Monday, June 09, 2014

That Lots of People Copy an Original Artwork, Doesn't Make the Original Into Something Unoriginal

Stuart K. Hayashi

Did you notice how sometimes, a work of art is so original, that everyone ends up copying it? And then, decades later, people who are ignorant of the history of the genre end up dismissing the trailblazing artwork as uninspired and unoriginal?

For instance, I knew a girl who considered herself a vampire buff. And, as is customary for any buff, she pointlessly looked down on other buffs. She hated Twilight fangirls, because Twilight fangirls don't appreciate reeeeeeeal vampires. No. Any true vampire fan prefers Anne Rice novels and the Vampire role-playing game.

I once asked her if she had any appreciation for Dracula. She replied no, the Dracula character is one-note, trite, and uninspired, and to like Dracula you would have to be really stupid, like a Twilight fangirl.

Um, hello? There wouldn't be any Anne Rice vampire novels or Vampire RPG if not for Dracula.

Before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, the idea of "vampires" was very different. They were just seen as smelly, vaguely humanoid creatures with no personal identity or individuality. They were pretty much like the Reavers from Firefly. Stoker and John Polidori (a friend of Mary Shelley's) were among the first writers to portray vampires, not as being homeless, but as being members of the aristocracy, and of having personalities. Moreover, they were among the first writers to portray vampires as being able to appear human and blend into human society. That trope comes from Stoker and Polidori. They were among the first to portray vampires as even being able to speak. If not for Polidori and Stoker, there would be no Lestat.

You can see how, over the years, various writers have built upon the mythology. Anne Rice's characters are more fleshed-out than Dracula was. Dracula seems somewhat primitive compared to Lestat. But, by that same token, one might say that the first mutant fish with legs, who first crawled upon land, were primitive compared to modern humans. The fact remains that, if not for those creatures, there wouldn't be modern humans. Likewise, all of this vampire buff's favorite vampire paraphernalia either would not exist, or would have turned out very different, if not forDracula.

Then again, this same vampire buff said that the Vampire RPG is for smart people, whereas you have to be stupid to like Dungeons & Dragons. Again, if not for Dungeons & Dragons, there wouldn't be a Vampire RPG, at least not in the form that it takes today.  -_-