The Originals – Bourdieu & Hollywood’s tack

The Originals is a most unoriginal show trying to bank on the image of seduction and transgression of vampires whilst being utterly conventional. The Originals are the ‘original vampires’ from whom all other vampires have descended. They come from medieval Britain, which is as far back as American TV can go. They sport contemporary British accents from different locations and classes, although they belong to the same family. The supposedly gentleman-vampire Elijah Mikaelson (Daniel Gillies) looks uncomfortable and contrived as he squints away through dramatic scenes, fails to do an English accent and lacks elegance in movement. The language used by the Originals is awkward at best. Their sentences are dotted with old sounding terms, like ‘beseech’, with no coherence. The writers have done little more than search a thesaurus. Accents and language wouldn’t matter so much if it weren’t for the show being all centred around vampires as the embodiment of seduction, transgression, and, of course, class.

I personally think that there is an individuality specific to the person, which is made up of one’s propensities, tastes, passions, but these are cultivated (or repressed) in our social context. Bourdieu’s development of the notion of habitus is more concerned with how people embody ‘cultural capital’. Cultural capital identifies the cultural and symbolical qualities people have, such as tastes, clothing, mannerisms etc., which reflect and reproduce one’s class status. Habitus is the ingrained sensitivity to the ‘right’ mannerisms, tastes, posture, clothing that reflect one’s class. Deportment, dress, language, taste are ways that we learn, perform, and embody. We acquire them in our upbringing and develop them through life. It is thus that one learns how to behave, present oneself, and interact in social situations.

Alas, our Originals play aristocratic whilst lacking elegance and refinement. Elijah, supposed nobility and honesty are limited to his concern about the power of his family. Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan), the rebel in grunge clothes, is the one with some resemblance of strategy, although it never goes beyond a couple of scenes. Rebekah Mikaelson (Claire Holt) is little more than a petulant bimbo. Freya (Riley Voelkel), is one of the few women in the show who is not made to look like an inflatable doll.

The siblings’ aristocracy is conveyed more by the contrast with the ordinariness of the werewolves, who drink beer in lumberjack chequered shirts and jeans. Werewolf Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) carries herself like a sack of potatoes notwithstanding being extremely thin. The werewolf men have deep husky voices, who share more with cavemen than with the agility, elegance, and beauty of wolves. The women seem to wear make-up in identical fashion making them look artificial. The sameness and artificiality of how the actors look, move, and dress fails to capture the decadence of the upper classes, the aspirations of the middle classes, or the inventiveness of marginalised groups. It is all just a Hollywood product that doesn’t even pretend to relate to everyday life.


This entry was posted in body, Bourdieu, cultural capital, fantasy/supernatural, habitus, personhood, reality, social conventions, society, The Originals and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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