Vampires sure are the thing these days, aren’t they? Esquire has an interesting take on their popularity in terms of mainstreaming gay love, specifically in the show True Blood. Neil Gaiman’s article also makes some good points in relation to pop culture, his own writing, and why the mythic vampire persists in so many guises.
At least Buffy wanted to kill the damn things. Angel was a special case (cursed with a soul) and Spike, well, who hasn’t felt like having a fling with a bad boy once in a while to escape a monotonous drudge? She never had to wonder how he felt about her either. He was very clear when it came to expressing desire. Plus, she had just come back from the dead and who else was around who could understand what that was like? Spike may have manipulated her into it, but Buffy is the one who made all the rules and forced him to follow them. It was the only way she’d play the dark secret sex game Spike was craving. He needed that connection to someone else as much as she did so he complied with every one of her secretive demands.
I read and saved around two hundred Buffy studies articles from Slayage and other sources as and when I could find them. They run the gamut of topics, too, from language to philosophy, religion, culture, sexuality, fashion, whatever. For any discourse a scholar can suggest, I think a Buffy scholar could pull a reference to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Besides tracking the number of times vampire teeth touched human beings, Paul Shapiro’s piece also examines work by several other writers so you may as well start with his. A tidbit to whet the appetite:
Since vampires exist along a border of life and death, vacillating between human and monster, Stater (1997:1) argues that there is no real reason for a vampire to obey traditional gender roles. She says, “Social constructs such as sexuality cease to be of such importance when the possessor of that sexuality, more importantly than defying ideas of what sexuality ought to be, defies the very laws of life and death.” This is interesting because even with the freedom of being “dead,” “soulless,” or “evil,” the vampires in Buffy the Vampire Slayer appear to mostly follow traditional gender lines and heterosexual norms–at least when it comes to their biting patterns. It is beyond the scope of this paper to debate the larger overall questions about whether or not Buffy the Vampire Slayer violates heterosexual gender norms. [Arwen (2002) and Alessio (2001) say it does challenge gender categorization and shatters female stereotypes; while Levine and Schneider (2003) and Owens (2003) say the show reinforces hetero-normal sexual and gender stereotypes.]