We all get that True Blood is supposed to be some sort of thinly (not so thinly) coded metaphor. In general, vampires represent “the Other,” and in this show they seem particularly tied to the homosexual community. Between the Fred Phelpsian “God Hates Fangs” during the opening credits to the VRA legislation being pushed through Congress (Vampire Rights Amendment), the show’s coded subtext is not really coded or subtextual at all. Now, as many people have already suggested, it seems kind of fucked up to have a metaphor for the homosexual community in which the metaphorical homosexuals are violent mass murderers. Hyper-sexualized violent mass murderers. Hyper-sexualized violent mass murderers with whom sex = death. Just a little fucked up. Just sort of super fucked up. But even assuming that we ignore that part of the metaphor, you know, the part that is the whole metaphor, and focus on how it’s about a community struggling against ignorance and potential injustice, this week’s episode took another dark turn.
As the show’s main vampire, Bill Compton is our entry point towards sympathy for the metaphorical Other. He’s the one who can teach us that vampires aren’t all hyper-sexualized violent mass murderers with AIDS. They can also be gentlemen! Fair enough. Except that in a scene last night in which Bill confronts three of his fellow undead, he reveals his strategy for securing equal rights for vampires, and, like the metaphor itself, his strategy is kind of fucked up.
So, just to get this straight, Bill advocates the strictest type of assimilation by which the vampire community must accept the complete abdication of its cultural practices. In this way, he hopes to appease the rigorously intolerant human society NOT by opening up new avenues of understanding, acceptance, and shared experience, but by simply becoming something else. Bill suggests that the only way for vampires to be welcomed into society is to refrain from any behavior that would make them, well, vampires.
That’s an abhorrent political position. It’s self-destructive and only contributes to a culture of hatred and ignorance. The problem on True Blood, of course, is that the only other political option for the vampires that we are presented with is an over-indulgence in sexual violence. Even Bill describes his fellow vampires as “evil.” So, it’s either don’t be a vampire in any meaningful sense of the word, or be a total nightmare.
You can see how this gets problematic for a metaphor about, well, a metaphor about anything. Surely Alan Ball could have found a simpler, less mind-fucky way to be a horrible homophobe.