A few days ago, I got to talking with some friends about vampires; namely, about how they are portrayed in modern fiction. What really stood out–at least to how we were seeing it–was how the vampire went from pure monster to Romantic Sexual Hero as belief in it waned. This got me to thinking that perhaps the neutering of the vampire came about as the fears it originally represented vanished. Once, when plagues, diseases, and unknown causes of death were the norm–and in a very superstitious age–the vampire was seen as a legitimate explanation for much misery, and was thus universally reviled. If there was any sexuality to it, it was a revolting one–like making love to a rotting corpse or demon from hell must be.
With the advent of science and the success of its naturalistic explanatory model, fear of the unknown, especially of the supernatural unknown, greatly diminished. Although the religious fear of vampires did remain–at least for a while–the correlation that existed among plague, disease, death, and vampires weakened. It weakened to such an extent that other more religious in nature fears had to rush in to fill their place–among these one of the most powerful was the religious fear of sex. Contrary to popular belief–and to my own former opinion–I do not think that the seductive aspect of the vampire is an invention of the entertainment industry–only the positive spin on the seductive aspect of the vampire belongs to entertainment. Within a culture that views sexuality as a direct affront to God, sex itself must be viewed as a sort of monster.
After the 1960s, when religious faith weakened and people became more accepting of the other, sympathy with the vampire grew. From there to where we are now is not much of a stretch. Once the evil and predatory nature of the vampire is removed, its attractive aspects do tend to shine forth; namely, eternal life and eternal youth. Without actual belief in their existence and without the religious belief in an evil force that preys upon humanity, the vampire has become nothing other than a harmless fantasy divorced from reality.