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Are Vampires Losing Their Bite?

Have vampires been softened by Hollywood? That’s certainly the position of The Australian Magazine in this piece written by Ruth Ostrow and published on February 27th.
What the hell has happened to vampires lately? I turned on the TV the other night to see yet another group of happy monsters sitting around a table in London, very hip 20-somethings, like the Brady Bunch of vampires from Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series where the lead character, Edward, lives with his animal-eterian family: nice Mr and Mrs Vampire and their lovely (if blood-challenged) kids. They are do-gooders trying to fight against their base natures, and of course they're winning the war.

The sanitisation of evil in society is not new. As Sydney's Mythic Creatures exhibition shows, there are many examples of the sweetening-up of the dark monsters of our psyche. Dragons were once evil and their slayers heroes; now Hollywood has made them downright cuddly, doing endless good to assist humans. The Kappa, a vile water creature who would devour Japanese children, has since adopted a rather benign and helpful persona to the point that little kids are now playing with Kappa furry toys. The succubus, a beautiful female demon who drained men in their sleep so they could not impregnate their wives, has morphed into a benign she-devil who may also assist in the deposit of sperm, thus helping the little buggers do their job.

And all is good with the world. Even though some bad vampires exist, the good ones will fix 'em up. Sound familiar? But there's a serious problem with negating the existence of evil, or rather - as German political theorist Hannah Arendt described it - the sheer "banality of evil" existing in normal life, being that everyday people have throughout history been conditioned by inhumane social norms.

By sanitising our underbellies and the true capacity for cruelty in each of us -as underpinned by myths such as the werewolf and other half-man, half-beast creatures of the sky, earth and sea - we immunise ourselves from, for instance, the possibility that the smooth-looking president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, may well be capable of launching a nuclear weapon that will begin Armageddon.
We are foolish to overlook evil. Our myths are our truth, the devil is potentially in the next-door neighbour who might be raping his daughter and grandkids. Let vampires remain full of bastardry and let us continue to fear them and understand those darker forces within ourselves as a species, rather than castrate their power in naivete and malignant optimism.
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