Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Moonlight and Seduction

Dracula (first edition cover), Bram Stoker's v...

Moonlight, seduction, long, sharp upper canines and, no, they don't belong to my dog. They do, however, find a place in nearly any film about vampires, especially seduction, and not simply because it's an opportunity to feature Hugh Hefner's newest girlfriend in a starring role. There is something distinctly sensual in the vampire myth and it goes back at least as far as Bram Stoker's 1897 Dracula.

According to William Patrick Day, Dracula is a sexual predator, and in the Victorian era, his tale was a cautionary one about the dangers of sex and the loss of soul that accompanies giving oneself over to unbridled desire. We could easily reinterpret this, and some writers do, as the loss of self through addiction. Personally, I'm inclined to take the sexual element as representing innocence and susceptibility to suggestion.

Think about it: how often do you see vampires depicted frequenting ladies of the evening? Usually victims are young, sweet, lacking in worldly wisdom. With male victims, power seems to be the overriding theme. With women, it's the ravishing of the virgin. In both cases, vampires are drawn to individuals whom they perceive to be vulnerable. And one is never enough; vampires are insatiable.

In this respect, it's relatively easy to use the vampire as a metaphor to conceptualize persons who are famished for mirroring and adoration. Loving only themselves, if love we may call it, they move from one victim to the next, draining them of self-esteem, wearing them out like a nagging mother-in-law wears out her welcome. Intolerant of equals -- and for them, there is no equal to themselves -- they accumulate minions and admirers to bask in the glow of their grandiosity.

If one is unfortunate enough to be the significant other in a relationship with someone like this, forget about being cared for, because your needs don't compare with those of your partner. In the event your partner is a closet vampire, your image will be crucial to them, but it's only an image and as my grandmother used to say, "good looks only last so long and then you find out what your relationship is really made of."

We generally don't like to think of ourselves as vulnerable or innocent, but social vampires seem to possess an inner radar that enables them to hone in on potential victims. They tend to be practiced in the arts of deception and concealment. Being the object of attention is seductive and not wishing to appear ungracious, we resist looking the gift horse in the mouth. The problem is, failure to do so can lead to getting bitten -- in more ways than one.

(Public Domain image via Wikipedia; William Patrick Day, Vampire Legends in Contemporary American Culture, University Press of Kentucky, 2002)
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