Arts & Entertainment

August 27, 2012

Vampires, Gay Rights, and the Political Underpinnings of HBO’s True Blood

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Written by: Joe
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HBO’s True Blood has always been saturated with political commentary. The first episode aired in September of 2008, just months before the passage of California’s Proposition 8. That November, as Californians voted to alter the state constitution and deny marriage rights to gay citizens, millions of viewers were watching the plight of “vampire Americans” in Bon Temps, Louisiana. The show’s opening sequence featured footage of Civil Rights marches in the South juxtaposed with a roadside sign that declared, “God hates fangs.” The New York Post quickly labeled the show a “gay-rights analogy” and writer Alan Ball was voted one of Out magazine’s “Power List” of influential gay Americans.

The fifth season, which ended on Sunday night, continues to blend paranormal fantasy with contemporary issues. A veteran appears to be having a psychotic break. In reality, he is being stalked by an Ifrit (a malevolent fire spirit from Arabian folklore) sent to avenge the death of a wise woman he reluctantly killed in Iraq. Meanwhile, a hate group called “The Obamas” has been murdering and terrorizing the show’s supernatural characters. The group’s name is derived from the Halloween masks they wear—which depict the president—when waging their war to restore America from the subversive presence of “the supes” (supernatural minorities).

The show often looks at religion as well. Previous plots have involved charismatic Christian exorcists, mega-churches that fund anti-vampire militias, and characters who become practitioners of esoteric religions such as Santeria and Wicca. Last season, we learned that the Spanish Inquisition was actually a front for vampires who had manipulated the Catholic Church into providing them with a steady supply of victims.

This post by Joseph Laycock was originally published by our friends at Religion & Politics. You can read the rest of this article here on Religion & Politics. R&P is an online news journal, dedicated to the two topics thought unfit for polite company. It is a project of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University in St. Louis.

About the Author

|Religion Contributor| Joseph Laycock is a doctoral candidate studying religion and society at Boston University. He is also the author of Vampires Today: The Truth About Modern Vampirism (Praeger, 2009)



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