I’ve studied evil from every angle, monsters and ghosts, werewolves and 'Frankensteins', madmen and crazed women and most of all, vampires. One of the more intriguing aspects of this review is their changing nature over recent decades, not so much of the monsters themselves, but of our relationship to them. We don’t see evil like we used to!
Take the vampire genre for instance. Nobody dreamed of hot sex with Nosferatu, nobody I know, anyway. But Eric Northman? The Salvatore brothers? Edward? That’s a whole different story. So what happened in the scant years between Bram Stoker’s fear and loathing to our modern-day lust-love? How different now are the denizens of the night and how did they get that way?
The curious thing is, aside from increased hotness, the basic tenets of these creatures are the same. Vampires are still a blood drinking, super strong, fast and intelligent predatory species who generally find humans beneath them. They have a hunger and plenty of necks still snap. Bodies are drained of blood. Yet, we are swooning for them. What gives?
Some say that vampires have always had an erotic quality and that film and TV have simply amped this up by putting a new face on an old devil. The claim is our art and stories have changed the image of the vampire over time, from pure evil violence to dangerous erotic to heroic heartthrob. But is it really the media that is changing social concepts, or is it the other way around?
I vote for the other way around. To me, the evolution of the vampire is not simply a trend generated by contemporary literature and film. These new images aren’t responsible for the shifting views of society; rather they are a reflection of them. And here we get to the crux. As our perception of Self changes, our monsters must change as well. Ultimately, the evolution of the vampire reflects the evolution of the human soul.
Think about it. The vampire as a representation of our inner darkness was once powerful beyond control, a force of nature we could not reckon with. Now we dialog with these creatures, are intimate with them and in the case of LJ Smith, Stephenie Meyer and others, we walk with them in the sun (the symbol of consciousness).
Originally, the vampire had no soul—‘In this chest beats no heart,’ Bram Stoker’s Dracula says, but now that’s changing. We are learning compassion for the beast within, and because of that, the beast is free, sometimes, to love us back. In this way, our new relationship with the vampire reflects the growth of human consciousness and our ability to love the darker aspects of ourselves and others.
What do you think? How have vampires changed for you as readers and writers? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Kim Falconer is a Supernatural Underground author writing epic science fantasy novels set in the worlds of Earth and Gaela. Kim’s latest series is Quantum Encryption. You can find out more about her at kim.falconer.com. She posts on the 16th of every month.