Basically, it’s confused about what it means to "play a supporting role." It doesn’t mean you’re not the vampire. It means it’s not your story. It means you are not the protagonist. It means the story is not constructed from your point of view.
The most traditional vampire stories are not told from the vampire’s point of view, that’s what made Anne Rice seem so fresh, once upon a time. Of course, that trend got a bit stale, and we went into a trend of stories from the slayer’s point of view. Now the trend seems to be toward vampire romances, in which a female dates a vampire and the story is from her point of view.
That means it’s the woman’s story. She’s the lead. Even if she is, like Bella, a passive pre-feminist nincompoop, it’s still her story.
Also, Eli in Let the Right One In is probably not actually, technically, a girl. Yes, there is that extremely brief view of what is probably mutilated genitalia from a castration. But there is also the dialogue where she says "I’m not a girl."
The New York Times style section writes about vampires too, in a predictably shallow fashion. I am, perhaps irrationally, irritated by the way these "lifestyle" articles always have to act like every pop culture trend — no matter how enduring — is something entirely new every time they revisit it.
What began with the Twilight Saga, the luridly romantic young-adult series by Stephenie Meyer, followed by “Twilight,” the movie, has become a pandemic of unholy proportions.
Rarely have monsters looked so sultry — or so camera-ready. No small part of this latest vampire mania seems to stem from the ethereal cool and youthful sexiness with which the demons are portrayed. Bela Lugosi they are not.
“The vampire is the new James Dean,” said Julie Plec, the writer and executive producer of “The Vampire Diaries.”
Began? With Twilight? A book published in 2005, two years after the final season of Buffy? Twelve years after the first Anita Blake novel? Eleven years after cinema heartthrobs Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise played Louis and Lestat in the big-screen adaptation of Interview with the Vampire? TWENTY-TWO years after The Lost Boys brought us a hunky young Kiefer Sutherland in fangs?
The article itself mentions Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie in the 1983 film The Hunger. Are they implying that something from 1983 is "new"?
Also, I feel a bit insulted on Lugosi’s behalf. He may not be young, in Dracula, nor particularly sexy by modern standards, but he is definitely playing a seductive character.
And if Lugosi doesn’t get it done for ya, what about Christopher Lee in the Hammer films? Chris Sarandon in Fright Night? Nearly every female vampire in cinema ever? Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows? Nick Knight in Forever Knight?
What I’m getting at here is that even a cursory examination of vampire cinema/television reveals that vampires are, more often than not, portrayed as sexy. That’s the norm, the expected thing, the default state. It’s, um, kind of why the genre is popular. It’s not a new trend by any stretch of the imagination.
The new trend — if there is one — is that vampire stories are no longer assumed to be horror.
There’s this "paranormal romance" or "urban fantasy" trend, which I think of as "stories which vaguely resemble the early Anita Blake novels before they turned into nothing but metaphysical porn." Like the Anita Blake novels (or Buffy, or Dark Shadows) the vampire is located in a world of more general supernatural shenanigans, including witches, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, demons and so on.
In these stories vampires are often normalized to the point of being a kind of background noise, a thing taken for granted and not particularly scary most of the time. There are lots of vampires and we already know how to deal with them, therefore the threat comes from something other than the mere fact of there being a vampire.
Or, in the case of Twilight, there is no threat at all to anything other than my own personal sanity.