On my mind: Rhiannon Harries sinks her teeth into the disturbing sexuality of the modern vampire

Related Topics

Trust vampires to whip up a bit of mass hysteria. They were at it in the 1700s, sending Europe into a frenzy of alleged sightings and grizzly exhumations. This time around, the sightings – on TV, in films, on the cover of a 3-for-2 paperback – are real enough, but we know vampires are not. Yet somehow the craze has taken on global proportions and been heralded with glee by the media.

Viewing figures for steamy US TV series True Blood (pictured) and reams of internet silliness eulogising Robert Patterson – aka Ed Cullen, brooding hero of tweenage saga Twilight – confirm we are hooked. And, predictably, women are worst afflicted.

The best anecdotal evidence comes via an acquaintance, who recounted the tale of a friend who left her husband to look for someone "more like Ed Cullen". (How many guys with an eternity of sexual experience in a teen's body are there on Match.com?)

Extreme though it may be, this example illustrates the overwhelming seductiveness we are told distinguishes modern vampires from old-school portrayals of gothic spookiness or camp silliness. "Bela Lugosi they aren't," winked the New York Times recently – and it's right: this lot are much more disturbing.

The idea of the vampire traditionally attracted and repelled in equal measure, embodying an unsettling relationship between sex and violence. What is troubling now is the nonchalance with which themes of domination and submission have been assimilated into mainstream light entertainment for both kids and adults.

Attempts to explain our new proclivity are predictable – "in times of conflict or recession, we need escapism" etc. But neatly cordoning off fantasy from reality is a cop-out – what we watch or read says something about what is already on our minds (and if not, soon will be).

"In difficult periods, a little subversion is necessary," venture others. Fine, but what's subversive about virginal girls wanting to be ravished by tall, dark, handsome bad boys? You can give them fangs, set it in post-9/11 America and make smart points about persecuted minorities, but the narratives still turn on a fulcrum of good old-fashioned gender stereotypes.

The creator of True Blood, Alan Ball, unwittingly put his finger on the potential for serious misunderstandings in his crude analysis of the show's popularity: "Women love the romance and the love story, and men love the sex and violence." We're all watching the same thing, but we're taking away dangerously different ideas. Sex is a complicated domain at the best of times; all this vampire nonsense just adds to the confusion.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate / Junior C# Developer

£18000 - £25000 Per Annum + bonus and benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

IT Project manager - Web E-commerce

£65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...

KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Key Stage 2 Teachers needed in Shropsh...

DT Teacher - Food Technology & CACHE

£24000 - £36000 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Day In a Page

Read Next

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside  

Autumn’s subtle charm is greatly enhanced by this Indian summer

Michael McCarthy
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits