Recently I had a discussion with another author about responsibility. I was surprised to find this particular person felt it was wrong to use Vampires and “other monsters” of history as romantic figures. She felt by doing this we are taking away the monsters from our youth, forcing them to create their own – ie.,, decaying morale society. She felt the monsters were “created” for a reason, and therefore should remain as they were. (In all honesty this woman was speaking mostly about vampires, not shifters)
I of course think differently. But why were these “monsters” created? In some cases we know the vampire revolves around real life events where normal people perpetrated the most horrific crimes which included of course the destruction of virgins to bathe in their blood and the staking of humans out in the fields to frighten others. Stories were told and handed down, creating larger than life creatures who lived off blood and remained forever young.
The werewolf and shapeshifter stories have murkier beginnings. There are stories of shifters in all cultures however, which date back to long before medieval times, when they were associated with witches. In most cases the shifters were not evil. In some of course, as in the case of skinwalkers and other more frightening creatures yes they were very frightening. But not always. The Beserkers of old were said to be shifters, and that was how they survived to fight and protect Odin’s people. In many cases the cat shifters were believed to be protectors and were worshipped as much as feared. But as time has moved forward, society came to fear the “werewolf’, which to this day has never been proven to exist. These fears have led to the near destruction of one of the most beautiful animals there is – the wolf.
In most cases the stories were handed down from generation to generation, as a way to frighten children to stay out of the woods, or even to frighten adults to keep the uneducated as they were, afraid to revolt from oppression for fears of the creatures surround them. Do we really need to keep the monsters because of those reasons? Have we not stepped beyond the need to frighten people into submission?
But the real question is about responsibility and moral decay. Does romanticizing these creatures truly encourage morale decay? For me, they teach openness and caring. They teach that just because someone is different does not mean they are evil. That is pretty good for me.
Do shapeshifter books affect the morality of our young people? Or is it a matter of degrees? Another interesting thought I’ve had recently is – how does it affect the conservation of the creatures we use in our stories? For instance, the Tiger, or the Wolf, both on the endangered lists in most areas. Almost every predator used by authors is on, or close to, the endangered lists. Do our stories help or hinder the efforts to save these wonderful animals? Are we perpetrating the fear of these creatures and damaging the efforts of those who work so hard to save them?
So tell me what you think. I’m really curious to see what you, the reader, has to say!