05 December 2012

Vampires and the Ick Factor

We have Netflix, so I end up watching my way through shows on there. Earlier this year I watched Bones, Lie to Me, and then Numb3rs. Now it's the X-Files. I was too young to handle watching the show when it was on TV; I was one of those kids who was terrified of everything. And no one does creepy quite like the X-Files.

Early in season 2, there's a vampire episode. What with all the novels and television shows about vampirism, it's not exactly an unusual choice. However, the X-Files takes a different stab (pun not intended) at the vampire genre.

From Twilight to True Blood, vampires in popular culture are generally portrayed as erotic. The odd evil one pops up (the one wanting to kill and eat Bella in the first Twilight book, for example), but the hypnotically sexy portrayal is the one that usually dominates. It's intriguing that monsters who steal lives by draining people of blood, monsters who are dead themselves--dead but unable to truly die, stuck in some sort of half-life that compells them to stalk the living--are idolized. Immortal, but undead. Beautiful and unaging, yet condemned to exist without changing in a world where change is a constant factor. And this is what we claim to want.

My favourite works in the vampire genre tend to lean a certain direction. Sunshine, Buffy--they can interpret the vampiric as conflicted, as good mingled with evil--human, in a sense. But being a vampire, the taking of blood, is not sexy. It's not erotic. It's evil, and it's disgusting. Revolting. Vampires are to be destroyed when possible, because otherwise they will continue to kill. With or without remorse, they are still driven to kill, and being sentient, discerning beings, they can admit that murdering humans, the race from which they have sprung, is wrong. Yet they continue to kill, using a hunger for blood as an excuse (there's an argument for vegetarianism in here somewhere, I'm sure, but since I'm mostly definitely an omnivore, I'm not going there tonight).

The X-Files episode on vampires most definitely leans toward the revolting side of things. It captures the grossness of the vampire, the absolute wrongness of it. Personally, I think there's more to be said for that perspective. It's far more realistic. If I'm going to fantasize, I'd rather have a daydream that involved something healthier than a creepy vampire stalker boyfriend.

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