Heart of Darkness: Margot Adler, NF '82, Ponders the Connections among Vampires, Wall Street, and Moral Complicity

Nieman Reports, Spring 2014 | Go to article overview

Heart of Darkness: Margot Adler, NF '82, Ponders the Connections among Vampires, Wall Street, and Moral Complicity


Right about the time that my late husband was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer, I started obsessing on vampire novels. There I was, sitting by my husbands bedside, pondering mortality, and reading these novels-270 by the end.

A couple of months into this, I started asking larger questions: Why have vampires had such traction in our culture? Why had Hollywood spent $7 billion over a couple of years on vampire films and television shows? My exploration resulted in my book: "Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side," published by Weiser in February. What I now understand is that underneath the sexual glamour of modern vampires is an exploration of morality, power and its abuses.

While I was looking into this, I noticed how often vampires were used as images in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations I was reporting on. I also noticed that journalists writing about the economic crisis often used vampire imagery. The Huffington Post described a piece of new data as "like a single ray of sunlight-it's already enough to make the vampires scream." I saw a cartoon of someone putting a stake in the heart of a Wall Street trader. Voltaire wrote that vampires were not real, but there were men of business "who sucked the blood of the people in broad daylight. …

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