If Vampyres ever come out about their nature to friends or family – for whatever reason, I suppose the first reaction we experience is always a cold silence in which you can just about hear the cogs turning over in their heads. The reasons for this is a) when you said “I’m a Vampyre” they immediately thought of the fictional stereotype of the classical vampire (featuring every character from Varney and Carmilla and Dracula, to Lestat, Seline and Damon Salvatore) or b) They are trying to sniff your breath without being noticed, to find out if you have been at the absinthe again, and c) they are trying to work out if you are serious, or just seriously ill. Mentally, so to speak. Some might actually look round for a hidden camera.
It needs to be mentioned that there are lots of people out there today calling themselves vampires – but only relatively few of them really are. The rest are
goths and emos, wannabe kids and posers – some are hooked on Twilight, some are kids that just don’t know what they are yet …and then some really
have a need for blood or prana. And not only Vampyres drink blood – there are Mundanes out there too who drink blood, either for religious reasons, or
because they get a kick out of it.
For those of us who are vampyric, aside from the ethical and moral qualms we experience when we realize our need, this calls into question why we call
ourselves Vampyres. As is widely known in our community, we adopt this label because of our similarities with the fictional stereotype – or rather, more with
the object of myth and folklore upon which the modern fiction is based upon – whatever that is. Even so, the fictional stereotype bears so little resemblance to actual living breathing Vampyres who make up the modern Vampyre Community, or VC. However, it is undeniable that most of us do feel an affinity for the fictional vampire, as though it expresses our own deepest darkest feelings and desires and longings – and indeed the stereotype plays an important role in forming our initial foundations in understanding ourselves, our needs, and in many ways, our relationship with the society we live in.
One major factor which dictates how we real Vampyres see ourselves, is the way in which vampires are presented in fiction. Fiction is admitedly something
we Vampires also seem to get caught up in as well. The way this is done affects our Awakening and self-acceptance, and influences our initial concept of
what vampires are and do. If we look at vampires in folklore and fiction, and compare how they are depicted now, and just fifty years ago – my, how have
we changed. These days, seeing the classical vampire on screen in a new offering is a rarity. These days fiction has jumped on the “Interview”
bandwagon, and there is an epidemic of vampires – irrespective of whether they glitter or sparkle, who are suffering from Anne Rice syndrome.
I believe it was she who started the mainstream trend of depicting vampires as monsters and killers who bemoan their state, suffering in their angst and self-
loathing. Honestly, they are still the fictional variety, the undead creatures who burn in sunlight, come back from the dead, sprout fangs, survive car
accidents, bullets – and kill people, and then cry about it later. They come across as very Gothic or Emo – “Poor me, I didn’t ask to be immortal” etc, etc. Why do the writers of these series make out that being immortal and forever young is such a terrible thing? “You’re a vampire, you’re immortal!” “Oh nooooooo – what a terrible thing – why me? Why? *sobs*” etc. My heart bleeds for them, really.
The fictional vampire is a creature which is despised and reviled by the mundane society it encounters, a thing to be feared, hunted and destroyed. In
historical context, as far as Christianity – or at least, Catholicism is concerned, vampires (or revenants) were once considered a fact – and up until the 16th
century, to deny the existence of such entities, was to invite the attentions of the Inquisition. While Protestant Christianity has largely shed all the superstition surrounding the myth perpetuated by the Catholics, the Vatican hierarchy reportedly still features an official post for a “Vampire Hunter”, believe it or not. I imagine he really earns his pay.
For us, the idea of being known as Vampyres to our family and associates, opens us up to an uncomfortable and even dangerous scrutiny which few can afford. Although we are clearly not “undead”, nor “monsters which prey” on non-Vampyres, nor are we the killers presented in fiction – mundane society is very keen to paint us as “sick” or “dangerous”, and also often to tar us as “satanists”, even though the facts – or lack of them in such cases, are quite obvious. Seldom are there serious efforts to try and understand us with compassionate or tolerant views.
I suppose, because of our tendency to anonymity and secrecy, they do not know how many of us are gainfully employed, productive and law-abiding
members of the communities which surround us, how many of us help others, and how many of us work to benefit society as a whole. Mostly when
scriptwriters and authors write fanciful tales about “secret vampire societies”, they work on the premise that vampires are nasty and evil entities with less
than honorable intentions. In truth, they completely miss the point – that Vampyres, as fellow human beings, are just as prone to be as good or as evil – as everyone else.
Most authors and writers work on the premise that we are wholly fictional – making the type of vampire they portray just as fictional. Fiction indeed plays a role in forming the identity – or self-identification image – of the real self-identified Vampyre. And while you’re still trying to wrap your tongue around those syllables, consider this: There are few cases where we Awaken into a family where there are other awakened Vampires ready to help us reach our
potential or mentor us – although this is known to happen in very rare cases. Since we do not know what we are when we Awaken –– we do not have an
established real-life stereotype of what real Vampyres are, look like or are supposed to be. Except of course, the readily available fictional stereotype – at
least, to start off with as a reference point – before we uncover the real definitive truth of what we are – which is pretty much always presented as a contrast to the fictional vampire.
We need to remember that fiction is largely portrayed by mundanes – and this is largely controlled by existing folklore and earlier fiction based upon the
mundane perception of what vampires “are supposed to be”. To the mundane world, vampires are a) fiction, b) mythological monsters who are essentially
walking corpses – or zombies, animated by evil spirits, c) don’t really exist, but they accept that people long ago used to believe they existed.
It is not really general knowledge among mundanes that we are in fact real – and nothing like the legends and myths as presented in modern fiction since at least 1820. And as we can testify – mundanes seem to think that if there were “real” vampires, they would resemble their fictional creations. As a whole, the modern vision of the vampire in fiction is an entirely new and made up class entirely. As can be seen over the past century or so, this fictional stereotype has been changed gradually to reflect changing times and attitudes, and even technological capability of the movie makers. At the going rate, I expect fiction will eventually begin to reflect fact and depict real living Vampyres as we are. But then again, who would want to watch it?
I’m sure we would all rather watch handsome, pale, fanged figures dodging bullets, healing as if by magic from damage, and fighting werewolves, than
watching a bunch of average-looking people sitting round a table at Lily’s sipping slightly red sodas after school? Vampire baseball, anyone? The truth is, while we have our own challenges and difficulties to overcome, broadly speaking, Vampyre life is not nearly as exciting or adventurous as fiction portrays it.
Okay, so it’s cool to have people think of Edward, Alice or Lestat for that moment when they think of real Vampyres – and rather flattering – but imagine the kind of titles they might come up with if they had to actually make movies about real actual Vampyres in a normal setting? I can picture the titles now:
“The Last Drop” – a riveting story about Justine, a teenage Vampyre who just ran out, and had to find more at her donor friend’s place. On the way over, she stops at a pharmacy and receives strange looks as she buys a ten pack of diabetic syringes and alcohol swabs. Duh duh dun. Or “Dusk Til Dawn 7 – Club Fever” – watch a nest of real Vampyres party the night away in the New York club scene, no blood, no feeding. How about a romance? “Hot Salsa Vampyres” – a hot teenage tale of topless lust and love – and a little blood on the side. Must see, five stars. Can you see the cues at the box-office? I can see the Mexican wave now. Yippee.
The evolution of the fictional vampire since it first crossed from religious legend and mythology into written fiction 400 years ago, shows how it has changed considerably – while the truth and reality has not.
The fiction is readily accessible, while real Vampyres are certainly less so. Vampire fiction – and its influence on popular culture – both mundane and Vampyre has resulted in the phenomenon of the “lifestyler” and “role-player”
– and while it has its negative affects on our community, and muddied the waters considerably, it has also helped many Vampyres to awaken to the truth.
Many of us would never have awakened or accepted ourselves if it were not for this influence, inspired by it to look for others who feel like we do – and in finding the real VC.
When we first awaken, it is far more likely that we will be introduced to the fictional stereotype first than to the real Vampyre community. This results in us comparing ourselves to the stereotype, and not knowing that there is a real community, may result in us thinking we are crazy – or “not vampires”. Of
course, the fictional stereotype also provides the advantage of protecting our secrecy – because if ever trapped or cornered about being Vampyres, we
can claim that this is not true – as we do have reflections in mirrors, do not turn into bats and do not burst into flames in sunlight – and look, around my neck – cross – and I’m not on fire.
The fiction may change, but the reality of being a Vampire seems constant – and one of the few variables I see is the extent of the knowledge, research and
facts we have about what we are. These days there are increased levels of academic interest in real self-identified Vampyres, with medical and scientific
studies anticipated around the corner. This would not be the case without the benefit of the mystique and romance spread by the fiction some of us love and
which some of us also loathe.
The image of the fictional vampire creates for us an enticing, alluring romantic symbol which both flatters and condemns, and which at the very same time, shows the mundane world how different we are – and how alike.