Kirby: A past with vampires is my kind of history

By Robert Kirby

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: June 12, 2012 02:40PM
Updated: June 12, 2012 04:22PM

In 1971, the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” made its debut on the Broadway stage. Many people were instantly offended. They didn’t like the idea of the Savior sharing a title normally associated with the likes of Mick Jagger.

I never saw the opera, didn’t buy the album, and couldn’t have cared less about the flap and bother. I got all the Savior stuff I needed at church, which up until that year I had been forced to attend.

It was understandable that some people got upset about Jesus Christ Superstar, but it certainly grabbed their attention. I would have stood in line for hours to buy tickets to “Jesus Christ: Zombie Raiser.”

“Superstar” was based on certain facts, specifically the last few days of the Savior’s life, a bit of free interpretation of the events surrounding his betrayal by misunderstood Judas Iscariot. It has some Biblical basis.

And so does “Zombie Raiser.” After all, it could be argued (however loosely blasphemous) that Lazarus was the world’s first zombie. It puts a whole other meaning on the resurrection.

NOTE: And I would have showed up to church on time every Sunday to learn about that.

Never mind the deep theology. The point is that some titles ­— whether historically factual or not — mess with established perceptions.

Other confusing titles might be “Jimmy Carter: American Warlord,” “Mother Theresa: Bank Robber,” “George W. Bush: Man of Science,” “Ronald McDonald: Fighter Pilot” and “Bernie Madoff: Philanthropist.”

There are also “Joseph Smith: Secret Agent,” “Lady Gaga: Maid of Abstinence,” “Mitt Romney: Super Hero,” and “Oprah: Sex Goddess.”

This stuff is important because the film version of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is scheduled to be released in theaters next week. Are you planning on seeing it, or are you one of those who can’t cope with the mere suggestion of the Great Emancipator hacking the heads off the undead?

I read the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith. It wasn’t bad. I have no idea how much of it is based on fact (and neither do you). History is always a bit murky, especially when it comes to vampires. And presidents.

I do know that had “Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” been taught as history in school, I’d remember more about him than just the fact that he wore a top hat and got shot.

And had there been any mention of Dracula in the Gettysburg Address, I’d probably still remember the parts of it that I once memorized in Detention.

But there are those historical puritans out there who want their history and their historical characters uncomplicated. They don’t like any suggestion that their version of history isn’t exactly what they believe.

Which, if you think about it, is why creationism is still regarded as historical fact by people who also refuse to believe in vampires and the politicians who kill them.

But as “Napoleon Bonaparte: Closet Anglophile” once said, “History is a set of lies agreed upon.”

I plan on seeing “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” In the current political times, it’s got to be more interesting and believable than the truth.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/notpatbagley.