Why do we love vampires so much? I’m not gonna lie: I adore them with an undead passion. With few exceptions, these fictional masters of the night embody, literally and symbolically, the epitome of coolness: super strong, super sexy, super rich, super sophisticated, super color coordinated. But with the hand of authorly godliness, I can make anyone all those things. What is it about vampires in particular that fascinates and rivets us?
Obviously, we love the idea that these creatures live forever. I mean, not to be a bummer, but at best, we puny mortals can expect to stick around a max of 100 or so years. This is but an eyeblink in an undead’s life! To folks, especially in Western, youth-worshipping, death-denying cultures, this can seem pretty sexy. And unlike zombies or ghosts, vampires remain not only corporeal but forever young. Heck, not only are they young, but they’re beautiful. This is never more apparent when Bella becomes a vampire in the Twilight Series. She not only remains an eternal 18-year-old, but she gets a vampire makeover that makes her achingly beautiful. Because apparently, becoming a vampire means rejecting mortality while embracing all its beauty ideals!
This can seem pretty alluring, given how terrified we Western citizens are of death. It’s no coincidence that the vampire emerged as a popular culture staple in the late 19th century, when the industrial era reached its height. In the 19th and 20th centuries, industrial Westerners moved away from farms and into the arms of cities and institutions – like hospitals, mortuaries, meat packing plants, and nursing homes — that increasingly removed reminders and realities of death from our everyday lives. As our life expectancies expanded thanks to medicine and hygiene and we learned to live cleaner, more hermetically sealed lives, death loomed more and more like a bogeyperson.
What better way to sort of face our fear of death while simultaneously soothing us that death could be beautiful, sexy, and most of all, UNdead?
All this is to say nothing about vampires and their oh-so-convenient wealth and nobility. Because becoming a vampire turns former humans into investing geniuses and, anachronistically but compellingly, also royalty? Oh, whatever. If being a vampire means sporting a bored, goth aesthetic for all eternity while reveling in my newfound brokering skills, sign me up.