Thoughts from my study of Horror, Media, and Narrrative

Archive for June, 2011

You May Be a Sinner but Your Innocence Is Mine


If Clarice only had one wish, it was this:  to transcend time and space, not just becoming one with God, but becoming God herself. Apotheosis was supposed to be the key–a idyllic heaven and haven for the righteous. Of course, like all utopias, it was destined to fail, but at least we dared to dream.

If Mab ony had one wish, it was this:  to take the thing that drives you and to make it all that you are (which is quite often also the thing we fear). Curse her, love her, pray to her–Mab is nothing more than us, flickering in the shifting light.


And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
O’er courtiers’ knees, that dream on court’sies straight,
O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees,
O’er ladies ‘ lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are:
Sometime she gallops o’er a courtier’s nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig’s tail
Tickling a parson’s nose as a’ lies asleep,
Then dreams, he of another benefice:
Sometime she driveth o’er a soldier’s neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five-fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
And being thus frighted swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again.


Underneath the surface, things are as they ever were:  barren, decaying, and dark. Sookie, for all her faults, is the first to see it for she saw it once before in Bill. She sees beyond the pale but, being human, can only ever comprehend one side at a time because both/and is light years away from either/or.

This episode is, for me, so much about sketching out innermost drives and the public faces that we put on to hide them from the world.

If Tara only had one wish, it would be to escape her rage or become it completely. Bill, Jason, Sookie, Andy, Eric (and soon, Pam)–each of these  people is driven in ways that they can’t fully control. Propelled, we end up arguing over anything and everything because we’ve long since forgotten what we’re even fighting about; we fight to prove we’re right, or, worse, to prove that the other is wrong, forgetting that it’s not a zero-sum game and we can both be right and still both be a little bit wrong. We, like Hoyt and Jess, go down a path we never meant to tread and the result of it all is egg on our faces. We can’t live in fear–such fights are an inevitability–but instead must be primed to call ourselves out before others do, because failing to name the thing that drives us only ever leads to us getting hit over the head and locked in a freezer.

Flights of Fancy

There’s undoubtedly more to all of this that I’m missing, but I’m particularly interested in the developing themes of image, authenticity, and reputation this season—the show seems to have introduced a number of binaries, with the real/ugly truth hiding beneath a glossy exterior. There are echoes of this idea in the appearance of politics on the show, the faerie kingdom not being all it’s cracked up to be, and the banality of domestic life—I think about how vampires have, since the 1970s, struggled with their “true selves,” but now we see characters on the show struggling to articulate/see the true self. And then we get into issues of authentic self—do we cling to Greek notions of authenticity or embrace Goffman, who suggested that we can alter our presentation depending on our audience? Given that this is an election year, I’m curious to see how the show explores the manufacture and selling of reputation/image (and if it’s critical of this process).

I’m definitely curious to see how this season of True Blood progresses—at present, two vampires are launching competing PR campaigns to win back support after a rather violent/graphic incident with a vampire played out on national TV and this has obvious resonance with the current state of affairs. But I’m in love with the concept of the faerie as the perfect supernatural creature to bring this idea to the forefront (my primary research focus is in Gothic horror with tangents in mythology, folklore, fantasy, and science fiction) as they are creatures whose entire existence is defined by their manipulation of image. Above and beyond your garden variety “trickster,” faeries are liminal beings who play with light and cause us to question if what we are seeing is real. The fae are sort of the original spin doctors, never lying but always twisting their words in ways that humans had not anticipated. The leap from this to a cynical view of politicians seems natural.

Moreover, in contrast to vampires and werewolves (including the historical antecedent of Jekyll/Hyde), who also embody a sense of duality, faeries do not seem to struggle with their natures–they are what they are–but they sow confusion for others. In a sense, this sort of makes me wonder if faeries can be considered authentic:  if your nature is to deceive and you own up to that, aren’t you being true to yourself? Is it really their fault that we don’t fully understand just how dangerous/powerful they are?