Friday, August 19, 2011

Dude, You're Totally Not a Vampire

Vampires in media and literature tend to follow a sort of cycle in which they become extremely popular for awhile, then fall out of favor, and then after a time start gaining popularity again. There was an upswing in the 1980's with Anne Rice, a hiatus through much of the 1990's, and then another upswing with the rise of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy went off the air in 2003, but at the same time the vampire mythos was being picked up in the novels of Charlaine Harris and a couple of years later Stephanie Meyer. Harris' novels were adapted into the HBO television series True Blood, capping a decade of the vampire's ascent.

We're finally getting to the point in the cycle where the vampire is set to decline once more. How do I know? Well, for starters, this. A 19-year-old Texas man has been arrested for breaking into a woman's home and trying to drink her blood, apparently convinced that he is a 500-year-old vampire.

Whether pop culture played a role in the attack remains to be seen, as 19-year-old Lyle Monroe Bensley awaits a psychiatric evaluation in jail on burglary charges in Galveston, Texas, southeast of Houston.

Found growling and hissing in a parking lot and wearing only boxer shorts, the pierced and tattooed Bensley claimed he was a 500-year-old vampire who needed to "feed," Galveston Police Capt. Jeff Heyse said.

Vampires have been a focal point of literature since Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, "Dracula". But fascination, particularly among young people, has peaked in recent years with the popularity of the "Twilight" books about teenage vampires and the HBO series, "True Blood."

"I think the vampire is a metaphor for the outsider and the predator in all of us," said author Anne Rice, whose Vampire Chronicles series has captured the imaginations of horror fans since the 1970s.

"We're all conscious at times of being alone, of being alienated, of being a secret self that fears exposure to the judgments of others. So we feel like vampires," she told Reuters.

Bensley is now being held in the Galveston County Jail on a $40,000 bond for home burglary with intent to commit a felony.

The woman, who lived about two miles from Bensley and did not know him, escaped the attack unharmed, Heyse said.

I guess if this guy was so easy to catch those super-special vampire powers must not have been working for him. Shouldn't he have been able to glamor the cops, or use super-speed to escape them, or just turn into a bat? Or is this guy some low-budget version of what we've all come to expect from the undead? The fact is that dangerous delusions about vampires tend to emerge when the archetype is at its peak, and this guy is totally not a vampire. It should be pretty easy to prove one way or another - just toss him into the sunlight and see if he explodes. Or, I suppose, sparkles, if you buy that Twilight nonsense.

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