Am I missing something in Bon Temps?

Thank bejeezus Michelle Goldberg was not living in 1729 Ireland. If she had been, she'd likely have taken a gander at A Modest Proposal and stoned Jonathan Swift for suggesting such a cannibalistic answer to the Irish economy.

If you're not familiar with Swift's dope piece, which suggested impoverished parents sell their kids as party snacks for the rich, you should be. If you do know it, you're familiar with a concept that Goldberg evidently is not: satire.

In this piece, she vehemently suggests that the nefariously delightful HBO vamp dramedy True Blood is nothing more than a thinly veiled "antigay worldview." Instead of the obvious, hilarious satire, she sees strong antigay sentiments stemming from the neighborhood vamps, and the jokes on her.

She draws on some of the show's iconic elements (the "coming out of the coffin" tag line, the "God Hates Fangs" sign in the credits) to fuel her argument, yet she overlooks a no-brainer: the gay characters on the show.

Call me crazy, but if I were going to write a strong opinion on antigay themes, that’s the first place I’d start. Why bother mucking through undertones if you’ve got an in-your-face, gay, part-time hooker on your proverbial doorstep? Lafayette, who would give Bruno a run for his money, is as flamboyant as they come. And he owns it.

This season has had him chained up in a vampire dungeon (FYI, Goldberg points out that for African-American Lafayette, the image is "horrifyingly reminiscent of slavery." No duh, sister. That's the point. But he wasn't the only one enslaved), terrorized and released.

If upon his release he was stripped of his homosexuality (scared straight, if you will, into the arms of forgiving right-wingers willing to let him sign on the dotted, hetero-line for a chance at redemption), I could maybe get down with viewing that an attack on his sexuality. But once he gets his new lease on life, that’s not what happens. He's immediately back to glittery makeup and feminine jewelry and head wear, etc. I find it interesting that Lafayette gets no more than a passing comment in her editorial, and that comment doesn’t even slightly nod to his gay character.

True Blood had another openly gay, pivotal character, vamp Eddie (who was so gentle that when human Amy staked him, I hated her for it), killed in Season 1, but who is a frequent guest in Jason Stackhouse’s dreams and flash backs. To Jason, the epitome of heterosexual masculinity, Eddie represents everything Jason struggles with: an unshakeable sympathy toward vampires. For a show Goldberg believes is so strongly cloaked in antigay notions, why would the foil to homosexuality sympathize?

And Jason isn't the only one with vamp sympathy. Gay characters aside, according to Goldberg, the vampire population as a whole represents "post-gay-liberation America." Well, if that’s the case, creator Alan Ball’s message is lost in translation because the vampire population garners sympathy from viewers, too.

For one, look what they’re up against: a battle they don’t know is coming. Consider the radical plan trigger-happy Rev. Newlin is cooking up. In last week’s episode, Newlin proudly showcases a room full of horrifying weapons that he will use to wage impending war against the vampires—a war that the vampires, unfortunately for them, are oblivious to because they’re more interested in solving their own problems than worrying about the trifles of man.

And consider Jessica. Here is a newly turned vamp who every woman can identify with. She’s just a girl trying to figure out a strange new world … she’s the angst-ridden younger sister or daughter we’ve all watched grow into her skin. She is certainly nothing like Goldberg’s characterization of the vamps: arrogant, perverse, and cruel—everything the far right believes gays to be.”

If the vampires represent gay America, what is so uniquely gay about them that prevents them from just as seamlessly representing any other group that society has labeled “different?” I need more information. And if we are to label these vampires as the symbol of (insert struggling group here: immigrants, minorities, etc), then it seems to me there is a pro slant.

So preoccupied by her “arrogant, perverse, and cruel” vamps, Goldberg manages to overlook the fact that the cruelest creature thus far on the series—the murderer who viciously killed Sookie’s sweet gran, among others—was most certainly of the human persuasion.

In fact, take a step back and look at True Blood in its entirety—the vampires have caused by far the least ruckus in Bon Temps. In my book, that puts them somewhat on the “good guy” side, although the very nature of the word “good” when applied to vampires is a topic all its own.

Outside of the gay issue, I have to wonder if Goldberg’s watching the same show as I am. Where she see’s any “love” between human/vamps as “laced with darkness, tragedy, and pain” I see a burgeoning sisterhood between Sookie and Jessica, a sweet somethin’ growing between Hoyt and Jessica, the unlikely friendship between Jason and Eddie, and the undeniable connection between Sookie and Bill that proves more authentic and palpable than the mortal-on-mortal relationships I watch unfold on primetime television (see, Mer-Der et al.).

Does the show poke fun—fun being the key word—at associations we typically make with gay America? Hell yeah, it does.

But it also preys on images of Southern buffoonery, objectifies women, sensationalizes sex to over-the-top, cover-your-eyes (but you’re peeking, aren’t you?) explicitly, tinkers with stereotypical gender roles, lampoons virginity and puberty, and, in general, demands its viewers to define what outrĂ© really means to them.

Everything is up for ridicule on this show, and that’s why I love it.

I’m frustrated that I’ve used 900 words to convey a point that I could have made quite succinctly: At its core, let's look at True Blood as an hour of fantasy escapism that arrived just in time to grab onto the explosive vampire genre’s capetails and ride skyward. Looking deeper would require the same look cast at every story, as every thing we read or see see on TV or film has a struggle and room for change, or else what'd be the point? Was Screech Powers' lifelong mission to transcend dorkiness and become Joe Cool in Saved by the Bell a metaphor for ... well, anything? I'm not feelin' it.

Is Goldberg interpreting the content literally? Of course not. But she is sidestepping the real undertones: hilariously brilliant, biting content that delivers laughs and gasps Sunday night, water-cooler fodder Monday morning, and slips out of our minds that same afternoon as reality kicks back in. — amy kates