Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why vampires don't work (1)

Pondering the well-regarded Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In for my review of it a couple of weeks ago, I realised that it exemplified one of the key implausibilities in the vampire mythos.
However, I'll spare that observation for another few days, because it immediately led me to think of this supplementary quibble (a little play on words, too - if you'll indulge this pet vice of mine).
The answer to the question in the post title here is....
Because they have independent means.
They must do, obviously.  It's seldom discussed - but they live quite extravagant lifestyles: they have big houses, fancy clothes, they travel a lot; they often have paid servants looking after them.  OK, they don't have to pay for food, but.... pretty much everything else they have to provide for themselves just as we mortals do.  And it doesn't come cheap.
Some of them, of course, come from 'old money' (Dracula being the prime example; although I suppose most of Anne Rice's characters do too).  And I suppose they may often be able to appropriate the property of their victims.  And in the Hammer cycle of Dracula films, the Count quite often had admiring young upper-class mortal acolytes who could presumably subsidise his considerable expenses.
But the economics of being a vampire are usually left rather vague.  It would seem to be beneath most of them to rob mere mortals of their wealth (haughty bunch, vampires - even if they're not from the aristocracy).  Nor would they stoop to engaging in business, surely.  And they clearly don't have day jobs.
Where does all the money come from?  Did they invest in steel or oil or railroads in the mid-1800s and then sleep for a hundred years??
These are the kind of thoughts that I amuse myself with during bouts of insomnia...


JES said...

My friend Floyd Kemske wrote a series of novels in the early '90s in a genre which he dubbed "corporate nightmares." The first, Lifetime Employment, was about a company with a fixed headcount and no way to advance in your career unless your boss died. Consequently, nearly everyone in the company became quite accomplished murderers.

The third book in the series, Human Resources, was described this way by the publisher:

"Corporate management is the use of human beings as resources. So is vampirism. When a vampire is called in to turn an ailing biotech company around, reorganization takes on a much paler cast.

"What would happen if a vampire were to take over a company and reorganize it? And if that vampire were to feed not only on fresh blood, but also on fresh ideas?... a humorous but frightening look at corporate re-engineering."

The new manager of this company is a vampire named Pierce. Ha!

(Info about the book, including blurbs and a link to the first chapter, here.)

But anyhow, you may be onto something with your "economics of being a vampire." I'd never considered it before but, if anything, must have assumed that vampires didn't really need money.

From the "(1)," you mean to indicate this will be an ongoing story?

Tony said...

This is a fascinating piece of speculation, the subject of which had never occurred to me before. I can contribute no suggestions, but my guess is that your last explanation is the right one; they would had to have appointed really honest financial representatives to watch their interests while they slept, of course, but then who would put their descendants at risk of having a cheated vampire knocking at his door one day to demand his money?

Froog said...

Oh yes, hours of fun in this topic! The genre is so rife with ridiculous implausibilities. Do vampires go shopping, for instance? Or do their clothes magically never wear out?

I was contemplating one further post in this series - but who knows, there could be more, if it proves popular.

Froog said...

I'd like to read some of that 'corporate nightmares' series. They sound like the better episodes of The Twilight Zone or Night Gallery.