Skepticism

for reedbraden: monsters, magic, and boobs

aka Monster Sunday 10.19

I may regret this in the morning, but here goes…

Because reedbraden thought that monsters, magic, and boobs was the topic of my previous post I would like to point out that all three of these things are available in fantasy and scifi, in any combination that you like. I have my own boobs, so I’m not generally on the lookout for boobs in fiction, however. But since it was brought up, I figured I’d look into it for you.

I was not surprised to discover that vampire stories, especially, are rife with female breasts. I found this out simply by searching for “vampire boobs” and “sexy vampires” in Google. Some of the interesting (possibly more interesting for those of you who don’t have your own boobs) things I discovered are:

I’ve noticed that in recent fiction, vampires have become able to have sex. In the older vamp novels I read, such as Ann Rice’s classics, the vampire feeding frenzy was akin to orgasm and vampires were not able to have intercourse with each other or with humans. That’s changed in recent fictions such as Moonlight and Twilight (hope that’s not a spoiler for anyone).

More interesting (to me anyway, since, as I’ve said, I have my own boobs so I don’t need to obsess about vampire boobs so much, which is not to say that I have never fantasized about vampire boobs), I have also noticed that in recent vampire stories, there is an attempt to create scientific explanations for vampirism based on medicine and genetics.

This isn’t entirely new. The oldest story I’m aware of that uses this technique, rather than supernaturalism, to explain vampires is the 1954 novel, I Am Legend. The Twilight series does the same thing. What seems like magic to unsuspecting humans is explained by science by the vampires. There’s not much actual science in the books, but the idea that things need to be explained scientifically is prevalent.

Being that it’s me writing, thoughts about vampirism inevitably lead to thoughts about Christianity.

Both magic and a need to rationalize have also become part of Christian fundamentalism over the past few decades. In the late 70s and early 80s, I was involved in what was called the Word of Faith movement. In this flavor of fundyism, we believed that whatever we said would come to pass. That belief came from the Bible verse where Jesus said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Many mainstream and fundamentalist groups condemn the Word of Faith movement for being a kind of practical magic. But even though they outwardly reject the doctrine, it seems like most fundy groups have adopted it, perhaps unconsciously. We can even see this type of thinking in George W. Bush’s way of saying only what he wants to be true. It is like the power of positive thinking on steroids.

On the other hand, and ironically at the same time, rationality, or the need to have science back up beliefs, has also become a part of fundamentalism, and this is why places like the Creation Museum in Kansas Kentucky and the Institute for Creation Research in California exist. In a way, this need for scientific validation is historically a part of Christianity, and it heeds back to the Catholic church’s beef with Galileo. In another way, this is a new way to look at faith, where mysticism must submit to logic. Although many of the premises on which this new Christian logic is built are faulty, the ideal of building a philosophy on a foundation of science is sound. I often wonder whether this desire can be used to create a form of Christianity (or religion in general) that is not based on belief in the supernatural, but rather on an appreciation for all that is natural.

Well, enough musings for today. As usual, I have more questions than answers. Go enjoy some vampire boobs, sink into philosophical thought, or visit your local church. Whatever floats your boat. Happy Sunday.

writerdd

Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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26 Comments

  1. Wait, hold that thought…

    “… the ideal of building a philosophy on a foundation of science is sound. I often wonder whether this desire can be used to create a form of … religion in general … that is … based on … an appreciation for all that is natural.”

    Could you please elaborate on how that can be done? Someone should have thought of that earlier!

  2. In addition to writing sexy vampire novels Ann Rice also wrote sexy kinky erotica under pseudonyms. I can’t help but notice that her official website doesn’t mention them but does talk about becoming Catholic after an atheist hiatus.

    Another example of Christianity putting sex in the closed. Or good marketing.

  3. “I often wonder whether this desire can be used to create a form of Christianity (or religion in general) that is not based on belief in the supernatural, but rather on an appreciation for all that is natural.”

    Doesn’t humanism come pretty close to this? Not that any form of personal development can be said to be “finished” or “done” or whatever.

  4. Oh dear… what have I wrought?

    Interesting read though. I’ll have to forward this on to (blog co-author and podcast co-host) Katie. Her honours thesis was on infectious disease in film and literature, so vampirism played a big role in her research.

  5. I’m not sure, but I am pretty sure the character in I Am Legend had sex with the woman vampire. Since they were all really humans, it would make sense. I’m not sure if I’m confusing one of the films with the original novel.

  6. 1st, Hurray for the return of Monster Sunday!
    Thank you very much.

    B., Ann Rice’s books are boring as it is possible to be, if it wasn’t for the thought of homoerotic fucking vampires they wouldn’t sell.

    Third, I loved the book “I am legend” and am still waiting for a good movie version of it to be made. 3 attempts 3 failures.

    D. @bug_girl:
    That sounds like kick ass contest. Similar to the one where people try to add a few more lines to “It was a dark and stormy night.” Bug this would be a lot of fun. Talk your fellow skepchicks into it, for the good of all humanity talk them into it.

    Fifthly,
    Does anyone remember the old Creepy or Vampirella magazines? Those used to scare the living shit out of me as a kid. I couldn’t get enough.

    G. Thanks again for the return of Monster Sunday. Monster’s on Sunday rock.

  7. The object of a philosophy based on a sound rational footing has been something that philosophers have been trying to do since at least the time of Socrates and almost all of 20thC. philosophy was devoted to showing that this is impossible.

    As for Boobs, I’ve found that developing a pair of Moobs (Man-boobs) has in no way deminished my own interest in Boobs.

  8. Having grown up in a time when the Bela Lugosi Dracula movies weren’t really “ancient” yet and “Dark Shadows” was cutting edge “modern” fiction, vampires have always been fascinating for me. I was a seeker of knowledge and although skeptical of the “reality” of it, I read books and myths about what was “known” about vampires and were-creatures. Also being a fan of superhero comics (starting in the 1950s with Batman and Superman and progressing through the Marvel revolution in the 1960s), I was fascinated how comics and monster stories became increasingly centered around science rather than magick or the supernatural, much like the movies had. By the time Marvel began the Spider-man, X-Men, Iron Man era, everything was explained by science except for the odd characters like Dr. Strange. I think a lot of this stems from the science boom of the 50s (sputnik, space, H bomb, etc.). Curious how the New Age movement moved things in the opposite direction for a while but now it seems to be headed back. Since it is “fantasy”, I like either explanation but I’m more “engaged” with the science-based stuff if it is done well. And boobs work in well either way. ;)

    @bug-girl: loved the quotes. The bad scifi erotica line had me in stitches.

  9. I am an unbiased lover of boobs. One need not be a vampire, a protestant, a taoist, a dairy farmer, a skeptic , or a true believer for me to smile amidst a possessor of happy boobs.

    Ok … Jenny McCarthy, lovely boobs or not, I’d have to smack on the head, but other than her … I’d smile and say thank you.

    I prefer a pretty mind to pretty boobs, of course, but if a mind is a terrible thing to waste, man has McCarthy wasted hers.

  10. Sexuality has been a part of vampire myth for quite some time (although heavily couched in innuendo in the Victorian era that brought the vampire myth to the attention of most westerners): among Lilith’s primary characteristics were sexuality (incl. spawning demons with Sammael after being ditched by Adam for ‘insubordination’) and child-murder via exsanguination.

    In his classic, ‘The Vampire in Europe,’ Montague Summers recounts a story in which Apollonius of Tyana (1st century AD) cautions a lovestruck pupil “this fine bride is one of the vampires…These beings fall in love, and they are devoted to the delights of Aphrodite, but especially to the flesh of human beings, and they decoy with such delights those whom they mean to devour in their feasts.”

    Several eastern European vampires were known for their prolific sexual appetites, and were even able to impregnate their lovers.
    Admittedly, these medieval stories are a far cry from the modern ‘sensitive’* vampire lover, since these were still ruddy, bloated, evil corpses.

    *insert dismissive noise here.

    … I think that’s enough pontificating for me, given that this really misses the point of the rest of the essay. My bad.

    Finally, Gabrielbrawley, I must concur with your points 1, B, Third, and G.

  11. There’s been a massive explosion of “Supernatural Romance” books over the last ten or so years–you might not realize it if you don’t habitually look around in the Romance section of your local bookstore, but fully a third of the titles are now books about vampires, vampire hunters, demon vampires, demon vampire hunters, werewolves, werewolves that hunt vampires, vampires that hunt werewolves, and the hunters that hunt werewolves that hunt vampires that hunt hunters.

    Also, they all have supernatural magic sex with each other.

    I’m not sure if this is indicative of changing sensibilities of romance readers, or if someone has just noticed that there is (or, was) a big, untapped market for paranormal romance.

  12. Twilight … ugh. What rubbish. Utter, utter rubbish. I don’t understand why people read such horrible shite.

    Anyway, Ann Rice always made me laugh. SO cheesy. But still oodles better than Twilight, at least.

    I really liked Charlie Hudson’s Already Dead. I need to read his others… Very noir.

  13. Also, yes, I am kind of a nerd and a bit snobbish about it, but Twilight is *so* horribly written, and trite, AND THEY FUCKING SPARKLE. It’s just … there are so many other wonderful novels out there, including vampire novels. I don’t understand the love for Twilight when it’s just so damn *bad.*

    If you want a great vamplire novel, read Charlie Hudson. He’s dark and funny and a MUCH better writer.

    Twilight is akin to Danielle Steele, in my opinion: Horribly written trash.

  14. I was always a fan of vampires as a kid, before they metamorphosed from ‘monstrous creature of the night’ to ‘misunderstood and sensitive anti-hero/ine’ (fine as the exception – not so fine as the standard).
    I was enough of a nerd to audit a class years ago entitled “The Vampire in Myth and Literature” … and then found out I could have taught it.
    On the other hand, that was my introduction to Paul Berber’s excellent Vampires, Burial and Death, so all was well.
    Twilight – haven’t read it, but can it possibly be trashier than Anita Blake?

  15. @xth_scholar: Anita’s first few novels are better than any of the Twilight series, but Anita’s is always trashier, if only because Twilight serves as some hidden pro-Christian drivel. No, really. It does.

    Also, THE FUCKING VAMPIRES SPARKLE AND CAN GO INTO DAYLIGHT. Sorry, but Twilight is awful, awful. At least Anita tries to stay within the myth, even if her later stuff is hysterically bad.

  16. @BruceGee1962: I think that a problem that a lot of people have is a tendency to conflate all of the different aspects of religion into something that is either entirely good or entirely bad.

    I think it might be more useful to use to actually break down the idea of “religion” into constituent parts, and see which of them are necessary, which of them can be discarded, and which of them can be fulfilled through other means.

    “A sense of community” is always an example that I get when I ask what the point of religion is, and I think it’s a valid one (certainly, it does distinguish religions from, say, individual philosophies). The question is, how exclusive is this to religion? Can it be fostered and subsequently fulfilling in other environments and under different conditions?

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