Festival of Fiendishness: THE VAMPIRE LESTAT
In the midst of this heavy promo season, I’ve come to a realization: as awesome as I am (and I am awesome), you’re not actually interested in all that. I know it; you can admit it: you want your villains, right? Still liking the darker stuff, are we? Well, as your Master of Malevolence, I am here to serve. And to get donuts—didn’t know donuts were part of the gig, did you? That’s why I’m in charge.
Anyways, today’s marvelous miscreant is the vampire who put emotion in the emotionless, who showed us being a vampire is not all blood and bad news—it can actually be powdered wigs and puffy sleeves: Lestat.
Now, I am admittedly not a vampire fan. I know, I know, I did a whole post on Dracula but truth is, I’ve never really been into the whole slightly-effeminate, let-me-bite-you-on-the-neck, turn into a bat bullshit. What you always got was a pale, gangly white dude with a funny accent who couldn’t figure out how to run when the townsfolk came. Note: when you see a mob with torches, RUN. It never, ever ends well.
Not that Lestat doesn’t meet that stereotype—he absolutely does: he is a gangly white guy with blond hair from France. What makes Lestat interesting or even relevant is his grander purpose. We are introduced to Lestat and Louis—a terribly effeminate Brad Pitt and a Tom Cruise in a horrible wig—on a New Orleans slave plantation in Interview With The Vampire and we see Lestat turn Louis into a vampire in a discussion over the value of life. Louis wants to die; Lestat gives him an eternal life that is dependent on killing others instead.
Kinda fucked up, huh?
So that earns my attention. But what I like about this character is that he makes us explore the darker side from the darker side. You never think about if it is good or evil to take a man who wants to commit suicide and turn him into a vampire. Or if vampires even consider good and evil. And I’m not talking about the current spate of eco-friendly, “vegetarian,” sparkly-ass vampires (you know what raggedy shit I’m referring to); I’m talking about the goodness or evil of saving a child from death, only to give her an immortal life as a murderous child. Lestat ponders these things, wonders if he has a soul, wonders if God exists and, if so, what He must think about vampires.
I’ll ignore his penchant for high fashion and the ludicrousness of a vampire heading up an 80s hair band (seriously? Nobody said, “Um, Miss Rice, this idea, um, SUCKS?”). I’ll just focus instead on his investigation of life itself. When you consume humanity, when you live off of it, you begin to look at it differently. There’s discussion of his sexual preference (highlighted by the abovementioned penchant for high fashion—in the books, Lestat is considers himself bisexual). From our perspective, this matters; from his, life is life. When you are eternal, you are able to look at things from a much larger context. From a more external perspective. I think that’s what Lestat gives us.
I’m still not a fan. I think Lestat is a cruel “prince” of a character who neither understands the full implications of his powers on others nor really cares about them. I think he’s awfully self-centered for something that has existed for so long. But Lestat gave me, as a writer, the ability to see from another’s perspective. I write angels from their perspective—I couldn’t have without his blueprint. For that, I rank him AWESOME.
That’s my word! Up next, the reigning champion of the Mother Of The Year award: Joan Crawford AKA Mommie Dearest!