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PRINT October 2009

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True Blood

True Blood, 2008–, still from a television show on HBO. From left: Pam (Kristin Bauer), Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgård), Chow (Patrick Gallagher).

AROUND TEN YEARS AGO, I noticed that the vampires were changing. Whereas bloodsucking had been routinely interpreted in the earlier era as a metaphor for genital sexuality (which I always felt missed the points of the encounter), the vampire fictions themselves now began to flesh or flush out the pre-Oedipal blood bond with the fully sexual bodies of our undead neighbors—for example, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003) and Blade (1998). This normativization of the vampire was attended by narratives of race and class, whether as the total war between pureblood and merely “turned” vampires (in Blade) or the same conflict via the detour of the werewolf, now the vampire’s excluded double. To the extent that the werewolf figured at all in vampire fictions in the pre-Buffy days, he was the revenants familiar, or the metamorphic guise a vampire could assume to maintain mobility

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