How cool are vampires? Not very, you say? Well, if that’s how you think, then this week’s Pop Culture Throwdown is going to be a contest of the least of three evils for you, I’m afraid.
I’ve been into vampires before
it was cool to be so the crazy Twilight fans made vampires dorkier than your parents wearing tube socks to Home Depot on Saturday night. I started with Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, interspersed some Dracula, and wouldn’t touch any of the Twilight books if you paid me. (If you were looking for impartiality, look elsewhere.)
Bram Stoker’s Dracula and his ultra virility ruled the vampire scene until Stephenie Meyer came along and took a giant shit on his image.
Dracula’s kind of a pimp (see: Brides of Dracula) can clearly charm the womenfolk (see: Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker), even if his actions would probably land him a feature storyline on my fave, “Law & Order: SVU”. Dracula can also walk around in sunlight – it weakens him, but does not destroy him – making it easier to pick up the ladies. Other nifty abilities: shapeshifting, telepathy, and hypnosis. Dracula is a centuries-old immortal, but he can still rock a tux like nobody’s business.
Dracula does have one particular quirk (aside from that whole, sleeping-in-a-coffin thing), which is that he needs to sleep on Transylvanian earth, which I imagine creates all kinds of logistical issues when he’s traveling. You think taking your shoes off and 3-1-1 was bad? Imagine carting around crates and crates of earth everywhere you go.
Dracula’s eHarmony profile also reveals that he can’t stand garlic, crucifixes, and the Eucharist. If you’re into aquatic sports, Dracula can only cross running water at high or low tide (always the logistics with this guy), and he can only come into your house after you invite him, which is probably a good thing, given his slightly shady reputation. If you do invite him though, make sure you have some decapitation equipment and a stake handy, as these are the only ways you’ll be able to effectively get rid of him.
However, for all his oddities, Dracula is a compelling character. He’s been the subject of over 200 movies and probably many more to come.
The Vampire Chronicles
Anne Rice has penned ten novels as part of The Vampire Chronicles. Most well-known to you is probably Interview with the Vampire, which spawned a 1994 veritable hunkfest that got all hearts a-flutter. You may have also heard of Queen of the Damned which is just as long as the others but chock-full of a lot more rambling (still good, though), and with a much, much worse movie adaptation.
Rice’s vampires are helmed by various characters, the primary one being the dashing Lestat, who despite being a) fake and b) a vampire, instilled an incredible infatuation with Brooks Brothers suits in me. (Okay, that, and my #1 crush EVER also wears Brooks Brothers suits.) He and his comrades are also centuries-old (some millennia-old), and are not prone to the multitude of weaknesses that Dracula is.
Garlic? Loves it! Crucifixes and Eucharist? Piece of cake. All this running water and engraved invitation BS? Pfffffft. And PS, Dracula? That whole “Transylvanian earth” schtick was so last century. Rice’s vampires’ only real weakness is the sun, which has the ability to kill them instantly, so Dracula has that on them in spades. The vampire elders can withstand sunlight – they end up with a bitchin’ tan, but because all blood flows from the original vampires, if they head out for a little bake in the sun, younger, weaker vampires are toast. Easy way to kill off all the weaklings, I suppose.
Outside of the bloodsucking, sleeping in coffins (there it is again!), and sunlight, Rice’s vampires are basically just like you and me! Except for the fact that they can read your mind (most of the time), mimic you in a really creepy way, and some can set things on fire and even fly. That being said, Rice focuses a lot of her writing on the vampires’ more human and relatable traits.
Anne hasn’t added to The Vampire Chronicles since 2003, when she took up writing about Jesus.
[I’m not even going to pretend like I’m not biased here. If you’re looking for something good to read, check these out.]
Ohhhhhhh Twilight. Twilight, Twilight, Twilight.
What is there to say about Twilight that hasn’t already been said? I have not read any of the Twilight books, but I’ve been assured by many sane people (read: not crazy Twilight fans) that the books are good. I will have to take their word for it.
Is Twilight well-written? I’ve heard that it’s not. I’ve heard that it ranks right up there with Dan Brown as some ultra-shitastic prose (but then again, I hate Charles Dickens, so what do I know, right literary snobs?). I’ve heard that the plotlines are unbearably cheesy and the little that I do know about it makes me cringe.
But what scares me the most about Twilight is the way females project themselves onto Bella, wishing and hoping and praying that they’ll be the one – the awkward, socially inept one who is plucked from the masses by… a vampire? Maybe it’s because I’m a tall, thin, gorgeous social butterfly (HA! just kidding, I’m none of those things!), but I don’t see the appeal. Everyone wants to be special, but Meyer’s story is just so damn cliche.
Now before you get all up in my face because you think I’m saying this without knowing what I’m talking about — while I haven’t read the books, I have seen the first movie. One night, while tidying up around my apartment, I walked into the living room to see my male roommate watching Twilight. He said he wanted to watch it to see if it was as bad as it looked (it was). “Plus,” he pointed out, “once I watch it, I’ll have a legitimate case for mocking it.” Fair enough.
The movie was better than I expected — and sure, I’ve seen plenty worse — but nothing special, and certainly nothing I’d pay to see (and certainly not multiple times). Unlike Stoker’s and Rice’s vampires, there’s nothing remotely scary or supernatural about the Twilight crew. They just look a bunch of pale, emo kids – if that’s your thing, I suggest you check out the mall. I hear they hang out near Hot Topic.
But in case there was any doubt in your mind as to who shouldn’t be the winner of this throwdown, consider this: Dracula is weakened by sunlight and Lestat & Co are killed by it. What kind of effect does sunlight have on Edward Cullen & Friends? Oh, not much – it just makes them sparkle.