Do you know what a trope is? It’s a fancy word for a cliché, any common or overused theme or device – like zombies, for example.
Prior to my employment here at Cedarcrest Sanctum, I had no idea how much vampire media stuff was out there. Television, movies, books, fan fic, erotica, crossovers, hybrids…wow. With so many creative people online these days, it’s as if every possible vampire idea and angle has already been covered; there’s nothing new.
(Note: It has been pointed out to me that a trope isn’t precisely synonymous with cliché, but it works for the purposes of what I’m going on about, okay? Stay awesome.)
Timothy collects movies and TV shows; I’ve watched everything he has. It doesn’t take long before familiar themes keep popping up: the sliding scale of vampire friendliness, our vampires are different/your vampires suck…almost SIXTY bloodsucking tropes just on TVtropes.org alone.
I can relate to more than a couple of them. I’ll go so far as to say I’m even JEALOUS of a few. Surviving on pig’s blood with a little otter added for taste? I’m in; it beats the hell out of keeping a living source of human-only blood close by. Glittering in the daylight? If it meant not feeling the earth pulling me back into a grave or punishing me as I resist, I’d wear a club-worthy silver-sequined romper out during the day and carry a disco ball under one arm. Also, no one has ever described my bite as “a kiss.”
But it’s not the superpowers or weaknesses that fascinate me.
It’s the emotion.
Maybe that’s what makes people wish they were vampires, want to become one or identify so closely with them. Simply put, vampires are blood-fueled powerhouses cursed with eternal loneliness because they used to be human. You could call it a metaphor for becoming rich or a being a celebrity; it’s also like having a genetic or contracted disease with special requirements to keep you going from day-to-day.
This was the thing hinted at by Bram Stoker in Dracula, the curse of everything passing you by, the eternal yearning for the life that was. I can’t relate to any of that since my parents are still alive; maybe I just haven’t been a vampire long enough yet. Will I become a villain? Will I stop caring about humanity and just take what’s mine until everyone is dead or someone destroys me? All the tropes.
It should surprise no one I find myself relating more to the vampires than the humans, but I also find myself trying with difficulty to remember my own point of view from when I was alive. Weird, right? I understand the craving now, the need for blood, feeling every cell in my body screaming for it while my mind tries to shortcut around every reason not to drain the closest mortal within reach. It’s monstrous. It’s Angel and Spike. It’s Daybreakers and 30 Days of Night. It’s Jerry Dandridge and Damon Salvatore.
Even in the worst of these books and shows, vampires are too often the outcasts even when they’re the king or sheriff. “Make me into a vampire,” their victims beg, practically a form of suicide except they believe something better awaits them afterward…something, yes, but not what they think. No one can explain it; you have to feel it. Vampires are land sharks; we don’t hunt in packs like wolves. It’s every bloodsucker for themselves and you have zero desire to share!
Nothing’s EVER easy.
The lives of mortals are filled with gathering the necessities of life – just like vampires – and time left to spare should be treasured. Becoming a vampire is like becoming a criminal, working in opposition to the way the dominant species on Planet Earth has decided life should work. You read that right; vampires may be the top of the food chain, but humanity still crawls over 99.999% and they tend to take exception to creatures that outlive them by feeding on them. Vampires can’t shut themselves away because they have to stay close to what they need to survive, and if you eat everything in sight, the minimum you’ll have to do is venture father outside of your safety zone to get more and hope no one knows you’re coming.
If you plan to survive eternity, you have to be smart. Stupid vampires are destroyed by smarter vampires, not stronger ones.
More than a few of those stories get that right.
So is my life nothing more than a trope? A cliché? A series of pre-ordained events already thought out?
I don’t believe that. And neither should you.
Maybe for Halloween I’ll find a tacky chair to call my throne, slouch in it wearing Rocky Horror red lipstick and a corset while all my guys crawl around in front of me, half-naked like a bad Magic Mike sequel…just before Dracula appears to challenge my authority for daring to sparkle brighter than him. I wonder how many tropes I could cross off my list acting THAT fantasy out?
And more importantly: who would I get to dress up as Drac?
Keep each other safe.
@JanissConnelly on Twitter
(Note: Yes, it appears that my favorite cherry-red trench does fit the Badass Longcoat trope, but in my defense, I usually wear it buttoned-up and belted like Bogey from Casablanca. And FYI, Carmen Sandiego ALSO wears a super-brimmed red fedora, a turtleneck under her turned-up collar, AND notably hangs out with Waldo…so there.)