Over the past couple of years I've noticed that vampires have gotten a bad reputation (and yes, I mean beyond that of being soulless monsters roaming the earth for blood, chicks, and big castles with an exorbitant amount of cobwebs). Books like Twilight and the Vampire Diaries, their less than noteworthy film spin off version, and the plethora of other media forms that have jumped on the bandwagon, have become common place to scoff at - perhaps successful just as much from the haters as the true fans. Something that once induced laughter induces mockery, and just as the original Count's tale signified the issue of women's rights and the prejudices against foreigners, today they show the distinction between the heart-controlled feminine and the aloof masculine; the emotional and selfish single mindedness of youth and the cocky judgemental attitude of what ever stage can be said follows it.
But here's the rub: vampires are my favorite monster. Have been for as long as I can remember - far before these days when they pine for humanity and, dare I say it, sparkle. How did the creature that simultaneously fascinated and frightened me become a laughing stock? I think, in the end, it comes down to emotion. Beings like Dracula were created, in essence, to escape. To feel fear and then be comforted by the comparative easiness of our own life. To, for a moment, live in the extreme.
Modern day's monsters aren't the fearless scourge of society. Now they are jaded. Haunted by their intense love and their struggle for self-control. Maybe it's more realistic (or, at least as realistic as you can get once you cross over into "undead" and "soul mate" territory), but it's also less constructive. One machine of story telling with one way of thinking not only robs our imagination and it's need for extremes, but it robs ourselves.
There was a time when books and symbols stood for something. Hi, I'm a ghost and I represent unfulfilled desires and regrets. Or, hi, I'm a zombie, but you can just call me peer pressure and the struggle to be unique or alone in a world without limits. But now, the image that I and most others in my age bracket see is, hi, I'm a vampire. Let me show you that real men are moody, while I love you unrealistically and prove that my stalker-ish tendency of watching you sleep at night is perfectly normal.
They say that sex sells, but I guess now a days all it takes is the promise of love. But a single minded existence isn't much of a dynamic life. Then again, it's not much of a dynamic book, either.
Edit: This isn't meant to be a dig at anyone who like the popular vampire shows or books (I'm reading the True Blood series). This is really just my thoughts on how the usefulness of media and symbols has changed and what the possible implications of this are.