The newest trend among vampires seems to be removing any downside at all from actually being a vampire.
We watched the first two episodes of Being Human last night—a British vampire/werewolf series. And while I'm grateful that these vampires and werewolves aren't high schoolers and make a stab at something other than stalking young girls and sparkling, I'm a little...sigh over the whole thing.
Gone are the days of Nosferatu or even Dracula—apparently vampires can walk around in the daylight now, whether they sparkle or not (Being Human, The Vampire Diaries, Twilight), are universally hot (everything ever), functionally cannot be killed and honestly no one even tries anymore, can see themselves in mirrors most of the time, and can even touch crosses without going up like a roman candle (True Blood). There is literally no bad in being a vampire except for the blood drinking thing, and being a vegetarian who only drinks cow blood or whatever is pretty much de rigeur for your modern vampire.
So...essentially you just live forever, right? That's it. You live forever, are super strong, and smoking hot.
And yet these vampires mope around like this is the greatest burden ever borne by preternaturally attractive man. The moping was because of the downsides, kids. Never seeing the sun. Being unable to have sex or connect with humans. Being hideous. The whole moral compass of vampire literature is that yeah, you live forever, but it sucks. And beneath that is the Christian assumption that you stole eternal life from its proper channels (Jesus) and took it for yourself through the devil. So it's a black reflection of life in the paradaisical hereafter. (Also no hereafter for the vampire if you get staked.)
There is no reason to get upset because you get to live forever while not being hunted to death by righteous men, having to avoid delicious garlic, while also having every girl or boy in a mile radius fall madly in love with you. That is not the curse of the ages. That is awesome.
So seeing the Being Human vampires behaving as though their life is any kind of monstrous travesty (I won't make her a monster ZOMG!) is really pretty boring. Most humans don't think twice about using others for their own ends and they aren't vampires at all. Having to live on blood, which is basically all that's left of the mythos, is not an angstfest. Some Scottish people are eating black pudding right now without being even a little bit horde of the damned.
I just wish there were any other plot. One vampire wants to be nice and only eat cows and every other vampire is harshing their squee. They want to be as much like a human as possible. Except vampires are humans now, except hot and immortal. Literally no other difference. But they're acting out the same old plots like they're Bela Lugosi. It's way postmodern, if anyone noticed onscreen, which they don't. Like 19 year olds acting out stories about their grandparents radical activities in the 60s when they in fact live in a world where all those issues are passe.
I have the same contempt for this plot that I do for the portal fantasy wherein the stupid kid just wants to go home. It's exactly the same story. Once turned into a vampire, with the whole world opened up and turned upside down, become something new and endless and fascinating, the stupid vampire just whines about wanting to be human again. SHUT UP.
Being human? Not that awesome. In fact, we pretty much suck, and we don't even sparkle a little. We're violent and amoral and devious and angsty. Just like a vampire. Only we die, and we still have to eat meat to live until that happens. And yet any character who up and says: "You know what? Being a vampire rules" is immediately a villain and treated with contempt by her maker. (True Blood, Angel, Being Human, Interview with the Vampire, and ALL OF EVERYTHING, EVER. Don't even get me started on how vampires are apparently 99% male now, and yet the character who enjoys being a vampire is usually female. Or Ian Somerhalder.)
Given this new breed of vampires, there should be, you know, a new breed of vampires. For example. Watching The Vampire Diaries, which is terrible, there's a scene where the receding hairline vampire high school guy mumbles and looks at his feet and then tells the boring high school girl that he's "not very good at small talk."
Well, you fucking well should be, shouldn't you? You're four hundred years old! You should be AWESOME at small talk! You should be like a social Olympic athlete! You should be all: sometimes I small talk a tree, just for fun! You should be able to walk into a room and own it like fucking David Bowie, my friend. What have you been doing all this time? Mumbling? That doesn't even work for mortal boys! I AM DONE WITH YOU, VAMPIRE FAILURE.
Vampires should be pretty much like mean girls, all the time, only amazing at it. Flawless. They've had time. Like when you put a penny in a bank account and a thousand years later you're rich. Social capital, it is the same. Those high school kids should never know what hit them because they are amateurs. Vampires should not be at the approximate social stage of a particularly awkward 14 year old with anxiety issues. They should be devils in blue dresses. This is the metaphor: the cool kids are all vampires, and they fuck with you because it's fun. Because they're demons and they like it. They keep going to high school over and over not to pick up some awkward 16 year old virgin, but because they can get away with shit in the maelstrom of high school that adults would never put up with. They are Chuck Bass. All of them. All the time.
But no, we get the same old mopey crap. Vampire Dorothy wants to go back to boring human-Kansas. And the werewolves turn into gross CGI monsters instead of actual wolves and are never, ever as cool as vampires even though I literally do not know a high school girl who would turn down a guy who was an awesome wolf sometimes. The only thing better would be a were-pony. I'm sick of that trope, too. If we've decided as a culture that where there is a vampire, there is a werewolf, then werewolves need to up their game a little, instead of being the also-ran in the monster rally. I mean, the material is all there—vampires are sex and death, werewolves are life and sex, they really do go together—but no one ever does anything with it but yell: Look! A werewolf! Now back to the vampire moping on the double!
I demand better.
And this has been my complaining about the state of vampires in our fallen world. We now return you to your regular sparkly programming.
This post originally appeared on Catherynne Valente's blog, Rules For Anchorites.