True Blood

You’d think the public would have put a stake through the heart of vampire stories long ago but as long as creative new repackaging like the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer and HBO’s new series True Blood, based on Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries come along, the undead will continue to haunt us.  I have to admit that I have a life-long prejudice against vampire stories.  Bela Lugosi’s Count Dracula was a cliché when I was a kid, and the concept seemed tired even back in the 1950s.  I was arm-twisted into give the living dead another chance with Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, which I truly admired, and that taught me to be more open about vampire stories.

The world of literature is full of recycled plots, characters and concepts.  Who would have ever thought that millions of books could have been written around the concept of the private detective?  True Blood blends murder mystery with the occult.  I guess some ideas are primal and go back as far as the origins of consciousness.  Being killed by a bite to the throat may even be an ancestral memory from when we were animals.  And isn’t it interesting that Christian symbols are weapons against these evil creatures of the night?  Especially since both myths use blood as the conduit of resurrection.

I did not intend to get into another HBO series, but I just happened to be in front of the TV when the premier episode started and within seconds I was hooked.  Right from the beginning I was thinking, “Geez, this is great storytelling.”  We’re not talking Shakespeare here, but A-1 quality Weird Tales.  Just high octane lurid pulp fiction, told with humor and a sense of style. 

Vampires have come out of the crypt and are demanding their civil rights, and humans are all over them seeking kinky sex, historical knowledge and even their blood.  Vampire blood is rumored to have some of the same kind of properties that Chinese herbalists claim for rare animals on the endangered species list and its worth thousands on the black market.

True Blood is about the first vampire moving into the little Louisiana town of Bom Temps.  You can follow the news of these events at Bloodcopy.com, an interesting viral marketing tool for HBO.  Anna Paquin plays Sookie Stackhouse, a young telepathic waitress that is boy crazy for vampires and solves mysteries for The Southern Vampire Mystery book series.  I’m amused that Charlaine Harris shares my last name and birthday, we were even born in the same year, and she lives in this part of the country.  I don’t believe in astrology, but my reading taste seems to be in the same house as her writing.

The first episode of True Blood got me hooked, so I’m anxiously awaiting next Sunday night to see if I’ll keep wanting to watch it.  I had come this close, picture me holding two fingers in a near pinch, to giving up TV this summer.  I’m a TV addict.  Shows as entertaining as True Blood, Pushing Daisies, Big Bang Theory and Mad Men keep me coming back.  I constantly wonder why fiction is so addictive.  I know it’s all make-believe.  I know it’s all pixels on a screen.  I know television is created by the elite of the world to get rich off us couch potatoes.  But I’m mesmerized by good story telling.

I’ve got to admit the vampires are a silly concept.  I could be spending time reading about quantum physics or learning to program rich Internet applications, but instead I flop on the couch and watch Anna Paquin pretend to be telepathic and Stephen Moyer pretend to be a vampire.  Why is that so interesting?  If I knew maybe I could churn out my own vampire stories and become one of those elite people that look down on television watchers but get rich writing stories that get slobs like me addicted.

Jim

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