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Twilight and the Real Vampire
It's Not All Edward and Bella
Young adult vampire romance. What’s not to like?
If you’re one of the three people who haven’t heard the news, the novel Twilight has leapt onto the big screen. It's sequel, New Moon, hits theters in November 2009. Written by Stephenie Meyer, Twilight is a novel about vampires and love and adolescent angst that jumped to the top of bestseller lists everywhere. The opening of the film version was the event of the decade for millions of fans young and old.
For us real vampires, it's not so great. Basically take our community--which many people believe is the stuff of movies anyway--and expose it to the teenage flights of fancy of millions of fans. Sorry guys. Edward Cullen is not real, so I can't hand over his phone number.
You might wonder what this rage in vampire fiction does to avowed real vampires such as myself. I’ve found it results in a barrage of e-mails asking questions about real vampires and how real vampires compare to Edward Cullen and friends. I mean, I get it. Dracula was first published in 1897 and has never been out of print—an unheard of feat in the publishing world. Something in the vampire archetype—the outsider, the rogue, the hypersensitivity—appeals to human beings on a very deep and visceral level.
Edward Cullen is still fictitious.
Is the vampire archetype anything like a real vampire? That depends on the vampire. I represent a certain swath of the real vampire community that embraces certain ideas of what the real vampire is or is not. This swath does not include the entire community as one monolithic whole. I say this to qualify what I offer as being one set of answers that are the answers from my point of view. You may find another real vampire thinking differently, and this is to be hoped for is such a diverse community.
But I can only speak from my own experience, and that’s what I intend to do here. To address the Twilight/real vampire community culture clash going on in my inbox, I have selected a few questions I have received from people who have just encountered the real vampire community for the first time. I hope to illuminate a subject which is, well, rather dark by nature.
Does sunlight make you uncomfortable?
I personally have no problem with sunlight, although I’m not the beach and tanning sort. Every day I walk my dog in broad daylight.
Do you have a heartbeat?
If I didn’t, I’d be dead. Maybe a better question is whether I have a heart, which I do.
Do you eat human food?
At first I wasn’t sure if the questioner meant humans as food or the kind of food that human beings eat. Either way, I can get down with a French silk pie like nobody’s business.
How does this lifestyle work?
For me, vampirism is not a lifestyle. It is what I am, the same way I have green eyes. I suppose you could say the lifestyle works for me because I am true to myself.
Why haven't humans discovered you yet?
They haven’t? About every culture on earth has some kind of vampire-like legend. And have you seen the list of books and films about vampires?
Why doesn't the Bible speak of vampires?
I won’t take this in any direction that might offend. The Bible doesn’t speak of a lot of things.
Why do you choose to reveal yourself to us now?
I’m not choosing anything. You’ve come asking.
What percent of the population do think is the type of vampire that you're talking about?
Based on the number of people I have encountered in the last twenty years, I would say maybe ten out of one hundred have the potential to be a vampire. But nowhere near that number actually realizes their vampiric nature.
So what’s the difference between you and a human?
There is no difference. I am human. I just have a certain hypersensitivity and development beyond what might be considered normal.
How do we all know you’re real?
You don’t. Whether or not you accept the existence of real vampires is your choice and your decision.
Do you have fangs?
I don’t even have my wisdom teeth anymore.
Can you get pregnant?
As I happen to be female, yes.
Are you really stuck at the age of eighteen forever?
Yikes! I can’t think of too much worse than being stuck at eighteen. I wouldn’t want to go through my twenties again for anything. Fortunately, I age one year for every orbit around the sun, just like everyone else. Any similarities to enduring youthfulness are a result of good living.
What’s the deal with holy water and crucifixes?
I don’t know, what is the deal with them? Actually, that belief is left over from much older times when vampires were seen as children of the Devil that could be defeated with the accoutrements of the Christian God.
Do you sleep in a coffin?
Are you kidding? With my back?
As you can see, the existence of real vampires isn’t the stuff of Hollywood dreams. Personally I have to applaud all of the creative types that have kept the vampire alive in fiction in so many ways for so long. I’m not one to take offense—rather, I think it’s good that the vampire lingers in the popular conscience. What fun would it be if I didn’t have stereotypes and clichés to use as a scratching post?