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The Post-Game Show » 2010 » August

Archive for August, 2010

Hot Blooded: True Blood’s ‘Barrage of Homosexuality’

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I do not particularly care for Anna Paquin’s nipples.

annapaquinWork-safe Anna Paquin (nipples not pictured)

But we’ll get to that later. Recently, a man who plays some kind of sport for some American sports team or other tweeted, “Caught up on True Blood. Not a fan of how they get u hooked with the 1st 2 seasons then bring on a barrage of homosexuality.”

Management must have clamped down on him in a hurry, because he quickly apologised, but the incident was enough to prompt Zap2It to ask if it was possible to be a fan of True Blood and a homophobe. (Though they used the term ‘anti gay’, which is the sensitive way that homophobes would like us to refer to their homophobia, because it’s so prejudiced to call them homophobes.)

One reader replied that he/she was “using the fast-forward button more and more as the shows morphs into nothing but a gay porn fest”. Another objected to the gay storylines “because in some instances they are pointless and obviously just added fluff on this show”. Another said, “Whenever there is any gay sex scenes (which is often) I switch channels for a minute or two”.

Apparently I’m watching the family edition of True Blood, because I’ve missed the gay porn fest. The guy who says there are often gay sex scenes, and who changes the channel whenever he sees one, has been changing the channel a little prematurely, because thus far - in three seasons of the show - there has been only one all-male sex scene. One. I rather doubt this fellow was changing channels at the first glimpse of Sapphism. In bigot maths, one gay sex scene is ‘often’.

For the record, that one sex scene - between vampires Eric and Talbot - was very obviously edited down to as few seconds as possible, and it ended with a literal ‘penetration = death’ metaphor. It was not a positive sex scene. So the number of romantic male-male sex scenes in three years of True Blood? Zero.

The scene certainly was not fluff; one character seduced another so that he could get close enough to kill him, as revenge for the murder of his family. In any other show, the introduction of gay sex as an entrée to death-by-phallus would set off alarm bells about the show’s attitude to homosexuality.

True Blood gets more of the benefit of the doubt than other shows, because it has a gay showrunner in Alan Ball, a positive central gay character in Lafayette, and a generous attitude to the display of male flesh, as epitomised by Ryan Kwanten’s Jason Stackhouse (though that’s probably meant to serve the show’s huge female audience rather than the gays). Even so, the show is not as gay-friendly as most people tend to believe.

It’s true that the show has got a lot gayer this season, but it still approaches the subject with a dainty touch that it doesn’t apply to other sexual relationships. Lafayette has been living like a monk for two seasons. Now that he finally has a boyfriend, the pair of them seem to be the only couple in the show to do their canoodling off-screen. They spend an astonishing amount of time lounging around indoors with their clothes on.

billsam

There was also Sam’s dream about Bill, of course. People who drink vampire blood sometimes have sex dreams about the vampire. We know that Lafayette had these dreams about Eric, but we never saw it. Sam’s dream about Bill was hilariously porny in tone, but the characters didn’t even touch, let alone kiss. Finally, the latest episode showed the gay villain of the season in bed with a rent boy - but there was no sex scene, only another violent penetrative death.

Then there was the relationship between Eric and Godric in season two. This was an intense loving relationship between two men, but it was never presented as sexual, even though similar relationships have been, especially when they involved two women - Maryann and Daphne; Sophie-Anne and Hadley; even Pam and Yvetta. The same season showed an entire town engaging in Bacchanalian orgies, but it was all inexplicably heterosexual.

As the orgies suggest, True Blood is a shameless show. It is not shy about straight sex or nudity, either male or female. Nor does it skirt around the existence of gay characters or gay relationships. It’s just a little coy, and a little evasive, about showing male-male relationships off with the same salacious indulgence. True Blood is a gay-friendly show - one of the most gay-friendly shows I’ve ever seen - and I don’t mean to hold it to a higher standard than lesser shows, but it’s so revealing that even this show applies a double standard. When audiences accuse the show of becoming “gay porn”, it’s easy to understand why.

The reader who couldn’t tell the difference between ‘once’ and ‘often’ also said of the gay sex scenes; “As a straight man it is hard for me to watch a male sex scene. It repulses me.”

Sir; I have seen more of Anna Paquin’s nipples than I have ever wanted to see, and it does not please me in the least. However, I assume that you rather enjoy it, so I’m prepared to put up with it as a kindness to my fellow man. Maybe you could show me the same generosity?

Some Thoughts on the Proposition 8 Ruling

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Today’s Proposition 8 verdict is truly momentous. In ruling that the 2008 ballot proposition was unconstitutional, Judge Vaughn Walker did not end the fight for marriage equality in the US, but he took a huge step towards that inevitability.

Ezra Waldman at Towleroad offers some excellent analysis, highlighting Judge Walker’s admirable attention to detail. Walker’s ruling lays out the evidence with such clarity that the appeals court would break its back trying to reach a different conclusion.

The major talking point in opposition to the ruling have been as follows: First, the courts should not overturn the will of the voters. Second, the judge is gay, and therefore biased.

In keeping with all the arguments put forth by the pro-Prop 8 side, both points are nonsense. It is the duty of the law to protect the weak against the powerful, and the minority against the majority, and in this case the ruling establishes that Proposition 8 should never have been put to the vote in the first place. Courts are meant to overturn the will of the people, when the expressed will of the people is to remove rights and freedoms from an unprotected minority.

(While we’re on the subject of the majority vote, I note that some are hailing this ruling as a victory for California, by California. It isn’t. It’s a victory for the anti-Prop 8 defendants, their lawyers and their experts. California still bears the black mark of the Prop 8 vote. While Prop 8 passed by only 52% to 48%, that was with turnout of just under 80%. Almost two-thirds of all Californians who were eligible to vote were happy to see gays stripped of their rights in their state. You can’t spin that; you have to own it.)

As to the suggestion that Walker should have recused himself because of his homosexuality, this is an impossible argument for the bigots to win. First of all, it’s central to the ‘protect marriage’ argument that gay people are not losing anything by being denied the right to marry the person they love. If the bigots then contend that Judge Walker stands to gain something personally or financially by overturning Prop 8, that shows that they know their argument is bunk.

It’s also the Prop 8 advocates’ contention that gay marriage undermines straight marriage, on which basis a straight judge would also have a personal prejudice. Then there’s the question of whether religious judges should recuse themselves. What happens if/when this case reaches the Supreme Court? Do the six Catholic justices all recuse themselves? I’m perfectly happy for this case to be decided by Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagan. (Then again, maybe they won’t let Kagan play either.)

Obviously, from where I’m sitting, I can’t find fault in Walker’s ruling, and nor would I want to. If he’s potentially biased, I’m proudly so. Still, I think even an objective reading of the case in support of Proposition 8 would conclude that it offered nothing of substance. What few experts they were able to call were not able to offer any evidence in support of their cause, and in many cases their arguments helped their opponents. Any verdict other than the one delivered would have looked highly questionable.