"Of course there are werewolves and vampires": True Blood and the right to rights for other species

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Often dismissed as superficial, vampire films and television series have been a dominant mode by which Hollywood has negotiated the ever-shifting contours of social difference in the United States since the 1920s and 1930s. Remarkably, critical analysis has paid little attention to the interconnections between racism, sexism, and speciesism-and almost no attention to ways that difference affects nonhuman animals. Drawing on work in animal studies and the posthumanities, this article explores the extent to which HBO's True Blood (2008-present) can contribute to the ongoing process of decolonizing thinking from the everyday habits defined by anthropocentrism. By featuring supernatural species, it questions unwitting complicity with forms of cinematic and televisual realism in reifying political realism. The series is premised on the political organization of vampires who advocate for the right to the right of citizenship, exploring ongoing asymmetries in social and political power through resurrected Confederate soldiers, ghosts of murdered women and children, and terrorism in the form of rebel vampire groups exploding the factories where synthetic blood is manufactured and multiracial hategroups of male and female humans wearing rubber "Barack Obama" masks and murdering shapeshifters. If the animal turn follows the postcolonial turn, then this article asks whether True Blood might suggest ways for humans to live ethically with other species and to think interspecies relations in ways that consider what interspecies ethics might also mean to humans still defined in terms of race, sex, nativity, and religion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-687
Number of pages27
JournalAmerican Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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