2009: The year of the vampire

But will the same hold true in the coming year?
2009-12-27T00:00:00Z 2009: The year of the vampireBy Kathleen Quilligan - kathleen.quilligan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5331 nwitimes.com

In 2009, fangs were the new black.

Although fangs and their blood-sucking owners have been around for centuries turning into bats, hiding from the sunlight and avoiding garlic, this past year their popularity seemed to explode into pop culture. From television to movies to books, consumers have sunk their teeth into the vampire frenzy in 2009, but will the same be true for 2010?

"Vampires look like us," said Jerry Pierce, an assistant professor of history at Indiana University Northwest, who said part of the attraction to vampires is their human sensuality. "We can identify even with that sex element. And they always wear leather. Werewolves in leather just doesn't work."

Glenn Sparks, a professor of communication at Purdue University Lafayette, said what made recent vampire stories, such as TV's "The Vampire Diaries" and the books and movies of the "Twilight Saga" popular is the stories are about how we relate to each other. He said people are aware that we need human connection beyond social networking sites and cell phones, and teens especially are exploring those relationships.

"Hollywood is able to depict the theme in a way that made it seem real to young people, and young people are the fad-makers of the culture," said Sparks. "It could have been about something else and relationships, but it happens to be about vampires and relationships."

Khris Rettig, a librarian at the Lake County Public Library Schererville-Dyer branch, said she's noticed long lists of reservations for any "Twilight Saga" book, or any vampire book in general. The library has a program that creates surprise packages for readers, grouping a certain type of book together and labeling it, such as "For the thrill seekers." She created a package labeled "If you liked 'Twilight.'" It was on the shelf for only about two hours. That's part of the reason the library doesn't create a vampire display.

"I suspect it would never have books on it," she said. "It's hard to have a display without any books."

As the Lake County Public Library's book coordinator, responsible for ordering the books for the library's adult collection, Janet Kotarski said she has seen vampires rise in popularity over the past decade. Doing a keyword search of the word vampire in the library's catalog results in 584 entries.

"As long as the authors are writing vampire books, there are people who will be interested in checking them out."

Pierce said with the popularity of the boy wizard Harry Potter winding down, the search for the next big thing is on, and though vampires in "Blade" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" have always been around, vampires seemed to fill the void.

Pierce and Sparks attribute much of the popularity to marketing. Sparks said Hollywood is always looking for themes that will make money, and once they start producing content that is lucrative, that content has an impact on what is popular. Both attribute a large portion of the vampire frenzy to marketing.

"The ideas of vampires in biology class sounds ridiculous, but it was depicted as 'Hey this could really happen," Sparks said.

Josh Solarczyk, manager of the Kerasotes ShowPlace 12 in Schererville, said he's worked at the theater for the past four years, and can't remember a year as vampire-laden as this one. When "Twilight: New Moon" premiered Nov. 20, Solarczyk said the theater had seven midnight shows that were sold out three to four weeks in advance.

Besides "Twilight," 2009 theaters also showed "Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant" and "Transylmania," a vampire parody.

The fact that there's a movie out making fun of vampires leads Pierce to ask if the vampire fad has now run its course.

That sounds about right to Solarczyk.

"I think it's hit its peak. I think people are getting a little tired," he said.

But Rettig said while the peak may have been reached, she sees a slow exit because there's still at least two "Twilight Saga" movies left.

Sparks said vampires will likely leave gradually from pop culture, but they may be back.

"I think these themes ebb and flow. They're so deeply rooted in our pop culture. It will dissipate and it might resurrect again. When? Who knows."

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