An essay on Vampires

Good evening. I’m Lemorack, and I bid you welcome to my site.

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Video games have allowed me to thoroughly examine my own personality from multiple angles. I know that “evil play-throughs” of video games are popular, that is a play-through of an RPG style video game (or similar one where player choice impacts story) where the player role-plays an evil character. Murder, steal, betray, rule the world as an evil overlord and the like. I get the concept. Sometimes it’s just fun to be bad, to let loose and allow all the inhibitions to give way to the built up frustration. It’s make-believe, after all. I have tried multiple times to play an evil character and never finished, because my fragile soul couldn’t handle it. This makes me feel both good an bad. Good, because it means my parents did a good job of raising me to be compassionate by nature, but bad because I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out on some good fun. I did, however, find a loophole in the workings of my conscience: I can easily play evil characters, as long as they’re Vampires.

It is said that everyone is the hero of they’re own story. The key to being truly evil is to start seeing yourself as a hero while you do. I’ve liked vampires for quite a while as effective villains, and I’ve been trying to pinpoint when and why they recently started to turn into heroes to me, if that is actually the case.

Thus far I have three self-portraits where I depict myself as a vampire. The first was an attempt to sort of theme my profile pictures across social media to Halloween, even going as far as to change my twitter display name to Lemorac-ula, in an objectively hilarious play on the name Dracula. I strongly dislike the first picture in retrospect. The goofy grin was a result of me wanting to show of the fangs, just so all who look at the picture can easily identify the mythical creature. The second time around I chose to go more subtle. Of all the profile pictures I had the second Lemorac-ula is likely my favorite (close tie between that and Medivh). The third I never used as a profile picture, as that was never my intent with it. But of all my self-portraits, not just the ones I used as profile pictures, the Vampire Lord takes an easy first place, though that is largely due to the company he keeps.

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I went through most of my youth not having seen a single Dracula film. The only vampire movies I saw were by chance during random flips of TV channels. Most of them were garbage, or sub-par at best. I encountered far more vampires in games. Off the top of my head I’d have to say the first ones had to be from Heroes of Might and Magic III, and the very similar game Disciples II. The first time I played as a vampire in a game was in The Elder Scrolls V : Skyrim, and it wasn’t really much to write home about. I had a random throwaway character who would do all the things my main character would not: missions for the thieves guild, the dark brotherhood and eventually the court of Harkon. That is where things started to turn. Skyrim’s legendary modding community turned the game’s mediocre, uninspired vampire experience into possibly the best existing gaming example, on the count of how customizable it is.

This was right around the time the Twilight series became a popular film franchise, as well as becoming the Justin Bieber of cinema: a movie for which there were no centrist feelings, they were either adored or despised. You can easily guess which camp I was in. Simultaneously I recall there being a TV series also featuring vampires called True Blood, which I will confess knowing absolutely nothing about. But vampires had something of a golden age. Rather than the villainous predators they are they received a conversion to sympathetic pretty boys. And I want to say: I get it. I do not approve, but I understand. Vampires are attractive for numerous reasons. They have elegance, they have charm, they are inherently mystical and seductive. But more than just that, they are dangerous. Dangerous is exciting, especially when it’s just fantasy. It’s the reason such poorly written garbage as 50 Shades of Gray was popular, and it’s also part of the appeal of say Amazons. Elegance and beauty, with just the right amount of danger mixed in. Who doesn’t like a bad boy? And no, you can be sure it’s not just a female preference. I know I’ve had my fair share of villainess crushes in the past. But I like them because of their evil side, and I can accept that. I don’t need to turn them into sympathetic characters to justify my attraction and resolve the cognitive dissonance.

Nevertheless, I felt the vampire mythos come under attack and a desire to rush to it’s defense, to protect the vampire image from this, what I considered slander it was receiving. I was motivated to preserve my vision of what the real vampire was like, and she was not sympathetic. Vampires are predators. They are wolves in a world of sheep. They feel the same amount of sympathy for mortals as we do for cows: they don’t care, for to them we are just food. Since then I have read Dracula by Bram Stoker and seen every major Dracula film, not including the most recent Dracula: Untold (2014), because I was told it tries to turn Dracula sympathetic again. The movies had their ups and downs. I consider Nosferatu and the 1931 Dracula an obvious high point, though surprisingly both the Francis Ford Coppola version and the Hammer films to be confusing at best, and just disappointing at worst. As much as I adore the portrayal by Lugosi Béla (Bela Lugosi for everyone not born Hungarian) my favorite Dracula might be looked upon as a controversial pick: Dracula: Dead and Loving it. I just have a soft spot for Leslie Nielsen, and despite him being a parody of the character, I actually find him to be a better Dracula than any other I can think of.

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“Renfield, if I am discovered we must flee.”

“Yes. I’ll escape and meet you at Carfax.”

“No, that would be to dangerous. They will search there first.” says Leslie Nielsen’s Dracula, shamelessly pointing out a major plot hole from the 1931 movie. “I have moved my coffin to the abandoned chapel at the top of the cliff. When you come make sure you are not followed.”

To then put the cherry on the cake, I recently also watched the Netflix Anime: Castlevania, and loved every second of it. This was the first time I found myself actively rooting for both sides: the vampires and the hunters. Dracula was sympathetic without being good, he was an evil tyrant, but one still felt for him, understood why he chose to wipe out humans. Still it was also clear why the heroes had to end him. The only real villains here were the church, and boy did they get what was coming to them!

So why do I like vampires as much as I do? I have several theories. For one I might be at odds with my own mortality and find the idea of living forever to be very appealing. More likely is that I relate to them on a level. For what vampires mostly are is an elegant, beautiful facade hiding base, vicious desires. Maybe I see them as liberators from outdated human morals, kind of like what the zombie apocalypse means for society. When you consider how appropriately sexist the original book is (I say appropriate, because it was written in 1897) you can even make an argument for Dracula being the tragic hero of the story. A man who liberates women from the society that chains them down and keeps them from reaching their full potential, and gives them the opportunity to let their desires free and overcome those who tried to keep them down.

“Even if she be not harmed, her heart may fail her in so much and so many horrors; and hereafter she may suffer–both in waking, from her nerves, and in sleep, from her dreams.” 

uta_refsonOr maybe vampires are just cool. Maybe I’m just putting far too much energy into answering a pointless question. But I like to know the reasons for things, and I enjoy discussing theories that are on my mind. So to conclude let me just say:

“Do you not think that there are things which you cannot understand, and yet which are; that some people see things that others cannot? But there are things old and new which must not be contemplated by men´s eyes, because they know -or think they know- some things which other men have told them. Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain.”

Deviantart links:

Vampire count; Lemorac-ula I; Lemorac-ula II; Centuria Sanguinis; Ancient Vampire;