When I have a lot to read for school, I have to make a difficult choice. I can a) go to the office, close the door, and prop myself in my purple chair (which is uncomfortable to distraction), b) stay on the super comfy couch (and get distracted by the TV), or c) be really comfy in the bedroom for the inevitable nap that will take president over reading all too soon.
But this isn’t interesting. I know. Unless I’m reading Dracula and decide to sequester myself in the bedroom, in a 4-poster bed draped in a blood-red bed spread. I’ll admit that the novel has soporific powers and I was getting really frustrated. Can Lucy just die already? But then I was bleeding, a hazard common when I don’t file the sharp corners of my nails, and I thought, “Great. Now Dracula is going to find me.” I’m not interested in haunting cemeteries looking for small children to steal away. Toddlers are adorable to a point, but then they are also loud, rude, and suspiciously sticky. Also, being locked up in a creepy, old castle living off whatever he can stuff in a sack without even access to a bookstore is not precisely how I want to spend eternity. Especially if I’m locked up with his two other brides. Let the vampire cat fights ensue!
Here’s the thing about Bram Stoker’s claim to fame. Everyone knows Dracula. He is a cultural icon, or at least a version of him is. Even if you don’t realize it, Bela Lugosi is the Dracula you picture when the vampire is invoked. This is reasonable, since Lugosi was the first to (legally) depict the character. (Trivia Bonus: Lugosi learned the script syllable by syllable because he didn’t speak a word of English when filming began.) Every depiction since then has been a homage of sorts to Lugosi’s suave, aristocratic Count is echoed across 60 years through greats like Christopher Lee and Gary Oldman. But this version is , unsurprisingly, not in line with Stoker’s description of the tall, thin, red-eyed, mustachioed, monster. Not a one of those Draculas have the thick fingers or hairy palms that Jonathan Harker dutifully describes, not to mention the horrendous breath.
I think the problem is that we have romanticized the aristocratic classes of Europe. In modern media (I’m talking to you, Tudors), they are not just unbelievably rich, they are unrealistically gorgeous. Henry VIII was fat and plagued by the gout, not exactly the spitting image of John Rhys Meyers. You have to keep in mind that the strict, business-exclusive marriage policies of the ruling classes meant that there was a significant amount of in-breeding. Let’s look at more modern history, if you’re in doubt. Anyone spent time drooling over Prince Charles? No? Oh, but we can counter with William and Harry. Did you notice that William is already balding? As for Harry, he’s a ginger, so he was probably a changeling left by the faeries. Not to mention that these are English examples, whereas Dracula was reportedly a member of the Eastern European aristocracy. This is gonna sound exceedingly rude, but when was the last time Eastern Europe was the standard by which beauty was measured?
All I’m saying is that I’m tired of us being afraid of UGLY. It is only allowed on bad guys. Women are only allowed in comfy clothes, sans make-up, when they are under the power of the Crimson scourge, suffered a break-up, or are about to undergo a major make-over which will solve all life’s problems. Even worse, ugly is being expunged from bad guys, too. The obvious physical flaws (facial scars, hunchbacks, claw-hands) are passé, mere clues for children so they know where evil treads. And when the figure is deformed, clearly indicating ill intentions, they don’t bother with developing motivations. Why does he want to take over the world? Because he’s a giant, evil robot voiced by Agent Smith, that’s why.
Okay, so this started out as a little break between Dracula and The Exile of the Uisliu Brothers. I might have gotten carried away. Hope you learned something.