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    Brother, it don’t matter/Sister, don’t worry

    This writer is exercised over the Euro-cutesying of vampires, especially in fiction aimed at young girls (via Instapundit):

    At least Anne Rice’s vampires were still primarily bloodsuckers. The first sign that something was awry came with the introduction of Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A prime example of the brooding, crying-on-the-inside, leather-jacketed emo boy of the ’90s (see also: Dylan McKay, Beverly Hills, 90210; James Hurley, Twin Peaks), Angel was a vampire who had a soul. He fell in love with Buffy, teared up a lot, and believed in random acts of kindness. Angel, in short, sucked. Or, rather, he didn’t suck, which was the problem. When he did suck, he took limited amounts of blood from consenting human women, or sucked blood against his will, or sucked rat blood.

    Rat blood.

    Think about it. Faced with the impact of his diet on humans, Angel accepts a yucky, cruelty-free substitute, then endlessly lectures other vampires about their moral failings because they don’t do the same. He’s not a vampire—he’s a vegan.

    I’m not nearly the Buffy fan a lot of my friends were, and David Boreanaz is a bit on the non-hairy side for me, but I have to say I think that’s unfair to the Angel character, at least at first. After all, he didn’t just randomly “have” a soul: it was restored to him by Gypsies as part of a curse after he’d practiced typical-vampire predation for hundreds of years. The message that being a good person is worth straining to overcome your most evil instincts and not giving into every craving never struck me as a namby-pamby one, despite the soft-focus teen-romance setting. And besides, there were plenty of other repellantly predatory vampires populating the series to convey to viewers that Angel was not the norm. Whether Grady Hendrix is right about the other stories mentioned, I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised.

    7 Responses to “Brother, it don’t matter/Sister, don’t worry”

    1. Maria says:

      I agree that it’s unfair to group the character of Angel with other “dewey eyed” vampires. As a nearly die-hard Buffy and Angel fan I can attest that chastity was a rarity on those shows. 😉 I haven’t followed the more current vampire obsessions, thus I don’t know first-hand how “pure” those stories may be. I agree with you, Sean, about the value of refraining from giving in to your every desire “and besides, there were plenty of other repellantly predatory vampires populating the series to convey to viewers that Angel was not the norm.”

      I don’t think Grady Hendrix has to worry about the young women of our society being as naive as he fears. And, as for the young men, they’ll learn to adjust if they “want some.” ;-P

    2. Sean says:

      Yeah, I think Angel may have opened the door to more namby-pamby, sensi-boy vampires—that’s not hard to imagine at all. But Buffy was really, appropriately dark in ways that, I gather, the new crop of novels people have been criticizing isn’t.

    3. Eric Scheie says:

      Years ago I took a “what kind of vampire are you” test, and I was told that I was a “Chevalier vampire.” Not as in Maurice, but as in knight:

      ***QUOTE***

      The Chevalier personifies the vampire that acts
      with noble intentions, despite what it is
      capable of. Taking a conflicting nature and
      resolving its issues, the chevalier both
      embraces and yet keeps the vampiristic nature
      in check; the hunt and taking of blood is
      enjoyed greatly, yet is restricted to those who
      willingly give, ‘wrong-doers,’ or is taken in
      self-defense; its powers are also embraced
      willingly, yet while it blatantly and proudly
      uses them, those that harm are only used in
      self-defense or in the defense of others. The
      vampire charm is used in full, and the
      chevalier appears as one of the most alluring
      of all vampires, often lordly in appearance as
      well. Because of the open embrace of its powers
      and seemingly royal stature, the chevalier
      often is an immensely powerful vampire.

      ***END QUOTE***

      If I had to drink blood to survive, I’d rather enjoy drinking bad people’s blood, actually.

    4. Sean says:

      Sounds like the best kind of vampire to be, yes. :) And if you have to consume blood to survive, perhaps you could adapt some old recipes for it: blood pudding, blood sausage, et c. I was recently flipping through a Sicilian cookbook with “Sweet Pig’s Blood” in the dessert section, in which the title ingredient was cooked down with sugar and garnished with almonds and, I think, candied pumpkin.

    5. Sarah says:

      well, um… as someone who trades in this stuff — um… fiction — specifically supernatural fiction, not rat’s blood. Or pig’s. Just so we’re all clear — I resent the assessment of Angel a little. Vampires aren’t interesting if they’re going “yay, bloodlust.” Not unless you’re a sadist and/or the vampire is an anti-hero whose demise you root for.

      There is a whole romantic dimmension to vampires, having to do with immortality and the fact that they pay the price for it in “dark deeds.” It’s not surprising that vampires in fiction quickly slid towards supernatural romance. To an extent the sexual frisson was there in the legends themselves — in the promise vs. danger inherent in it.

      But to make them acceptable as a romantic interest, one has to make them conflicted, otherwise uh… not much point. At least not as a main character.

      And I agree that at least earlier buffy was dark enough to compensate. Actually it was only the last two seasons that… uh… never mind. (I suspect Buffy fans will find out where I live and come after me.)

      OTOH color me completely baffled by the “Twilight” version of vampires which is the version used by many of the more “romancey” books. At a conference last year, Amanda (yeah, you know) and I nearly peed ourselves laughing at one of the free giveways (from a major house, mind) in which the vampire love interest was French and an underwear designer, also frankly too sensitive for words. And he drank … wait for it… artificial blood. The culminating scene — at which point, while Amanda was reading, I thought they were going to have to call paramedics to administer oxygen to me, I was laughing so hard — was when the vampires drank “sparkly synthetic blood champagne” after the — church — wedding with the rather wet main character.

      This completely — pardon me — defangs the myth and makes the vampire from something mystic and dangerous into… um… a rather wet twenty first century sensitive male.

      Perhaps I’m wired differently than the women who read this stuff, but I’d have brought a stake to any date. (Well, he wouldn’t be likely to produce anything similar!)

      The allure of the “reformed” vampire who is still fighting his “bad side” and will always be is that you know at any moment he will “turn” and only your powers of seduction and your extraordinary qualities of whatever (varies witht he book.) keep him in check. It’s a heady combination.

      On the other hand perhaps I’m only saying this since I’m attempting it with Sword And Blood. Is the fact that my vampire kills loads of people with his sword a compensation for the fact that he fights his other blood lusts? Will I be forgiven? 😉

    6. “Euro-cutesying of vampires”

      Er, no, not Euro-cutesying… the correct term would be “Americanisation”… or perhaps even better “Disneyfication” of vampires.

    7. Sean says:

      Sorry, man, but as long as European guys are going to come here and package themselves as more arty/sensitive/rail-thin/debauched-aristocratic than the local menfolk when doing their scamming at bars, I don’t think the routine can properly be called “Americanization.” That it’s questionable as a true representation of Europe is a different question, I submit. :)

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