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On the overuse of Vampires, Elves, etc. in fiction

October 26, 2010

Look through a catalog of fantasy. Any. Undoubtedly, you will find an abundance of vampires, dwarfs, elves, werewolves, and their kind. Even the tentacle monster, which was relatively obscure for most of the 20th century, has been overused to death (especially by our good friends in Japan).

Thus, the inevitable outcome of this be thus: fantasy has grown immensely stagnate.

Where is the motivation to read, for example, of a Medieval-esque warrior (with a vaguely European-language influenced name) riding his horse through the European-style countryside, fighting werewolves, being tempted by some sexy vampire (it is very hard to find a non-sexy vampire in fiction these days), and slaying evil dragons in the name of a religion undoubtedly inspired by Catholicism, pre-Christian European traditions (Celtic and Norse are incredibly popular choices), some hackneyed New-Age beliefs, or a mixture of the various, appealing elements? Where is the freshness in that?

Who wants to read stories of elves, when inevitably they fall in either the Tolkien-style, pseudo-“original” style, or folklore style? What is the point of including dwarfs in the if they are just going to be rip-offs of Tolkien’s? Or, as fellow blogger Lyndon from Digital Kicks puts it, “Generic is the New Fantastic”.

Pictured: Totally Original

Also, why would people endlessly read the multitude of vampire novels that are just rip-offs of Anne Rice’s work? Why read stories with vampires if they are just going to be the same damn thing over and over again? Does anyone who writes vampire fiction nowadays write it, or do they allow the archetypes to write itself? Does any vampire-writer these days write fiction not aimed toward the preteen/teenager/bored housewife/emo/goth/punk/scene/whatever they call themselves these days? What’s the deal with the hostility with werewolves these days? Can anyone name any story from before the 20th century involving vampires fighting with werewolves?

Also would it hurt to include some variation in the type of vampires used in fiction? Where are the Chinese vampires that have to hop due to fused knees? Where are the Penanggalans, Keyaks, and their ilk? Where are the odd, flying heads of South America that suck people’s souls through their noses? Where are the evil Kitsunes and Jyourogumos? Why does every type of vampire have to be European in type?

This is probably the most creative vampire I’ve ever seen.

The end result is that, whereas vampires could be awesome, they instead now both literally and figuratively suck.

They certainly do.

On another note: Werewolves. A being that was popular amongst the lay-folk but not too popular in actual writing that somehow got gobbled up by a mixture of Hollywood and the Victorian Age and got spat out as the werewolves we have today. Also, I’ve noticed that for some reason or another werewolves and vampires seem to be enemies the past couple of decades. Why has yet to be really answered. The Van Helsing movie probably had something to do with it.

Also, why is it that one cannot find any other of the were-creatures found throughout the folklore and history of the world? Where are the were-bears, were-snakes (nagas?), were-bats and were-jaguars that were especially popular amongst the Mesoamerican peoples?

Pictured: Good idea hardly anybody uses.

And, to follow the rule of three, I shall now rag on another common fantasy trope: Elves.

What’s the deal? Before Tolkien, you could hardly find anything that we nowadays would call an “elf” in fiction. At most, they would be of the Gaelic/Norse variety, and would be more like the odder good-folk then the perfect beings we know them as today. However, post-Tolkien, every damn elf is a smug, elitist prick that more often then not would resemble some odd combo of Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, and Hugo Weaving mixed with Warcraft.

Another thing of note is that,in the original Norse mythology, Dwarfs and Elves were the same thing. So, looking at the smug attitude Elves have for dwarfs, one could make the argument that Tolkien-Elves are racist as well, seeing how dwarfs and Elves are the same species.

Fuckin’ Racist

To wrap it all up, I’ll just have to say that all I’m really looking for is something unique. There is so much folklore and mythology in this world, yet hardly anyone uses it to tell original stories. Where are the stories of young men struggling to gain the affections of a sad and lonely, yet beautiful (in a strange way) Homunculus? Where are the stories of women falling in love with their friendly-neighborhood were-jaguars? Where are the stories of hot romance between people and selkies? Where are the heroic epics based off of the exploits of Makoma?

Also, if you want to be truly original, make something up! Black elves that live like Tibetan monks, Chinese Dwarfs, a Naga falling in love with a were-pigeon, an epic of a hero trashing around in a Mongolian-inspired landscape and scoring with penguin-chicks? The possibilities are endless; so, if anyone reading this wishes to write fantasy, take these ideas to heart, and don’t fall into the trap of bland rip-offs that modern fantasy is.

Generic fiction is for the Transient People.

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