Once again I delve into pop culture and philosophy, a dangerous combination I'm sure. I'm still willing to brave these depths!
Thanks to Netflix Streaming, I've been able to watch movies and programs that previously would have required a lot of bother. Lately, I've taken to watching "Dark Shadows", perhaps interest piqued by the movie's recent release. The first season, though a bit slow and clunky to start along with having a few foibles of live television, provides entertainment and is engaging in ways modern television does not.
We are introduced to Barnabas Collins played by the recently late Jonathin Frid in the second episode, a mysterious man claiming to be a distant relative of the Collins clan. The family takes little convincing. It may seem strange, but he's a dead ringer for the original Barnabas Collins whose painting adorns the entry hall of the Collinswood home. Of course, we the audience know more is going on than meets the eyes of the Collins clan, for Barnabas wears a ring that we saw at the end of episode one -- and by the end of Season one the mystery man who exudes charm has been revealed as sinister and deadly. The clues are laid out and we known Barnabas as a vampire.
Frid is masterful in his portrayal, in my opinion. Barnabas Collins is a creature of depth. He struggles to regain a lost past, yet proves ruthless in his plans to regain what was lost. He coerces a young man into subjugation to him. He kidnaps and attempts to brainwash a young woman. Failing the latter, he imprisons her until she yields to his whims. All the while he exudes proper charm to his cousins and the local townsfolk. He waxes nostalgic before them, giving them images of the past in ways no one else can. Few see the dangerous creature beneath the charming exterior.
Contrast that to today's vampires and their ilk. I don't just mean Twilight. Pick most fiction or television surrounding them today. Vampires are as human as human can be; they're just 'humans with benefits'. Their drawbacks are nothing more than physical, if they have any. They no longer prey on others -- or if they do, they are cast out and destroyed by their colleagues who are more sympathetic to humans. A vampire who falls in love with a human is frequently encouraged by both sides, the struggles to the creature internal.
It's not just vampires who get this sort of treatment. Dragons, other creatures, more and more they are presented as friendly and sympathetic. There is no longer any danger. Go ahead! Hug that vampire! Make the dragon your best friend! It's okay!
I know it seems like a minor point, but I sense we lose something when we no longer declare a monster to be monstrous. I think we lose something when we create romance with monsters, with things that would prey upon us. It seems to me it reflects our present attitude where we reject the idea that evil exists in the world. We seek to flirt with it, try to tame it, try to make it our friend or even lover. And perhaps in doing so, we open ourselves to a danger greater than the wary imagined.