Over the past few years’ vampires have taken the nation by storm. They’ve invaded every medium of entertainment whether it’s books, movies, television, or music. New Moon, the second film adaptation of the popular series Twilight has the potential to become the highest grossing film of the year. What’s all the hype about?
Vampires have been a part of popular culture for centuries. Bram Stoker is credited for popularizing them with his bestselling novel, Dracula. However, while Dracula may be the quintessential vampire, modern day vampires share little in common with him.
Many adjectives can be used to describe Dracula. Cool is not one of them. In order to make vampires a mainstay in popular culture, writers needed to make vampires appealing to teenagers.
Writers took many different directions in the quest to make vampires cool. This involved changing many of the features that we commonly associate with vampires.
The writers of Blade made him a gun wielding action hero. Darren Shan wrote the popular book series Cirque du Freak that made vampires appealing to children, who may have been put off or scared by Dracula. Joss Whedon made a high school girl the driving force against swarms of vampires. Buffy was later spun off into Angel, which centered on the titular vampire searching for redemption for centuries of sin. HBO’s True Blood created a drink, which eliminated the vampires’ need to feed on humans.
Then there’s everyone’s favorite example, Twilight. Twilight redefined the word vampire and changed all the rules. The Cullen family could wander around in the daytime, assuming it was a cloudy day in Washington State. Edward Cullen wasn’t a monster; he was a high school student with pale skin and weird eyes.
Stephanie Meyer’s changes to vampires were well received and brought the spotlight back onto vampire fiction. Since Twilight’s publication in 2005, vampires have been popping up everywhere. Authors are trying to mimic Meyer’s success with vampire books of their own. Studios are buying up scripts that revolve around vampires. The CW currently airs The Vampire Diaries in addition to HBO’s True Blood. Even the Disney Channel entered the fray with a vampire saga in its hit series The Wizard of Waverly Place. While all these stories are about vampires, they all have different targeted audiences.
With all these vampire things showing up at once, one might think to themself, is this a good thing or a bad thing? Sure these movies, books, and TV shows make a lot of money and critical reception has been generally favorable, but at what cost?
The past few years have been brought a lot of attention to the vampire genre. Before Buffy, Blade, and Twilight, the vampire genre was mainly composed of B movies and Dracula knockoffs with a few exceptions but not many. These movies showed the world vampire movies could be about more than just a battle between a recluse and a Dutch doctor. But they’re coming to the theatres too fast.
The latest vampire movie to hit the big screens, Cirque du Freak, has only grossed $13 million since its October 23rd release. That’s not very good for a film with a $40 million budget. Cirque du Freak didn’t bode well with critics but its failure can’t be pinned on that. Nor can it be blamed on the actors: the two stars of the film, John C. Reilly and William DaFoe, have appeared in numerous blockbuster films. Oversaturation of the vampire market killed this movie.
The great philosopher Aristotle stressed in his teaching the importance of moderation. Vampires can be very entertaining. There just needs to be a better balance.