The Real Reason Men Have Always Hated Vampires
People magazine will release a “New Moon” special to the ravenous, adoring masses tomorrow. The tween girl set will dutifully purchase it, their mothers will surreptitiously steal it, and every dude will hate it. We’ve told you why chicks dig vampires and men don’t, while Esquire says it’s because the vamps are batting for the other team, but this doesn’t begin to cover it. Men, well, straight men have hated vampires since Bram Stoker — they’re hardwired for it. First of all, Bram Stoker’s Dracula casts its vamp as an Eastern European count (Victorians hated outsiders) with hairy palms (Victorian clue for masturbator — they hated those too) who swoops in, steals women, sexes them up, then returns them to their men. After being held to the breast of Count Dracula and impaled by his teeth, the girls lose it. They want to wander the streets in their sexy nightclothes and eat children. They want to have lots and lots of sex with their husbands and anyone else, and they want it right now.
Not necessarily so bad? Well, except for the children-eating part. But to the old audiences, this was the worst. They were in the middle of a full-on culture war in the 1890s. Women were just beginning to press for civil rights concerning their own bodies, their children’s lives, divorce laws, work laws, and voting reform. Drugs and sex scandals were out of control in London’s West End, and the newspapers were thick with famous men losing it all through opium and illegal homosexual sex. Frumpy middle-class England was coming into its own and didn’t truck with revolution. The vampire fanned this already existing unrest. Like a Pride Parade through the Bible Belt, the vampire was a visual symbol of everything everyday dudes felt themselves on the cusp of losing. If the Count got to them, the good women were beyond the control of the men –that was terrifying. That and the bloody damned-for-all-time thing.
Jumping ahead, we have Bela Lugosi’s cool cat Count from the 1931 Todd Browning-directed Dracula. He is also a c**k-blocking lady stealer. At the opera he draws attention away from Dad and his fiancée, immediately shutting them down as he draws the ladies into himself.
As the film continues, Dracula comes at night to bedrooms (something the fiancées themselves are not yet at liberty to do) sucking vampy, sexy blood and gaining control. Loving his darkness and his hot accent (what girl doesn’t love an accent?), the women were free to let their freak flag fly. Makeup, black clothes, wantonness — oh my! Again, this is happening all against the tumultuous mess of the flapper days. Girls grow up and get sexy obsessed with death, and the boys lose their historical place. Even worse, in this case, the ladies might be having symbolic sex, but human men are left blue.
Danger changes faces with Anne Rice as she pens into existence the self-loathing, ambiguously gay duo of Lestat and Louis in Interview with the Vampire. Uptight Victorians have lost the battle; American culture is colliding with sex and violence — the two bloody devils hold a mirror to a confused and angry world. In the film version, the camera swoops in over San Francisco, and, from a distance, the city twinkles with soft light until the audience is pulled into a street filled with drunken homeless men, the unsmiling masses, and a gray mess.
It’s an ugly world and Louis and Lestat may sex it up all throughout, but they’re unsure of themselves and unable to deal with adult women. They might bite the women or kill the women. The ladies may love them for it, but they aren’t enviable masculine figures. Esquire says we want the gayness as a way to experience Bacchanalia safely. It isn’t even safe. It’s blood and death and sex and never being able to die or relax or grow in any way — but still unappealing to men. Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt’s characters can only live with themselves in their godless world through mini-vampire girl Claudia. Interview takes all the fun out of the fun. Why would the menfolk love it if all they’ve got to live for is a little girl who dies before the movie’s over anyway?
And Twilight. Why on earth would men like Twilight? I submit to the jury: vegetarian vampires, no fangs, self-loathing, abstinence, glitter, and teen marriage. No wonder they’re all backing away.