Are werewolves the next anything?

In case you haven’t noticed, vampires and zombies are big these days. Really big. AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is the latest manifestation, and a fairly good one it is, too. (Although, as with “True Blood,” the show has garnered its share of critics who are willing to suspend disbelief on the question of vampires, witches, maenads, and were-panthers, but are fussily irritated at the inauthenticity of the actors’ Southern accents.)

Do you think werewolves are ever going to get their chance in the spotlight? I wonder.

Supernatural creatures work as metaphors. Vampires are superior to humans, but dependent upon them. They are takers, and a taker can serve as a metaphor for so many things: a decadent aristocracy, a demanding lover, an exploitative boss, a too-needy parent. (In “True Blood,” boy-next-door Hoyt is torn between his vampire girlfriend Jessica, who literally feeds on his blood with his joyous consent, and his controlling mother, who symbolically sucks the life out of him.)

Zombies are humans with no brains, and … well, you can kind of see how that could go in a lot of different directions. There’s a fundamental horror to the notion of facing another human being who can’t be reasoned with, whose motives are not fathomable to the normal mind. I’d submit that this is to a large extent the state of our political discourse today: both the left and the right seem convinced that the other side is brainwashed, unthinking, moved only by instinct and hunger.

So. Werewolves. What do they symbolize? What are they a meta for? And why don’t they ever seem to ride the wave of pop-culture glory as their supernatural colleagues do?

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