The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'vampires'
In a Grauniad article on a new zombie-themed novel by MacArthur genius grant recipient Colson Whitehead, more speculation on the political economy of the undead:
Critic and writer Stuart Kelly believes something political is going on when authors use zombies. "It goes back to Das Kapital," he said. "Marx doesn't use the word zombie, but the idea of the worker as repetitive drudge and human machine is there. The vampires are the capitalists; the workers are the zombies. The idea descends through Herbert Marcuse and the Frankfurt School and becomes a paradigm for discussing the unlived life."And previously on the left-right zombie-vampire divide.
Neil Gaiman (who's sort of the Goth Terry Pratchett) writes about the evolution of vampires in popular literature:
I think mostly what it has to do with is what vampires get to represent. Dracula was a great novel of sexual seduction, full of repeated sexual seduction and rape and sex. So it makes complete sense that your solid Victorian vampires were fundamentally evil. And you can have that nice big stake hammered through them as a way of putting them to rest. After that, I think the next big, huge, cultural, “somebody’s just written a vampire story” is probably Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. Steve basically wanted to do Dracula again, only in a small town in Maine. At that point you got vampires still sort of representing the “other.” Then Anne Rice wrote Interview with the Vampire, which as a teenager I thought was a rather drippy book. I have to say as a teenager who loved vampire fiction and wanted vampire fiction, I thought they all sort of sat around being miserable.
But I think then the thing that changed everything and that gave vampire fiction a new lease on life and death was AIDS, because you hit the early ‘80s, and suddenly you have something in the blood that is an exchange of blood that kills and is altogether fundamentally about sex. And vampirism essentially came out of the closet as a metaphor for the act of love that kills. Stephen King once said, using the Erica Jung quote, that vampirism is the ultimate zipless f—. And then a sort of continuous transmutation, you had Lost Boys, which is essentially vampirism as wish fulfillment. Finally, of course there’s Sesame Street, which I think may well have created the sympathetic vampire for the world in Count.
Theory of the day: the political tone of a time is reflected in the theme of its undead-themed horror films; to be more precise, conservative periods include zombie movies, whereas progressive periods feature vampire movies:
One answer: These gore-flecked flicks are really competing parables about class warfare. “Democrats, who want to redistribute wealth to 'Main Street,' fear the Wall Street vampires who bleed the nation dry,” Newitz argued, noting that Dracula and his ilk arose from the aristocracy. “Republicans fear a revolt of the poor and disenfranchised, dressed in rags and coming to the White House to eat their brains.”Whilst that could be reading much into it, zombie films can be equated with leftist critiques of conservative societies: George Romero's original films are widely regarded as critiques of post-war American consumerism, meanwhile other films make the connection even more explicit (the British zombie film Dead Creatures, for example, is essentially a Ken Loach film with zombies). Not sure what Shaun Of The Dead would be, though; Blairism, perhaps?
Today in Alternate History is running a Halloween edition today:
n 1961, Stalin's body is removed from Lenin's Tomb, only to bring its foul curse upon all of Russia. It creeps across the streets of Moscow, draining the essence from unfortunate comrades, using their energy to fuel its undead existence. It is finally stopped when an Egyptologist, a spunky Red Army soldier and a beautiful young nurse from Moscow People's Hospital destroy the ankh that was keeping it alive.
in 1987, Joseph Campbell, explorer of ancient myths, dies and is buried in Honolulu, Hawaii. That night, he appears in a dream to George Lucas, who conceives a new trilogy for his Star Wars saga based on the tales that Campbell brings to him from the other side; but, he has to tone down the Gungan that Campbell speaks of, because its horror is too much for an audience to take.
It looks like Romania's bid to join the EU may be derailed by old ways still holding sway over remote rural regions; ways such as throwbacks to feudalism, Communism, the selling of children, and the ritual exhumation and staking of corpses to ward off undead:
Haunted by "strigoi" - the undead - villagers on the slopes of the Carpathian mountains exhume a corpse from the graveyard and drive a stake through its heart to banish the evil spirit. They burn the remains of the heart, mix the ashes with water from the local well and drink it, to complete the macabre ritual.
The regions of Transylvania and Wallachia were "haunted by ancestral ghosts, evil spirits, and vampires"; medieval beliefs that were "at odds with sophisticated EU rules on measuring fruit and the size of bananas".
Europe's preoccupations and debates, the paper said, were "totally out of tune with Romanian realities, where local barons make the law, enjoy privileges and export children to get favours from important people" in a "medieval fashion".
Judging by accounts from many sources, Romania sounds like a pretty bizarre place.
A comprehensive history of the Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency, a branch of the US Government in a parallel universe where infestations of undead were a significant problem. It's sort of like an American equivalent of the British TV series Ultraviolet. (via bOING bOING)
Self-proclaimed "vampire" gunned down in Melbourne. And this less than a week after a guy tried to hijack a plane to Tasmania with wooden stakes. What's going on here?
Bampot attempts to hijack Qantas flight with wooden stakes, an aerosol can and a lighter. The incident happened on a Qantas flight from Melbourne to Launceston shortly after takeoff. The hijacker was not believed to be connected to Islamofascist terrorist groups, but kept mumbling about "God's will" and "Armageddon", and apparently intended to crash the aircraft into a target. Perhaps he was a self-styled "vampire hunter" of some sort?
An interesting (if perhaps somewhat too sympathetic) look at Goth culture in the US Midwest, where a $273,000 grant was recently awarded to a youth outreach unit to
combat study "goth culture" and the leaders preying on our children.
(via Rebecca's Pocket)
As she sits still, her pale back exposed to him like a canvas, he pulls out an X-Acto knife. He leans in and carefully scratches the razor across her back in short strokes. Thin lines of blood appear in an abstract design. Not once does she wince.
Draven says he's a vampire, that he drinks blood, believes in werewolves and smokes weed. "It's a religion," he says, though he can't name any rituals beyond drinking his friends' blood and partying. He says he likes that people seem afraid of him, but he also thinks people should accept him like anyone else. Then he walks off.
(Heh; I've met goths like that...)
(I say too sympathetic, because it completely glosses over what petty-minded, bitchy tossers most goths are; and how, for all the noise they make about being "creative" and "original", they are one of the most uncreative and slavishly derivative youth subcultures around. But I digress.)