Thursday, July 23, 2009

Link Proliferation: There will be bloodsuckers.

Okay Screamers and Screamettes. Even an "underemployed" hobo like yours truly gets to have a vacation – and by vacation I mean that I'll be spending the weekend in the Brooklyn jail as part of a slightly diminished sentence for vagrancy. ANTSS would like to thank the Honorable Victoria S. Lippmann for being a real sport and showing the sort of compassion for the Forgotten Man that is apparently well beyond the capacities of NYPD Officer Cedric Russert.


While I do my time in "The Brick, " as I think I'll try to convince the other inmates we call it, I leave you with the following links for your weekend amusement.

Vampire Economics

The Econocomics blog asks "Are Vampires Good for the Economy?". Although they don't get into the unlikely economics that drive HBO's voap opera True Blood, they do cover the comics continuation of the Buffy show, which has apparently gone semi-True Blood and started normalizing the vampires of their world.

The post starts with arguments from comedian Michael Ian Black:

In his book, My Custon Van, he argues that cape manufacturers, garlic farmers, coffin makers, and angry villagers (by this he means suppliers of tools such as torches, spikes and crosses) would see net growth. Furthermore, he discusses the notion of a "vampire tax" or the idea that vampires would be more likely to attack individuals of lower socioeconomic backgrounds, who have less adequate means of protecting against an attack. This, he argues, would serve to reduce spending on social welfare programs, such as Medicaid, since more lower-income individuals enroll in these programs.

Although he predicts net losses to the makers of fake plastic and wax vampire teeth as well as the travel and tourism industries, he concludes that a small to moderate vampire army would be beneficial for the economy in the long-run and offset any potential short-run losses.

From there blogger ShadowBanker goes on to discuss vampire insurance, changes in the entertainment industry, and the question of what happens to Social Security when a section of the eligible population is immortal.

We're Here, We're Insincere, Get Used to It

Over at the Daily Beast, contributor Michelle Goldberg takes up True Blood's queer/vamp metaphor and finds the show's vampires as gays conceit lacking.

From her post:

What’s fascinating and disturbing about True Blood are the weird, seemingly reactionary politics underlying much of the mayhem. True Blood doesn’t share Twilight’s Victorianism, but in a way it’s even more anxious about sex. Indeed, the show’s universe is like the right’s worst nightmare about post-gay-liberation America come to life.

Based on a series of books by the mystery writer Charlaine Harris, True Blood draws a clear parallel between vampires and gays, one that at first seems reminiscent of the X-Men. As the show begins, vampires have “come out of the coffin,” demanding a proper place in society after endless years of existing in the shadows. A Japanese company has manufactured a synthetic blood substitute—called True Blood—removing the need to hunt humans. But not everyone is willing to accept vampires as equals—in the opening credits, we see a sign saying “God Hates Fangs,” while throughout the series, newscasts and magazine covers reference the fight for vampire marriage.

This conceit is cheeky and clever, but it has troubling implications, because the vampires, political rhetoric aside, aren’t really interested in joining human society. Unlike the misunderstood X-Men heroes, most of the vampires we meet are arrogant, perverse, and cruel—everything the far right believes gays to be. True Blood is set in the marshy milieu of small-town Louisiana; the local vampire headquarters is tawdry, decadent nightclub called Fangtasia, where human tourists come for the kink and some are ensnared and corrupted. The vampire leaders are voracious and vain; in one of this season’s most darkly funny scenes, one of them dismembers a man while getting foil highlights, then frets about the blood in his hair.

She later proposes an alternate motivation on the part of the show's creator. Perhaps, she theorizes, the entire show is a bizarre satire of efforts to normalize homosexuality from the position of a romanticized notion of homosexuality's rebel/outsider status.

Underlying much antigay literature is the unspoken assumption that homosexuality, while disgusting, is also unbearably tempting. And so, in True Blood, is sex with vampires. Sookie aside, those who crave it are somewhat pathetic—they’re referred to, derisively, as fangbangers. Human-vampire carnality is often rough and humiliating. When there is love involved, it’s laced with darkness, tragedy, and pain.

It’s hard to tell what creator Alan Ball, who also made Six Feet Under, is up to here. He’s openly gay, so he could be simply tweaking conservative fears. Or, like Rupert Everett, maybe he’s reacting against the domestication of gay life. Speaking to The Daily Beast in April, Everett railed against gay marriage, saying, “I want to be illegal. I want to live outside the mainstream.” In this spirit, in True Blood, the attempt to mainstream the denizens of a nihilistic demimonde is, at best, a bit of a farce.

I'm not qualified to speak specifically to the issues Goldberg raises. After some initial attempts at watching True Blood, I found the series not to my tastes and haven't tried to keep up. However, I sympathize with the tone of the article. In fact, I would go even further and say that a vast majority of the political and social allegories in horror flicks are half-assed, shallow, fail to offer novel insights into the issues they purport to reflect, and are usually so poorly constructed that they force even less reflective viewers to assume the messages are simply insincere.

Why are the political messages in horror films almost always profoundly unsatisfying?

Sure, as Soon as There's Trouble It Suddenly Becomes MY Bloody Valentine

The music blog The Walrus has three mp3s of previously unreleased My Bloody Valentine tunes. From the post:

All 3 sound like they are from the Isn't Anything period, or the EPs in between that album and Loveless. As one member on the MBV forum points out, "Kevin Song" most likely never got past the demo phase. It’s a cool tune, nonetheless, as are "Bilinda Song" and "Cowboy Song". The latter of seems to be the most completed of the 3, and is reminiscent of "Feed Me With Your Kiss". Suddenly it's 1990 again!

Stay classy Interwebs. And all credit for the comic of a ninja doctor talking to Ben Franklin goes to the web comic Dr. McNinja.

(And don't worry, I'm really not going to jail: just Connecticut.)


wiec? said...

not sure what part of the Nutmeg State you're visiting but being someone who had to spend his first 18 winters growing up there i say it could be worse. maybe you'll go to Stew Leonords. that could be fun.

if you're driving there watch out. the traffic is horrible this time of year (esp on weekends). i'd rather be doing hard time in the "brick" than be stuck on ole I-95.

good luck and don't drop the soap.

zoe said...

enjoy connecticut!
john waters said something funny about the whole gay marriage issue--he asked why bother being gay if you're just going to make yourself miserable like everyone else (or something to that effect)? :D on the flip side, those guys can afford their own health insurance...

Sasquatchan said...

Tell those flatlanders what have you while you visit.. Have a good time with the Mrs.. Hope no stalkers find you there ..

Ms Harker said...

Great post... Voap Opera, I love it! I think any meaningful parallels True Blood was trying to draw between the vamp's and civil rights whether they be gay or other marginalised groups went out the window once Sookie's tits ( and various male characters arses) started making regular appearances!