Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘True Blood

Last night I just wanted to curl up and watch TV, so that’s what I did.  But in doing that, I didn’t create my usual Tuesday Link Love list.  So here it is…on Wednesday.  This might also mean that I’ll move Thursday Link Love to Friday just for this week so I can make a more complete list.  Fun times.  As always, don’t forget to leave links to what you have been writing/reading in the comments!!

Small Strokes: The Feminist Lens: Juliet, Naked

But the exact issue I had with his previous novels of his I had read (the lack of well-rounded female characters, for those of you not following along) was turned on its head with Juliet, Naked. (If you haven’t read the book and plan on doing so, DO NOT READ FURTHER! Unless you don’t mind spoilers.)

Bitch Blogs: The Transcontinental Disability Choir: True Blood: Sookie Stackhouse, Telepathy, and Disability

But the reason I looked forward to True Blood is because the Sookie Stackhouse novels feature a disabled heroine. And, as a person with disabilities, that is something that I do not get to see very often. Despite the fact that we make up an estimated 20% of the population, our representation in film and television is quite small. This means that I rarely get to engage with a character who is like me, with whom I can connect because we share commonalities.

Bitch Blogs: New Moon’s success means women hate sex. Obviously.

However, lately it seems like every single teenage behavior is being connected to the franchise in some way, from negotiating gender identity to interacting with parents. Could it be that Twilight is the compass with which we can navigate the state of Young People Today? Do we never have to think about the nuances and complications of human existence again because Stephenie Meyer has done that dirty work for us? Well, Jonathan Zimmerman at the Chicago Tribune certainly thinks so.

According to Zimmerman’s article “Hooking up’s gender gap,” the number of young women who saw Twilight Saga: New Moon (which was a lot) tells us that, “Girls want love, not just sex.” And he got this from New Moon how, exactly?

Tiger Beatdown: Titanic: Girl Power Sleeps with the Fishes

One of the many things you come to appreciate about Titanic, when re-watching it as an adult, are the complexities of Billy Zane’s performance. Zane plays Caledon Hockley – steel magnate, loveless-arranged-marriage candidate, avowed hater of the poor – who, as you can probably guess from his preposterous name and the aforementioned list of qualifications, is the villain of the piece. Oh sure, you might think that in a movie entitled Titanic, the villain would be, I don’t know, an iceberg or something! Ah, but no. You would be wrong. The villain is Billy Zane. And what a villain he is, let me tell you!

Equal Writes: Fear and female experience

You can tell me my fear is unreasoning, childish, deserving of psychotherapy—and maybe it’s true. I know intellectually that the dark isn’t full of potential rapists and attackers, knives and penises at the ready, but it doesn’t stop me walking on the opposite side of the street to avoid the bushes, checking behind all the trees and bins in my front yard before crossing to the house, and keeping an eye over my shoulder while fitting my key in the lock. It doesn’t stop me trembling at every light that turns on, every gate that bangs open, every tree branch that rustles. I also know that my fear of the dark—and especially of being alone in the dark—has intensified since my own assault.


Happy Tuesday everyone!  Enjoy some of these fantasic posts and leave links to what you have been writing and reading over the past couple days!!

SWV Seeks May-December Stalker-Romance [this ain’t livin’] – Does anyone else find it creepy that vampire stories often feature a vampire who is hundreds of years old who is obsessed with a high school girl?

Movie Review: The Boys Are Back [The Undomestic Goddess] – interested in the new Clive Owen movie, The Boys Are Back?  Read this review.

True Blood: Evan Rachel Wood is Not a Whore [Womanist Musings] – sadly, Evan Rachel Wood (Jessica on True Blood) is dating Alexander Skarsgard (Eric on True Blood).  I think this is sad because it means that I have even less of an unrealistic chance with Eric, but that’s not Perez Hilton sees it.

Small Strokes Podcast: Does Confidence Attract Bullies [Small Strokes] – the newest podcast from Ashley at Small Strokes about being a confident woman.

Can we have a show/movie about vampires that does not have at least one stalker-y vampire who wants to have his way with a certain women.  Twilight has Edward.  Both Angel and Spike have their stalker moments in Buffy and Angel.  And Bill in True Blood is pretty possessive of Sookie and feels the need to “have his way with her.”

But no worries, Stephen Moyer (who plays Bill Compton on True Blood) can explain women’s desires to watch stalker-y vampires.  In an interview for Nylon magazine, Moyer had this to say about vampire sex:

The thing about vampirism is that it taps into a female point of view – you have an old-fashioned gentleman with manners who is a fucking killer… it’s an interesting duality, because in our present society it would be an odd thing for a woman to say, ‘I want my man to be physical with me.’ How, as a modern man, can you fucking work that? It’s one thing to be polite and gentle… But when do you know it’s OK to crawl out of the mud and rape her [as Bill does in one scene]?… It’s difficult stuff for a bloke, but a vampire gets away with it…. I think that’s the attraction of the show – it’s looking back at a romantic time when men were men, but they were still charming.”

I’m glad Stephen Moyer is here to tell us about the “female point of view” and how women want to be raped sometimes.  I hate to break it to you Stephen, but there is nothing romantic or charming about rape.  I can’t speak for all women, but I don’t think it is ok to go around with the mindset that women want to be raped sometimes.

I do think there is something romantic about vampires or the vampire genre, but I think it has more to do with the gothic themes than the combination of charm and rape…at least for me.  I used to love Stephen Moyer.  While I find the character of Bill Compton problematic at times, I thought Stephen Moyer did a good job at playing the character.  But I guess now we know why.

I’d like to see a mainstream vampire show/movie avoid this idea of vampire as stalker or vampire as racist.  I think it could be either really good or really bad, but I think if the right person does it, it could have a great result…sometime that is romantic without being creepy.

Further reading about Stephen Moyer’s quote:

Last week I talked about how Jessica has become a “perma-virgin” on True Blood and how that comments on views of virginity. Hoyt’s reaction to this was deeply disturbing (Hoyt being Jessica’s love interest). Trying to comfort Jessica, Hoyt remarks that her regenerating hymen will make it so that every time they have sex will be their first time — it’ll be great! Jessica was not as thrilled.

Hoyt’s reaction in last week’s episode “Timebomb” just shows men’s unrealistic expectations of virginity in women. Men want women to be “pure” (aka virgins) but as soon as then have sex with them, they are dirty. Jessica’s regenerating hymen is a perfect situation for a man because it means they can have sex with a virgin all the time! And what a way to punish a woman for being sexual…make sex painful all the time!

After Hoyt’s reaction to Jessica’s regenerating hymen I was ready to hate him for a while. I was interested to see where they were going to go with this story line. Surprisingly, Hoyt redeemed himself in last night’s episode “I Will Rise Up.” In discussing the situation, Hoyt tells Jessica that there are more ways than intercourse to have sex. Redemption point #1. He seems to be genuinely supportive and wants to help Jessica either find a way to get rid of her hymen or find other ways that they can have sex.

Then Hoyt stands up to his overbearing mom both at home and in Merlotte’s. Redemption point #2. He calls his mother out on all the hatred (sometimes irrational hatred) that she has and stands up for Jessica.

While Hoyt’s initial reaction to Jessica’s regenerating hymen was deeply disturbing, after he had time to think about the situation (as much as a fictional character can) he had a chance to redeem himself. I actually really like Hoyt after last nights episode.

In a note completely unrelated to Hoyt and Jessica’s relationship…
Eric’s coercion of Sookie to get her to drink his blood was kind of disturbing and a complete invasion of Sookie’s person, but it did lead to a great dream scene about them in bed together and Eric being the sweet guy that I know (or hope) that he is…

Further Reading:
True Blood: I Will Rise Up [Womanist Musings]

Ever since I saw the latest episode of True Blood on Monday, I have been thinking about how to approach the following issue. True Blood is one of my favorite shows on TV right now, but I’m sometimes confused about what message it intends to send on social issues, such as gay rights, racism, etc. So at the end of the latest episode, I wasn’t quite sure what social commentary the show was trying to make with the situation between Jessica and Hoyt.

Here’s what happened in case you don’t follow True Blood as closely as I do: At the beginning of the episode, Hoyt and Jessica have sex for the first time (and it was both of their “first times” too since they were both “virgins”). At the end of the episode, Hoyt has taken Jessica back to Bon Temps as per Bill’s orders. They start to have sex again, but Jessica makes him stop. It appears that because of vampire’s regenerative qualities, her hymen regenerated since it was intact when she was made vampire. Jessica and Hoyt had very different reactions to the situation. Hoyt tried to soothe Jessica by saying that every time will be like their first time. To that, Jessica had this to say: “It’ll hurt like hell! I’m a fucking deformity of nature. I’m going to be a virgin forever!”

I’ve beening trying to figure out for myself exactly what kind of commentary this plot line is intended to have (because I believe television, and especially shows like True Blood, is always consciously trying to make some form of commentary on society).

Jessica’s “perma-virgin” status says a lot about how virginity is viewed. Virginity is a much more complex concept than just whether or not you’ve had sex, like many people believe (see the blog The American Virgin). As we can see with Jessica, who has had sex yet said that she’ll “be a virgin forever” because her hymen will always re-grow, virginity is not a cut-and-dry issue.

Jessica Valenti wrote in her book The Purity Myth that “virginity” doesn’t acutally exist. The idea of virginity can mean many things to different people. I think that Jessica’s “perma-virgin” status is trying to bring light to this issue. And even if it wasn’t intended, it does a good job at shedding light on it.

So does hymen = virginity? How do you define virginity?

Further Reading:
Born-Again Virgins, Vampire Style [The American Virgin]

I have a slight obsession with True Blood. I posted earlier about how vampire series like True Blood (and Buffy and Twilight) represent women’s sexuality by featuring very few female vampires. But True Blood quickly has become one of my new favorite shows on television right now (I only discovered it a couple months ago). Because of this, every Monday I look forward to Jezebel’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” feature recapping the previous nights episode; it’s always smart and sassy. This week’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” tipped me off to an article on The Daily Beast relating the world of True Blood to the “right wing’s worst nightmare about post-gay-liberation America.”

Looking beneath the surface of True Blood, you can see the connections between the vampires in the series and the gay community. The vampires recently “came out” of hiding among humans (aka heterosexuals, for the purposes of this comparison), exposing the number of vampires in society and demanding an equal place in society. A running theme throughout the first season is the vampires fighting for the right to marry humans. Churches claim that vampires are evil and threaten to destroy the very fabric of society.

I had been aware of this social commentary since I started watching the show (which is also much similar to the X-Men series). But I had never really thought too critically about it because I was too busy enjoying the awesome-ness of the show (ok, so I might be a little biased about the show). So, I have gone over some of the similarities, but there are also some troubling differences…

As the Daily Beast article points out…

it has troubling implications, because the vampires, political rhetoric aside, aren’t really interested in joining human society. Unlike the misunderstood X-Men heroes, most of the vampires we meet are arrogant, perverse, and cruel—everything the far right believes gays to be.

The article goes on to wonder about the true intentions of the show…

It’s hard to tell what creator Alan Ball, who also made Six Feet Under, is up to here. He’s openly gay, so he could be simply tweaking conservative fears. Or, like Rupert Everett, maybe he’s reacting against the domestication of gay life.

It’s hard to say. Even though there are similarities between vampires and the gay community, they are not necessarily painted in a good light. Is this Alan Ball just turning conservative fears on themselves, or is it “reacting against the domestication of gay life”?

Even though True Blood offers social commentary on the gay rights movement (whether positive or negative, it’s still up for debate), I do not think that the show has much to offer feminism and women’s rights. The shows main female character, Sookie Stackhouse, is kind of helpless. She constantly needs Bill, her vampire lover, to rescue her, which has caused Eric, a powerful vampire in the region, to take notice of her as well, often treating her as an object. Sure, she does have her psychic capabilities to offer, but it’s always the guys (aka vamps) that do the heavy-lifting. In addition to often having to rescue Sookie, Bill is often highly protective of her, not really letting her do a lot for or by herself. Sookie loves how Bill treats her, most of the time. But she always comes back to him in the end after they have a fight about his protective nature or his vamp nature.

I still love the show. I think it has a lot to offer television, even without being feminist. But encouraging conversation about the treatment of women in the show and the emphasis on sexuality will bring these feminist issues to light.

Further Reading:
True Blood: Pro-gay/Anti-feminist? [Smashing patriarchy daily]
‘True Blood’ and Female Sexuality [Appetite for Equal Rights]
Rough Sex With Vampires: What Does “True Blood” Tell Us About Women and Sexuality? [AlterNet]

What is America’s obsession with vampires? I’ll admit, I’ve fallen into this obsession. It all started with Buffy, which I only started watching earlier this year, and now I’m into True Blood as well. There’s also Twilight, which I have a weird fascination with as I’ve talked about before. As much as I love these vampire shows (Buffy and True Blood, that is), why is America obsessed with them? And why am I obsessed with them? (My obsession might have something to do with my obsession with pop culture and TV shows in general, but maybe it’s something more too since America seems obsessed with them as well.)

I loved Buffy because the character was a strong woman who saved the world on numerous occasions which is such a rare occurrence in media today. Even though Buffy had the help of many strong men, she was the one in charge and the one who ultimately would save the day. True Blood centers around a strong female character, Sookie Stackhouse, and her relationship with a vampire, Bill. While Sookie often needs rescuing, she can stand up for herself. My weird obsession with Twilight has more to do with my lack of understanding for the obsession with the phenomenon. Bella is not strong, cannot stand up for herself, and constantly needs to be saved by Edward. And Edward is basically a creepy stalker. I prefer Buffy and True Blood because of the strong female characters, where as Twilight is a feminist nightmare. But why does America like vampires?

In the New York Times article “A Trend With Teeth,” Ruth La Ferla examines the appeal of vampires. She states,

The vampire’s attraction is “all about the titillation of imagining the monsters we could be if we just let ourselves go,” suggested Rick Owens, a fashion bellwether whose goth-tinged collections sometimes evoke the undead. “We’re all fascinated with corruption, the more glamorous the better” and, he added, with the idea of “devouring, consuming, possessing someone we desire.”

Dodai from Jezebel wrote a similar, yet feminist, article titled “Women Play Mostly Supporting Role Within Male-Dominated “Trend”“. To explain America’s fascination with vampires, she proposes,

But in a new interview with True Blood series creator Alan Ball, he says: “Vampires are sex. Vampires basically arose in our time as a metaphor for sex. I mean, vampires are sort of the ultimate Romantic rock star, bad boy or girl fantasy.”

So, if vampires are all about sex, it’s no surprise that America has an obsession with them. Especially with the ‘abstinence porn’ that is Twilight. This series is all about sexual control, in a very sexualized way.

But why do we always see male vampires? Buffy had Angel and Spike. Twilight has Edward. True Blood has Bill and Eric. One of the few exceptions is the newly made vampire Jessica in True Blood, who is a whiny teenager who is still learning to control her impulses. There is also Drusilla in Buffy who is very mentally disturbed.

Why is it always the men that embody sex, dominate women, and possess others? Why can’t women be in these powerful roles? And why is it that when women are vampires, as in Jessica and Drusilla, they are in some way less than the male vampires, whether through age and experience or mental capability?

“Bloodsucking is a boys world,” according to the Jezebel article. It then goes on to describe the online phenomenon that was the video of Buffy ‘dusting’ Edward.

Jonathan McIntosh, who created the clip, says: More than just a showdown between The Slayer and the Sparkly Vampire, it’s also a humorous visualization of the metaphorical battle between two opposing visions of gender roles in the 21ist century […] In the end the only reasonable response was to have Buffy stake Edward – not because she didn’t find him sexy, not because he was too sensitive or too eager to share his feelings – but simply because he was possessive, manipulative, and stalkery.

I guess that what we need to combat the male domination of the vampire world is digitally created video of two different shows mashed together.

I wonder if a show or movie centering around a female vampire will ever be as popular as Buffy, Twilight, or True Blood? Sure there are powerful female characters in two out of three of those, but they are not vampires. When will women be able to embody sex and sexuality like men as vampires?