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Bitten by the Vampire Bug!
Why dead guys have gone from cold to HOT!

By Hannah Streatfield

Next generation vamp-mania is on the outbreak and there is no stopping it, the whole world appears to be under its thrall and it is unlikely to be going away anytime soon.

With at least two more Twilight films in production (Possibly three by splitting the fourth book Harry Potter style)  and at least five more seasons of HBO’s True Blood there are still years to come of the dead walking upon our screens.

However this fixation with blood-suckers hasn’t appeared out of nowhere, girls have been obsessed with vampires for years. Last time vampires resurfaced it was the 90’s. Posters of Buffy and the gang adorned the walls of any vamp-loving-teen and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles teetered in precarious towers on bookshelves.

Now it’s mutated into sparkly vegetarian vampires, artificial blood and raunchy southern sex.  But why is it that this sub-genre keeps resurfacing? And what makes it so prevalent within youth culture?

Prolific author Anne Rice sheds some light on why she thinks the vampire genre is so successful and what it is that gets the girls going gaga for the hunky demons.
“I don’t really know why people are so crazy about vampires right now. Except that the concept has always had this potential.  It’s a Supernatural monster that was human and still looks human and can be spoken to. Not only can you speak to a vampire and he can speak back to you. You can fall in love with him and vice versa.”

She goes on to say: “Twilight strikes me as a female romance in the mould of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: young girl falls in love with older mysterious figure that is both protective and menacing.  It’s a tried and true formula, and has always worked, and now Stephanie Meyer has done it in a new way, using a vampire in high school as the older man.”

No one ever has the hots for Frankenstein or drools over zombies. So maybe Anne Rice is right, girls feel a connection with vamps because they have the danger and mystery of the supernatural but with an attractive human facade. But it also taps in to the anarchistic feeling of being a young teen. Basically vampires can be seen as the ultimate fantasy ‘bad boy’ and the very embodiment of teenage rebellion. Not only are they pale, older and stay up all night. But they drink blood!

Shame about them being fictional or it would definitely be two fingers up to the over protective parent.

Member of the Buffy forum on TV.com Chris Michaelson says: “Well obviously there are plenty of reasons why people like them. I think vampires are admired because they are a symbol of freedom. They are never governed by human laws and can do pretty much what they want.

He continues: “As for girls, don’t they all love the tall, dark and handsome guy? There’s a romantic side to it I guess. Plus girls tend to like older more experienced men, whereas men tend to like younger women. Still not sure how these movies and shows are not flagged as paedophilia as the vampires in Buffy, Vampire Diaries and Twilight are all about older vamps and underage girls, but since they don’t age I guess they can get away with it.”

Twihards and other vampire fans are not restricted to the younger generation. Even though Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series was aimed at the teen target market it has crossed demographic and into the hearts of older age groups.

Introducing Twilight Moms… A website dedicated to older women and mothers just as obsessed about the series as their younger counterparts. The site has a whopping 34,000 active members which has been steadily inclining since the release of the films to the big screen.  It has been reported that a large percentage of New Moon ticket sales have been purchased by women older than Summit Entertainment’s intended teens and tweens, that the films were originally marketed towards.

Does that mean that in the future we’ll see Edward and the crew advertising a nice bottle of Merlot for these ladies? Probably not, as the original marketing seems to be bringing the older gen into the cinemas just as well.

A bi-product of this is the swarms of Emmetts, Jaspers and Rosalies newly born and named after the characters, these unusual names will undoubtedly be gracing the classroom in a few years.  TV.com user Lucy Smith comments on this phenomenon. “As for people naming their children after currently famous vamps, that particular pattern is not at all restricted to blood suckers. Whatever the current craze may be, you can bet that new parents will follow the lead and name their offspring after whom or whatever is the current trend.”

She continues: Famous young actors and actresses of the time will also have their names used by new mums and, of course, the Twilight mums, but it’s really not about vamps, it’s about what’s popular.”

A world away from screaming tweens and vampires on their best behaviour is Alan Ball’s adaptation of Charlene Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books.

True blood is all about the sex and violence and is definitely a breath of fresh air from the usual vampire high school romance.It ‘s a nitty-gritty vampire horror which is unquestionably intended for an older market and it seems to be successfully reclaiming the genre to a modern adult audience.

Anne Rice gives her thoughts on the show: “True Blood is clever and satirical and witty, and iconoclastic. On the surface it demystifies vampires by putting them in mundane situations and goes for “what if” laughs. It’s fresh and clever and the show on HBO is delightfully funny while providing very strong characters with whom the audience can identify.  I would say it is one show in which the humans are as interesting as the vampires.”

Truth is the vampire obsession is just a fantasy. Whether it is teenagers wishing they had a creature of the night to whisk them away and give them more power or housewives and mothers needing an escape from the mundane. But it is these elements of fantasy that keep the genre alive and will continue to do so for a long time.