Friday, October 31, 2008

November Poll: Can Vampires Be Highbrow?

In honor of the official Twilight freakout that is about to descend upon America, I ask a question about the "undead": vampires.

It is possible to have a highbrow work of art based on vampires? I've never read Bram Stoker's Dracula, so maybe that's the one ... but it just seems like there's something about the monster meets eroticism meets hunting human beings that lends itself to being a little tacky.

I've been struggling all week to come up with a poll question related to vampires that wasn't totally lowbrow, and finally, I decided to give up and ask you all if it's even a topic that reaches beyond the lowbrow. Again, I'm not concluding; I'm not voting; I'm just asking.

Okay, so if you're a big fan of vampire stories, don't hate me for asking this question.

I've read one of the Anne Rice books. I've read the first Twilight novel. I've seen the movie version of Bram Stoker's Dracula. And they strike me as definitely genre fiction, made more to appeal to a certain class of readers/viewers than simply to be great works on their own merit.

And I'm not against monster stories. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of my favorite books of all time. It's beautifully written—the Gothic style, the grand questions about whether man "should" just because he "can."

So sound off. Tell me I'm crazy and wrong and just haven't read/seen the right thing.


Mike said...

Hmmm. I haven't read Dracula either. I would imagine that it fits the bill though. It's definitely the work that has come to define the genre. I would imagine, however, that it still seems fresh and provides a certain insight that other vampire yarns do not. Thinking of this, I'm reminded of The Godfather. So much of the mafia genre draws from this film, and yet it never seems cliche or trite.

I would imagine for a contemporary vampire movie or novel to be highbrow it would need to break free of the conventional vampire trappings. One that may have done just that is a Swedish vampire film entitled Let the Right One In. Here's the RT link:

Jessica Knapp said...

I'll have to check out that movie. Even though I'm terrible about actually sitting down and watching movies; I will try.

You make a good point though. Maybe there is always potential for a singular work of art to break free from a mold and break free from the conventions. And The Godfather is an excellent example. Although, if you get into the mafia genre, you also have The Sopranos, Goodfellas, lots of high-quality stuff to look at.

I don't know. If you look at the poll numbers, it's clearly not a question that interests a lot of other people. But it did interest me :-P