Some Thoughts On Jack Trammell
Paul Klemperer, 6/12/2014
Finally, some fresh air in the political discourse. A right wing economics professor vs. a progressive sociology professor (and novelist), are going to duke it out in Virginia.
David Brat, the new Tea Party darling, grabbed the reins of the GOP’s runaway stagecoach from Eric Cantor, who was too busy fundraising at high-dollar steakhouses around the country to win his own primary race. Brat promises to steer the stagecoach firmly back into the past, with paranoid economic theories on immigrants, gays, uppity women, and other time-tested hot-button issues designed to circle the wagons against the forces of history.
Meanwhile Democrat Jack Trammell is reprising the role of Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” by running for office because no other Democrats would step up. His greatest strength is perhaps the fact that he is writing a vampire novel – the metaphorical resonance of battling the undead will connect with voters more than any other political soundbites that get tossed around.
As someone with a background in both sociology and writing, I am naturally inclined to support Trammell. Of course, it depends on what he does with the vampire theme. I’m working on my own vampire novel, but our popular culture landscape is glutted with vampire shtick these days, and it will take someone with great insight and creativity to lead us into new vampire metaphorical territory, someone with bold new ideas who won’t just rehash old vampire storylines.
Frankly, our country can’t afford out-dated, dead-end vampire plots. After the Anne Rice books, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, True Blood, and Twilight (for the tweens, some of who may be of voting age by now), we can’t go back to simple Euro-Christian vampire themes: crucifixes, holy water, Good vs. Evil. These dusty memes aren’t just limiting in metaphorical resonance, they are actually dangerous plot devices for our modern 21st century vampire stories. They can’t prepare our young people for the complex vampire-related questions they will face in the world we have created for them.
We need fresh ideas about the undead. In the same way business leaders are embracing innovative thinking and out-of-the-box business models, we need fresh, out-of-the-coffin ideas about vampires, zombies, werewolves, and all the rest of our monster mythology.
Why? Because our popular culture monsters are the dark mirror we hold up to examine ourselves. When a young person comes to the realization that the blood-sucking fiend stalking the neighborhood is really just a metaphor for our own sociopathic gluttonous consumer culture, will that young person be able to grapple with the crushing existential moral implications when armed only with a silver cross, wooden stake and holy water. I don’t think so! Even without armies of pedophile priests cluttering the moral battlefield, these antiquated tools have lost their cultural potency.
What we need now are writers with a greater vision, people who can draw from global cultural traditions, using both traditional and modern metaphorical plot devices to equip readers with a much more diverse set of intellectual tools. The struggle against vampires is really part of a larger struggle to understand ourselves. It’s a tough job but America has always shown great sociological and novelistic ingenuity in the past. I just hope Jack Trammell, vampire hunter, is equal to the task.