Thirsty for a Fresh Take on All Things True Blood?

WELCOME! Thirsty for a fresh take on all things True Blood? Pull up a virtual barstool at the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern where sisters Rachel and Rebecca are serving up juicy feminist analysis with a twist and opening a vein of thoughtful sociocultural dialogue on HBO's hit series.

Like the epic literary salons of eras past - theaters for conversation and debate which were, incidentally, started and run by women; where the spirited debate about the issues of the day ran as copiously as the actual spirits did - but updated for the digital age, the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern is a fun forum for exploring questions ripe for discourse about the human condition & today's most crucial social issues through the medium of True Blood.

Your salonnières are not peddling liquor per se, but they are offering up new and alternative ideas informed by such diverse influences as pop culture, art, music, cultural history, Goddess studies, transformative theory, literature and poetry, and archaeomythology, filtered through the sieve of their own lived experiences as feminist women of a particular age, background, and culture.

This is a space where you - patrons and passersby alike - can view and engage with these perspectives through the lens of True Blood and contribute your own thoughts. So, no matter if you're a Truebie or a more casual viewer of True Blood, or your drink of choice is a pomegranate martini - one of Rachel's favorite cocktails to drink and Rebecca's to mix - an herbal tea, a frothy double mocha latte, or a can of Fresca (wink, wink) you're invited to join the conversation on the show's complexities in a way that can spark transformation.

Hopefully you'll find something to sink your teeth...err...straw, into! PLEASE ENJOY RESPONSIBLY ;-)


The Pierced Pomegranate Tavern is dedicated to exploring social issues and more through the lens of True Blood. As such, you may encounter:

related to the often provocative and adult themes presented by the show

If you choose to enter and participate in this virtual salon, please be prepared to do so in a thoughtful, respectful, and mature fashion with the above in mind. Click here to check out our comment policy. Thanks!


No copyright infringement is intended, all rights to True Blood belong to HBO, credit is ascribed to sites where images appearing here were originally found.

Monday, February 21, 2011

And Pluto Can Start Bein' A Planet Again, Connected To Stuff...

Aahhh...Jason Stackhouse. Poor, gorgeous Jason Stackhouse. He of the farm boy good looks, perfect abs and wide-eyed man-child persona.

As Kirsty Walker writes in her essay appearing in the book "A Taste of True Blood: The Fangbanger's Guide" titled True Stud, "The people of Bon Temps don't take him seriously and, for the most part, neither do we. Both Jason and his storylines are usually played for laughs" (p. 111, 2010).

Perhaps Lafayette described Jason best, "that boy is sex on a stick!" (S1E1 Strange Love). But he's so much more than that, too...

A recent "Science Friday" on my local NPR radio station featured a piece on Pluto's demotion from planet to dwarf planet to FLR (Fairly Large Rock - I know, ridiculous and kind of sad, right!?!). For the past several years the former ninth planet of our solar system has been caught up in a wholesale redefinition of planethood that has seen it's celestial status bumped down a few notches.

What does this have to Jason Stackhouse, you ask? Or, more accurately, what would anything related to science ever have to do with Jason Stackhouse, you ask?

Not that I really need an excuse to think about Jason and his many charms ;-) but listening to the promos for this piece on Pluto reminded me of an exchange between our boy and Amy Burley right before they partake of V together for the first time:

Amy: God, I love your place, man. It's very un-self-conscious. So off-the-grid.
Jason: It was my parents' house. Haven't really done much with the place since they passed.
Amy: That's even better. I mean, this place goes back to like a more legitimate time, you know, before everything got totally out of whack.
Amy: Your parents are part of Gaia. You know what Gaia is, right? Theory of Gaia?
Jason: Yeah!
Amy: The earth is a living organism. Makes weather, which is good for us. Plants give us the chemicals we need. Everything is connected. But you know that.
Jason: Yeah, I don't like how they keep takin' stuff away. Like Pluto's not a planet anymore and a brontosaurus stopped being a dinosaur. You can't say somethin' stopped being what it's always been.
Amy: Do you live by yourself?
Jason: Yeah. Come on, let's do the V's.
Amy: Slow down, baby. Do you even know how this stuff works?
Jason (softly): No.
Amy: It's blood. It carries oxygen to our organs, right? That's what makes them function. So it keeps us goin'.
Amy: It's like gas in a car engine.
Jason: OK.
Amy: Vampires, they don't need oxygen. Everything just runs directly off the blood.
Jason: Ah, like those cars that run on corn.
(Amy holds up a vial of V and looks at it)
Amy: I've had this blood for like...forever, so we're gonna need to take some steps to keep it from coagulating.
Jason (whispering): Coagulating...!
Amy: Aspirin. Thins it.
(Amy opens the jar of aspirin, and places two in the mortar)
Amy: We'll get the full effect faster, and more intense.
(Amy opens the vial of V, puts a dropper in it, and withdraws some of the V. Jason gets off the sofa and kneels beside Amy as she places a single drop of V onto each of the white aspirin pills. The V quickly turns each pill blood red)
Amy: You just know this is what Holy Communion is symbolic of. This is the real deal here. None of that lame-ass empty ritual. This is nature's greatest gift.
(Jason smiles as he watches Amy grind the V-soaked aspirin pills with a pestle)
Jason: I thought they'd get all mushy.
Amy: No. See, the V adapts. It wants to be in us.
(Amy scrapes the red powder from the mortar with a blunt knife, and places the powder in two small doses on the small plate. Amy bows her head and prays)
Amy: We honor Gaia, and seek the deepest relationship to her.
(Amy looks at Jason, who wasn't praying. Jason bows his head, and Amy does likewise)
Jason: Uh, yeah. Me too. And Pluto can start bein' a planet again, connected to stuff.

Transcript for S1E7 Burning House of Love courtesy:

The bolded part of dialogue above points to how very much - at this particular juncture in his life  - Jason longs to restore the familiar. There's been an awful lot of change swirling around him and it seems to me that Jason would love nothing more than for the spiraling Milky Way to slow down a bit and for his universe to go back to being fixed and stable.

slow down already, will ya! you're making me dizzy with all this spinning!!! 

Why can't Pluto be a planet again, just like his matronly third grade teacher taught him it most certainly was? Why can't the status quo remain enshrined? Why must the proverbial they take things away, shake things up, make things change?

BECAUSE AFTER ALL, I'm just saying there's a reason things are the way they's called, "this is how we do it!" (Jason Stackhouse to Bill Compton, S1E2 "The First Taste").

Jason spat this defensive retort to Bill when Bill pointed out that the reason things are the way they are is called injustice; it's not just the normal, established and right order of things maintaining itself. With Amy, however, we see Jason take a less aggressive stance; his tone is one of yearning, an innocent plea for life and the world to be as he knows it once again.

In True Stud, Kirsty Walker writes that True Blood shows us a society in a unique state of change. In many ways Jason's journey since Season 1 is the perfect barometer for the impact of a society in flux. According to Walker, as a white, heterosexual male (and I would add, a handsome former football god in the deep South where high school pigskin is the only game in town and its gladiators the home town heroes) Jason should very clearly be part of the dominant group in this patriarchal society. Except, in Bon Temps - backwater outpost that it is - even here vampires are "coming out of the coffin" and they, along with other supernatural (and supernaturally endowed) males like shifters and werewolves are threatening his elite status.

You see, especially in Season 1, Jason's identity and sense of self are very much wrapped in in the neat little package of masculinity; the "traditional" version of masculinity in which his physicality and sexual virility mark him as male - as master of his realm. As Walker writes, Jason can't seem to gain the respect of the female characters - his sister Sookie who tells him he doesn't have enough sense to pour piss out of a boot, or any of his various liaisons who call him a "moron," a "horn dog," and a "loser" (p. 115).

But Jason's never pinned his sense of worth or value on his smarts (although, in our estimation, he's underestimated himself and been similarly written off by most people he knows) - it's when his sexual potency is challenged (and fails) that he really starts to feel second best to the supes who seem to be beating him out "in the masculinity stakes" (Walker, p. 115) at every turn. When he loses his erection with Dawn, for example, she rebukes him, yelling that he was at one time the best sex she had ever had until he distanced himself from her, she hooked up with a vampire (likely Eric) and found that such uber-males never go soft, so to say.

Seems like Jason's manhood is shrinking like the diminished Pluto...

...and all the crude "size matters" jokes kind of apply - since a man can effectively be reduced down to his penis, right? (you're picking up the facetious tone I'm putting down here here, yes?)
 We know that in times of change the "haves" who feel they are losing ground seek a scapegoat to blame (usually the "have-nots") for their perceived loss of power and privilege. 'Cause as rights that were once accorded them exclusively are now more equitably distributed, they must be losing out, right? (more facetiousness)
In a semi-comical, semi-tragic sequence spread over several episodes in Season 1 we see Jason start to experience vampires as the bane of his existence...they're inescapable - on every TV channel, moving into his 'hood, "dating" his paramours, and now even putting the moves on his (virtuous) baby sister!

Jason's fear and loathing of vampires and his animosity towards them as they continue to unseat him from his throne of former glory and upend his comfortable and familiar - if narrow and unfulfilling - world climaxes in Season 2 when he joins up with the creepy/scary Fellowship of the Sun and is recruited into the paramilitary arm of this fundamentalist cult. At the FOS's summer/boot camp the Light of Day Institute, he takes the idea that "God hates fangs" to heart and funnels his hurt, rage, and alienation into his training to become a Soldier of the Sun.

Fortunately, this is not a straight path to destruction for Jason. Although we've seen his attempts to "man up", as Walker writes - in Season 1 through sex (and love) and in Season 2 through power and violence - by imitating overtly masculine male role models and stereotypes blow up in his face, it is the Lukenator, and not Jason, who blows himself up for the cause of preserving the status quo at all costs.

Jason - who prayed in S2 "Scratches" for God to give him a sign, "'Cause I'm lost. I'm so fucking lost" (Walker, p. 117) - finds a way to renegotiate the deconstructed concept of masculinity. According to Walker, sex and violence prove to be failed ideologies by which Jason could become self-actualized yet we find that we has taken steps in the direction of growth and development as a man and as a person.

Specifically, Walker sites 2 shifts; one in his (sexual) relationship to women and another in his relationship to vampires (or at least one specific vampire - Bill Compton).

We see Jason move away from sex as tool of selfish gratification, conquest and domination and towards sex as a mutually pleasurable and bonding experience - contrast his "American Psycho" nod, pointing at himself in the mirror in a self-congratulatory way while hooking up with Dawn with his practically melting together with Amy. Granted, his relationship with Amy was built upon a foundation of manipulation and glued together with V, but Jason does seem to have moved away from a "hit 'em and quit 'em" attitude towards women with her.

As Walker writes, "he had begun to use his masculinity to compliment femininity, rather than dominate it" (p. 121).

We know that by the time Jason had seen the error of his FOS ways and saved the day by nailing false prophet Rev. Steve Newlin right between the eyes with a paintball, he had also reconsidered his blanket condemnation of vampires and was willing to accept Bill if Sookie loved him. Yeah, yeah, he pulls a 180 on Bill after that nasty little incident when Bill nearly (accidentally) drained Sookie in S3, but it was a start, right?

And so, as his world continues to change; as the idea of masculinity and what it means to be a man, his family relationships, his town and the larger culture, and yes, even that distant rock-that-used-to-be-our-ninth-planet Pluto continue to be defined and redefined, Jason continues on his journey of self-discovery. Maybe things are spinning a little too fast for him at times; maybe it's hard for our Quixote of the Grabbit-Quik to keep his bearings as more than windmills turn around him.

But maybe, it could also be that Jason - like the oft-maligned Pluto - is part of a wholesale reconfiguration and realignment of life in the 21st century. If what we know, or take for granted, about our very heavens and the hunks of rock, metal and ice that hurtle through them can change, be reclassified and evolve, can't we? Can't our societal structure? Can't the way we think about and and femininity....self and Other...power and equity?

I, for one, cast my vote for progress...and I'm rooting for you, Jason!

~ Rachel    

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