Monday, July 12, 2010

Sex and the Sookie: Still True?

Snoop Dogg's delightful "Oh Sookie," a bizarre but spot-on example of officially sanctioned fanboy-ism, hones in on what is best about True Blood: good sex. Playful, kinky, drug-fuelled, first-time-ever, first-time-today, fantasy-only, fantasy-made-flesh, divine, dirty, orgiastic, orgasmic, beastial...the list goes on and on. What the first two seasons of the show had in common was unabashed pleasures of the body. Creator Alan Ball referred to it as popcorn for intellectuals, but anyone who's watched the show knows it was more like porn than popcorn.

Yes, there was violence, too. But the violence of the first two seasons was directly connected to a social commentary that parallels the collective vampiric "coming out of the coffin," with the LGBT quest for social acceptance. Vampires seek marriage rights (legal in Vermont!), battle Christian conservatives (the "God hates fangs" marquee is a brilliant reference to Fred Phelps' hate-filled "God hates fags" crusade that undermines the hate by highlighting its utter ridiculousness), and are targeted for hate crimes, along with those they love (killer attacks women who sleep with vampires - Boys Don't Cry, anyone?).

This season, however, seems to be taking a disturbing turn towards misogynistic violence for its own sake. On last night's episode "9 Crimes" alone,
  • Tara was trapped, bitten, tied up (on the toilet?!), gagged, and kidnapped,
  • Pam was suspended spread-eagle on some device and tortured with a hot poker,
  • Alcide's ex, Debbie, is (willingly? She is on V...) stripped, man/wolf-handled in the form of crowd surfing, and branded in an atmosphere that feels like a lead up to gang rape, and
  • Ann, a stripper, is glamoured by Bill (a procurer?) and violently devoured by Lorena, Russell, and Bill.
This of course is not to mention the final scene of the previous episode, "It Hurts Me Too" (how many people have been beaten to this refrain?), in which Bill "kills my love for Sookie" by viciously fucking Lorena (his mother, for all intents and purposes). I am not making an argument against rough sex here. If that's all that scene was, it probably would have been very hot. Instead, it's an act of hatred, in which Bill literally makes Lorena a faceless object by twisting her head 180 degrees so that all he can see is the back of her head. Of course, at this point, Bill already has quite a history of domestic violence. He's bashed in Lorena's head with a tv and set her on fire in the space of a few weeks. Yes, Lorena seems to enjoy whatever Bill throws her way, but is she a masochist, or a woman trapped in a cycle of domestic violence? Whatever dark history of his this season uncovers, it's already clear that Bill is not the sensitive mainstreamer that he's made Sookie believe he is.

And on a side note, the Sookie Stackhouse novels may have been written before the Twilight Saga, but the storyline of the human young woman coldly abandoned by the vampire she loves - ostensibly to protect her from all the suffering he's brought into her life - being warmly comforted by a shirtless werewolf seemed eyerollingly derivative. 

Don't get me wrong - I'll keep watching in the hopes that the show will return to the social and sexual brilliance it's shown in the past. In the meantime, I'll leave you with Snoop's ode. Might as well get some pleasure out of this blog post!

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