With the recent surge of interest in vampire-themed novels and movies, inspired largely by the Twilight series, it would perhaps be interesting to take a look at why the undead hold such a fascination for today’s society, and why their appeal has been such an enduring one – especially when it comes to sexy vampires.
You see, the reason that teenage girls swoon over Edward Cullen is not because he is, fundamentally, a supernatural monster (and it’s certainly not thanks to Stephenie Meyer’s writing skills)but rather that, for the women of today, he represents an iconic sex symbol. This is not a new thing. Although vampires have their roots in mythology (the nosferatu of ancient Greece and the shape-shifting ghouls of Eastern myth) from the moment they were popularized in the form of Bram Stoker’s iconic Dracula, they were tied up with the theme of sex.
Think about it for a moment. Vampires are characterized by their rapacious lust, seducing their victims or visiting them in their beds at night, embracing them intimately and with all the fervour of a passionate lover, biting down on their neck. A little hard perhaps, but the symbolic penetration (not to mention the draining of bodily fluids) is unmistakeably sexual. What’s more, in much the same way as characters in vampire novels feel inexplicably drawn to the fanged predator, the reader typically longs to share in their fate. They want to be vampirized. The fact that the object of our desire is a grave-borne horror which can and probably wants to, kill us in a nasty fashion doesn’t seem to bug us. We still want them.
Those who study the development of vampires as a cultural icon have found that it has always served as vehicle for expressing forbidden fantasies. It is an outlet for our kinkier, indulgent desires. In the ultra-conservative period in which Dracula was produced, it portrayed bestial lust on a level which would have been frowned upon by polite society. The iconic, desirable mystery man found a new incarnation in the works of Anne Rice, whilst a male lust for a domineering, kinky female was to be found in films such as Queen of the Damned. As for Twilight, it has been suggested that Edward’s obsession despite his overwhelming, godly superiority over the object of his desire, reflects the celebrity worship of this day and age. The desire to be loved by the perfect, sparkling celeb as much as you adore them finds an outlet in Twilight. Of course you want to bed them too, and the vampire not only obliges, he doesn’t give you a choice.
As long as people continue to lust, the vampire’s hyper sexuality will always serve as a convenient incarnation for our deviant fantasies. And, as long as they continue to look like Robert Pattinson, who are we to complain?
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