Werner Herzog’s 1979 film Nosferatu the Vampyre acts as both a retelling of Bram Stoker’s classic novel, Dracula, as well as an homage to the F. W. Murnau’s 1922 silent film, Nosferatu. The double-retelling depicts a humble and earnest Jonathan Harker who leaves his young wife Lucy behind in Wismar, Germany to pursue a business opportunity to travel to Count Dracula’s accursed castle in order to bring estate papers to the Count so that he may arrange to move from his decrepit castle lair in Transylvania to a property in Wismar. As the deal drags on, Jonathan is slowly fed on each night by Dracula. As Jonathan becomes aware of the feeding, the Count becomes aware that Jonathan has left Lucy behind. Dracula locks her husband in the Transylvanian castle during the night and takes off to Wismar where he goes on to not only rape Lucy as he had Jonathan, but also to bring the plauge and wipe out nearly the entire population of Wismar. The film was a moderate success in its unveiling and has now gained world-wide attention and praise for its sublime character design and shot framing of Klaus Kinski acting the part of Dracula. All of the makeup design and many of the shots of Kinski are in direct homage to Murnau’s original Nosferatu.
As post-Victorian faith in Christ continued to dwindle into the late nineteenth century, Stoker’s iconic Dracula took on popularity as the revelatory archetypal form of the Antichrist walking among humanity, bringing on the inescapable and painful picture of being leeched on, of being powerless against it, of being unified through it - all under the influence of the great rapist - and eventually in today’s view: the great archetypal seductor.
In 2010 a Polish user by the name of wojak on the now defunct imageboard Krautchan began posting a now world-famous cartoon image of a bald person that happens to share some basic morphological features with Klaus Kinski’s Nosferatu. It was originally known as “feels-guy” and now as the hyper-versatile base of the meme subgenre of “wojak”. The wojak gained popularity and rose across 4chan boards, especially /pol (Politically Incorrect) in which the character was often used in the context of meme magic and shitposting alongside the infamous pepe. Since then, the wojak has shown extreme versatility in its ability to produce variants to make relatable almost any kind of internet subculture and providing the utility in which to flatten them and make space navigable between the depths of internet meme inside jokes through its different facial expressions as well as its various forms as the chad, doomer, coomer, brainlet, soyboy, NPC, and many others existing and yet to emerge.
Photography by Marissa Jezak