The Annoying Thing about Vampires
Vampires – you can't escape them. They're on every fanfiction website, every writing webpage, every forum and every blog. Both the internet and the real world are being invaded by the undead – or in many cases, not so undead – menace. And why is this annoying? Because it's pretty much all the same thing, over and over again.
To get to the root of the problem, you only have to look as far as your local book shop. I guarantee you there will be a book from the super-popular Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, a book that has taken teenage girls (and their mothers) by storm in the past few years, even more so with the release of the movie. No matter what you say about its popularity, the fact is that if you read it with a sceptical, analysing frame of mind you come across so many errors, mistakes and plot holes that you want to throw the book across the room. It has sparked a trend among authors to write the same book over and over again: there is a boy and a girl, the boy is mysterious, the girl falls in love with him, the boy is a vampire, he returns her love, they live happily ever after. This is the archetype, and it has been written and re-written a thousand times, with slight variations along the way. Sometimes she's a vampire, trying to hide it from the guy she likes. Sometimes there's a different main plot, but this archetype is always present, even as a sub-plot. Without Twilight, this new vampire craze probably wouldn't exist.
A little-known fact among screaming teenage fans is that vampirism is a metaphor for rape. Every time an author glamourises the concept of vampirism, they're inadvertently glamourising rape. A good example of the proper treatment of this is in Dracula, when the Dracula feeds from Mina. Although she is clearly a protagonist, her 'goodness' and 'purity' is soiled by the fact that she was bitten (read: raped) by another man, which in the context of Victorian England still made her untouchable by other men. This is repeated with Lucy, where she was once all purity and sweetness, becomes a sadistic, child-grabbing seductress as a vampire, displaying the fear of the female sexuality at the time. If they knew their idols were actually metaphorical rapists, would they still obsess over them?
The steadily declining standard of teenage and even adult 'dark romance' is shocking. It is truly amazing what gets published, regardless of the inane plot, the sketchy characters and the complete lack of good writing skills. Twilight is arguably another example of this. Although its plot is compelling to teenage girls, the actual writing isn't spectacular. All the major plot developments are in Bella's head, and she does completely irrational things constantly for no evident reason. She also has no flaws, making her an all-too-common 'Mary Sue', or perfect character. Bella's ultimate motivations are ridiculous: she marries Edward so she can have sex with him, which she is unconscious throughout, making it rape. The moral of the story in Twilight is that getting married and having a baby is all every woman could ever want, rather than a successful career and good education, which Bella shuns to be with her man. Are these morals really good for younger readers?
However, the downfall of the vampire is only recent. Classic works like Carmilla by Sheridan le Fanu and Dracula by Bram Stoker are two notable pieces of literature that deal with vampirism in the traditional way: it is a force of evil to be shunned. Moving on a century, The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice are interesting because they are modern vampire novels, but don't conform in any way to our present-day interpretation of 'vampire' because they were written thirty years ago. This time lapse stops the books being read by all but the most hardcore vampire fans, many of whom get bored or don't understand Rice's writing. The characters of Lestat and Claudia are much more complex and far more interesting than those of Edward Cullen and Stefan Salvatore, simply because they aren't whiney teenagers. However, Rice's books are aimed at adults, so some content may be shocking to younger readers, and the relationships between characters aren't necessarily appropriate for certain audiences. Rice's sexually ambiguous vampires and Stoker's rapists are the kind of vampires this generation of young people should read if they claim to be true vampire fans.
Fanfiction and original fiction websites are the breeding grounds of terrible vampire fiction. My Immortal by Tara Gillespie is the most well-known example of a dreadfully written fanfiction in which all of the cannon characters are shamelessly ripped apart and stuck back together with added goth. Every single character is out of character, the most notable of which is Hedwig, who is no longer a pet owl but Voldemort's gay lover in the 1950's. Gillespie's complete inability to write anything half-decent somehow gained her several fans, who she demanded leave good reviews or she wouldn't write the next instalment. After her friend stopped editing it for her around chapter 15, she actually has fewer correct spellings than incorrect spellings. Fortunately, the FanFiction staff realised how awful it was during a routine clean-up and deleted it. As long as people write bad fanfiction, the longer vampires will be annoying.
In conclusion, vampires are annoying because of the blatant raping of the original genre by modern authors who "can't write worth a darn" (Stephen King on Stephenie Meyer's Twilight), the over-use of them in bad fanfiction and the lack of people reading the good vampire novels. If we could all take a step back and refuse to read another terrible vampire fiction, the internet would be a safer place for all of us.