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July 10, 2010

New York sums up True Blood's Lafayette as a Cross-Dressing Drug-Dealing Prostitute

Okay, New York magazine... if you're going to give us a guide to True Blood, could you at least find someone who knows something about True Blood to write it?


From the July 12, 2010 issue of New York:
THE BLOODLINES OF 'TRUE BLOOD,' EXPLAINED!

Now in its third season, True Blood has expanded its universe to encompass an unruly (and sexy) network of vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, and, of course, mere mortals. Unless you've read the novels by Charlaine Harris on which the series is based, it's pretty much impossible to figure out who's connected to whom -- by sex, by friendship, or by (literal) blood. So Emma Rosenblum has mapped it all out for you.
Only... she hasn't. She made some weird constallation looking picture of some of the characters and gave brief little misleading "bios".




I know it's kind of hard not to be simplistic when you have such limited space, but parts of it still rubbed us the wrong way. Maybe it's because we're such huge True Blood fans (although we haven't read the books and we still were able to "figure it out") but some of the points that Rosenblum felt necessary to include just made us scratch our heads and wonder if she was really the person who should've "mapped it all out" for us.

In particular, we questioned the description given for Lafayette...

LAFAYETTE REYNOLDS
Lafayette is a cross-dressing cook at Merlotte's and also the mortal drug dealer for Eric and Sophie-Anne. Often has sex with his clients.


Um... what? Now, okay, technically Lafayette may wear some articles of women's clothes and/or accessories sometimes, but I wouldn't really categorize him as a "cross-dresser". It's more that he just has awesome style (or as Andy Bellefleur would say, he's got "pizazz"). Even if you do believe that Lafayette's style of dress is cross-dressing, is it really necessary for that to be his main descriptor?

Also, his entire personal description is based, not really on who is he, but on the work he does for others. He's a cook for Sam, a drug dealer for Eric... but it's not only misleading but also missing more relevant info. For example, he's not "a dealer for Eric and Sophie-Anne". He's being forced by Eric et. al. to sell vampire blood. Also, sticking with Rosenblum's "connected by blood" theme, he's Tara's cousin and is taking care of her this season after the death of her boyfriend Eggs.

Also, "Often has sex with his clients"? Yeah, okay, he did do a little prostitution in some episodes... but we haven't seen any of that in a long time. In fact, in season 2 Lafayette described himself as "a survivor first, a capitalist second, and a whoooole bunch of other shit after that, but a hooker dead last". So was "often" necessary? Was any of that sentence necessary? Rosenblum also ignores the fact that he has all these jobs (Merlotte's, the road crew, the website, the drug dealing, and the occasional sex work) in order to pay for his estranged mother's care.

In about as many characters as a Twitter update, Lafayette is portayed as a controversial, flawed figure as a cross-dresser, a servant, a drug dealer, and a prostitute. And well, okay, yes, he is flawed and he is "controversial", but it's just such a complex character that he's probably one of the least morally corrupt characters on the show. He's more than just the black, gay, drug-dealing prostitute. It's hard to truly show how complex someone is in that short of a description, but well, they did a better job on some of the other characters than they did on him.

Although that's not to say that we don't have other complaints about the guide...

For one, the characters are divided into four categories: mortals, vampires, shapeshifters, and werewolves. Sookie Stackhouse is listed as a mortal. Um, if there's anything we learned from last season is that Sookie isn't necessarily 100% human. (Those who haven't read the books, don't know exactly what she is yet.)

Queen Sophie-Anne's description ends with "And swings both ways." Andy Bellefleur's includes "is unlucky in love". Werewolves' turn-ons include "plaid shirts, dive bars". Pam, Terry and Arlene are completely excluded (despite the fact that Terry, is in fact, related to Andy "by blood", Arlene is carrying a baby that he thinks is his, and Pam is just well... awesome).

Overall, it was just a waste of a read. The magazine probably decided to include something True Blood-related because they know how popular the show is right now. But if they're not going to do it justice, then why bother? Instead of giving us some stupid "who's sleeping with who?" bullshit filler article.

If they're going to try to milk the True Blood cash cow, I'd much rather read something like this. From the original Queerty article:
Ellis says he's got no problems when fans and regular television audiences confuse Ellis (the person) with Lafayette (the fictional character). "I can’t just get upset with regular folk because all they see is the character," he tells Vibe. His excuses end, however, with the Hollywood machine: "But when the industry can’t tell the difference, I’m like, 'Damn that’s a little closed minded,' because when white people play a character people expect it to be a character. But black people—we can’t just be character actors, we have to [really] be the things we’re hired for, which is what offends me. I don’t answer that question, 'Are you gay or not,' when it comes down to industry people. But if it’s a regular person asking me, that just says that maybe I’m doing a good job. But when a casting director or an agent asks me that question it takes on a deeper thing that says, 'I can’t believe you’re doing this unless you are that.'"

Read more: Queerty.com
And while we're on the subject, some of our favorite Lafayette scenes:







Related:

1 comment:

Sloth Womyn said...

Lafayette has to be one of the more complex characters of that show and certainly one of my most favorites. I think you did a great analysis of the gender and race discrimination within this article/graph thingy that someone obviously got paid too much too write.