True Blood Is Anti-Gay?

true blood

A blog on The Daily Beast infers that something truly foul is afoot in Bon Temps.

Are you familiar with the show True Blood? It's part of the vampire invasion of aught eight. The program features few of the cuddly and cute bloodsuckers from the Twilight series (though Bill Compton does have a lot in common with handsome Edward Cullen). These undead sons (and daughters) of the night are dark, dangerous and debauched. They care about two things: feeding and fornicating (not necessarily in that order).

Thanks to a synthetic blood developed by Japanese scientists, the vampires in the world of True Blood have come "out of the coffin" and into mainstream life. The series (based on books by Charlaine Harris) features other creatures that go bump in the night and their effect on human foibles, fears and prejudices. 

But does True Blood have an anti-gay agenda? Michelle Goldberg writing for The Daily Beast ("release the beast!") thinks it is. Though well written, the sum of her analysis is a bit Film 101 and seems to miss the gist (and is possibly a little too eager to bust ghosts). The series is largely a satire (not a Satyr) using mythology to highlight various social issues.

Yes, the vampires are generally attractive, svelte and stylish (if sometimes kitschy) night owls. Plus a sign at the top of the show does state, "God hates fangs." (I suppose we're supposed to put our mental thumbs over the "n" as that flashes by us in the opening credit.) And, finally, the show's most compelling character, Lafayette, is a drug-dealing gay hustler (he trades the drugs for the sexy and the sexy for the drugs).

Taken with a maximum of inference and a minimum of appreciation for the gestalt, almost anything can be made significant. For instance, Superman comes from a different planet, pretends to be a straight-laced, super-nerd named Clark Kent, only feels like himself when he's wearing tights and a cape and is the arch-nemesis of bald military-industrial wing-nut Lex Luthor. Sounds pretty much like a gay allegory, right? Because that's what some 1950s censors thought too.

But the appeal of True Blood (and this is the point that the marketing campaign ad wizards are pounding like wooden stakes) is a pop culture riff. What would happen if vampires lived freely among us? If that, then what? Since they can't have kids, don't need food and live forever, vampires would probably have some pretty good disposable income. What products would they need?

Some part of all superstition, mythology and some religion is the fear of the unknown. Specifically the fear of the dark (or what's in the dark) and death. True Blood plays on those fears by satirizing homophobia, racial angst, class tension, gender roles and the hormonal Yin-Yang of sex and violence.

Any thoughtful analysis of True Blood would probably explore the specter of homophobia of the show, but a more than skin-deep probe would reveal that it's part of a multi-layered allegory that can't be specifically pinned to any particular ethos.

Note: I know how difficult it is to have any particular idea online and I applaud original thought on Michelle Goldberg's part. Blogs are too easy a medium to be picked apart by critics.

Photos: HBO