I’m starting to think that instead of vampires as a metaphor for oppressed people, we really need to start using vampirism as a metaphor for privilege.
Like, yes, you’re a vampire and you probably can’t help that, and sometimes people will freak the fuck out when you’re coming at them even if it’s just to ask if you can borrow a cup of sugar for your blood muffins or something, and you’re like, “Hey, don’t judge me just because I’m a vampire!”
And then a human’s like, “Um, well, historically, vampires tend to attack us humans and drink our blood.”
And sure, your first instinct is to go “Hey, I’m one of the good vampires! I have a subscription service at a blood bank and everything!”, but… that… doesn’t change the fact that historically, yeah, vampires have survived by eating humans. Any changing perception of vampires is going to have to start with vampires.
So instead of protesting your innocence, you have to start by going to find other vampires and being like “Hey guys, we have to stop eating humans.”
And unfortunately, a lot of vampires are gonna think they’re already doing everything they need to to be Good Vampires, and this needs to be combatted. Being a Good Vampire is a never-ending struggle, and it’s not very rewarding, but it’s what has to be done.
And some humans will never, ever stop being suspicious of you, and you’ll have to accept that. Humans don’t owe you their respect just because you’re doing them the basic service of not flapping into their bedrooms at night and biting their necks. That’s like, the bare minimum of not being an asshole vampire. And some humans will probably still make jokes about how vampires can’t go in the sun without burning up and how they have no reflections and how for some reason they think “Alucard” is actually a cute baby name, but you’ll just have to deal with that, because they’re coping with the fact that this is an entire population of things that historically have always eaten them.
But it’s not about you. It’s about making the world safer for humans, and combatting it every damn time you see another vampire planning out a good old-fashioned round of feasting on virgins in nightgowns, and saying “Okay, no, that’s really offensive” the next time one of your vampire buddies refers to a human as a bloodbag, and generally working overtime to present a pro-human standpoint.
Because really, what good does it do to make the monsters the oppressed ones?
Lit nerd here! I took a class on vampires in undergraduate, and went on to take lots of other classes on the macabre, the gothic, the theme of monsters in literature, etc. Over the course of my undergraduate career, I wound up reading “Dracula” as assigned reading 3 separate times, so I’m awfully familiar with the book. If you’ve never read it, it’s definitely worth a read, as it’s short, and also one of the most famous epistolary novels ever written; if you need an example of that art form, you won’t find a better one than “Dracula.” (An epistolary novel is a work written as a series of documents—say, letters from one character to another, or supposed journal entries, that kind of thing.) Although one of the genre’s best examples, Dracula was NOT the first modern, fictional vampire—that title goes to John William Polidori, who wrote "The Vampyre" in 1819. (The short story was often attributed erroneously to Lord Byron, on whom the titular character was loosely based.)
I love this essay. Hilariously, despite the recent turn some vampires have taken in culture (I haven’t read the Twilight series, and I’m not familiar with any iteration of True Blood)—-vampires were never meant to read as oppressed, at least as they appear in works of fiction, as opposed to Eastern European folklore. They were ALWAYS meant as a metaphor for the following things: the aristocracy (Dracula in the novel being the classic example, although the vampire Lestat as an actual rock star is a pretty stellar example as well), invading foreigners & how they’ll ruin ~our~ culture (xenophobia was alive and well in Bram Stoker’s writing), fear of germs/contagion (international travel had already brought a series of dangerous diseases to British soil, including repeated waves of cholera epidemic), and a few other things. But all the people who defeat Dracula are meant to represent the good things about the “common man”: faith in God, sensible thinking, a reliance on scientific thinking and new technology to drive out ancient folkloric wickedness—a metaphorical triumph of science (common man, things accessible to everyone) over corrupt power and dark magic (obtained via privilege, accessible only to the aristocracy).
Lots of other vampire stories, particularly from this time period (late 1890s, early 1900s) carry this out, as well as some other novels with similar themes—like “The Picture of Dorian Grey.” Always, the privileged person appears unnaturally beautiful and powerful, usually at the cost of countless hidden deaths of common people or other wickedness, and is often ageless too; almost always, the privileged person acts alone, as opposed to working in groups. (Vampire covens are a more modern addendum to the story.) Even if there is more than one vampire, it’s always a privileged minority into which one must be invited—you can never become a vampire by simple hard work; you have to be chosen. (A great fictional metaphor for the troubles of the common man/peasant class is actually the trope of the werewolf, but that’s a subject for another essay.)
Last thing: Interestingly, in Eastern European/Slavic folk lore, vampires weren’t nearly as evil as they wound up portrayed in fiction. They didn’t have fangs, and they didn’t necessarily drink blood; instead of being pasty or white-skinned, they were usually ruddy in color; they often had no neck; and they were blamed for everything from illness, to crops dying, to sick farm animals, to money troubles, to the weather. And if you wound up a vampire, it was usually an accident: you died in a liminal period of life (like an unwed pregnant woman, or a soldier in battle) … or sometimes it was just as simple as a black cat jumping over your body before you’d been buried properly. At any rate, being a vampire was an unlucky fate, but it didn’t mean your soul was cursed or you were doomed to never make it to heaven or the afterlife—more like you had just gotten stuck en route.
John Berryman (via howtotalktogirlsdialectically)
#…yeah this is new? #spoiler alert #shakespeare was dating a hot blond dude and the owner of a brothel #his bff got killed in a spy rendezvous/bar fight combination #he himself died by choking on fish after partying too hard #like #shakespeare liked dick jokes #(and probably also dick) #your attempts to attach modern standards of ‘classiness’ to him are wrong #(and also gross as hell bc he LITERALLY DIDN’T HAVE CLASS #HE WAS A GLOVEMAKER’S SON #IT WAS AWESOME) #shouts ‘stop trying to appropriate shakespeare for the rich academic elite’ into the void #i never writ; nor no man ever loved @swanjolras
OK THE PACIFIC RIM CLASS POST
we have people of colour, badass ladies, badass disabled people, can there be more?
yes, yes there can because as far as i can tell our leads are working class.
"Safe zones that only the rich and powerful can buy their way into" [Pentecost] said. “What about the rest?"
i’m going off both the movie and the novelisation here, but let’s start with stacker pentecost, and idris elba. idris elba is from one of the poorest areas of london, and he has an Accent, which he uses for stacker. that alone is an argument, but according to the novelisation, stacker is from tottenham.
Born December 30 1985, Tottenham, England. Parents Obadel, laborer, and Viviane, club performer. Family loosely involved with organized crime. Father died 1995 of wounds suffered in a knife fight with nightclub owner. Stacker, then 12, burned the club down and attacked father’s killer. Sent to ministry school, realized suitability for military service.
i don’t know how canon this is now, since it doesn’t mention his sister luna at all but jesus christ can you get more working class, particularly london working class and black. and even if that’s not canon his family are military which often attracts working class kids, if not outright targeting them.
and this is the guy who saves the world, because pacific rim might be about how you need to work together and have meaningful connections, but pentecost keeps the jaeger programme together, a black, working class man from a potentially criminal family depending on how canonical the novel is, who probably has a criminal record, this is the leader of the resistance, because he won’t let poor people be crushed by the kaiju, he will not stop defending the entire fucking planet, he’s literally a christ figure he had a HALO, his last name is PENTECOST. and he’s still educated and culturally sensitive and obviously a great dad and a good fucking person
and then for raleigh, charlie hunnam is from newcastle and while he’s playing an american he’s using the same accent he’s used to play white trash jax teller. i’m going to steal from postcard actually, because charlie hunnam’s current accent is ‘two mixed-together accents both of which are almost exclusively found in the way they sound in his mouth on shaggy-haired filthy men in biker gangs’. the novelisation says his family have been to a lot of different countries but he still doesn’t feel not working class? so maybe there’s military there; or a fic suggested an embassy worker parent. and then obviously there’s his predisposition towards construction, and just his general everything. also, again, working class person who is culturally sensitive and emotionally sensitive and a good fucking person.
i don’t feel comfortable analysing mako’s class background in depth, because i’m white and english and know fuck all about japanese class systems, but her dad was a swordmaker, which is the definition of working with your hands, at least and she lived in a small village, and had never been to toyko before she was there when onibaba attacked. and then she was raised by stacker, of the aforementioned background.
the point of this post is WORKING CLASS PEOPLE OF COLOUR SAVE THE WORLD, ACCOMPANIED BY THE ONE DECENT WHITE DUDE WHO IS ALSO WORKING CLASS, AND DISABLED SCIENTISTS WHO ARE HUGELY IMPORTANT IN THE WORLD SAVING, NO REALLY WHERE DID THIS FILM COME FROM
yeah like i’ve wanted to say for a while that i’m OBSESSED with stacker pentecost’s ‘today we are cancelling the apocalypse’ speech because his speech patterns are 100% working class london — cancellin’, not cancelling — and there are very, very few films that give a speech of such gravitas and importance to someone who is allowed to keep non-RP speech patterns like that if they’re british
and this really matters, guys. it matters if you’ve gone to see english-language films all of your life, often with british actors in them, and you’ve basically never heard anyone who sounds like you in them. and idris elba not only gets to be that person, he gets to be the leader. the messiah figure of the jaegar program drops his g’s, he sounds like he’s from a council estate in hackney, he gets to be not only a figure of authority but a figure of inspiration and of hope. that’s fucking HUGE. i’d be really, really hard-pushed to give you more than a few examples of hollywood films with british actors in any role that’s even remotely comparable.