Of “Cougars” and “Kittens” in Vampire Visual Rhetoric from the Last Three Decades: Ageism, Sexuality, Conformity and Ethics in Relation to Contemporary Fictional Female Vampires in Film & Television

Various excerpts:

Aging- damned if you do (mortals), damned if you don’t (vampires).

Western society has lumped openly sexual single women into two categories– cougars and kittens.

Female vampires in film and television are most often the older women, often by hundreds of years.  They feed on “defenseless” younger men, thus making them “cougars”.  In Once Bitten the Countess needs the blood of a young male virgin to stay beautiful. In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the brides of Dracula feed on Jonathan Harker.  These women who cannot have children are depicted as baby eaters.  True Blood’s Lorena Krasiki is the ultimate cougar, entrapping Vampire Bill. Pam De Beaufort is an unapologetic bi-sexual cougar vampire business woman.

Then there are the perpetual nymphettes, the “kittens” who do have claws, possessing physical strength and worldly goods they want, just not mature feminine whiles or forms.  Claudia from Interview with the Vampire is one. In her tween body, she pretends to be lost or victimized to lure her next human meal.  For Jessica Hamby from True Blood, being a teenager is a real pain, especially since her hymen grows back every time she has sex, a side effect of being a night dweller who heals ever so quickly.  These two who are forever young must battle their thirst as well as their own body images, where as female vamps who are turned later in life are already more comfortable with their sexuality. Eli from Let the Right One In is a kitten with the mind of a cougar. She is Oskar’s tool for revenge who takes him far away from his former life, makes him her guardian and her accomplice.

The trait shared by all these women is infertility. Mrs. Fortenberry, upon meeting Jessica Hamby, points out that the vampire is no good for her son, Hoyt, since Jessica “cannot give him babies”.  The female vampire is seen as one that must destroy life since she cannot produce it.  In Van Helsing, the brides of Dracula yearn for their own babies. With the help of science and external mucousy sacks, they get them for a spell.

 

Even after ‘coming out of the coffin’, female vampires are given a bad rap, extending antiquated negative stereotypes of childless women being witches and whores because they entice men and boys into alternative lifestyles that do not involve traditionally being a husband or father.

Vampires: Myths of the Past and the Future

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Simon Bacon to me
show details 4:27 AM (5 hours ago)

Hello,

Once again many thanks for sending in your abstract.

I am pleased to say that your paper has been accepted for the conference.
We had an overwhelming response both in quantity and quality so we ask that if you are unable to attend please notify us as soon as possible to allow someone else to take your place.

The programme itself will be online soon at the link below but it is shaping up to be very exciting indeed.

We have five keynote speakers, including Sir Christopher Frayling, who are all recognized experts in their field and we also have a world premier of a short black and white vampire film with especially composed music for the performance.

All in all November in Lond is looking to be very exciting indeed and I look forward to seeing you there.

Best

Simon

Vampires: Myths of the Past and the Future

An interdisciplinary conference organised by Simon Bacon, The London
Consortium in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Cultural
Memory, Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, University of London
Deadline for submissions: 30 April 2011

Conference dates: 2nd – 4th November 2011

Venue: Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, School of Advanced
Study, University of London

Myths of vampires and the undead are as old as civilisation itself,
wherever humans gather these ‘dark reflections’ are sure to follow.
Whether as hungry spirits, avenging furies or as the disgruntled dearly
departed, they have been used to signify the monstrous other and the
consequences of social transgression. Embodying the result of a life
lived beyond patriarchal protective proscription that quickly changes
from dream to nightmare and from fairy tale to ghost story.

However their manifold and multifarious manifestation also provides a
point of opposition and resistance, one that subverts majority narrative
and gives agency to the disenfranchised and oppressed within society.
This is seen most clearly in the late twentieth century where, in a
plethora of filmic and literary texts, amidst a growing ‘sympathy for
the devil’ the vampire is constructed as a site of personal and social
transition. Here alternative narratives (e.g. feminist, ethnic,
post-colonial discourses etc) find expression and ways in which to
configure their own identity within, or in opposition to, the dominant
cultural parameters revealing hybridity as the catalyst for future myth
making.

In the course of the past century the vampire has undergone many
transformations which now see them as a separate evolutionary species,
both genetically and cybernetically, signifying all that late capitalist
society admires and desires thus completing its change from an
abhorational figure to an aspirational one; the vampire is no longer the
myth of a murky superstitious past but that of a bright new future and
one that will last forever.

This interdisciplinary conference will look at the various ways the
vampire has been used in the past and present to construct narratives of
possible futures, both positive and negative, that facilitate both
individual and collective, either in the face of hegemonic discourse or
in the continuance of its ideological meta-narratives.

Keynote speakers include:

Stacey Abbott

Catherine Spooner

Milly Williamson

We invite papers from a wide variety of disciplines and approaches such
as:  anthropology, art history, cultural studies, film studies, history,
literary studies, philosophy, psychology, theology, etc.

Possible themes include but are not limited to:

*       Myths, fairy tales and urban legends
*       Cross cultural colonisation; vampiric appropriation and        reappropriation
*       Cinema, Manga/ Anime and gaming
*       Fandom, lifestyle, ‘real’ vampires and identity configuration
*       Minority discourse and the transcultural vampire
*       Genetics, cybernetics and the post human
*       Blood memory, vampiric memory and the immortal archive
*       Dracula vs. Nosferatu; Urban vs. Rural
*       Globalisation, corporations and ‘Dark’ societies
*       Immortality, transcendence and cyberspace
*       Old World/ New World and vampiric migration
*       From stakes to crosses to sunlight
*       Blood Relations and the vampiric family
*       Abjection, psychoanalysis and transitional objects

http://igrs.sas.ac.uk/index.php?id=496

Got your fangs shined up?