Friday, December 19, 2008

'True Blood' has stolen my true love; Why do women find creepy vampires so tantalizing?

Mark Brown, The Chicago Sun-Times (nov.11,2008)

I'm afraid I've lost my wife to a vampire.

Actually, it's a whole town full of vampires, and every Sunday night at 8 p.m., like clockwork, they use some kind of mind control to capture her complete attention.

It's scary.

Luckily, there's usually a decent football game to watch at the same time, so I try not to worry for the hour or so that it takes her to snap out of it. But I'd be lying if I didn't say I had some long-range concerns, seeing as how this isn't the first time I've encountered this behavior.

With the success of HBO's "True Blood" series following close on the heels of an explosion in vampire-related romance novels, my guess is that many other men are experiencing the same problem. Therefore, I hope I speak for most of them when I ask:

Could somebody explain, once and for all, what it is that women find so appealing about vampires?

I mean, c'mon, they're creepy, and is that really the kind of man with whom you want to spend the rest of your life, and a potentially short life at that?

It's best if we learn the truth as soon as possible because the situation may get worse next month with the scheduled release of the movie version of "Twilight," based on the popular series of vampire books by Stephanie Meyer.
Meyer has been touted by some as the new J.K. Rowling, and her youth-oriented work threatens to leave future generations of men as befuddled as me.


My wife, a past devotee of the Anne Rice series of vampire novels, has been unable -- or unwilling -- to give me a satisfactory explanation.

"There's just something about the neck-biting thing," she said dreamily after emerging from a weeklong stupor that resulted from her late discovery of the "True Blood" show, which she remedied by watching all the back episodes in the space of a few days.

Oh, sure. Women love the neck-biting thing, until you actually give them a little nip, and then they're mad if you've left a mark. Am I right?

While I've never understood the attraction of vampires, I also have to admit that I find them a little frightening, which is another reason I won't be joining my wife in front of the television on Sunday nights.

In a Halloween article in the Wall Street Journal headlined "Real Men Have Fangs," critic Laura Miller explored some of the reasons behind what she calls a "booming fictional genre that's aimed primarily at women and girls."

"While America's men may still regard the vampire as a nasty, blood-guzzling villain who prowls cheap horror films, to female readers he now appears as the latest incarnation of Prince Charming," Miller wrote.

Not surprisingly, Miller explains, these Price Charmings are usually excruciatingly good-looking, fabulously wealthy and ridiculously romantic.

Then there's the sex.

"A man who has lived hundreds of years could be quite experienced," observed Shanna Vaughn, a 35-year-old southern California college financial aid administrator who in her spare time produces, a Web site devoted to reviewing vampire novels.


I had called Vaughn for some insight into my wife's affliction. Under the pen name Vicky London, Vaughn has reviewed about 350 vampire books in the three years since she started her site, which she said is only a fraction of the vampire books published during that time. In other words, she knows her vampires.

Vampires, Vaughn said, "are kind of the ultimate bad boy. Bad boys are more interesting, more complex, than your average hero is. That's something women are looking for."

Always with the bad boys. You'd think they'd get over that in high school.

I realize there are some men who like these shows, too, for which I am similarly confused, except I can promise you some of them watching "True Blood" are hoping to take advantage of any arousal in their partner resulting from the sex scenes.

On HBO's official "True Blood" Web site, there's even a link to what bills itself as "the best human vampire dating site."

I asked her if she was interested in dating a "human vampire," whatever that is.

"No, no, no, no, no," Vaughn said.

Part of the attraction of vampires is that "it's fantasy, not reality," she said.

"When you take it into the realm of reality, it's creepy."

Come to think of it, was that really a bottle of V8 in the refrigerator?

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