For those of you living under a rock in a crater on the moon that haven’t heard the news, there’s been a tad bit of controversy over Anna Paquin, Alexander Skarsgård and Stephen Moyer’s naked, blood soaked appearance on the new issue of Rolling Stone magazine. It seems people are offended – outraged – that such filth is allowed on the newsstand. Children could see it and have their minds warped forever. Ladies and gentleman – overt your eyes, plug your ears and cower in the basement. The actors from a television show known for pushing the gory, sexy envelope is out to corrupt your children. Or, perhaps, you could think more rationally. Is it really a big deal? It’s just three people with a little syrup on them. I know this should really go without saying, but just because I feel some people are just that dumb, it isn’t real blood. They’re not even really naked. You don’t see any naughty bits. It’s implied that something improper is afoot, but that’s implied in a lot of things.
Remember a time when Britney Spears was Miss. American Pie? She was fresh faced – sweet and innocent. The kind of role model kids could really look up to. I remember that. I remember that well. Why? Because her first big song, the song that launched her career, featured her dancing around in a school girl’s outfit singing the words ‘hit me baby one more time.’ I didn’t protest it. I didn’t even skip buying the album because I was a teenage girl and that song was catchy as hell. What I didn’t do was go run around school half naked asking the boys to ‘show me how you want it to be’. There’s a good reason I didn’t do that even though the newest pop idol seemed to make it appear such a thing was a good idea. My mother taught me to have respect for myself and my body. Weird how that works, isn’t it?
Fast forward a few years. That same sweet as pie, all-American girl appears on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with a phone to her ear wearing a short skirt and her bra. People everywhere were outraged! How scandalous! How dreadful! This poor little girl being exploited to sell a few magazines! That is, of course, somehow different than that some girl being exploited to sell a few albums. Welcome to showbiz and selective moral outrage.
Britney Spears would again shock the world when she did a strip tease on national television and, shortly thereafter, appeared again on national TV wearing next to nothing with a snake dangled over her shoulders. Thus began the war between Britney and her then contemporary, Christina Aguilera to see who could put on the sluttiest show. Britney did the ‘Slave 4 U’ video. Christina did the ‘Dirrrty’ video. Christina took to Britney’s turf as well and covered Rolling Stone wearing nothing but a strategically placed electric guitar. The world pretty much agreed that no one knew what happened to the two girls who once seemed so wholesome and innocent. Their attempts to look more grown up, edgier and more appealing to an audience over the age of 13 came across as looking desperate and a little sad. They were the popstar equivalent of the girl that gave hand jobs behind the gym at lunch time in high school. It was a shame, but that’s the way the business is. Sometimes you try to have bite but you just wind up getting bitten.
Today, Christina Aguilera is still trying to shock us with over the top outfits and videos in a struggle to complete with the new reigning pop queen, Lady Gaga. Britney, on the other hand, actually managed to shock us, but not in any sort of conscious way. No, instead Britney shocked us by completely losing her marble, then again by pulling herself back together and launching a pretty damn impressive comeback. While Christina was the girl with more talent, it’s Christina who’s plummeting further and further down the charts while Britney holds steady. Herein lies my point. While sex may sell, shock sells a lot more. Combine the two and you’ve got nearly guaranteed success.
This, folks, brings us back to the True Blood Rolling Stone cover. Here’s what I see. Three members of the cast of an incredibly popular show representing more or less what this show is all about – sex and blood. When Britney and Christina showed up on the cover of Rolling Stone wearing next to nothing, or in Christina’s case, nothing, it was actually shocking. It’s a bit of a different story with the True Blood cover.
True Blood is technically about vampires and all manner of other ghosts and ghouls interacting with humans, but really, it’s all about the sex and the blood. I, personally, am not a fan of the show. Not because I find it offensive or anything like that. My problem with the show is that it’s really nothing new. It’s Twilight for grown-ups. Everything about the show is over the top and as much as I like the actors and actresses that make up the cast, particularly Ms. Paquin (now, Mrs. Moyer, I suppose), there isn’t a single character on the show I don’t want to hit with a shovel the second they appear on the screen. That said, I’m obviously missing the appeal as all of my friends love it and beg me to give it another shot. These are friends with great taste. Just can’t get on board with this one. That said, I absolutely love the cover.
What the photographer has done with Stephen Moyer, Anna Paquin and Alexander Skarsgård in this picture is show you exactly what True Blood is. This picture gets to the heart of the matter. It isn’t offensive. It’s honest. It’s open. It’s, yes, shocking. What it isn’t, however, is pornographic. The argument that this shouldn’t be carried on newsstands is just flat out ridiculous. Many magazines features people nearly nude. Without four key factors – two breasts, a penis and a vagina – this picture simply cannot be considered pornographic.
Here’s the real question. Is the controversy here about the nudity or the blood? More importantly, are either of those things even the problem? Dexter, another wildly popular show with an edgy subject matter, has been on several magazine covers drenched in blood. Many celebrities have taken it all off for photographers to be on the cover of magazines you find in the checkout lanes. Are the headlines on some of the tabloids in those checkout lanes any less disturbing than this picture? I think what really has people riled up about this picture is the fact that there are two naked men sandwiching a naked woman and what that implies. To that, I just have to say, your kids are going to see and hear all about this sort of thing regardless of whether they get the peak at this magazine or not and, if they have internet access, the naughty bits likely won’t be covered when they find it.