Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spark of Wisdom: Apparently True Blood is too gay for some people

This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.

Apparently True Blood is too gay for some people.

First we had Todd Herremans on Twitter who is apparently famous for some kind of sporting thing (I don't watch sport that doesn't involve speedos, sadly, and rarely catch anyone's name. Yes, I'm shallow, sue me) being irritated by True Blood's "Barrage of homosexuality" (barrage? I didn't even get an openly salvo yet).

And the question has caught on! People are expressing irritation at the gayness, some are getting fed up of this "gay porn fest"

And this... vexes me a tad, yes yes it does.

Because I like True Blood. Yes I do, I like it a lot. And yes it has gay characters - and I like that a lot too. I like to see some gay characters now and then - and True Blood has a whole posse of gay and/or bisexual characters that make me smile. They're not tokens, they're not one off

We have Lafayette and Jesus, we have Russell and Talbot. We have Sophie-Ann and Hadley. We have the guy Jason and Amy kidnapped (whose name I forget), we have Pam (who is awesome and we need to see more of), we have a whole group here.

And I love that. It's rare, it's novel to have such a  large group of gay characters, especially in a program that isn't aimed expressly at a gay audience.

Not that I find it unproblematic, not even close - I can (and have) ranted a great deal about the problems of the portrayals in True Blood, but that would be worth a post all for itself.
But as for gay porn fest?
See, this hacks me off a lot. There is so much straight humping in True Blood that it is beyond belief. If it were any more explicit we would see the penetration. We've seen Eric happily sexing his dancer in the basement while she was chained up. We've seen Sookie and Bill together, naked and pounding away in a dozen different positions. We've seen a whole lot of making out. We've seen straight sex galore

And on the gay side? Lafayette had to go 2 whole seasons before he got any action. - and even then sex between him and Jesus is implied not explicitly stated. They've never been naked together, they've never even been shirtless together. Their kisses are sweet - and happen in low light.

Eric and Talbot was hot as hell - but before any action happened, Eric killed Talbot -gay sex kills! Because that's not a trope we need to encourage.

Russell and Talbot spend most of their married life at opposite sides of the room.

Sam and Bill happened with zero touching and the most awful line ever used to seduce in the history of flirting (believe me, I've tried it. "The water's not the only thing hard in Arkansas" is guaranteed only to make your lover collapse in peals of laughter).

Sophie-Ann, Pam and Nan have all had oral sex/femoral artery feeding scenes, but the first 2 were fully clothed and none of them mussed their make up in the process.

Now, see, by these standards. I can't turn on the television without seeing a "straight porn fest." Men and women are kissing all the damn time. Any time of the day and night, even in the adverts. Frankly, the depictions of same-sex loving in True Blood are not only tame compared to the depictions of opposite-sex loving on the show, but also tame compared to any romantic scene we see on mainstream television.

And as male nudity? Well yeah it's there - it's nice to see now and then. It's nice. But most of the SEXUALISED male nudity (as opposed to a werewolf dropping dead) is in the company of a woman - also largely nekked. Besides, the program has a large female following - if female eye candy is fine, if Dawn and Maudette and Sookie all showing backsides and breasts are okay, why is Eric's Alcide's and Jason's backsides so utterly wrong and *gasp* gay? The only reason it stands out is because of the gross double standard we have

And this is what annoys me. It annoys me that the mere presence of gay characters - being even slightly affectionate in the most sanitized way possible - is considered porn. That the mere sight of 2 men kissing makes it porn, makes it objectionable. That such sanitized, gentle depictions of same-sex love even along side explicit opposite-sex scenes, are considered pornographic, objectionable, disgusting and just too damn gay. Just our presence, just our depiction is enough to make a program "too gay."

It's the same sentiment that makes me afraid to be a couple in public. That means I can't relax around him in public because it's instinct to reach for him, to touch him.

We have a right to exist and it's beyond depressing, beyond soul destroying to know that simply being seen, no matter how sanitized, no matter how low key, causes so much damn outrage.