Midnight Mass Is Great, But Why Are Vampires Always Catholic?
Midnight Mass is one of the most interesting shows I’ve watched in a long time*. The show is essentially a long, slow rumination on the nature of faith. The characters throughout the show range from atheists to lapsed believers to the most ardent of the faithful. That faith? Catholicism. With the exception of a Muslim sheriff, every character is either an atheist or a Catholic.
Midnight Mass is a wide departure that still offers the same vampire tropes
The atrocious film, Dracula 2000, reimagines Dracula as Judas Iscariot who is cursed to walk the earth forever as punishment for betraying Jesus. The TV series The Vampire Diaries is rife with Church Latin. And of course, holy water and crosses are traditionally effective against vampires.
From an historical perspective, I understand why Catholicism figures so strongly in vampire fiction. The mythical monsters emerged from European folklore that was heavily flavored with Catholicism. America obviously descended partially from Europe, and therefore, American fiction has brought much of that faith into American vampire fiction. Also, Catholicism provides a story with rituals and relics. That’s the basic answer, but why is it still this way? America is a very diverse place with dozens of religions and cultures swirling around each other.
What About Protestants?
About 45% of Americans are protestant Christians. Black Americans are overwhelmingly protestant and have a very unique religious tradition. Black Christianity is uniquely American because it emerged during slavery, a uniquely American atrocity. The traditions are tinged with a history that is deep and rich. Furthermore, I feel strongly that a black preacher could bless water well enough to burn a vampire.
Protestants tend not to have crucifixes, but they do have crosses which I have to assume are just as scary to vampires.
To create holy water in Orthodox and Catholic traditions, a priest has to bless the water. Could an imam bless water? Are certain vampires susceptible only to certain religions? Most of the vampires we see in American fiction emerge from the Western World (is Transylvania the Western World?). If a vampire came from Saudi Arabia, would she just shrug off a cross but be absolutely mortified by an Islamic crescent? Or is the aversion to religious symbols universal?
These seem like questions that a filmmaker would want to explore.
I believe I speak for all of America when I say I would pay good money to watch Midnight LDS. The Latter-Day Saints faith is entirely American, rich with tradition, and cloaked in secrecy. A filmmaker could conquer Netflix with a simmering exploration of the Mormon faith as it is corrupted by vampires.
Catholic vampires have ruled the underworld since the medieval era. It’s time for America to update the European monsters for a more diverse time. Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and dozens of other faith traditions have incredible histories that could be plumbed to fight vampires.
Vampire Fiction To Watch Until Midnight Mormons Comes Out
- V Wars
- Van Helsing (2015 TV Series)
- Hemlock Grove