Where are the Wholesome TV Shows?

I’m wondering if the TV shows I watch make a statement about my personality, or even more, if they influence it.  I constantly argue with my friends about the old nature versus nurture debate, with me believing biology is the stronger force, while my feminist friends holding firm to the power cultural influences.  If my lady friends are right, then television programs us.  If me and my males friends who side with biology are right, then television only reflects our baser instincts.

And I’m sure members of God’s flock will ask: Where do I, an atheist, get the moral authority to judge what’s wholesome about TV.  Maybe I can define “wholesome TV” in a way that both the spiritual minded seeking moral goodness, and the secular wanting uplifting humanism, can agree.  I’m afraid my definition will be tricky because it aims to be two things at once.  Fiction is both a mirror to personality and a microscope examining culture.  To question fiction’s purpose is akin to debugging one’s own programming.

My definition of “Wholesome Television Shows” are those teleplays that reflect positive cultural programming or ones that educate viewers about biology’s influence on human relations.  Wholesome TV should provide inspiring role models and illuminate the weaknesses we should all seek to overcome.  Wholesome fiction should constantly explore what it means to improve oneself and our species.  Whether you are a fundamentalist or a humanist, the desire for wholesome entertainment is a desire to improve the whole. 

TV shows from the 1950s often naively tried to do this, with each episode of “Leave it to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best” presenting a moral lesson, and reinforcing conservative beliefs.  Creating wholesome fiction is not the goal of most TV writers, they seek to make money by entertaining.  Most audiences find moralizing condescending.  Uplifting is a very difficult trick to pull off.

The other night I watched an episode of Leave it to Beaver, and then rewatched my favorite science fiction movie, Gattaca.  From my viewpoint, Gattaca is the perfect example of modern, adult wholesome entertainment.  I wonder what Christian fundamentalists would make of my evidence?  Just because I don’t see God in the universe doesn’t mean I don’t see the beauty of spiritually uplifting humanity.  Vincent Freeman’s relentless drive to overcome the dictates of genetics is a uplifting spiritual quest.

The average TV viewer doesn’t want morality plays about improving their souls, they want high impact entertainment that provides fabulous escapism.  In other words, Americans crave boob tube heroin, where they can kick back in their recliners and experience opium intense visions through their flat panel screens.  This adult audience doesn’t want wholesome TV.  Wholesome TV is primary a idealized concept that parents want for their children, and some adults want because they are tired of feeling like Romans at the Coliseum when turning on their TVs.

I’m too old to wonder what I’ll be when I grow up, but I have to wonder how kids today view their future.  And if I was a proud parent, would I want my kids watching television?  If my feminist friends are right, and cultural programming is the dominant influence on personality, then what kind of code are we loading into the brains of today’s rug rats?  As a concession to my feminist friends, young women of 2009 are far different from young women of 1909 or 1809.  I would argue they are the same because of biology, but freed of cultural repression, we are seeing more of their true instinct.

The overwhelming message to kids from modern television, is teaching them that if they aren’t extremely sexual active they are failures, losers and dorks.  Following that, television illustrates that wealth is everything, that money equals sexual partners, freedom, and power.  After that, the subtle message that’s constantly beaten into their heads is violence is the best solution.  Is it any wonder I claim biology is the dominant influence on personality?  Television constantly shows alpha males fighting for prized females, or females going to inhuman efforts to be sexual irresistible.

Don’t get me wrong, modern television does have it’s good messages about tolerance for diversity, preaching ecological education, promoting GLBT acceptance, often dealing with subtle ethical issues, while regularly championing societal underdogs, and exploring political controversial topics of the day.  However, it seldom promotes hard work and discipline and usually sees the academic successful as the socially challenged.  On TV, sarcasm is presented as the supreme method for demonstrating intelligence.

The television shows I like to watch reflect a deep addiction for fiction and escapism, but I can also imagine they could also represent moral failure.  My top three favorite shows right now are Big Love, Dexter and True Blood, in that order.  Critically I’d rate them A+, A+, A-, but none attempt to be Gattaca.  None of them are wholesome, although, strangely enough, I might advocate Dexter, a sympathetic look at a serial killer, as the most wholesome of the bunch. 

Dexter Morgan knows his genetic programming commands him to kill, but he constantly struggles with the ethics of being a serial killer, all the while trying to understand what it means to be a good human, because he knows he’s not.  Don’t get me wrong, I would rate all my favorite shows M30.  I’m not sure people under 30 should watch them.  In fact, I can’t think of any primetime ABC, CBS, NBC show I’d recommend for the under 18 crowd.  Over at Parents Television Council, they could only find one show they gave their Green light to, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader.  Most primetime broadcast TV shows are rated Red, and a few Yellow by the stoplight metaphor coding.

The most wholesome network show I watch is The Big Bang Theory, which the above group rates Red.  I love this geek fest show, especially because it’s the only show on TV about scientists, but I’m not sure if it’s a flattering portrayal, and it gives a bad message to kids:  Scientists are comic book reading dweebs, nothing but silly characters who can’t get laid, or worse still, don’t even think about getting laid.  What if television producers create a show about JPL scientists that was realistic, dramatic, inspirational, and encourage kids to believe science was a tremendously exciting career?  Television has totally failed at presenting science to the public.  Science fiction is usually fantasy escapism, and shows like CSI lamely present a silly, simplistic, and inaccurate view of science and technology.  CSI makes science look like slight-of-hand, only reinforcing Arthur C. Clarke’s famous comment, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Is all of this a failure of television, or really a failure of fiction?  If we consider non-fiction, then there’s a true abundance of shows worthy of young people’s viewing.  Fictional television fails at presenting role models, and its efforts of cultural programming are mixed.  Nor is fictional programming that educational about burden of biology places on our personality.  It amply illustrates the sex drive, but never reveals it as a burden.  Television only reflects a worship of sex and never deconstructs sexual impulses.  We all know rubbing our genitals together is pleasurable, but why is the quest to find the right frictional partner so common in storytelling?  And if fiction isn’t about sex, it’s about conflict and violence.  Would the Harry Potter books been as satisfying if they lacked all the killing?

Sex and death are natural parts of life, but fiction gives the illusion that sex and death are the most common aspects of life.  By not watching the local news, my crime filled city seems peaceful.  In real life I never see other people having sex.  Mostly I see people struggling to get ahead at their education or work, or improving their house and lawn.  Is the craving for fiction the urge to see what we don’t in normal life?  Is my craving for wholesome television just a craving for what I don’t see in my life?

The defining moral and ethical issue of our lives is global warming.  Will we be the generation that fiddles while Rome burns?  Many scientists are now saying we only have one decade to transform ourselves before our habits push the environment past the point of now return.  We are a generation of Noahs, but instead of building an ark and collecting animals, we’re watching television.  As far as I’m concerned fiction has totally failed to address this issue.

If I had any backbone I’d beat my addiction to fiction and throw it off completely.  I crave wholesome fiction, because I feel it’s a time in our culture when we need it.  However, my addiction to sensational fiction is too great.  It’s beauty is to powerful to ignore.  However I am cutting back on my drug of choice by reading more non-fiction.  Mostly I fix my fiction habit with television and movies, and leave reading to non-fiction, but I’m starting to watch ever more documentaries.  If I was a parent, I’d urge my kids to watch quality documentaries, but there is a third force in the nature-nurture debate that may even be more powerful, and that’s peer pressure. 

The young will find their own art to admire.  We have no choice in the matter.  The young are programmed by biology and fuel by pop culture.  I can’t image what they will look back to in forty years and see in this decade as their wholesome television.  Two and a Half Men is no Leave it to Beaver.  And what kind of role models do Britney Spears, Fergie and Lady GaGa make for young women?  Read this interview with Megan Fox to see an example of a contemporary thoroughly modern Millie.

The moral majority’s demand for wholesome TV is really a tempest in a teapot.  Just watch ABC Family and Disney Channel TV shows.  Are they really that wholesome?  They might be cleaner, but are they uplifting?  And are their shows improving this generation of children?  Is Disney’s Britney Spears a reasonable example of a wholesome upbringing and current role model?

NBC’s ER was a reasonably good wholesome show because it was very positive about doctors and medicine, providing gritty, but realistic role models.  Compare that to Gray’s Anatomy?  Is there any show on TV now that have characters you’d want for your children to admire?  I hate to say it, but Dexter the serial killer is at least aspiring to be a better human.  I don’t even see that in most shows.

JWH – 8/13/9

The Gods of Vampires

Every vampire has a god, and since the advent of the novel, those gods have been writers.  Before the printing press, storytellers were the creators of vampires, and word of mouth published endless variations of vampires that spawned unique species of monsters in each culture and country.  Superstition and the love of the story kept the vampire immortal throughout the centuries.  It’s very easy to know each god of today’s vampire, because the names of their creators are famous, boldly printed across the books from which give them creation.

When did Sex in the City urban women deem vampires fuckworthy?  And most of all, when did American heartland save-myself-for-marriage tweens and teens decide that creatures of the night make great Mr. Rights?  The new gods of vampires, women writers, have changed the romantic ratability of the undead.  Geez, it’s hard enough to deal with the fact my omega male body is so unworthy compared to human alpha males, but now women seek to mate with guys who have immortality, inhuman strength, and supernatural wealth as hot sexual attributes.  Man, now I’m really out of the sexual rat race.

What have these new gods wrought on the fictional landscape of our world?  I wonder if accepting the undead into the American melting pot is also happening in other multicultural societies around the world?  Storytellers have always been mythmakers and creators of imaginary pop-cultural stars.  Homer had a huge hit with his creation, Ulysses.  The whole mystery genre seems to have converted to writing character book series hoping to hit one out of the park by creating the next Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple.  Now both the mystery market and horror genre are churning endless variations on the vampire theme, each hoping to create an iconic vampire or vampire slayer. 

In my review of Dracula by Bram Stoker I took a backasswards approach to understanding vampires.  I falsely assumed writers were describing their vampires rather than creating them, by observing what they thought was the current pop-culture concept of a vampire.  And to a degree writers do steal their ideas from their peers and mentors.  This morning I had the revelation that every vampire is created in the image of their god. 

If I was to write a series of vampire stories, I’d invent a science fictional vampire because I like science fiction more than I do horror.  I’m not all that keen on bloodsucking, so I’d find some other way for my vampires to acquire the life essence of their victim, maybe a device that transfuses specific hormones or proteins that could be used to enhance health and thinking for a cyborg vampire.  If I wrote a series of books about my new high-tech-vamp that became successful, it would make me a god of a fictional creation, but I would have also changed the archetype of the vampire.

When I read Dracula I thought Bram Stoker had studied folk culture and had assembled his vampire, Count Dracula, from a selection of vampire models already in existence.  Now that I’m using the god metaphor for creators of fiction, I’m not so sure.  Count Dracula, and every successful vamp ever created by a wordsmith could each be a unique creation, fashioned in the image of their creator, so to say.

This explains why the current crop of vampires are less violent and very romantic – all the wildly successful new vampires are created by women authors.  Men writers want monsters to slay, while women want romantic retelling of the beauty and the beast myth.

Now I know my feminist friends are going to howl at my sexist generalization, but lets look at the evidence.   Here’s an easy one.  Women love Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  To make it suitable for the average guy, Seth Grahame-Smith created Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  I could rest my case there, but I’ll go for overkill instead.

I think I can safely say that the Twilight series is mostly popular with women, and girls.  It’s much less obvious, but I’d say the Anne Rice and Charlaine Harris vampire books are also more popular with women readers then men.  True Blood, the HBO version of the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries, has been transformed by its producers to have a unisex appeal (mixing love, romance, sex and violence), so I’m only talking about the Charlaine Harris books for now.  If you compare these women vampire stories to Blade and Van Helsing movies, which are obviously targeted to male audiences, you can see the difference between the vampires and their creators.

Red blooded American males love violent movies.  They want the moral issues to be black and white so there is no ethical squeamishness to full-throttle slaying by the good guys.  Literary movies that want to question violence will introduce many shades of gray and ambiguity, but for the most part, us guys like our action films, monster movies, cop shows, sci-fi, thrillers, war flicks, and westerns to be non-stop kill, kill, kill.  We accepted feminism to the point that in recent years the good guys can include hot action babes on their teams, who can also kill, kill, kill with the best of the guys.  We’ll even accept women as squad leaders, as in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t plenty of women who love a dab of violence in their books and movies, but they seem to want the volume of violence turned down.  Women writers accept that vampires are dangerous cold blooded killers, but they keep most of their hunting off stage, ignore that vampires are evil, and tame them by having their creatures of the night only hunt animals, drink artificial blood or prey on the scum of the earth, humans they figure humanity can do without.

The famous dictate of writing teachers is to write what you know, but I observe instead, that writers write about what they love to read.  Women love romance stories, and the influx of women writers has changed the nature of vampires in pop culture in the last few decades.  If you study romance novels, a category of fiction dominated by women writers and readers, you’ll find two general types of stories in the genre:  the purely romantic and the hot-and-spicy romantic.  To be clear, I’m calling some romance novels hot-and-spicy, to be nice, but the heat on that spice goes all the way to XXX. 

Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series is very close to the Pride and Prejudice end of the spectrum of romance, while Charlaine Harris writes stories well into the soft core porn range of romance books.  And if you are converting Mr. Darcy into the undead, women writers know their readers won’t feel the emotional attraction for a protagonist if he’s too evil or looks like he belongs in a Mad Max flick.  Thus the What Not to Wear overhaul of vampires.

A young woman at my office asked another young women, “Which of the undead do you think are the sexiest?”  That’s not a question you would have overheard two Victorian women discussing.  I’d say the vampire has gotten the role of most eligible supernatural bachelor more often than all the other types of undead combined, with hunky werewolves a distant second in popularity.  Zombies and mummies just don’t clean up well.  Although J. K. Rowling, strangely enough seems to prefer werewolves over vamps, so maybe kids like furry love romance.

If you think about it, the lady gods of fiction have transformed all the popular genre fiction in the last fifty years.  Look how wildly successful Lois McMaster Bujold, Catherine Asaro and Anne McCaffrey have been with science fiction readers.  Genre fiction has been liberated by females.  I don’t know why it took me so long to realize why modern vampires are so different.  To be honest, I didn’t expect women to shake things up so much.

But I’m still puzzled as to why women find vampires sexy.  If I was a vampire and had to drink blood, I’d want to dine on women, and it would be a sexual attraction, but it would still feel like rape.  But as a male human, vampires seem as sexual appealing as sharks and bears, but then I’ve always identified with the beast, and not the beauty.

JWH – 7/23/9

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker amazed me by how thoroughly Christian it portrays it’s 19th century worldview.  Published in 1897, this late Victorian novel doesn’t proselytize, but accepts Christianity like the rising of the Son.  Dracula is about a creature of the darkness invading the world of the light.  More than that, Dracula is about a royal citizen from the land of superstition making a beachhead on the Mecca of Modernity, London.   Dracula is about evil attacking the divine, which is very strange when when you compare this most famous of all vampires to contemporary vamps of the big and little screen. 

Dracula presents a scared world, whereas True Blood and Twilight represent secular vampirism.  How did our pop culture go from women pleading for their hearts to be staked,  their heads to be cut off, and their mouths crammed with garlic, if they were kissed by the vampire, to our modern times where virginal tweens willing dream of letting blood sucking monsters pop their cherry, but only if he’s really really really cute, dresses fabulously, and loves to cuddle.  Talk about living in Bizarro World.

Now, let me set up my definition of evil and divine.  Evil has become a debased word in our language.  For example, we might hear a kid whine, “That’s just evil,” when told he must turn off the TV and do his homework.  Most grownups would use Hitler as their prime example of real evil, but even for that example I will disagree.  I see the word evil coming with a more precise definition.  To be upfront, I’m an atheist, so any discussion of religion by me is from an outside observer.

My definition of evil, is any action that’s under the influence of Satan, whereas the divine, is any action inspired by God.  Modern grammarians will knock my prescriptive definition over more mundane descriptive grammar.  Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a novel with easy metaphors.  Light shines from God, dark is Satan blocking the light.  Vampires are agents of evil, stealing souls from the forces of goodness.

I plead with my readers to read the history of vampires at Wikipedia.  I was totally shocked by examples of vampirism showing up in all the cultures of history.  Superstition has dominated thinking for most of homo sapiens time roaming this Earth.  Vampires and similar scary ghoulish characters are deeply rooted in all our folklore, and its very shocking how crazed our ancestors became over common fears. 

Count Dracula is just the most famous vampire in Western pop culture, where Bram Stoker hit a vein of subconscious literary gold.  Dracula is not the first novel about vampires, but Bram Stoker has invented such a successful fictional character, Count Dracula, whose fame is on the order of Sherlock Holmes (1887) and Tarzan (1912), the true eminent Victorians.  Stoker may have used Vlad the Impaler as inspiration for his character Count Dracula, but he is mostly a fantastic fictional invention.

I’ve always avoided reading Dracula because I expected it to be as hokey as the Béla Lugosi films, so I was greatly surprised by how literate and well-written this epistolary novel is compared to all the cheesy films it has inspired.  By using letters, telegrams, diaries, phonograph cylinders, newspaper clippings, etc., Stoker gives an immediacy to his story that the standard third person narrative would have lacked, and was still too confining to express in the standard first person tale.  The novel is full of rich details, especially about living and travel in Europe in the late 1800s.  The story progresses slowly, relying on a slow buildup of horror, with little direct stage time for Count Dracula himself.  This works very effectively to showcase life in 1897, when news traveled very slowly, and generally came by word of mouth or newspapers.

I claim Dracula is a Christian novel because its worldly philosophy is based on the British viewpoint at the peak of its empire, with it’s stout, stiff-upper lip embrace of Jesus, scientific progress and world conquest.  Abraham Van Helsing, a Dutchman, is the real hero of this novel, but he’s not the action hero of the Hugh Jackman film Van Helsing.  He’s an older doctor and lawyer, wise man of science, and early X-Files philosopher, who is deeply religious and accepting of the Christian faith.  Makes no bones about it, Count Dracula is an invader of England and the divinely backed civilization of Christ.

Dracula is an intimate novel, with Van Helsing, the prototype for Rupert Giles I’m sure, as Watcher, leading his merry band of vampire slayers, who must keep their war secret because they know few people can accept the truth about the undead, and nothing they can ever say will be believed, and all their actions will be considered law breaking and criminal.

Out on the border between darkness and light, Count Dracula lives in remote Transylvania, where the medieval mind still dominates the peasant population.  The story begins with Jonathan Harker’s long trip to Dracula’s castle, that chronicles moving backwards in time as he leaves the civilization of the west, heading east, via devolving forms of transportation.  The descriptions of his travels are rich with details, making me think Stoker had made the trip himself.

The story involves two women, Mina and Lucy, and five men, Harker, Seward, Morris, Holmwood and Van Helsing, and takes a leisurely time to unfold.  Each get to tell their story in first person through the trick of the epistolary novel.  This could be confusing with so many characters, but I listened to a version of the novel narrated by John Lee, which was fantastic in its presentation, making quite clear the identity of each narrator.  This novel is well worth the trouble of listening to slowly, in a good audio book edition. 

I especially loved the character of Quincey Morris, a laconic Texan that greatly reminded me of another American cowboy, Lee Scoresby, also inhabiting a British fantasy novel, set in the 19th century, The Golden Compass, and played by Sam Elliot in the film, who has lassoed and hogtied many a laconic Texan role, even to the point of satire, as in The Big Lebowski.  Quincey Morris is a young Lee Scoresby in Dracula, and one of Lucy’s three suitors.

Psychiatry even plays a roll in Dracula, with John Seward, a head of an insane asylum that contains yet another fascinating character in the novel, R. M. Reinfield, whose mind swings between vivid sanity and raving madness.  It’s a shame his story couldn’t have been in on the round-robin of first person narratives.  Reinfield’s madness and Mina’s hypnosis induced telepathy, is used by Stoker in a creative way to drive the plot forward, beyond the standard letter and diary knowledge.  For its time, Dracula is a very creative novel, that remains fresh and powerful in its narrative techniques.

Dracula represents an entire spectrum of communication, from God’s divine will, to the woo-woo world of ESP and the scientific telegraph, to shadowy unconscious minds sending up clues to the conscious minds of our heroes to decipher, while Satan commands his legions of undead with his will of evil whispering out of the darkness.  And here is where we define evil, where dark and light fight for the soul of humans, by claiming evil is the force that chaos uses to conquer order, and the divine is that force that civilizes.  This definition should work for my spiritual friends, as well as me and my secular unbelieving pals.

Dracula is an agent of the devil, so, why do our modern vampire scribes like Charlaine Harris and Stephenie Meyer secularize the vampire, exorcising its true evil nature?  Women often lust for the bad boys of society, and these women writers are making alpha vamps the sexiest of the stereotype.  Why is that?  Maybe women no longer want cavemen, Conan the Barbarian types, but prefer the better dressed, well-mannered vampire, with his suave sophisticated ways.  Or, is the enticing appeal of vampires, their power to give everlasting youth, something all women would sell their souls to get?  But something weird is happening.  Women have switched from wanting Van Helsing and Quincey Morris as males to swoon over, to wanting their fictional dream dates to be Edward Cullen and Bill Compton.

Sookie Stackhouse and her lady friends of Bon Temps, Louisiana, would be considered vamp tramps in Bram Stoker’s time.  If you want to know the philosophical difference from 1897 and 2009, read Dracula and then watch True Blood on HBO.  If we could send Victorian readers a television set and DVR loaded HBO’s True Blood and Deadwood and ShowTime’s Dexter, they would all believe that Van Helsing lost the battle in Dracula, and Count Dracula succeeded in his invasion of the British Isles and eventually conquered the Western world.

And don’t you find it rather ironic that an atheist is pointing out that popular modern entertainment represents the success of 19th century evil over the providence of the divine?  In the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries, the Christians are seen as the bad guys, and portrayed as buffoons impassioned by gun love, but ignored sexually and made cuckolds by lusty wives tempted by bad boys.

I love watching True Blood and Dexter, but then I’m an unbeliever.  It’s what my conservative friends expect of a yellow-dog, scum sucking, NY Times reading, liberal.   What I’m wondering is why all those hordes of Twilight fans, those young girls and their clean-cut moms, women who wouldn’t unzip their jeans for nice boys, and bitch at any bad boy they met, have fallen madly in love with the pretty vampire.  When I grew up, the only good vampire was a staked vampire.  I was taught it was perfectly ethical, even heroic, to kill vamps and Nazis, neither of which had souls.  Now Spike, the Vampire, will go to the ends of the Earth to find a soul and gain the love of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.  We certainly live in topsy-turvy times.

But let’s get serious here.  What is really happening?  Are secular vampires really a product of liberal thought, where every frail human action must be forgiven and understood?  Charlaine Harris presents her vampires seeking civil rights, and compares them to gays coming out of the closet.  But is this going too far, isn’t civilizing vampires wrong?  Isn’t it unjust to compare civil rights and gays to savage killers?   Why does popular culture now romance the evil?  Dexter wins sympathetic feelings for serial killers, so should we expect a lovable but loopy child molester in some future premium channel drama that will warm our hearts?  If we could see ourselves from some outside pop culture viewpoint, would we look like skinheads embracing a warm and fuzzy Hitler?

Or is it just good clean fun, like when we let our tykes play with Grand Theft Auto.  Personally, I wonder if it is wrong, either ethically, or morally, to have the entertainment appetite of a Roman at the Coliseum.  Or can I justify my entertainment tastes by rationalizing that it explores the edges of social reality?  Dracula is good clean fiction, but what has Bram Stoker planted in Victorian times, that has flowered in our modern world, causing us to love the vampire?  Actually, I don’t love the vampire, and still want to see them dusted, so maybe I just jealous of Bill, Edward and Eric. 

This leads to the next level of psychology of vampire stories, the one below good and evil.  Something is happening here, and I don’t know what it is, but I’m thinking it has to do with the changing roles of women in society.  Bram Stoker started it by giving Mina and Lucy, equal time with men, and equal bravery, showing that Count Dracula only converts women to his way of life.  Why are the leading writers of modern vampire stories, Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris and Stephenie Meyer, all women?  What would Sigmund Freud make of all of this?

Does the acceptance of vampires merely model the acceptance of male psychology by women?  Vampires are violent killers, but so are men.  Vampires enslave the souls of women, but so do men.  And if biting throats are equated with sexual intercourse, vampires and men both seek to penetrate the female body.  Maybe Harris and Meyers just want tame the savage beast, dress him in romantic garb, polish his behavior and put his lustful appetite on a diet.  If this is true, then the trend of accepting modern vampires is merely women recognizing how far they have to go to get guys to dress GQ and stop our killing ways.

Up till now vampire stories have always been Christian stories because the standard issued weapons to fight vampires were the cross, host and holy water.  Vampire fiction in recent centuries are metaphors for the Catholic Church supplanting the ancient religions and superstitions.  Charlaine Harris’ vampire world has regressed to a pre-Christian pagan worldview in direct conflict with Christians.  Does that mean she’s a witch?  But then her vamps only fight Protestants. 

Contemporary revamp vamps represent a loss of Vatican power.  Is it any wonder Anne Rice and Charlaine Harris stories are set in Louisana, a former Catholic stronghold?  But as the power of God grows fainter, so does the power of Satan.  Vampire Edward is downright prissy compared to Count Dracula.  If this trend continues, the bottle blood drinking vamps of today will be supplanted by even wimpier vamps in the future.  Without God there is no Evil, leaving a reality of random dangers fought by the force of evolution to produce order.  Vampires are supernatural creatures, and if our secular world erases all belief in the supernatural, what happens to vampires?

In other words, atheism kills vampires just like Holy Water.

JWH – 7/20/9