Vampires Have Been 'Mormonized'

Question: Why are vampires so popular right now?

Guillermo del Toro:  I think that, you know, the moment of the birth of the vampire myth in English literature is with essentially there is few writings here and there, a poem and this and that. But in fiction most everyone agrees that it was birthed by John W. Polidori with a short story, "The Vampyre."  Now, the fact that Polidori had an ambivalent relationship with his master and friend, Lord Byron and he based the character of the main vampire in that story, Lord Ruthvren on Lord Byron, you know. Immediately gave birth to a vampire that was both a loathsome parasite and a dandy.  A seductive character that is later absorbed by a Stoker in "Dracula" and you know, you can trace it all the way to Anne Rice.  

And I think that right now, we have an unbridled sort of melodramatic, romantic, fantasy with the vampire is only one half of the myth.  The bad boy romantic lead myth, which is essentially Gothic fiction.  You know, it can be Heathcliff in "Wuthering Heights," or it can be Robert Patterson in "Twilight."

The thing that it tells you right now is that human relationships, intimate relationships have become so completely demythified, they have become so prosaic, you know, whenever you talk about a relationship, you’re talking about it in very prosaic terms.  How much does he or she make?  What job security?  Nest egg planning. It’s all very materialistic.  Double-income household, it all becomes very prosaic and it’s almost impossible to dream romantic things without sounding corny.  

So you know, of the fascination of romantic fiction with a bad boy gets sublimated and dark angels are created, angels of the night that create a spiritual and physical bond with a love interest that is permanent and eternal.  So through that fiction you can abandon yourself to the lull of a romantic fantasy without feeling silly or stupid.  

What I find symptomatic I think for the... I daresay, for the first time in the culture of mankind, the vampire has been sort of defanged by making them celibate and asexual as opposed to polysexual, like Anne Rice did and they have been Mormonized, so to speak, into being a sanitized creature.  And you know, I’m not in favor or against it. I’m fascinated by it, because I do think it is a very strong symbol of where we are.  And I find it intriguing and I try to watch the phenomenon without judging it. But it’s quite peculiar.

Question:
Is your vampire trilogy an antidote to that?

Guillermo del Toro:  Yeah, what we were trying to figure out though, we were trying to deal with aspects... the only sensuality in the Strain books, is the sensuality of feeding that pleases the predator, but doesn’t please the prey.

Recorded on September 22, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller

The vampires from "Twilight" and other recent shows have been "defanged" and combined with the bad boy romantic lead myth from gothic fiction. The filmmaker interprets this as a sign that relationships have been utterly "demythified."

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together.

A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.

Sponsored
  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.