Opinions. Everybody Has 'Em.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Oh Ancient One ...

I was supposed to be doing something else but that darned squirrel is back and making a shiny, distracting pest of itself. Hence I found myself a short time ago futzing around on the 'net, reading one of those celebrity gossip sites, and therein was a little vignette about actress Eliza Dushku ( mm-mmm ) and her ex-basketball beau Rick Foxx ( who, like Jamie, apparently has some difficulty spelling his last name ) who have been an item since last October. Anyway, Ms Dushku and Mr Foxx-with-two-exes have recently moved in together. So far, so not earth-shattering. What draws the attention to this relationship is the ages of those involved. She's 29. He's 41. Age gaps like this seem to be a thing which draws a big " So what?" reaction from some people, like myself, who tend to see age as a number and not necessarily representative of who or what is the person behind the number. Others, however, that ubiquitious 'they', will screw up their little faces until those almost fall off and start proclaiming all manner of ill-informed judgment.
" It's all about the sex!" they will cry in abject disgust.
Um ... yes. That's still part of a romantic relationship, isn't it? That hasn't suddenly changed overnight, has it? No. Phew! Now, go away, Captain Obvious. And since they are both also legal, you can take your moral high horse with you.
The next most-oft cited objection to a May-December romance will concern, bizarrely, the hobbies and pastimes of those involved.
" How can they have anything in common?" they will demand in horrified puzzlement.
I could go into a whole list of things people can easily have in common that are not age-specific but it would take up a lot of precious space and would risk stating the obvious, and since we've just got rid of that guy... Some could try to argue that a decade effectively separates two people musically and culturally, but they might try bearing this in mind: there is no doubt I was on this earth when Journey first brought out 'Don't Stop Believing' but since I was more interested then in my Space Hopper than anything on the radio, it's not unsafe to say also that I have as little memory or meaning attatched to the song as do any of the 20-something 'Glee' cast reviving it now. Also, I'm pretty sure Simon Le Bon's haircut was every bit as silly as Justin Bieber's and he certainly had no less an army of silly teenage girls ( and their mothers in some cases ) swooning after him than does young Mr Bieber today. So the players in the pop-culture game may have changed but the rules generally haven't: silly haircuts on smug little boys at whose feet silly giggling girls will throw themselves. Did I miss anything out? And not every teenager/younger person goes ga-ga over pop-culture icons either. I certainly never swooned when I was a teenager ... Okay, I might have gotten a bit woozy over Sigourney Weaver, but hey, pobody's nerfect, right? Still do, and come to think of it, she's got twenty years on me ... Similarly, not everyone enters a pop-culture desert after the age of 25. We may not care much about Justin Bieber but that doesn't mean we don't know who he or his haircut are. So the cultural-divide argument can go the way of Captain Obvious and his moral high horse and take care that the door doesn't hit it in the rear end as it is leaving.
One final argument tends to involve any offspring from previous relationships of the older partner.
" Oh, he/she has a son/daughter the same age!" they will shriek in sanctimonious derision.
Unfortunately this invites Captain Obvious back into the fray but it has to be said: if the offspring are the same age, then it stands to reason they too are legal, old enough to fend for themselves, and big enough to butt out of mommy or daddy's love life. Now, away you go once more, Cap'n, and feed that horse, will you?
I wonder what those who object to May-December romances would think if vampires like Bill and Eric were real? A two thousand year-old Viking vampire and a twenty-six year-old waitress ... would anyone dare to point out to Mr Northman that he is old enough to be Sookie's great-great-great-great ... oh, fudge it! You get the point. And I don't care if Pam was born in the year 1 million BC, she looks darned fine right now and even if she doesn't know who Justin Bieber is, well, sometimes we all wish we didn't know that.

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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Ah, Sookie Sookie Now...

Sorry, I just couldn't resist that! But anyway, let's talk about Sookie and True Blood and all those luscious vampires and werewolves and faeries, oh my. HBO has been known for some time as the home of cutting-edge TV, but its latest denizen has become quite the pop-culture phenomenon. To such a degree that it already has its own entry in the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series ( read it, it's entertaining and it does kinda make you think in a not-too-hard way ). 'True Blood' is taken from the Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris and features easygoing, attractive, and telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse and a host of supernatural creatures who inhabit the fictional Southern town of Bon Temps alongside her. The resultant TV series is the brainchild of Alan Ball, creator of 'The Sopranos' and 'Six Feet Under', who read the books and was inspired by them to do some very good things as it turns out.

Harris's books are sweet, simply told stories of supernatural adventure, and yet in their very sweetness and simplicity hides a depth and complexity, and a shrewd commentary on life today. Many parallels are being drawn, through the TV adaptation, with what the vampire community 'coming out of the coffin' face by way of prejudice and persecution, with the same things faced for decades by the LGBT community. But these things are also addressed, if with a slightly more Southern subtlety, by Harris in her writing. That she has also created in Sookie perhaps one of the most likeable central characters ever in a series of novels, is a bonus. But Sookie's likeable quality does not make her perfect, far from it, and indeed her very human-ness just makes her even more likeable! She may be blonde and attractive, but she is down-to-earth, she tries not to be prejudice against anyone, she is considerate and accomodating but never anyone's fool, and we love her for it. She tries to be the best person she can be and when she feels that she has failed to be so, she admits her failing. She can have a pragmatic outlook when it is called for, which is just as well since her life has been turned pretty much upside down with the advent of the vampires and all the other weird and wonderful beasties into it. Of her role in the deaths of 'the vampire ho' Lorena and psychotically jealous werewolf Debbie Pelt, she muses, " It's not that I believe in killing, I don't usually, but my God, some people are just begging to put out of their misery, aren't they?" The casting in the role of Sookie of Anna Paquin - hitherto best known for her award-winning child role in 'The Piano' - was as inspired as Harris's creation of the character. Paquin manages to convey all of Sookie's written qualities and also injects a little extra that far from detracting from the character, adds a great deal. Indeed, all of the actors chosen to portray Harris's characters have seemed almost supernatural in their inspiration, bringing Eric, Bill, Pam et al to gorgeous, vibrant life on our screens.

Part of the appeal of 'True Blood' is its ability to reach crossover audiences. Harris and Ball have both described the world portrayed in Bon Temps as a 'soap opera with vampires' and it does indeed have many of the hallmarks of ( exceptionally good ) soap opera, but it is more than just well-formed soapy bubbles. It is drama, and comedy, and horror, and suspense, and fantasy, and yes, it is porn too! In Seasons 1 & 2 most of the latter might have been hetero, but Season 3 seems set to change that up a bit as the ridiculously beautiful Viking vampire Eric Northman sinks fangs and, well, other parts into the boyfriend of Russell Edgington! Who knows, perhaps we will be seeing some girlie action for his lesbian sidekick vampire Pam next?

It won't be Sookie getting it on with another gal, that's for sure, despite actress Anna Paquin's emerging from the closet as bisexual earlier this year. Sookie is straight. Very straight. In the novels, she makes this clear when lesbian vampire Queen Sophie-Anne LeClerq announces that she and Sookie should have sex since Sookie has helped her and it is the done thing ... When Sookie politely declines this offer ( Can I just say here that I would be more than willing to take that one for the team in her place? Please? ) and Sophie-Anne decides then that they should both lie and just say it did happen, Sookie points out that anyone who knows her will know that this just 'isn't her thing' and would never have happened really. She isn't comfortable with either herself or Sophie-Anne telling such an obvious lie and so agrees instead to lie that she had sex with the Queen's odious but male right-hand vampire, even though that thought makes Sookie's skin crawl worse than the thought of having sex with Sophie-Anne, which she doesn't think is an awful proposition per se, it just doesn't do anything for her. It's this straightforward honesty that we like Sookie for. Her rejection of Sophie-Anne's proposal is not based in prejudice or even disgust. Sookie knows herself what it is like to live as a someone that others often consider to be 'different' and therefore a threat of some kind, strange and creepy, and maybe dangerous to have around the kids. Her own mind-reading ability, which she no more asked for than a person does their sexuality or gender identity, has brought her prejudice, even from her own friends, such as fellow waitress Arlene and even best friend Tara Thornton. Sookie therefore tries to keep her own mind open, figuratively if not literally since that tends to mean other people's thoughts come crashing in! It is also one of the major reasons that Sookie is drawn to Vampire Bill the first time she meets him, when she realizes that she can't hear a vampire's thoughts. The silence is bliss for her.

So Eric the Viking might be happily getting it on with a guy, but what of Pam indeed? Her part in the novels is certainly greater than it has been for Seasons 1 & 2 of the TV show. In the novels, she and Sookie even become friends, or as close to friends as Pam is willing to get with a human, even one as, well, not quite human as Sookie! There is, I think, a rather wonderful, hilarious little scene in Season 1 featuring Pam and Sookie. After Bill has dispatched barman Longshadow for trying to kill Sookie, getting blood and gore all over the poor girl in the process, Sookie retreats to the ladies to clean herself up. Pam enters with some fresh clothing for her and first gives her an appreciative look, announcing that she's beginning to see what the fuss might be about. She then reaches a hand toward Sookie and says very politely, " Pardon me. You have vampire in your cleavage" and plucks the offending lump of Longshadow from between Sookie's ample bosom. Sookie just blinks, looks at Pam and then the gore, and opines mildly, " Oh. Eew." It remains to be seen whether Ball will develop any of the book's friendship between Pam and Sookie, but I have heard that he will be giving Pam some other kind of action with another gal.

Well, praise Jesus and pass the Vaseline, as the Newlins may have said!

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Ah, the lovely Pam & Eric!

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And the lovely Sookie & Bill

Thursday, 5 August 2010

The Evolution of The Vampire

Image by FlamingText.com

Image by FlamingText.com


Vampires are sexy. Vampires are cool. This we know. Ever since that dullard Adam's independantly-minded first wife Lillith started giving upright ( and uptight ) folks the horrors and became the inspiration for the demonic succubi - usually female vampire creatures who visited their victims in the night and 'suffocated' them whilst bringing them erotic nightmares - the concept of the vampire has been evolving. From the evil, sexually-insatiable female demon it morphed into the suave and sexually irresistable Count Dracula, with his bad Bela Lugosi accent, his penchant for frightening the horses, and that faintly ridiculous cape. There it remained for many years until one day along came a schoolgirl named Buffy Summers who moved into a small Californian town that just happened to be located right over the local Hellmouth. Buffy embraced her destiny as the Slayer and the whole book of vampires got itself rewritten by the new King Of The Universe, a fanboy named Joss Whedon ... Where would vampires go from here? Straight to Bon Temps, Louisiana, would be the answer. Eric, Bill et al have once again taken the rule book, shredded it, and proceeded with writing a whole new one. Vampires now wear Armani suits and pumps to die for and they have nerdily cool names like Eric and Bill and Pam. It also must be credited that all of these mainstream novels and TV shows have featured gay/lesbian characters and those which haven't already, plan to. But none have revolved around gay/lesbian vampires.

Similarly, all this bloodsucking has given rise ( pun fully intended ) to a host of mainly web-based bodice-ripping, heavy-breathing erotic fiction that often features vampires. It seems readers can't get enough of the allure of the Undead. Sex and fangs sells. And it does so with a hearty gay/lesbian element. However - and whilst I would never in any way want to be thought as denigrating this writing because so much of it is really so very good - it has to be noted that, from the lesbian point of view, much of it is penned by hetero- or bisexual women and this means it tends to involve male-female sex somewhere along the way. This is something that can be a turn-off to lesbian readers, again understandably, and it is to this fact which I address myself when I ask:

" Where are all the lesbian vampires?"

My consternation is concentrated upon the fact that the 'purely' lesbian fiction market has been so backward at coming forward into this lucrative and popular genre. It is, after all, awash in both romance and detective thriller fiction, and it has proven that it can make an entire TV series out of the lives of a group of lesbians. So why not horror/vampires? Elsewhere in my web-wonderings I have posed the question of what it may be puts both lesbian readers and writers off tackling this particular genre, so I won't repeat that. Take a look in LesbianMySpace if you want to see one of the versions of this wondering. Otherwise, let us concentrate here upon my proposed antitode to the lack of lesbian vampires.

I have been writing for a long time, longer than I either care to recall or go into. During that time I've always had a penchant for vampires and werewolves and ghosties, oh my, both personally and from a writing point of view. My first published full-length novel is then, unsurprisingly, a genre fiction, 'The Lesbian Vampire Chronicles Book 1 : The Children of Judas'. Published in August 2010 by YourPOD UK it chronicles, through narrator Dante Sonnier, a Hollywood agent and thirty-something modern lesbian, her involvement with the LA-based vampire community and their struggle against the Children of Judas, an outcast vampire sect led by a charismatic and deadly vampire with the unlikely name of Robin. Robin is bent on toppling the vampire leadership and outing the entire race. She also has a few startling secrets to reveal to Dante ... Dante's life amongst the vampires is further complicated by her being torn between her growing love for gentle vampire Ellis Kovacs and her irresistable attraction to movie-starlet gorgeous but unscrupulous leader Voshki Kevorkian. Voshki has made it clear also that she wishes Dante to be her human and will attempt to seduce her away from Ellis at all costs! As the title suggests, this is the first in a planned series featuring these, and other, colorful characters and revolving around the human-vampire interaction. As the series progresses, so will the feud between the vampires heat up and even threaten Dante's own very humanity. Part-comedy, part-horror, part-love story, 'The Lesbian Vampire Chronicles' is written specifically for a lesbian audience. Of course, anyone else who would wish to read it is more than welcome to do so! I've never ascribed to the dogma that says straight people can't create or appreciate gay/lesbian characters any more than I have ascribed to the one says gay/lesbian people can't create or appreciate straight characters. For heaven's sake, we wouldn't have any TV worth watching if that were the case!

For now, let me just say that I reckon it is high time for the real lesbian vampires to come out of the coffin and stake their claim ( groan! ) to their place in the genre.

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