Holy Sparkling Vampires, Batman!: True Blood and the Triumph of Greed

POST UPDATES!

NPR on Vampires and Desire [My point exactly]

Joel’s observations of True Blood

Another Post update:

The Only Way I Would See a Twilight Movie (funny)

The Tragic Death of Cultural Platonism

I do not know if  there has ever been two bibliobloggers to do a joint post on the same stupid television show, but here goes; Polycarp takes part two.

For those in the audience that have not been living beneath a bomb shelter the past five years, there is this current trend in Hollywood as well as the novel industry that seeks to re-tell the story of the European myth of vampire, and in the process, from my view, re-affirm post-modern definitions of masculinity. [Note: for those who know my critique of post-modernity as a classist philosophy, know that this is not a good thing].  I could go on a rant about the violence and  sexual promiscuity promoted by t.v. shows like True Blood or the Twilight series, but that really is not where I would like to focus my critique. Rather, I would like to point out the consumerist cultural viewpoints that are necessarily purported in these phenomena.

For starters, I see the nation’s cultural reconstruction and obsession with vampires as  a metaphor.  Vampires in the 21st century are persons who are half dead, yes, but also persons who live by their appetites, their desires, and emotions. There is no need for self-control. It is a hormonal-led lifestyle where human beings live by their wants.  Philosophically, we are bombarded with commercials that tell us to “Just Do It,” to get that fourth meal at 3am because that what we want.  I, along with other post-colonial scholars, wonder if post-modernity is just the latest faze in late capitalism, that of CEO-driven, corporation ran, anything goes, all desire is good, consume all you want attitude. Thus, I find a connection with much “post-modern” scholarship with its anti-Platonist polemic and the current social obsession with vampires.  If vampires are re-conceived as creatures of corporatist lust, why, there is nothing from stopping us from liking them, is there?  They are no longer dangerous, no need to fear them.  They are our friends, and so are all of all desires.  The distinction between right and wrong desire is blurred.  But this is the consequence of what happens when we blindly do not appreciate what Platonism once offered us.  The warning to us all that living by our appetites is a dangerous thing.   From my studies on Clement of Alexandria, his Christology stands as a threat against the vampire religion of today.  Christ, for Clement did not need to eat or drink, he just chose to (almost docetic) but at the same time, a possible protest against Roman Egyptians who lived as they deigned fit.  For Clement, Christ stands as the supreme example and the one way in which humanity could live in self-control, to be truly autonomous from sin (perfection/theosis) by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Bill Compton and Edward represent the post-modern male, controlled by their wants, because, in a consumerist society, self-control is superfluous. Love is redefined, as one reviewer of Twilight correctly noted, as self-serving and teenage infatuations with abled, beautiful bodies.   The popularity of a television show should not lead us to sugar coat its obvious moral implications, nor can we, as some have suggested, separate the “good writing and story structure” from the gratuitous nature of the product, but they must be seen as essential to the message being conveyed by the cultural producers of vampire-mania.

Without discernment of which wants are correct, we just end up with a society where bailouts and cultural censorship are  deemed as necessary.

35 thoughts on “Holy Sparkling Vampires, Batman!: True Blood and the Triumph of Greed

  1. Terrell Mims

    Good blog, yet I have noticed some discrepancies which may nullify your argument.

    1. Twilight is the very anti-thesis of violence and sex. Twilight does not promote pre-marital coitus, but Edward sternly refuses his base instincts and tells Bella they must be married. Violence is all but non-existent in the Twilight universe. Any violence is mentioned or alluded to.

    2. The character of Hoyt from True Blood is a minor character. He is also human. The main vampire is Bill Compton.

    3. Edward and Hoyt, even though he is minor, could be considered paragons of virtue in their respective universes. Edward doesn’t fight and views sex as an act in marriage. Hoyt is not a horny, skirt chaser, but a guy who spent the better part of two seasons trying to validate himself to a newly turned vampire, who is still struggling to hold onto her humanity.

    Reply
    1. Rod of Alexandria

      On Twilight, read the article I linked about Twilight. It is not that innocent: love is really just teenage lust. And violence, sorta like the fights they have, how the vampires and werewolves struggle to fight their animalistic urges. yeah its a more hidden form of violence, the potential to be violent.

      Reply
  2. minanox

    I enjoyed the post and appreciate your view. Your point does apply in many senses.
    To me it’s more like a subconscious protesting against the ugly sight of humanity we’ve been exposed and experieced via internet and mass media. People see traditionally ‘evil’ creatures fighting their nature, do things sometimes more humane than humans, see how indifferent we became in many ways.
    True Blood, apart from sex and violence that may viewers found offensive, gives a complex view on racism and prejudice towards minorities. In the show other humans’ color or sexual preference are almost no issue anymore though new racism takes place against vampires because of their ‘nature’. In a strange way, I found humanity in this show, seeing how people slowly accepting differences, even with vampires.
    I’m sorry it’s gotten awfully long comment, I just wanted to share a different perspective.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Watching Trueblood | The Church of Jesus Christ

  4. El Bryan Libre

    Have you actually really watched True Blood or read the Twilight novels or seen the movies?

    Reading your critiques I have to wonder whether if you actually liked True Blood or Twilight, the way you do 24, if you could instead find a way to justify them or at least your enjoyment of them.

    Reply
    1. Rod of Alexandria

      Yes, I have watched True Blood. Several episodes. As for the Twilight novels and movies: I would not torture myself.

      The target of the post, whether it is True Blood or Twilight or Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel, whatever, my point is that they are re-interpretations, and bad ones at that, of the vampire folklore.

      AS for the 24 comparison, there weren’t any vampires in 24. So you err in the comparison. My beef wasn’t with the sexuality and violence, that is easy to critique. If you read the post actually, it is what the vampire represents: desire-driven, experience-dependent postmodern consumerist males.

      Reply
  5. Terrell Mims

    I doubt he has read or watched the Twilight novels or the Sookie Stackhouse novels due to the fact Rodney makes very good observations about the violent content, but lacks the actual substance due to not being familiar with the source material.

    To me, all credibility is lost if one makes an opinion without being familiar with the content.

    Reply
  6. Terrell Mims

    First, Rodney. I know my theology. Call me and we’ll talk about it.

    Second, I totally agree with you say about what vampires represent. I will bring up that topic in my next novel when the protagonist’s best friend/love interest becomes a vampire. She will hate what vamps represent.

    Third, modern-day vampires are not bad re-interpretations. They are just modern evolution of vampire folklore. Vampire folklore of the 18th century is reminiscent of the high society culture: capes, castles, aristocracy.

    Modern vampires represent the violent and sexual nature of our society but modern vampires represent out culture: they drive sports cars, wear expensive clothes, yet still hold an air of airstocracy (Angel, Bill Compton, Eric Northstram, the Cullens)

    If you come to realize, the most popular vampires are those who reject their nature (Angel, Bill, Edward, Stefan Salvatore from Vampire Diaries)

    Rodney, I still agree with you about the vampire as a representative of violence. I believe that.

    Reply
  7. Terrell Mims

    I agree. The rise of the vampire culture is just training our youth to live for the flesh.

    However, the vampires who people admire are the ones who resist. They are the ones who hold onto humanity, resisting giving into desire. Edward does not give in to his thirst or his libido. In fact, he preaches against it.

    In the long run, they can’t help but to be subconsciously subdued by the carnal nature of modern vampirism.

    Reply
  8. El Bryan Libre

    Rod:
    How would you know if they’re bad reinterpretations if you haven’t even watched or read one of them (Twilight) and you’ve only seen several episodes (how many is that?) of True Blood?

    I just find it hard to believe that you would base the point of your post on something you’re not actually that familiar with. Why would you use them as examples? Because they’re popular right now?

    I read what you were saying in your post but it kind of falls apart when you are pointing to what a current phenomenon represents yet the examples that you use as representative of that current phenomenon may not actually support your point.

    And I realize that 24 had no vampires. Did you really think I was saying there was? I just thought it was funny that you were able to slam Twilight and True Blood for what you saw as it’s moral failings yet you justify a violent show like 24. Maybe they’re not that similar but it just made we wonder whether you could also find a way to justify Twilight and True Blood if you actually liked them.

    Reply
    1. Rod of Alexandria

      @Bryan:

      “And I realize that 24 had no vampires. Did you really think I was saying there was?”

      No, you fail to realize i am making a distinction between 24 (which is not part of the vampire culture), and the other shows.

      Did you actually read my post Bryan, or did you just ignore everything I wrote. I said this post is not about the violence or sex in the vampire novels/movies; it is about vampires representing people who live by desire as consumers. Vampires are us. Read my links I have updated this post with. They essentially agree with my view.

      Bryan,

      I have seen the first season of True Blood, so your argument epically fails. I am avoiding twilight because I am not going to denigrate myself with that crap. I have read parts of the novels in excerpts, I have read articles promoting it, I have been trying to find good Christian literature to read, but it’s all crap. And very accomodationist. That means: Twilight is a cheap imitation, Jesus-fied twist on the Vampire phenom in US-American culture. I watched Buffy the Vampire (movie and t.v. series), Angel, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, etc. etc., I could go on and on.

      There, I hope you are happy, but you never are with my answers cuz you refuse to read my posts closely.

      Reply
  9. Terrell Mims

    Rodney, people who say I have read Twlight in excerpts or Harry Potter in excerpts and read articles on the subject are just like people who come away with a bad picture of Christianity because they read excerpts out the Bible.

    I think people have an issue because you are using a pop culture phenom as a basis for your argument, yet you aren’t fully immersed in the source.

    BTW, Sunday’s episode of True Blood totally backs up your argument. The main vampire, Bill, gives into the “vampire.” He has punishment sex with the vampire who sired him. He bites her neck, then proceeds to have violent missionary sex, but because he hates her, he twists her neck 180 degrees in order to not see but continues having sex while she screams “I love you.”

    Reply
    1. Rod of Alexandria

      Not fully immersed in the source?

      You mean people aren’t running around with Team Jacob and Team Edward shirts at church (by people, I mean tween girls), or I don’t see Twilight this or that on t.v., or I have never seen Kristen Stewart be interviewed? Fully immersed? I would say so.

      Reply
  10. Terrell Mims

    If you have seen more Angel, Buffy, etc. Use that as your source.

    I have seen every episode of True Blood and read the whole Twilight series. So I feel I am in a better place to make a judgement call on the nature of them inside the whole modern vampire resurgence.

    I read the article about Edward’s “love.” Totally agree.

    Reply
  11. El Bryan Libre

    Actually I wasn’t really making an argument just pointing something out. And my point doesn’t entirely fail because you still haven’t read or seen Twilight (beyond excerpts apparently) yet you are making all types of claims about it and you don’t have any actual real knowledge of it.

    I did read your post but I got caught up on the fact that you were making a point and using something to illustrate that point that you didn’t even know if it actually supported your point. It was hard for me to take the rest seriously after that. sorry.

    “Read my links I have updated this post with. They essentially agree with my view. ”

    That made me laugh. Not out loud–more of a little chuckle.

    Reply
    1. Rod of Alexandria

      Glad to make you laugh.

      I have a decent grasp of what Twilight is about. I mean, it’s like knowing Frankenstein the story like some people do, without having actually read Mary Shelley.

      I have read Mary Shelley and the original Frankenstein; I just know a lot more details than others who have not read it. Same deal, just like people haven’t watched 24 but they know what its about, the storyline gets out. So I don’t get all the details, and? But I get the stories right, and what matters is that the stories have wrong, twisted, consumerist values.

      Reply
  12. Terrell Mims

    When I saw fully immersed, I meant you have seen every episode and read every book. I don’t expect you to be Team so and so. You aren’t a tween or a certain pink T.O. jersey owner we both know.

    Now, if you state “From what I have been exposed to relating to Twilight and True Blood…” I think people would be more accepting.

    By stating you are not fully aware first-hand of the source material, but your opinions come from excerpts and second hand accounts, you are being viewed as a non-credible author.

    Reply
  13. Terrell Mims

    If your true target is True Blood, then your blog is not evidence by the fact that you seem to not grasp the character of Hoyt, who is a minor character in the True Blood universe. He is a human and he actually is the only character who desires a relationship based on likes, compatibility, and attraction, not sexual lust like everyone else.

    Thus, you have proven you do not grasp your source material. I suggest you either watch the next two seasons or just use other vampire material which you are more accustomed.

    Reply
    1. Rod of Alexandria

      Outside of one mis-named reference, I have a good grasp of True Blood. Its not like i have said there are, are 57 states in the U.S.A. or anything like that.

      So, yeah I stick with my analysis and my basic arguments; Vampires today=s consumers. Bottom line.

      There, I editted it, now my argument still owns everything else.

      You and bryan still have not refuted my statements that vampires represent consumers. so im going to assume you all know i am right.

      Reply
  14. Terrell Mims

    I never disputed you. I agree vampires are today’s are today’s consumers. Just like Dawn of Dead (original) was a study of consumerism and the rise of the suburb.

    Reply
  15. David Tonkovich

    I just wonder, if we are going to try to represent things that occur in this world today why we don’t, like Jesus, use real life examples, or at least not use made up fictional creatures to represent societies flaws and goodness(ie Good Samaritan, prodigal son, rich man) But I guess for most..that would be boring.

    Reply
  16. Pingback: Sunday Amens: Movies, Bloggers, and Community « Political Jesus: Journeys in Non-Resistant Love

  17. Pingback: The Boondocks Season 3, season finale “It’s Going Down” | Political Jesus: Journeys in Non-Resistant Love

  18. Pingback: Why Political Jesus? part One: Political | Political Jesus

  19. Pingback: Sunday Amens: Movies, Bloggers, and Community | The Resist Daily

  20. Pingback: The Boondocks Season 3, season finale "It’s Going Down" | The Resist Daily

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *