I still have not finished the third season of True Blood. I don’t hate the show, but a lot of its content disturbs me greatly, and that makes continuing on with it a little difficult. The Fellowship of the Sun Church subplot in the second season is one such disturbing thing. I talked about it before in my Season 2 reviews, but what I didn’t mention is that the church, as crazy anti-vampire and homophobic as it is, is actually shown to be in the right, even though the narrative tells us it’s in the wrong. And that’s one of the main reasons why I’m having trouble continuing on with the series.
I don’t like this church. I daresay that I hate everything about it—and Lord knows that I still could have done without the “rape for Jesus” scene we had—but the more I stop to think about it, the church’s stance on vampires is completely founded. Except for the whole rape thing that happened, because what the fuck, True Blood?
Spoilers and a trigger warning for rape after the jump.
The Fellowship of the Sun’s big thing is that it’s against the existence of vampires and wants all vampires to die, because they’re blood-sucking murderers. We as the audience are not supposed to agree with the church because, not only are they extremists who value a lot of harmful ideals, in True Blood, vampires are a metaphor for LGBTQ+ people who are unfairly discriminated against by churches. This is rather apparent in the show. In the opening credits, there’s even a sign that says “God hates fangs”, which is reminiscent of the derogatory phrase “God hates f**s”. Additionally, throughout the show, vampires also lobby for equal marriage rights, and any romantic or sexual relationships they may have with humans are stigmatized. The problem is that our LGBTQ+ stand-ins, the vampires, actually are murderers who are dangerous to society, and the Fellowship of the Sun Church is the most vocal group around who opposes them.
I support the show in its quest to talk about LGBTQ+ people and the discrimination they face. There are, of course, some issues because our LGBTQ+ stand-ins are not necessarily all LGBTQ+. Not all the vampires experience non-heteronormative attractions. Many of them do, but most of the vampires we meet who play a large role in the narrative—Bill, Jessica, and Eric—have not given any indication thus far in the first couple seasons that they are not heteronormative. But I am happy that the show is at least trying to talk about the religious discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ people. Additionally, through the humans who have relationships with vampires that the church also discriminates against, the show also talks about slut-shaming, which is another thing I’m happy about. But when it comes right down to it, True Blood still has a lot of problematic content when it actually comes to portraying people who express their sexuality in ways that can be viewed as different from the norm. However, I still appreciate what the show is trying to do.
That said, I most certainly dislike how True Blood goes about it. LGBTQ+ people are not bloodsucking fiends who have to murder people whenever they get a little thirsty. Vampires, on the other hand, are. And until two years before the start of the show, the product True Blood that vampires can use as a substitute for human blood didn’t exist. Though it is possible for vampires to drink human blood without killing them, most of them don’t bother sparing their victims’ lives. Now that True Blood is out, we have groups that accept the vampires as productive members of society, while disregarding the fact that they used to kill people and that a lot of them still do, because True Blood tastes like shit compared to real human blood. I think Bill and Jessica are the only two vampires I’ve met who actually drink True Blood, and even then, they both kill people. The Fellowship of the Sun Church is one of the few organizations that recognize that vampires are still a threat.
By equating LGBTQ+ people to vampires, the show has actually given the Fellowship of the Sun Church legitimate reasons to discriminate and support violence against them. Vampires are harmful to society, and by our laws, the vast majority of them should all be in jail for several life sentences over, which translated into vampire years means forever.
This is one of the reasons I cannot stand this church. The show accidentally gave them a legitimate stance that counteracts the message of acceptance that the show is also trying to get across. At the same time, everything else about this church is completely ridiculous. The Fellowship of the Sun Church ends up being, thus far, the only organized religious group we have met, and the members are walking offensive stereotypes who misunderstand their own religion. Because of this, they also perpetuate harmful, misogynistic ideals, and at one point Sookie is almost raped as a result. One of the members attempts to force himself on Sookie, because, since she’s dating a vampire, she must be a “slut” and he’s going to show her “what a real man” is like. This particular scene is reminiscent of “corrective” rape that LGBTQ+ people face. “Corrective” rape, for those of you who have never heard the term, is rape meant to “cure” LGBTQ+ people and make them straight. This is an incredible harmful and dangerous mindset that does present a real threat to LGBTQ+ people, specifically LGBTQ+ women, and I commend True Blood in that this is one of the few scenes in regards to vampires that cannot be justified. That said, the scene was entirely uncalled for, and as I stated both earlier and in my reviews, I didn’t need a “rape for Jesus” scene in my life.
The only other church we really get to see is the one Tara’s mother goes to, and even though we don’t get to see them that often, their ideals allowed for Tara’s mother to abuse and abandon her. Very rarely in the show do we actually see good representation of Christianity, and when we get those characters, such as Sookie’s grandmother, they either die or we never meet the church community that they belong to. As such, The Fellowship of the Sun Church is about the only organized Christian community we get to meet. And even though the narrative tells us that this church is wrong, they still have a legitimate stance. While it is unlikely that anyone in real life will actually equate LGBTQ+ people with vampires and discriminate against them based on that, it is more than a little upsetting that True Blood made its LGBTQ+ stand-ins reprehensible people who should be discriminated against and arrested for murder. Additionally, not all churches are like the Fellowship of the Sun Church, and many of them do support equality for LGBTQ+ people. While it’s nice to talk about religious discrimination, I would have really loved to see another church community within the show that’s not the embodiment of every horrible Christian stereotype.
This is the same problem I had with the book Breathers — half the book is about advocating for zombie rights and it works really well… but then the zombies start eating people, thus negating all of the arguments they’d made up to that point.
A more well-known example is the Doctor Who episode “The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People,” when they spend a whole two-parter arguing for equal rights for the Flesh, only to have the main Flesh character turn into a crazy many-legged shrieking monster and try to kill them at the end.
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“Very rarely in the show do we actually see good representation of Christianity, and when we get those characters, such as Sookie’s grandmother, they either die or we never meet the church community that they belong to.”
That’s because the creator of the show falls underneath the LGBTQ+ umbrella, and most of the ones who fall under the umbrella loathe Christianity and are about like a 13-year-old-boy calling people ethnic slurs on PS3 COD chat whenever it comes to discussing Republicans. I know because I technically fall underneath the umbrella as well, so I have a good bit of experience with them.
I honestly think the vampires are just a power fantasy for Alan Ball. That’s my explanation for it, at least. That’s the only explanation that makes sense. Unless he’s making a very subtle stab at the LGBTQ+ culture and politics while at the same time attacking its enemies.
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