that they’re everywhere, or that there are some versions of vampires that not only can survive in sunlight, but also sparkle like Victorian chandeliers. It’s the very heart and understanding of vampires has swung in such a drastic direction from a stalker of the night toward friendly puppets that help you count. Nowadays, you have vampires in our schools, working in our restaurants, working as top secret aides to our presidents — and people are loving it. No longer are the days where peasants wear rings of garlic around their necks to avoid being bitten.

Now people want to be bitten. When you start to Google “I want to become,” right after a few of the top auto-completes of “famous” and “a model” comes “a vampire.” Vampire shows up before doctor, teacher, singer and actor. Rather than saving lives or starring in the next big movie, are people really going to become tortured souls that live forever and drink the blood of innocent people? No, of course not. But the cultural shift from dark scary creatures to mopey vampires that are crying tears of blood humanizes these fictional characters in the worst kind of way.

Sure, it makes for better writing to go against standard vampire tropes and lore to more imaginative areas. But this is a fine example of when more strict rules breed that much more creativity. Vampires don’t go out in the sun. Vampires drink human blood. Vampires avoid garlic and can’t be seen in mirrors. There are several more rules and guidelines, but you get the picture. When vampires can be anyone and everyone, you have a mass appeal that forsakes their original appeal: Vampires are seductive but scary, and they will kill you for your blood.

Take a page from the Peruvian vampires rather than a Stephenie Meyer one. Be afraid, be very afraid.