HBO’s supernatural-horror series, True Blood, began its final season with the usual mix of sex and violence, but has the series gone too far in glamorizing violent sexual encounters?
Sex has long been a True Blood staple- it is, after all, part of the seductive vampire lore and commercially, it keeps viewers coming back for more. But is the quality of each encounter sending the right message?
The most disturbing scene of the season seven premier involved Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten), Violet Mazurski (Karolina Wydra), and the hood of a car. The problem with the scene isn’t a steamy post -tragedy public sexual encounter, it is the preceding dialogue between Jason and Violet that is troubling.
In an effort to reclaim his manhood, something he feels that he lost because Violet both withholds sex from him and defends him during physical and verbal altercations, he demands sex. Violet, aroused by this show of “manliness,” purrs, “Finally,” and the two engage in a rough encounter.
The notion that male characters define their worth and prowess via sexual encounters can be viewed as archaic enough, but the violent nature of the encounter and his gruff demand may not only reinforce dangerous male stereotypes but also imply that there is romance in intimidating a significant other into sex.
The notion that Violet made Jason wait for sex until he was “man enough” to take it from her may also be regarded as troubling. Granted, she is a domineering killing machine, but when it comes to sex, consent, violence, and relationships has True Blood gone too far? After all, is the message here that she deserves the violent encounter because of her power? Very dangerous ground, indeed.
Already, the show, along with Entertainment Magazine is under fire from groups like The Representation Project for the June 27, 2014 cover. A bare Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse) lies draped over a fully clothed Stephen Moyer (Vampire Bill Compton), rousing discussion on the cover’s unequal representation of men and women in contemporary culture.
Sookie has the potential to be a strong female figure who owns her sexuality as a self-possessed woman; however, her chronic need for the lovers in her life to save her has become formulaic. Could hopeful viewers find a more capable, activated Sookie in this final season?
True Blood is an action packed horror saga that does a nice job exploring discrimination and otherness, but its lack of stable, independent, capable female protagonists and its constant damsel in distress motif may make viewers look at Jason and Violet’s encounter differently. The question is what is the responsibility of shows that choose to use graphic sex as a vehicle for narrative development and sales?
Interested readers can watch True Blood on HBO Sunday evenings at 9:00 PM and join the conversation by writing their thoughts in the comment section. You can start by sharing what you thought about the first episode of the final season.