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 ;-)

YOU'VE BEEN SERVED (A WARNING)...

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

*SPOILERS
*TRIGGERS
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!

Disclaimer

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.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sexual Consciousness - The Forbidden Fruit - Sookie's Orgasmic Awakening

(the following is excerpted from the presentation embedded in the post below)

“The power of the erotic is acknowledged in many cultures” (p. 110); Shakti is the Sanskrit term for the erotic as female life force (Austen, 1991). Audre Lorde (1989) poetically describes the erotic as a kernel within herself that, when released from its intense and constrained pellet, flows through and colors her life with a kind of energy that heightens and sensitizes and strengthens all her experience.

Regrettably, in our culture the erotic has been misnamed, made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation (Lorde, 1989); perverted by ideas associated with pornography (Martin, 1995). In euro-Western culture, the erotic has been denigrated and relegated to so few areas of life that its remaining expressions are overloaded and distorted (Austen, 1991).

We are taught to separate the erotic from most vital areas of our lives other than sex - and to take the true erotic out of our sex; "to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings" (Lorde, 1989, p. 211).

Women empowered with the erotic are seen as dangerous (Lorde, 1989); the Hebrew Lilith's exile for her sexual independence is emblematic of the Judeo-Christian suppression of women (Austen, 1991). 

How would our society differ for women and men if the erotic's true psychic and emotional components were fully integrated into our lives?

Let's look back to mythology for such a model...

Persephone's pre-Olympian initiation would have been fertile in that it was a complex, transformative experience of the erotic.

Death, life, male, female and, above all, the irrepressible power of reproduction—all are found in the image of the pomegranate seed. It is this seed that Persephone takes within her body—literally incorporating it into her own being. With this seed, she becomes a new person: whole, mature, fertile, and infinitely more complex than before. Having tasted it, she has crossed a barrier from which there can be no turning back. (Gadon, 1989, p. 159).
Sookie’s emergent erotic life has been cited as a central theme of True Blood. Vampire fiction often reflects the fear that such strong, independent, sexual  women will disrupt the fabric of society (Parlour, 2009). For McCabe, Dracula’s worst sin may have been not only rendering women capable of enjoying sex, but transforming them into sexual aggressors.
The legends of the Sumerian Innana contain some of the most erotic, female, and eros-positive literature known (Austen, 1990); she takes an aggressive role in the sacred marriage. Like Innana—and certainly no Virgin Mary, Sookie initiated with Bill, encouraged him along when he faltered, offering her neck, asked him to bite her, signals Bill with her eyes when she was ready to be penetrated – on HER terms. As Brace & Arp (2010) write, when Bill and Sookie consummate their relationship, he penetrates her simultaneously with both penis and fangs, heightening the pleasure for both of them.
HERE YOU'LL SEE THE BRIEF YET POTENT VIDEO - BEST EXPERIENCED WITH SPEAKERS ON - THAT SHOULD APPEAR ON SLIDE 125 OF THE PRESENTATION BELOW (it was part of the original conference presentation but didn't translate in the conversion from PowerPoint to Blogger): 
The ancient initiates to Persephone’s mysteries experienced a special seeing, an “opening of the eyes” (Gadon, 1989); might Sookie’s eyes snapping open in her moment of orgasmic awakening depict “the disturbingly powerful potential of women” (Amador, 2003, p. 1, ¶5) in touch with Eros, sexually sovereign?

(citations correspond to reference list posted here)

~ Rachel

Thursday, May 5, 2011

...tough time syncing up the paper and PowerPoint from the PCA/ACA conference? Here's the two married - paper, image-dense PowerPoint, teaser & credits reel...user-friendly, easy to follow, and ALL IN ONE!

You've all seen the disclaimer; as wikipedia points out, to announce a film's modification, a format screen will state: "This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen." Depending on content and time, the disclaimer will add: "...to run in the time allotted and for content.", or, "...and to run in the time allotted", or, "...and edited for content"

 

The same applies here. This presentation has been modified from its original version; it was FIRST given as a visual, multimodal, experiential talk at the PCA/ACA & Southwest/Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Association joint conference as part of the Science Fiction & Fantasy: Special Area: True Blood panel on feminism and femininity. 

 

It's the very same presentation I posted a few days back in two, no, actually three parts (because the reference page that appears just below this post corresponds to the presentation as it's formatted here), only better. Better because it's all-in-one. No more inconvenient shifting back and forth between paper, to PowerPoint, back to paper, etc. to follow along with the content.  

 

This new-and-improved version is as close to the original as I can get using the Blogger platform since it integrates the paper and PowerPoint content in a way that flows just about as seamlessly - albeit in completely written as opposed to verbally delivered form - as it did at the conference. 


So, if you're thirsty for a fresh, feminist spin on scenes from Seasons 1 & 3 of True Blood exploring:

 

...a world where Bon Temps is the setting for a modern day epiphany of the Demeter-Persephone myth in which we viscerally encounter its characters & themes “like they are real, not just an archetype or a symbol, but a psychic force still making their way in the world today” (Ward, 2006, p. 146) in two sexual story arcs – one centering on Tara Thornton, the other on Sookie Stackhouse - both culminating in scenes featuring a white nightgown reminiscent of a wedding dress......

...each bearing both similarities and marked differences & resonating in different ways with the classic story of descent, death and rebirth from 7th-5th century BCE (Austen, 1990); both versions of it...

...the well-known patriarchal Greek version of Persephone's abduction and rape (Austen, 1990) and the feminist reimagining of the original pre-Olympian sacred story in which the Goddess had a joyous and free sexuality (Gadon, 1989).


LOOK NO FURTHER!
Cycling between True Blood and the mythology it enlivens, the presentation below looks at a few standout elements of both carnal encounters &  explores the charged concepts and themes of sex and sexuality they illuminate: 
  • virginity
  • sex-roles & stereotypes
  • pleasure
  • initiation
  • the erotic
  • violence, dominance and rape
  • attitudes toward sexually autonomous women
  • the sacred sexual
Persephone’s mysteries confront us with the divide between Goddess and patriarchal consciousness.
Drawing upon 800,000 years of art; a collection of the world’s images of the sacred feminine – both archaic & contemporary - and myth, histories, and poetry; prose, chants, guided meditations & ritual to help you experience this talk inwardly & respond with feelings and imagination, it will:
  • introduce you to woman and sex-positive cultures
  • contextualize modern notions about sex & gender revealed in True Blood within the shift from egalitarian to dominator societal structure
  • identify models for sexual and body sacrality – both female and male
IT'S GOT HIGH-IMPACT IMAGES & CUSTOM ANIMATION!
IT'S GOT SHARP ANALYSIS & CREATIVE SYNTHESIS!
IT'S GOT WIT AND TRUEBIE HUMOR!
IT DOESN'T (UNFORTUNATELY) HAVE THE BILLY IDOL SONG - WHITE WEDDING - THAT ORIGINALLY PLAYED OVER MY RIFF ON TRUE BLOOD'S OPENING CREDITS WITH-A-TWIST (BOO, HISS)

So without further ado...

powerpoint and paper married for blogger


Here's the references for Rachel's True Blood panel presentation which was previously posted in 2 parts (paper & PowerPoint) below:

References
True Blood Reenacts the Goddess Persephone's Ordeal of Abduction and Rape...Or Self-Directed Sexual Initiation? Opening a Vein on Woman-Centered Sexuality
SW/TX PCA/ACA Joint Conference
San Antonio, 2011 

 Abramowitz, M. (1996). Regulating the lives of women: Social welfare policy from colonial times to the present. Boston: South End Press. 

Amador, V. (2003). The Post-feminist Vampire: A Heroine for the Twenty-first Century. Journal of Dracula Studies, 5. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from www.blooferland.com/drc/index.php?title=Journal_of_Dracula_Studies.  

Austen, H. I. (1990). The heart of the goddess: Art, myth and meditations of the world’s sacred feminine. Berkeley: Wingbow Press.  

 Budapest, Z. (1992). Self-Blessing Ritual. In J. Plaskow & C. Christ (Eds.), Womanspirit Rising (pp. 269-272). San Francisco: HarperCollins.  

Brace, P. & Arp, R. (2010). Coming out of the coffin and coming out of the closet. In Dunn, G.A. & Housel, R. (Eds.), True blood and philosophy: We wanna think bad things with you. (pp. 93-108). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 

Burkert, W. (1996). Creation of the sacred. Tracks of biology in early religions. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.  

Christ, C.(1997) Rebirth of the goddess.  New York: Routledge. 

Cranton, L.E. & Jonell, K.E. (2010). “I am Sookie, hear me roar!”: Sookie Stackhouse and feminist ambivalence. In Dunn, G.A. & Housel, R. (Eds.), True blood and philosophy: We wanna think bad things with you. (pp.  109-122). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.  

 Dashu, M. Icons of the Matrix. Retrieved March 15, 2011 from: http://www.suppressedhistories.net/articles/icons.html   

Gadon, E. W. (1989). The once and future Goddess. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco 

Gatta, J. (1997). American Madonna: Images of divine woman in literary culture. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Goerner, S. J. (20021). After the clockwork universe: The emerging science and culture of integral society. Charlotte: Baker & Taylor, Inc. 

Hirchbein, R. (2010). Sookie, Sigmund and the edible complex. In Dunn, G.A. & Housel, R. (Eds.), True blood and philosophy: We wanna think bad things with you. (pp.  123-138). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.  

Kimmel, D. M. (2010). Vampire Porn. In Wilson, L. (Ed.), A taste of true blood: The fangbanger’s guide. (pp. 3-18). Dallas: Smart Pop. 

Lorde, A. (1989). Uses of the erotic: The erotic as power. In J. Plaskow & C. Christ (Eds.), Weaving the visions: Patterns in feminist spirituality (pp. 208-213). San Francisco: HarperCollins. 

Martin, M. (1995). Introduction to the photographs. In Mariechild, D. & Martin, M. (Eds.), Lesbian sacred sexuality. (pp. xi-xiii). Oakland: Wingbow Press.  

McCabe, J. (2010). Pure blood. In Wilson, L. (Ed.), A taste of true blood: The fangbanger’s guide. (pp.  101-110). Dallas: Smart Pop. 

Mendel, H. (2009). Dancing in the footsteps of Eve. Washington: O Books.  

Morin, E., & Kern, A. B. (1999). Homeland earth: A manifesto for the new millennium.  Cresskill: Hampton Press. 

Nicolescu, B. (2002). Manifesto of transdisciplinarity. Albany: State University of New York Press. 

Noble, V. (1991).  Shakti woman: Feeling our fire, healing our world. The new female shamanism.  San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. 

 Parlour, S. (2009). Vixens and Virgins in the Nineteenth-Century Anglo-Irish Novel: Representations of the feminine in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Journal of Dracula Studies, 11. Retrieved March 30, 2011 from: www.blooferland.com/drc/index.php?title=Journal_of_Dracula_Studies.    `

Plumwood, V. (1993). Feminism and the mastery of nature. London: Routledge. 

Poole, C. (2010). The Ego, the Id, and Sookie Stackhouse. In Wilson, L. (Ed.), A taste of true blood: The fangbanger’s guide. (pp. 75-88). Dallas: Smart Pop.   

Razak, A. (1991). Toward a Womanist analysis of birth. In Diamond, I. & Orenstein, G.F. (Eds.), Reweaving the world: The emergence of ecofeminism. (pp. 165-172). San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.    

Rivera, R. Z. (2003). New York Ricans from the hip hop zone. New York: Palgrave.  

Rogers, P. (2010). To live and die in Dixie. In Wilson, L. (Ed.), A taste of true blood: The fangbanger’s guide. (pp.  45-60). Dallas: Smart Pop.  

Rubin, J. (2010). SOOKIE! Bee-ill! And the downfall of William T. Compton. In Wilson, L. (Ed.), A taste of true blood: The fangbanger’s guide. (pp.  19-32). Dallas: Smart Pop. 

Sanchez-Grant (2008).  The Female Body in Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman and Lady Oracle. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 9, #2, 77-92. 

Spretnak, C. (1989). The Myth of Demeter and Persephone. In Plaskow, J. & Christ, C. P. (Ed.), Weaving the visions: New patterns in feminist spirituality. (pp. 72-76). San Francisco: Harper and Row. 

Starhawk (1982). Dreaming in the dark: Magic, sex & politics. Boston: Beacon Press. 

Stone, M. (1976). When god was a woman. New York: Harcourt, Inc.

Ward, T. (2006). Savage breast: One man’s search for the goddess. New York: O Books.   

Wilshire, B. (1990). The moral collapse of the university: Professionalism, purity, and alienation. Albany: State University of New York Press. 

Wilson, N. (2010).  Who’s the best vampire dad? Ms. Magazine blog, June 20, 2010. Retrieved March 29 from: http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/06/20/whos-the-best-vampire-dad/

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

HOLDING A CONTEST! ANYONE IN THE SEATTLE AREA TAKE HEED...

Here's the prize:
We've been offered 2 tickets courtesy of the amazing Tanya Wright - AKA True Blood's Deputy Kenya Jones - to the world premiere of her film BUTTERFLY RISING based on her novel by the same name in Seattle, Washington as part of the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival this Sunday, May 8th, 2011 at 6PM.

If you or anyone you know is in the area and able to attend this exciting event (it's a great way to spend Mother's Day since the film is centered on the close and abiding relationship that develops between two women at transformative points in their lives) be the first to answer this trivia question:


In Season 1 of True Blood Sookie decides that she's going to call Sam's collie alter ego "Dean". There's a Sam/Dean connection to another haunting TV series currently airing on the CW Network. Name that show in the comments section below to win!   

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How To Access the True Blood Reenacts the Goddess Persephone's Ordeal of Abduction and Rape...or Self-Directed Sexual Initiation? Opening a Vein on Woman-Centered Sexuality PCA/ACA joint conference visual talk

Pop Quiz:

What do the Alamo, Downtown Riverwalk, Tex-Mex, and the one-and-only airport where I have personally witnessed a pair of underwear & two pairs of socks endlessly circling - unclaimed - on the baggage carousel have in common?

They are all things I experienced for the first time in the host city for the 2011 PCA/ACA & Southwest/Texas Popular Culture and American Culture joint conference: San Antonio, Texas!

I gave my visual talk entitled, "True Blood Reenacts the Goddess Persephone's Ordeal of Abduction and Rape...or Self-Directed Sexual Initiation? Opening a Vein on Woman-Centered Sexuality" at the conference on April 20th.

As the chair of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Area: True Blood Feminism & Femininity panel, I was honored to share the spotlight with two other gentlewomen and scholars who also delivered fascinating papers that will, no doubt, be of interest to you. I met True Blood scholars on other panels whose work was quite intriguing. I will discuss this further in a later post.

 For now, since I promised panel goers that I would post my full presentation here at the PPT, I am most concerned with getting my material up and accessible. Believe it or not, it's taken me two full days to pull off the conversion necessary to post my talk here - and some of its nuance has been lost in the translation :-(

Here's my plan:

In the next 2 consecutive posts, the following will appear, in order:

  1. conference paper with citations
  2. interactive PowerPoint slideshow with hyperlinked text & images *you can play the slideshow in fullscreen mode or in the window within which it appears on the PPT; simply hover your cursor over images and when a hand icon appears, you can click on the image to learn more or be brought to its source site. You must click to advance most of the slides; a few of the early slides (credit reel) self-advance on a timer  
*these two formats (paper & PowerPoint) are meant to go together; the paper lists the slide numbers that correspond to the text throughout.
**please note that audio and video elements of the original presentation were unfortunately disabled in the conversion to Blogger - the credit reel was accompanied by Billy Idol's "White Wedding" - when you see it you'll understand why ;-)

I'll follow up with a full reference list for both paper & PowerPoint.

Please don't hesitate to e-mail us if you have any questions or you'd like more information!

Enjoy!

Rachel 

Tanya Wright at the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern!

Despite her busy schedule, Tanya Wright (True Blood's Deputy Kenya Jones) made time in between her writing, book tour, TV work, getting ready to premiere her film BUTTERFLY RISING at the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival a week from today - Sunday, May 8 at 6PM - and well, I guess breathing (although that, along with sleeping, seems like a luxury for a woman as on-the-move as she) to meet with us!

We experienced Ms. Wright as a lovely, intelligent, down-to-earth fellow New Yawker (as she writes in her 1st post on her blog Wrighting Revolution) who gave generously of her time to chat with us for nearly two hours about everything from her character on True Blood to pop culture from an actress, author & screenwriter's point of view to fur babies, and so much in between!

And (bonus) when she came back to the cafe where we met to give both Rebecca & I copies of her novel upon which the film is based...


...we had the chance to meet Ms. Wright's two cutie-babies...one of whom is pictured with her on the back cover of Butterfly Rising (see below)!
Ms. Wright & her baby-girl Macarena
Rebecca and I both look forward to reading Butterfly Rising and discussing it with Ms. Wright; we also eagerly anticipate seeing the film when it premieres in New York, hopefully this fall. We'll let you know as this moves forward.

And of course we'll be back with a full write-up on our get-together with Tanya this past Tuesday; for now we wanted to thank Ms. Wright again for taking time out of her busy life to meet with us and for her candor and genuine interest in what we're doing here at the PPT.

Tanya, we wish you the very best of luck with the premiere of Butterfly Rising in Seattle!

More on our meeting with Ms. Wright to come soon...

~ Rachel 

Whew!!! So much to serve up...

Whew! We hope you're thirsty, because after a whirlwind last few weeks, we here at the PPT have lots to serve up!

You know how True Blood goes on the road, leaving the comfort and familiarity of Merlotte's and Bon Temps (sans maenad-induced frenzy, of course) in the dust for points unknown, like Dallas, & Jackson, etc.? Well, the PPT has been on the road too; we've been beating down a footpath in such places as San Antonio, Texas, Harlem & Tribeca, NYC...and boy 'o boy, do we have some catching up to do!    

OK, OK, hold your horses; no pushing or shoving please, there's plenty of room at the bar for all. Here's a taste of what's on the menu:

  • We met and chatted with True Blood's very own Tanya Wright (Deputy Kenya Jones)!


  • Rachel delivered her visual talk True Blood Reenacts the Goddess Persephone's Ordeal of Abduction and Rape...or Self-Directed Sexual Initiation? Opening a Vein on Woman-Centered Sexuality" at the PCA/ACA & Southwest/Texas Popular Culture and American Culture joint conference and will be serving it up here just for you!

 followed by...


a chaser of a run-down on what was seen and heard at the conference relating to True Blood
along with a splash of...

some San Antonio local color for good measure!

  • We spent Friday night in the company of greatness at the Tribeca Film Festival where none other than Mr. Harry Belafonte validated and reinvigorated our focus on the arts (we're lookin' at you, True Blood - particularly in light of our conversation with Ms. Wright!) as a medium through which change can be leveraged! 
Harry Belafonte is interviewed by journalist Tavis Smiley at the Tribeca Talk After The Movie "Sing Your Song" during the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 29, 2011 in New York City.
 So without further ado...