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Atlanta Vampire Alliance [AVA]  |  Vampires & Vampirism  |  Vampire Community & Subcultural Discussion (Moderators: Merticus, SoulSplat, Eclecta, Maloryn, Zero)  |  10.29.08 - The Vampyre, A Cultural Staple In Entertainment & Reality 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: 10.29.08 - The Vampyre, A Cultural Staple In Entertainment & Reality  (Read 2576 times)
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« on: October 31, 2008, 11:24:49 AM »


The vampyre, a cultural staple in entertainment and reality
Screen and books paving way for vampire lifestyle bleeding into modern society
Lisa Marie Basile
Issue date: 10/29/08 Section: Features - The Pace Press

The vampire has been a symbol of intrigue since the infamous Vlad the Impaler reigned in Transylvania - or, what is now known as modern day Romania. With time, it has become an enigma, a force that the entertainment industry has capitalized on, although real vampirism does exist.

The history of the vampire has become so aggrandized that it has escaped the confines of the silver screen and has generated interest in whether vampirism exists in reality - much to the general public's misunderstanding. But with vampirism taking a center stage, the use of the misunderstood creature also functions as a metaphor for minorities, the LGBTQ community and women today. Real vampires, of which there actually are many, are also at the helm of serious misinterpretation.

Tracing the history of the vampire is necessary in understanding what today's vampires - also known as vampyres - really are. The "Y" is used in vampyre in order to distinguish it from the myth.

Over time, literature has captured and run with the concept and folklore of vampirism and has made a home for today's image of the vampire - attractive immortals who are identified by their voracious sexual and blood-hungry appetites. Though Vlad the Impaler was anything but immortal or strikingly sexual and handsome, writers especially have managed to glorify the vampire, sometimes using their characters to divulge notions of sexual boundaries and fantasies, as well as social and political changes. Today, with Anne Rice's vampire novels, and their screen counterparts, the vampire has gone from frightening (think Nosferatu) to intriguing and sensual, especially with the HBO series True Blood, Alan Ball's adaptation of "The Southern Vampire Mysteries," a book series by Charlaine Harris.

The vampire, as most literary critiques would agree, stemmed from John Polidori's 1816 tale, "The Vampyre," which has now joined the ranks of famous, fictional 20th century monsters. The back-story behind the creation of the "The Vampyre" began in the summer of 1816 when Lord Byron and his physician and friend, John Polidori, left England to escape outrageous gossip regarding Byron's possible homosexuality. While there, they spent time with Percy and Mary Shelley. During their meeting, they indulged in a writing competition involving ghost stories; Byron had written "The Fragment," which later Polidori admitted to building the framework for "The Vampyre" upon. It was printed in New Monthly magazine in 1819 as a work by Byron (though later Polidori took the credit), which has forever tied his name to the concept of the vampire. Now, both works are looked upon as critical to the beginning of the vampire in fiction, according to Erudite.de. Like much of the writing found in both Bram Stokers' "Dracula" and Anne Rice's novels "The Queen of the Damned" and "The Vampire Lestat," the vampire was heavily associated with sexuality. In the early 1800s, men were hung for committing sodomy or being openly homosexual - the prosecution deemed by their 'sexual deviance.'

And it only worsened in the 1900s, most notably when writer Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for his being suspected of homosexual relations. Because Byron and Polidori used vampires as a tool to express these forbidden desires, vampires likely became known as sexual entities; more so, vampires were the perfect tool to use to express homosexual feelings because the whole notion of an immortal, bloodsucking creature was so unrealistic. Therefore the tale could be seen as strictly entertainment. However, critics could see between the literary lines and vampires became more and more metaphorical. Today, True Blood serves as a tool to promote change, no matter how unrealistic. Hoards of vampires and their representatives lobby for rights and try to integrate into society, set in New Orleans, where tolerance is more limited than in major cities.

But as society praises the show for it's support, people today have little understanding of real vampires or vampires - who have a definite place in our society. Aside from fashion statements, upcoming books like Revelations: "A Blue Blood Novel" and Twilight, a vampire cult film, vampires, vampires today.

According to the Vampyre Sanctum (VS), an organization that provides a safe haven for real Vampyres, the VS fights to stop other havens to stop the "misconceptions about Vampyrism which in turn is no thanks to the media, books and movies." The organization promotes the public's learning and understanding of the Vampyric life. The site also said touched on how online and in-person role-playing Role Playing Games (RPGs) developed the clichés regarding vampyrism. "It is not the Hollywood fang wearing, blood- lusting night stalker that everyone thinks it is. This image of the Vampyre was brought on do the Hollywood movie seen. You cannot be turned, embraced or even sired. These are RPG terms which are what give real Vampyres a bad name," the VS said. The site cited vampirism as a condition in which "the human body lacks the normal energy it needs to function and we need energy from anything like elemental, physical, sexual, psychological, or blood form."

A fictional vampire, according to the sanctum, needs the blood of a human in order to survive, [but] the real Vampyre or modern day Vampyre needs energies from other areas. "We gather these energies from other sources such as blood, people, emotions, weather, music, sex and other things that give off energy. We draw these energies to ourselves and use that energy to replace what we do not get from food and drink. The reason we are called Vampyres is because of lack for a better term. We could be called recyclers because we recycle the energy that we gather and use it to our benefit.."

According to vampirewebsite.net, New York is a vampire friendly city with bars and lounges that accommodate the lifestyle, but tolerance is only one side of the coin: understanding is the other. With True Blood providing a glimpse at minority issues through vampirism, the knowledge regarding real vampirism remains greatly limited.

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