Sex & TV

>> Thursday, January 27, 2011

So, with much trepidation (and the insistence of my BFF), I began to watch the HBO series True Blood.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the series, it's [another] vampire series but with the interesting twist of being set in Louisiana.  Southern accents, southern morals, southern vampires.  It's also loosely based off the books by Charlaine Harris, though it's really beside the point of many of the TV show's viewers and followers.
The first episode showed so much sex, it was pornographic.  Actually, I'd say I'd rather watch porn than this.  Because at least with porn, I'd be making the choice to watch.  This was totally unexpected.

What bothered me most about it was the way they portrayed sex--it was the epitome of misogyny.  The women really were objects here; objects in that they had no inherent value in themselves, but as a sexual object for the male.  It was also rough.  I mean, ROUGH, which made me sick to my stomach.  There was no intimacy, no...slowness, no sensuality.  Just grotesque bondage and hyper-speed.  Each sex scene must have been written by a man ( man who has a pretty huge misconception about what sex really should be because each scene (with different people) was equally rough).

Vamp Grossness, the PG version


What bothered me the most about it was the perpetuation of misconception here.  Now, I'm more than aware that people's sexual preferences can be varied.  I'm under no illusion that all women (or person in the stereotypical submissive role) like only tender, loving, slow intimacy.  However.

The idea these sex scenes (and they're like, everywhere in that show) perpetuate is that women like to be treated a particular (demeaning) way.  It shows overtly what is covertly put forth everywhere in society.  The sick part (at least, to me) is that women participate just as much as men.  We pretend that this hard, fast stuff is okay to watch, that it's okay that it's on TV, that it's turning us on, which of course makes men think we like it.  And then we turn it in on ourselves and think we like it.  And sometimes we might...and that's okay...but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD why do we have to let them put a blown-up, overdone version of it on TV????


p.s.~I was going to find a clip of one of the sex scenes and post it on here, but I didn't want to shock anyone.  Go look it up yourselves.  It really is shocking to me, and I've seen my fair share of porn.

6 comments:

orphansparrow January 28, 2011 at 2:36 AM  

whoa. okay then. maybe true bloods not the show for me. o.o

but...colleen liked it though?

Liina January 28, 2011 at 7:52 AM  

I haven't seen/wouldn't see the show, anyway, but here is an interesting/infuriating article by a woman that I interpret as basically saying that yes, all women ARE objects and WANT to be. It's a totally fucked article, in my opinion, and I was shocked to read it in the first issue of The Atlantic that we got (K's parents gave us a subscription for Christmas). The second url is to an article (by a man) that discusses why the Atlantic article is fucked, and I really liked it & felt validated by it.

I am sorry to hear that a show that is so popular, seemingly among lots of different groups of people, has such a foul treatment of sexuality.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/01/hard-core/8327/

http://www.charlieglickman.com/2011/01/gender-essentialism-masculinity-and-sex-negativity/

Brant January 28, 2011 at 10:13 AM  

I enter this dialog with trepidation being male and being a fan of the show.

Broadly speaking it tones down quite a bit from the first couple of episodes...and in general the theme of sexual aggression is attached to the issue of vampires and whether they are a part of the "natural" order as the instigators of this sort of behavior.*

However, that said, the sex is there and it never goes away. On this I offer two observations.

One: There is certainly a "yeah we are on cable and can do ANYTHING" vibe to the show and...I honestly try to take it in stride to get at the juicy bits of good story, characters, etc in the series but that is neither easy or "fun" for everyone to do considering some of the in your face that goes on.

Two: "Stronger" feminine examples come on the scene fairly quickly (both in the form of the main female characters addressing the sexual theme and other new female characters showing up and having their own take on the sexual dynamic). My take on when this happens is that these stronger female character tend to perceive the sexual dynamic that is exposed in the series with either a sort of confusion or downright boredom with the childishness of the sort of blind hip thrusting the men engage in and other women allow which is actually a rather effective commentary...Of course, this is mired in issue 1 and when there are other male characters involved in issue 1 it tends to not come across very strongly as one might like.

Ultimately it is a part of the show and its sexual vibe (whether overt or implied) is as bombastic as the characters and scenarios otherwise presented (for instance the gore is ridiculously overdone at points as is the soap opera-ish character interactions) so it is at least consistent in its lack of reality.

Not a ringing endorsement,just some observations. I really want to go back and parse the first season because something switches and the sex stuff fizzles out and morphs and seems less...gratuitous. That all said if it causes uncomfortability it shouldn't be watched. There is too much other stuff out there to enjoy that is pro-X to waste time if something feels anti-X.



* With my scholar hat on I would note that sex is only shown in context of people who have either been with vampires/the supernatural, or are somehow tangentially involved with vampires/the supernatural. (Jason in particular is a lens into this issue)

There is in my mind one exception and it is the one sex scene that is relatively toned down compared to what I might have suspected. I can't chalk this up to only coincidence even if it is merely a writer's stable trick in that "supernatural" sex is allowed to be graphic or if there is some broader or deeper theme being explored.
Ultimately the men and women of the show get objectified in a sort of carnal haze equally and I appreciate that on its "equality" merits.

This does NOT discard the issue of female objectification and issues that Brandy notes for a variety of reasons that are far too complex to address here. That said, I at least consider the fact that homosexual characters and situations (of which there are more than handful) and that the men in the show are subjected to the same exposure and objectification a small step in progressing towards at least a [slightly] better understanding of the process and how it might make people feel. Who knows if the show makers honestly care or know what they are doing in that regard. Perhaps I read too much into it.

I AM January 29, 2011 at 11:31 PM  

@Cara: Colleen does love it. But the sex makes her VERY uncomfortable too. I just can't get past it though. Seriously. If you watch the first episode, you'll see what I mean.
@Liina, thank you SO MUCH for links to those articles. The Atlantic's article is exactly what I HATE ABOUT THE WORLD. It is so misguided. I can't believe it actually states that internet porn only shows reality; it doesn't create it. That is absolute bullshit. We all know that we engage in creating and shaping reality by methods and mediums that are viewed on a mass scale. How can it be otherwise? BULLSHIT.

<3 to you both <3

And Brant...I really loved the fact that you weighed in. You are more than welcome to the dialogue.

I AM January 30, 2011 at 11:52 AM  

@ Liina, now that I'm not so enraged, I think I can speak more eloquently. I think she had some salient points; mainly that there is/can be the more primal instincts involved in sex. That the stereotypical 'male' role can be 'naturally' desire degrading acts, from a biological/evolutionary perspective. Subjugating the other into compliance regardless of the other's desire may have worked, and been done unconsciously to propagate the species, and most likely happened throughout time.
HOWEVER. That doesn't mean it was right. It definitely doesn't mean that the 'base instincts' are the only real interactions in sexual dynamics, especially when you're not talking about traditional gender roles.

orphansparrow February 4, 2011 at 2:42 PM  

p.s. a couple days ago, while looking for something on youtube i somehow happened upon tyra banks doing an impression of the male vampires on true blood doing a sex scene. lol! it reminded me of this.

and you know, though i still haven't seen it...as long as it's concentual, i think people can pretty much do whatever gross stuff they want to do. perverts need love too. ;)

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