Ever since I found out about the existence of a book called Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, and even more ever since I learned it was to be turned into a movie, my feelings about the subject have been complicated.
This is because three years ago, during dinner with a friend, I gave a monologue that contained the following words, pretty much verbatim:
“I have to figure out some way to jump on this vampire craze bandwagon. Somebody’s already doing Jane Austen as a vampire, so that’s out. Gay vampires? Done to death. Charles Darwin, Vampire Slayer? No, absolutely not. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer? No, that wouldn’t work at all. There’s got to be something….”
In the end, the best I could come up with was Michelle Obama, Vampire Slayer, which I still think would be amazing, but which would require too much research and energy, since my agent informs me that exactly six people will buy it, to be worth it. Later a few friends suggested that it could work as a graphic novel, but by then the release of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, the movie, was imminent and the moment seemed to have passed.
I’m doubly upset about Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter because it was written by the same guy who wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which, as I’ve said before, was staring us all in the face all along and why didn’t I think of it?
In any case, I felt that Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter did not, in fact, work, though not necessarily for the reasons that gave me pause when I first considered the idea, or at least not only for those reasons. My objections were based on the fact that part of the trope of the vampire slayer is that the slayer must be unequivocally the underdog. S/he has to come from a position of powerlessness. Not something it’s really possible to portray the leader of the free world as doing.
In addition to this problem, however, the movie made clear another, one that had escaped my scrutiny: given today’s mores, an evil bake-off between vampires and slavery is unwinnable. Either vampires are worse than slavery, which forces you to portray slavery as not really that big a deal when compared with the real problem, or slavery is worse than vampires, which forces you to portray undead bloodsucking monsters trying to destroy the human race as not really that big a deal when compared with the real problem. Neither of these positions is tenable by a sane and moral person in 2012. In the movie, the vampires and the Confederates join forces near the end, but having common cause is different from being morally equivalent.
None of this makes me feel any better, of course, about the fact that Seth Graeme-Smith is rolling around in piles of money that might have been mine if I’d just known better how to seize an opportunity, but at least the situation isn’t exacerbated by my turning out to have been incorrect to boot.