Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ten Reasons Why Vampires Aren't Sexy (For Me)

Long-term readers know that I'm not a fan of vampire fiction. I can see some of the appeal in a vampire lover--such as the mystique-- but not much. I have a real disbelief-suspension problem when it comes to vampires. Here are some of the reasons why.

1) Um . . . they're dead. Sex with the dead = necrophilia. Yuck. Ok, so they have some semblance of life. But still, I just can't get past the dead thing.

2) They're soulless. You may be able to cheat the Angel of Death, but I don't think you're going to be able to cheat God. And when He says that your time's up, that soul is outta there. So what do you get, instead? Maybe a demon? Who knows? And whatever it is, who would trust it?

Yeah, maybe you can say in YOUR vampire mythology, the soul behaves in other ways. That's where I run into the disbelief suspension problem, mostly because of my own beliefs.

3) The whole bloodsucking thing. Anyone whose ever bit their tongue knows that blood tastes terrible. How gross would it be to kiss someone who has just downed entire gulps of blood? Blood has an aftertaste. Ick. They'd have to swill gallons of mouthwash, and even then, the stomach would send up fumes for hours afterward. Kind of like onions.

4) No sunshine. You'd have to rearrange your sleeping life to accommodate your lover, or you'd have to watch him play dead for hours on end. You'd never get to see what your sweetie's eyes look like in the sunshine. Bummer.

5) No sleepy snuggling. While you are sleeping, he's actually dead. Who wants to snuggle up to a dead guy?

6) The pallor. No sunshine = unhealthy pallor. And since when is a pallor attractive?

7) The fangs. Any teeth sharp enough to puncture skin is going to make kissing a hazard. Things are already bad enough with the coppery blood aftertaste, but now you have to dodge fangs as well. And if he happens to nick you, he's going to then want to feed on you? Besides, if his teeth are always hanging out of his mouth, he's going to drool. Now he's got all the sex appeal of a Doberman Pincher.

8) The perpetual youth. His eternal youth might be nice at first, but what about when you turn 40? 50? My taste in men has evolved over the years, and nowadays, I actually appreciate a bit of gray. Besides, a 50-year-old woman is going to look like a cradle robber if she's with a guy that's perpetually 25.

9) No children. Even if a vampire could father a child (I don't want to even think about a female vampire mothering a child), why would you want your child's father to be someone who is dead all day? You'd have to keep the kid up all night to accommodate the half-dead lifestyle. And children need sunshine. And they need to be around other children.

10) No warmth. I just can't imagine a vampire as a warm and loving kind of guy. Both literally and emotionally. He wouldn't have any body heat unless he just fed, and then you'd have the whole blood-breath problem, covered above. Besides, without a soul, how would he feel love? The best he's going to do is feel remembered love, probably for some long-dead girl.

I know lots of people enjoy vampire fiction, so feel free to argue in the comments. If you find vampires sexy, I'd love to know why.


Mulluane said...

LOL, omg that was great!

I agree with 9 out of 10! Not so sure on the soul thing, for me, no soul = zombie and soul = personality. I think vampires still have their souls they just aren't redeemable anymore. Following that logic who would want to love a contemned soul? And what affect would doing so have on our own? /shudder

Great post!

Kristen said...

Fantastic assessment! I'm not a vampire fan either and reading your post makes me feel less alone. ;)

Tia Nevitt said...

Mulluane, I think you put the soul problem so much better than I did.

And Kristen, you are not alone!

Anonymous said...

I actually do love many of the different vampire myths out there, and, admittedly, they are not the ones in which the vampires are soulless. How can something without a soul have any personality? (And, yes, I'd argue that means demons can have souls too.)

What appeals to me about the vampire mythos relies heavily on where I was introduced to it: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." I loved Angel as a character because he struggles with how to redeem himself after committing so many inhumane atrocities.

Vampires are mysterious, they can't die of natural causes, and are totally sexy for anyone who has even the slightest biting fetish. Admittedly, I don't fault anyone for not finding vampires sexy and, explained in the terms you have done so, I can see your side completely. I just don't dwell on those things.

SciFiGuy said...

OK Playing Devil's Advocate here with the 10 Reasons.

1) They're dead. Well I think we need to broaden the definition. A bit of a misnomer really. They think, they talk, they move. Except for procreation they meet most of the criteria for life.

2) They're soulless. Well only in older tradional interpretations. Many of the vampires of recent urban fanatsy have souls, even go to church. The question of good vs evil nature is often answered by a vampire is in undeath as they were in life, i.e., good person - good vampire.

3) The whole bloodsucking thing. Anyone whose ever bit their tongue knows that blood tastes terrible. How gross would it be to kiss someone who has just downed entire gulps of blood? Blood has an aftertaste. Ick. They'd have to swill gallons of mouthwash, and even then, the stomach would send up fumes for hours afterward. Kind of like onions.

4) No sunshine. This one is simple. Millions of regular folks work nightshifts all over the world and see very little sunshine. How is that different from a vampire other then no exceptions allowed?

5) No sleepy snuggling. I am sure there are plenty of couples that say their significant other sleeps like the dead.

6) The pallor. Hmmm. Skin colour. Should we really go there? Leathery California tans are also a turn-off.

7) The fangs. Have to agree with you on this one.

8) The perpetual youth. Isn't love supposed to be about the person beneath the skin? Lots of advantasge to have a youthful partner when you are in your dotage.

9) No children. Yeah this one sucks, but real people also deal with this one all the time. The sunshine thing - see #4.

10) No warmth. This one is based on a lot of the assumptions made earlier. Doesn't seem to be a major obstacle.

Vampires are sexy because of the danger. All of the above factors aside, every encounter with a vampire has the potential for disaster. Perhaps its an adrenalin thing like extreme sports enthusiasts. They are sexy because they are unique and special in their own way. The lure of the forbidden.

SciFiGuy said...

Oops missed number 3. Tic Tac anyone? Yeah this ones yucky.

Heather Massey said...

SciFi Guy beat me to the punch, so I'm only adding in another layer to his astute observation. I think another appeal has to do with the push-pull sexual tension (will this vampire biting me hurt or feel good--or maybe both?).

There's also the dynamic of paranormal=hot, graphic sex and Alpha males. (Many) vampires are another example of Alpha males. I think the myth was changed over and over again so readers could enjoy another version of their beloved Alpha hero. It's not about horror or fear or repulsion--it's about romance and sex with a unique type of hero (not so unique anymore, but you know what I mean).

We're so far removed from the age when creatures like vampires, wolfmen, zombies, demons, etc. truly represented an object onto which we could project our fears. Scientifically, we know so much more now (like why corpses grew fingernails). It's almost like we don't need the original versions anymore. It transformed into sex 'em up and have fun with it time.

I'm with you as far as the historical meaning of vampires and what they represent--and a sexy romp in bed ain't one of them. But I can understand the appeal of vampire as sex object provided the origin story is changed/altered. Still, since I was a horror fan from a young age, I have trouble distancing myself from what a "real" vampire is and does. In my book, I still want to be scared, not seduced, by one.

Heather Massey said...

Excuse me, I should have written "King of all Skiffy Rommers" SciFi Guy!

Now back to our program.

Tia Nevitt said...

I'm enjoying reading all the pro-vampire opinions. I think it would be very scary to be seduced by a vampire, especially if you know you are being seduced, are terrified beyond your wits, yet you can't help yourself. And I think I just described the first vampire story, didn't I? I never actually read it--no surprise there, I suppose. I do have the video that came out in the 90s; I'll have to re-watch it now.

Since vampires have their roots in horror, and since I'm not really into horror, I suppose it's no surprise that I'm not into vampires.

My favorite alpha male in fiction is Joe Morelli from Stephanie Plum.

Daya said...

lol that was hilarious Tia! I agree for the most part, but I think I'm better with the whole "suspending belief" thing.
I especially agree with #10, and the whole remembered love thing. It reminds me of the Highlander though--I had the biggest crush on Duncan but honestly---you'd always know that you weren't number 1.

Tia Nevitt said...

I don't have a lot of trouble with characters that are otherwise immortal. I think immortality is a theme that fantasy readers will never tire of. For the most part, it's the undead aspects of vampires that make them unappealing for me.

Maria said...

Hah! GREAT article. I'm totally with you. I can NEVER get past the dead part. I do read quite a bit of vampire-this or that, and I enjoyed Charlaine Harris' first few Sookie Stackhouse mysteries/fantasies, but I always wanted her to choose a human (then it became ridiculous with just too many choices, etc.)

My other question, What do these guys DO? I mean, besides suck blood??? Most people have JOBS. This is part of their personality. Oh sure, a few are depicted behind a desk running either a casino or a prostitute ring or related types of things. The others are all minions for the "big guy" or "gal." These careers are not attractive to me--dead or alive. And do they take out the trash? Help with the dishes? As I get older, these things MATTER. Sure, when I was in college and dating, I wasn't too worried about what kind of job would Mr. X get and KEEP, and I certainly didn't worry about whether he'd do his own laundry...but yanno, these things MATTER.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic. I agree. Laughing.

Tia Nevitt said...

Maria, in the last two vampire novels I read, one was a CIA agent and the other ran a dude ranch. Neither were exactly the dilettante type.

Thanks, Morpho!

Carole McDonnell said...

Vampires are just another version of the dangerous extremely passionate out-of-control bad guy whom the good girl wants to change. They're dead but hey, dangerous guys are pretty dead to the world too, being rebels and above the rules of the typical worldling. Give me a vampire with spiritual needs who yearn for God like LeStat...and I might like him ... but I still don't want to go to bed with him. And I still won't fall in love with him. It takes a truly confident --or truly needy woman-- to think that she could be truly uniquely loved by a dead bad-ass...uh, vampire.

I also have a real issue with all the male vampires roaming around. Why the preponderance of male overly-sexed dangerous undead? Why can't literature be filled with sexy female undead? Both men and women write about male undead. But it always seems to me that when it comes to female undead, they are pretty scarce. What's the problem? Do we consider them slutty? Are they evil succubi who want to steal men's souls? Seems like a lot of discrimination going on when it comes to vampire love.

And yes, blood is icky. ICKY!!! I watch watching Andrew Zimmern's halloween special on bizarre foods and he did a whole fifteen minutes on blood. And know what? Lips that touch blood -- human or animal blood-- will never touch mine. Great post, Tia. -C

Tia Nevitt said...

Thank you Carole! Your post added a lot of depth to this discussion!

Kimber Li said...

Preach it, Sister! I can't stand blood-sucking dead guys. Ick. Not warm and cuddly at all, and do you know the work it takes to get blood stains out of the carpet? Also, I love babies too much. That requires LIVE sperm.

Tia Nevitt said...

Good point about the sperm!

Anonymous said...

I have been wondering about this myself... and although I find Ann Rices Vampires alluring as well as the latest TV versions - If you think about it - its all about how you tell the story and who is telling it. As apposed to Stroker who was a man the other vampire authors like Anne Rice and The writers of the two TV series Moon Light and Blood Ties are all women...there has got to be a connection here.
Maybe its a bit like the very strange phenomena of women falling in love with serial killers?

Tia Nevitt said...

Vampires as seducers don't bother me. I figure they're using their powers of seduction to get them the blood they need. That makes for a great villain.

It's when a vampire has an actual relationships with a human that I say "yuck."

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

I've always loved vampires, whether undead or living, cursed or separate species, it doesn't matter. Danger, yes, the question of good vs. evil, certainly. When done well, there's something very erotic about the darkness.

A human loving a vampire comes down to the question: will this love kill me? Will s/he control the hunger or not? Will it hurt and feel good at the same time?

Blood and biting can be erotic too, if handled well. Again, it's that threat of danger, the blending of pleasure/pain. There's something very elemental and instinctual about blood sharing, whether blood "brothers" or blood "mates."

Oh, !@%*&@, I've just given myself away. I love blood themes and my characters, whether vamps or not, always walk on the dark side.

Tia Nevitt said...

I haven't read the separate species angle, and I do find that intriguing. It's the dead thing that bothers me. I think I'd be interested in reading a vampire novel where they are treated as a separate species. Any recommendations?

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

I used to love Christine Feehan's Dark series -- the first vamps I've read where they're simply a different species. The undead aspect works for me in some cases. I loved the Bram Stoker's Dracula movie, Love Never Dies, but I wouldn't call it "romance." Lynn Viehl has a terrific vampire series about the Darkyn, but they're a sort of virus spawned "undead." I've used the alien angle myself, but I nearly always throw in a blood angle of some sort, even if vamps aren't involved. Current wip is Mayan, so blood and sacrifice sort of go hand in hand!

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

I should say, too, that I can't read Feehan any longer -- her headhopping drives me insane and I got sick of her heroines.

Unknown said...

I'm very much so not a fan of vampire fiction, yet Robin McKinley's "Sunshine" may very well be my favorite book. I recommend it for everyone here because it is perhaps the most honest vampire portrayal I've seen that doesn't turn me off.

Tia Nevitt said...

Thanks for the recommendations!

Evie Byrne said...

I'm coming a little late to this discussion but had to say something because I'm writing a trilogy of romantic vampire stories.

But don't think I've come to defend vamps--I haven't. You're right, they're pretty disgusting. There's no getting around it. But that's what fascinates me about them.

Sunshine, which has already been recommended in this thread, did an excellent job of portraying the quintessential repulsion/attraction dynamic of the vampire. It's wonderful, disturbingly sexy and more honest than most vampire lit. I knew I couldn't hope to improve on it.

But I couldn't help but try my hand at vampires and I specifically wanted to explore vampire romance. Necrophilia is off the table for me, too, so I jettisoned the whole undead mythology and made my vamps a species of their own, removing objections 1,2,5, 8 and 9.

However, there's no getting around the fact that they're giant parasites. That's interesting to me, though. That problem raises the nagging questions that make books happen. How do you negotiate a relationship with a monster?

The biting doesn't bother me. At the heart erotic impulse is the desire to consume your beloved and be consumed. Vampires just make that impulse concrete.

While sucking, gnawing and biting is an understandable turn off to many, I think it's at the heart of the attraction to the genre. I once asked a group of readers in a chat room why they liked vampire stories and they chorused back unanimously, "The biting!!!!"

Tia Nevitt said...

I would think it would remove objection 4 and 10 as well, unless they're cold-blooded creatures with an adversion to sunshine.

I'd be willing to try reading a vampire-as-alien book if the hook hooks me. I'll even read regular vampire novels. That's why I read Once Bitten, Twice Shy. The biting part did creep me out, but there really wasn't much of a romance in that particular novel. (I'm not sure what happens in future books.)

Thanks for keeping the discussion going!

Adam Lowe said...

In 'Lost Souls' by Poppy Z. Brite vampires are a separate race who have been interbreeding with humans. As such, many of the younger ones are virtually human and can go in the sunlight and don't have fangs (unless they file them, which some do). They're also warm to the touch and can't turn anyone. They're not dead and they have souls.

But, TBH, I think the vampire can be as sexy as an author makes it. The vampire is descended from the Romantic/Gothic antihero. The Byronic/Napoleonic/Satanic rebel, the libertine--the bad boy (or girl). Stoker ignored this portrayal, but Byron and LeFashnu didn't.

On the topic of sexy female vamps, check out 'Carmilla'. She's the best of the best.

Vampires also symbolised a number of other things: the threat of female sexuality (the three vampires girls in Dracula); the threat of immigration and inter-ethnic sex (Dracula was Eastern European and wanted his wicked way with a nice, pale-skinned British girl); the threat of Victorian-era sexually transmitted diseases . . .

And that's just from Dracula.

If we look at more modern renderings, they symbolise the outsider (hence why lots of female, LGBT and ethnic minority writers love the vampire) and have become a sleeker, more female-oriented analogue of the superhero. They provide wish fulfilment, subtle erotica and escapist romantic fantasies. Laurell K. Hamilton and her ilk write vampire books as the cooler sisters of the Mills & Boon.

There are also so many variations on the vampire myth most of the things you pointed out wouldn't matter/necessarily apply.

Blood, for example, becomes more than just blood in vampire fiction. It's mystical sustenance transformed into ether like petrol in a car. It's safe to assume it transmutes inside the vampire, so there wouldn't necessarily be an aftertaste. Besides, the vampire is illusory and protean, so can deceive people into appearing darker, tasting nicer and feeling warmer, I'm sure.