It's not difficult to suppose that since vampires have been a highly popular part of our culture and society for a number of decades, they will continue to be so far into the next millennium and beyond. Whilst the fast approaching year 2000 will see little change in terms of attitude, consciousness and development in the human/mortal world the same must also be true of the vampire. During the past 100 years authors and film-makers alike seem to have already explored every possible avenue where the vampire is concerned, so where does it all go from here? A good question and one which I hope to answer during the length of this article.
For the next few years at least little can, or will, change and so to beyond that. Always assuming of course that the world as we know it makes it beyond the year 2013 (the last date foretold in the Mayan calendar) then the future of the vampire lies very much in the hands of three broad spectrums. Firstly, the authors and film-makers, who between them are wholly responsible for the vampire's stature and position in today's society. Secondly, the computer age, heralding the highly advanced graphic interactive arena along with the information super-highway, the internet. Thirdly, finally, and most importantly, the real future of the vampire lies within us: you, the reader and the thousands upon thousands of vampires, devotees and fanatics to whom the genre in its many varied forms is a part of our very existence. Let us look at each of these areas in turn and deduce what we can in order to gain a more realistic idea of what our future holds.
For many of you the last 100 years (1897-1997) will hold the fondest memories, even though our roots can be traced back as far as 125CE and even further back to Ancient Egypt and the even older eras of Babylon and Mesopotamia. However it is really during the past century that the vampire made its greatest impact on society and in popular culture. (Of course, Middle European history boasts a far greater vampiric impact on its everyday society. However, since this is an article on what might be, not what has been, a factual history lesson may be ruled out if I am to complete my scrawling ramble before sunrise!)
With the centenary of Bram Stoker's novel being published now behind us, 1998 sees the start of a whole new century and in vampire lore we are fortunate enough to be right here, and now, at its beginning. Whilst Stoker's novel may have seen humble beginnings before being cited as the book which really started the whole vampire movement (though we acknowledge that Polidori's short story has been equally influential!), we have one whole century of literature, film and history behind us. Thus 1998 is a very important year for all things vampire. Century Two, Year One sees the release of Jake West's 'Razor Blade Smile' (see elsewhere in this issue!) and John Carpenter's 'Vampires' at the cinema. Anne Rice returns to her roots and her most beloved creatures of the night with her sixth vampire book 'Pandora'. Whilst Year One also sees the Mother and the Legend in the form of Vampyria II taking place in London, UK, in September. The exhibition 'Vampiri' tours Italy after being so popular in its home town of Milan. And so to beyond...
With the creative genius of the new breed of film-makers, combined with the recent spate of huge technological advances in cinematic special effects, the vampire has a good future in the movies. Maybe even Tom Cruise can be persuaded to reprise one of his best roles for the film version of 'The Vampire Lestat'? Whilst the US B-movie brigade continue to saturate their own shorelines with a never-ending barrage of low budget vampire films it will be interesting to see how Hollywood reacts to both John Carpenter's 'Vampires' and the film 'Blade'. After all, vampires are now overdue for another outing in picture houses around the globe.
Since the news of Hammer Studios' resurrection a few years ago and the usual screenplay for 'Vlad the Impaler' being mooted as their first project it all seems to have faded back into obscurity. Perhaps it's all for the best. Vampire films have always been popular and always will be. Just keep those imaginations working, keyboards tapping, and that camera rolling, as Century Two Year One gets off to a bloodsucking start. Long may it continue.
The might of the written word has always dominated the vampire world, popularising and immortalising ancient myths and legends surrounding the nocturnal presence and symbolism of ultimate power and fear. Whilst predominantly set in either the present or days long gone by, it is the popular vampire authors of today and tomorrow who ultimately hold the key to unlocking the doors of the future. With a couple of exceptions, few writers have ventured too far into the next millennium with tales of where the vampire is going. Of course any story set in the future becomes science fiction of fantasy, as none of us really knows what lies ahead. Yet one thing at least is certain: humankind will always need sustenance, shelter and companionship whilst longing for eternal youth and power. So whatever changes humans as a species experience and come through, the vampire will always be by their side. For so long as there is an abundance of living mortals then the immortal bloodsucker can feed and continue. So to all of the popular authors of today, and to the will-be writers of tomorrow, a part of our destiny lies in your hearts and imaginations; the words that flicker across the monitor as your fingers dance across the keyboard are our future.
The internet and computers certainly have a large role to play in the future world of vampires. Indeed the world wide web is already swamped with websites devoted to vampires, a simple search engine will usually throw up at least 250,000 sites with a vampire connection and it's growing nightly!
Of course, this is the way in which many elements of society are currently progressing fastest. Sifting through the dross in order to find something of worth on the other hand is another matter entirely, which is the biggest down-side of this technological marvel. A gradual search through most of the sites will locate the ones which make it all worthwhile, and once found, stick with them. This is easily the most versatile, quick and effective way of locating news, data, information and current opinions on all things vampire.
The expansion of the information super-highway is fast becoming a problem, some say it already is too vast. Hell, how long does it take to trawl through references to the vampire? Indeed in many ways one needs to be immortal just to achieve such a feat, and then there's the newsgroups... but that's another lifetime! Vampires are undead and thriving on the internet and by the looks of things will continue to be so long into the next century and beyond.
One of the other areas which is very popular with techno-vampires is chat rooms or Internet Relay Chat (IRC for short). Chat rooms enable forums to take place in cyberspace where people can chat with one another across the world in real time via their personal computers. There are a great number of chat rooms dedicated to all things vampire across the Net, and whilst not being a substitute for the real thing they do allow you to chat to people with whom you wouldn't get to talk otherwise. It's not uncommon to find 50 people all chatting about vampires in one room! Some of the larger vampire websites also offer chat rooms on their own site. The beauty of this is that you can be whoever, or whatever, you want, from a fledgling 25 year old female vampire to a 4000 year old experienced male member of the undead community! Alternatively you can just be yourself, although some of us are just as ancient as we describe. Many chat rooms relating to vampires are filled with role-players, who do just that – role-play, with their various clans etc., speaking/acting out their roles within the game. Either way of using chat rooms is something which can only continue to grow in popularity as the lights fade on the last few months of this century and a new age dawns.
All forms of vampire gaming are destined to expand over the coming years, be that in the highly popular role-playing arena or via joypads on computer consoles. The leisure industry is an ever-expanding market. New levels of technology and imagination bring heightened thrills to a constantly entertainment-hungry audience and to those seeking escapism from the trials and tribulations of everyday mortal life. Where is it all going? Where will it all end? The division in everyday society becomes more apparent on an annual basis, as technology surpasses those who still marvel at the microwave, VCR and mobile phone. But the vampire is immortal and transcends all such boundaries.
The first outbreak of the AIDS epidemic did nothing to quell people's desire for the vampire, quite the opposite in fact. Society has endured all manner of cultural changes, particularly in the past two decades, and yet throughout it all the popularity of the vampire has continued to expand. It is impossible to predict exactly what the future holds for the vampire, but one thing is certain. Wherever the human species finds itself socially and culturally in the 21st century and beyond, the vampire will be close behind, if not out in front, blazing the trail. The real future of vampires in the next millennium, whilst undeniably influenced by authors, film-makers and the leisure industry, lies inside all of us. For it is in our hearts and minds that the vampire is at its most passionate and powerful. We shape our own futures, follow our chosen pathways to the ultimate destiny and beyond. The future is in our hands.
The vampire hereby begins its second century in popular society and culture. Century Two Year One – countdown to 'Millennium Bite' and beyond, way beyond.
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