'86 Rabbit

A FANGirl's Forkstress of Solitude

On Vampire Lore

I read a lot online about how Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight sucks because it goes against vampire canon. I have to wonder how much the people who say this actually know about vampire lore. I’ve read lots of books and seen lots of movies. Just how many, I have no idea. Vampires have been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. I’ve never liked the ugly, pure evil, demonic, Nosferatu types. Yep, it’s a demon. Clearly we’re not letting that one in. Stake it if you can. A little too straight forward and blunt for me. I’m not a fan of horror for horror’s sake. For me it’s always been about the sexy ones. That’s where the true terror is. Demons who are good-looking, to whom you might be attracted, with whom you might be friends, who might just kill you, now that’s scary to me. It gives me more to think about. There just tends to be more story there.

Already we are talking about two very different types of vampires. How can canon reconcile this? To understand this I think you have to understand a bit about the history of vampire lore.

In the beginning, vampires were generally undead, walking corpses bent on stealing your life force, usually blood. Most cultures have some form of vampire legend. According to Wikipedia the term vampire did not become popular until the early 18th Century though. At that time there was an increase in vampire superstition in Western Europe from places in Eastern Europe where vampire legends were frequent, such as The Balkans.

Different traditions say different things. The vampire might be a soul not at rest who rises from the grave to cause mischief. It might be a person who made a pact with a sorcerer or witch, trading their soul for immortality or some such thing. It might also be the sorcerer or witch him- or herself. This is what people really thought back in the day. It is largely thought that because graves weren’t marked incredibly well that when bodies were exposed, either through the digging of the new grave or by animals digging, people thought they were seeing vampires who had left their graves. During decomposition hair and nails appear to grow. It’s really just the skin receding, but it gives the appearance of growth, giving anyone not educated in these matters thoughts of the ‘living dead’. Furthermore, gases bloating the body and fluids escaping through the mouth give the impression of the belly being full, having feasted on flesh or blood. Worse yet, the death shroud, being exposed to these fluids, would have been eaten by microbes first, giving the appearance that the corpse itself ate the shroud.

Pretty gruesome stuff, huh? At least it makes sense how we got the whole image of vampires as ugly demons. What about the sexy vampire though? Where does that come from?

Continue reading

July 13, 2009 Posted by | Essays, Stephenie Meyer, Twilight, Twilighters | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

It’s Just A Book

Mom has never understood my Fangirl, nor my FANGirl, ways. Star Wars is, “just a story.” Anne Rice’s vampires, “are not real.” Twilight is, “just a book.” I never understood why she didn’t get excited about the books she read. Well, she gets excited, but there isn’t the fervor, the obsession, that I experience when I really get into a ‘verse. She just lets the book or movie wash over her. There is nothing more to it. I had hope for her when she read Harry Potter. She read it before I did, and I loved listening to her frequent tidbits about how imaginative it is. When I finally read it I thought we’d have great Potter talks. Not so. She didn’t remember a lot of it, and now that she wasn’t in the middle of reading it, it was, “just a book.” This is the difference between an avid reader and a fangirl, I suppose.

Ok, so that’s the back story. Today, I told Mom what a delightful time I had talking to Peanut the other day, and that we talked a lot about Twilight. I told her about Peanut being interested in certain labs and lectures at schools because of the Twilight connection, and about my epiphany that this is what any sort of fandom does for people. She agreed and said her genealogy work had sparked an interest in Irish history. Previously she was never a fan of history. Then the inevitable came: “But Edward’s not real.” She continued with her usual diatribe that he’s just a character, it’s just a story, and there isn’t anything more to it than what’s on the page. When I was Peanut’s age, I was all about Star Wars. I wondered about the stuff fangirls wonder about. If I had known then what I know now, I would have written fanfic and probably would have written several Star Wars novels in the expanded universe by now. Mom told me I couldn’t write in someone else’s ‘verse, essentially, that I had to write my own stuff.

So, what do you say when someone says, “He’s not real,” about our beloved Edward (or Jacob, if you swing that way)? You sound as crazy as they already know you are if you just say, “Wait…Wh-what do you…I don’t…Ya-huh!” Well, I had another epiphany today, and I think I stumped Mom. I said, “You know, if it weren’t for fans, there wouldn’t be any classics, no one to debate the merits of Jane Austen, no one to discuss symbolism and subtext.”

What do you think? Is this why we have classics? Is it because a group of people loved a story so much that a collective discussion started and just never ended? It can’t all be critical acclaim and academia. Books have to sell, too. That means fans are a necessity in the making of a classic, I would think.

April 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Vampires With No Bite

Supernaturalseductress posted about being sick of the complaints that Stephenie Meyer’s vampires go against vampire lore. Here’s what I had to say on the matter.

I’m rather sick of people arguing this as well. I’m sick of the complaints about Stephenie Meyer removing the vampires’ bite, so to speak. So what? I always ask. Every vampire author keeps some things and changes others. Everyone puts their own spin on it. If they don’t they’d be accused of being derivative hacks.

What the people who are saying that Stephenie Meyer’s vampires aren’t really vampires are missing is that how vampires are portrayed largely depends on whether they are the protagonist or the antagonist. Anne Rice is the best example. Louis is the hero of Interview with the Vampire. He’s reluctant and guilt-ridden. He feeds off the blood of rats and chickens for as long as he can before succumbing to what he is, and even then he feels guilt. If he’s just a cold-blooded killer from the word go, he could not be a hero in our eyes. Few readers would feel any connection to him. Lestat was the bad guy in this one. As far as Louis knew he was a cold-blooded killer from the word go. Louis described how many Lestat would kill and what his preferrences were. In The Vampire Lestat we get Lestat’s point of view and find that Louis had a great deal of it wrong. Lestat was a stronger vampire. He could read thoughts. When it appeared to Louis that Lestat preferred pretty young fops for his first meal of the night what he didn’t understand was that Lestat liked corrupt, lying, cheating, pretty young fops. Lestat becomes the hero because we now know exactly how he feels about his kills.

It’s only when vampires are the bad guys that they are portrayed as demons and fiends, albeit sometimes seductive ones if the storyline includes seducing one’s prey into volunteering.

March 8, 2009 Posted by | Essays, Stephenie Meyer, Twilight, Twilighters | , , , , , | Leave a comment