Archive for the 'Alan Ball Rants' Category

02
May
10

Eric’s hair and my fragile grip on reality – Pt 2

A few weeks ago I was bitten by some sort of weird OCD bug. I spent half a day trawling the internet, attempting to piece together the process by which Alan Ball stole Eric’s hair before proceeding to tell us a bare faced lie about how he actually did no such thing.

I wasn’t going to post any more about this, because I feel like I go on about it obsessively. Obsessive? Me?

Hardly.

But the new promo pic today has sent me into Hair Meltdown yet again. So screw it, I’m posting.

In this week’s edition of “Eric’s Hair Makes Me A Raving Fucking Lunatic”, I want to share with you all why it matters so much to me that the crowning glory of this most revered book character has gone from this…

To THIS.

From my previous rants on this subject, it’s evident that there’s a proportion of people who aren’t bothered by Eric’s unfortunate encounter with a Clairol bottle, as long as he still looks hot and badass. To those people, I admire your ability to just go along for the ride with Ball – really I do. And I can do that too, at least to some degree. When the story of Eric’s maker was changed so radically on True Blood, I was cool with that. Alot of book fans were, and why was that? Because the changes didn’t betray the essence of Eric’s character. Book readers know Eric as intensely loyal and protective of those he cares about, and the Eric we saw in those episodes was one that we all recognised. Even though the storyline itself wasn’t canon, the Eric/Godric arc on True Blood was faithful to the spirit of the book character. So we were happy to go along for the ride.

But so help me Alan Ball, I am drawing a fucking line in the sand with this season 3 hair. RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW.

My objections to a dark haired Eric are not about what Alexander Skarsgard looks like on screen when he is playing the part.

It’s not about a personal preference for blonde hair; I have never had a blonde partner and blondes don’t normally attract me. It’s not based on some anal retentive, Misery-style purism that causes me to want every detail of True Blood to mirror the books. And it most definitely is not about a fondness for the season 1 wig that looked like roadkill peeled off a Louisiana backroad in 99 degree heat.

Eric’s hair is sending me off the deep end for one reason:

Eric’s long blonde hair is integral to the spirit of his character, and it is symbolic of his connection to Sookie. Take that long blonde hair away, and it feels too much like a symbolic severing of the potential for that connection. And I am deeply suspicious as to why Mr Ball would want us to feel that way.

The fact that Sookie and Eric’s hair is the “exact same colour” is referenced multiple times in the books, and references to Eric’s blond hair specifically are more numerous than I care to count. Harris doesn’t emphasise the similarity between Eric and Sookie’s hair colour because she wants us to suspect that they are distantly related, or that there is some accident of genetics at play to be revealed further down the line. She makes a point of it because it is a metaphor for their spiritual connection – for the fact that whatever Eric and Sookie are made of at their core, it is the same.

Since time immemorial, hair – its colour, its length and its style – has held symbolic meaning in stories. From Rapunzel in fairy tales to the biblical Samson, hair is a physical manifestation of both emotional states and character traits.

Long hair on men has long been a symbol of strength, virility, and romanticism. Fabio lookalikes don’t adorn the cover of those Harlequin romances by accident – the image of a muscular, virile man with long flowing hair speaks to a romantic ideal that women recognise right down to their ovaries, whether they want to admit it or not. Hair is a strong sexual emblem, and in western cultures we tend to assign certain personality traits to the man who wears it long and unrestrained. Subconciously, we see these men as operating outside the normal social constraints. We perceive them as free thinking, rebellious and in control of their own destiny. Sound like anyone we know?

Let’s be clear – True Blood and the SVM are nothing more than contemporary fairy tales. And in fairy tales and myth, blond hair has always been synonymous with goodness and purity. I am not going to sit here and tell you that I think Eric is a force for all that is right and good in the world. The vampire is a vampire, not a saint.

While Eric doesn’t quite embody the conventional “white knight” so often seen in the black and white morality of the fairy tale world, he is turning out to be a force for positive growth and change in Sookie’s world. Against the dark-haired Bill, whose presence in her life ultimately brought her a great deal of undeserved pain and hard learned lessons, Eric is unwittingly teaching Sookie about mature love and trust even as he learns about these things himself. Sookie has trusted Eric with her body for a long time. She’s trusted him to protect it from harm, to heal it, and to make love to it. Yet she has always found it much more difficult to trust him with her heart. Ever so slowly, that seems to be changing.

Eric’s long, blond hair is a subtle clue to us about his benevolence in Sookie’s world – against the more maelevolent, dark (haired) character of Bill. Compare and contrast. Darkness and light. Do I need to fill in the blanks here? Can you even imagine Bill Compton with blond hair? It’s just as wrong.

Since Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris has used contrasting language in her descriptions of Bill and Eric to prompt the reader to think about differences in their character. We examined this in detail in the Loved by a Vampire posts a few months back. Harris draws a stark physical contrast between Bill and Eric – Bill is dark haired, dark eyed and broody; Eric is fair haired, blue eyed and lively – while at the same time drawing strong physical parallels between Eric and Sookie. Blond haired, blue eyed Sookie shares a similar lust for life as the viking vampire with whom she has such a complicated relationship. It’s a simple device used to further highlight the fact that Eric and Sookie are similar, and Bill and Sookie are worlds apart.

Eric and Bill are archetypes – symbols that a lifetime of fairytales and storytelling and cultural identification have taught us to recognise.

Archetypes are sacrosanct when you are telling (or reinterpreting) a story. Even if you’re putting your own spin on things, there are some things that you just do not fuck with. In the reinterpreting of this story, there has been too much messing with archetypes already.

Aah, season 3 is going to be a blast.

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20
Apr
10

Eric’s hair and my fragile grip on reality – Pt 1

I freely admit I’m like a dog with a bone on this subject – but we are going there, yet again.

Yes, it’s Eric’s hair.

Eric’s season three hair – a subject which has been sending us (ok ME) into random conniptions since February – was once again a hot topic in the comments of yesterday’s Webisode Promo post.

So for the sake of my sanity we are going to get to the bottom of this hair issue, once and for all. But to do that, we need to do some snooping.

And I’m on it.

27 June 2009

True Blood is just about to wrap up season 2 filming. Alexander attends the Bruno premiere in LA with 100% Verified Viking Hair.

Early August 2009

Filming for Straw Dogs begins. Set photos show his highlights cut out and his hair back to his natural dirty blond. It’s cut quite short for his role – including through the front.

Early October 2009

Filming ends for Straw Dogs, according to the Vault and various other sources. As of October 11th, the film is listed on IMDb as being in “Post Production”.

November, 2009

Alex goes to Stockholm to film extra scenes for the indie production, Puss. He wore a wig for these additional scenes, therefore nothing was done to his real hair.

In the wig:

Returning from Stockholm in mid-November after Puss shoot – hair is still very short, and dirty blonde:

January 5, 2010

Production has just started on season 3 of True Blood, and the paps catch Skars alone at the movies. Wait! There is definitely much more length than there was just six weeks before. And still dirty blond.

Now since Alex’s hair was longish in early January, the Eric minisode we saw a glimpse of yesterday was filmed in early January. Why? Because the hair in the screencap below is NOT the same hair we have been seeing in other season 3 promos (pics further down for comparison purposes!), but it is very similar in length and colour to the pic above. And it is parted and slicked back like season 2, though it’s a little shorter. It definitely has not been attacked with the auburn rinse yet, which makes sense if this scene is meant to occur between season 2 and 3:

[I realise my obsessive, stalkerish behaviour is freaking some of you right out at this point…but bear with me. I’m going somewhere with this, really I AM!]

January 18, 2010

Moving just over a week forward from the sad, lonely guy at the movies alone pic on Jan 5. Remember True Blood has started filming – and Alex shows up at the Golden Globes with his hair like THIS. I thought it was odd, but it was just this image that looked really obviously dyed, so I blamed the lighting.

February 17 and 18, 2010

These images come out, a day apart. We realise something is definitely up, and I let it rip…you can read it here (beware, much swearing). If you can’t see that hair has dye in it of an auburn persuasion, you need to adjust your monitor or your glasses. Because that is NOT his natural colour. And it is not the lighting either. He’s been under lights plenty of times in the last few years and his hair has never appeared that colour.

14 & 21 March, 2010

True Blood promos are released, and for the first time we see Season 3 Eric.

WHAT THE FUCK HAVE THEY DONE?

And I rant again.

31 March, 2010

Alan Ball feeds this gem to Ausiello when asked about the obvious change to Eric’s hair colour:

“Alexander made a movie during his hiatus and his hair was darker when he returned,” explains Ball with a laugh. “It wasn’t a choice [we made].”

REALLY?

Straw Dogs finished filming in October. His hair was NOT dyed for his part in that film – in the set pics above you can see it is his natural colour. Nor was it dyed for the Puss reshoot, in which he wore a wig. His hair was clearly still his natural colour and beginning to grow out lengthwise in early January as can be seen above. A deliberate grow out to film the Eric minisode – which has to fit into the end of season 2 timeline. By mid January, his hair has been cut shorter again and an auburn rinse put through it that clearly was not there even two weeks before – let alone MONTHS before when he was filming other projects. An auburn rinse and cut that conspicuously appeared right when True Blood began filming.

By mid January, Alex’s only filming commitment was True Blood – Puss and Straw Dogs were long since done.

And of course, none of the above even takes into account the fact that actors who are contracted to a television series have clauses restricting what they can do to their appearance. This is precisely so that they don’t return to the set after a hiatus looking like a FUCKING FRAT BOY WHO CAME OFF SECOND BEST IN A BRAWL WITH HIS MOTHER’S HAIR DYE.

The fact that Ball is feeding us a line – and he is feeding us a line, no doubt in my mind – is making me very suspicious of his intentions in season 3. If Ball is telling porkies, there has to be a reason. A reason he doesn’t want us to know about yet.

And don’t tell me that it’s for the Leif storyline, it just does not wash now. That doesn’t explain why his hair has been dark since they started filming episode one, and it doesn’t explain why it is still dark now, almost five months later. This is a season long change and our blond Viking is GONE.

I was going to finish this post with a rational discussion about why this assault on Eric’s hair is practically giving me a stroke, instead of just ranting about it. But it’s already too long.

I’ll save that for tomorrow. I need a shot of something alcoholic and a good lie down before I blog about this subject again.

Eric’s Hair and my fragile grip on reality – Part II

01
Apr
10

It’s Chain Yanking Time.

I am posting this verbatim, without comment.

If I say anything about this, my head is going to explode. For real.

Question: The promo tease for True Blood’s third season shows Eric with noticeably darker hair. Why? —Jody
Ausiello: “Because when vampires keep secrets from humans that they love, their hair follicles turn darker,” deadpans Alan Ball. “And that’s especially true if they’re carrying a torch for a blond waitress.” Very funny. The real reason, please? “Alexander made a movie during his hiatus and his hair was darker when he returned,” explains Ball with a laugh. “It wasn’t a choice [we made].”

Moving right along.

Ball also lets on that he’s writing an “intense” Sookie/Eric moment in episode 6:

Question: I’m on my hands and knees begging for some True Blood news! —Nick
Ausiello: The show is currently shooting episode 6, penned by executive producer Alan Ball. And guess what? It contains what Ball describes as an “intense” Sookie/Eric moment. “Let’s put it this way,” he adds, “I think people will have strong feelings about it.” In possibly related news, Ball told TV Guide that “Sookie is sexually drawn to [Eric] because she’s had his blood. But there is another reason he’s drawn to her, one that will be revealed this season.”

As far as I can recall, Ball hasn’t written any Sookie/Eric scenes in the series thus far. Not a single line of dialogue that has passed between them has come from his head. The episodes Ball wrote himself are not among my favourites, but hope springs eternal. I guess.

Source: Ausiello Files

14
Mar
10

Charlaine Harris – Not So Keen on WTF Plotlines…

Digital Spy has a new interview with Charlaine Harris in which she finally admits that Alan Ball ran with a plot line in True Blood that she doesn’t like.

How does the series compare to the books?
“They’re very different in a lot of ways. The plot has been altered quite a bit and there’s more material that I didn’t write because they’re having to bring in the secondary characters and buff them up. There are some great differences, but as Alan promised me, he is staying true to the spirit of the books – and that’s what I wanted.”

Have there been any changes that you didn’t like?
“There have been some sub-stories that I wasn’t as nuts about as others, but there hasn’t been anything I’ve really hated. I wasn’t too keen on the voodoo story, but I see now why they introduced it in the second season. Once I saw it, it all made sense.”

Well I never expected anything like that to happen here! Proof that True Blood writers have a sadistic sense of humour.

Keep talking Charlaine. I would give my right arm to find out what she *really* thinks of this mess.

Would you be up for writing an episode?
“No. I’m too busy! I know that sounds pretentious, but I can’t imagine trying to make the time for that.”

Correct answer Charlaine. Her complete non-involvment with True Blood keeps it firmly in the category of fanfic where it belongs.

Next thing she’ll be writing True Blood episodes and Ball will be writing Book 11.

OMFG I think I just felt my brain snap.

How many more Sookie Stackhouse books do you have planned?
“I don’t plan anything! I’m signed through book 13, and I’ll consider whether or not to finish the series probably when I’m writing the next book.”

I was thinking we could be looking for signs of a wind up in DITF, but I guess not. I really do hope that she decides to finish Sookie’s story with the 13th book. As far as the HEA goes she is going to be pushing her luck to even stretch things that far. Alot of readers are getting fed up and it’s a very fine line between creating suspense, and stringing something out well past its use-by date. I don’t necessarily agree with accusations that she is milking a cash cow at this point – Eric and Sookie have a been a slow burn since the beginning, and in fairness to Charlaine I don’t think she’s drawing things out now any more than she could have been accused of doing earlier in the series. I can, however, see a point in the very near future where this will cross into cash cow territory if Sookie doesn’t make a decision.

The only way I could get on board with this series going longer than 13 books would be if the HEA question is resolved – soon – and we see Sookie continue her adventures with that person by her side. I find it hilarious that Charlaine insists her books aren’t romances, yet the question of who Sookie will choose has monopolised the whole series and caused a total schism in the fandom. I would love to read about Sookie with her someone (erm…her VIKING someone) after all of this “will they or won’t they?” drama is off the table. Interestingly, Charlaine is considering this possibility:

I hadn’t envisioned the series continuing beyond Sookie’s final choice, but it very well could. I’ve read some excellent books that took place after the heroine or hero bonded with the love of his/her life. I’m certainly thinking about it.

Interesting choice of words…”Bonded”. Just sayin’.

Anyway, back to the Digital Spy interview…

You’ve said before that you have no plans to turn Sookie into a vampire. Why is that?
“I just think it would be a betrayal of the character. That is totally unappealing to me.”

Finally, how likely is it that you’ll kill Sookie off in the last book?
“Killed?! Oh no, no, no! I don’t think you really need to worry about that!”

I really do think we can strike turned Sookie or dead Sookie off the list of possible outcomes. Harris has been insistent all the way that neither of these things are going to happen, and it’s reassuring to hear her say it again. I would hate either of these endings and I absolutely agree with her that turning Sookie would be a complete betrayal of her character.

19
Feb
10

I saw this…And my blood ran cold.

And that is NOT my usual reaction upon setting eyes on this man. In fact, my usual reaction is the complete opposite.

Right now I’m sitting here going W….T….F.

True Blood has been filming for weeks. ERIC HAS BLONDE HAIR AND WHERE THE FUCK IS IT?

Is it not bad enough that they had to cut his hair short – now they are going to change the colour of it as well? I am SEETHING.

Seriously HBO – Eric had better not have Bill coloured hair when the new season starts. I’m for serious here, that will be the end of our relationship. The fucking END, do you hear me?

Why must they mess with absolutely EVERYTHING? Why why WHY??! *sobs*

If they’re going to mess with Eric’s blonde hair after everything else they’ve done to him, can they please just go ahead and change his NAME as well? Just so I can quit staring at my TV with this sense of bewildered disassociation when what I see before me is such a travesty??

*Sorry for all the shouting. I am not happy. NOT HAPPY!

30
Jan
10

Ask Alan Ball…go on, you know you want to

Charlaine Harris has just posted the following message on her website.

As part of the huge project The Sookie Companion has become, we’re offering a two-week time period in which you can send your questions to producer/director/writer Alan Ball, who will answer them in the Companion. My assistant, Paula, will collect all your questions and send them to the editor at TeknoBooks who’s responsible for coordinating all the elements going into the Companion, which we hope will be out next year. Paula and the editor will weed out redundant questions. Of course, these questions should focus on the TV series “True Blood,” and they should be sent to: askalanb@yahoo.com. This address is ONLY for this special project.

Charlaine Harris

Probably best to keep the questions relevant, brief, emotionally neutral…and aimed squarely at his nuts.

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20
Jan
10

Sam and Bill – My Slashy Senses are Tingling

Ausiello is reporting today a confirmation from Alan Ball that Sam will face horrible consequences for drinking a gallon of Bill’s blood in the season 2 finale.

Sam shall be tormented and tortured in a hillbilly hotel room with Bill sex dreams!

Sucks to be you, Sam Merlotte.

Since my preferred slash coupling – Eric and Lafayette – don’t look like being realised on screen any time soon, this will just have to do for now.

I was utterly convinced that the consequences of Sam drinking from Bill would be completely ignored next season, with only Sookie and Laf enjoying the sleepy-time benefits of ingesting vampire blood. So I’m really pleased to see some attempt at continuity in this storyline.

But you know there’s a rant coming, and here it is.

After the finale (when I had calmed down enough to think rationally) I wondered if – and how – things would play out between Sam and Bill in the future. I’ve ripped this directly from my little notebook of conspiracy theories, written last September:

One of the following two scenarios must play out after Sam having Bill’s blood. Either:

Sam starts having sex dreams about Bill – since both Sookie and Lafayette are having them about Eric, while insisting that there is no sexual attraction at play. If it’s true there is no attraction (at least for Lafayette), Bill/Sam dreams must occur – since Sam definitely has no sexual attraction towards Bill whatsoever. This means the blood can cause attraction where there was none before.

OR

Sam has no sexy dreams about Bill. In this case, we should get a clearer indication that Lafayette does in fact have a boner for Eric, just as we all know Sookie does. Therefore the blood only intensifies feelings that already exist, either consciously or sub consciously.

So it appears we are getting the first scenario. In Ball’s world, the taking of blood can cause sexual attraction. This is a major departure from the books, where the blood can only intensify an attraction that already exists.

In Ball’s world, Eric (and Bill, for that matter) are manipulating thoughts and feelings, and by extension the actions, of others through their blood. This is so fucking stupid. It removes any genuine emotional conflict and complexity, and lays blame for what remains with the blood. The blood becomes a crutch. Feeling attraction for a vampire that isn’t your boyfriend? Oh don’t be stupid, it’s the blood. Feeling hot for a guy that locked you up in a basement for a few weeks? Nuh-uh silly, it’s just the blood. Suddenly having fantasies about the dude who is dating your crush? That damn blood again! This approach is significantly less interesting than forcing characters to face up to what may lie behind those feelings, and it treats the audience like idiots who need to be spoonfed. The issue of blood ties generally, and the blood bond between Sookie and Eric is sometimes frustrating for book readers. But it is also compelling and beautiful and filled with potential. It is complex, unpredictable and mysterious; we are never quite sure how it’s playing into the characters feelings and actions. This, on the other hand is Blood Ties For Dummies. Blood Bonds for the Masses. It’s insulting, actually.

I’m not really concerned about the implications for Sookie and Eric – her attraction to him was evident well before the bullet sucking in Dallas. And of course, Eric is still one up on Bill, having a genuine interest in Sookie without ever having tasted her. I think both of these factors support an argument for the tables being turned on Bill and Eric at some point down the line – the “evil” one genuinely loves her, the “noble” one turns out to have feet of clay.

You can be sure that as the first real clarification of how blood exchanges are going to work in True Blood, this will be jumped upon by certain sections of fandom to support the case that Eric is an evil, manipulative bastard. Nothing new there. Yet I would also point out that playing things this way has huge implications for Bill and Sookie too. While Sookie was interested in Bill before she had his blood, she went completely into overdrive immediately after the second night when he fed her after she was bashed. Masturbating on Bill’s porch? I don’t think she made a habit of self-pleasuring in public before that incident. Combined with Bill’s comments in Dallas about having “sexual feelings” for Eric after drinking his blood, surely Sookie is going to have to start joining the dots here?

Enjoy that pretty ring Sookie…I have a feeling it won’t be on your finger for long.




ABOUT SOOKIEVERSE

My ramblings on the Sookie Stackhouse books, and the HBO series True Blood. Everyone I know is already half crazed with my plot and character assassinations, conspiracy theories, theme explorations and general obsessing, so now I'm going to share it all with you. Spoilers and Viking worship are rampant...you have been warned!

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