General Question

growler's avatar

Why vampires?

Asked by growler (403points) July 10th, 2009

I mean, seriously – why the fascination with vampires? I think they’re neat fantasy lit material, but why feature them almost exclusively? What makes them so attractive to consumers?

They show up in many places – Buffy, Twilight, Blade, and many other pop culture places. I’m just curious what makes them the ideal pseudo-villain/love interest, and hence incredibly popular.

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50 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I have long wondered the same thing. I do not see the appeal.

I suspect it is the struggle to have an evil nature (“I vant to suck your blood.”) that the vampire struggles against.

Add to that their power to hypnotize, their legendary lovemaking prowess, and potential immortality and a genre is born.

Darwin's avatar

It’s the whole sex thing. That’s what makes them interesting to people.

syz's avatar

I think it’s cyclical. Harry Potter came out and witchcraft and magic were popular. There was a rash of werewolf movies during the 80’s. Zombie movies come in waves. But I will admit that vampires seem to have a broad attraction.

SirBailey's avatar

The biting of the neck of a beautiful woman in her bed is a metaphor for sex. You should have seen Frank Langella in the Broadway production of Dracula. He was one of the first to put the sexual spin on the character.

growler's avatar

@syz Seems that way to me as well. I have no particular objection to them (in literature, that is), but they are getting a little over-used I think.

Sex does, indeed, appear to be quite a big part of it. I can think of so many metaphors (other than biting) that are very obviously sexual. Not surprising, I guess.

Part of the question I have is: “Why now?” I think dark heroes (a la Batman) are on the rise in this era, and vampires also seem to be a part of that. Perhaps “Why Dark Heroes?” would be better.

marinelife's avatar

@SirBailey I disagree that Langella was the first sexy vampire, but he could bite my next any time. Always loved that guy.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Cuter than zombies. Less smelly, too!

marinelife's avatar

@aprilsimnel Same deal with werewolves, especially if it’s raining. Eau de Wet Dog. Yuck!

aprilsimnel's avatar

You know, IIRC, our current conception of vampires comes from Lord Byron, and him being the progenitor of the Romantic movement… I mean, there you go, even though he tried to distance himself from the creation of the tale.

Byron was, in the words of one of the many married Ladies he seduced, “mad, bad and dangerous to know.” And vain, too.

Who doesn’t love a bad boy?

tiffyandthewall's avatar

because vampires, by nature, are alluring. they are dangerous because of their ability to attract women (typically) so efficiently, but to also be able to destroy them. some may argue that bela lugosi wasn’t sexy, but those girls in dracula were attracted to him enough anyway, and that’s what made the susceptible to being bitten.

sap82's avatar

The desire to be imortal and beautiful forever? Also, to make every person your bitch as you please and not suffer any consequences? Whats not to like. Being a vampire would be awesome.

lloydbird's avatar

For an interesting angle on this subject, you might want to investigate some of the books of Laurence Gardner with regard to an alleged practice, in ancient times, of the consumption of menstrual blood for it’s supposed life extending properties. Something that he claims was banned by early Judaic and Christian authorities and then subsequently conceptually disfigured into what we are familiar with today (The Vampire myth). There is also a connection to the famed ‘Vestal Virgins’ whom he claims were used as an unadulterated source of this ‘menstrual elixir’.

SirBailey's avatar

@Marina, “one of the first”. Who do you think was the first?

P.S…Where is your “next”? Or is that another metaphor? :)

ShanEnri's avatar

I think (for women) it’s the whole tall, dark, sexy, bad boy thing! I personally prefer werewolves!

growler's avatar

@lloydbird Thanks for the suggestion. I’ve been meaning to get around to reading Dracula, too. Maybe this summer will hold vampire education.

I think a big part of it is the “bad boy.” They’re just human enough to seem attractive but also just dangerous enough be mysteriously on the edge.

Tink's avatar

Why not??

cak's avatar

Because Ogres aren’t as attractive? Ogre

I’ve yet to see a romantic film about Ogres. Sure, Shrek is out there, but let’s face it, not a huge calling for Ogres.

irocktheworld's avatar

Vampires rock!!! they are awesome!! Why wouldn’t you like them?

cyndyh's avatar

Well, it’s clearly not “exclusively”. I like werewolves, elves and dwarfs, zombies (especially the quick moving kind), various shape-shifter legends, hobbits, wizards, ghosts, superheroes, psychics, mind-readers, .... You get the idea. And all of these are available in books and movies.

I like a good story with some sort of quickly established rules for how the magic in the story works. The vampire legends are pretty well established. Each story world (Stoker, Buffy/Angel, Twilight, Rice, TruBlood, Blood Ties, etc.) has a slightly different take on what will and won’t work to ward them off or kill them, but whatever the storyteller decides to use can be established quickly. It seems like cheating if they suddenly come up with a rule-breaker too often.

I think more to the point is what story the author is trying to tell. A good story isn’t just about the vampire. It’s about a struggle between good and evil, growing up, facing “your demons”, young love, forbidden love, coming into your own, friendship, family, ambition, etc.

Not every story with a vampire in it works. In a good story that has a vampire in it, the vampire is a vehicle to tell a story about emotions. Emotions are messy and magical and often misunderstood, so stories about emotions can work very well in a magical, otherworldly, secret, or metaphorical setting.

That’s my take anyway. Cheers!

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Vampires are a tired genre. It has a dark but romantic appeal that some folks like but it’s so overdone. That genre needs a reboot in a bad way.
I’d like to see a vampire flick that addresses the addiction side of the legend.

Vampires cant die so obviously they can’t die if they don’t feed. Maybe there’s a story in a vampire who has the mad compulsion to drink blood but decides to replace the addiction with heroin, adrenaline rushes or compulsive sex. Vampires are boring because they’re pure fantasy with little connection to humanity.

The whole idea of the fornlorn vampire who can never love a mortal because the world doesn’t understand them makes me wretch.

growler's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic Well, funny you should say that. There’s a movie on it’s way, though I can’t remember the name, that depicts a world populated almost entirely by vampires, and they’re running out of food. It looks excellent, so I’ll see if I can recall the name.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@growler I’m not watching it if it features any of the following ex vampires:
Tom Cruise
Brad Pitt
That emo Twilight guy
Kate Beckinsale
Wesley Snipes

Tink's avatar

Ok That emo Twilight guy ???!
What the fffff dude :P

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@Tink1113 That’s right. Vampires are all emo.~

cyndyh's avatar

I didn’t like the whole Twilight thing. It lacked teeth. :^>

Tink's avatar

Not all of them

cyndyh's avatar

I mean the story lacked teeth. Yeah there were some fangs, but the story just flopped around. ugh.

filmfann's avatar

I think Werewolves are much cooler, more tragic figures, but Vampires have always had that allure towards women. Bela Lugosi made women swoon. I went to the 70’s version with a woman who damn near lost control of herself watching Frank Langella.
The problem with Werewolves is that their affliction can be dealt with like a herpes outbreak. Vampires are always vampires. Go ask Buffy.

Tink's avatar

@cyndyh Well it was a love story

lloydbird's avatar

@cyndyh “It lacked teeth.” Do you mean “It sucked”?

cyndyh's avatar

@Tink1113: It was pretty empty as far as a love story goes.

@lloydbird: That would be one way of putting it. I think it actually blew. If it sucked it would have some value to someone. :^>

Tink's avatar

Well it’s your opinion, not mine :)

growler's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic The movie is Daybreakers, and I don’t believe it has any of those ex-vampires. The io9 article is here. It looks decent, except for Willem Dafoe’s “cheeseball lines.”

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Who says ogres aren’t sexy? I sort of think they are. And the whole vampire thing, to me, is the amazing strength and the eternal life. Who wouldn’t want to live forever at a certain age and be able to knock a house down just by pushing against it?

Sounds like fun to me. I don’t follow much vampire lore in the movies, hell I don’t watch many movies at all unless they are historical documentaries, or something that deals with reality. If I am going to spend time with passive entertainment, I want something that will educate me or at least make me think. Movies for mere escapism is a waste of what limited time I have left. Time better spent on Fluther.

I have started re-reading the The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice, and it makes me want to find the rest in the series.

filmfann's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra wow, you’re the person I warn my kids about! All of lifes problems are solved at the movies!

cak's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra Only you, my friend! Only you can give a shout out to Ogres. Again, I admire your individualism. :)

kenmc's avatar

Read the original “Dracula” by Bram Stoker and you’ll see.

cyndyh's avatar

@Tink1113 : I see that. :^>

Ria777's avatar

vampires have wondrous powers and you can either daydream about having the powers or the great compliment of having such a creature fancy you. (alternatively, you can think about the drawbacks of such powers, which have story possibilities. another thing altogether, though.) from a storytelling perspective, it save a great deal of mental effort to have a ready-made template from you which can pick and choose the elements you like. and you don’t need to explain at length what “vampire” means.

Darwin's avatar

Being a vampire means never being able to go spend a day at the beach ever again. Now that would suck.

lloydbird's avatar

To be effective or in any way ‘potent’ Spiderman’ would need to be ‘Spiderwoman’, because it is the female of the species that is, by far,dominant. But you don’t see that in the movies!. Hence why the number 8 is a significant number in numerology as a ‘Feminine’ number. (8 legs). So, lets get real about humans turning into bats or becoming bat-like at will, pure fantasy. Although….....

Darwin's avatar

i do know a few people who are batty, however.

growler's avatar

I find that vampires are also very open to puns. Batty, sucking, etc. Not something I’d really want to open myself up to, to be honest.

I think the most interesting incarnation of vampires recently are Terry Pratchett’s vampires from Discworld. They are mostly humorous while remaining pretty menacing in a pinch. Or, that could just be Mr. Pratchett’s prowess.

MrBr00ks's avatar

This sums it up for me (both sides of the conversation):

cupcakediva999's avatar

Clearly, the popularity of books like Twilight and the Sookie Stackhouse books have contributed to this craze, as well as the movies and TV Shows (i.e., True Blood, Vampire Diaries, V) that focus on this topic. What amazes me is how long the fascination has lasted. Last year I read somewhere that it would be the “year of the werewolf”, but vampires are still hanging in there.

As long as the people who write about them continue doing so and the screenwriters and directors who make movies and TV shows about them produce quality output, people will stay interested.

Berserker's avatar

In all his diversity, the mythical vampire is essentially a reflection of man’s desires exposed in a what if scenario, as well as an exploration of our darkest and most painful aspects, free of intervention or criticism, which otherwise constantly occurs in a world where such things restrain us as we attempt to be more than what we are, imagine more than what is acceptable.
That the vampire must abide by certain rules enforces my point even more, since we humans must also abide by certain rules. They are an unrealistic reflection of ourselves, but ones that meet so many similar factors that the fascination seems nearly natural, all the while allowing fashion and style to remain free, as well as lost hopes and fantasy to become real, at least, on paper.
It’s really no different than why tales for children are seemingly eternal. Vampires tales always have morals.

Berserker's avatar

I’d have to add, which is probbaly the most important part, which I’ve forgotten to mention through my disillusioned words weaved of justification, that the vampire’s needs easily romanticize our cruelty and deception as humans.

UnholyThirst's avatar

You’re correct, they do show up in many places…

I’ll answer your question. Vampires. Because we are everything that you’re not. To add, you are also everything that we are not. Opposites always are curious of the other…

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