[personal profile] wingedbeast
We've recently learned about what Mike Pence seems to think is a good practice. For those who are either unaware or reading this from far enough in the future that this has been overshadowed by other things (or he's just that irrelevant, because I can dream, damnit), the practice is of never being alone in a room with a woman who is not either his wife or a blood relative. Through this he doesn't just avoid the potential appearance of an improper relationship with a woman, but also the temptation.

Mike Pence is not alone in this practice. It was called "The Billy Graham Rule" and isn't all that unusual in strict, conservative, religious Evangelical households. Neither is it all that unusual in strict, conservative, religous Muslim households. You might also have heard of the movie "Old Fashioned", about a man who makes a vow to God to obey such rules. I might tackle that movie in The Case, but it would require watching it. Until then, you can rely upon The Cinema Snob* and/or the God Awful Movies Podcast** to mock it in the links at the end of this piece.

Proponents of the Billy Graham Rule present it as, among other things, an act of humility. Opponents of the rule may argue, instead, that it presents self-hatred. I... am not a neutral observer. I am one of the opponents that argues that it presents self-hatred. And, I'm about to go farther.

To be clear, I don't think that Mike Pence hates himself. Neither do I think that of Billy Graham or other people who follow the Billy Graham Rule. On an individual basis, maybe, but the rule doesn't suggest that they do, merely that they want to present that they do.

First one metaphor, then another. Any culture will have a several kinds of socio-political clothing. You can put on a white lab coat and a stethoscope to help signify that you are a doctor. Or, you can put on a uniform and display a badge to signify that you are a law enforcement officer.

In the case of Mike Pence and others who follow the Billy Graham Rule, it's the clothing of superiority. There's a limit to how much one can clain moral superiority to others, both in how blatantly one can do so and in how long you have to go before providing some support for the claim. Luckily, there's already a social ethic against sex outside of one's marriage. As well, there's a common cultural claim that, for the world that isn't socially conservative, sexual ethics have run amok.

Again, Mike Pence can't outright say that he and his culture are better than the rest of American culture. That would get called out for being egotistical. He can't outright say that the rest of American culture is worse. That would get called out for being hateful.

What he can do is express self-hatred for a universalized trait, have that draw the eye to that hatred of the rest of the world without expressly stating it, and, in so doing, become superior for having recognized and controlled for that flaw, in himself, that the rest of America fails, to his thinking, to control for in itself.

It's an act that dresses up in humility and self-hatred in order to distract from the fact that he's wearing hatred in order to show himself to be, relatively speaking, uplifted.

We move onto the next metaphor, the trope of the good vampire. Examples include Nicholas Knight of Forever Knight, Angel of the Buffyverse, and the entire Cullen Clan from Twilight. The goodness of the good vampire always stems from the same place. They don't kill people.

That's an awfully low bar, isn't it? Not committing murder on a regular basis is something that most of us manage to do. It's amazingly low. I mean, at least Angel and Nicholas Knight do some good things with their time. But, the Cullens are far from the lone examples of vampires who attain their moral superiority to other vampires by the mere act of not murdering people.

Here's the thing that bugs me about the "Good Vampire" trope and one of the things that bugs me about the Billy Graham Rule. Murdering people on a regular basis is not a good survival strategy.

If you're a vampire and you want a good chance of living for some centuries, don't kill people. Don't let there be a pattern of people dying when you show up in a neighborhood. Don't give the police an easy set of dots to connect where, every time you raid the subway to work, there just happens to be a corpse left behind. You're already going to be eccentric enough without that.

The more corpses you leave, the better the chances that a small, determined group of teenagers can figure out the mythology enough and macguyver enough weapons together to kill you, no matter how powerful you are.

Similarly, as a species, we have fairly well operating societies because, get this, we aren't a bunch of nigh-mindless fuck-monsters who will sexually harass or rape or even just have sex for no other reason than the opportunity is made available. We, as a species, if nothing else, have to be able to pry our genitals away from each other in order to do other things, such as building and maintaining a civilization.

This leads me to my Case. The "Good Vampire" fantasy has its sides. Sometimes it's about the love-interest that is simultaneously dangerous and safe. Edward wants to eat Bella, but won't. Sometimes it's about a love interest that is broody and hurting and trying to be better but needs your help. (As a man, I won't deny that I've had those fantasies about a woman who needs me in that way.)

It's also about the message of being good for not being worse needs an antidote. (And, the Antidote for Forest Gump*** isn't enough.)

The title "The Good Vampire". The premise is simple, the main character meets a vampire. At first, the main character is scared, but the vampire explains. Said vampire is not like the others. This vampire is a *good* vampire. The standard tropes emerge, love interest/sexual tension, actions that would seem over the top, until you remember they're a blood sucking fiend trying not to be evil, etc. Of course, there's some discussion of the rest of vampire society. They're evil. They kill... a lot... because they like it, because they aren't good, like The Good Vampire.

Then, the main character meets the other vampires. They're not like the Good Vampire. For one thing, they're not nearly as preachy or self-satisfied... And, they're horrified by what the Good Vampire has been telling the main character about them. They're not perfect, but they don't kill people or enslave people and many of them are working for a world that is freer and better for everybody. They are, despite all that the Good Vampire says of them and even believes of them, people.

* https://youtu.be/KgDLGWyOTQk
** https://audioboom.com/posts/5752904-gam084-old-fashioned?t=0
*** http://wingedbeast.dreamwidth.org/6468.html

Date: 2017-04-02 01:49 am (UTC)
dragoness_e: Fanart of G1 Starscream with F-22 kibble in robot mode (Starscream F-22)
From: [personal profile] dragoness_e
What "the Billy Graham rule"* always said to me was "I am a lech who is unable to control himself, and/or I have a worse reputation as a seducer than a Regency romance rake, so women have to have a chaperone around me".**

It doesn't convey any kind of moral superiority, rather the opposite--which makes the conservatives who subscribe to it a bit pathetic. After all, the rest of us outgrew our horny teenage years, why haven't they?

Nah, a really "Good Vampire" is Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's St. Germain. He's a genuinely kind person who doesn't murder people (without extreme provocation) and regularly bails out poor, oppressed people and damsels in distress. He's also acutely aware that he's a stranger, The Outsider wherever he goes, and that it doesn't take much for the locals to decide he's the witch/warlock/vampire/secret Jew/secret pagan/etc responsible for any and all misfortune and come after him with the pitchforks and torches. He has a lot of experience at cutting and running, and in financial management (It's a lot easier to be the local eccentric foreigner when you're a rich eccentric foreigner).

Now, I write characters whose redeeming feature is that they mostly murder people who are worse than they are. One, I write villain protagonists a lot, and two, I am influenced by the classic pulp genres, which have as many grey-and-black morality protagonists as black-and-white morality heroes. (I love Conan stories, but he's not someone you'd want hanging around your hometown.)

----
* didn't know it was called that, but I've heard of the concept.

** The only legit case that I can think of for it is "I am a high-visibility celebrity or politician, and my enemies are trying to get some dirt on me, even if they have to fake it up from rumors"--i.e., the avoidance of impropriety when opinion is already biased against the man.

Date: 2017-04-02 02:47 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
This is one of the things I liked about White Wolf's Vampire: the Masquerade. (No really. Hear me out.*)

A successful vampire in V:tM doesn't have to kill anybody. For all the reasons you describe, most of them strive against it. The 'bad guy' organization has a few who are willing to kill by feeding willy-nilly; most of the rest of the vampire world has decided it's more worth it to be an eccentric and pass as human in one place for a decade or so, before moving on.
They can take their most dedicated blood bags ghouls with them, to start life anew in the thrall of their vampiric masters... without killing them.

*This game has a well-deserved reputation for its rules inviting and encouraging cliquishness, cruelty, and drama; for which reason it is a perennial favorite of groups I wouldn't actually want to play with. That doesn't mean there are no parts they got right.

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