Friday, June 8, 2012

Vampires: The Duty of Conformity


Many times in Urban Fantasy we see the various monsters and preternatural beings as a stand in for marginalised groups - and this is often extremely appropriative and skeevy in many kinds of ways as we have discussed.

But there is one message we see repeated in many of these TV series and books that certainly has parallels with both being marginalised or just different from the “norm”. The message of how to be appropriately “Other.”

So many of these stories cover supernatural beings integrating opening into a human society - and the measures they take to be accepted. In short, they are stories of how the alien Other manages to become part of society. And one message we see repeated in many of these is one of acceptability - one of conformity. The way the Other becomes part of the Mainstream is to become the Mainstream, to repress its otherness, even repress who and what they are.

We see this most strongly when there’s a romance in the air - usually with a human woman and a Musty Vampire. The Musty Vampires are nearly always contrasted against a vampire that is either evil or morally ambiguous at least - we have the vampire who is trying to be human, denying his vampirising against the vampire who embraces his own nature and doesn’t compromise to please the mainstream.

Obviously, many of these vampires have reasons to resist their nature - murder and mayhem being primarily among them - but the mustiness is taken to extremes and the contrast between them is large, almost exaggerated, to carry the full weight of the message - to be good, the Other most Conform.

Whether It’s Being Human U.S., or Being Human U.K., a good vampire is one who abstains from blood and associating with his own kind. The objective is to be as close to human as possible.  While being a vampire means a loss of control and most likely death to any human in the vicinity, to be truly understood as good one must maintain the model of conformity. In both of these series, Vampirism is an analogy for drug addiction, which in itself is problematic because of the appropriation of a human experience.

In Being Human U.K., Mitchell pays the ultimate price for his failure to conform by dying.  He commits suicide by werewolf by having his best friend George kill him.  Mitchell begs for death because he knows no matter how hard he struggles that he will always return to drinking blood and thus killing humans.  When you consider the analogy to drug addiction, what hope does this give those who suffer with the disease? It says that one is inherently damaged and that there is no hope.