Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
May 30, 2024
Interview with the Shampire...
Category: Books … Fiction? … Serious … TV, Film, & DVDs

What a goofy and groanworthy post title. 😀

So you know the drill -- I mostly do my posting on Facebook these days given that at least there (mostly) the people who see my posts know me in some capacity, which I hope means they'll be more inclined to give me the benefit of the doubt than try to have me crucified/cancelled for voicing unpopular/unsanctioned sentiments. (It sure as hell does not always play out that way, but that is my hope.) But also -- I remember when I appreciated that random folks might see things I've written and have things to say, which is to say that I remember being a whole hell of a lot more optimistic about the motivations of strangers on the internet. Indeed, I made and have even retained a number of rl friends whom I first encountered through this very blog, nor was that unsurprising to me: that's how the internet worked. But things work differently today -- on the internet and in vampire fiction.

So that was a weird segue to justify reposting an essay I just shared on FB. 😛

I really do not care for this Interview with the Vampire TV show. I imagine it's excellent for folks who aren't familiar with the source material, and I imagine even a number of folks who *are* acquainted with Anne Rice's original novel (and the 1994 film, since she also wrote the screenplay) find it compelling to the extent that they prefer more recent vampire media for its focus on gore and nonchalance and cruelty -- and sex.

One of the things I most appreciated about Anne Rice's vampires was their celibacy: because they were dead and their organs did not function like those of the living, they did not experience sexual desire and in any case were physically incapable of becoming aroused or deriving pleasure from intercourse. In a setting where so many people are so preoccupied with sex, this shortcoming on the part of Rice's vampires effectively set them apart from humans while also endearing them to me: while I remain personally hostile to labels (they feel more limiting than uplifting to me, though that is perhaps because I find them necessarily inadequate if not actively unhelpful), I definitely related to something in that.

But that was before Buffy and Angel and True Blood and Vampire Diaries and whatnot, where vampirism means bodily fluids flow exceedingly freely and blood is but one of these. And I suppose this Interview has swapped one flavor of queerness for another: this slow is all about gay male representation, with Armand and Louis holding hands and doing (very modern and familiar) couple behaviors and identifying themselves as "gay" and "queer." Other forms of representation feature and are spiritually referenced, as well: that this Louis is a black American man is meant to be meaningful (it was interesting in the first season before they abandoned those threads to hit certain extant Interview plot points), and Claudia's search for other vampires is explicitly viewed through the lens of her seeking the validation and acceptance of her own community. Upon encountering the vampire coven in Paris (the introduction via the Theatre des Vampires was admittedly really well done), Claudia speaks of feeling "vampire pride" and about how they should "love being vampires" in the same way that a speaker at a pride or a cultural event might exhort. Whereas Rice's vampires felt somehow detached from the present moment, the vampires of this TV reboot are very much meant to embody the Zeitgeist. Which, don't get me wrong, is a perfectly valid change for an adaptation to make, and I imagine a number viewers watching it will feel seen and valued and as if they *belong* when they recognize themselves in these depraved murderbeasts.

Which is another thing I dislike about this one. Rice's vampires killed, sure, but even at their most depraved they were never *this* depraved because -- at least with the source material -- even at their most depraved they were still just words on a page. Somehow a decadent description of depravity takes on an air of sophistication that depictions of throats torn out and arterial spray and red-ruined outfits and mouths and faces dripping blood simply cannot and has no intention of matching. The point is the rawness, the ecstasy, the *life* in the killing: vampire pride. The Louis of old had no taste for reveling in that, and I always appreciated that because, counter to the modern Claudia's viewpoint, he should *not*. If one must kill to survive, one must kill to survive, but (especially when one is killing sentient beings and in fact intellectual equals and *betters*) a moral creature should recognize it as a terrible thing. This modern Louis mentions having killed 7000 people and his treatment of Lestat was the only one that ever felt like murder to him. I was disgusted by that revelation and I did not love Louis for it.

But I get it. Despite my own alienness and distance, I probably *was* at least tangentially the target audience for much of the vampire media I consumed in my youth. So much vampire fiction was preoccupied with morality and ethics; some of these earlier attempts at minority representation (see Charles Gunn on Angel) struck me as more resonant and thoughtful than much of what we see today. (Which isn't to say there weren't failures... though in fairness I don't think that's really what they were going for with, say, Mr. Trick on Buffy.) So it is that vampire media of today is what the youth of today find relatable and compelling. That is arguably how it should be.

But it means that -- speaking for myself -- I really do not care for this Interview with the Vampire TV show. 😛

-posted by Wes | 5:17 am | Comments (0)
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