Monday, July 11, 2011

True Blood: If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin?

I just loved night's episode and it's going to be hard for me to write about it without coming off like a complete fanpoodle.  The opening scene where Sookie broke Eric's nose and he called her Snookie had me cracking up. For me, Skaarsgard made this entire episode.  The sweet vulnerability that he showed was absolutely magnificent and if I didn't have a huge crush on him before, it certainly would exist after last night. Aren't low cut hip hugging jeans a God/Goddess send? I am looking forward to an entire season of this new Eric. How could you not love the mischievous boy that he played?

Watching the relationship between Jessica and Bill was really very sweet and served to remind the viewer that Bill can care about someone beyond his special Sook-eh.  He has come a long way from the vampire who first tried to pawn Jessica off on Eric.  He took the time to give Jessica advice which he certainly did not follow in his relationship, which is to tell the truth.  Unfortunately for Hoyt, truth did not mean dealing with the consequences of the hurt.

Outside of my fanpoodling and sqweeing about how hot Eric is, I did catch the overarching theme in last nights episode - intimate partner violence.  Normally when we think of domestic violence, we think of it as a crime perpetrated by a man against a woman.  Even though women have been to known to be the perpetrators/aggressors, this is something that is rarely explored in the media.  It is further under reported, because the victim faces dealing with emasculinization from the people who are supposed to help him, and there are very limited resources in existence to deal with battered and abused men. It was an absolute violation of Hoyt's person to be glamored. He knew that Jessica was trying to do this to him and he closed his eyes and said to her, "don't you dare", but she went ahead and did this anyway. This was a selfish act born completely out of power.  Even though Jessica's facial expression indicated that she was disturbed by her action she still chose to violate Hoyt.

The other and possibly most graphic incident of the night was Crystal's rape of Jason.  She gave him Viagra to stimulate an erection, and then forced herself on him against his will.  There was absolutely no consent given, and to top it off, she left the door open, so that others could watch him being violated. 

When I went to check on the insider extras on HBO's website, I came across a video of David Petrarca and Alan Ball discussing last nights episode.  Their comments were absolutely alarming as you can see below.
David Petrarca: He kind of gets his comeuppance here.  The thing that he's been most proud of could possibly be the thing that could most endanger him

Alan Ball: it's kind of interesting to see the kind of guy who really gets his sense of worth from his sexual prowess to all of a sudden to be kind of objectified and sort of used against his will.

 So, for Ball and Petrarca rape is entertainment and comeuppance.  As a rape survivor myself I am absolutely horrified. Jason is simply a fictional character, but the idea that rape can be justified and then offered up for shits and giggles is disgusting. Basically Ball and Petrarca are suggesting that Jason deserves to be raped because he is attractive and sexually active.  Rape as form of punishment in this is slut shaming to the extreme.

This form of rape (read: a woman raping a man) is something that does not generally get discussed in the media.  When we discuss male rape, it is generally speaking in the form of anal sex and situated in a prison.  Jason's horror was real and in my mind gave a face to those men who have been raped by women, only to be belittled by the idea that it was some form of justice or a fair reversal of fate.  

Last night we also learned the werepanthers creation myth.  I found I had great difficulty listening because my eyes were constantly drawn away to the raw meat that they were eating.  Once again it struck me what a terrible job that Alan Ball has done with this community.  In the books, the people of Hot Shot were poor, but they were no where near the terrible classist characterization that Ball has drawn.  We were meant to see these people as feral and subhuman last night, and this in turn was used to justify Crystal's rape of Jason.  In every other instance of violence that I can remember in True Blood, power featured heavily into the narrative, but in the case of Jason and Crystal, it was about inbreeding, poverty and a lack of humanity.  Alan Ball did survivors and the poor no favours with last night's script. 

Other than enjoying Eric, I loved the sweet interaction between Lafayette and Jesus.  I feel like I must treasure this relationship now, because I predict by the end of the season that Jesus will either have died a terrible death, or they will have broken up.  I also loved the flirting between Sam and Tara. I am not as fond as some people are of Sam, but his need for reassurance about Tara's  sudden departure was also very endearing.  Finally, I enjoyed Portia's proposal for sex with Bill.  I was not surprised when Bill gave a long winded reason for why he can never love her, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that for Portia, that this fact was not a deal breaker.  And finally, I had to giggle when Sookie sat in her kitchen reading a Charlaine Harris book - nice product placement.

Last night's episode was complex with moments of great tenderness, followed by moments of extreme callousness.  Warts and all, this is why I love True Blood; it is as flawed as we all are.  I am even more anxious to see where Ball takes this season, and I am glad that he is stepping away from the plot of the books.  I know that this fact makes some fans very upset, but honestly, if it were exactly like the books, what would be the point in watching every week?

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