The Discovery+ and Travel Channel two-hour special Vampires in America is one of those pieces of garbage media that reaches such depths of awfulness that it crosses over into unsavory, potentially dangerous territory. According to Discovery, the show is intended as a serious documentary about vampire hunters in Arizona who believe that missing persons and victims of violent crime have actually been seized by a hive of newly awakened vampires who descend from a blood-drinking hominid species that evolved 68,000 years ago before settling in Translyvania. They intend to find and kill the vampires. With a sword.
The show feels like a fake, in the manner of the mermaid and megalodon shows that Discovery's family of networks polluted television with in previous decades. The two "vampire hunters," Erich Streit and Marcel von Tingen, appear to have no online footprint beyond this show. Von Tingen claims to be a 25th-generation vampire hunter, which is a neat trick since the modern bloodsucking vampire did not emerge in European folklore until the early 1700s. I guess either his family reproduced young or got knocked off by vampires regularly.
"It is the belief of most vampire hunters," Streit says, "that Bram Stoker was actually taking dictation from a vampire." Real vampires, he says, are secretly behind all vampire fiction. Why even pretend this real? Streit goes on to say that bloodsucking elites manipulate and control the media to hide their predatory attacks on good Christian folks. I need not point out how close that its to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
The unsavory part of the presumably fake show is the dishonor it does to victims of violent crimes and missing persons by ascribing their deaths to vampires, and the insult this does to victims' families. However, the newspaper articles shown in the trailer for the series appear to be fakes, presumably to avoid just this outcome. Arizona has an exceptionally high number of missing persons cases, more than seven times the next highest state, Alaska, and Discovery exploits the ongoing crisis for entertainment. Contrary to the shows's claims, the Arizona murder rate has actually fallen over the past ten years, and there was no dramatic "uptick" during the time of the alleged events.
The dangerous part is that viewers will think this is real. Ancient Aliens-style conspiracies have already inspired cults and been cited by criminals to explain their crimes. We don't need Discovery telling viewers it's cool to try beheading people with swords if you suspect them of vampirism.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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