I’ll be the first to admit, I find True Blood wildly entertaining. Otherwise, I wouldn’t still be watching it, let alone writing about it. But as True Blood’s plot of Humans vs. Vampires has progressed, I’ve realized that it’s the only — or at least the foremost — show to cast the vampires as the good guys, and leave the viewer to root against humanity. The villain of this season is a group of humans trying to think of everything they can do to defend themselves against vampires who have — after a crazy religious fervor — decided it was time to prey on humanity again. They’ve employed all the techniques they can muster, from wooden bullets, to UV bullets (straight out of Underworld), to glamor-proof contacts, to special sun rays that can be aimed at a vampire who may be a vampire but is certainly NOT a rapist — and we, the human viewers, are rooting against them. For obvious reasons. They kind of suck. They’re headed by that evil-crazy-cult lady from season 2 and a decidedly nefarious bald man, and have shown no kindness or caring for anyone or anything. Their hearts are much colder than the vampires we are so in-tune with. When it’s Eric vs. The Governor, we want to see Eric win, because we know Eric we’re invested in him and the Governor is trying to kill him. We don’t want Eric to die, and we don’t really care about the Governor, so there you go. Still, I’ve never seen humanity’s fight against monsters so completely on the side of the monsters.
A few episodes ago the creepy-shrink guy interviewed/interrogated Pam and told her she had to answer honestly. (What he determined was honestly, but the show made no indication that she was just telling him what he wanted to hear.) And when he asked her if she cared about killing humans, she said no — with all the bitchy sass that used to make her awesome. But at that moment I wondered: Why am I rooting for you? Am I rooting for you? At the beginning of the season, Bill hired a blood-prostitute to feed off of. She is a human who trusts vampires enough to let them nom on her until they can get the true blood back and assume they won’t be eaten. But, of course, Bill killed her. While every vampire life on this show feels sacred, you can kill all the humans you want.
We see sympathetic Vampires all the time, but they tend to subsist on animal-blood like The Cullens or avoid killing people, even if they drink from them. All of them struggle with what it means to be “a monster,” and their inhumanity is their shame. In True Blood, however, vampires aren’t monsters anymore, and calling them that is bad and closed minded. Instead, they have Vamp-pride and just want to be the human killers that they are. And we’re still supposed to root for them. I find it impressive that True Blood is so successfully anti-human that the idea of arming yourself with a gun of wooden bullets so you won’t be eaten seems more wrong than the eating.
It’s True Blood’s roots as a deep-South race-metaphor that allows it to make the show so anti-human. From the early days of Bill and Sookie, we saw the xenophobia of humanity when people who slept with vampires were labeled Fang-Bangers and were shunned for the inter-species relationship. The uber-Christian Cult-of-the-Sun the show focused on in in season two, showed religious fundamentalist oppression, and now, humanity has gone as far to build Vampire concentration camps. Using basically every race and anti-minority historical allegory it can get its hands on to cast vampires as victims, is it really that much of a surprise that humans look so bad? There’s no other outcome.
Why does True Blood hate humanity? I think the answer is pretty simple, and it has nothing to do with our tendency to be intolerant. Plain-old humans aren’t as cool. (Except Jason Stackhouse.) I get it. Vampires can fly, they can smolder, they mind control, they are eternal, and the fulfill more than a few human-power fantasies. The rest of the human power fantasies: reading minds, changing form, living like the wild wolves are also fulfilled by various supernatural characters on the show, leaving very little room for humans. Over the course of the show, basically every human main character has been transformed into or revealed to be something supernatural. This might be stalling for plots, but I think it’s also a way of empowering characters so that they don’t have to play the victims to the power dynamics True Blood has established. And if a character tries to make themselves powerful in any non-magical way it is always oppressiveand intolerant. How can we arm ourselves against our neighborly war-mongering hungry vampires? The show’s message seems to be: unless you are naturally stronger, know your place. Except, humanity has never been naturally stronger than basically anyone or anything. The history of civilization is the story of human survival and dominance using resources to overcome what we lack physically. We haven’t always done the best things, but why is this instinct to survive suddenly so bad? And why is it only bad when humans have it and so acceptable in Vampires or Werewolves who killed a whole gaggle of teenagers who were going to “out” their existence?
I’m not saying that the vampire-targeted Hep-V planned genocide (or at least mass murder) is a good idea. It’s a wretched one, but I think it’s an extreme that illustrates how much the show finds humanity’s will to survive evil. If you protect yourself against vampires, you’re a somewhere between a misguided racist and a Nazi.
(Image courtesy of Vulture.com)