In Defense of the “Bad” Vampire

By Amanda Festa

SpikeI don’t know what has happened in recent years. It appears that the supernatural community has gotten together in an effort to overhaul their dodgy reputation with a brooding emotionally damaged poster boy.  But guess what, I don’t recall Dracula whining to Mina Harker about how he’s so sorry for all of the unnecessary deaths and really wants to change.

If the memo got lost somewhere between Transylvania and Mystic Falls, here it is:  Vampires are bad. By definition.  And still we are bombarded with these vampire characters put into boxes. They are vampires, they are all bad.  It is in their undead DNA to drink human blood. It doesn’t come in cartons.  And pigs’ blood is like soy milk – you can totally tell the difference.

Yet it seems that every modern incarnation of the gothic romance includes some sort of fangy love triangle with a girl trapped between the “good guy” and the “bad boy.”

I get it though – this fascination with the good vampires.  It’s bad boy-lite, training wheels until enough of your self esteem has been shot to hell that you are ready for the real thing.  He’s damaged, broken, he might do bad things, but it’s not his fault. He is a vampire, after all.  He’s trying to be good and that should count for something.

Enter the counterpoint – and every show has one.  The bad vampire, who is always met with initial reprehension by the girl trapped in the perpetual vampire sandwich.  But as sure as a stake to the heart, they always come around sheepishly when they realize the “good” vampire game is smoke, reflection-less mirrors, and a little too much angst for someone who only looks 17.

One of my favorite shows of all time is Buffy the Vampire SlayerBuffy fans are old pros at this plot device.  We did the whole vampire love story thing while Bella was still playing with dolls – probably in the office of a psychiatrist.

Angel was the broody vampire with a soul.  He was bad, but he reformed, you say.  He became a good guy, saw the error of his ways.  No, guys, he was cursed by gypsies. As punishment – because he was an unhinged lunatic who killed a village full of gypsies.

But, like all good Buffy fans, I let it slide because it was romantic and David Boreanaz looked good in a V neck and wasn’t their love theme music just everything?  We didn’t question it until one moment of complete happiness stripped him of his soul and sent him off the deep end. (Am I the only girl who now gets a little disappointed by sex when her partner doesn’t become a rage-filled psychopath afterwards?  So it wasn’t good for you then?)

There we were watching Buffy skewer him to save the world from being sucked to hell – and even after he killed people we were sad. Miss Calendar?! Giles is going to die alone now, you know that right?  Then he comes back after a short stint in a hell dimension and its all blood bags and repentance. Well, I’m sorry, you lost me there.

Spike and AngelEnter Spike.  Ok ok, so William the Bloody does have that Vlad the Impaler-esque ring to it – and sure he did a lot of bad, bad things.  (Vampire, evil by nature, remember? Stay with me.)  But how can he be cast as the “bad” cop to Angel’s “good” cop?

Hold on while I get on my soap box.  Spike fell for Buffy when he was still supposedly “evil” and endured torture to get his soul back – for her.  Angel’s soul was forced upon him – kicking and screaming, or killing and maiming – and good thing they had that curse backed up on floppy disk.  Before he got his soul, Spike was watching soap operas and singing rock ballads about his unrequited feelings for the Slayer.  When Angel didn’t have a soul he was plotting armageddon, stalking Buffy in full predator fashion, and killing her computer teacher.

But in the end, no one was overly disappointed.  The series finale took the safe route – Angel fans got their open ending and Spike fans got a romantic, bittersweet, world-saving sacrifice spectacular.  But why did it have to be that way?  Aside from the fact that the spin-off Angel had another season to go and Sarah Michelle Gellar wasn’t on it, they really shot themselves in the foot with the whole happiness equals a murderous rampage thing.  Yet, excuses aside, ultimately the show just wouldn’t make a choice. Couldn’t have her be with Angel – and wouldn’t have her be with Spike.  And maybe I’ve become cynical in my slightly advanced age (Oh, you guys are asking who is this Buffy character?) but I hate to break it to you, fans of the supernatural teen drama, I think there will be more disappointment in our vampire-loving future.

Angelus, have you met The Vampire Diaries’ Stefan Salvatore? Perhaps you know him as the Ripper. Let me introduce you.  Angel is off the human blood because he has a soul now – without his soul he becomes a slightly less well-adjusted Ted Bundy.  Ripper, err I mean Stefan, is also off the human stuff because one taste turns him into a criminally insane serial killer who kept a list of his victims carved on the wall of his closet. (There goes the security deposit. Couldn’t you just get a belt?) Either way, you guys have a lot in common — you both enjoy brooding, throw a mean pity party and pride yourselves on doing the noble thing – which usually involves making decisions for the woman in your life. You tell them they are better off without you — No, seriously girls, you are better off without them.

Brave New WorldMeanwhile Damon and Spike are off getting drunk.  They aren’t quite the foodies their counterparts are – even when they go vampire native their killing lacks the same sociopathic panache of Stefan and Angel.  And maybe they want you to be your best self, but Damon and Spike just want you to be you. Refreshing, isn’t it? And they don’t have ulterior motives.  And put your needs before their own.  Oh, Elena, you worry Stefan doesn’t like you when you’re not wandering through town like a Henley-wearing deer in headlights? You’re right, he doesn’t.  “Here Buffy, give this necklace to Spike… it has to be worn by a vampire with a soul.  Why don’t I wear it? Hahaha, that shit is dangerous.”

In the end, Angel and Stefan are in a glass house and the sun’s coming up.  The emotionally damaged bad boy that just needs fixing is so played out.  I don’t want to fix you.  I don’t want you to tell me what’s best for me.  Grow up, you’re like 300 years old.  Start acting like it…oh, and maybe stop hitting on high school girls.