Archive for Neuter

Neuter-view with the Vampire: The Emasculation of Bloodsucking Un-Dead in Popular Culture

Posted in Dracula, Films, Horror, Literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2008 by gothicusmaximus

Before I move on to the subject of this post, I’d like to toast the brilliance of the portmanteau that begins this entry’s title. That shit’s brilliant, why aren’t I on TV? 

The impetus that now manifests as this diatribe first descended upon me as I rode the 6:11 PM train from Penn Station to my hometown on Long Island. Although my eccentric clothes often ensure that many railway passengers opt to stand rather than sit beside me- this one of the few material benefits of membership in my straggling subculture- on this occasion I found myself sharing my personal space with a young woman of roughly 14. Before you either offer me a high five or prepare to call the local police, I will affirm that no encroachment was made against space quite that personal, and indeed this girl has won her place in the annals of my weblog only because she produced and proceeded to begin reading a copy of Stephanie Meyer’s novel Twilight As I don’t read books that are not designed for adults, I am less familiar with Meyer’s supernatural romances than nearly every American teenage girl, but my cursory investigation of her work has confirmed it to be emblematic of a far more sweeping blight on our popular culture– the eponymous Emasculation of Bloodsucking Un-Dead.

What occurs to me is that the evolution of the vampire as he is conceived by the average man parallels, almost perfectly, the change women seek to impose on the men with whom they become romantically involved. The qualities which establish a man as badass, and therefore attractive to heterosexual women, such as habitual terseness, emotional maladaptation, ownership of a motorcycle, or thirst for the blood of the innocent, unfortunately do not overlap with those that facilitate a healthy relationship, so thus women will, as paradoxical as this may sound, seek to encourage in their chosen paramours what they imagine is ‘improvement’, doing all in their power to render their mates affectionate, sensitive, compassionate, and utterly ‘defanged’, if you will. Though their efforts are often thwarted when directed toward men who possess and assert independent wills, the natures of such fictional constructs as the Nosferatu are easily manipulated by creative intelligences. I realize this attempt to pin my vampire hang-up almost entirely on a single gender may set off some alarms for my more politically correct readers, but one must recognize that depictions of female vampire  haven’t changed much between the publication of Carmilla and “Vampirella” issue #1- they’re still buxom skanks with sharp teeth- whereas their male counterparts have fallen into a bit of a slump. That we men have no apparent desire to infuse our sex objects with gentle souls is probably more a testament to women than it is to us, but even still the vampire suffers.  

Let us consider, for example, the most iconic personality among the creatures of the night: Count Dracula. In the original 1897 novel, the vampire’s initial encounter with Mina Murray, his ‘main squeeze’ as it were, transpires thusly:


I felt the same vague terror which had come to me before and the same sense of some presence. I turned to wake Jonathan, but found that he slept so soundly that it seemed as if it was he who had taken the sleeping draught, and not I. I tried, but I could not wake him. This caused me a great fear, and I looked around terrified. Then indeed, my heart sank within me: beside the bed, as if he had stepped out of the mist—or rather as if the mist had turned into his figure, for it had entirely disappeared—stood a tall, thin man, all in black. I knew him at once from the description of the others. The waxen face; the high aquiline nose, on which the light fell in a thin white line; the parted red lips, with the sharp white teeth showing between; and the red eyes that I had seemed to see in the sunset on the windows of St. Mary’s Church at Whitby. I knew, too, the red scar on his forehead where Jonathan had struck him. For an instant my heart stood still, and I would have screamed out, only that I was paralysed. In the pause he spoke in a sort of keen, cutting whisper, pointing as he spoke to Jonathan:—

“Silence! If you make a sound I shall take him and dash his brains out before your very eyes.” I was appalled and was too bewildered to do or say anything. With a mocking smile, he placed one hand upon my shoulder and, holding me tight, bared my throat with the other, saying as he did so, “First, a little refreshment to reward my exertions. You may as well be quiet; it is not the first time, or the second, that your veins have appeased my thirst!” I was bewildered, and, strangely enough, I did not want to hinder him. I suppose it is a part of the horrible curse that such is, when his touch is on his victim. And oh, my God, my God, pity me! He placed his reeking lips upon my throat!

This is sexy, but precisely because it shouldn’t be. As Dracula’s legacy perpetuated itself, the desire of certain individuals to imbue the character with attributes that induce them to blush and sigh as well as those that induce them to masturbate privately became manifest. The incarnations of Dracula that resulted from this are generally abortions that summarily approve the old adage, ‘you can’t have your rape fantasy and eat it, too’. Here is the forementioned scene as imagined in Francis Ford Coppola’s film, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, whose title certainly oozes with unintentional irony:

“My most precious love”? What? Although one can’t help but love that interwoven sequence featuring Anthony Hopkins’ admirable Van Helsing, which almost serves to disguise Mina’s sudden leap in rationale from “YOU KILLED MY FRIEND” to “I WANT TO LOVE WHAT YOU LOVE.” The vampire’s primary goal is no longer the conquest of London, but the seduction of one very special woman. Not quite Bram Stoker’s Dracula, at least as I recall it. 

Be cautioned not to mistake me for a closeted sociopath with a hard-on for ravening, soulless corpses, as I’m not totally opposed to the notion of a vampire with a moral compass. I’m merely advancing the idea that there’s a happy medium between Satan’s Emissary and Doctor McSanguinary.

– Gothicus Maximus