So if vampires are a hot mess and haters are at the gates what can YOU learn from vampires? Well, a lot, vampires are not the only over extended sub-genre out there. Let's explore another genre that is trying to avoid ending up in a similar space, superheroes, specifically Marvel superheroes. A lot of people, IE My Mother in Law, already put all superheroes in the same bucket and turn their nose up. As far as they are concerned superheroes and vampires are pretty much on the same artistic level. So how do these two genres keep riding high? Well first off, a popular superhero or vampire both have to get out in front the pack. Since both can cover so many themes and tastes, both need to clearly establish who they are and what they are offering very quickly. Guardians of the Galaxy is working VERY hard to establish itself and its tone as something wildly different from Black Panther. People going into Black Panther expecting wacky nostalgic comedy are going to be very disappointed. Likewise, people expecting a soulful exploration of the outside condition are going to be pretty off put by revenant blood raging vampires who stand for something like toxic masculinity and cult of personality.
A lot of genres like vampires or superheroes are not really genres in the same way a mystery or a romance is. Generally speaking, these sort of stories are always attached to another genre. Twilight for example is primarily a romance, After Dark is primarily a western, Interview with a Vampire a drama and Dracula is primarily horror to say nothing of the many weird in-name-only (or of a different name) Vampires you find in scifi, classic mythology or “trying too hard to be different” Fantasy.
It can be pretty limiting to write off anything wholesale, be it superheroes, vampires, anime, etcetera. These cover a lot of ground and cross genres pretty easily. They exist as a sort of wolf in sheep's clothing, slipping secretively into other mediums, appearing where you might not expect them. “Hey, that alien which sucks out people's fluids is just really a space vampire!!!” Vampire's are not alone in this, there are a lot of weird evolutionary links in media. The Hulk is a just a new take on Jekyll and Hyde which shares similarity with the original lore of the werewolf, which is an old take on the animal within. They keep echoing because they speak to the human condition, which is where a lot of great writing comes from.
Shutting yourself completely off to a genre that speaks so directly to something we all seem to find in ourselves century after century seems to me to shutting yourself off to a truth of the human condition. Touching on Hollywood again, people keep saying that superheroes are going to die off the way westerns did. I for one, don't think that is very likely. Certainly at some point the magical money printing machine that is Marvel will come to close and likely with it this version of the superhero, the costumed vigilante version of the superhero will sunset. However, since the time when people drew on on cave walls they've been telling stories of superheroes. From flying cavemen to super strong demi-gods to magical knights to costumed vigilantes, the superhero has long been with us. It is just part of the human condition to ask “what if we could do more”, “what if we were more” and “what if I had the power”. Vampires speak to a similar part of the human condition, the conflict between Id and Ego, between intellect and primal desire, between being a part of society and preying upon it. This is why they are so enduring, despite a few attempts to de-fang them.
Knowing how something works in the first place helps give you context into where it all goes wrong in those oft-touted examples where it goes right off the rails. As artists we are all, in a sense, exploring the human condition. So even if you have no interest in vampires themselves, it can improve your writing to understand the themes of vampires, how they can be applied well and what makes those themes so appealing. I'm not saying you MUST enjoy these stories, but I hope you understand why so many people still enjoy vampires despite one bad apple in the barrel.
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Amelius at 12:09PM, Dec. 2, 2018
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