True Blood: An Allegory in an Obama Mask

Originally published by The Huffington Post, 10 July 2012.

header 2

From the moment “GOD HATES FANGS” flashed across the screen in the title card of the first episode, True Blood has been accused of being riddled with gay metaphors and analogies. Academics eagerly pounced on the narrative in the first season, claiming, for example, that it is an epic fable meant to illustrate the struggle gays and lesbians face in their pursuit toward “normality.”

Screen Shot 2012-07-10 at 6.43.52 PMThe supposed allegory (vamps = gays) hasn’t been lost on many of the show’s gay fans, who celebrate its campy melodramatics and fang-in-cheek humor. Sunday night Jessica even consoled Tara, a newly-minted woeful vampire, by assuring her that “it gets better” — reminiscent of Dan Savage’s now-famous campaign. Some of its straight viewers have been less forgiving, like Todd Herremans, who last year tweeted complaints about the show’s “barrage of homosexuality” (he has since apologized).

But if we buy into this analysis, now five seasons later, what has happened to the allegory? In the second season when we had fundamentalist Christians fighting vampires, the analogy was simple and relatively easy to follow; I would have called it a brilliant critique on the fundamentalist conservatism beginning to brew in the formative years of Obama’s administration. In the third and fourth seasons, however, things became decidedly hairier when the vampires began to shed the delicate veil of “goodness” to reveal that, at their core, they’re pretty evil and dangerous. Infectious, if you’re holding true to the allegory.

Screen Shot 2012-07-10 at 6.43.20 PMSo far this season we have had a sneak peek into the office of The Authority, an organization against vampire defamation that is dedicated to ensuring equal rights for vampires using a mainstreaming motto to the tune of “we suck just like everybody else!” What does it mean that these “good guys” are narratively positioned as bad guys, willing to torture and kill any fellow vampires who would give “the agenda” a bad name (as a sidebar, let me now just publicly pledge my fealty to GLAAD).

The Authority (VAD?) kills an order of fundamentalist vampires known as the Sanguinistas who are devout followers of God and his immaculately conceiving first vessel, Lilith. For the Sanguinistas, humans (Adam and Eve) were made by God only to serve as food for the vampires, which every single meat-eater has matter-of-factly argued to me ever since I stopped eating it. In short, the crazy fundamentalists have gone from being fang-hating Christians to card-carrying vampires, which has made me wonder, what’s the allegory picking up on now?

Screen Shot 2012-07-12 at 12.26.52 AMAnd then I remembered something. Back in February, I ran across a casting call for this season of True Blood. They were casting the character “Joe Bob” who fit this description:

CAUCASIAN, EARLY 30s, White trash. An anti-vampire terrorist wearing an Obama mask to hide his identity, he shoots one vampire with a hunting rifle and takes his victim prisoner. Recurring.

In last night’s episode, that character (or a band of drunk-Obama-mask wearing characters) premiered in the back of a pick-up truck shooting shifters. (I know I’m supposed to hate them, but so far they ARE taking out all the characters I really hate).

Although there are political masks for everyone from Hillary Clinton to Sarah Palin, Alan Ball came to play at a time when the now-famous Richard Nixon mask with the “classically caricatured nose” came to prominence. It was often worn by anti-Nixon protestors as a sign of disaffection for his crumbling, Watergate-infested administration. Basically, their scary Halloween costume. Is Obama to the Tea Party what Nixon was to hippies?


True Blood has always and probably will always have a socio-political agenda. It’s interesting that now Ball is flipping the Nixon-mask (and numerous other metaphors) to demonstrate the way in which fundamentalist conservatives and Tea Partiers are manipulating and buying into the image of Obama as a wicked man. For these “anti-vampire white trash,” the face of Obama himself has become the “big bad” who is to be feared for the devastation and chaos he will surely leave in his wake. I suppose, as heathens, our only means of salvation at this point are daily doses of Hail Liliths.