The Ultimate Outcast

I love vampire stuff.

As a Christian, maybe I shouldn’t – but I do. It’s who I am. God has been changing me in a lot of ways over the last few months, but so far that hasn’t shifted. I still love Moonlight and mourn that it only had one season. I still love to watch Angel stalk the streets of Los Angeles looking for people to save. The Vampire Diaries is still the best part of my weekly lineup. And if I told you how much I was looking forward to another Underworld movie, well, I’d have to stake you. I love vampire movies because they are awesome; because they are scary; because they are cool. These vamps are old, smart, and totally badass. Some of them are angsty and romantic, others are just plain evil. But whenever they are around, you’re in for a wild and crazy ride full of symbolism and sexual tension.

I love the fact that almost every vampire story follows the exact same plot – that I can watch Dracula or the remake of Fright Night and know that the beautiful blonde is going to be a vampy vixen before the end (sometimes, she gets saved from it, other times she doesn’t). I want to see vampires explode in sunlight, or burst into flames, or at the very least, get one heck of a migraine. I want to see them stuck in open doorways because they haven’t been invited in, and to know that one decent backhand with some holy water or a cross will send them running for the nearest exit.

You know why people love vampires? Because we identify with them – they are the ultimate outcast. No one is like them, no one understands them, and most of the world is oblivious to them or afraid of them. Most human beings at some point in their life identifies with that; with being overlooked or misunderstood, of wanting to express your innermost feelings and knowing no one will “get them” if you do. At the risk of going out on a limb here, Christians are even more that way. We’re not like everyone else and if we are, that’s a good time to start worrying if that “salvation thing” actually stuck or not. We’re hated, feared, and misunderstood – and deep down, all of us really just want to be incredibly cool and badass. Plus, we’re also immortal – in a far different way, through the blood not of other human beings but of the Lamb.

Say what you like about vampires… either way you slice ‘em and dice ‘em and throw a bit of garlic in, they say a lot about humanity – both for good and evil. You can look at them as icons of evil, as reminders to us of a life without God bound to torment for all eternity, or you can look at them as dim reflections of a truth that all of us hold dear: that without God, we’re all misunderstood, alienated, hated, and in need of a savior. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, that means something.

4 Replies to “The Ultimate Outcast”

  1. I think one could argue that there is a sense in which the Vampire is a profoundly Christian figure: they are not simply non-Christian, but un-Christian, the other side of the very same coin. To use Dooyeweerdian terminology, a Christian – perhaps specifically Western European Christian – Ground Motive of the relationship between Nature, Grace and Freedom enables the vampiric figure to emerge from its shadow, in the sense that the Vampire asks the same existential questions that are reflected upon by a follower of Christianity. The latter, however, gives a different answer to the trilemma – and yet, the vapiric figure becomes a Christian’s alter-ego, not afraid to transgress and therefore to explore what does it mean to live outside the City of God.

    This raises, I believe, interesting questions of how the vampiric figure might develop in a decreasingly Christian culture; I think the Ground Motive discussed above can itself exist without a Christian context, and therefore still inform literature and filmography. It would, however, appear to my untrained eye that new books and productions do seem to move away from this perspective.

    Anyways, I really like your blog, thank you! 🙂 And feel free to ask this INTP guy about any unclear points in the above. 😉

    1. Vampires have always been sort of an antichrist allegory if you want to dig into their beginnings in Victorian literature; Bram Stoker was exploring immortality apart from the love and grace of God, and his vampires reflect all the symbolism of that. Aversion to sunlight, holy relics, etc — a life forced not to live eternally on the blood of Christ, but on the blood of humans — essentially, sacrificing mankind on the altar of self. He had some interesting subtext in “Dracula” — the vampire vixens falling upon the infant child with delight (abortion), how becoming a vampire (rejecting God) transforms them into desirable but evil beings (fallen, in a sense, whorish), etc.

      As our culture deviates more and more from traditional Christianity and respect of godly things, vampires change… they no longer have an aversion to sunlight (or sparkle in it) and holy relics, they can eat garlic and so forth. I like vampire stories that are at least somewhat close to the original idea of the vampire being damned because of what it is — maybe it is this more than anything that makes me dislike “Twilight” so much; because there, the symbolism of vampires is all pro-vampire and less symbolism. My theory is that secular audiences embrace vampires because they are searching — for eternal life, for answers, for life after death, but have not the religious background to realize that death and life after death does not have to be a darkened abyss, it can be quite beautiful.

      … is that anything like where you were going?

      Nice to meet you, INTP. =)

  2. I always love when you talk about vampires and compare them to Christianity. You always do such a good job.

    On another not entirely different note, Jon and I have started watching Buffy. We’re hanging in there, hoping it gets less cheesy (I think it will around the second season, Jon’s not convinced). it’s also fun to look at stuff from the 90s and laugh. That’s how I always wanted to dress, but now I’m thinking my hand-me-downs weren’t as awful as I thought at the time. 😉 And I think David Borneaz got way better looking with age.

    1. Buffy is corny in its first season — the clothes never get less corny, but the show does “grow up” a bit through later seasons. Season two is my favorite, actually — because it introduces Spike (possibly the best character Joss ever created) and Dru and… well, you’ll see. Angst to the tenth degree.

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