Vampire hysteria is undead…

A more traditional vampire (via Wikimedia Commons)

Why do we love vampires so much? This article was a class assignment, written on October 30 2011.

Vampires, in case you haven’t heard, are a massive deal these days. With TwilightTrue Blood andThe Vampire Diaries sinking their fangs into pop culture, it might seem like vampires are inescapable.

There’s tens of tons of theories on the reasons why we love vampires. Is it the immortality, the fear, the ambigious sexuality? It’s been analysed to death (har, har) lately. One of the more interesting explanations I’ve read recently is that vampires play on the fears of conservatives, while zombies (the other big supernatural being of the moment) tap into the terrors of the left.

But this isn’t the first time that vampires have taken over. Back in the 18th century, Europe underwent a period of vampire hysteria. It started in Eastern Europe, where the folk belief in vampires was strongest. Needless to say, these vampires were not sexy like Eric Northman or soppy like Edward Cullen. They were more like Nosferatu- senseless, zombie-like creatures who struggled from their coffins night after night, and drained the blood from people and animals.

Serbia in the early 18th century seems to be a hotbed for vampire activity. One unfortunate man, Arnold Paole, found himself posthumously blamed for the killing of a spate of neighbours. Another, Peter Plogojowitz, supposedly drained his own son. All over Eastern and Central Europe, corpses were dug up and staked. The mass panic became known as the ‘Vampire Panic’ or ‘Controversy’.Bram Stoker, Lord Byron, John Polidori and Sheridan LeFanu all cashed in the vampire craze in the 19th century, foisting Dracula, the aristocratic neckbiter and the lesbian vamp upon us respectively.But of course, all that was two hundred years ago, when people were uneducated and superstitious. Well, in the 1970s there were serious reports that a vampire stalked London’s Highgate Cemetery, and in 2009, pupils at a prestigious Boston school called the police when a girl in their class claimed to be ‘half-vampire.’

Who knows, maybe vampires are yet to come out of the coffin!

For more on the ‘Vampire Controversy’ see: This article on Helium by Maureen Cutajar

And for the left/right divide on vampires and zombies: Six Mind-Blowing Ways Vampires and Zombies Explain America

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