This is from a thread on vampires, where I tangented off and proposed that representations of vamps come in two flavors: the stylized, which is what we see in canon, and the ritualized, which is what we more often see in fan-fiction or fanon--i.e., a focus on masters, sires, childes, fledglings, etc.
And I guess I lean more toward what we tend to see in Jossverse canon (I think), which is more of a feral or occasionally stylized vampirism, rather than a ritualized, or societal vampirism....
So, what I mean is, stylized vampirism: for the most part, vamps are caricatures--naturally, because 99% of them are simply bit players or slayer fodder. So we have only a concept of vampires, which becomes somewhat rigid and ingrained--or stylized--over time. Except for a handful of notable exceptions (the fanged four, Dracula, Harmony, Holden), they're static. They immediately become evil when rising--no difficulty adapting, no growing-evil pains, no residual soul. Their personalities are easily subsumed in vamp posturing (game face, violence). Game face itself is a kind of mask that renders them individually faceless and uniform. When put to the test, all eventually react in the same way--same loss of control, same gestures, same attack form. It's all dramatic and animalistic; vamps are active symbols of evil.
We see very little of the social side of vampires--we get just enough to extrapolate that vamp society *does* exist in some way, and may have its rituals and personality differences, but Joss doesn't want to go there. He wants to have his cake and eat it too: he wants a handful of exotic, individualistic vamps, but he wants to keep vampires as a whole a faceless mass, an evil army, because that's what slayer existence is premised on. It's a strangely reactionary and even ugly metaphor if you consider vampires as a race or species: the idea that a race is its stereotype--nasty, brutish, low, and evil--except for a few noble exceptions who transcend their blood/genes/kind.
But despite this, I'm not really thinking of "stylized" as a wholly negative representation--and really, I think it's something I try to replicate in my own writing. And you still have to consider as exceptions to any rule the "individualists" of the vamp world--Angel, Spike, et al. I don't write much about the other types of vamps--they're relegated as in canon to being fodder. I'm interested in the sports and freaks of the vamp world. Still, I think that writers who extrapolate from canon to write about vampire society and relationships are focusing on something very different, though. (Well, duh.)
And stylization and ritualization probably aren't opposites, of course. I'm just polarizing them in a handy rhetorical way in order to categorize my ideas.
And why am I starting all my sentences with "and"? Yay for incoherency. Yay me.