by Santana Questa
The original vampire, long before people were writing about it, was not a sexy creature. It had ragged teeth; raw, red skin; long nails; and tangled hair — if it had any at all.
After writers like Bram Stoker and Anne Rice began writing about the vampire, it evolved into a charismatic being that seduced pop culture. Enter Stephenie Meyer, and the classical perception of the vampire dissolves.
The vampire once symbolized all macabre ideas, like death and violence. But thanks to the public’s new vision of this nocturnal creature, the vampire has transformed into a mopey adolescent.
The classical vampire could be destroyed by one thing: the sun, a metaphor for life and opposite of death. When exposed to the sun, vampires burst into flame and crumpled into ash. Modern vampires have no need to fear the sun because it makes them glitter like diamonds. Vampires who glitter? Really?
Meyer, the author of the renowned Twilight series, doesn’t even have an explanation for why she makes vampires sparkle. In an interview with Collider, an entertainment-themed website, Meyer says a dream inspired the idea that vampires sparkle. She just made it up without homage to the traditional vampire themes.
“Dracula,” written by Stoker in 1897, set the standard for the classical vampire. Stoker groomed the vampire into a sophisticated being but kept the monstrous undertone and allusions to death and horror.
Rice continued Stoker’s legacy with her Vampire Chronicles series in 1973 with “Interview with the Vampire.” Rice’s vampires followed the guidelines set by Stoker almost a century before. However, Rice’s creations have more alluring personalities than Dracula.
Stephen King portrayed his vampires as ferocious predators in his 1975 novel “Salem’s Lot.” They only thought while they plotted ways to mentally torture their victims. These vampires never considered their condition a curse.
The vampire owes its existence to Stoker and should follow the principles he set.
Meyer’s vampires brood relentlessly over the burden of being a vampire. They refrain from drinking human blood, as they don’t want to hurt humans. Throughout the series they refer to themselves as “vegetarian” vampires because they consume only animal blood.
In each Twilight novel, the main vampire clan avoids violent conflicts when possible, a far cry from the classical persona who craved confrontations.
The new model of vampires no longer commands the senses of fear and terror. Unlike their predecessors, they inspire hope, love and teenage angst. Meyer makes vampires a joke. They’ve become something pretty to look at, losing everything that makes them intimidating.
This regression does not stop with vampires. As pop culture evolves, so does the perception of the classics. Heroes like Captain America become anti-heroes. The “bad boy” archetype has become more attractive than the traditional heroes who once flooded the media.
This means the classics get lost and replaced by newborn replicas. Younger generations will accept these deviations as classical figures, having little to no knowledge of the true classics.
Make vampires terrifying again, not comedic.
Santana Questa is a senior journalism and mass communication major at St. Bonaventure University.