“In This I See God”

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

(“TRUE BLOOD” SPOILER ALERT)

When True Blood started, I quickly tuned in to the way they were using discrimination against vampires as a metaphor for our society’s attitudes towards gays- (even “God hates fangs”, during the opening credits)- most obviously in the evangelical Christian movement’s overt and hypocritical hate-mongering. But the show is about more than that, now. It’s really exploring our entire societal approach to sexuality and love. As a friend just pointed out, we even find Eric intriguing and exciting, even after we saw him mercilessly torture the wonderful Lafayette. So, what does that say about us, and our own, perhaps latent, sado/masochistic tendencies? Even Bill, with his tortured conscience, can be nakedly vicious. He hates that part of himself, but it’s still there, and when it serves his purposes, he uses it. But it’s much more than any of this.

Lafayette uses sex as a form of currency (as so many people do, and usually not so blatantly for cash or drugs), and it nearly gets him killed. Arlene thinks she’s in love with every guy she sleeps with. Jason’s whole life had been about indulging in his casual approach to sexuality, and it was a huge part of his identity- he thought it made him a cool guy- but he’s really desperately yearning for something meaningful in his life (and his story-line has become- surprisingly- one of the most interesting, to me). And Sam’s laconic, casual approach to sexuality is really just a mask for his fear of intimacy, as his only truly intimate relationship is with the unobtainable Sookie; and even when he thought he had met his soul-mate, in another shape-shifter, it turned out that his loneliness had pushed him to let his emotions get way ahead of himself- their bond and intimacy had been an illusion, and he hadn’t had a clue about who she really was and what she really had been about. And then there’s Maryann. Early on, I predicted she would be a Greek goddess of discord, but of course she sees herself as a goddess of passion. And she inspires people to new heights of ecstasy, but it’s a soulless ecstasy, a cruel ecstasy, a literally murderous ecstasy. It becomes a statement about the entire tantric approach to sexuality. 

So, the show has been exploring and revealing hidden truths about our society’s approach to sexuality and love, and maybe even revealing things about ourselves- like why we do find Eric so attractive! Because the vampires coming out of the closet isn’t just a metaphor for gays coming out of the closet, it’s really a broader statement about our own unconscious and subconscious desires. And the way sexuality has emerged more into the open, in general, in our society. As Foucault might have noted, sexuality never was repressed in the ways we think it was, but it had been contained and controlled. But that containment and control is now internalized within each of us, perhaps because what we have been taught to believe is most sexually exciting isn’t, and what is most sexually exciting is too difficult to explain, depict, or even allow ourselves to experience.

Forty years ago, porn was mostly isolated in back-alley theaters, and the only people who watched it were considered creepy old men, or people who considered themselves daring. Now, in the era of videos and dvds and the internet, everyone watches porn, and a lot of people make their own. People utterly lacking in inspiration and creativity can get ideas, and experiment with things they never would have come up with on their own, and that once would have been thought new and exciting and kinky. But there is no kinky, anymore. We all explore our boundaries, and discover our favorite things to do, but everyone does everything, these days. Everything is out in the open, for everyone to see. There is nothing new. There is no cutting-edge. Except for the one thing that matters most, that most people never explore beyond the surface, and that is the sexiest and most exciting of all. And because of which, perhaps, most people are most afraid of it, no matter how much they claim otherwise. Which brings us to Sookie…

Sookie overplays her sex kitten role, but her life is really all about love. It’s that simple. She loved her grandmother, she loves her brother and Tara and Sam, and she love Bill. She enjoys her sex life with Bill, but she enjoys it most because she loves him. She loves the depth of his caring. And not just his caring for her. Because even with all of his obvious and torturing flaws, Bill really wants to help, and to do the right thing. And I do hope that he picks up on some of Godric’s lessons. He and Eric both could evolve in very interesting ways, as they come to terms with the meaning of Godric’s life and death. And Bill’s allowing the murderous evangelical to live hints at that. But Sookie is so much about love that even her sexual fantasy about Eric actually was about love. Eric’s this wild, beautiful, cruel and imperious stud, and you’d have thought that her fantasy about him would involve intense ostensibly kinky sex. But it didn’t. It was about tenderness and emotionally naked vulnerability. Even as she falls victim to the primal effects of having drank Eric’s blood, she’s still finding her way into her sexual attraction not on some purely primal level, but through her own profound perception of his, very much suppressed, humanity. Even her sexual fantasy about this potential sex god is really about tenderness and intimacy and love.

Last night’s episode concluded with one of the most explicit displays of who Sookie is, and wherein lies her gift. Her emotional and spiritual presence, as she stood with Godric, in his dying moments, was a rare moment of televised beauty. Godric’s closing line was poetry:

“A human with me, at the end. Human tears. Two thousand years and I can still be surprised. In this I see God.” 

Indeed. He did. Because even though Maryann may be an eternal deity of some sort, it is the humanity and love embodied in Sookie that truly is divine.

3 comments

    • Turkana on August 18, 2009 at 12:22 am
      Author

    but anything by alan ball…

    • TMC on August 18, 2009 at 1:44 am

    for a lot of reasons, one of which was time. My daughter and s-i-l have watched the series since it started. I watched it last night with them for the first time. I found the episode quite moving and checked out season 1 synopsis. HBO carries full episodes of season 2. I have quite a lot of catching up with the world outside emergency medicine. As of this week I retired from one job (the ER) and have been on sabbatical from the other since June (NGO). My reading and “to do” lists got really long while at NN09. It just got longer. 😉  

    • dmc on August 24, 2009 at 4:23 am

    next episode. I thought that Six Feet Under as the greatest TV show of all time, but now I’m starting to think that True Blood may eclipse it. Ironically, I really didn’t like it at first because of I don’t like vampire/fantasy as a genre, but you are so right, that the genre is just kind of shell, and inside of it Alan has put some very deep stuff about love, and relationships, and sexuality, and prejudice, and even religion. It’s a phenomenal series.

    Spoiler alert, don’t read this if you haven’t seen this week’s episode yet, but I particularly love the way Sookie’s “gift” and Bill’s vampire abilities combined to crack through Maryann’s “trance”. The weaving of plot and character are just masterful.

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