In a fascinating HuffPo piece, Tom Alderman wonders "Vampires: Why Here, Why Now?" And strangely enough, I've been wondering the same thing. Of course, the vampire has been around for a couple of hundred years. From Bram Stoker to Bela Legosi to the Hammer films of the '50s to Dark Shadows to Anne Rice to Buffy, there's rarely been a period when they weren't a pop culture staple. But lately, well, they're a little out of control. Alderman at first tries to point the finger at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or maybe the economy, as the cause for the sudden flood of fangbangers. Something about bloodlust and escapism. But that's a bit of a cop-out. They can't be the cause for everything! Then he says that a turning point in vampire culture came in 1976, when Anne Rice made Lestat a hot, brooding anti-hero, instead of a hammy, costume wearing, Transylvanian cliché. Before Lestat, "the vampire story was a costume drama with limited literary scope." By updating the vampire mythos in that way, she made it accessible to modern viewers. Fair enough. Then he claims that the foundation for the "domesticated," vampire-as-hot-guy-next-door archetype was actually laid by Count Chocula and Count von Count from Sesame Street!Which actually makes a lot of sense! The kids who grew up in the 70s and 80s didn't think of vamps as particularly scary, which made it easier for Anne Rice fans to make the leap from "friendly" vampires to "boyfriend material" vampires. And thus we can thank the cartoon counts of our childhood for the current spate of sexy vampires. By the way, you guys, The Vampire Diaries premieres tonight and OMG I AM SO STAKED STOKED, Y'ALL! I would totally do both those vampire brothers!