FROM DEAD TO WORSE pt 1 – Charlaine Harris still disgusting racist

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Let’s start off with this: while it’s possible to like things that are problematic, I genuinely don’t understand what there is to like about these books. Is it the shitty writing? Is it the misogyny? Is it the jingoism? Is it the rampant, raging, explicit and relentless racism?

I’m not talking about the show, which I understand is slightly less racist than the books. This isn’t some “reading too much into it” thing; this isn’t even social justice crusading stuff. The racism in these books is absolutely obvious, undeniable, and constant. There is nothing redeeming in these books. There’s nothing good about them. All they do is confirm that barely-literate fiction that affirms and endorses popular bigotries will enjoy great popularity and commercial success. Well done, America.

Trigger warning: rape and rape apologia.

Belle Rive, the Bellefleur mansion, recently restored to something like its antebellum glory.

We are six pages in and we have this. The author is white. Sookie, the narrator, is white. The Bellefleur family is white. What is wrong with this picture? Who the fuck sees “antebellum” and associates it with “glory,” KKK members?

A fan may, at this point, insist that I’m reading too much into it: but here is the thing–words have meanings. Words carry implications and connotations. I’m not even black or American and I associate “antebellum” with slavery and Gone With the Wind, itself a deeply racist book. I associate it with people who hoist the confederate flag and are proud about it. Yet Sookie–and by proxy, Charlaine Harris–thinks “antebellum” and immediately follows it with “glory.” Yes, of course it’s glorious if you are white. This is most likely an inadvertent, thoughtless word choice, which is why it’s telling of deep-seated bigotry.

I was amazed that Halleigh had had the presence of mind to divest Tiffany of the bridesmaid dress before her departure for the hospital. Brides are ruthless.

Still page six and already we have got 1) another woman mentioned who is 2) in some way a terrible person and who Sookie must therefore 3) nastily criticize. Was Tiffany wearing the dress at the time? Most likely not. What is wrong with being sensible enough to get the dress, which is probably in the vicinity already?

Hey, I looked great. The dress was a super color for me, the skirt was gently Aline, the short sleeves weren’t too tight, and it wasn’t low cut enough to look slutty. With my boobs, the slut factor kicks in if I’m not careful.

AND NOW, INTERNALIZED MISOGYNY AT FULL SPEEEEED.

Glen had requested a night wedding specifically so he could invite some of his more important vampire clients. I’d been sure Portia truly loved him when she agreed to that, because Portia didn’t like bloodsuckers at all. In fact, they gave her the creeps.

Portia is portrayed as a horrible person because she doesn’t like undead blood-sucking monsters. Sookie on the other hand lurves them, because she’s an enlightened progressive like that. Keep this in mind, because Harris will make other statements that make it obvious she considers her vampires a metaphor for oppressed minorities.

There were a few black faces to be seen, and a few brown faces, but most of the wedding guests were middle-class Caucasians.

Charlaine Harris really, really wants to affirm the idea that the US south is home to what amounts to closeted klansmen. Note the phrasing here: the people of color are disembodied brown or black faces, whereas the Aryan master race is referred to as “middle-class Caucasians,” which is to say human beings with an ethnicity and a social status.

To all the regular wedding guests, he looked like a wellrounded, rather short African-American male wearing a nice suit and carrying a big camera. But Al turned into a wolf at the full moon just like Maria-Star.

Note the use of the word “male” here. It is applied to a black man who is described not, in fact, as a man but “a male.” You know, the way we usually refer to animals or, as @psychoxnino pointed out to me on twitter, how criminals are profiled?

And there was one werepanther, Calvin Norris. Calvin had brought a date, I was glad to see, though I was less than thrilled after I identified her as Tanya Grissom. Blech. What was she doing back in town?

Oh the misogyny gong, it rings and keeps ringing. Is there a woman Sookie Stackhouse doesn’t hate? That’s a trick question. She can barely refrain from spitting at every woman she comes across.

Now Glen was putting the ring on Portia’s finger, and Portia looked almost pretty as she looked down at their clasped hands. She’d never be one of my favorite people–nor I hers–but I wished her well.

There’s this grudging sense that she’s wishing Portia well only because it’s her wedding day, a cult-of-nice etiquette (and if there’s an icon for the Cult of Nice, Sookie is it); in any other situation she hates Portia’s guts because Portia doesn’t like vampires (omg so RACIST!1!!) and is a snobby lawyer, and Sookie loathes any woman who makes more money than she does.

I was lucky. Episcopalian weddings can be long, but the two couples had opted for having the shorter form of the service.

File this under “dumb western culture references that mean nothing.” Yes, I know I can wiki it up, but I don’t care to. Westerners expect to be hand-held through everyone else’s culture, don’t they? Christian denominations have no meaning to me. Sorry.

She’d had a heart attack and then recovered. After that, she’d broken her hip. I had to say, for someone who’d survived two major health disasters, Miss Caroline looked … Well, to tell the truth, she looked just like a very old lady who’d had a heart attack and a broken hip.

Can Charlaine Harris not write? No, no she can’t. Why would you set this up as though “for someone who’d survived two major health disasters” is going to be followed by a contradiction, only to then actually follow it with a reiteration of what has already been said?

“I did what I had been told to do by my queen. In so doing, I fell into a trap I couldn’t escape. I still can’t.”

The trap of LUUUUVVVV, I thought sarcastically. But he was too serious, too calm, to mock. I was simply defending my own heart with the weapon of bitchiness.

[…]

When I glanced back up, Bill’s dark eyes were fixed on me.”I would give anything to lie with you again, ” he said. I froze, my hands in the act of rolling the thighhigh hose off my left leg.

Sookie, are you twelve? But note that she explains to us here that Bill is “too serious to mock.” Consider that Bill raped her. From this link:

Sookie terminates the relationship after that point (though they were honestly on the rocks before that), but remains reluctant to really place any blame on Bill for what happened.  It’s argued first that Bill, starving as he was, couldn’t help it or wasn’t aware that he was even doing it.  It’s then argued that the blame lies with the woman who pushed Sookie into the trunk, and this isn’t just Sookie trying to rationalize what happened – other characters also say it’s the woman’s fault (her name is Debbie Pelt, FWIW).  It isn’t even until book five or six that Sookie even calls what happened in the trunk a “rape.”  Bill is never held accountable for his actions (except that he loses Sookie as his girlfriend), and Sookie even becomes friendly with him again after a little time has passed.

You may think that Sookie “froze” because of the rape thing, but nope: “Okay, that pretty much stunned me on several different levels. First, the biblical lie with. Second, my astonishment that he considered me such a memorable bed partner.” Sookie, in short, doesn’t believe Bill can be held accountable for having raped her; it’s rather Debbie Pelt’s fault for locking them in the same car trunk. In one smooth stroke Sookie commits rape apologism and turns around to make it all the responsibility of a woman she hates. Rape isn’t the rapist’s fault, it’s that awful bitch who made him do it.

This is vile beyond all belief.

I looked up from the wine I was pouring to see that Tanya Grissom was taking up space and breathing air that could be better used by almost anyone else.

Ah, more woman-hating. I’ll say that I don’t think a female character who hates another woman is automatically a sign of internalized misogyny but, as I’ve demonstrated before (and will again, because oh man this book), this is a pattern with Sookie. Tanya’s main crimes: “spying” for the Pelt family who’s looking for their missing daughter (whom Sookie murdered), being romantically involved with Sam, being romantically involved later with Calvin. You may notice something here, which is that Sookie’s previously been romantically interested in Sam though they never hit it off. Calvin has expressed romantic/sexual interest in Sookie.

If you ever get involved with any of “her” men Sookie will hate you for all eternity. You whore.

Tanya began to turn away from Sam as if her body was thinking of leaving, but her head was still talking to my boss. Finally, her whole self went back to her date. I looked after her, thinking dark thoughts.

“Well, that’s good news, ” Sam said with a smile. “Tanya’s available for a while.”

I bit back my urge to tell him that Tanya had made it quite clear she was available. “Oh, yeah, great, ” I said. There were so many people I liked. Why were two of the women I really didn’t care for at this wedding tonight?

Sookie, there are many men you like. Most women you’ve ever met you desperately hate. Do keep up. She’s being judgmental that Tanya is expressing interest in Sam again despite Calvin being “her date” tonight. However, Sookie is interested in multiple men and has expressed sexual interest in men other than the one she’s dating before. What gives? Oh, that’s right: if Sookie does it, she’s being in control of her sexuality. If other women do it, it’s slutty bitch whore name-calling time.

I uncorked one bottle of Royalty Blended, a premium blend of synthetic blood and the real blood of actual European royalty.

Does this make sense to anyone? Because royal blood would, actually, taste no different. This isn’t like vintage wine. How does anyone tell if it’s actually from royalty? Why is there a great big deal raised over this when America is supposed to be anti-monarchy and woo-woo-democracy? Why is it exclusively only European (and therefore white) royalty? Ah yes, people of color have gross blood?

When he knew he’d caught my attention, he put his hands together and bowed slightly. Since I’d been reading a mystery set in Thailand, I knew this was a wai, a courteous greeting practiced by Buddhists–or maybe just Thai people in general? Anyway, he meant to be polite. After a brief hesitation, I put down the rag in my hand and copied his movement. The vampire looked pleased. “I call myself Jonathan, ” he said. “Americans can’t pronounce my real name. “

There might have been a touch of arrogance and contempt there, but I couldn’t blame him.

Oh eat shit and choke, Charlaine Harris. Put a chainsaw up your eye socket. First, it’s likely she knows about this gesture for the same reason Sookie does: which is to read mysteries usually written by viciously racist white expat scum, and I’m sorry if that’s your window into the rest of the world you’re fucked well and good (and if that’s what you choose as your window into the rest of the world, what does that tell us about you?). Secondly, unless Jonathan is service staff and catering to tourists, he wouldn’t be performing this gesture.

Know why? Because westerners don’t deserve this kind of respect. I certainly never direct this gesture at any white westerner. A Thai person abroad would have no reason to do it because we don’t expect westerners to understand the gesture, and there’s no reason to show them such subservience. It’s stupid. Finally, “I call myself Jonathan”? No. This is ridiculous moronic bullshit. This tells me Charlaine Harris couldn’t be arsed to google up actual Thai names. Fuck you, Charlaine Harris, and go back to your racist shithole never to emerge again. Wallow in your own feces.

Jonathan was a smallish man, maybe five foot eight, with the light copper coloring and dusky black hair of his country. He was really handsome. His nose was small and broad, his lips plump. His brown eyes were topped with absolutely straight black brows. His skin was so fine I couldn’t detect any pores.

Does she think Asians are made of latex? This isn’t a description applied to vampires in general either. It’s this one man who for some reason has no pores. Who even notices that? What kind of creep is Charlaine Harris? What the hell is “dusky black hair”? Why does she think these features are “of his country”? Does she know we’ve got a significant population that’s neither of these things? How can your nose be simultaneously small and broad? Does Harris speak English or some animal gibberish dialect that only racists use?

Jonathan is also referred to as “the Asian vampire” or “I’m talking about the Asian guy; he’s maybe Thai?” Sookie, naturally, never refers to anyone as “the white vampire.” Watch that othering language, klanslady Charlaine Harris.

“Sookie, am I getting the wrong idea, or do you dislike Tanya?”

“I do have something against Tanya, ” I said. “I’m just not sure I should tell you about it. You clearly like her.”

[…]

“If you don’t like to work with her, I want to hear the reason, ” he said. “You’re my friend. I respect your opinion.”

This was very pleasant to hear.”Tanya is pretty, ” I said. “She’s bright and able. ” Those were the good things.

“And?”

“And she came here as a spy, ” I said. “The Pelts sent her, trying to find out if I had anything to do with the disappearance of their daughter Debbie. You remember when they came to the bar?”

Sookie, why do you keep trying to make the Pelts out to be evil for trying to find out what happened to their missing daughter? You know, the daughter you killed? Why do you keep trying to paint Tanya as this evil bitch because she comes here on behalf of a possibly-grieving and stressed-out family? Is it your murderer’s guilt?

“So, I wasn’t happy to see Tanya, ” I continued. “I didn’t trust her from the start, and when I found out why she’d come to Bon Temps, I got really down on her. I don’t know if she still gets paid by the Pelts. Plus, tonight she’s here with Calvin, and she’s got no business hitting on you.”

Sookie, you lust after multiple men even when you’re dating someone all the time. Why do you write your character as a judgmental slut-shaming hypocritical stain, Ms Harris? Why the double standards?

“But if you want to go out with her, go ahead,” I said, trying to lighten up. “I mean–she can’t be all bad. And I guess she thought she was doing the right thing, coming to help find information on a missing shifter.” That sounded pretty good and might even be the truth. “I don’t have to like who you date, ” I added, just to make it clear I understood I had no claim on him.

“Yeah, but I feel better if you do, ” he said.

Ah, do you see. This is one of the many instances where Sookie’s prejudices, irrational hatred, and general fuckery are confirmed and endorsed by other characters (generally men, because men’s opinions are the most important). This is how you know she’s not an unreliable narrator, but the book’s ultimate and highest moral authority, not least due to her tendency to violate everyone’s privacy and dig through the contents of their brain.

His eyes flickered. He hadn’t expected me to persist in questioning. He had expected to be able to calm me, maybe at this moment was trying to coerce me with his glamour. But that just didn’t work on me.

This is Eric, by the way. Whom she’s attracted to. Whom she ends up with (and has had a relationship with previously). Somehow the whole “he constantly attempts to coerce me with glamour” isn’t a deal-breaker, but then again she has kindly feelings toward her rapist too, so whatever. And of course, Eric and Bill are hot white men, not men of color or women. Anything they do at any time is excusable; they cannot be held responsible for anything, because they lurrrrve Sookie and Sookie lurves them too.

Bill’s database contained pictures and/or biographies of all the vampires he’d been able to locate all over the world, and a few he’d just heard about. Bill’s little CD was making more money for his boss, the queen, than I could ever have imagined. But you had to be a vampire to purchase a copy, and they had ways of checking.

This is unbelievably stupid. It’s obvious Charlaine Harris knows nothing about technology, but this is rudimentary stuff: what happens if a vampire makes copies of this database? There have been vampires who work with anti-vampire groups before. They only need to upload this to a torrent tracker somewhere and within an hour it’ll become public knowledge available to anyone. No amount of DRM will protect this CD. Any DRM can be cracked, and if Bill is so ignorant that he decides selling this data on CDs is a good idea it’s doubtful he is capable of some supernatural encryption that’s proof against everything.

“Does the chauffeur eat at the same table as him?” I’d never dealt with employees. We just had the one table here in the kitchen. I sure wasn’t going to make the man sit on the back steps.

“Oh, God,” she said. This had clearly never occurred to her. “What will we do about Marley?”

“That’s what I’m asking you.” I may have sounded a little too patient.

Keep in mind that Amelia is extremely stressed and nervous because her father is a scary man and he’s coming to visit. Does Sookie sympathize? No, of course not! Amelia’s a woman, not a hot white man, so Sookie the perpetually self-absorbed purveyor of bullshit is already thinking she’s “a little too patient” with this silly bitch who’s her roommate. A roommate so awesome she constantly cleans the house. A roommate who contributes to the rent and adds to the furnishings. Sookie is an ungrateful narcissist.

I said hello to Maxine Fortenberry and her husband, Ed, as I reached the parking lot. Maxine was large and formidable, and Ed was so shy and quiet he was almost invisible.

There’s something I don’t like about the contrast here, which is the implication that a “large, formidable woman” must necessarily cow her husband into being so shy and quiet he’s “almost invisible.” It’s very odd, and given the existing pattern of Sookie hating all women, well.

“Holly’s a real nice girl.” I wasn’t sure I would have put it quite that way if I’d had time to think

Yes, yes, Sookie, we know you hate all women and you can barely, barely make yourself not murder them on the spot.

I pasted a smile on my face and went to Piggly Wiggly. I fished Amelia’s list out of my purse. It was pretty long, but I was sure there’d be additions by now. I called her on my cell phone, and she had already thought of three more items to add, so I was some little while in the store.

My arms were weighed down with plastic bags as I struggled up the steps to the back porch.

This is another thing I hate about these books (and many other books like it)–why this dwelling on mundane details about which nobody gives a shit? I know, it’s to make Sookie more “relatable,” to make her life seem more real or whatever. But it bogs down the narrative, fails to advance either plot or characterization, and exposes an unflattering adoration of the banal.

I straightened my spine, chilled my anxious brain

She chills what? How is this accomplished? By straightening the spine? I don’t think human physiology works like that.

He sipped the wine, which was an Arkansas label, and nodded politely. Well, at least he didn’t spit it out. I seldom drink, and I’m no kind of wine connoisseur. In fact, I’m not a connoisseur of anything at all.

I think this is supposed to make us think that Sookie is a lovely, sensible, down-to-earth woman. But instead it conveys that she has no standards. In anything. Including men, seeing that she still has fond feelings toward the one who raped her and the one who shamed her for her reactions to the rape.

“You have family in the area?”

“Oh, yes, we’ve been here forever, ” I said. “Or as close to forever as Americans get.”

No, Sookie, you mean “as close to forever as descendants of white people who committed genocide get.” Watch that spelling.

I didn’t like my brother’s wife much, and I thought it was entirely possible that any kids they had would be pretty rotten. In fact, one was on the way right now, if Crystal didn’t miscarry again.

What has Crystal done to Sookie? To my knowledge, nothing. What does Sookie know about her suitability as a mother? Nothing.

“My cousin Hadley was wild. She used drugs and people. She wasn’t the most stable person in the world. She was really pretty, and she had a way about her, so she always had admirers.

Yet another woman who has done nothing in particular to Sookie except exist. Incidentally, Hadley is bi. She is also dead. Her lover, the vampire queen, also ends up dead. In a previous book, a gay vampire was also a pedophile (and committed suicide to avoid raping any more children) and a black gay cook was raped and murdered. Charlaine Harris, champion of gay folks.

Why hadn’t [Hadley]  mentioned the child in her will? Surely any parent would do that. And though she’d named Mr. Cataliades and me as the joint executors, she hadn’t told either of us– well, she hadn’t told me–that she had relinquished her rights to her child, either.

Because who gives a fuck? Giving birth to a baby doesn’t mean she’s forged a magical connection to it forever, Sookie. Maybe she hated her husband? Maybe it’s because she realized she liked women and didn’t want reminders that she had once touched a dick? Could you be a little bit less shitty and judgmental to a dead woman?

This was not the first time Amelia had neglected to tell me about a caller. I wasn’t pleased, but it was water under the bridge, and our day had been stressful enough.

Witness, as usual: a woman does something annoying but completely trivial. Sookie holds a grudge and criticizes her all out of proportion. This comes up a lot with Amelia.

we had shared blood often enough to have a much stronger tie than I liked. In fact, I loathed our bond, one we’d been compelled to forge. But when I heard his voice, I felt content. When I was with him, I felt beautiful and happy. And there was nothing I could do about it.

Yes, there is, Sookie: cut all connections and don’t meet him. But we all know you will forgive an Aryan man anything (she even felt bad for the pedophile vampire by the way).

He was built to swing a heavy sword to hew down his enemies. Eric’s golden blond hair sprang back like a lion’s mane from a bold forehead. There was nothing epicene about Eric, nothing ethereally beautiful, either. He was all male.

No one wants to know about your gender-essentialist claptrap, Charlaine Harris.

Part two (and counting) coming when it’s coming. In the meantime, amuse yourself by reading through this mindless cockrot.

Charlaine Harris considers herself a feminist and I think that’s evident in her writing. She doesn’t call women who are sexually active sluts, or glorify domestic violence and abuse (check out Peppermintyrose’s analysis of rape-as-romance, for more on this misappropriation of Sookie’s character), or promote a sense of male entitlement or masculine privilege, and she presents many diverse racial, ethnic, and sexual identities.

Hahahahaha fuck off.

48 thoughts on “FROM DEAD TO WORSE pt 1 – Charlaine Harris still disgusting racist

  1. I’m still dying of the description of the ‘Thai’ vampire…

    What, what are you doing Charlene? Did you even look around for a picture of a Thai man? Even one picture? Or were you simply relying on some vague memory of how you once saw Bruce Lee in a movie?

  2. WOW. I’ll admit that I follow the HBO series and it is problematic as all hale. It feels like one of those Trying Too Hard attempts: tries to be diverse and inclusive and not all white and vanilla but yet falls so, so so far off the mark (yet I persist in watching it — it’s like a brain disease). Some horrific fails in the way they treat the woman characters and particularly the one WOC who’s a recurring character (Tara, Sookie’s BFF whom I’m led to understand was written out of the books early in the series).

    The books, though. Wow. Based on your description here, they sound ten times worse. Sookie’s just plain… not a very nice person here, is she? She has internalised misogyny leaking out of her ears. I am now internally side-eyeing my friend who told me that the books “were better than the series”. WHAT.

    Then again, said friend also likes Twilight. If you can put up with that amount of anti-woman bullshit…

  3. Hahah, I always think the Episcopal Church is kind of funny. Back in the 16th century, the English wanted to be Catholic, but didn’t want to have to listen to the Pope, so they made a religion that was basically exactly like Catholicism, only Henry VIII was in charge and could divorce his wife. Then, in the 18th century, the Americans wanted to be Anglican, but they didn’t want to listen to the British monarch, so they made a NEW Church that was exactly the same as Anglican Church only, apparently, nobody was in charge.

    I am not religious in anyway, but I always thought it was kind of weird; if you genuinely think that the institution of the church enjoys a divine mandate, don’t you think God would be unhappy if you keep switching out popes?

    I don’t know, man. I also don’t know if it’s pertinent (because I haven’t and probably never will read Charlaine Harris), but I know she sees the vampire thing as being about gay rights, and the Episcopal Church was one of the first mainstream Christian churches in the US to ordain gay clerics and perform gay marriages. I think there’s also a big schism over that fact brewing in the Episcopal Church; an indication that even when we’re being progressive, the US is hampered by a retrograde, fervid religiosity.

    • “I know she sees the vampire thing as being about gay rights”

      What the fuck. Everything I read about this woman makes another brain cell in my head commit suicide.

  4. The thing with the “royal blood” and the obsession with royalty is an American Southern “thing” that just won’t go away. One old way of disparaging a person’s origins is to say they “don’t have any blood” — that is, they aren’t from a high-class family descended supposedly from exiled royals. Using (mostly bogus) claims of being descended from “royal” ancestors was part of what slave-owners used to bolster up their idea that they had a “right” to act like high-handed lords of the manor. Also the whole “blood” thing is a holdover from the slave era and eugenics and all that horrid stuff. If you try to point out that perpetuating these notions is disgusting and racist you’ll get accused of being a dull, humorless fun-killer, and that of course no one “really” believes all that, but aren’t those plantation mansions pretty? blah blah blah.

    In a more generalized sense, a lot of Americans are fascinated by European royal families, mostly the British one but the ruling family of Monaco used to be a favorite because of Grace Kelly marrying into it. Anyway, when Prince Charles married Diana, women over here went apeshit. Every woman who had blond hair got the Princess Di ‘do, and if they didn’t have blond hair they bleached until they did. Any large gathering of white American women looked like an army of Diana clones. One of my best friends did this. And then there were the Diana shrines in many households, where an entire wall or even a whole room would be dedicated to Diana memorabilia. I once entered a home like this. There were plates and spoons and photos and books and the most creepy thing were the Charles and Diana dolls and aaaaaa bad 80s memories kill them with fire…

    Sorry to take up space here with this nonsense but I thought you’d be… interested in the explanation. I will say for myself that I have many failings but a love of monarchy isn’t one of them. I was something of an “Anglophile” (meaning mostly I loved British tv like Doctor Who and British music like the Beatles), but had no interest in the royals and in fact they bored me.

    • I don’t understand what the US people’s obsession over the British royalty are about. There are people who stay up all night to watch a live showing of Prince William’s wedding on TV and it boggles me. I mean, if they do that for, say, the US president’s kid’s birthday/engagement/wedding/whatever I’d still kinda get it. But the British royals? *confuuuused*

      • I could care less about the royalty (they still confuse me as to their role at this point) and also about the presidents’ kids (president retains the title when he leaves office, which has to get awkward) – I don’t know WHY we cared so much about Clinton’s wedding.

        I want to know what was up with that boat turning around during the Queen’s Jubilee. Why on earth was that exciting? I watch boats turn around like that outside my apartment window all the time…Or was it just that British guy on CNN (I think CNN) missing England?

      • I don’t know either. I knew people like that, as I said, but they never could explain it either. The woman with the Diana wall just said “She fascinates me” and my friend with the Diana hair just went on about how she wished she were blond and blue-eyed (she was half Cuban and half Eastern-European Jewish and she has naturally very dark hair and brown eyes). I had been raised to just let people be when they confessed odd things like that but now I see how disturbing that was and why.

        • Me and my friends went to watch the royal wedding because we’re curious what a “royal wedding” in this day and age would be like. And for DAYS after the event TVs everywhere are still babbling about the wedding. Is it because “it’s royalty, so we care”? Because I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything related to, say, the Emperor of Japan making this huge a hubbub over the media.

    • Any large gathering of white American women looked like an army of Diana clones.

      The Althorp Wives? Nooooo <runs screaming>

      And the irony is that Camilla – who is not a beautiful nor a young woman – appears to be the one who’s part of the ‘happily ever after’ – they have the same interests, she appears to tolerate his foibles with good grace, and *their* story, to me, is by far the more romantic one: two people saying ‘sod it, life’s too short to listen to society, we’ll be together and we’ll be happy.’

  5. Wow. I’m glad you at least link back to my post (even if you call it mindless cockrot, which doesn’t bother me, as I’ve been called plenty of mean names on the Internet). Your blog title says it all—that you’re about spewing hate, not creating a dialogue, so at least people have the option of reading my balanced discussion which includes links to all sorts of discussion of feminism and Sookie (though its an old post, and I haven’t updated it.)

    Though I’m a fan of Charlaine Harris and Sookie, I completely acknowledge that others might have contrary opinions. My point is that she’s contributing to the discussion of what it means to be a feminist, which is a good thing.

    • Sorry, how do you excuse the raging racism in these pieces of shit? No really, I’m curious. How does anyone?

      My point is that she’s contributing to the discussion of what it means to be a feminist, which is a good thing.

      Please. Anything can inspire those discussions, even Joss Whedon who’s a weasel and a waste of oxygen, or George RR Martin who’s ditto, or any number of misogynistic neckbeard shit-eaters. That really doesn’t mean anything.

    • Just a note: “Sookie’s” not doing anything. Fictional characters don’t “do” things in the real world. Blame the author. She’s the one who made her up. And the only “contribution” Harris and her fictional character are making to “the discussion of what it means to be a feminist” is to silence anyone who thinks feminism is anything other than hating all other women and acting like all the men in the world should belong to her self-insert author’s darling.

        • Oh wait, the one ACM linked to. Excuse me I had to wake up earlier than I like. Anyway, about your post: I’m afraid I only skimmed it. I find things like racism and internalized misogyny apologia hard to read, and I don’t like wanting to smash a woman’s (in this case, Charlaine Harris’s) face in. I’m struggling with my own internalized misogyny, you see, and when I read about other women who have contributed to the idea that it’s “feminist” to slut-shame other women and to hate on them because you’re full of envy and jealous of what they have that you don’t (as Sookie is of all the other women she encounters), my anger rises. Charlaine Harris is not any kind of spokesperson for feminism, and just because she has created a female character who is a Scarlett instead of a Melanie contributes zero help to the cause of feminism.

        • One more thing. You still haven’t said anything about the racism in these books. It’s obvious, it hits you in the face. It’s authorial voice, for all her character is the one spouting it. Look. I don’t know where you live, but I live in Virginia, and I grew up in Florida. I’ve lived in the South all my life. And one thing I know is we. Do. Not. Need. Any. More. Of. This. Racist shit being put out. But people keep writing it, and people keep excusing it away, because it’s “light entertainment” and “I don’t read to think” and “Stefan Whatsisvikingname is so hot in the tv show” and “I masturbated to Interview With The Vampire when I was in junior high it’s nostalgia why are you trampling my feels.” No. No more racist shit. Stop it. Stop reading it. Stop making the people who create it famous and rich. Stop.

  6. Oh, wow. And not in a good way. Thank you for this analysis that ensures I will never EVER pick up one of these books. (I read the first chapter in a sampler and disliked it for two things: the slut shamind and the idea that vampires – who are antisocial and dangerous – will be accepted into society just like that, because they’re white, middle-class murderers and rapists, while other folk don’t get acceptance – it’s not ‘a metaphor’ if you have all the previously oppressed groups still around, still being oppressed.

  7. It’s possibly because I’m a historian, but I rarely see “antebellum” used specifical for the pre-civil war era, but just as a synonym for “pre-war”. (Itself a term mostly connected to the 1900’s-1910’s, which is a separate problem)

    “Episcopalian service” would likely not make much sense (at least not inituitively) to anyone outside the US. Possibly outside particular parts of the US, many people might be able to get what the gist is about (IE: An older style of more elaborate ceremony vs. a more modern, sparse one) but very few would get the specifics. (and it would likely be phrased differently in different places)

    • If you’re Southern born and bred, US-wise, there is only one war—the “Late Great Unpleasantness” as it is still called in some circles—and only one time before that war for which to pine. But certainly the word “antebellum” doesn’t for Charlaine Harris carry the weight ascribed to it here; witness, for instance, the puzzled reactions so many people have had that the name of that Nashville band, Lady Antebellum, would so upset some folks. “It’s just named for the houses, y’all.”

      But when it’s a sudden sharp shock for something like the Levine Museum of the New South to define itself as ignoring the war and all that came before it, to only and solely document the rich and varied history that has happened after that war, well. The weight’s very much there. The word practically groans under the load. You just have to be able to step outside it to hear it.

      • I’m Southern “born and bred” and I have no idea what you just said. Just imagine there’s a photo of a bunny with a pancake on its head right here.

        • Which part? —That the Civil War looms large in the imagination of the South, so large that it’s impossible for many Southerners to see how distortive it is? That the word “antebellum” popping up in band names and real-estate brochures is just plain weird to a lot of non-Southerners? That a lot of Southerners find it just plain weird that so many other people find the word “antebellum” weird?

          Nothing is a monolith; the South is (slowly) changing. But that word’s an ugly thing to use to sell a McMansion.

    • This historian sees ‘antebellum’ exclusively applied to the Old South. It’s certainly not used in a European context.

  8. Antebellum glory indeed.

    Imagine going to Germany and seeing Nazi flags everywhere, even flying from government buildings. That’s how I felt visiting the U.S. states of Georgia and Florida at the turn of the century.

    And you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m a four-hundred-year-old vampire talking about some other turn of the century.

    • I can’t even see present-day’s flags of Germany or any other country, because of things like these. How can poeple be proud of their nation, despite all the atrocities that were comitted. I simply can’t comprehend it yet.

      • That’s a hard one. Most Germans aren’t nationalist; but many feel that they can’t be… and question why they shouldn’t be proud of the state they have built since the 1950s. The problem isn’t Germans, it’s the attitudes that allowed (and often supported) the atrocities… and guess what – we still have those attitudes today. I can’t speak of other countries, but in the past couple of weeks I have come across an IKEA in Britain refusing customers entrance if they were deemed to be Roma, poor people being bussed to London, made to sleep under a bridge, and made to work all day without payment, and countless disabled people being told they’re benefit scroungers and a drain on society.

        And *that*? Scares me a whole damn lot.

        • I am german.
          The problem is that by waving your flag you’re not only showing the positive history of your country.
          The Soccer European/World Championship suddenly removes any doubt and makes them fasten their flags to their cars etc. Why? That won’t make their players play better.
          And being proud of one’s country… Most of them didn’t do anything. They didn’t rebuild the country, their forefathers did. The same one’s who lived during the Nazi-regime. I realize I’m generalizing.

      • I think of something like Euro 2012 as harm reduction, much like a clean needle program for addicts. So many people long for a feeling of solidarity, and a sporting event is one way to fill that void without a massacre.

        As for the tricolour flag, I understand. Many of my ancestors were Nazis, so I’m also quite suspicion of nationalism. (Democracy requires vigilance!) But it’s worth remembering that the black-red-gold flag was flown by the parties who fought the Nazis during the Weimar period (especially the socialists). I’m thinking of the parties who wanted democracy, who argued for queer rights, who acknowledged the place of Jewish people in German history, who wanted to dismantle the military oligarchy, etc, etc. The flag was first flown in 1848 by those who wanted to end the rule of the aristocracy. Of course, there probably is no such thing as a flag that’s never been flown in the name of something horrible.

        So if people want to wave the black-red-gold for a football tournament, I think that’s one of the better expressions of nationalism.

    • She ends up dead, and there’s the suggestion that she deserves it because she cheats on her husband. Her murderer? A gay man in love with said husband.

      Fridging and homophobia in one fabulous go!

  9. I’m white, male, pseudo-straight, stupid and ignorant (excuse the redundancy) and tell me if I’m overstepping a line here, but I do want to ask something. I’m not taking you as a representative of your culture or your not-whiteness, of course.

    Not so long ago, I struggled with the subject of Tokenism. How do I create a character of a different culture/sexual orientation/etc., who’s difference is not their defining character trait, and not make it look like I believe that this is what this particular culture is like and nothing else? Make several of them and make them three-dimensional, of course, since there is no real problem in having more than one round character unlike me, right?
    But the setting is still an issue. I don’t have a problem depicting these characters in a town not unlike mine; racism, sexism and other -isms included. But that gets boring after a while. We’re all sick of the same over and over again and I do want to broaden my horizons.
    The problem is: how do I do that without taking anything out of context and insulting everyone from that culture? Is that even possible if you don’t belong to that particular culture and should I even try? Do I even have the right? I mean, if we gave authors of non-white cultures a chance and made them popular instead of people like Charlaine Harris, we probably wouldn’t have this narrow range of non-white depictions and therefore the fact that ignorant white people like me see “the other” in a completely wrong light. I guess if I want to be decent and not ignorant I have to do it and I guess I’m going to step on someone’s toes no matter what I do. But I don’t want to work my ass off to see that my goal was impossible to achieve or that I should have researched so much more, asked so many more people.

    That was way longer than I anticipated. I know that I sound like I’m whining, whining, whining, “look at me and my white guilt(TM)! Ignore those people with real problems!!!”. I do this because of the similarly selfish reason of trying to be decent and less ignorant. This probably isn’t even the right place to ask these kind of questions and if that is true, please just ignore them and tell me to leave.

    • Hi! It’s okay. I don’t punch unless someone’s offensive and so on.

      But that gets boring after a while.

      Mm, that seems to be the main motivation for those of the dominant culture to dip into non-dominant cultures, and I don’t much like it: it’s like, okay, it’s because you’re bored and need something more colorful and exciting? This usually winds up in literary tourism.

      Is that even possible if you don’t belong to that particular culture and should I even try? Do I even have the right?

      Ah, do I have links for you. Also, this and this. Now you’ve got lots of perspectives, most of them from people of color and/or non-westerners. Personally, I don’t think it’s possible for a member of a dominant culture to write about a non-dominant one without being damaging in some way: if it’s not outright offensiveness, it’s the contribution of drowning out and silencing those from that culture. As Jeff VanderMeer–who’s a surprisingly clueful dude despite being a white westerner–said: “And, yes, from the viewpoint of a level playing field, do we need one more US writer writing about, say, Thailand? Probably not. (The glut of stereotypical and increasingly rote Thai murder mysteries by non-Thais is a good example.)” What we need more of is people translating writers from the non-dominant culture. When you translate you amplify the voices of that culture; when you write about it as a dominant-culture other, you’re amplifying and privileging your own voice.

      • First, thank you for answering.
        I guess I used the wrong wording, but I maybe simply don’t know the real reason yet.
        I’m reading blogs like yours to beat the thought into my head that I have a responsiblity as a westerner to be inclusive. Not to educate non-westerners, but to make westerners realize their ignorance like it happened with me. And because it’s the decent thing to do. I still can’t say why exactly I want to write, whether it is because I think I can tell good stories or because of some kind of moral obligation.
        Now I see the problematic much more clearly though. I guess for now I will refrain from setting my stories in different cultures and stay in my borders so to speak but still include different perspectives. I don’t know if I’m the right kind of guy to translate the work of other people. I generally prefer to read the originals so nothing gets lost. But I do see the problem since I can’t read every language, even though would be a lot more respecting than wearing some ribbon or something.

        In several of those links people talked about how outsider-fiction would depict anything as exotic and mindblowing even though it’s a usual sight for those of that culture. But isn’t that just awful writing in general? Depicting people like they didn’t live their lives where they allegedly have been born? Setting it in a non-dominant culture increases the problem, of course.

        • See my comment over on her bingo board post for some more on this, but something that turned on a lightbulb recently for me was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Thing Around Your Neck”. It’s a collection of short stories. I fully admit, there’s stuff in there that I don’t really get what she was trying to say. But not surprising, because I didn’t grow up in Nigeria. But a lot of her stories deal with being from Nigeria and the different ways people integrate (or try to integrate) into Western culture (usually American, since that’s her experience, but there’s one or two with some British characters). Or how Western culture tries to deal with non-Western cultures. (and in this case, mostly Nigerian, but one story has several African countries represented).

          I consider myself pretty open and multicultural – my parents had friends from all over the world and I’ve tried to continue that, and actually talk to them (even though the basic elements and technologies of life are pretty much the same) – but this book still came as a lot of a shock because I *can* believe these types of things are happening to girls who come to the US, I don’t want to, and I don’t want to believe (even though I know people who would) some of the things people say to non-Americans (or those who appear non-American). I don’t have a lot of experience writing, just bits here and there, although I want to get back into it, but I read a lot, and this is valuable to read even if to use as a resource to write. With all of the different possibilities of interactions between Nigeria and the West, it should give you a lot of things to think about for ways that you perhaps unconsciously incorporate things into your work, or maybe ways that you could add some of that inclusiveness you are looking for.

  10. re: Antebellum
    Shortly after the civil war I can see the statement in a nonracist manner. Right after the war they might have been nostalgic for slavery, or they might have been nostalgic for fields that weren’t razed, homes that weren’t burnt, and family members who weren’t dead.

    Whether that sentiment today when any actual devastation is in the distant past is a reflection of racism and nostalgia for slavery or simply a cultural echo of the devastation is an interesting question.

    Can we get a RoH post on PG Wodehouse?

  11. Friends here at Requires Only That You Hate, if you never listen to a word I say, I implore you to listen to these: Don’t watch the show. I used to watch it because, for the most part, I thought they did a good job with their gay characters. They seemed like people and nobody really thought it was weird to have gay people amongst them and the show really did defend its gay characters. Lafayette isn’t killed and he is generally the voice of reason. Then…well…THEN! They make him a literal Magical Negro, by which I mean, he is possessed by the spirit of a black woman who entered into a interracial relationship in a time when that was literally against the law with a married man, who then killed her baby…and then her. So then she ghost haunts a white baby and then possesses Lafayette to kidnap the white baby she’s been ghost haunting, has him kill his Hispanic lover and then with some “all you need is love bullshit” and the digging up of her bones, ascends into Heaven. As bad as all that shit was, it wasn’t nearly as horrific (and a bazillion other adjectives) as what happened with Tara.

    In past seasons, Tara: is put under a spell by a white woman who is a Maenad, where she is involved with orgies that she cannot remember; has Sookie invade her brain to break the Maenad’s influence (but another trauma does not cure the previous trauma because holy cow! wtf?!); has her lover killed because he was feeling intense guilt over committing murder while under the spell of the Maenad and is killed by a white character; lives with her mother who is a drunk and severely emotionally abusive as well as physically abusive; is kidnapped, tied up, and raped by a vampire over the course of a few days; has some other woman tell her all about how she was raped so that she can feel some kinship or something, but I guess the white character’s rape was more traumatic or something? I don’t even fucking know because why are we trying to put a severity meter on rape?; becomes a lesbian cage fighter two towns over from Bon Temps after her ordeal with the rapist vampire; comes back to Bon Temps and joins a coven because she is, literally, the only person portrayed on this show who can honestly hate vampires but is judged for hating them; is shot in the head by a werewolf (wtf is a werewolf doing using a damned shotgun, showrunners?!) who was menacing Sookie Stackhouse because her lover, Alcide, had been mooning over Sookie and lying about it and of course she goes batshit nuts; is finally turned into, what appears, to be a feral vampire by Pam, Eric’s progeny and a vampire Tara loathes beyond all others, and basically everything she has ever hated because Sookie and Lafayette couldn’t stand to let her die.

    Also, they lovingly spent the entire season building up the complete and utter animosity between Pam and Tara and now Pam is her makers. And…vampires don’t get more powerful because they cultivate their skills, it’s only due to age…so Bill’s recently made white daughter is more powerful than Tara. And it has been shown on the show some racism directed towards Tara by random extras so, not only is Tara made by a vampire she’s hated, but a white vampire that has almost killed Lafayette a time or two.

    Not let us contrast that with Jason Stackhouse. Jason was raped by a town of female werepanthers, who were themselves victimized by a grotesque idea of patriarchy and the fat that they were in a pride of panthers, which, damn, writers! Panthers do not assort into prides and the men of that “pride” are horrible because they are men who believe in that kind of thing and not because of some instinctual imperative. Anyway, he is raped by them at the behest of a woman he though he loved and he’s tied up and bloody, while literally begging them to not rape him anymore when a 13 yr old girl finally frees him. In contrast to Tara’s rape story, Jason is a man and men can deal with rape better and can magnanimously forgive their rapists as evidenced by the fact that he just…leaves the township and then hops into bed with a vampire about a day after.

    And don’t even get me started on the fact that vampires jizz blood, because that is all they are and their blood is an actual drug because it is shown that their blood enhances libido and gives you vampire-like powers and there is a black market for vampire blood. Did I mention it makes you dream about vampires and sexually desire them so that it is impossible to actually have consent? Yeah, true thing.

    Also, everything about the witch war was misogynistic, racist, and so gross that I literally could not believe it was happening. Oh and btdubs, the last season the writers literally equated current vampire efforts to be accepted by the public with the Civil Right Movement. It was an actual line in the show said by actual actors.

    The show really isn’t better. It just has pretty people saying the lines.

    • I think “the show is better” really means “Scandinavian actor white women lust for takes his shirt off a lot.”

      Also, what is that plot. What is that.

    • “The last season the writers literally equated current vampire efforts to be accepted by the public with the Civil Right Movement. It was an actual line in the show said by actual actors.”
      I heard that writers like to make their work a metaphor, but what.

    • What the hell is–what the hell.

      the last season the writers literally equated current vampire efforts to be accepted by the public with the Civil Right Movement. It was an actual line in the show said by actual actors.

      WHAT THE HELL.

    • Something like “vampire rights” has to be explored on its own terms. But H-B-whooa, making comparisons with actual civil rights movements is messed up.

      In the U.S. there’s a history of portraying African-Americans as murderous rapists high on drugs, just as there’s a history of portraying queer people as corrupting predators full of disease. But such nonsense accurately describes vampires.

      Vampires don’t need to be an allegory or metaphor. Let vampires be vampires.

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  13. Who the fuck sees “antebellum” and associates it with “glory,” KKK members?

    Just to throw something else in on that – you typically see two sorts of restored houses (and I’m speaking really only for around the Atlanta area, where I was raised and consider home), although I’m not sure that anybody there calls either “antebellum” unless you go to the history section of the library.

    You can definitely find the houses with the flag hanging (which always makes me cringe – the flag, in and of itself is a sign of ignorance…it’s not actually the Confederate flag. It’s the battle flag. It was *a* Confederate flag, but it’s not the one all of these people think it is), and you can find those people generally with a pickup truck that also has a flag, an NRA sticker, and Bush/Cheney & McCain/Palin stickers.

    But there are also a lot of old houses that were restored and are really pretty. Yes, they are of that era, but they are still historic. Parts of the square in the town I grew up in that were restored supported the Union (and when Sherman set it on fire, it burned everything else). Some of them have hidden stuff under them where they were part of the Underground Railroad. Many of them didn’t. But they’re beautiful, restored, historic houses that I don’t think should be completely dismissed by everyone except those of us who grew up in the south. :P

    That said – Harris’s wording was moronic. The houses that are restored and lived in? Are not restored to look like they’re extras from “Gone with the Wind”. Only MUSEUMS are like that (and the governor’s mansion, but that’s a whole separate bunch of moronic idiots).

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