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What is it about vampires that makes us love them?

Why are folks so fascinated by vampires? Literature and tons of movies have the sweet little bloodsuckers littering our nightmares. But why? My Film as Lit professor would argue that it’s because vampires represent the human condition.

In most instances it would be about human nature, selfish or selfless. Lestat (Interview with a Vampire) and Eli (Let the Right One In (2008)) are good examples of vampires that are selfish. I’m sure several of you kind readers will argue with me but Lestat was selfish. He did things just for himself and with a certain lack of respect for others. This is really what made him such a good character. As for Eli… she was just a child when she was created but she is cunning and clever. She has someone else do her killing for her and she uses her appearance to disarm.

On the other side of that we have Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Angel) and the Cullen clan (The Twilight Saga) being selfless. Angel becomes a vampire with a soul when he falls in love with Buffy and he turns his life around helping her (Buffy) or helping others (Angel) becoming counter to what we know as vampire. The Cullens… they’re “vegetarians” seeking only to be left to blend in with the people of Forks.

But is that really why we’re fascinated? I don’t think so. I think it’s different for different age groups. Teenagers like vampires because they are indestructible as well as immortal and, let’s face it dear readers, a majority of teens view themselves that way. (It’s different for Zombie lovers; they crave knowledge!) Older folks (like me) find vampires to be physically appealing, sexy if you will. But this can’t really be backed up by fact; it’s just mere observation. There are any number of articles including one by Huffington Post that delve into the psychology but it’s really personal preference isn’t it? Sure, I liked Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf but Jason Patric was smokin’ hot in The Lost Boys. (Fangs over fur any day!)

For a different explanation why our culture is so obsessed with the fanged creatures we can find the answers in the books of Dr. John Edgar Browning, but here is a statement if you don’t want to read one of the 26 books he’s authored/edited or been featured in, “Vampires and monsters—they’re just us. They’re what we aspire to be, what we’re told to hate most about ourselves, what we secretly yearn for, but shouldn’t.”

He sounds like a smart man and right he should. He’s made it his mission to study vampires, including their impact on our culture as a whole. (I’ll be picking up a couple of his books and adding them to my stack.)

What are some of your favorite vampires? Doesn’t matter if they’re from books, TV shows or movies, we want to know! Leave them in the comments and Happy Halloween!

3 Comments on What is it about vampires that makes us love them?

  1. I prefer the monstrous vampires similar to the creatures of yore, rather than the romanticization that’s occurred since Stoker’s novel. Count Orlock (Nosferatu), Kurt Barlow (Salem’s Lot), Marlow (30 Days of Night), etc. Having read up on vampirology, the change from “cursed ghoul haunting their family” to “symbol of immortality, rebellion, and lust” is major, and was basically because of pop culture of Victorian times.

    This may also be why I’m fascinated by non-European bloodsuckers, like hooh’-strah-dooh’ (North America), ramanga (Africa) and jiangshi (Asia). These are monsters like old, cautionary tales about how to behave, how to maintain the dead, and what to be afraid of at night. No romanticization, no sexuality (although some of them used sex to lure men)… just straight up monsters and cursed dead.

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  2. Also, Angel didn’t get his soul because he fell in love with Buffy. He got his soul because he was cursed by a Gypsy clan; it was his soul that allowed him to love her.

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  3. I didn’t watch every episode of Buffy or Angel, not that much of a fan, but I get the gist of the Angel/Buffy thing. Thank you for the correction.

    To each his own. I like vampires more than any other “monster.” Not for any reason other than they are the most misunderstood characters. There’s a lot you can do with vampires that you can’t with zombies or werewolves. But I also look at it from a writer’s perspective… “how can I make that character different?” Certainly researching more lore outside of our borders is the best way to see what other cultures think.

    I will look into the ones you’ve mentioned and do more research!

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