Academic Culture Assembly holds discussion of the vampire craze

This news just in! If you’re looking to approach a handsome young man or woman, there is a new pick-up line to add to your artillery of one-liners — I want to suck your blood.

Although absolutely biologically repulsive, the idea of a blood-sucking night creature has taken hold of society as of late. Fans flock to watch Twilight movies, stay glued to HBO’s transmissions of True Blood and have overall generated a warm spot for fiends of the night.

This past Wednesday, the Academic Culture Assembly, spearheaded by director Susie Kwon, held a discussion entitled “Escapism in America: The Vampire Craze” to delve into what exactly makes the idea of these creatures so delicious. Led by School of Cinematic Arts professor David H. Balkan, the discussion brought together people of different backgrounds to probe into the phenomenon of vampires.

Surrounded by the bookshelves of Doheny’s Intellectual Commons, the semi-circle of congregated students — nibbling on pasta, salad and vampire-fighting garlic bread — learned of the history of vampirism. As Balkan revealed, the idea can be traced to Assyria, India and even the Aztecs and the Incas. Wearing a black, long-sleeved shirt, the professor traced the phenomenon from its beginnings centuries ago to the writings of Bram Stoker, Anne Rice and — of course — Stephenie Meyer. In media, the humanoid creatures appear in various shows, but were not always portrayed as sexy.

The first ever Dracula, as Balkan explains, was a “cadaverous-looking man,” far from the likes of the glittering Edward of present time. As he explains, Twilight is in fact a “sanitized approach” to the blood-sucking creatures and reads “almost squeaky clean.”

But no matter the style, vampires remain popular.

“We have always wanted to escape. We all harbor fantasies of some kind. You’re wanting something that seemingly is just beyond your fingertips. The fantasy is not grasping it but reaching for it … and that’s the allure of it,” Balkan said. “We are attracted to something maybe not in our best interest … some titillating, provocative thing.”

Indeed, vampires are the one thing that literally would be the death of humans — but, oh, what a sweet death.

The “Escapism in America” series will continue with two other programs dealing with superheroes and video games.