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Is 'True Blood' Making a Joke Out of Rape?

There’s no such thing as a weird season of True Blood – the show is always bizarre, and at this point, we’d be more perplexed by an story line that didn’t feature multiple instances of creepy sex and cartoon violence than one that did. Season 4 has been keeping pace with that mandate so far, but some are wondering if the show’s creators have gone too far in their quest to bring us ever more nauseating sexual encounters. In a recap of last night’s episode, Dodai Stewart at Jezebel recounts a scene in which werepanther Crystal feeds “Mexican Viagra” to Jason, who’s chained to a ratty bed and has been mauled within an inch of his life, and mounts him, with several women from her inbred community watching.

In an email to Jezebel, a reader notes that True Blood creator Alan Ball laughingly says Jason is “sort of used against his will” in this video. Stewart calls what happens between Jason and Crystal rape but wonders why other media outlets are referring to it as merely a “cringe inducing” or ironic (in that Jason’s sexual potency is finally catching up to him) “sex scene.” But then, she asks, “does failing to call a werepanther rape scene for what it is mean you don’t take rape seriously?” and answers, “I don’t think so. This show is not about the real world.”

It’s certainly valid to note that True Blood is a fantasy; it’s not like being forced to sire a new generation of werepanthers is a real problem one might have. And yet, we have a hard time imagining Jezebel would be okay with the show’s creator and the media dismissing a rape scene as “comeuppance” if the gender roles were reversed. So, while we have no problem with the way the scene played out in the context of True Blood, we think it’s a bit troubling that so many writers see the turn of events as logical retribution for Jason’s promiscuity. Other aspects of the show — and the specifics surrounding his rape — don’t have much bearing on the real world, but the “She deserved it because she was a whore” defense is an argument we see in the news practically every day.

Meanwhile, did anyone else notice the other throwaway reference to rape on last night’s episode? As she’s bringing an amnesiac Eric up to speed on their relationship, Sookie casually mentions that he once “fang-raped” her — that is, bit her without asking. He apologizes, and everything goes on as normal.

So, what do you think, True Blood fans? Did you find last night’s rape-y episode offensive, or was the show’s depiction of rape just one more unrealistic flight of fancy on a show that prides itself on envelope-pushing sordidness?

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