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Thursday, January 23, 2014

It's Not A Person. It Doesn't Think Like You. It's *Not* Your Friend.

     So a few weeks ago, someone over at USGamer wrote an article (that I'm not linking here - should be easy enough to Google, but I don't want to give them any more traffic than they've already gotten on it) about how they'd been invited, along with some other journos, to take a look at Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. The article this person wrote is prime fodder for a tirade against social justice, throwing around terms like 'rape allusions' and 'problematic' but that's not what I'm here for today.

"the scene in question being one in which a withered Dracula stumbled toward a family with his arms outstretched, the camera abruptly switching to a first-person perspective. He kills the father outright, then grabs the mother and sinks his fangs into her neck, draining her life energy to restore his."

     The fact that this act is the shocking act to the author of that article is telling. That they draw parallels to rape and sexual assault simply because Drac discards of the father, apparently not even rating a snack, and feeds off of the mother. The fact that the mother in the family is used for feeding while the father murdered and tossed aside is what shocks them, and apparently not because of the loss of human life. 

     Twilight. Vegetarian Vampires. Interview With The Vampire and its romantic ruffled sleeves and angsty pretty-boys. Even to a lesser extent the folksy suckheads of True Blood or the sympathetic badasses of Underworld. At some point the boogeymen quit being scary monsters, and started becoming the harmless-but-edgy bad-boys that read like a Young Adult novel 'gone wild.' I do not, and have never, understood this, and I'd like to try and work through this.

     Vampires are corpses. Let's not fool ourselves. Vampires are well-preserved zombies with a few extra biological tricks that let them keep fresher and more sapient than your average rotting ankle-biter. As far as I'm concerned, the only differences between zombies and vampires is dress sense and where they bite you. They're not romantic. They're not Beautiful Avatars of The Dark or Mysterious Scions of Eternity. They're cadavers that have forgotten to fall over and rot.

     In addition to this, they are predators. And in deference to the article that brought this whole tirade on, they are not SEXUAL predators, any more than a shark or a peregrine falcon is. In order for vampires to continue 'living,' a human has to die. In order for a vampire to live, *you* might have to die. The very existence of a vampire species is detrimental to the well-being of the human race. Werewolves don't have to hunt humans specifically for survival. Nobody romanticizes zombies (ok, there was that one recent movie, but come the fuck on).

     So really. A vampire attacks a family, kills some of them and eats another. Were you expecting them to stand idly in the shadows with a brooding look on their clammy face, quote poetry to woo them over? If Castlevania intends to depict a vampire as a brutal killer, more power to them. You aren't supposed to romanticize them. You're supposed to be afraid of them. You're supposed to want to kill them on site. They're inimical to your survival.

     I'll side with Buffy, Blade, Van Helsing, Anita Blake, or any of the Belmonts. I'll stand by the werewolves in Underworld and Watcher's Council, Nightstalkers and Whistler family. The only good vampire is a dead one, or at least one that's had its soul restored so that it knows what a monster it is and will spend the rest of its existence snuffing out other suckheads. They're monsters, they should be put down, and I'm not sure what the author of that article is expecting of them, if not to kill and feast on a grouping of humans that wasn't in enough control of their faculties to either run or fight back. I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to go sharpen a chair leg in celebration of the return of the monstrous vampire.


  1. Not to mention that Vlad has a distinct preference for female blood that's established in the original Bram Stoker novel.

    And they've been talking about it being a rape allegory since the novel was first published too, so this is just the reviewer showing their neck bearded hipster cred.

  2. I occupy that strange corner of fandom that A) quite likes vampires yet B) likes them best when they're predators. It's fascination for an alien and perfect killing machine, pure of purpose, the way other people enjoy sharks or snakes or Ridley Scott's xenomorph. People characterize them as evil, but they aren't; they're alien, and that (to me at least) is the root of the attraction: what would it be like to be this elegant killing machine, strong of sinew and pure of purpose, swimming through crowds and being a remorseless atavism?

    I honestly don't care if vampires are attractive or romantic or whatever. What they must be is cool, the same way a jet fighter or attack helicopter is cool. Note how both of those examples are also predatory. Now, I happen to find lethality attractive, so I can understand how vampires can be seen as sexy, but I mean that in a visual/stylistic sense and not in an "I want to fuck one" sense.

    I have a pet theory about how that happened, though. The vampire's earliest origins were rooted not in sexuality, but in disease -- consumptive illnesses like tuberculosis (with its obvious link to "bad blood") or sicknesses like typhus that come about from dead bodies in the water supply.

    I find it interesting that Anne Rice's books became popular at approximately the same time that HIV/AIDS was entering public consciousness. (Yes, I know that she published "Interview" in the mid-70s, but I don't think it really hit cultural mainstream until early-mid 80s.)

    I realize the two aren't causally linked, but there's still something curious in my mind about how an avatar of a wasting disease became an avatar of sexuality at roughly the same time a sexually-linked wasting disease became part of the cultural landscape. If nothing else, humans like to seek patterns and make links even when none exist.

    Anyway, the 80s and 90s were when vampires became romantic, and then THOSE parents had kids, and that's how we have "Twilight".

  3. A brilliant, well-written article. Also, "Back in my day, vampires weren't sparkly pretty-boys. They were evil and you killed them."

  4. Yeah I totally agree with this. I've been totally turned off the whole vampire boat by this whole new generation of vampires gone wild. (or whatever other porn reference you want to chuck in there)

    Vampires used to give you hours of restless nights.. They were the thing that went bump in the night that made you void your bowel at the drop of a hat.. Now they've been reduced to nothing more than a sparkly disco ball that requires a hint of blood from you and your virginity.

    I celebrate this return with open arms and open eyes.. And with a broken heart hoping it doesn't get hurt again by the disappoint that is current fad.

  5. I look at it like this. To understand something, one must put themselves into the other's shoes. So I imagine what I would be like as a vampire.

    So there I am... undead bloodsucking monster (If I became a shiny happy vampire I would likely just feed myself to the first warewolf I came across and have done... ick!)

    I have to say. Even then it would feel weird to suck on some dude's neck.

    Just sayin.


  6. You had better take Anita Blake off that list, she's been sleeping with them more than killing them lately. Buffy too, actually, though she limits herself to vampires with souls or something.

    That said, I don't think either camp is getting this issue right. Vampires do not sparkle; they are dangerous predators, they will eat you, and lying dead in an alley is not very romantic. That said, they are also seductive and attractive -- because that is how they lure their prey. Going easily all the way back to the original Dracula and Nosferatu stories, they were clearly sexual metaphors employed, at least in part, to both titillate women and encourage them to resist the attentions of a seductive loner.

    Going into the whys and wherefores of the emotional reaction people have to the concept would result in hugely excessively long comment. Suffice it to say that the attraction exists, and that all the elements -- attraction, seduction, and danger -- are necessary for a successful, traditional vampire story. Twilight fails because the main vampire character is rendered safe. A mostly vampires-like-zombies story -- take Vampire$, for example -- is weakened to the extent that the similarities are emphasized. If vampires are zombies with a sunlight allergic, why not just use zombies?

  7. As an aside. Vampires view humans as cattle. When did you last want to bang a porterhouse and a side salad?

  8. I get what you are saying here and I largely agree. Here is my take.

    Vampires are scary because they need to feed on us.
    Vampires are horrific because they use our sexual urges to get us close.

    The zombie analogy is apt (and appreciated as I am in the process of rereading the Anita Blake novels), but it goes beyond that. You can tell a zombie for what it is. A vampire looks and act more human. Maybe even more than human.

    Seeing them as "Angsty boyfriend potential" (looking at YOU Twilight) is fine, IF (and only) it is being done to eventually dominate, control and/or eat their victim. We can rip on Lestat, but he did kill people. Dracula kills Lucy (and her mother) outright, but toys with Mina. Not because he loved her but because it was what would hurt others the most.

    Now this bit. You say "You aren't supposed to romanticize them. You're supposed to be afraid of them. You're supposed to want to kill them on site. They're inimical to your survival." This is true, but a good predator WILL make you feel the opposite. All the easier to catch you.

    The suave sexy vampire is nothing new. Bela Lugosi brought us suave in the 1930s. Carmilla was full of sexual predatory overtones. John Polidori's Lord Ruthven in The Vampyre is also very solidly a romantic killer.

    There is room for the others.

    But not Twilight. Kill that with fire

  9. For fun, check out other cultures' vampire equivalents. My personal favorite is the pennagalen, which is a vampire that detaches it's head and entrails from its body before flying off to feed. Egads.

  10. You aren't the only one to tell me this. There was a lively discussion going on over at my Facebook page where lots of folks objected to the SurvivalBlog/Doomsday Preppers approach of "First, you need a successful home business so that you can invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into your preps."

    Apparently there is a significant interest in "Blue Collar Preps", as I call it, and blogging about how the working poor can still prep has a very strong possibility of spinning off into its own blog.

    I'd be very interested in reading about how you store food while making accommodations for your multiple allergies.

  11. Speaking of neck beards, there's Bill Paxton's line in "Near Dark" before he feeds on a male victim: "I hate it when they ain't been shaved."

  12. Hi, can I join the survival prep fun, maybe from a primitive skills point of view?

  13. Certainly! Email me at and let me know what your skills & areas of expertise are, and if you'd like to be a guest poster or a regular contributor.

  14. The difficulty in planning for food allergies is in figuring out how much of different items that you use that you can & need to store. I ended up approaching it by adding extras of things that we use regularly until I had enough for several months. I'm actually still doing that. But I'm also now focusing on obtaining different things in forms that store for longer. (like chickpeas, whole grain sorghum, etc.) You just have to figure it out as you go sometimes.

    Oh, and you can always work on the home business on the side to help flush out your preps. I'm going to try allergen free baked goods, jams and jellies at the market this year to bring in some extra money. But if you can't sell, you can look into bartering with other folks for things you need.

    I'm going to jump over and explore the new blog now.

  15. I've seen a couple different bloggers argue that a popcultural obsession with the undead Means Something.

    You may note that the flavor of the day is zombies and vampires right now. Zombies are uncontrollable, unstoppable, mindless forces of nature; they are anthropomorphized decay, despair, and destruction. Vampires are glamorous creatures that survive the unsurvivable, do the impossible, and have powers beyond those of mere mortals; vampires do what they want and the rules don't apply to them, neither in the moral sense nor even in the sense of the laws of nature.

    When Americans become obsessed with zombies and/or vampires, it normally means the economy is in the toilet and people are terrified of the future. People imagine a world filled with zombies, and/or entertain a fantasy of being the unstoppable, impossible vampire, perhaps.

    Possibly this is facile, but I find it fascinating. I am old enough to remember the vampire craze of the late 1970s, which was the last time the economy was this bad for this long and people were this afraid.


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