Archive for the ‘Metafictional’ Category

Poppacultcha Halloween Special – The Vampire

October 12, 2008

[Editor’s note: I’m writing most of this naked at my girlfriend’s request due to her aversion to turning of the fucking air conditioning. She also insisted I add this note, so blame her.]

My favorite holidays are, in order:

1) Christmas, for solely religious reasons. Without that, substantially less cool.*

2) Halloween.

3) My birthday, because it’s all for me, damn you.**

I love Halloween with a passion that is, appropriately, frightening. It might not show too much, for two reasons: I’m lazy as hell; and I’m currently flat broke. Halloween is for the rich, it so is. And it isn’t even a gift-giving holiday, no matter how much I wish it was. Wouldn’t that be cool? Can you imagine the kinds of gifts you would get on Halloween?

But even without the economy-boosting shopping season, it’s still an expensive day if you do it right. Just getting a decent costume together can cost as much as a fucking video game. Of course, that’s for my definition of “decent.” Yours is probably different. If you actually want to decorate your house or, God forfend, set up a nice haunted house, you’ll have to give up extravagances like food or shelter (unless of course you live in the haunted house, and live off of Halloween candy, in which case you, sir, are awesome).

So, not having the luxury of currency, I am forced to celebrate this glorious day with the means I do have. What I do have is the ability to, if I consume sufficient pizza and/or caffeine (tonight: pizza!) to give me the motivation, write snarky, rambling humor articles on really geeky subjects. Sort of like the Little Drummer Boy, but replace the birth of Jesus with whatever the hell Halloween celebrates (although I would like to wish you all a good corn harvest this year, that’s just being polite).

So. Let’s talk about vampires.

There is something about vampires that interests people. I don’t want to do what every other “vampire expert” does here and turn it into something sexual.*** When you do, you’re basically saying “people really do, deep down, want to be raped and murdered.” And I, well, I have a bit of an issue with that. Forget Anne Rice and Twilight and how hot you thought Spike was on Buffy, sexuality and vampirism go together like…I was going to use a food metaphor here, but fuck it, they go together like SEX AND BLOOD-DRINKING DEAD PEOPLE. Does that not say it all?

Here is where I would go on a rant about how traditional vampires aren’t even supposed to be attractive, but while that’s true, that’s another thing that pisses me off about vampire fiction. Everybody wants their vampires to be better in some way, but saying one is more “accurate” than another is just crazy talk. There is no such thing as an accurate folklore vampire because no two “folk” could agree on one. Every part of the world has vampire myths, and if a vampire from Germany met a vampire from China, they wouldn’t recognize each other, let alone engage in some kind of secret handshake.

The best part is that some of the most common characteristics are the last ones we think of, and the first ones we think of are crap that was made up for movies less than eighty years ago. One of the most common vampire traits is compulsive behavior. That’s right, vampires the world over are identifiable by their crushing OCD. Throw a handful of rice at them and they completely flip their shit and start counting the grains. And as I said before, the attractive, charismatic vampire basically started with Bela Lugosi.

So “accurate” vampires are completely out the window. So you know what, writers? Make up whatever you want. If you want your vampires to love garlic but go completely bugfuck around paprika, go for it. And don’t feel the need to have your vampires take five minutes to explain to the audience, I mean, the protagonist, which familiar vampire things do or do not apply to them. One rule, though.

Do not, under any circumstances, have your vampires freak out around crosses and feel the need to point out that this is so totally not an indicator of the accuracy of any specific religion. Nobody is forcing you to use the whole cross thing, dickhead, you chose to. Pulling an explanation for a necessary plot element out of your ass is one thing, but doing that for something you voluntarily put into your story for no actual reason? Yes, I’m looking at you, Joss; you’re the hardcore atheist, you of all people shouldn’t be tethered to the preconceived notions of what a vampire is or isn’t. If you don’t want to drop something into your universe that waves its arms and shouts “BY THE WAY, GOD IS REAL,” there is no gun pointed at your temple.

And please, please, writers, I beseech thee: leave Dracula out of it.

For starters, Dracula is not a vampire novel. It’s a novel where the antagonist happens to be a vampire. In the original book, it’s actually a plot twist. Nobody knows going in, not even the reader, that he’s a vampire until Van Helsing (who is not, I repeat, not, Awesome Victorian Batman) figures it out by sheer blind luck. Saying Dracula is a vampire novel is like saying The Sixth Sense is about a dead guy, Fight Club is about a guy with a split personality disorder, or Star Wars is about a one-handed farmer rescuing his sister from his cyborg father.

Imagine if every superhero story went back and pulled in a bunch of public domain superheroes because they were the first superheroes, or if every story with aliens in it used grays because they’re the real aliens. If you want to do a Dracula story, do one. If you want a vampire story, go ahead. They are not the same thing.

And if you make him the first vampire? I’ll kick your ass myself.

Next up: Frankenstein.

– Robbi Ramirez, Lieutenant in the Allied Dance Command

* Why Easter is less special that Christmas is a different rant altogether.

** My birthday usually sucks, but still, it’s my holiday.

*** By the way, where do places like the History Channel get vampire “experts?” What qualifies you to be a vampire expert? Living among vampires for a few years, studying vampire behavior? Can you get a doctorate in Vampire Sciences at Berkeley or something?

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