People are always* asking me, “Why do you like vampires so much.” I admit, I’m sometimes embarrassed by the question. I know it’s often thought to be the realm of angsty teenage girls. And if you’re demanding my honesty, that’s when I first became enamored of them myself.
But I’ve got some valid reasons for loving my creatures of the night. I’ll go over some of them now.
- They’re outsiders. Vampires live on the margins of society. They pretty much have to, and anyone who has ever worked a midnight shift can confirm that. Plus, having to kill others (or at least talk them into giving up some bodily fluids) pretty much ensures that you’re on the outs with the civilized world, even if you can claim you’re doing it for survival. Being separated from society doesn’t just free them from human laws, but human norms and customs, too. Human morality is gone, for good or ill. New standards come into play. What are they, and are any of them better? This outsiderism has given vampires an enduring fanbase, ie, goth culture.
- They’re the outsider’s outsider. For some reason, vampires have been associate with being gay all the way back to Camilla, which predated Bram Stoker’s Draula by five years. Then came Anne Rice and all her French vampires, and the rest, as they say, is history. But once again, the vampire is symbolizing the person who has dared to push the bounds of the acceptable to its very limits — to what what was even considered a crime against “god and nature” until a few short years ago.
- They are a living time machine. You create a character you think is interesting. You plunk them down in a point in time that you find intriguing. And then? You get to have, what, maybe eighty years of them exploring the world around them. That’s OK, but what would your character become if they saw the world around them evolve over a hundred, two hundred … five hundred years? A thousand? You and I would never know that. A vampire would. How would someone raised in the 16th Century react to the modern changes happening around us today? Could they adapt? Would they even want to? What fun!
- The Jewish lens. This one might be particular to me, but when you ad the dimension of looking at this through a Jewish perspective, you add some interesting problems. Jewish dietary law prohibits consuming blood even among mere mortals. A Jewish vampire, assuming they were brought up with these kashrut laws, will have to overcome this aversion. Likewise, they will have been raised with the fear of the “blood libel,” the age-old accusation that Jews kill Christian children and use their blood in Passover matza. Yes, it sounds utterly bonkers now, but people died because of this. And then there is the ages-old stereotype of the “blood-sucking” or parasitic Jew. All of these things make being a vampire especially fraught for a Jewish person.
- A new kind of existential crisis. Like I said, we get to live about 80 or so years, if we’re lucky. That makes our time on this earth limited and precious and gives rise to our own kind of existential crises: if our time is so short, what is life about, anyway? Do our lives mean anything at all? But if your “life” is pretty much never-ending, that gets turned on its head. Vampires literally have all the time in the world to do … what? How do they fill that unending time in a way that makes their unlives worth living?
∗ “Always” is a gross exaggeration