TV: True Blood—It Gets Better.

 

“All my life I’ve been afraid… [of the] dead people muttering in my ears, making me deliver your messages. Making me into a freak! A creepy, pathetic, terrified mess, muttering to herself in the corner.”

“Oh Marnie, can’t you see? Life is pain. But soon all you’ve suffered and feared will be meaningless. You will be a peace. But them [the vampires]…?”

“… they’ll be stuck here forever.”

“And there’s no victory in that.”

Death and vampires are pretty bleak metaphors for putting an end to bullying and its perpetrators. Or it’s one clever way for incorporating the It Gets Better message into a show laden with cultural undertones: Marnie (despite becoming the bully herself) gets to move on and put her hellish ordeals behind her, while those who victimised her, the vampires, are doomed to repeat the same cycle of hatred, facing karma at the end of the day.

Related: Wiccans: Born This Way.

The Meaning of War According to True Blood.

Male Rape on True Blood.

Images via VideoBB.

Event: Armistead Maupin in Conversation with Noni Hazlehurst.

“It Gets Better”. “We R Who We R”. Proposition 8. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell*.

It’s hard to believe it’s 2011 and we are still having these arguments about sexual orientation and whether it’s a choice.

Armistead Maupin, writer of the Tales of the City series, spoke about these things last night at the Athenaeum Theatre on Collins Street to promote his latest installment, Mary Ann in Autumn, which brought a man in the same row as me to tears.

For those of you not familiar with Maupin (and so many people seem to be unfamiliar with the works of my favourite authors. Dominick Dunne, anyone?), here’s a quick refresher, much of which Maupin went into detail on the night:

Tales of the City was spawned from a newspaper column he wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle in the late 1970s, when homosexuality was still illegal and regarded as a mental illness; but not to worry, Maupin was in the closet at that point.

The Tales deal with a bunch of much-loved characters who are dealing with life, love and sex interspersed with murder mysteries, AIDS and adoptions in 1970s San Fran. Some are gay, some are straight, one is transgendered, which was quite a feat for that time, especially for something that was to be published in a newspaper.

Maupin laughed about his far-right, homophobic editor at the Chronicle, who insisted his characters be categorized into columns: heterosexual and homosexual. Aren’t we glad we don’t do that anymore (insert sarcasm here)?

Hazlehurst marvelled at the fact that we still have so many “dumb people” in this day and age, and mentioned Sarah Palin by name, which drew a cheer from the audience. Maupin revealed that he was a Republican back in the day, and that Republican ideals often go hand in hand with being closeted: “If I was right winged and gay, my father might love me,” was his rationale at that time.

On that, Maupin spoke of his coming out to his best girlfriend, Jan, who told him, “big fucking deal,” a quote which Tales of the City fans will recognise throughout the books. Maupin said that was a turning point in his life and love of San Francisco, as he realised that people in that city “really didn’t care”. (Jan also called Maupin “Babycakes”, which is a term of endearment between the two main characters, Mary Ann Singleton and Michael Tolliver, and the title of the fourth book in the series.)

Hazlehurst took issue with Maupin being called a “gay writer”, because really, he “writes about human beings” with both good and bad qualities. “Whole people”, if you will. Maupin said he inserts parts of his own personality into his characters: Michael Tolliver is who he wants to be, and Mary Ann encompasses his “less acceptable” qualities.

He signed off with an anecdote from his sister’s mother-in-law which, much to his sister’s chagrin, made it into Maybe the Moon: One of the characters visits the gynaecologist with a bag over her head, to—ahem—lessen her embarrassment. When Maupin did a reading of the book in his hometown, his sister came along to the event… with her mother-in-law, who remarked, “See? Other people do it too!” Oh, the ignorance! Or as Maupin likes to call it, radio station K-FUCKED. You know, the voice in your head constantly tearing you down, only to build you back up again.

Related: Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne Review.

Images via Big Fib, Tesco, Gabrielle Luthy.

*Updated 04/03/11.

TV: The (Belated) Underlying Message in Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” Episode.

 

I was unable to catch up on Glee when it aired last week, so I decided not to write about the latest episode’s “underlying meaning”. However, after watching it over the weekend, I think there is an important message that needs to be talked about; just like every other episode this season!

While Glee can sometimes turn into an after-school special, “Never Been Kissed” was more of an “hour long ‘It Gets Better’ video”, as Jezebel puts it, focussed around Kurt’s struggles with being the target of homophobia and Coach Beiste’s sexual inexperience and objectification as an anti-sex symbol.

It will be interesting to see if the usually lacklustre writers will continue the storyline in which Kurt’s bully and member of the football team, Dave Karofsky, is tormenting Kurt because in actual fact, Dave is confused about his own sexual orientation. But what I found most interesting about the episode was Beiste’s storyline.

When Sam asks Finn how to “cool down” when making out with “chaste” Quinn, Finn relays his story of running down a postman with his car. Sam decides to use a mental image of Beiste in lingerie, and passes this on to the other guys. Somehow, Tina gets hold of this information and also uses a mental image of Beiste when making out with Mike. When Sam and Tina accidentally let slip Beiste’s name during make-out sessions with their significant others, it somehow gets back to Mr. Schuester, who “says [that] Beiste can never find out, though he winds up telling her himself in the very next scene”!

I can’t imagine how hurtful that must have been for Coach Beiste (yes, I am aware Glee is fictional and the characters DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE FEELINGS), especially when it is revealed that she’s “never been kissed”, hence the title of the episode, and never made to feel beautiful.

But the glee clubbers make good by dedicating their mash-up of “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Free Your Mind” to Beiste, which ends in an inappropriate group hug, not to mention Will attempting to kiss Beiste’s insecurities away. It’s not that easy, Mr. Inappropriate Glee Teacher!

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Duets” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Grilled Cheesus” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Britney/Brittany” Episode.

Elsewhere: Kurt Gets Kissed in Hour-Long “It Gets Better” Video.