Thea: I have to say I felt more out of breath and queasy at the end of this episode than I usually do…Season 3, while better on the storylines than Season 2, sure is heavy on the violence against women. First Lorena gets punched so hard in the face that she flies across the room (of course this follows having her head twisted around last ep, so that Bill wouldn’t have to see her face while he had sex with her…which in this ep, she tells us she thoroughly enjoyed) then Franklin imprisons, assaults and then ties Tara to a toilet. And we end with the gory, violent, sexualised murder of a stripper.--From Tough Black Women & Women in Refrigerators: The Roundtable for True Blood S03E04
The violence against Lorena puzzles me. It is plain and simple, extreme violence, but it is complicated by the fact that she is a vampire i.e. has superhuman strength. But just in terms of optics, it is shocking to see.
And I have to say it was extremely disturbing to see Pam tortured…even tough bitches are ultimately vulnerable to male violence. (And I would argue that it was male violence – even if was by rule of vampire law.)
Given my own misgivings about the season so far (and the books in general), I'm glad to see that it's not just me. The racial ping is very much there with Tara and family, but I am, as I've mentioned before, much more disturbed right now by the fact that the show seems more and more to be using rape and graphic violence (often sexualized) against women as the primary narrative force (this is also my main complaint with the books). Not cool, True Blood. So very not cool. I keep hoping it'll get turned around, but I'm not really sure how they'd manage that.
So glad I wasn't the only one bothered by the RuPaul crack. I actually think it's perfectly in character and acceptable to have Eric make the comment. But there needed to be an equally in-character response from Lafayette. Something along the lines of "thanks for saving my ass but don't get it twisted, by which I mean don't bite me, but also don't call me that again." You know, but sassier, because Lafayette stole Tara's sass mantle a long time ago. (Am I the only one who remembers that Tara's initial place on the show was Sassy Black Woman, rather than Tragic and Abused but "Strong" Black Woman?)
I was also excited to see the title of this Racialicious piece, because I was just reading about the "women in refrigerators" phenomenon last night in the book I've just finished reading, Jennifer Stuller's Ink-Stained Amazons. Gail Simone's Women in Refrigerators list and website happened about 10 years ago. The issue obviously both pre- and post-dates that.
Now, over at Racialicious, I made the mistake of looking at the comments (I know, I know - I'm a reeeeally slow learner) and one in particular bugged me. Lynn writes:
Every so often I see here on racialicious another article going on about how racist and misogynistic True Blood is. So why do you all keep watching it?While the question of why one might watch something that is often offensive is certainly a legitimate one, I think there’s an answer. A couple of them, actually. The short one is that if I never watched things that had problematic relationships to gender or race, I'd run out of things to watch very quickly.
I know other POC who watch this show and complain about it for the same reasons, yet they are still tuning in every week. What are y’all masochists or something? I personally like to stay away from media that insult me.
The longer one is that I enjoy shows about vampires, and shows full of hot hot men. Isn't there room to say, "This show/movie/book is entertaining. I enjoy ______ about it. That said, I wish it were better on _____. In fact, I wish a lot of popular entertainments were better on ______, especially given that I think popular entertainment both shape and reflect what the populous thinks about _____."?
Hm. Let's test that.
I enjoy True Blood (sometimes). It started out craptastic, then became potentially interesting on some important levels (entertainment, race, gender, etc). But it seems to be becoming more and more problematic on all of those levels. I think that, rather than simply never watching it again and, more to the point of Lynn's comment, never talking about it again, it's important to talk about why something that could be (and has been) entertaining seems to be more and more problematic, what that means, and how it could be addressed, either in this show, or in other, future projects. I think that it's important because I think the stories we tell and watch and read are important, and just clamming up when a story seems somehow wrong or damaging means the stories will never get any less wrong or less damaging.
And, I think Alcide is really hot.
So there's your answer, Lynn.
For the rest of you (all 5 or so): what are your thoughts on this? If you're a True Blood watcher, what do you think is working or not working about the show this season? What are your thoughts on this whole Tara mess? If you're not a True Blood watcher, what examples do you have of things that both entertained and bothered you. Why did you keep watching (or reading) them?