Alice Carbone is an Italian novelist and screenwriter based in Los Angeles recently had a chance to interview Alan Ball and below is a portion of that interview with the creator of our favorite show, True Blood.
When it comes to writing, among the many authors that I love, there’s always been a special one I wanted to know and work with: his name is Alan Ball.
Last June, my dreaming big and my urge to write in order to get through life (or through the end of the day) brought me to the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, where Mr. Ball was promoting the fourth season of True Blood.
It was my chance to shine, and with this very unusual blog I want to honor and remember that day in a very simple way: by sharing each and every single word of those 20 minutes of hope, admiration and professional growth.
If you are familiar with my writing, you know I usually turn my articles into stories, but I wanted to make an exception this time, because the interview was so intense that I didn’t want to take away the spotlight to the main character and to his honest and very articulated thoughts. The recipe is very simple: easy to read, no poetic cream cheese frosting, but with the cherry on top:
Alice Carbone – Ok Alan, I need to tell you this. In the last episode we saw Tommy turning into an alligator; I really thought you would make him eat his parents. Have you ever thought about it? Because he had to make them disappear…
Alan Ball – Ahahahahahahahah!!! I never thought about that, it never occurred to us…we just thought it would be fun to see Tommy become an alligator, but….WOW….you should come work with me as a writer!
And in the luxury of the Four Seasons suite, let’s get started with much more than blood and vampires…because we’re about to awaken primal instincts, religion and mythology, sex and other (not so) secret human fears:
Alice Carbone – In one of your old interviews you talked about the ‘fetishization of the victimization’, and I also know that, as it is for myself, this is a personal issue for you too. How did you embody this concept in True Blood and in which way did it affect your life?
Alan Ball – I think the concept is part of who I am, because in my life I always felt I was a victim, I truly believed I was a victim. In True Blood, under the vampire surface, a lot of people are victimized, like Tara, who is finally taking control of herself.
Alice Carbone – What did you mean by fetishization? Was it to explain how, from a victim position, we actually get something out of it, without actually being aware of what that is?
Alan Ball – Yes, that’s definitely the personal fetishization of it, and it’s a very deep concept, but I also wanted to convey something different, and my movie Towelhead is the perfect example: such a story is usually told in a strict black or white-cartoonish way, but what I loved about the original novel is that the woman character is a victim indeed, involved with a very powerful and very bad man that drags her deep into his immoral decisions, but she is still curious; she is still able to discover pleasure, without that severe form of self-judgment that oppresses our society. I think that, especially here in America, people really like to play the victim – a woman gets raped, just to make an extreme example – and she is blamed for her provocative style. To me, this is just a rationalization for brutalization; the result of having grown up with the American media, that created this sort of fetishization of victimization. Think about it: how many women are raped every day? In how many movies men with a dramatic or damaged environment at home just rape or kill as an excuse to their pain?
Alice Carbone – And we’ve seen a twist in this sexual attitude in the new season of True Blood with Jason, who is raped by several women. It’s very unusual to see a man in that position, especially if he is known as the playboy-kind-of-guy…
Alan Ball – Of course it’s unusual, because society wants to victimize women, and wants to keep women under control, so that men keep having all the power.
Alice Carbone – Is it why, in this season, you went back in time to the Spanish Inquisition and to the extermination of witches? It’s an interesting historical connection…
Alan Ball – Absolutely, it’s all about purging powerful free thinking women; it’s history.
Alice Carbone – When people ask me why I love True Blood so much, I try to explain that it’s actually not about vampires, but a metaphor for the our world instead; the V element is genius. Did you see this metaphor direction in the original book, or was it your own personal way of making this show unique?
Alan Ball – Well, in the first book we have this scene when two humans are trying to drain Bill, since vampire blood is a drug on the black market. But what I like about True Blood is that it becomes a metaphor for our most primal impulses. I am talking about the idea according to what the things we fear the most are those we secretly desire – what I really like to do is exploring the really dark, murky, swampy primal parts of the human psyche; that’s where mythology comes from, and mythology is extremely violent. How many time Zeus becomes an animal and has sex with a woman, or with a man for that matter…it’s all just about our wild primal urges that get to be expressed somehow. True Blood is real fun, and it’s an outlet for this part of the brain to get fed.
Read the rest of this very interesting interview with Alan Ball by going to: alicecarbone.com