22 February 2010


Margot Adler from NPR reported in All Things Considered that she had read 75 vampire novels in the last nine months

... what I started noticing as I read all these novels and looked at all the recent television shows featuring vampires is that their near-immortality isn't the most interesting thing about them. Almost all of these current vampires are struggling to be moral. It's conventional to talk about vampires as sexual, with their hypnotic powers and their intimate penetrations and their blood-drinking and so forth. But most of these modern vampires are not talking as much about sex as they are about power.

Take the CBS show Moonlight, which aired for only one season in 2007-2008. Mick St. John is a private investigator who is also a vampire. In one scene, he's trying to reason with a violent rogue vampire by telling him, "We have rules."

The rogue responds, "There are no rules: I'm top of the food chain."

"This is the central question of so many vampire novels and films, " says Amy Smith, a professor of English at the University of the Pacific. "If you had power over people, how would you use it? 'We can do what we want' vs. 'We were human, how can you treat humans as if they were cattle?' "

People keep going back to these stories because they illustrate a tension that exists in real life, Smith says.

"For example, if you earn more money than someone else, you find that you have more power: How will you use it?"

Smith teaches courses on Jane Austen and the literature of war, as well as a course on vampires in literature. She says the issue of power is both personal and global.

"How do you treat someone you love, for example?" she says. "The core question is always: Does might make right?"

The vampire genre is hardly original and many of the more recent novels were written for teenagers, many of whom would probably find Anne Rice's series difficult to read with all the philosophical musings.

I certainly wouldn't be putting the Twilight series at the top of the list.

In any case, vampires don't need to be kissed. They should be staked. Right through the heart.

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