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Fossil Fuel Extraction, Green Neoliberal Consumption, and Crude Optimism in the Vamprocene

“I’m a vampire, babe, sucking blood from the earth”—Neil Young

Introduction: Mindful Consumers and Crude Optimism

“But can your truck make it there on one tank of gas?” vampire Edward Cullen asks his human love-interest, Bella Swan, in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight (2005). “The wasting of finite resources is everyone’s business.”1 His Volvo might get better gas mileage than Bella’s truck, but in his concern over resource management and consumption habits, Edward should, perhaps, reflect more critically on his vampiric family’s own drives to consume: designer clothes, sports cars, and blood. Edward would object that his family consumes mindfully, hunting—though perhaps not shopping—with restraint. And that distinction is central to the argument of this article: vampires, I assert, are consumers, and more terrifying than mindless consumers, they are mindful ones. Although they are conscious that they are depleting (killing) energy supplies, vampires greedily extract and exhaust, wasting finite resources. Some moral vampires, like the Cullens, seek alternatives to human blood, but these individual choices do not remove them from the exploitative economics of vampiric extraction. Instead, Edward’s “vegetarianism” and fuel-efficient car allow him to claim that he is doing his part in the “business” of conserving natural resources, while neither challenging nor changing larger systems of capitalist vampiric consumption. For these reasons, I argue, the vampire is suitable allegory for the Anthropocene, or rather the Vamprocene,2 in which humans, fully aware of the damage they are doing to the planet—though we may “ignore, suppress, deny, or agonize over the knowledge”3—are unable to disentangle themselves from fossil economies and imagine a decarbonized future, but instead continue to drain the earth of its natural resources, just as the vampire drains its victim of blood.4 Cultural connections between blood and oil, vampiric iconography of extraction, and representations of sympathetic vampires that privilege personal responsibility over systemic transformations figure the vampire as a metaphorical means to confront and contend with our own practices of monstrous petro-consumption and our inability to imagine a future outside of it.

This article begins by tracing the blood-oil conjunction, which positions the vampire and its extractivist practices as reflective of our consumption of fossil fuels. Drawing from Lauren Berlant, I call our inability to imagine a decarbonized future “crude optimism.” I then turn my attention to Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), which implicitly suggests a connection between blood, petro, and vampirism, prompting literary eco-critic Jesse Oak Taylor to argue that it can be read as “the first great oil novel, a narrative encapsulation of what has come to be called petroculture.”5 The latent analogy between blood and oil found in Dracula, I argue, becomes more explicit as it is refined in more recent vampire fiction, reflecting the growing petro-subjectivity and crude optimism of the Vamprocene. After a discussion of the ways in which late twentieth and early twenty-first century films and television shows have drawn connections between vampiric and human resource extraction, I will consider vampires who have developed substitutes for human blood—alternative energies—arguing that the focus on personal responsibility instead of structural change in these narratives rearticulates neoliberal6 greenwashing 7 discourses that place the burden of environmentalism on the individual consumer, rather than imagining systemic transformation, and reiterate the fantasy that we can maintain our standards of living without fully breaking our attachment to oil, extraction, and capitalist consumption.

The discursive conflation of blood and oil in our understanding of fossil capital confers petrocultural relevance to the vampire. Energy historian Ian Wereley explains that “[t]he metaphor of oil as blood also appeared frequently in British debates about petroleum during the early twentieth century.”8 Werely cites French Oil Commissioner Henri Bénger’s 1918 pronunciation that oil is “the blood of the earth,” and British Petroleum’s 1925 characterization of their colonial “network of Persian oil pipelines as a ‘vein of steel.’”9 He also notes that the rhetorical and conceptual connection between blood and oil persists in the titles of contemporary films, television shows, and books about petroleum and petroculture, like There Will Be Blood (2007), Blood and Oil (2015), Living Oil (2013), Lifeblood (2013), and Blood Oil (2015).10 The metaphoric link between blood and oil can be found everywhere, from the politicized “No Blood for Oil” as an oppositional slogan to the 2003 Iraq War to poet Maria Goretti’s “Petroleum Song,” which describes oil as “living blood gushes/ rises/ rushes/ toward the sky.”11

In addition to discursive connections between blood and oil, there are also biological ones. Ted Atkinson observes the traces of blood in oil and oil in blood. He quotes Phyllis Montana LeBlanc’s accusation that “We all know there’s blood in that BP oil!” evoking the deaths of workers on the Deepwater Horizon rig, and citing medical tests that “have detected traces of oil and the dispersant Corexit in the blood of Gulf residents,”12 both of which demonstrate the “slow violence”13 (to use Rob Nixon’s term) done to the poor and working class by extractivist policies and industries.14 Blood is in oil and oil is in blood, and, as sustainability theorist Alan Stoekl observes, “We cannot help but realize that in some sense we are oil.”15 In the age of petro-subjectivity, the connection between blood and oil becomes a lived reality and this figuration invites us to metaphorically connect vampiric consumption of blood to human consumption of fossil fuels.

Louisiana Governor Truman Burrell’s Vampire Prison Camp, Season Six of HBO’s True Blood

The aesthetics of the vampire also offer a visual connection between the extraction of blood and oil, the penetration of fangs analogous to oil drilling and the flowing, spurting, and gushing blood evoking oil spills and blowouts. Cultural critic Christopher Beam observes that in early, black and white vampire films, the dark liquid might be mistaken for petroleum. However, if the introduction of “color film made it clear they were drinking blood, not oil,”16 the iconography of the vampire remains evocative of fossil fuels and their extraction. The 2014 Iranian film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night establishes its setting through oil tanks, pumpjacks, and a power plant emitting clouds of carbon dioxide. Located in Louisiana, the mise-en-scene of HBO’s True Blood (2008-2014) also contains traces of energy production and petroculture throughout the series, including the Vampire Authority’s filming location at an old power plant, exterior shots including a network of lines and pipes, and the season six vampire prison camp, which prominently featured oil tanks.17 The episode “9 Crimes” (S3E4) ends with a lingering shot of blood pooling beneath a limousine, recalling a liquid much more likely to leak from a car: oil. 18 Though these visual traces are unremarked upon, their presence evokes the ubiquity of petroculture and frames a connection between blood-guzzling vampires and gas-guzzling cars.

Our vampiric consumption of oil might be read as what Lauren Berlant calls “cruel optimism.” Berlant explains that “cruel optimism exists when something you desire is actually an obstacle to your flourishing … the object that draws your attachment actively impedes the aim that brought you to it initially.”19 She argues that any attachment is inherently optimistic in its “affective structuring”; it holds the hope of “satisfying something,” of actualizing a fantasy or fulfilling an ambition.20 Optimism becomes “cruel” when your attachment prevents you from achieving whatever it promised in the first place. In this article, I will use the term “crude optimism” to refer to our attachment to oil, how it fuels our standard of living21 as we strive to attain “the good life,”22 while actually resulting in catastrophic alterations to the earth, compromising our future ability to “flourish” and rendering the “fantasy of the good life” unattainable for most, and fleeting for many. Rather than a good life, our vampiric thirst for/attachment to oil is resulting in our slow (un)death as we consume and endanger our planet and ourselves.

Capitalist Vampires: Dracula and the Problem of Sustainability

Although this article will focus primarily on recent American vampire fiction, in this section I will briefly examine Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the progenitor of the twentieth and twenty-first century vampires I will be discussing. Dracula, I argue, anticipates many of the themes that I will trace in the later sections of my article, notably through questions of capitalist exploitation and the unsustainability of resource extraction. Bram Stoker marks the rise of oil capitalism, while later texts explore how the entrenchment of neoliberalism and petro-subjectivity are figured in and through the vampire and its attachment to and appetite for blood and oil.

The vampire has traditionally been associated with the exploitative practices of capitalism, which are linked to both issues of extraction as well as the antisemitic coding of the vampire.23 In Capital, Vol. 1, Karl Marx famously describes the relationship between capital and labor in vampiric terms: “Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks.”24 In this figuration, capital is undead, sustained and prolonged by the lifeblood of the workers it exploits. And as literary historian Franco Moretti notes, this vampiric exploitation is purposeful, mindful; the vampire’s “aim is not to destroy the lives of others according to whim, to waste them, but to use them.”25 However, inherent in this “use” is exhaustion, depletion, and destruction. While the vampire might be aware of the benefits of not draining victims completely, of allowing his resources to renew and replenish, like the capitalist system he comes to represent, “Dracula is impelled towards a continuous growth, an unlimited expansion of his domain.”26 And this “unlimited expansion” undercuts any possible sustainability. Like capitalism, the vampire cannot support both “continuous growth” and sustainable resource use.

Thus, while Finlay argues that “Dracula, a thinking being, must operate so as to perpetuate the cycle of victimization,”27 the novel suggests that despite his status as a conscious consumer, Dracula literally sucks resources dry. He drains Lucy not just of her blood, but the blood of the four men who open their veins for her, eventually exhausting and killing this resource. It does not matter that her blood supply is limited. Once Lucy’s veins are emptied, he moves on to other sources, draining and consuming them, until they, too, are depleted and dead. Vampirism is ultimately unsustainable, and Dracula is forced to move from human to human, place to place, energy source to energy source, searching for new resource frontiers.28 He knows that he kills and destroys, and yet this knowledge does not stop, or even reduce, his consumption. The scarcity of viable blood serves to index the problem of a finite, non-renewable energy resource that drives the novel’s plot.

Dracula’s vampiric resource extraction exacerbates the unsustainability of his position. By draining Lucy’s blood, he transforms her into a vampire—one more consumer in need of energy sources. Van Helsing bemoans that Dracula might be “the father or furtherer of a new order of beings.”29 In killing Lucy, Dracula creates another vampire, who will, in turn, exsanguinate more humans, and thereby create more vamps. Vampiric survival depends on sustainable extraction practices which are at odds with their imperative toward growth. In this way, we can see how vampiric thirst articulates crude optimism with special force. Berlant explains that “where cruel optimism operates, the very vitalizing or animating potency of an object/scene of desire contributes to the attrition of the very thriving that is supposed to be made possible in the work of attachment.”30 The human blood that literally “animates” Dracula, that bestows on him his immortality and vitality, threatens his future ability to survive. The attritional violence done to humans through the extraction of their blood, the slow violence of the vampire bite, and the increase in vampire population that follows, threatens Dracula’s ability to not only “thrive,” to achieve a good undeath, but to merely survive.

While Marx’s capital vampires feed on the blood of the proletariat, capitalist accumulation is sustained by more than just labor power. Environmental historian Jason W. Moore notes that capitalism also depends on the appropriation and exploitation of “Cheap Nature,” which he argues, includes “labor-power, food, energy, and raw materials.”31 Moore explicitly connects the exploitation of humans and the rest of extra-human nature, not distinguishing between the appropriation of labor-power and that of natural resources. Macarena Gómez-Barris, founder and Director of the Global South Center at Pratt University, explains that the “extractive view” of Cheap Nature “facilitates the reorganization of territories, populations, and plant and animal life into extractable data and natural resources for material and immaterial accumulation.”32 Extractivism offers a perspective through which Cheap Nature might be viewed, abstracted, and extracted from existing ecological and economic systems.

The metaphoric extraction of the vampire, then, need not be read only in relation to labor power, but can also represent capitalist exploitation of the extra-human Cheap Nature; the vampire does not consider humans as labor-power, but dinner, a source of hypostatized bio-energy. In Dracula, Van Helsing conflates human and extra-human nature, discursively connecting humans to agricultural food production: Dracula traveled to London, “leaving his own barren land—barren of people—and coming to a new land where life of man teems till they are like the multitude of standing corn.”33 Van Helsing posits that Dracula has depleted the resources of his homeland, relocating to find new sources of energy to consume. His initial description of “barren land,” evokes not a space in which people have been depleted, but one in which natural resources, like vegetation and soil nutrients have. Vampiric extraction, then, can be read as not only sucking humans dry, but exploiting the land itself, and, in this way, can demonstrate how our human attachment to resource consumption, to the extraction of fossil fuels, does attritional violence to the Earth.

Blood and Oil: 21st Century Capitalism and Vampiric Extraction

While Dracula anticipates issues of extraction, consumption, and petro-subjectivity, these themes have been refined in twentieth and twenty-first century vampire fiction. Indeed, Nick Groom argues that one possible explanation for the recent boom in vampire narratives is their ability to negotiate “fears from poisoning landscapes to the overexploitation and consumption of natural resources, as well as the general desecration of the earth.”34 The capitalist imperative toward growth, which Moretti connects to Dracula’s vampiric nature, is, in our fossil economy, dependent on the continuous injection of fossil fuels, figuring the vampire as an effective analogy for addressing and contending with these issues. The analogy of vampire extraction, though, does introduce a problem of scale. Unlike zombies, who roam in overwhelming hoards, vampires tend to be individuals, existing as solitary hunters or in small groups. Of course, there are exceptions found in vampire apocalypse films like The Last Man On Earth (1967), Against the Dark (2009), I am Legend (2007), and Daybreakers (2009), in which vampires come to outnumber humans, thereby threatening both human and vampire with extinction. Still, Finlay dismisses vampires as a metaphor for extractivist resource consumption and anthropogenic planetary effects because “they operate on a small scale, too small to embody the societal anxieties engendered by the human-perpetuated extinction of nearly 10,000 plant and animal species annually.”35 However, recent fiction has expanded vampires’ capacity for resource consumption, mechanizing, automatizing, and industrializing it.

The season three Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) episode “The Wish,” for example, imagines the bleak alternative future of a Slayerless Sunnydale culminating in the season one arch-villain The Master executing his apocalyptic plan: industrialized exaction. The Master explains to his fellow vampires, “we have always been too parochial. Too bound to the mindless routine of the predator. Hunt and kill … Hunt and kill … Titillating? Yes. Practical? Hardly. Meanwhile, the humans, with their plebeian minds, have brought us a truly demonic concept: mass production.”36 The Master provides a demonstration of this technological development for his demonic brethren: a young woman is placed on a conveyor belt and then pierced with eight metal spikes, which tap her blood, draining it through a series of clear tubes. The penetration of her body evokes the drilling of fossil fuel extraction, the image literalizing the idea of the petro-subject, an individual made—and impossible to think outside—of the easy availability of carbon-energy. By mechanizing and automatizing the extraction process, The Master’s invention invokes a vampiric industrial revolution and functions as a “mega extractive project.”37 The technology allows for the extraction of resources on an increased scale and pace, but it also means a faster depletion of blood and of fuel.

In Daybreakers, we see the catastrophic fulfillment of The Master’s promised, industrialized, extractivist vampire future. The film is set ten years into a plague that transformed the majority of the human population into vampires. Mega blood extraction projects, like the ones imagined by The Master, are led by corporations like Bromley Marks Pharmaceuticals38, which “farm” human blood,39 hooking humans up to mechanical extractors until they are drained. However, despite the technological efficiency of these factory farms, the blood supply is rapidly depleting and newspaper and televised reports warn of blood shortage riots, the crisis threatening vampire standards of undying. Coffee shops advertise that they are “still serving 20% blood” and undiluted human blood is treated like a bottle of fine wine. At the start of the film, less than five percent of the human population remains, and the inevitable extinction of humanity threatens the survival of vampires. Sorcha Ní Fhlainn argues that the peak blood metaphor of the film, “deploys the language of energy discourse and the terror of unstable petro-futures” and explores “the dire ecological unsustainability in extracting and selling natural resources at an unprecedented rate.”40 While there have been challenges to the idea of peak oil,41 the film nevertheless provides an effective allegory for humans’ conspicuous acknowledgement of and refusal to accept the finite resource of fossil fuels. Daybreakers is set in what is essentially an “eco-apocalypse,”42 where there is not enough blood to sustain vampires as a species.

The vampires in this film offer various solutions to the blood shortage, mirroring human reactions to the finite availability of carbon-based fuels. Frankie Dalton, a soldier specializing in resource acquisition (i.e. human capture), is in denial about resource limitations. He responds to his scientist brother Edward’s dire insistence, “What happens when there is not a single drop left?” with the reassurance that “we will always find more.” Frankie’s confidence that there will “always” be more reflects Michael Watts’s discussion of oil frontiers, which are “discovered, developed, and recovered” as technology and drilling techniques advance.43 The unearthing of new frontiers and resurrection of old ones prolong our dependency on oil, delaying our interest and investment in alternatives. Frankie, here, asserts his belief that the vampires will discover new human frontiers, which suggests a similar postponement toward systemic change. He is optimistic that the vampires will discover new reserves of crude blood, and remains attached to the very logics of blood extraction that led to the peak blood crisis.

In contrast, Charles Bromley, the capitalist vampire who owns Bromley Marks Pharmaceuticals, takes a techno-utopian approach. At the beginning of the film, Edward, employed by Bromley, is attempting, unsuccessfully, to manufacture a synthetic blood substitute. Bromley’s conviction that a blood alternative can and will be manufactured is an example of what energy humanist Imre Szeman has called “techno-utopianism,” which “looks to science and technology to develop energy alternatives that will mitigate the end of oil.”44 As his company continues to violently extract blood from humans, Bromley believes that Edward’s synthetic alternative will be perfected in time to prevent the catastrophe of vampiric extinction. Vampire society will continue without altering its capitalist structure or abandoning its optimistic attachment to neoliberal consumption.

In this film, vampires come to stand for our practices and policies of extraction and the scale of our fuel production. In industrializing production, thus increasing our rates of extraction and consumption, we have depleted fuel reserves and fundamentally changed the planet’s geosphere and biosphere. Our vampiric extraction of resources has led to the Vamprocene, an epoch in which fossil fuel consumption has resulted in climatic and geological changes that threaten our continued survival. However, even as we are conscious of the ecocidal repercussions of our consumption, we are unable to abandon our attachment to oil instead remaining optimistic that we can maintain our capitalist structures and standards of living without changing our relationship to carbon fuels.

“Vegetarianism,” Blood Substitutes, and the Green Neoliberal Vampire

“And now they have succeeded in contaminating their own fucking blood, never mind their water,” Adam despairs in 2013’s Only Lovers Left Alive, bemoaning the pollution of the planet and the humans who inhabit it. Vampires are suited not just to mark out the connections between blood, oil, and extraction, but also to represent an emergent eco-consciousness, developed in response to the biocidal effects of the Vamprocene, yet limited by an inability to move beyond sustainability to imagine the transition to a decarbonized economic system. The figure of the good or sympathetic vampire has been read as a representation of our contested subjectivity as we grapple with climate change and carbon emissions.45 However, I want to put pressure on this metaphor of environmental stewardship and sustainability by considering the way in which moral vampires reinscribe neoliberalist discourses of personal responsibility rather than systemic social and economic change. These green neoliberal vamps are another example of our crude optimism, our attachment to systems and structures that are perpetuating our vampropogenic alterations to the earth.

In Vampires Are Us, a reflection on reading over 260 vampire novels, Margot Adler posits a connection between the nineteen-sixties and nineteen-seventies emergence and popularity of morally conflicted vampires with humans’ growing environmental awareness and concern. She notes that “one of the first truly conflicted vampires,” Barnabas Collins of the supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows, debuted less than a year before Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalogue.46 Photographs of our planet taken from space, she suggests, “transformed the way we saw the Earth. For many of us, it was the first real understanding of ourselves as beings connected to the fate of the planet.”47 If images of the blue marble shifted Americans’ understanding of their relationship to the planet, sympathetic vampires offered a way to explore and contend with that new ecological perspective and consider issues of sustainability. Barnabas Collins was the first, but since his undeath, we have seen a proliferation of vampires morally tormented about their resource consumption.48

Morality within these vampire stories is conflated with practices of sustainable consumption; evil vampires “destroy wantonly,” while good vampires drink responsibly.49 The sympathetic vampire, as both Adler and Joan Gordon note, feels guilt over his or her need to consume human blood and seeks out alternatives: drinking animal blood (sometimes out of novelty mugs) in the case of Spike and Angel from Buffy and the Cullens from Twilight (2008), or drinking manufactured blood like Tru Blood in HBO’s adaptation of Charlaine Harris’s The Southern Vampire Mysteries (2001-2013). When forced to drink from humans, these moral vamps generally do so with restraint and the goal of sustainability, as is the case in season seven of True Blood and Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy (2007). They seem to be mindful consumers in both senses of the word, the question of consumption figured as one of ethical ecology and moral practices of sustainability.50

The idea of personal responsibility in our relation to the natural world emerges from neoliberal policies. As political theorist Wendy Brown explains, part of the neoliberal project is “responsibilization”51 which “solicits the individual as the only relevant and wholly accountable actor.”52 Matthew Huber, who heads the Climate Dynamics Prediction Laboratory at Purdue University, specifically explores the ways in which responsibilization in the form of discourses of “personal responsibility” has historically been used to reposition the burden of environmental sustainability from corporations, who account for the majority of resource consumption and pollution, to private citizens.53 Corporate greenwashing campaigns emphasize consumer choices and activities like recycling as solutions to the environmental destruction perpetrated by neoliberal capitalism, thereby obfuscating the impact that corporate practices have on the environment, while also discouraging social and economic systemic changes that could undermine capitalist business models.54 Cultural sociologist Jo Littler also explores this shift from corporate to individual responsibilization when it comes to environmental stewardship, arguing that in buying into this responsibility shift, the “green consumer” is ultimately complicit in the neoliberal capitalist system.55 As Edward tells Bella, careful management of “finite resources is everyone’s business,”56 and it is through corporate neoliberal “greenwashing” that conservation becomes a selling point, environmentalist discourses absorbed into a capitalist system less interested in preserving and sustaining the planet than itself.

Greenwashing discourses enable the crude optimism that we can hold onto neoliberal capitalism while still saving the world. Berlant explains that cruel optimism “ignites a sense of possibility” while “actually mak[ing] it impossible to attain the expansive transformation for which a person or a people risks striving.”57 Neoliberal discourses of greenwashing and responsibilization “ignite a sense of possibility” for a way out of the vamprogenic destruction of the environment. However, while they hold out the promise of renewed “flourishing,” they ultimately suppress the “expansive transformations” that would provide new ways of living. The image of the sympathetic vampire also, I argue, perpetuates the neoliberalist discourse of individual responsibility and extends our attachment to capitalism, extractivism, and fossil fuels. Rarely, in vampire fiction, do we see a systemic change in vampiric extraction practices; rather it is the personal responsibility of individual vampire consumers, as Huber would say, to commit themselves to more ethical practices of sustainability.

In Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy, environmental and blood drinking ethics are explicitly linked within the novel’s take on the vampire mythos. The young adult series introduces two different species of vampires, moral Moroi and evil Strigoi, explaining that “Moroi … could become Strigoi by choice if they purposely killed another person while feeding. Doing that was considered dark and twisted, the greatest of all sins, against the Moroi way of life and nature itself. Moroi who chose this dark path lost their ability to connect to elemental magic and the powers of the world.”58 Strigoi are stronger and faster than the Moroi, a result of their unstrained resource extraction and reflecting the way in which fossil fuels have supercharged our capitalist economy. But these unsustainable feeding habits, draining humans, is discursively constructed as both a cultural and ecological taboo. Strigoi are not only ostracized from Moroi society, but they are also cut off from their magical connection to the Earth.

However, while Moroi feeding habits might be more sustainable, they are also extractivist and exploitative. Despite being coded as the sympathetic, moral vampires, Moroi drink from “feeders,” humans that “volunteer” to be fed on because they are addicted to the euphoric effects produced by vampire bites.59 While this practice might be more sustainable, it rearticulates the systemic appropriation of Cheap Nature, and reinscribes structures that enable the exploitation of human-energy slaves who are addicted to their exploitation. These members of the underclass are subjected to the slow violence of the vampire, their attachment to the pleasure of being bitten mirroring the Moroi’s dependency on human blood.

In Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, and in its film adaptation, the Cullen family abstains from human blood, substituting it with animal. This personal dietary restriction distinguishes them from other vampires ethically as well as visually: unlike human-drinking vampires who have red eyes, the Cullens’ eyes are an earthy golden-brown.60 However, this solution is unsatisfactory for the vampires who have elected to partake in it: “My family, we think of ourselves as vegetarians. ‘Cause we only survive on the blood of animals,” Edward tells Bella in the film version, “It’s like a human only living on tofu. It keeps you strong but you’re never fully satisfied.” While animal blood provides sustenance, the vampiric Cullens have lowered their standard of undying; they have given up the good undeath in order to live a more environmentally ethical one.

There is, of course, the question of whether nonhuman blood counts as vampire vegetarianism. James Stanescu argues that the “Cullens’ claim to moral vegetarianism is consistent with the moral premises of certain articulations of vegetarianism.”61 Yet, while the ethical reasoning might be the same, referring to this feeding practice as “vegetarian” undercuts the way in which it privileges humans over extra-human nature and articulates Cartesian dualistic discourses that inform neoliberal extraction, exploitation, and consumption of extra-human nature. This attitude conforms to Finlay’s characterization of “Shallow ecology,” “a stopgap measure and sometimes in service of the continued destruction of the environment … because both environmentalist and conservation movements take for granted humanity’s rightful dominance over the planet.”62 The shallow vegetarianism of the Cullens does not question their right to extract resources; it only redirects which resources are drained, while failing to challenge existing systems of consumption.

While in Daybreakers neoliberal attempts to develop synthetic blood are unsuccessful for most of the film, in True Blood, the Japanese Yakanomo Corporation’s Tru Blood, a blood substitute, offers vampires a sustainable alternative energy source, allowing them to “mainstream,” i.e. join human society. The industrial production of Tru Blood emphasizes its allegorical connection to fossil fuel and energy sources. When their factories are destroyed by terrorists, the Yakanomo company accepts Louisiana Governor Truman Burrell’s offer to set up manufacturing in an old oil refinery. Burrell explains that the oil company “left it for a newer facility” and it was later “repurposed…as a bottling plant from some fancy organic iced tea.”63 The continuity of the space suggests a connection between Tru Blood, greenwashed organic consumer products,64 and oil.

Similar to the Cullens’ vegetarianism, this alternative to human blood is unsatisfying. When Bill Compton offers the newly sired-vampire Jessica a Tru Blood, she whines, “Oh, it tastes like shit.” Bill responds, cajoling “It’s not bad. You get used to it.”65 Bill’s attempts at reassurance suggest that the most vampires can do is “get used” to Tru Blood; it may be a substitute for human blood, but it is an inferior one, and throughout the show, vampires make it clear that they would rather tap a vein than crack open a four pack. Few vamps completely eschew extracting human blood, preferring to drink from a willing, or unwilling, human, than out of a bottle. Even Bill, who is supposed to be the “poster boy” for the vampire mainstreaming movement does not abandon his attachment to feeding on humans, biting and bleeding his half-fairy, on-again-off-again girlfriend, Sookie.66 The mainstream movement ultimately does not eliminate feeding from humans; it only obscures it, a ‘redwashing’ of sorts.

Though it presents itself as fulling the fantasy of systemic transformation, mainstreaming, like the Cullens’ diet, is an issue of personal responsibility. Mainstreaming presents itself as a structural change enabled by Tru Blood; Bill tells Sookie “it’s all different now. There’s Tru Blood,”67 but the alternative energy source remains positioned within the system of neoliberal consumerism: vampires puncture necks or purchase Tru Blood, but they remain consumers. In addition, drinking Tru Blood is explicitly aligned with one of the other forms of neoliberal environmentalism: recycling. Bill explains to Jessica, “whilst you are under my roof, hunting is completely forbidden … We also recycle in this house. Tru Blood and other glass items go in the blue container. And paper products go in the white container.”68 Both Tru Blood and recycling position the responsibility for sustainability on the individual vampire consumer, obscuring the need for the larger social or cultural restructuring. Instead of systemic transformation, synthetic “clean blood,” provides vampires with a vain pipe dream of ethical energy engagement. Atkinson discusses the ways in which “ideological fantasies of ‘clean energy’ and ‘energy independence’ ” allow consumers to perpetuate their attachment to petro-consumption practices in place of systematic change.69 Despite the green consumerism offered by Tru Blood, vampires’ crude optimism, their continued attachment to blood that is real rather than Tru, undermines any possibility that the synthetic alternative truly will change vampire or human society.

In response to the blood shortage in Daybreakers, Bromley Marks Pharmaceutical Company also attempts to develop and manufacture synthetic blood. They position this venture as a quest to save vampire society by producing an ecologically-friendly alternative to feeding on an endangered species. However, at the end of the film, the redwashing of the endeavor is punctured by the company’s true motives. When Edward informs Charles Bromley that he has cured vampirism, Bromley tells him, “It’s never been about a cure. It’s about repeat business.” Bromley is not interested in a solution that would alter the social order, rather, he subscribes to the techno-utopic neoliberal fantasy of an alternative energy source that conforms to, preserves, and perpetuates existing capitalist systems.70 Szeman explains that, in this fantasy, “All of our worst fears about the chaos that will ensue when oil runs out are resolved through scientific innovations that are in perfect synchrony with the operations of the capitalist economy.”71 For Bromley, the blood substitute offers a “scientific innovation” that eradicates the panic and uncertainty about the finite availability of blood, but does not challenge the neoliberal model from which he benefits. Synthetic blood, then, maintains the crude optimism of capitalist consumption, “a sustaining inclination to return to the scene of fantasy that enables you to expect that this time, nearness to this thing will help you or a world to become different in just the right way.”72 Synthetic blood, as a replacement for human, maintains the capitalist fantasy, the belief that this alternative source of energy will produce change “in just the right way” that will enable the continuation of consumption without the consequences of catastrophic resource extraction.

In contrast, Edward recognizes the need to rupture and remake the system, the necessity for structural transformation. He discovers a cure for vampirism, and proposes it as a way to correct their blood sustainability crisis. Edward’s plan depends on “personal transformation, but now with a twist,” a “viral social” cure for vampirism that fundamentally alters their society.73 The cure proposes a systemic change, expanding individualized transformation beyond the limits of neoliberalism into a broader societal restructuring: he literally develops what Huber calls “new schemes for life,”74 as he figures out a way how to transform the vampiric undead back into the living human. Edward recognizes that a new system, a revamping, or rather devamping, of society is necessary to avoid the environmental catastrophe of the Vamprocene.

Conclusion: The Real Oil Vampires

Seeing the light of systemic change at the end of Daybreakers.

In NBC’s 2013 Dracula, the titular vampire descends on London determined to destroy a capitalist cabal, the latest iteration of the Order of Dragon, the organization responsible for killing his wife. His plan hinges on the development of alternative energy: “Power drawn from the magnetosphere … free, safe, wireless power!”75 The Order of the Dragon, you see, are heavily invested in oil, because “they believe it’ll fuel the next century.”76 To stop them, Dracula must disrupt human reliance on and attachment to oil by offering a renewable alternative. Although he is an undead blood-sucker, this Dracula is, in many ways, less vampiric than the oil magnates he intends to destroy.

In Our Vampires, Ourselves, Nina Auerbach asserts that vampires are always a reflection of humans, of their concerns, anxieties, fears, and fascinations.77 Vampires are frightening because they feed on human blood and take human life, but the true horror lies in the fact that vampires in these films, TV shows, and novels metaphorically manifest the extractive violence that we are committing against the planet as we suck it dry. Indeed, we are the real vampires, a point that True Blood makes abundantly clear as humans also drink vampire blood. The substance is addictive (recalling the way in which our oil use is often discursively framed as addiction) and results in heightened senses and increased strength and virility.78 Vampire blood is its own form of biopower, or perhaps given the ancient, undead status of the vampire, it might be, as Taylor suggests, better thought of as fossil fuel. In the show’s first season, Jason Stackhouse and his girlfriend, Amy Burley, kidnap a hapless vampire, Eddie Fournier, and imprison him in their basement, extracting his blood, their actions just as violent and exploitative as those committed by any vampire.79 Humans are not just the victims of extractive violence, they are also the perpetrators.

These narratives suggest that while we are conscious consumers, we do not necessarily consume with conscience. While moral vampires turn to alternative forms of consumption, they ultimately remain consumers, extractors. The ontology of the vampire stymies environmentalism that recognizes sustainability as an impossible dream and pushes, instead, for more radical systemic change. And perhaps it is in this way that we are most like our vampire analogues. The vampire’s inability to imagine a way out of blood extraction mirrors our own neoliberalist failure to imagine a decarbonized future. Vampires cannot configure a society that does not depend on blood consumption and extraction; neoliberal commonsense, crude optimism, and petro-subjectivity render it difficult to conceptualize, much less enact, a society that does not depend on fossil capital. It is easy to call for systemic change, Szeman argues, but “much, much harder to produce when what is called for is full-scale retraction against the flow of a social whose every element moves toward accumulation and expansion.”80 But if we are to stem the flow of blood and oil, we cannot be vampires. Instead, we must mindfully conceive of systems and structures that do not reinscribe discourses of vampiric capitalism, but that instead put a stake in those undead ways of thinking to conceptualize new forms of living.


Adler, Margot. Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side. Cape Neddick: Weiser Books, 2014.

A Girl Walk Home Alone at Night. 2014. SpectreVistion. Directed by Ana Lily Amipour.

Atkinson, Ted. “ ‘Blood Petroleum’: ‘True Blood,’ the BP Oil Spill, and Fictions of Energy/Culture.” Journal of American Studies, vol. 47, no. 1, 2013, pp. 213-229.

Auerbach, Nina. Our Vampires, Ourselves. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1995.

Beam, Christopher. “I Vant to Upend Your Expectations.” Slate, 20 November 2008, (

Berlant, Lauren. Cruel Optimism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 1997-2003. WB/UPN. Produced by Joss Whedon.

Brown, Wendy. Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. New York: Zone Books, 2015.

Canavan, Gerry. “Retrofutures and Petrofutures: Oil, Scarcity, Limit.” In Oil Culture, edited by Ross Barrett and Daniel Worden, 331-349. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

Daybreakers. 2009. Lionsgate. Directed by Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig.

Davison, Carol Margaret. Anti-Semitism and British Gothic Literature. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000.

Dracula. 2013-2104. NBC. Produced by Cole Haddon and Daniel Knauff.

Fhlainn, Sorcha Ní. Postmodern Vampires: Film, Fiction, and Popular Culture. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2019.

Finlay, Craig. “Sustainable Brains: Deep Ecology and Dawn of the Dead.” Journal of Humanistic & Social Studies vol. 5, no. 2, 2001, pp 131-143.

Gelder, Ken. Reading the Vampire. New York: Routledge, 1994.

Gómez-Barris, Macarena. The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017.

Gordon, Joan. “Rehabilitating Revenants, or Sympathetic Vampires in Recent Fiction.” Extrapolation, vol. 29, no. 3, 1988, pp. 227-234.

Goretti, Maria. “Petroleum Song.” In Futurism: An Anthology, edited by Lawrence Rainey, Christine Poggi, and Laura Witman, 476-479. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

Groom, Nick. The Vampire: A New History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018.

Huber, Matthew. “Refined Politics: Petroleum Products, Neoliberalism, and the Ecology of Entrepreneurial Life.” Journal of American Studies, Special Issue No. 2, vol. 46, 2012, pp. 295-312.

LeMenager, Stephanie. Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the America Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Littler, Jo. Radical Consumption: Shopping for Change in Contemporary Culture. London: Open University Press, 2008.

Malm, Andreas. Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming. New York: Verso, 2016.

Marx, Karl. Capital, Volume One, 1887, edited by Frederick Engels, translated by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, HTML by Stephen Baird and Brian Baggins, 1999, (

Mead, Richelle. Vampire Academy. Razorbill, 2007.

Meyer, Stephanie. Twilight. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 2005.

Moore, Jason W. Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital. New York: Verso, 2015.

Moretti, Franco. “The Dialectic of Fear.” New Left Review vol. 136, 1982, pp. 67-85.

Nixon, Rob. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011.

Only Lovers Left Alive. 2013. Recorded Picture Company. Directed by Jim Jarmusch.

Robinson, Sara Libby. Blood Will Tell: Vampires as Political Metaphors Before World War I. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2011.

Singer, Merrill. “Down Cancer Alley: The Lived Experience of Health and Environmental Suffering in Louisiana’s Chemical Corridor.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly, vol. 25, no. 2, 2011, pp. 141-163.

Stanescu, James. “Toward a Dark Animal Studies: On Vegetarian Vampires, Beautiful Souls, and Becoming Vegan.” Journal for Critical Animal Studies, Special Issue: Inquiries and Intersections: Queer Theory and Anti-Speciesist Praxis, vol. 10, no. 3, 2012, pp. 26-50.

Stark, Hannah. “Neohumanism in the Anthropocene: Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive.” In Eco Culture: Disaster, Narrative, Discourse, edited by Robert Bell and Robert Ficociello, 225-238. Lanham: Lexington, 2017.

Stoekl, Allan. “Foreword.” In Oil Culture, edited by Ross Barrett and Daniel Worden, xi-xiv. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Edited by Nina Auerbach and David J. Skal, Critical edition. Norton, 1997.

Szeman, Imre. “System Failure: Oil, Futurity, and the Anticipation of Disaster.” South Atlantic Quarterly vol. 106, no. 4, 2007, pp. 805-823.

Taylor, Jesse Oak. The Sky of Our Manufacture: The London Fog in British Fiction from Dickens to Woolf. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2016.

True Blood. 2008-2014. HBO. Produced by Alan Ball.

Twilight. 2008. Summit Entertainment, Directed by Catherine Hardwicke.

Watts, Michael. “Oil Frontiers: The Niger Delta and the Gulf of Mexico.” In Oil Culture, edited by Ross Barrett and Daniel Worden, 189-210. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

Webb, Jen and Sam Byrnard. “Some Kind of Virus: The Zombie as Body and as Trope.” Body & Society, vol. 14, no. 2, 2008, pp. 83-98.

Weinstock, Jeffrey. “Circumcising Dracula.” Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, vol. 12, no. 1, 2001, pp. 90-102.

Werely, Ian. “King Coal versus Prince Petroleo: Imagining Oil, Energy, and Transition in Early Twentieth Century Britain.” In The Rhetoric of Oil in the Twenty-First: Government, Corporate, and Activist Discourses, edited by Heather Graves and David Edward Beard. New York: Routledge, 2019.

Zanger, Jules. “A Sympathetic Vibration: Dracula and the Jews.” English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920, vol. 34, no. 1, 1991, pp. 33-44.


  1. Stephanie Meyer, Twilight (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 2005), 83. ↩︎

  2. Nick Groom uses the term “Vampirocene” in The Vampire: A New History to refer to the “extreme ubiquity and hyper-adaptability of vampire” within its cultural environment (202). My use of the term “vamprocene” refers more directly to human’s petro-subjectivity and extractivist, ecocidal relationship with the natural world. ↩︎

  3. Andreas Malm, Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming (New York: Verso, 2016), 9. ↩︎

  4. The connection between our wasteful consumption and vampirism has already entered the popular lexicon through the term “vampire appliances.” ↩︎

  5. Jesse Oak Taylor, *The Sky of Our Manufacture: The London Fog in British Fiction from Dickens to Woolf *(Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2016), 9. ↩︎

  6. This paper uses Wendy Brown’s definition of “neoliberal” from Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution: “neoliberalism transmogrifies every human domain and endeavor, along with humans themselves, according to a specific image of the economic” (10). ↩︎

  7. Greenwashing refers to the practice of companies using advertising and packaging to give the impression that they are environmentally friendly, despite their actual practices. Greenwashing is a way to develop positive public relations and to assuage consumer’s guilt about purchasing and using these products. ↩︎

  8. Ian Werely, “King Coal versus Prince Petroleo: Imagining Oil, Energy, and Transition in Early Twentieth Century Britain” in The Rhetoric of Oil in the Twenty-First: Government, Corporate, and Activist Discourses, Ed. Heather Graves and David Edward Beard (Abingdon: Routledge, 2019). ↩︎

  9. Werely, “King Coal.” ↩︎

  10. Werely, “King Coal.” ↩︎

  11. Maria Goretti, “Petroleum Song,” in Futurism: An Anthology, Ed. Lawrence Rainey, Christine Poggi, and Laura Witman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 476. ↩︎

  12. Ted Atkinson, “ ‘Blood Petroleum’: ‘True Blood,’ the BP Oil Spill, and Fictions of Energy/Culture.” Journal of American Studies, Vol. 47, No. 1 (2013): 217. ↩︎

  13. Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011). ↩︎

  14. As I discuss in detail, Karl Marx famously compared capital to the vampire, a figure exploiting the working classes. In the extraction and processing of fossil fuels, we see the way in which carbon-industries slowly drain poor and working class individuals and communities through slow violence done to bodies and environments (not unlike the slow, attritional violence done by many vampires to their victims). Nixon explains that slow violence is “a violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all. Violence is customarily conceived as an event or action that is immediate in time, explosive and spectacular in space, and as erupting into instant sensational visibility. We need, I believe, to engage a different kind of violence, a violence that is neither spectacular nor instantaneous, but rather incremental and accretive, its calamitous repercussions playing out across a range of temporal scales” (Nixon, Slow Violence, 2). Although much of Nixon’s work considers slow violence on a global scale—perpetrated in the global south by the north (as illustrated by the colonial propaganda quoted by Werely)—it is perpetrated against many poor communities in the global north as well. For example, while we saw explosive violence through the Deepwater Horizon disaster and other oil spills, the kind of slow violence that Nixon describes is also perpetrated against poor and working communities in the Gulf, which faced invisible, attritional environmental and bodily harm long before and have continued to face long after the explosive disaster, and the intensive news coverage it inspired, were passed. For example, Merrill Singer’s ethnographic research on low income, African American communities in Southern Louisiana’s Chemical Corridor, also known as Cancer Alley, demonstrates the effects of “hazardous chemicals discharged into its water, air, and soil” by petrochemical and chemical industries affect the health of the individual and the community (“Down Cancer Alley: The Lived Experience of Health and Environmental Suffering in Louisiana’s Chemical Corridor,” 142). ↩︎

  15. Allan Stoekl, “Foreword,” in Oil Culture, edited by Ross Barrett and Daniel Worden (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014), xiii. ↩︎

  16. Christopher Beam, “I Vant to Upend Your Expectations.” Slate, 20 November 2008, (↩︎

  17. Part of the reason for the traces of petroculture in the show, Atkinson argues, is its setting in Louisiana, part of “America’s energy corridor” (222). ↩︎

  18. True Blood, episode 28, “9 Crimes,” directed by David Petrarca, written by Kate Barnow & Elisabeth R. Finch, aired July 11, 2010 on HBO. ↩︎

  19. Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011), 1. ↩︎

  20. Berlant, Cruel Optimism, 2. ↩︎

  21. Huber, Matthew, “Refined Politics: Petroleum Products, Neoliberalism, and the Ecology of Entrepreneurial Life.” Journal of American Studies, Special Issue No. 2 46 (2012): 295-312. ↩︎

  22. Berlant, Cruel Optimism, 2-3. ↩︎

  23. The connections between antisemitism and the vampire have been well documented by other scholars and outside of the scope of this paper. These connections, Jeffrey Weinstock argues, are predicated both on accusation of blood libel and blood drinking, promoted by Christian clergy to promote antisemitism, false rumors that Jews murder Christians and “kidnap the communion wafer that is the transubstantiated body of Jesus and torture it,” and the “the conjunction of Judaism and usury and the familiar derogatory metaphor of the ‘bloodsucking’ money-lending Jew” (92), thereby conflating religion, prejudice, antisemitism and capitalism. Vampires are visually coded as Jewish, as Ken Gelder notes, enacting Jewish stereotypes, as Count Orlok in Nosferatu is cast into the role of the “property-acquiring vampire-Jew” (96). Gelder and others have noted that “the anti-Semitic mythology of the Eastern European Jew folded in to what became—through Stoker’s novel—the ‘Dracula-myth’ ” (16), and Jules Zanger connects the antisemitic representation of the count with English anxieties of Jewish migration (35-36), incorporating elements, Carol Margaret Davison asserts, of the “Wandering Jew.” See also, Sara Libby Robinson’s Blood Will Tell: Vampires as Political Metaphors↩︎

  24. Karl Marx, Capital, Volume One, 1887, translated by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, edited by Frederick Engels, HTML Stephen Baird and Brian Baggins, (1999), (↩︎

  25. Franco Moretti, “The Dialectic of Fear.” New Left Review, Vol. 136 (1982): 73. ↩︎

  26. Moretti, “The Dialectic of Fear,” 73. ↩︎

  27. Craig Finlay, “Sustainable Brains: Deep Ecology and Dawn of the Dead,” Journal of Humanistic & Social Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2 (2001): 136. ↩︎

  28. Jason W. Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital (New York: Verso, 2015), 71. ↩︎

  29. Bram Stoker, Dracula, edited by Nina Auerbach and David J. Skal, Critical edition (New York: Norton, 1997), 263. ↩︎

  30. Berlant, Cruel Optimism, 24-25. ↩︎

  31. Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life, 27. ↩︎

  32. Macarena Gómez-Barris, The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2017), 5. ↩︎

  33. Stoker, Dracula, 277-78. ↩︎

  34. Nick Groom, The Vampire: A New History, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018), 205. ↩︎

  35. Finlay, “Sustainable Brains,” 142. ↩︎

  36. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, episode 43, “The Wish,” directed by David Greenwalt, written by Marti Noxon, aired December 8, 1998 on The WB. ↩︎

  37. Gómez-Barris, The Extractive Zone, xvii. ↩︎

  38. Bromley Marks Pharmaceuticals forcibly suggests the connection between petroleum and medical advancement: the by-products of oil refinement used in medicines (see Huber). Oil is figured as not only essential to the wellbeing of the capitalist system, but the health of the human body. ↩︎

  39. These factory farms recall Van Helsing’s comparison between humans and monocrop corn. ↩︎

  40. Sorcha Ní Fhlainn, Postmodern Vampires: Film, Fiction, and Popular Culture (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2019), 246. ↩︎

  41. See Imre Szeman, Michael Watts, and Stephanie LeMenger. ↩︎

  42. Imre Szeman, “System Failure: Oil, Futurity, and the Anticipation of Disaster,” South Atlantic Quarterly 106, No. 4 (2007). ↩︎

  43. Michael Watts, “Oil Frontiers: The Niger Delta and the Gulf of Mexico,” in Oil Culture, edited by Ross Barrett and Daniel Worden (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014), 194. ↩︎

  44. Imre Szeman, “System Failure: Oil, Futurity, and the Anticipation of Disaster,” South Atlantic Quarterly 106, No. 4 (2007): 812. ↩︎

  45. Margot Adler, Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (Cape Neddick: Weiser Books, 2014); Joan Gordon, “Rehabilitating Revenants, or Sympathetic Vampires in Recent Fiction,” Extrapolation 29, No. 3 (1988); Hannah Stark, “Neohumanism in the Anthropocene: Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive,” in Eco Culture: Disaster, Narrative, Discourse, edited by Robert Bell and Robert Ficociello (Lanham: Lexington, 2017). ↩︎

  46. Adler, Vampires Are Us, 39. ↩︎

  47. Adler, Vampires Are Us, 40. ↩︎

  48. Adler, Vampires Are Us, viii. ↩︎

  49. Gordon, “Rehabilitating Revenants,” 232. ↩︎

  50. Adler, Vampires Are Us, viii; Gordon, “Rehabilitating Revenants,” 232. ↩︎

  51. A stark example of this kind of responsibilization is seen in a calendar, discussed by Merrill Singer, which was sent by an association of petrochemical and chemical companies advising to residents of Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, an area of the country where the cancer rate is more than 17% higher than the national average. Each month included “healthful hints,” like “benefits of regular exercise, the value of using sunscreen and sunglasses for protection from the dangers of excessive exposure to UV radiation, and the importance of keeping stairways clear of debris to avoid falls’ ” (Singer 149). As Singer notes, in an area subjected to leaks and dumps of hazardous waste, chemical spills, and air and water pollution, the calendar suggests that “wise individual behavior is the best route to a safe and healthy life” (150). The burden of wellness, then, is on the individual, not on the corporations perpetrating slow violence on the bodies and environment in that region. ↩︎

  52. Wendy Brown, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (Brooklyn: Zone Books, 2015), 133. ↩︎

  53. Huber, “Refined Politics,” 307. ↩︎

  54. Huber, “Refined Politics,” 307. ↩︎

  55. Jo Littler, Radical Consumption: Shopping for Change in Contemporary Culture (London: Open University Press, 2008), 95. ↩︎

  56. Meyers, Twilight, 83, emphasis mine. ↩︎

  57. Berlant, Cruel Optimism, 2. ↩︎

  58. Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy (London: Razorbill, 2007), 58, emphasis mine. ↩︎

  59. Mead, Vampire, 44. ↩︎

  60. James Stanescu, “Toward a Dark Animal Studies: On Vegetarian Vampires, Beautiful Souls, and Becoming Vegan,” Journal for Critical Animal Studies, Special Issue: Inquiries and Intersections: Queer Theory and Anti-Speciesist Praxis, 10, No. 3 (2012), 29. ↩︎

  61. Sanescu, “Toward a Dark Animal Studies,” 18. ↩︎

  62. Finlay, “Sustainable Brains,” 138. ↩︎

  63. True Blood, episode 61, “Who are You Really?” directed by Stephen Moyer, written by Raelle Tucker, aired June 16, 2013 on HBO. ↩︎

  64. The three-thousand year old eco-terrorist vampire Russel Edgington asserts that vampires are “immortal, because we drink the true blood. Blood that is living, organic and human,” contrasting the synthetic Tru Blood with organic human and troubling the neoliberal environmentalist consumption of organic products (“Everything is Broken,” S3E9). ↩︎

  65. True Blood, episode 11, “To Love is to Bury,” directed by Nancy Oliver, written by Nancy Oliver, aired November 16, 2008 on HBO. ↩︎

  66. True Blood, episode 9, “Plaisir D’Amour,” directed by Anthony Hemingway, written by Brian Buckner, aired November 2, 2008 on HBO. ↩︎

  67. True Blood, episode 2, “The First Taste,” directed by Scott Winant, written by Alan Ball, aired September 14, 2008 on HBO. ↩︎

  68. True Blood, episode 13, “Nothing but the Blood,” directed by Daniel Minahan, written by Alexander Woo, aired June 14, 2009 on HBO. ↩︎

  69. Atkinson, “Blood Petroleum,” 224. ↩︎

  70. The Yakanomo Corporation in Tru Blood expresses a similar sentiment when, after an outbreak of fatal hepatitis-V they elect to manufacture a treatment, Nu Blood, not a cure (“Almost Home,” S7E8). ↩︎

  71. Szeman, “System Failure,” 813. ↩︎

  72. Berlant, Cruel Optimism, 2. ↩︎

  73. Gerry Canavan, “Retrofutures and Petrofutures: Oil, Scarcity, Limit,” in Oil Culture, edited by Ross Barrett and Daniel Worden (Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2014), 346. ↩︎

  74. Huber, “Refined Politics,” 312. ↩︎

  75. Dracula, episode 1, “Blood is the Life,” directed by Steve Shill, written by Cole Haddon, aired October 25, 2013 on NBC. ↩︎

  76. Dracula*, episode 1, “Blood is the Life,” directed by Steve Shill, written by Cole Haddon, aired October 25, 2013 on NBC. ↩︎

  77. Nina Auerbach, Our Vampires, Ourselves (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1995). ↩︎

  78. Canavan, “Retrofutures,” 341. ↩︎

  79. True Blood, episode 9, “Plaisir D’Amour,” directed by Anthony Hemingway, written by Brian Buckner, aired November 2, 2008 on HBO. ↩︎

  80. Szeman, “System Failure,” 821. ↩︎

About the Author: 

Jessica Hautsch is a PhD candidate at Stony Brook University. Her current research focuses on the intersection of cognitive theory and the reading and writing practices of digital fandom. She is in the process of writing her dissertation, tentatively titled Thinking Through Fandom: Mind, Body, and Feeling in Reception and Creation Practices of Fan Communities. She has published and presented on fanfiction, fan use of animated GIFs, and the Hogwarts Houses as interpretative frameworks. Her other work interrogates gendered and racialized representations in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and reads terraforming in Firefly and Serenity through the lens of the Anthropocene.

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