Areas of Unrest
1 February 2001 - Fangs For the Memory
QOTD: "The guidelines did not address how much space a calf needs to program in Perl script while drinking diet soda and eating cheese puffs." - Bob Fisher
Reading: Karen Sturges, Death of a Baritone
Listening to: Stravinsky Conducts Stravinsky (specifically The Columbia Symphony Orchestra playing The Firebird)
I've been thinking a lot about vampires lately. Given my fondness for hairy men, one might think I would favor werewolves, but vampires have always been my favorite monsters.
Not that I spend a lot of time thinking about monsters, actually, though I do like to contemplate monstrous fates for people who annoy me. I'll save that for a future rant on bad customer service, though. Particularly since I didn't suffer from the most recent egregious example - a movie theatre that didn't bother to have any indication that one line at the box office was only for people paying with credit cards. I was in the other line all along and had plenty of time before the start of the movie I was there to see - namely, Shadow of the Vampire.
The movie was a bit disappointing, largely because it really amounted to being mostly a movie about movies. And I felt rather hit over the head with the comparison between Murnau's obsessiveness and the vampire's blood lust. It wasn't a bad movie, but it wasn't up to the standards of my favorite vampire movies.
To be honest, I prefer my vampires to be erotic, rather than horrible. Frank Langella's portrayal of Dracula is close to perfection, in my opinion. At the very least give me Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you've got to be undead, you might as well reap the benefits of youth.
But there is a more serious subject lurking here. Beyond my enjoyment of vampire movies (and some vampire books, though I find Anne Rice unreadable), the concept of the vampire is a useful metaphor. The vampire's victims are the ultimate codependents, allowing their very life's blood to be drained. Most of us just have to deal with the emotional equivalent. And I've run into a few people who are energy vampires, capable of draining all of the enthusiasm out of entire rooms full of people.
There's also an interesting tension about women's roles in vampire fiction. This goes back to Bram Stoker's ambivalence about women (remember that his mother was an early feminist who forced him to distribute tracts for her when he was a child) but I think there's a more fundamental psychological truth at work, too. The vampire has the power to control minds, but is often most attracted to the woman who can best resist him. (There aren't enough female vampires in fiction to generalize about the role reversal.) It's the independent and modern Mina Harker who Dracula really craves, while the more traditionally feminine Lucy (whose three suitors together make one complete man) is just a convenient body to feed on.
And, of course, he's capable of offering equal partnership (by offering her his blood, turning her into a true vampire bride). So there need not be the inherent inequality, though it's still kind of a weird relationship because they then have to find other lives to feed on. In real life, couples like that usually feed on their own children, but fiction is less cruel.
Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I have no interest in any further involvement with vampires beyond seeing a lot of vampire movies and watching Buffy and Angel regularly. I'm too old for the goth culture, anyway. And I like garlic.
Besides, those vampires, erotic as they may be, are all too often lacking in chest hair. Hmm, maybe I should rethink werewolves?
Shameless Self-Promotion Department: Come see the Biona Bards in "Family Matters" on February 3rd, 2001 at 7:30 p.m. at Tales By the Sea. The concert is at the Malibu United Methodist Church, 31028 Morning View Drive, across from Zuma Beach. Doors open at 7 p.m.. For reservations or information, call Ann at 310-457-2385.
Copyright 2001 Miriam H. Nadel
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