December 6, 2009 Blog Entry for CI 5150
Vampires in Culture Sources:
I just came home from a Lessons and Carols Choir and Orchestra Service a few hours ago at my daughter-in-law's church so it was hard to watch some of the UTube postings of clips of vampire movies as part of research into the role of "vampire culture" in contemporary American culture today. I have not watched any of the current genre of vampire movies and only remember being 9 years old in 1958 and seeing Dracula starring Christopher Lee. At this time, vampires were about monsters and horror and they were really scary. Christopher Lee was basically a fiend who attacked others and sucked thier blood and converted them, as a result, into fellow vampire fiends that spread the curse and could fly around as bats and vapors on their nightly soirees to feed on the blood of humans.
I remember the scenes of somewhat quasi grisly attacks, and monster like demeanor of the attacking vampires. There were also scenes of driving stakes into vampires hearts as they lay in their coffins, usually immobilized by a crucifix laid on their chest. Blood curdiling screams were emitted as the stake was driven into their hearts, or as curtains in rooms were flung open and they were caught in the light of day and turned into dust in a few moments of time, unable to return to their tombs and coffins in the dark. A concensus on review of my sources listed above is that we have graduated from the monster and horror genre to a dark and sexy and slightly dangerously romantic version now. It is now about sex and erotic seduction with a lightly "darkly dangerous" and beautiful vampire character who now gets his blood attacking deer and other wild game in the woods. As a result the encounter and engagement with a human is now more of a seduction thrill with the draw being the shadowy realm of the vampire, their physical beauty, and the desire to have a physical relationship, but with the possibility of immortallity as the vampire's partner in eternity. Most people have sexual needs and desires, want to be desired by a loved one and most fear death and want to not ever have to face it. So voila!!, the new vampire genre meets the needs of modern humans, especially young people and those who want to be young.
Some critics think that it is just a current spin on patricarchical rules for society that give women a chance to be more free in desiring men, and being desired and seduced sensously, with their satisfaction being higher, but in the end they are still being controlled by men. And then there is the Buffy vampiress who is the "lil Kim" of the vampire world, but still locked in struggle with men and not free of them. It was suggested by a number of writers that this new genre of vampire movies and stories merely mirrors the current trends in society and ther current issues in relationships at the time, with a vampire role for each subgroup in our culture.
Temple English Professor Peter Logan suggested that vampires in 19th Century English culture grew out of the Industrial Revolution in full swing in Britain and that society ruling the world, with a quarter of all people in its Empire, but with it worrying about tensions and conflict with its African and Asian subjects. Others suggest a push back on the strict moral code of Victorian society and that the course of evolution of the vampire from monster and horrorible seducer to one of more friendly, casual and sensual genre marks the passing of the morals of Victorian England, the British Empire and in America today, a transition away from traditional moral codes.
My own reflection is that everyone wants romance and love and to be desired. Most everyone would like to be immortal and live forever in the realm of this world as we know it, not grow old, and have a partner that would experience this with us. I think the fascination with vampires reflects these basic and universal human desires. It is the media, writers of books, televison series and movies for the screen that then serve this up for the public to have the chance to engage in this particular type of erotic and escapist fantasy, that helps them be transported away from the boredom and frustrations of our busy and stressful modern way of life. I think that it is a new form of idols on the screen and in print that people use as a fix.
My own path does not take me down this particular road. I cope with frustrations, tribulations and aging by going to deeper levels in my faith as a Christian. I read scripture often, write about my daily walk and concerns, pray and meditate. This gives me the strength to handle the challenges of life. I try not to culivate a desire for physical fantasy and satisfaction outside my marriage, I focus my energy on being faithful and making my love not one based on raw emotional desires, but one directed by loyal commitment and with my desires for love and affection guided by that, with emotions as a force tempered by my commitment to my faith and love directed appropriately within my marriage commitment. As part of getting older, some men get seduced by what I would call "vampire lust" and either ruin or badly damage their marriages by taking up with younger women in adultery, as recently we see in the case of golf star Tiger Woods or Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones. The thrill of the chase and initial physical pleasure collapses into ruined relationships with spouses and short-term reaches for new of younger women that don't work out.
My faith gives me the path to eternal life through Christ, however much of this is not fully known by Christians here in this world. I have humanly discomfort over aspects of aging and the limits of physical life here. I do not blame people who are caught up in the current vampire cultural fad. They are drawn by the same things working in all of us, but in the end, it may not be very satisfying for long, while as a person faith, yielding in my walk to the teachings of Christianity has helped me be less anxious with age and see love as a realm that C.S. Lewis writes of in his book "The Four Loves" as having many dimensions, eros, storge, philios, and agape, or the sensual, brotherly, philantrophic and Christ-like or spiritual. If one can be drawn to the more compassionate version of vampires, I see that it could be a path into a deeper realm of a faith in God, and desire for the love of Christ, based on my own walk and realms an those of friends of mine who have searched long years and found His peace.
To me its promising that we have left the vampire monsters behind and moved on to figures that are loving and compassionate, it is hopeful for our path in this 21st Century. Best to all on your walk and every good thing to you. As Paul wrote: whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are of good report, just, lovely and noble, meditate on these.