I wonder if the progression of vampires from disgusting to desirable tracks with the progression of female sexual expression from taboo to mandatory. In all cases they’re the boyfriend who won’t take no for an answer, and what’s changed with the times is whether that provokes “how awful, only your husband should do that” or “how wonderful, this is what sexy romance is supposed to look like.”
I disagree. I've been a fan of vampires since I first read Bram Stoker's Dracula, and the recent stuff? Twilight and such? These are not vampires. We'd already be having this conversation if we were talking about, frex, sexy thieves who don't actually steal anything or violate any relevant social convention.
We should be having this conversation whenever we're talking about a villain archetype that's being watered down into a socially acceptable anti-hero.
That's happening a lot lately - media creators are trying to capitalize on the widespread popularity of villains by tampering with their personality until they stop saying and doing things that make society uncomfortable. With Buffy, they had a fucking joke for a vampire boyfriend. Angel, who not only doesn't eat people, he's plagued with guilt over his villainous past. He had his fans, but ... let's just say he wasn't poaching people from the villain-fan pools. And then Spike. He was alright until Whedon became concerned about his popularity, and tried to discourage it with the (notorious) abortive rape attempt. That backfired spectacularly, so they shifted gears and made Spike less and less of a villain, sacrificing most of the things that fans who like villains liked about him in the process.
By the time Twilight rolls around, you have vampires who are waiting for marriage. I haven't read it, and overall I don't plan to bash it. But as far as I can tell, Edward is just another boring hero who's trying to hide his boring hero-ness behind "noo, I'm a bad boy! Look, I wear black!"
Society hasn't become so different and progressive that a vampire, a foreign, genderfluid, relationship anarchic, bestial, otherkin, serial killing, Satan worshipping, Madonna seducing, sex-death-and-eternal-youth vampire is the triumphant male lead of any commercial story. It has, unfortunately, slapped a lot of edgy, deceptive labels on the same old conventional bullshit (and deprived us of legitimate contemporary versions of some great villains in the process).