Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Bite Me!: Vampires, Obsession, and Popular Culture

Written by Yeari Mann
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Pale-skinned with auburn hair and golden butterscotch eyes, Edward Cullen is supposedly the most gorgeous man. Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight novel has won the hearts of millions of women, having topped the bestseller charts. It has also recently been made into a box office hit movie. Her protagonist, or so-called damsel in distress, is Bella Swan who moves to Forks, Washington to spend some time with her dad. She meets Edward Cullen, her hunky yet eerie classmate. It turns out Edward is a bloodthirsty vampire. Their relationship is cautious from the start, but their love story proves to be the Romeo and Juliet of our time. 

Pale-skinned with auburn hair and golden butterscotch eyes, Edward Cullen is supposedly the most gorgeous man. Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight novel has won the hearts of millions of women, having topped the bestseller charts. It has also recently been made into a box office hit movie. Her protagonist, or so-called damsel in distress, is Bella Swan who moves to Forks, Washington to spend some time with her dad. She meets Edward Cullen, her hunky yet eerie classmate. It turns out Edward is a bloodthirsty vampire. Their relationship is cautious from the start, but their love story proves to be the Romeo and Juliet of our time.

So, Twilight is a romance novel. Yes. But why are women of all ages hooked on Edward Cullen, a vampire? Vampires have long been embedded in cultures: Ancient Babylonia feared Lilitu, Greece cowered at Empusa, and India shuddered at the tales of vetala. While they are now considered mythical and somewhat enchanting monsters, vampires once sparked mass hysteria. There are records, which go back to the twelfth century, of the “vampiric” beings, and in the the eighteenth century there were even supposed sightings of the creatures in Eastern Europe. There was even a case regarding a Serbian peasant, Peter Plogojowitz, who supposedly died and returned to his son’s house, asking for food. When the son refused, his son died the following day and Plogojowitz’s corpse reportedly attacked neighbors who died from loss of blood. Throughout the Age of Enlightenment, people were in a frenzy regarding these demons and even persecuted people who were suspected of vampirism.

In literature, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was one of the first influential  fictional vampire accounts; Count Dracula preys on humans while seducing them with his sensual demeanor and finally ends up destroyed by Van Helsing. The image of a pale-skinned ghoul with a black cape and two fangs has haunted our media from then on, especially during Halloween when cloaks aflutter.

While there are definitely fewer accounts of actual vampires lurking in our presence, the media has not halted in its pursuit to paint the “perfect” demon. The undead has always been a fascination to people since immortality and the afterlife are common concepts that have long existed in various cultures. The fact that vampires rise from the dead could be a bait for man’s obsession. However, vampires not only escape from natural death, but they also feed off the blood of humans. With physical attributes so similar to those of man, it is inconceivable and intriguing to believe in an image of a being that is our deadly predator.

Man has always been pretty much the king of the food chain. We are equipped with intelligence that has yet to be exceeded by another species. So, for there to be such an existence of man’s predator is mind-boggling and scary. On top of all of this, films such as Interview with the Vampire and Twilight have glamorized our monsters to be extraordinarily beautiful and seductive. When Hollywood places top hunks like Brad Pitt and Robert Pattinson to hunger for our throats, it makes it just a little difficult to forget these demons and close the chapter of the vampire.

To this day, the vampire is an icon that people still obsess over. With Stephanie Meyer’s Edward Cullen reigniting the blood-thirsty obsession, vampires carry the symbol of sex and the untamed. Their eyes illume a golden shine whenever they catch a scent of our blood, and their wild fury unleashes the fangs from their sensual lips. Maybe it is the concept that the vampire finds our blood irresistible when we, humans, cringe at the sight of a paper cut. Or just the idea that we are delicious to the eyes of these perfectly-sculpted god, and our smell can make them weak. All in all, we may be irresistible prey to them, but we can’t seem to stop lusting after them either. Is this a Catch-22 or what?

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