From Dark Shadows to Twilight, I Still Don’t Get Vampires

But being a fan of bloodsuckers might prepare my daughter for real life

Vampires are everywhere. They’re at the book store, they’re in the movies, and they’re on my television. And they’ve been there a very long time. When I was a kid, there was a TV show called Dark Shadows. It was campy and melodramatic and absolutely mesmerizing. My sister was completely obsessed with the main character, Barnabus Collins. She was a devoted follower of the show. Dark Shadows was one of the few outlets for her vampire obsession; there have been Dracula movies for decades but Dark Shadows was the only television series at the time devoted to the Dark Side. Now one can enjoy the escapades of a good vampire, Buffy, or an evil vampire, Dracula, or a soul-searching vampire, Edward, and lots of vampires and werewolves in between, available in any medium.[SIGNUP]

I don’t get it. I’ve never gotten the vampire thing. What is the attraction? How have these creepy creatures captured and enthralled generations of kids and young adults (and maybe some not-so-young adults)? Okay, some of these movies and television shows have portrayed the evil blood-suckers as handsome leading men, victims of their lot in life—or eternal death, as it might be more accurately described. How about Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in Interview with a Vampire? Brad could bite me on the neck any day, folks, and I would happily spend all eternity by his side. After the gorgeous Brad/Tom duo of vampires there was Buffy’s Dark Prince played by Rudolf Martin. Now there was a good-looking bad guy; almost made you feel sorry for him if it weren’t for all that gruesome stuff.

But still, even buff, handsome and cloaked in sympathy-inducing circumstances, I still was never bitten by vampire mania. So naturally I discouraged my daughter from watching and reading such mindless silliness. I warned her, repeatedly, that there was no redeeming value to such drivel and that it should be avoided. If you must dabble in the fantastical, I counseled, try a little Harry Potter. At least Harry is a sweet kid who fights evil and always wins. Naturally, because her mother told her not to be, she is a devotee of all things True Blood and Twilight. Not fanatical enough to camp out at premieres or stand in long book-signing lines, but a true follower nonetheless.

So I’m stuck with a vampire-loving kid. Maybe that’s not so bad, I figure. Maybe the whole idea of ripping the life force out of someone will help her when she grows to adulthood and has to pay ever-increasing tax bills. Or how about when she has to write that tuition check, huh? I’ll bet she’ll understand what it feels like to have the chi sucked right out of her veins, via her checkbook rather than her jugular. Or all those insurance premiums and real estate taxes, utility bills, wireless phone bills, credit card debt, home repair expenses, grocery shopping. Yup, she should be totally prepared for that sinking feeling of having the life-blood drained from her body.

So, I’ve found a way to embrace the vampire culture. I’ve uncovered its inherent lesson, its value as a life tool with which my daughter can ready herself for the deadly fangs of adult indebtedness. Brace yourself, honey, Debtula is coming.