I recently discovered a curious statement about the show on HBO.com:
"In True Blood, vampires have gone from legendary monsters to fellow citizens overnight".I, personally, would amend this to read sexy, desirable (and sometimes sparkly) fellow citizens...
...quite a change from the way vampires used to be envisioned, huh?
Nothin' sexy about that, no siree!
Contemplating the shifting image of the vampire and the growing social acceptance (and lust!) for what used to be considered a vile fiend, I began thinking about the monstrous images dominant society spins to create hate and fear of those it demonizes.
A five minute Internet search turned up a horrendous cache of offensive visuals, here's a few:
|WWII anti-Jewish propaganda|
Can you see the common threads tying these Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda posters to the Nosferatu images above?
The ugly, distorted facial features?
The cannibalistic, devouring mouth?
|Nazi Cross killing the Jewish rat|
The Nosferatu's gnawing, rat-like incisors as corollary to the image of the Jewish vermin that must be exterminated?
And then, there's the image of Other as dim-witted, primal beast:
|The Negro a Beast or In the Image of God by C. Carroll|
published in 1900
Described on the Cowan's Auctions website as, "382pp of racist propaganda", this deplorable book deems, "The Negro a beast, but created with articulate speech, and hands, that he may be of service to his master-White man."
the Oslo shooter linked to a British anti-Muslim organization.
Did you happen to notice how great a threat these inhuman brutes appear to pose to white womanhood?
Much has been written on how vampires - starting most famously with Dracula - have been stand ins for the threat of the invading foreign Other.
For instance, in his essay "Pure Blood", Joseph McCabe writes that Dracula belonged to a difficult historical moment when unease permeated the nation; there was a mounting concern in England that the British Empire had passed its peak. Decline was signalled politically by a series of failed military adventures.
McCabe quotes Stephen D. Arata's "The Occidental Tourist: Dracula and the Anxiety of Reverse Colonization" (2010, p. 103):
Dracula enacts the period's most important and pervasive narrative of decline, a narrative of reverse colonization...This narrative expresses both fear and guilt. The fear is that what has been presented as the "civilized world" is on the point of being colonized by "primitive forces". Such fantasies were all the rage in Victorian England (as evidenced in everything from H. Rider Haggard's She to H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds).In this context, the undead Romanian Count presented the Victorian male's worst nightmare - one in which the Eastern European invader, from a supposedly less civilized land, would assail his country and take his women.
Yet, this most menacing of monsters from a century ago has nearly been welcomed into the fold of humanity. It seems mainstreaming can pay off, after all! Much has also been written about the evolution of the vampire from inhuman, monstrous outcast to sensual, darkly seductive - and very human - object of desire.
What about those who the propagandists have tried to sell as monsters? Are they yet our fellow citizens, fully? What will it take for them to be?
We'd love to hear from you on this!
McCabe, J. (2010). "Pure Blood". In Wilson, L. (Ed.), A taste of true blood: The fangbanger’s guide. (pp. 101-110). Dallas: Smart Pop.