What makes a great vampire?

With the explosion of vampire fiction bombarding us from every direction, going from Meyeristic sparkle to Burtonesque camp, from Coppolidian veritas to Ricean evolution, what is it about vampires that pulls in our imagination? What is it that makes a great vampire in modern mainstream media?

The list of fictive vampires that would encompass this criteria can be exhaustive, so a measure of measuring criteria would need to be established before any meaningful result can be ascertained. In short, we would need to define the meaning of ‘great’ in this context. Could it be the popularity of the character? If so, then dear Edward Cullen might have what it takes to be great, even with that unfortunate skin condition. Is it a closeness to the founding myths of our favourite nightstalkers that needs key consideration? Then perhaps Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula could have a seat at this table, hairy palms and all.

As that line of reasoning is not really getting us anywhere, could we propose an alternative measure in this conflict? Reading the recently stumbled upon great article by psychologist Dr. Belisa Vranich in the Huffinton post (the fact that the article has been there since 2010 is moderately irrelevant) that documents her 10 reasons why we love vampires, we can have a clear benchmark for our late great fictive escape.

These 10 reasons breathe understanding into the phenomenon hitherto-unseen to date to my mind, and should form the basis for our exploration into vampire fiction.

After reading that article, how many vampires un-live up to your expectations now?

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8 Comments

  • Reply Devika Fernando March 2, 2013 at 11:26 am

    fascinating article!
    there are two things i don’t agree on, keeping in mind mostly anne’s vampires but partly also twilight characters:
    1) i don’t think vampires are fearless. true, there’s nothing much they have to be scared of. but they are. of the sun, of emotional hurt, of higher powers, of one another… they are very much capable of angst and despair and there’s no despair without the ability to fear something. i think it’s just that their fears are different. after all, they may be immortal but they’re not exactly invincible.
    2) i don’t think vampires only care about themselves. twilight aside (where they care very much, in an all too human way), anne’s vampires also care about others. i’m not going into whether that is love or friendship or brotherhood of whether they always act out their care and can stand each other’s company. but care they do!!!
    apart from that, i think the author has a VERY good point that won’t change over the years either. and i’m so happy that she has included the “being emotional” reason because that was the first thing that came to my mind when i clicked on your article.
    care to share your answer to the difficult question? 🙂

    • Reply Lafaeyette March 2, 2013 at 11:35 am

      This article, particularly pertains to those vampires that hover in the annals of ‘vicious’ vampire. I always try to keep in mind that vampires are NOT human, but with human-like qualities.
      I see it as there being two schools of thought in vampirism where Anne combines the two in the middle. The first being the overly human vampires, the Edwards of the worlds, and the second being the truly vicious vampires – kind of like the ones in 30 Days of Night, but with actual human-esque qualities. In this case, we’re looking at the less savoury kind. I much prefer Anne’s take on vampires – that’s why I emulate her when I write about them, because I think that while vampires may behave in cruel ways at times, deep down, they’re still trapped in their humanity.
      I agree though, emotional vampires are far superior to vicious vampires. Even if only because they think like humans and thus they have an easier time of outsmarting them, but always because… Well, they’re awesome :D!

  • Reply rozy March 12, 2014 at 8:31 am

    One without needless cruelty.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique March 12, 2014 at 8:52 am

      Define needless cruelty. Explain why a vampire should be without cruelty.

      • Reply Hook in Mouth May 22, 2014 at 8:09 am

        Not feeding on innocent people, not teasing before they kill them unless they are bad. I know ppl will just say well…innocence is subjective but I don’t think good and evil is subjective. Maybe a bit according to personal ideology but fundamentally- no not subjective. These concepts are bigger than us humans. Merrick only fed on bad people that means any vampire can, they just choose not to. That could have been them when they were human!

        • Reply Martina August 10, 2016 at 8:09 pm

          Your point might sound too black-and-white to some, perhaps even naive. You cannot be a vampire without hurting humans – that is what it is all about, after all. I dunno if a vampire vitally NEEDS to kill to feed, but since human stomach can only hold 1,5 liters of food (liters, not kilograms), a vampire´s stomach cannot be much bigger. It must be different, though, with perhaps additive organs that help the vampire to “stomach” human blood as a primary source of food. Vampire bats (a specific kind of bats) have long, thin stomachs with many “tubular endings” all around, and those tubes distribute a certain portion of blood right into their body. The other part gets gigested like in humans, and then the bat poops a yellowish, see-through plasma instead of the usual… well, brown poop. I suppose that vampiric bodies would function in a similar way, which means that their stomach would have to be slimmer than human´s. Which eventually means that a vampire could eat MUCH LESS than a regular human. So, it would make less than 1,5 liters. Which eventually lets me to a simple conclusion: a vampire would feel satied very fast, after much less blood than expected, and so they WOULD NOT NEED TO KILL.

          So, we have this question covered. No killing for ordinary vampires. But you would still need to drink blood as a vampire, and it cannot be done otherwise then by BITING. Where, now that´s up to the given vampire – depending on their hunger, needs or desires – but I concur that it would be in a neck or in a wrist. If you had healing powers as a vampire (meaning your blood would be able to heal others at once), you could afford biting into such risky areas as the front of a neck or in a thigh (but that´s usually an instant death).

          Supposing you ALSO had some mind-f*cking abilities, you could influence the victim and make them think that tehy enjoyed the bite. Or you could immobilize the victim by exuding such a fright that they were paralyzed, or exude some kind of hormones that would make the bite more enjoyable and less painful. And then you could make the person forget the whole experience and let them go home; not frightened, cool, thinking that they e.g. might have been bitten by a stray dog.

          But you could not think of your victims in terms of “innocence” and stuff. You are a vampire and you need to feed. You are just eating, that´s all. Blood is your food. Should you feel bad for eating? No. You should feel a little guity, but you ought to know that you are in the right. After all, you are NOT EVIL. You are a PREDATOR. That´s a huge difference. You don´t blame a lion for being a lion and eating a gazelle, do you? It´s a lion – he simply needs to eat. Such is the law of Nature. With vampires, it would be very similar. But unless lions, their consience would be human, and so they MIGHT feel guilty about their way of life. But could they really do something about it? No. Good and evil really ARE a point of view. They ARE subjective.

      • Reply Hook in Mouth May 23, 2014 at 10:20 am

        I’m not saying without cruelty not at all, but not to lose who don’t deserve it. Not to the innocent.

        • Reply Martina August 10, 2016 at 9:34 pm

          By this rule, everybody is innocent except for evildoers. Now, evildoers are quite scarce so a vampire could not feed at all if he only fed on them. Really, drinking blood when you are a vampire is not about circumstances being “good” or “bad”. You are a predator. You NEED blood. You don´t do it for sport. Therefore, ethics cannot play a big part in your decisions. A lion also does not think about the ethics of attacking a zebra when he is hungry. He does not muse about that; he just does it. He needs to feed. He is a predator and the (poor) zebra is a herbivore. I might sound like a psycho to you, but I can assure you I am not. A vampire is not a human, and as such, he is not bound by human ethics – at least not to a such an extent.

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