Vampire Discrimination on True Blood

August 7, 2009 by  

I have written about “True Blood” several times in the past couple of months, both on my personal blog and on TrueBloodNet.com. I often mention how I never took an active interest in vampires, at least until True Blood. I believe I was first drawn to the show merely because it is set in my home state of Louisiana. That in and of itself is fascinating, but then I began to realize that there was something more that draws me to the show – and is almost intertwined with my very soul.

jessnhoyt

I recently read an article comparing the treatment of the vampires in “True Blood” to segregation in the South. It was then that I made the connection. I discussed this matter with a fellow admirer of the show last week and he seemed to have noticed it also.

I do not have a lot of idle time; therefore I do not view a large variety of television shows on a regular basis. I do however, have my pick of favorites and of course, “True Blood” is currently at the top of that list. Each one of the shows I regularly watch focuses on some relevant aspect of life, especially if it addresses societal ills, such as racism and other such touching matters.

I suppose I do tend to have some sympathy toward the vampires, if nothing else because of the way they are treated. I remember the now infamous episode where Lafayette really showed what he was made of – when he delivered the meals to the table of Neanderthals at Merlotte’s last season. I remember burning with anger when I watched as those men sat around the table taunting and jeering Lafayette for his obvious gender bending and Sookie for being a vampire sympathizer. It took me back to a very difficult time in my life. I was the focus of such deep seeded hatred because I was akin to what “True Blood” depicts as vampire sympathizers. I cheered when Lafayette told them where to go and how to get there. They deserved it, as so many before them did as well.

I am under forty years of age, but I can recall a time when the Jim Crow south had not yet ceased to exist. It was the 1970’s and I can remember asking my mother why the waiting rooms at the doctor’s office in town were separated. When we were taken back for the examination, we were taken to one side of the building, while patients of other ethnic backgrounds were seated on the other side of the building and were placed in examination rooms in another part of the building from us. Even as a small child, I knew something was wrong with that. As I grew up, I never came to understand “why”, but I learned that was the way things had been done and I came to see that it would be decades before much of a change was made. I was Sookie, in a way. If I saw someone with whom I wanted to visit or converse, I did so without giving it a second thought. After all, I was not doing anything wrong. Even so, I was chastised, threatened, humiliated, and made to feel inferior like you could never begin to imagine. Or course, I am referring to dealing with the ugly truths of racism. It was my vampire. And just like in Bon Temps, there were always Bible thumpers who decried interracial friendships and those who took part in them, all in the name of the Lord.

I was surrounded by an unbelievable number of naysayers and nasty folks, all because I, like Sookie, thought nothing of talking to people who, at first look, seemed different from me, when all the while, had they been given a fair chance, it would have become apparent that they were not so different after all.

Sookie sticks to her principles and core beliefs and she does not allow anyone to dictate her thoughts and acts. She also is not afraid to stand up for her friends, even if it means putting herself in harm’s way. Sookie does not back down until she makes a difference. We should all be thankful for the Sookies of the world, because had it not been for people like her, we would not be as socially evolved as we now are. My scars have healed now that I am much older and wiser and have come to realize that there are some things in this world that you just cannot fix. That leaves me to imagine what kind of a town Bon Temps would be, absent those terrible vampires. I say that tongue-in-cheek, of course, but it really makes one think.

(Photo credit: HBO Inc.)

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  • pbartteacher, you are not the only one who needs an “intervention”. Everyone I know who watches the show is fully enthralled in it – probably because of those characteristics you listed in your comment. Isn’t it great?

    • pbartteacher

      Arlene, very cool that your article was picked up by a Brazilian fan site. I am not surprised at all. True Blood continues to spread not like a disease, or a fungus or but more like a happy tune that you can’t get out of your head.

      We have all been there when you hear a song and the remainder of the day you spend singing it. Or trying to remember the lyrics. So it is with True Blood. My Sunday night addiction to “V” is worth repeating several times during the week. Not only DVR reruns, wikis, blogs, downloading photos or videos to fan sites galore but also rereading the CH books.

      OK, I’ll admit I probably should be first in line for the intervention. Thank goodness the season will be ending as I go back to school.

  • How cool is it that the article was picked up by a Brazilian site?

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  • Kelly

    Great article and excellent responses. I immediately caught on to this idea with the “God Hates Fangs” sign in the opening credits. I’ve had unfortunate exposure to Fred Phelps and his hateful followers (Their primary logo is ‘God Hates fags’) when he was in the area protesting a funeral; I saw the link immediately. Your are right that there will always be ‘others’ in society – it has been an unfortunate historical constant.

  • pbartteacher

    Here, here to both of the previously made entries.Tallgrrl and Arlene Culpepper. There is not much of anything that grabs my attention on television today. To be truthful, I have never been a fan of reality television (Survivor Who, Dancing with the ?). I don’t especially like cop shows, lawyers or tv shows about hospitals. What does that leave you with? Good question. If you look at regular programming choices that are left, comedy is about the only realm that I have not touched on this short blog.

    Back to True Blood. I like it just because this was intelligent about subjects pertaining to prejudice, fear, acceptance, being the outsider, equal rights. I guess I caught onto to that in the first minutes of the first episode. It made me stop and say hey this is actually intelligent but also very funny and on occasion gruesome and oh yeah, erotic or sexy. Thank goodness Alan Ball and his writers have come along with the fine cast of True Blood to ease my boredom. I actually watch very little television except for movies on TCM and AMC. Just not that much out there worth watching.

    Keep up the intelligent plot lines, interesting characters and if you can throw in a good moral issue now and then all the better. Here’s to our favorite “V” addiction. Perhaps I need an intervention. I do spend some time on my favorite show. But at least it keeps me off the street. Ha. Counting down to Sunday, 1 more night and a few hours until Timebomb. Should be an awesome episode.

  • TallGrrl

    When I first started reading your article, I must admit that the first thing that came to my mind was: “Duh! No shit, Sherlock!”
    Then, I realized that because I’m: 1) Black; and 2) a little older than you are, maybe that’s why I “got” the parallels IMMEDIATELY.
    True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse Stories are another example how genre has been used to point out and discuss issues that people find it hard to deal with. Race being one of them. Especially in this country with our history and our so-deep-seated=that-it’s-pathological attitude/issues/problem with race and racism. (Especially these days since The Crazy has come out of the closet with the election of a Black president.)
    From The Twilight Zone to Star Trek to Alien Nation to Battlestar Galactica, genre has had stories and story lines dealing with prejudice and bigotry, misunderstanding, fear and hatred. (And I’m just mentioning TV shows!)
    It’s not just racial bigotry that’s dealt with in True Blood, though. There’s also misogyny and homophobia.
    People will always find an “Other” to fear and hate.
    It seems to me that in the True Blood universe, those haters are going to have to realize that THEIR little group of what they call “normal” is very much outnumbered, and maybe the way to survive is to accept.
    It should be that way in real life too.
    There was a line where Sookie, realizing that there are not only just Vampires, says: “What else is there?” and I believe it was Sam that tells her: “More than you know.”

    Anyway, I liked what you wrote and thought I’d drop my penny in as well. I’d like to see what others think about this as well.
    : )

    And sometimes it’s not that something can’t be fixed. It just can’t be fixed immediately.
    So you begin the repairing. You might not be the one to finish. You just pass the tools on.

    • TallGrrl, that was a great comment you left. Thanks for giving your response. I too, am curious to see if anyone else has thoughts on the subject.