I just got done watching the first season of the BBC show Being Human and while it wasn’t terrible and has a lot going for it, it did break one of the rules of modern vampire stories that simply can’t be broken: day-walking vampires.

Vampires: yes.

I assume this trend in vampire storytelling is because it’s inconvenient to write about characters that can only go out at night. Well tough shit. They are god-damned vampires! If you don’t want to write a story about fast, non-reptilian creatures that don’t have shells, write about rabbits, not fucking turtles. If you want to write a story about a guy who is obsessed with tanning beds, garlic and primping in mirrors, write about a guido, not a fucking vampire.

Granted, there is some leeway here as there is no historical consensus on what a vampire even is, but in modern times we have narrowed it down quite a bit. Let’s take a look at what is and isn’t necessary to concoct a vampire story that isn’t complete shit.

Drinks blood
This is certainly the cornerstone of vampirism. No blood drinking, no vampire.

Is Dead
Not as necessary as the blood drinking, but pretty damn common. In many cultures, vampires came from the improperly treated remains of the dead, while in others, they were born vampires and were presumably alive. Still, from a modern standpoint, most vampires are no longer classically “living” entities. If you are going to toy with this, you better have a damn good reason.

Killed by sunlight
Historically, vampires were not effected by exposure to sunlight. My friend Amen pointed out that Bram Stoker’s Dracula went about during the day, which is true. During this conversation, I explained how much I hated daylight vampires and he offered some insight which I will share a bit later.

Can’t be seen in mirrors. Can turn into a bat or mist.
This is great flavor, and it really depends on your mythology. If this is a modern story with a more scientific bent to it, these can go. If vampires are created by some virus or another, then it stands to reason that they are still going to be visible in a mirror and are probably not going to be able to turn into vapor. If, on the other hand, it’s more of a “demonic curse” kind of thing and we’re going with a more supernaturally charged motif, then these things can be kind of neat. I can go either way on these.

Is stronger and faster than humans
It stands to reason that if they are going to hunt us, they should be stronger than us.

Can be killed by decapitation or a stake through the heart
Again, not necessary, but this is classic flavor. There is generally no reason to get rid of it, so it shouldn’t be gotten rid of. These are easily included in any genre of vampire.

Repelled by garlic, crosses, hallowed ground or holy water
These I can do with out. Historically, there are a ton of herbs that are supposed to ward off vampires. The whole garlic thing just seems rather silly. Crosses and holy water seem fairly goofy as well unless the vampire is “demonic” in origin. As many vampire movies and books have pointed out through their characters: to allow crosses and not stars of David (or what have you) makes a pretty strong metaphysical claim, a claim I doubt most authors care to make. Various stories have included the by-now-entirely-unoriginal explanation that the symbol doesn’t matter as it is faith alone that drives away the boogie man. This is thin. Very thin.

Can pass on the curse/virus/whatever under specific circumstances
This adds a layer of complexity to vampires that makes them interesting and threatening in a whole new way. This also ties into the point about sunlight, which I will come back to in a moment.

Vajazzling: fine.

Vampirism makes you “bad”
This drives me nuts. I can understand it making a vampire uncontrollably hungry, but the whole deal where they instantly become diabolically disposed to eating babies is just fucking annoying. Generally, a good character is not static and is the master of their own fate. They show that they are capable of change. A story about a remorseless killing machine or “the one good vampire” is really a yawnfest. The remorseless killing machine is pointless and the “one good vampire” shtick is really tired. If there can be one, there can be others. I’d think new-found immortality, lust, hunger, fear and boredom would be enough to change most people’s outlook on what they eat. That there would be a lot of bad vampires is understandable. That they are all bad is annoying and breaks my suspension of disbelief.

Can’t come in uninvited, can’t cross running water.
If you are going to go hella old-school and are working with a “magical” vampire, rather than a “scientific” vampire, these are good stuff. They have that odd, old-world flavor of shit people just made up. It’s cool because it’s a bit nonsensical. Still, I dig it, I think because it means most people have to allow the vampire to harm them.

Vampires can hypnotize people
This is annoying and makes it too easy on the vampires. I think there is probably a sexiness inherent in a hungry 200-year-old trapped in a 20-year-old’s body that works fine without the woo. Characters need to make their choices. It’s a lot less interesting when the vampires are all perfect killing machines and the people are all sheep.

Die in a fucking fire.

Vampjazzling: fuck you.

Vampires embody an inherently skewed power paradigm. They are simultaneously stronger and weaker than the humans they feed on which is what makes them interesting. I came to this realization when I was talking with my friend Amen about it. I explained that I didn’t like “daylight vampires” but that I wasn’t entirely sure why. He proposed it was because they are seem too powerful that way. I am inclined to agree, although I’ll take it a step further. If vampires can make more vampires in a more or less unrestricted fashion, can go out during the day, are stronger and faster than humans and are nearly physically indestructible and we are to assume that they have been around for thousands of years, by the time the story setting comes around, there simply wouldn’t be any humans left. The suspension of disbelief is destroyed by day-walking vampires. That they are completely helpless during the day is the only factor that realistically keeps them from taking over the world.

At night, they are fast, strong and in every way physically superior to humans. But humans can move, hide and fight at night–and with a stake (or holy water or some other weakness to exploit,) stand a fighting chance of making it through ’til dawn. Vampires, on the other hand, are only cloaked by secrecy during the day. Hired guards can be bought off or disposed of by a superior force. The only realistic way to stay safe is to hide and the best way to hide is to remain unknown. Running around and making a bunch people into vampires to create an army is not a terribly low key course of action. That army has to sleep and they all have to sleep at exactly the same time, they also need to be fed during the same hours. With these restrictions, vampires populations are kept in check and they remain in the shadows where they belong.

In conclusion: day walking vampires are stupid and people should stop fucking writing stories about them. Q.E.D.

One Response to Vampjazzling

  1. Donna Shows says:

    thanks for eric and the difference between the various jazzling.