Is the day of Anne Rice over? The once reigning Queen of the Damned hasn’t been on the pop culture radar of late, as a large portion of her fan base consists of older readers who are not as heavily catered to by the entertainment industry.
It can be argued that, in the mid nineties, vampire lore and Anne Rice went hand in hand. The high profile release of 1994’s Interview with the Vampire, the star studded adaptation of her signature novel, signaled a shift in the perception of the undead. Slick, dangerous, beautiful, and contemplative, Mrs. Rice’s vampires were a sophisticated lot, carrying the themes of philosophy and theology with them. She struck a chord in the hearts and minds of Generation X by presenting her vampires as creatures who questioned their existence while lashing out against the concepts of civilized society. This was a solid representation of Generation X’s dogma.
Mrs. Rice’s stories also touched on a social taboo, homosexuality. The vampires are characterized as sexually inhibited beings prone to lovers of both genders. Traditional male and female relationships often held no real interest for many of her immortals. They forged liaisons by examining the traits of the individual. In many of Mrs. Rice’s plots, men desired men and women desired women. Such was the source of both allure and repulsion towards her tomes.
But while immortality lasts forever, trends can die as quickly as they’re conceived. Public lust for vampire chronicles has migrated into the realm of the young. Today, the mass appeal resonates from youthful vampires that deal with adolescent issues. Publishers and film studios are mining a veritable gold claim, with teenage immortal love stories as their hammer and chisel.
The angle that so appeals to the kids involve fairly straight forward fantasy romance with soap opera style twists and turns. The complexity of existence is abandoned in works such as Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, for than main reason that the whole of today’s youth is not interested in such issues. They cannot relate to what Mrs. Rice offers because her concepts do not relate to this generation’s mindset. With this change in perception comes the public’s hunger for a more sophomoric blood sucker.
Even the more adult vampire yarns have been geared for the less contemplative viewer. HBO’s Trublood, though bloody, vulgar, and sexual, still maintains a more forthright approach to its content. Little deliberation is given to the meaning behind the weight of immortality or the thin line between good and evil.
Mrs. Rice has still etched her place in the scribe’s universe. She will forever be approached with a sense of respect, even awe, for her exceptional abilities as a writer. However, it is those very abilities that will keep her from returning fully to the lime light as it currently shines. She pushes the envelope in her stories, building intricate plots filled with equally intricate ideas that cause her readers to exert effort in comprehension. Such is a concept that repels that mainstream of today.
But perhaps Mrs. Rice doesn’t really care. She’s made her mark in the history of the author; nothing more is required of her; she need only continue crafting magnificent stories. Her immortality is assured.
As always, I encourage you to draw your own conclusions.