On True Blood

Fangs and Fame

The Vampire as Celebrity

By Jules Wilkinson

True Blood’s moody, southern gothic opening montage sets up vampires as a marginalized social group. Gay or black, take your pick. There’s footage of civil rights protests from the ‘60s and a sign proclaiming “God hates fangs,” a pun on the anti-gay slogan.

This gives us a familiar framework in which to place vampires. There is a “vampire rights” movement, and vampires talk about “mainstreaming,” that is, passing as human. In this world, vampires have recently come out–of the coffin.

But how appropriate is it for the vampires in True Blood, like Eric, Bill, Jess, Pamela, and Godric? If these vampires are meant to represent minority sexual or racial groups, you’d sort of expect them to be less white, or perhaps actually have gay sex.

One of the most enduring figures in folklore, vampires have been reinvented and restyled more times than an aging pop star. Vampires started out representing the basic fears of society–death and disease. In the absence of a scientific theory of infection, blaming the creepy-looking guy down the road was probably the next best thing. Skip forward a few hundred years, and vampires have been a go-to metaphor for everything from addiction to capitalism. They’ve been cast to represent those pushed to the edge of society because of their gender, religion, or class, their mental health or their skin color, their religion or their sexuality. They’ve been a site for us to explore our anxieties about our bodies, about aging and death, and about sex.  …

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