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Vampires have been around for generations that there are a variety of forms of these immortal creatures with each culture having their own version. In the past, vampires have reflected the fear and things perceived as taboo in those cultures. Originally, vampires were first known to be savages and blood-thirsty. They were also representation as the unknown consequences of actions performed by the people. In the old folklores, they were supposedly terrorizing the communities and were always to blame for anything that the people could not explain. Then when the vampire genre had spread to the west, our American culture had given vampirism a new image to where we have come to fantasize the human ideal. Eventually, the genre had become a source of entertainment, where it is marketed towards the young adults. These vampires have evolved so much that we can divide them into two different groups of vampires: the “old” and the “new”. The “old” version would be the stereotypical vampire who live in dark castles and are ruthless when it comes to their feeding. As for the “new” version of vampires, they are more understanding of the human race and are more adaptive and interactive with their environment. So as the genre approaches the twenty-first century, altercations in the portrayal of vampires has changed due to more exploration with the idea of otherness and fear, our culture fantasizing over characteristics of a vampire to a more human desire, and removing properties that make them a monstrous, which allows them to move from evil to good.
In the old versions of vampirism, vampires embodied the fears in the culture in that time period. An example of an “old version” vampire would be Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Count Dracula is depicted as an inhumane creature who cause destructions in society by feeding upon people for their blood. Dracula reveals the fears of the Victorian Era which includes animal nature and sexuality. As stated by Count Dracula himself, “How dare you touch him? How dare you cast your eyes on him when I had forbidden it? This man belongs to me! Beware how you meddle with him” (200). Count does nothing but for self-interest. And so, he forbids the women from seducing Jonathan Harker in order for Count to have Harker all to himself for his desire. The three women vampires represent the consequences of sexual greed and how these were the not the behavior of Victorian women. As Stoker was creating this story in the 1890s, he added typical elements of vampire folklore and the current ideas of vampirism to create the character Count Dracula. Due to the similarities of his vampire, Count Dracula, to old folklore vampires, Stoker made it believable that these creatures could exist and so the story of vampires with these typical traits were passed on.
In today’s version of vampires, as seen in Twilight, they represent the modern reinvention of vampires. Differing from other folklore vampires, the Cullen family had adopted a lifestyle in which they can live and be involved in the human society. Instead of living in the stereotypical castle, Edward and his family live in an upper-middle class home where they planned to stay as long as they can without revealing their inhuman nature. For other vampires, such as Dracula, they were more nomadic due to their inability to adapt to their environment. According to Civilized Vampires Versus Savage Werewolves by Natalie Wilson she described how the Cullens are adapting to the human society by “having high culture tastes towards classical music, art, and fashion being an asset to the community and attending a local high school”. When the Cullen children attend their local school, they acted in the conventional norms during the twenty-first century. Their self-control makes them more of a humanistic vampire, giving them a more heroic character type. This is critical to the vampire and human interaction because how unique it is from the vampire and human interactions of the old vampire literature.
Obviously, Carlise Cullen, Edward’s father, is a little too old to be attending a high school, but he gets involved with the human society in another way. He is a doctor which means he is important to the society. The significance of this is that he is completely trusted given that he is surrounded by blood on a daily basis. But that doesn’t bother him because his family chooses to live as “vegetarians” meaning that humans are not part of their diet. This distances them from the old stereotypical vampires whose food source was anything that had blood. The family’s understanding of the human population is very different from their ancestors, typically because vampires were careless about the lives that they had taken, but now, modern vampires are more conscious about their decision in killing their victims. These modern vampires are socially progressive compared to their ancestors that they detach themselves from their monstrous origins. As our society begins to change their perspective about vampires, zombies have taken their place as the creatures we now fear. We feared vampires because of their monstrous actions, but now since they are civilized, we strip away those monstrous traits to make them more appealing. But for zombies, they are always going to be our enemy.
According to Vampire Gentlemen and Zombie Beast by Angela Tenga and Elizabeth Zimmermen, they stated that “As vampires have become holders of human social codes, they connote social and political stability. Zombies threaten stability and security” (78). This means that because zombies are unconscious, it’s difficult for them to connect with us. Due to the media depicting zombies as only these mindless walking bodies striving for flesh, the portrayal of these creatures isn’t going to change much. As for the vampires in the media, they are going to be continually glorified. Entertainment industries have been transforming vampires into fantasies that teenage girls drool over while being mesmerize by their flawless body and the vampire’s ability to control their actions creates a more desire to be one of them. Although desiring to be a vampire seems like a fantasy, the idea around everlasting youth had teenagers get procedures done. This cultural anxiety was addressed in the Twilight series when Bella feared of ageing but that was resolved when she transformed into a vampire. But this isn’t a big of a fear as what the zombie is a reminder of: “eternity in a corrupt body”. Our technology could advance so much that, it can’t promise us a peaceful afterlife, in which this case it would be being imprisoned in your own body for eternity. But we cannot depict the future of zombies just yet, trends could change and there is a matter of time before there could be another creature that could steal the spotlight. Vampire media have been exposed to the public for almost two-hundred years because of the way cultures have been reinventing their portrayal of a vampire. This constant evolution of the vampire genre has kept the stories from going bland.
As our American culture focus more on the aspects of beauty and romance of the vampires, the horror aspect has been thrown out. Our culture has changed so much that our interest have changed in a way that we like to look more on the meaning side than just the sinister side. Even though we throw out these wicked traits the once belong to the first ancestors of vampires, we would always retain their stereotypical characteristics that had been left from Dracula as the “original” vampire.
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