Saturday, March 10, 2012

True Blood's Faux Feminism: A Review in Progress

(I started writing this post over the summer and wanted to share it before I forget. It's a work in progress.)

*Spoiler alert: I'll be revealing some details from the most recent season of True Blood.

The season opener was a shocker with the reveal that Tara is now a lesbian or bisexual. After romantic and tumultuous entanglements with Sam, Jason, Eggs, and Franklin, Tara escapes from Bon Tomp and begins a relationship with Naomi, a fellow cage fighter.

What frustrates me about this relationship is that Tara's transformation into a gay character occurs as a way out or alternative to her failed relationships with men. It is also a relationship I'm sure the writers thought up to excite the viewers. The "lesbian makeout" scene has been glamorized in numerous movies. Recently, the Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis kiss in Black Swan might have made more headlines than the film's accolades.

Another issue I have is that being gay always means that the character is moving over to the dark side, becoming more "sexy" and "dangerous." Natalie Portman becomes the "black swan" after the fantasy sex scene with Mila Kunis. She drinks, does drugs, and experiments with her body, which becomes the equivalent of being "bad" in our culture. Why is that? Why can't being gay be a part of who a person is instead of a “performance” for others?

This is new territory for me on my blog, and I do not know a lot about sexuality studies, but what I do observe is the lack of lesbian couples on television and the same scene played over and over again. The good girl becomes “bad” after she kisses a woman. Even in the film, Laurel Canyon, starring Kate Beckinsale and Christian Bale this story line exists. Kate’s character is a good doctoral student who is lured into the dark side by Christian’s music producer mother. They then engage in a makeout scene. The list goes on with celebrities that have made kissing women a “trend” (Thanks, Katy Perry!)

I just finished reading Susan Douglass’s Enlightened Sexism where she wrote about the problematic portrayals in television and movies where lesbians are sexualized or ignored. She proposes that this gap adds to the divide between women. Women in films must compete with each other for men or make out to please the male audience. Female love is only shown from a male perspective because why would we want women in successful friendships since they would only want to gang up on men!

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