'True Blood': Snuff Film Chic

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Like most True Blood fans, I'm pretty blasé about the occasional splash of blood, and I didn't think twice when the Estonian sex-toy started dancing naked through the episodes... but now the creators have concocted a scene that mixes perfectly healthy violence with an unpleasant dash of revenge rape.

Most of the episode seemed designed mainly to build up various plot points to prepare us for something exciting next week:

  1. The mysterious new vampire in town seduces, blackmails and hypnotizes his way through the cast on some unclear mission.
  2. Sookie gets to know the werewolf population, using her tried-and-true method of flirtatious suicide mission. (They'll grow to love her; anyone who names a werewolf bar "Lou Pine's Beer" must be a little soft-hearted.)
  3. Jason transfers his golden-retriever enthusiasm to the notion of being a policeman, because he is good at tackling people. This will end spectacularly badly, probably sooner rather than later.

On to the disturbing part. Bill's ex shows up to torment him (and to steal him back from Sookie), reminding Bill that he always hurts the humans he loves, torturing him with memories of his long-dead wife and children - and he snaps. In a supremely creepy rape/sex/murder scene, Bill attacks Lorena, ripping off her clothes and having his wicked vampire way with her. To be fair, she makes it very clear that she's pleased with this development - he's the one yelling "no." He's also the one breaking her neck and twisting her head around backward while he continues with the vampire sex. She, also a vampire, doesn't die, but bleeds out the mouth while she gurgles "I still love you."

And that's where the episode ends.

For vampires, maybe this sort of thing is equivalent to light bondage play, but we, the human audience, have just watched a snuff film. I hate to be the prude in the house, but the whole scene felt gratuitous and crass. The fact that the characters in the scene have backstories that make the act we're witnessing less horrifying in theory is in reality a petty excuse to go for shock value and violence-instilled titillation - it's almost like they dubbed "yes" over the scene to make it less like rape without changing any of the actual actions. Perhaps they could argue that they were trying to subvert the very nature of sexual violence, twist the motivations of all parties and hold the situation up to the light, among other filmspeak - in which case, all I can say is Dudes, you're doing it wrong.

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Clarissa Matthews contributes to TheAtlantic.com, mostly in the form of product management. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Columbia University's Publishing Institute and lives in Washington, D.C.

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