FROM DEAD TO WORSE pt 2 – Charlaine Harris a shitbag of bigotry

Standard

Spoilers: it’s still full of disgusting misogyny and racism. Hope you weren’t expecting anything else. Poor Johanna Parker, whoever she is: imagine having your voice associated with bigoted dreck. I find it telling that on this cover art they appear to have used a mannequin that’s made of some kind of fabric. Unintended implication: white people don’t look quite human.

Last time I forgot to include this little gem:

The chauffeur shook my hand gently, as if he didn’t want to break my bones, and then he nodded to Amelia. “Miss Amelia,” he said, and Amelia looked angry, as if she was going to tell him to cut the “Miss,” but then she reconsidered.

[...]

Tyrese Marley was a very, very light-skinned African-American. He was far from black; his skin was more the color of old ivory. His eyes were bright hazel. Though his hair was black, it wasn’t curly, and it had a red cast. Marley was a man you’d always look at twice.

We have a black character, and what is he? A white man’s chauffeur. He is a good-looking black man too, but a light-skinned one. “Red cast” on his straight hair. “Bright hazel” eyes. “Old ivory” is unhelpfully inexact, but aged ivory tends to be yellow. In short, the only way for a black man to be attractive to Sookie (and presumably to Charlaine Harris) is that he must be “far from black.” Marley takes care to be careful about shaking a white woman’s hand, “as if he didn’t want to break [her] bones.” A physically imposing black man who must take caution not to threaten a white woman. In the US south. Hmmmm.

The woman standing at the podium was beautiful and black, her hair shaved very close to her skull. She wore a draped dress of orange and brown and the highest heels I had ever seen. She might as well have been wearing toe shoes. I looked at her closely, and I sampled the signature of her brain, and I found she was human. She smiled brilliantly at Eric and had the sense to give me a share of that smile.

Sookie, you really have to check if a woman of color is human?

I’m actually taking a cheap shot here, because this is something Sookie does all the time–looking at their brainwaves or whatever–but she usually does this when she wants to remark that someone isn’t human, i.e. a weresomeshit or a vampire. The inversion here arises from the fact that she assumes white people are human until proven otherwise. A black woman (and therefore sexually unattractive to Sookie) is automatically under suspicion. It’s possible to read this charitably, but due to the overwhelming racism I’m not going to bother.

“Great grandpa?” I said, trying out the concept.

Niall Brigant winced delicately. On a real man, the gesture would have looked effeminate, but on Niall it didn’t.

For fuck’s sake. This obsession with “real men.” See also the description of Eric from the first part.

See, here’s the weird thing about meeting my self-proclaimed relative: I never doubted his truthfulness. This was my true great-grandfather, and the knowledge just clicked into place as if it fit into a puzzle.

Aryan blood calls to Aryan! Fairy, specifically, but western fae are basically super-Aryan master race anyway.

“He raped her, ” I said, almost hoping it was so. My grandmother had been the most true-blue woman I’d ever met. I couldn’t picture her cheating anyone out of anything, particularly since she’d promised in front of God to be faithful to my grandfather.

Yes, Sookie would rather her grandmother got raped than be unfaithful. Feminism, right here. Fail-mi-nism. I don’t give a shit at this point that some women think these books are feminist. They aren’t. They explicitly, thoroughly aren’t: if not this, there’s rape apologia coming out of Sookie’s mouth like a cockroach swarm. This isn’t feminist. This isn’t feminism in any way, even the precious “white straight women sans intersectionality” form that a certain demographic loves so much. This is utter diarrhea and if you think this is feminist, reevaluate your definition of it. Now.

I’d never thought to ask Claudine about any of this. For one thing, she didn’t seem to enjoy talking about being a fairy, and when she popped up, it was usually when I was in trouble and therefore sadly self absorbed.

The trouble with this is that she’s had plenty of chances to talk to Claudine. It’s just that Sookie isn’t interested in asking other women about their lives, dreams, ambitions, and so on. Sookie isn’t only self-absorbed in times of stress; she’s like that all the time.

In sharp contrast, vampires–at least in America–were definitely on the increase. There were three bills wending their way through Congress dealing with vampire immigration. America had the distinction (along with Canada, Japan, Norway, Sweden, England, and Germany) of being a country that had responded to the Great Revelation with relative calm.

[...]

Since a few heavily Catholic and Muslim countries had adopted a policy of killing vampires on sight, the U. S. Had begun accepting vampires as refugees from religious or political persecution, and the backlash against this policy was violent.

Oh haha no you waste-of-oxygen, jingoistic fungal growth. You troglodyte. The only way for someone to believe the idea that the US would do this is if they live under a rock, an all-white neighborhood or town, and never step outside it. To never watch the news, to close themselves entirely to what’s happening outside their immediate little sphere. To ignore everything that doesn’t affect them. To, in short, be a bigoted whitey American.

Are you a first-worlder? You might have traveled. You probably didn’t need a visa to enter the US, or much of anywhere else. You might have needed to applied this one time somewhere but there wasn’t even a sliver of possibility that it might have been denied. The fees were nothing. Do you know what it’s like for the rest of us?

And people’s relatives can’t visit them in the US because visas. Now tell me that the US would embrace vampires fleeing “religious or political persecution” out of the goodness of its heart. Maybe if those vampires are white and from the first world. But then again, Harris’ choice of accepting, tolerant nations is telling, isn’t it? All first-world, all western and white-supremacist, except for Japan which has the distinction of being the weeaboo’s dream vacation spot and the orientalist’s romanticized ideal of Exotic Far East. Does Harris even know anything about her country’s foreign policies? Is she that stupid, or does she just not care? And “heavily Catholic and Muslim countries”? Islamophobia and denial in one neat stroke! What does she think the US is, if not a fundamentalist nation of religious fervor? I mean, ask a Muslim how she’s treated over there.

He was right about that. I didn’t know where he’d put the body, and I realized that I didn’t really care. A year ago it would have torn me up, leaving a body behind as we sped away along the interstate. Now I was just glad it was him and not me who was lying in the woods.

Ah, Sookie the sociopath. In the hand of an even mildly competent writer, this would be a turning point for Sookie–from decent person to, well, that. It could be a question of survival, of self-defense, of what’s ethically acceptable and what isn’t.

Charlaine Harris is not that writer.

Hadn’t I always had a soft spot for Eric, who made love like a train thundering into a tunnel?

Yes, Eric who shamed your reaction to Bill raping you.

And I had to rethink my unpleasant memories of my mother, too. She’d fallen for my dad like a ton of bricks, and she’d had his kids because she loved him… Only to find that she didn’t want to share him with them, especially with me, another female. At least, this was my new insight.

Sookie projects her terrible misogyny onto everyone. Unsurprisingly, Sookie hates her mother too.

“She’s a treacherous bitch. “

“Gosh, tell me what you really think.”

“No kidding, Amelia, she took a job at Merlotte’s so she could spy on me for the Pelts.”

It’s about Tanya again. What is wrong with taking a job at Merlotte’s to do this? Remember, she was investigating a missing woman who is the daughter of a family Tanya has cordial relations with. God, that bitch. Treacherous bitch. Bitch bitch bitch. Feminism!

She made her way up the steps with Bob in her arms, and I went to my small bathroom to remove my makeup and put on my own nightgown.

Wait, what? She doesn’t take a shower? Is this a white people thing where you don’t maintain any personal hygiene? After a day–and keep in mind this is after she’s had an encounter with a would-be assassin so there was blood on her clothes–she doesn’t feel the need to shower? Has Charlaine Harris finally unlocked the mystery of why white people stink so very, very much?

I wondered if Bob would mind a kitten companion. Would Amelia get jealous if I bought a female cat? I had to smile even as I snuggled deeper into the bed.

Bob is a boyfriend Amelia mistakenly turned into a cat. Here, again, we see Sookie projecting her automatic possessiveness onto every other woman. She genuinely, sincerely can’t think outside of the “all women are slutwhores competing with each other for male attention,” and that’s despite her knowing that Amelia is bisexual.

I looked through the peephole and saw an elderly black woman with a halo of white hair. She was light skinned and her features were narrow and sharp: nose, lips, eyes.

What is with Harris being unable to write a major black character who’s not “light skinned”? I mean, apart from the obvious racism? She also speaks “very precisely pronounced English.” Sookie never remarks on the English pronunciation of white characters.

He was thinking Alcide was a lucky guy to have dated Maria-Star and me, and all the luckier since that bitch Debbie Pelt had vanished. Good riddance, Tray thought. “Now I get to ask you a question, ” Tray said. [...] “You have something to do with Debbie disappearing?”

I took a deep breath. “Yeah. Self-defense.”

“Good for you. Someone needed to do it.”

Bitch, bitch, bitch. This is yet again another occasion where another character affirms Sookie’s sense of ethics and choice to murder, as well as her general hatred of all women: it’s okay that she thinks Debbie was a bitch and it’s also okay she killed Debbie, because why, everyone else hates Debbie anyway.

Amanda wasn’t too crazy about that idea. She owned that bar, and using it as an execution or torture site didn’t appeal to her. She opened her mouth to protest. Alcide faced her and snarled, his face twisting into something that wasn’t quite Alcide. She cowered and nodded her assent.

Alcide raised his voice even more for his next pronouncement. “Cal Myers is Kill on Sight.”

“But he’s a pack member, and members get trials,” Amanda said, and then cowered, correctly anticipating Alcide’s wordless roar of rage.

These books’ gender politics, in a nutshell. No woman is to step out of her place, which is to cower before men, unless she is Sookie. When she’s not Sookie, it’s perfectly fine for men to treat her like trash and enforce a violent patriarchy. If Alcide had been yelling at Sookie, I promise you that this scene would have played out differently–Sookie would have been sassy, talked back, and Alcide would have seen the error of his ways. Such is the Exceptional Woman, of which there may be but one in the world, elevated high from the rest of her gender, an exemplar allowed to play with the men as an equal.

This is not feminism.

“When I was searching for Bob today, I found a female cat in the woods with kittens. And guess what? They were all black-and-white.”

I really had no idea what to say.

“So to hell with the promise I made him, right? I’m going to have fun. He can go have sex; I can have sex.”

It’s only after this that Amelia starts dating another woman: rebounding from her boyfriend-turned-cat rutting with a female cat. On which note, I don’t recall any lesbian woman in these books–the queer women are all bisexual (and usually also dead). It’s as if Charlaine Harris genuinely can’t imagine that some women might not at any point be attracted to men in any way, or exclude men entirely from their romantic/sexual considerations.

Of course, the FotS guys were probably Arlene’s buddies. My weakminded exfriend had fallen hook, line, and sinker for the pseudo religion that the FotS propagated.

Unlike the enlightened, intelligent Sookie… who is a Christian and goes to church every Sunday. Okay.

Just then my roomie walked in. Amelia was wearing a beautiful pair of black linen pants and heels with an off-white sweater and a pair of amber and tortoiseshell earrings. She looked conservative, too, but in a more modern way. Amelia strode over to us, smiled at Pam, and said, “Had a drink yet?”

Pam smiled in a way I’d never seen her smile before. It was . . . Coy. “No, waiting for you.

Queer women! It’s interesting to note that Pam and Amelia are the only two women Sookie doesn’t passionately despise–probably because they, being interested in each other, are not a threat of sexual/romantic competition to Sookie. This is the one instance where Charlaine Harris’ misogyny actually overcomes her slightly less blatant homophobia. Don’t worry though, these two break up. Can’t have two women in a happy relationship together for long!

“He’s not going after any men?” I finally managed to speak.

Tray’s face was dark with contempt. “Naw, ” the Were said. “The only way I can read it is, Furnan wants to set Alcide’s temper off. He wants everyone to be on a hair trigger, while Furnan himself stays cool and collected. He’s about got what he wants, too. Between grief and the personal insult, Alcide is aimed to go off like a shotgun.”

So, the opposing packmaster (they believe) is killing women on Alcide’s side off, including his girlfriend. A point is made that he’s going after women exclusively, because what is a series of misogynistic claptrap without some gleeful fridging? There’s a plot twist (not really) later, so keep this in mind. No, it’s not the kind of plot twist that makes this less sexist. Sorry.

It griped me that I’d been drawn into this fight, which was none of my own. In fact, bottom line: knowing Alcide had brought me nothing but grief.

I was almost relieved to feel a head of anger building at this injustice, but my better self urged me to squash it in the bud. It wasn’t Alcide’s fault that Debbie Pelt had been such a murderous bitch

Bitch, bitch, bitch. For half a moment here, we see Sookie approach something almost like self-awareness. This is not to be: she immediately switches back to blaming a dead woman, calling her a bitch, and absolving Alcide of any fault whatsoever.

She noticed I wasn’t my usual self, but she kept her thoughts to herself. Not really, of course, since I have my little disability, but she didn’t say anything out loud.

Is there a single minority Charlaine Harris doesn’t do her damnedest to insult? Sookie’s referring to her telepathy, by the way.

I grabbed up two new romances and a couple of mysteries, and even a science fiction, which I rarely read. (I guess I thought my reality was crazier than anything a science fiction writer could dream up.

Harris, save the lampshading. It’s something to do if you are a writer of some competence, a quality you are entirely without.

He had a big knife, and he was holding it to Barbara’s throat. [...] “Don’t scream, ” he hissed through long sharp teeth. I froze. Barbara was in some space beyond fear. She was way into terror.
[...]
“Detective Beck will kill you for hurting his wife, ” I said very loudly. And I said it with absolute certainty. “Kiss your ass goodbye. “

“I don’t know who that is and I don’t care, ” the tall man said.”You better care, muthafucker, ” said Alcee Beck, who’d stepped up behind him silently. He put his gun to the man’s head. “Now, you let go of my wife and you drop that knife.”

Sookie proceeds to “[throw] a Nora Roberts hardback at him, whacking him upside his head,” which causes him to trip so badly he falls onto his own knife. Why is this segment remarkable? Observe the difference between Barbara’s reaction to danger and Sookie’s: Barbara is “way into terror” and paralyzed. Sookie, Exceptional Woman, is heroic enough to throw a book. So well she manages to murder the dude.

“No, why would I go for the women? We never want to kill pureblooded female Weres. Except maybe Amanda, ” Furnan added tactlessly. “If we’re going to kill someone, it’d be the men.

So here it turns out Furnan isn’t behind it! (By the way: a werewolf with the surname Furnan? lulz.) His reasoning for not wanting to kill women? Because they are baby factories: “I would never abduct a woman, especially a Were woman with young.” Sookie doesn’t remark on his general misogyny. In fact, she rarely remarks on any man’s misogyny. Hmm.

At least Sam was with me… It was my fault he was here. When he’d become so curious about what was brewing with the Weres, I’d had to tell him.

Remember when I said that Sookie always looks to men for help, support, and protection? Except this is what happens later:

“Bring it on, furass!” she shrieked, beckoning with both hands to a Were who was slinking up on her from behind. She’d twisted around without moving her legs, a maneuver that would be impossible for a mundane human body. The Were launched and got exactly the same treatment as its packmate. As far as I could tell, Claudine wasn’t even breathing heavy. Her eyes were wider and more intent than usual, and she held her body in a loose crouch, clearly ready for action.

Claudine is a fairy, and has been sent explicitly to protect Sookie; when Sookie is in trouble she often shows up and bails Sookie’s worthless ass out of whatever disaster she’s in the middle off. Does Sookie even consider asking her for help? No, because Sookie doesn’t consider women a worthy source of anything except easy targets for her petty criticism, slut-shaming and general judgeyness. It’s Sam she asked to come with her.

Alcide’s group included auburnhaired Amanda, who nodded at me, her face serious, and some werewolves I’d seen at the Hair of the Dog the night Quinn and I had visited the bar. The scrawny girl who’d worn the red leather bustier that night was standing right behind Alcide, and she was both intensely excited and deeply scared.

Sookie singles out the reactions of women, specifically the reactions of a younger woman being scared. Men are rarely in a state of panic or terror, because as we know, Whitey, Charlaine Harris is the most feminist of all writers ever.

Female Weres have power and status but they’re not packleader . . . Ever. This woman was clearly large and in charge, though she was maybe five foot two. She had prepared to change; that is to say, she was naked. Or maybe she just wanted Alcide and Furnan to see what they could be getting. Which was a lot, both in quantity and in quality.

[...]

“I thought if I picked off a few key bitches, you two would kill each other off, ” Priscilla said. “Too bad it didn’t work.”

Vomit. No, this gets better.

I thought about Priscilla Hebert. In my brief glimpse into her world, she’d been at least trying to find a place for her disenfranchised pack, and she’d done the research to find a weak area where she could establish a foothold. Maybe if she’d come to Patrick Furnan as a supplicant, he would have been glad to give a home to her pack. But he would never have surrendered leadership. He’d killed Jackson Herveaux to attain it, so he sure wouldn’t have agreed to any kind of coop arrangement with Priscilla–even if wolf society would permit that, which was doubtful, especially given her status as a rare female packleader.

Well, she wasn’t one anymore. Theoretically, I admired her attempt to reestablish her wolves in a new home. Since I’d met Priscilla in the flesh, I could only be glad she hadn’t succeeded.

So, here’s the thing with Sookie and her glimpses of self-awareness: here she recognizes that Priscilla was trying to work with a deeply misogynistic structure (female weres can’t be packleaders and are treated as incubators), that she was trying to find a new home for her pack (and in so doing utilized that sexism against the “key bitches” she targeted)… but Sookie doesn’t step over that threshold. She thinks Priscilla should have come to Furnan as a supplicant. Priscilla should have known her place, shouldn’t have overstepped her station as a baby factory, should have submitted to a male packmaster, and ultimately? Sookie’s happy Priscilla is dead.

To be fair, Priscilla also tried to have Sookie assassinated–but here’s the thing, that’s an authorial choice. These are not real people with their own free will. Charlaine Harris chose to construct the situation such that Sookie would have a reason to despise Priscilla and celebrate her murder. Charlaine Harris constantly chooses to set up circumstances in her books such that Sookie will always find something to hate about other women, and other characters confirm her general hatred: see everyone calling Debbie Pelt a bitch. Charlaine Harris made it so that when Bill raped Sookie, it was Debbie’s fault. Not Bill’s, the rapist.

This isn’t Sookie internalizing misogyny. This is Charlaine Harris, the author, making particular narrative choices that reinforce that misogyny.

Despite her aggressively dyed spiky black hair and her heavy makeup, there was something wistful and vulnerable about Holly’s face.

Yes, yes, women are vulnerable and sad and.

Tanya Grissom came in the front door. The short, curvy woman looked as pretty and healthy as a milkmaid. Tanya went light on the makeup and heavy on the self-assurance.

[...]

Holly was one of the few who knew that there were such creatures as Weres and shifters… she considered Tanya (a werefox) guilty by association, or at least suspicious by association.

So again we’ve got Sookie randomly picking apart Tanya’s appearance (what’s wrong with having self-assurance? Ah that’s right, only Sookie deserves being self-assured) and then another character also disliking Tanya. Everything works like this–all morality is centered on Sookie.

It was a huge effort to smile at my customers after I’d had that idea. I was ashamed when I realized I should be happy to see someone interested in Sam, someone who could appreciate his true nature. It didn’t say much for me that I wasn’t happy at all. But [Tanya] wasn’t good enough for him, and I’d warned him about her.

[...]

Tanya returned from the hallway leading to Sam’s office and went out the front door, not looking as confident as she’d gone in. I smiled at her back. Ha!

As you know, Bob: Sookie is the gatekeeper to all remotely attractive white men. Anyone who touches one of “hers” must die and be called “bitch” a lot. And because Sookie’s told Sam that Tanya was here on the Pelts’ behalf (an act that is still not intrinsically evil, sorry Harris) Sam is now rejecting Tanya, on Sookie’s word. Sookie: the ultimate judge, the final authority on all that is good and wholesome and worthy.

It’s not nice to flit around in someone else’s thoughts, but I’ve always been able to do it, and it was just second nature.I know that’s a lame excuse. But I was used to knowing, not to wondering. Shifters are harder to read than regular people, and Sam was hard even for a shifter, but I got that he was frustrated, uncertain, and thoughtful. Then I was horrified at my own audacity and lack of manners. Sam had risked his life for me the night before. He had saved my life. And here I was, rummaging around in his head like a kid in a box full of toys.

But Sookie, you violate everyone’s privacy all the time–even after you learned to control your telepathy! Naturally she feels apologetic for having done this to a man, even though earlier she also rummaged around Octavia’s head (but found she couldn’t penetrate). You know. Octavia, the black woman. Come to think of it, I hope this isn’t meant to be a “tribute” to Octavia E. Butler because coming from a racist, that’s just gross.

Carson’d mastered burgers Lafayette right away (hamburgers steeped in a former cook’s special sauce)

Her friend, a woman in her fifties, asked for a hamburger Lafayette and a side salad.

This is very small, but very telling.

Who is Lafayette? A cook previously employed at Merlotte’s (now replaced by Carson, who I’m pretty certain is white). He was gay and black, met with that most common fate of gay characters in fiction: raped and murdered. And now, he’s replaced and what does anyone remember about him? His hamburger. No one mourns Lafayette, literally no one. Sookie doesn’t give a shit (because he wasn’t a hot white man lolol). Lafayette’s only memory is reduced to a disposable fast-food item. “Lafayette” stops being a person; he’s become a dish. An object. That’s all.

Charlaine Harris, please stop pretending you aren’t a member of the Aryan Nations. Also, stop writing. Just stop. And everyone who contributes to making her popular and rich? STOP. STOP. If you want to read the books so much let me know and I’ll send you the whole goddamn set.

Next part is coming when it comes. We’re at about the halfway point. I’m so sorry, but if I had to suffer–well, you know the drill. In the meantime, check this out.

But as the book and TV series continue, she becomes less and less likable, as she becomes more of a judgmental shortsighted hypocrite. In the show, she’s a terrible friend to Tara, is constantly putting loved ones in danger, and her priorities seem completely out of whack. In the books, her inner monologue is often her judging and looking down on people for their choices, when hers are just as unsavory. Based on what I’ve heard from friends who read the books or watch the show, I’m not alone in how I feel about Sookie, yet my Sookie-hating friends and I all continue to watch True Blood and read the books. Why?

About the Crystal thing:

I agree about Sooki, I’ve raged about it on here before. SPOILERS – the entire book about Crystal/Jason and Crystal’s death PISSED me off. The books made it seem like she deserved her horrible end because she cheated on Jason. Eric makes a comment about her being “worthless” which I thought was way too harsh. I don’t really care if they were married. Jason is a dick. Plus he seemed unaffected by her meanness AND death and seems to get over it pretty quick. Sookie is WAY to judge-y. She does whatever she damn well pleases but then condemns everyone, especially the female characters, for being “slutty” sometimes.

Quite.

One of the comments is disturbing:

While I can half-heartedly agree with most of the comments, meeting Sookie through the books first made me feel like she was really human. Part of it may be because she’s actually Southern, and not just “set in the South.” I realize I’m a fish IN the water here, but Sookie’s attitudes, judgements, affections, and blind spots seem familiar to me, whether I like them or not.

In short, this reader out-and-out admits that she loves Sookie because she identifies with the misogyny and racism. Mystery solved.

There’s some weird mental gymnastics being performed here to defend Charlaine Harris from any and all charges (it’s realistic! It’s reflective of “our” society!), as well, complete with the usual basic tone argument and Cult of Nice bullshit. This is why you don’t over-invest yourself as a fan: when you get to the point where you invest your identity into a product you consume, it becomes really really sad. This is true of being a fan of anything. End geek pride. End fan pride.

38 thoughts on “FROM DEAD TO WORSE pt 2 – Charlaine Harris a shitbag of bigotry

  1. >> “When I was searching for Bob today, I found a female cat in the woods with kittens. And guess what? They were all black-and-white.”

    Bestiality alert? Because, you know, either the tomcat has feline intelligence, in which case the woman is stupid to let her former boyfriend (whom she presumably wants to turn back into a human) wander around unattended, or he gets to keep human intelligence, in which case DAFUQ DID I JUST READ.

    > Does Sookie even consider asking her [Claudine] for help?

    Claudine is a fairy servant, a magical girl who is to women what a magical negro is to black people. Superior in every aspect yet still subservient with no agenda of their own because the author is a sexist/racist fuck.

    >> I grabbed up two new romances and a couple of mysteries, and even a science fiction, which I rarely read. (I guess I thought my reality was crazier than anything a science fiction writer could dream up.

    Rrrrrrrrrretarded fuck. This lampshading shit has a place in secret world adventures, where it’s stupidly overused but at least makes sense. Vampires, werewolves and the zomg ebul Muslims who kill them on sight is everyone’s reality in that vomit of a book. Charlaine fucking Harris has adapted to the internet, and mobile phones, and internet on phones. That’s three tech revolutions that changed the daily life of people. Well, not literally ALL people, but all people a racist fuck like Harris cares about, that is to say first-world whites.

    If the existence of magickal sparkly vampires (that is, a monster type without ecological implications that Harris is too dumb to write) was revealed in the real world, it’d be yet another media craze. A fandom. Like Star Wars or Harry Potter.

    The only thing interesting about IRL vampires is the rich and powerful monetizing the fuck out of them. Do they have any special revelations about the afterlife? Is there a god? How can I get a vampire preacher to confirm the existence of my god? Can I become a vampire and gain eternal life? Can I infect soldiers and make a super army? Hell, maybe the rich and powerful are vampires themselves?

    So in the book, there are vampires, and they are nothing special, because their reveal didn’t change shit. That is a grievous and offensive waste of a plot device right there, but acceptable in fapfiction.

    But then why say the reality is crazy? For all characters Harris ever wrote and will write about, the world changed in 20 years due to the advance of technology much more than it changed with the addition of vampires.

    Also, traditionally, the interest in science fiction increases if the real world is found to be magical. In the extreme comedy example, fantasy characters in a fantasy land read about office workers sitting in cubicles. What Harris did is not the normal use of a trope where you take a hammer and hammer in a nail, not the subversion where you take a hammer and turn it into a peacock feather. It’s the incorrect use of a trope which is like she took a hammer, then shat out a turd and smeared in onto her face, chuckling all the time at her cleverness.

    Really, I hate stupidly used meta devices with a fury of a thousand suns, that special hatred I reserve for heavy-handed preaching…

    >> Of course, the FotS guys were probably Arlene’s buddies. My weakminded exfriend had fallen hook, line, and sinker for the pseudo religion that the FotS propagated.

    …and magical virginity. Please tell me the book has magical virginity, too.

    • Hi, please refrain from using “retarded” because, y’know, ableist slur.

      Claudine is a fairy servant, a magical girl who is to women what a magical negro is to black people.

      Well, no, not really a comparison since Claudine is of course white.

      No magical virginity!

      • A question then: how should I go about insulting people’s intellect without it being ableist? I’m not objecting, this is a serious question. It’s obvious that e.g. “gay” shouldn’t be an insult because homosexuality is not bad in any way, and “lame” is a physical condition that has nothing to do with being creatively uninspired / perceived lack of fashion sense / poor skill at videogames.

        > Well, no, not really a comparison since Claudine is of course white.

        While she doesn’t have magical powers *because* she’s a woman, the other offensive plot component is similar: she’s awesome but for no good reason subservient and passive (as opposed to magical girlfriends who exist to awesomize the boring lives of male audience stand-ins – still huge offensiveness potential, but, since stand-in lives are necessarily boring, magical girlfriends are required to bring their own plots). I’m surprised tvtropes doesn’t have a page for all those secretaries with brains the size of a planet.

        • Yeah, actually I’ve no idea either–”stupid” is also considered ableist by some. I avoid the r-word entirely because it’s especially offensive. Some argue that the concept of intelligence itself is ableist. So, yeah.

        • When I was growing up I was encouraged to use “ignorant” since ignorance, unlike intelligence, can be changed. Obviously, it this isn’t totally true for everyone. I try to use terms that imply a person has the ability and the means to change but doesn’t. Privileged, entitled, lazy, sheltered… They don’t have the same burn as the r-word but that’s why you mix them up with variations of fuck.

  2. Dear gods.The more you post, the less I like Sookie, and I was starting from somewhere below zero.

    Tyrese Marley was a very, very light-skinned African-American. He was far from black; his skin was more the color of old ivory. His eyes were bright hazel. Though his hair was black, it wasn’t curly, and it had a red cast.

    This (and many other quotes) is why the publishing industry needs to have a talk about institutionalised racism. This has gone past author, agent, editor, and copy editor as a minimum – and yes, my copyeditig instructions from other presses include eliminating sexist and degrading language; I would totally have queried this. So there’s at least four (and quite possibly several more) people who are perfectly fine with saying ‘this person is African-American, but he’s not _really_ black’ when they should all have said ‘wait, what? OH SHIT, strike that.’ (And the same goes for the whole intenalised mysoginy etc.)

    • In a normal book published in a normal world the only reason to have a character as obsessed with describing in minute detail the appearance of all non-white characters would be to delineate this character as a racist for purposes of plot and whatever message the book was trying to get across (like: racism is bad, don’t be like this person). But as we live in an abnormal world we get nothing of the sort. Sookie is just like this and it’s presented as completely normal. It’s all her internal voice so we don’t get other characters noticing, even though this is a world with telepathy where you could write in a scene of someone staring at her and saying “Wow, you sure do fixate on what non-white people look like!” Or is she the only one who can do this convenient mind-reading? (Maybe it is because the idiot thinks of her talent as a “disability” because different is bad ugggghhh.)

      Leaving that aside (and really, I’d like to leave it aside, in the middle of an expressway where it will get squashed by a truck), how boring and flat and mundane has Charlaine Harris made every fantasy element in her books. She’s got vampires and werewolves and people turning their boyfriends into cats, and its all hooked to boring contemporary political situations and none of the characters seem interesting enough for us to care where they aim their genitalia so even the romance is a dud.

      And regarding those political situations: I LOL along with all of you at the idea that my country would open its arms wide to vampires because of “persecution.” Our real-world treatment of people in need of sanctuary from any kind of persecution has been only sporadically open to receiving them, and the more common response has been to refuse them entry unless they jump through a variety of hoops (be anti-Communist, be heterosexual, don’t be Jewish — look up “Voyage of the Damned” for reference to that last, we really should never be allowed to live our refusal of Jews fleeing Hitler down) and even then we are prone to suddenly changing our mind at a shift of the wind.

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  4. One more thing: it puzzled me why that Southern girl would say she thinks Sookie is “realistic” to her own experience in any way, because in my Southern experience girls like Sookie are not treated as heroines, but as nasty trashy unpleasant girls who weren’t “raised right.” Then I got it: American Southern girls are traditionally raised to be “nice” and “sweet” and think of others and so on. Thus a lot of girls grow up into resentful women who are unable to say what they really mean in any situation. Therefore they “identify” with the “outspoken” Sookie who says and does whatever she damn well pleases and thinks only of herself. Sure, she’s “realistic” — as a representation of a certain kind of woman’s inner fantasy of what she wishes she was like.

  5. Yeah, you know, not to mention the fact that the US has *never* been open and accepting of immigrants, regardless of how dire their circumstances were. Bills were constantly being floated through Congress to keep the Irish out during the Famine, we tried to keep Italians out because we were afraid of being taken over by Catholics, and Germans out just (I think) because people didn’t like Germans. Hell, we set a cap on the number of Jewish emigres we’d take who were fleeing the Holocaust (interestingly, I think the only place that didn’t limit the number of Jewish immigrants during WWII was Shanghai).

    The idea that something like this “Great Revelation” — an incident that simultaneously threatened the US’s dominant religious paradigm AND created an entirely new class of “immigrants” — could happen and we’d react with anything but frothing bigotry just displays a complete and kind of embarrassingly naive ignorance of US history.

  6. “Wait, what? She doesn’t take a shower? Is this a white people thing where you don’t maintain any personal hygiene? After a day?and keep in mind this is after she’s had an encounter with a would-be assassin so there was blood on her clothes?she doesn’t feel the need to shower? Has Charlaine Harris finally unlocked the mystery of why white people stink so very, very much?”

    Americans generally take their showers in the morning, rather than in the evening. I haven’t read the book so I have no idea where the dirtiness lies on the line between “ugh I got something on my shirt” and “I was dunked in pig shit” but I assume that it’s fairly far to the clean side of that continuum and she just decided to save it for the morning.

    • But… you should shower twice a day. Especially if it’s not winter, which in the book it isn’t.

      • Wait, shower twice a day? I thought Americans were unusually fastidious (compared to, say, Europeans) because we generally shower every day. How dirty can you get while you’re asleep?

        • It’s probably a temperature/climate thing. I live in the ‘subtropics’ of NZ, and generally in the summer, depending on what you’re doing, you usually end up with two showers a day, especially if you say, leave the house when it’s an incredibly humid and very sweaty February. Because otherwise, yeah, you stink to high heaven after even some light exercise.
          Winter though, yeah, a shower a day.

      • two points-in fairness, debbie pelt WAS trying to kill sookie, so i really wouldn’t call it murder. on the other hand, she didn’t have to blow her to bits with a shotgun.. second, when i lived in brasil, THREE showers a day were typical.

    • “Americans generally take their showers in the morning” — there are over 300 million of us and we don’t have a specific shower tradition. I don’t have a traditional 9-5 job so I take my shower before leaving the house. And then another one when I get home because it’s really hot here in the summer.

      Anyway, I’d say she just left it out as an unnecessary mundane detail yet she carefully tells us Sookie removed her makeup, so no. I’m guessing it’s all part of Sookie’s flat, unnaturally non-reactive character. It doesn’t seem to bother her at all that she’s been in some sort of deadly attack that left her with blood on her clothes. A normal person would have reacted with some sort of shock and definitely would have wanted to take a bath. But Charlaine Harris has not created any sort of normal character.

  7. How do you keep doing this? How do you trudge through all that trash and write something that is as clear as it is rage-filled? It’s so beautiful.
    I remember a co-worker gushing about these books. Something about them being empowering and showing the realities of classism. Because Sookie’s a waitress…I guess?
    What I don’t get is how people can say these books are good with a straight face. No matter how much I liked it every urban fantasy book I’ve read has gotten a two/three stars and an “It was fun but bad because X. Get it at the library.” According to other Amazon reviewers, this is very mean and unclassy.
    But this book. It has mostly five star reviews and all the one star reviews are just whining about how it doesn’t measure up to the fine quality of the previous books. No mention of racism or sexism. But that last comment you quoted says it all, doesn’t it? A lot of people see the isms as part of the southern charm. I’ve lived in Georgia and Texas and neither place was the white, rustic heaven that people dream up. But I guess that’s not the south that they want to hear about.
    (TW: rape)
    Off topic, but I’ve always wondered what you would do with Karen Moning’s Fever series. There are a few redeeming moments like a bunch of Dubliners telling the (American) main character that they don’t need her and there’s a secret all-woman society that’s pretty awesome (though weirdly lacking in lesbians). Overall though, it’s bad. The author tries to write a serious story about killing monsters but she clearly desperately wants to write hurt/comfort rape porn. It’s not too bad until the third (or fourth?) book when she decides the main character must literally be raped senseless. And then lovingly raped back to health by the hero. All of this is supposed to be sexy and the latter is supposed to be romantic. The “healing” was particularly awkward because she knows that it’s rape but she really wants to make it sweet and not-gross. It ends up being equal parts hilarious and disgusting. Bring your puke barrel if you do try it.

    • What I don’t get is how people can say these books are good with a straight face. [...] But that last comment you quoted says it all, doesn’t it? A lot of people see the isms as part of the southern charm.

      Or don’t see the -isms at all. NGL, I read the first nine books in the series and didn’t bat an eye. Saw absolutely none of this. Not the sexism, racism, not even the shitty writing, all of which is so horribly clear now I cringe reading the quotes. But seriously, as someone who didn’t even know what internalized misogyny was when I read the series, it’s painfully easy to fixate on the hot Swedish ass, shower sex, and completely ignore everything else. The power of privilege, yo.

      ALTHOUGH, the “old ivory” thing is one of the few bits I remember doing the “wha” number on, because I had no idea how ivory could ever get to the point that it resembled a black man’s skin. But I just shrugged and chalked it up to my ignorance of the incredible color-changing properties of elephant tusk.

      • I’ve seen the “old ivory” thing before and it made me “wha–” then too. I don’t know where it comes from — few Americans even know what real ivory looks like, let along “old” ivory. I can only think it’s one of those descriptors that have been passed down through the ages of bad books. Possibly it came from Gone With The Wind; this seems to be the go-to book for people wanting to write about “The South.”

        • The “old ivory” description is probably referring to what used to be known as “high yellow” — someone of mixed race ancestry who’s so light skinned that it’s only the One Drop Rule that keeps them from being classed as white. You’ll note that Charlaine — err, Sookie, identifies him as “African-American” despite drawing attention to Caucasian features like his red hair. Not “a white guy with hints of African ancestry,” or “a man of mixed heritage.” No, he’s just “African American.” He and his children for the next seven generation could probably marry pure Nordic women and Sookie would still consider the eighth generation to be black.

  8. I have nothing to add about the misogyny and racism, but can I add a wholly separate pet peeve (which does in fact relate to the sexist bullshit, if you’ll bear with me)? Because it comes up all the time in urban fantasy (or urban fantasy with werewolves, anyway). In the above review, I link to an academic paper, but here’s the short version: wolves don’t act like that. This trope people are so fond of that wolves organize themselves into rigidly hierarchical packs with an “alpha male” who receives cowering submission from all the other pack members, male and female? It’s bullshit.

    But every single werewolf story has werewolves acting just like that, and we’re supposed to believe that people (even if they are lycanthropes) would be okay with having to grovel at the feet of anyone you’re not willing to fight to the death.

    So not only is it lazy writing, but it supports this idiotic notion which is much beloved of the sorts of groty dudes who think evolutionary psychology is da bomb, that humans, too, come in “alpha male” and “beta male” versions, and if you’re an “alpha” you get all the chicks. And of course, this feeds into all sorts of other unpleasant (and debunked) theories like how rape is hardwired into us, why women don’t like Nice Guys, etc.

    • I would like to give a thumbs up to that complaint.

      It would be kind of cool to see werewolves in a book have the kind of complex social hierarchy that actual wolves do.

    • Yes! God, my personal shit series is the Mercy Thompson and this is how both the book and the fans excuse the lead hero’s MANRAEG and dominance issues: it’s all about his “wolf”, how his wolf controls him, how he can’t help it the poor little thing, but A) as you pointed out, lol nope, doesn’t work that way, and B) (as you also pointed out), the human side would be able to control that if he weren’t such a raging prick. A friend said it best: the kind of werewolf an author writes reflects a lot on the what that author believes about people. Given manraging Alpha douches are idolized as the BEST KIND OF MAN THAT EVERY MAN SHOULD BE in the MT world, it’s not surprising that the “werewolf’ thing is used as an excuse to make that kind of behavior okay – and common.

      But then, given how Alpha males are such popular romantic interests in UF and romance, it’s not surprising this is how most werewolves turn out. Gag.

      • I can’t believe anyone with sense could read the Mercy Thompson series. I picked up the first book because someone mentioned it as an urban fantasy series where the protagonist isn’t a honky. I read the back cover, realized that the character’s Native American background was just an excuse to give her mystic powers, and tossed the book aside.

    • Thank you, as someone who is majoring on biology and animal conduct, this is something that always makes me rage.

      As much as I like reading about wolves and werewolves, I just can’t stand this bullshit anymore.

  9. @inveraritypynchon

    Try being an animal scientist (my bachelor’s is in animal science, and technically I am a biologist). There is no, absolutely no, urban fantasy/romance book series out there that portrays any animal species as they are in context of werewhatevers. If I hand’t stopped reading the Anita Blake series for how incredibly horrible and tasteless it was, then it’d be for how they treat every animal representation of werewhatevers. It’s because these people are shitty writers who refuse to define how much of their shifters are animals and how much they are human and that the *human* part is making them do horrible, shitty patriarchy and not some instinctual imperative. These packs, prides, dens, whatevers are the worst and I hate them all. And the concept of mate for life? Bogus. I think the one animal this pisses me off with more is hyenas because heaven forbid females of the species are actually portrayed as leaders. Or if they are in context of hyenas, then males are still bigger and stronger, which, no…just…no.

    I was reading a recap over a Television Without Pity and, for the most part, there is a recapper (identifies as a gay man) I enjoy, but occasionally he says something and I’m like “woah”…and it was mainly in regards to the Jason is raped repeatedly storyline in True Blood…but I liked this comment of his in the Bunheads recap:

    “You know, I don’t think the Friend Zone is a very valid reason to be shitty about women, but even more than that I don’t think the Friend Zone is really a thing: It’s called trying to be nice about the fact that I’m clearly not interested.

    And so when you push it, or stalk, or whine about how Nice Guys Lose or Women Only Like Assholes, or complain about the Friend Zone itself, it’s a really gross expression of privilege in at least two ways, because men are told they can have whatever they want — nothing new — but women are in turn told to never piss anybody (men) off, so it’s a car accident of two things that we shouldn’t be taught in the first place. What you’re saying is that you think you’re in love, but you have no idea what that means, or else you would respect the woman enough to take her at her word instead of trying to trick her or wear her down.”

    I can agree with that.

    There is something else that’s very problematic about how Harris goes on and on and on about light-skinned Black/African Americans, which is, the institutionalized racism of the so-called “one drop rule”. The rule is that if you have Black or African American parents or grandparents or near relations by blood, then you are Black or African American. So despite what some faux progressive want, Barack Obama, despite being half-white would be forbidden by the mores of current society for daring to identify as white even though he has claim to it. My family is incredibly mixed…we have light and dark skin…and a cousin of mine has red hair, but her facial features are Black/African American despite her white skin and red hair so she could never identify as white and if she did, she’d be shamed by both whites and other Black/African Americans. So would I and any number of my kin. Sookie repeatedly bringing it up isn’t just her weirdly identifying Black/African American and othering them, but it also serves to ensure that there will never be a time when this person or his descendants are anything but this. I don’t particularly want to be white but it’s just another tool to keep the oppressed oppressed. To make sure they stay there. There can be no hope of assimilation in this case or of being accepted as you are and not as you are perceived by white society.

    But another concern is: what if he doesn’t self-identify as African American? What if he considers himself “Black” because he can trace his white or Native American or possibly Hispanic roots a bit closer to himself? Or they are equally weighted to him? I know that’s how it is for me…I view them all as important to me. And I know there are plenty of other Black/African Americans who would disagree with me, but assuming anything means excluding someone from their own heritage and defining them through your lens, which is what Sookie is doing to the chauffeur and presumably every other Black/African American she encounters.

  10. I live in the South in the US, in a small, all-white town. A lot of people in my area entertain the idea that racism no longer exists, despite the fact that many of them have family members that were in the KKK, and to this day many black people refuse to set foot in this town due to some very rational fears concerning personal safety.

    That being said, the fact that this Southern author was raised in the most racist region of an already racist country, and still believes that the US would welcome persecuted immigrants with open arms, is just… wrong. It’s doubly disturbing that she simultaneously puts forth the idea that other countries would dissolve into fanatical religious murder – which, ironically, seems more like something the South would do.

    • A lot of people in my area entertain the idea that racism no longer exists, despite the fact that many of them have family members that were in the KKK

      ಠ_ಠ

      I guess I shouldn’t be shocked or anything, but uh. That’s quite the denial there.

      • “But they quit going to the meetings!” is supposed to be proof enough? Though no one dares ask Uncle Bubba what he still thinks about “race-mixing” because he’ll tell you and there go those illusions about everything being nice now.

      • I live in the South US as well; my town outright denies that slavery even happened here, let alone the Klan. Naturally if you try to call anyone out on sheer bullshititude of this idea you get called a racist and are henceforth ignored. A lot of the older Black people refuse to even discuss the Klan’s existence here because its members are still around and the fear is still real and alive in them.

        “The woman standing at the podium was beautiful and black, her hair shaved very close to her skull. She wore a draped dress of orange and brown and the highest heels I had ever seen.”

        lol. I think this offends me more than the description of the chauffeur. She can be black, actually black, and beautiful, but only if she doesn’t have afro-textured hair and is tall, albeit artificially? Oh boy.

        • My little Southern town used to have a sign near the outskirts that threatened any black folk passing through not to stay past sundown. A few years ago, someone removed it. Now, if you ask anyone about the sign, they’ll say it’s just an urban legend.

          Crazy shit.

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/20/AR2006022001590.html (Not sure if linkspam is allowed, but there it is.)

          I guess when you’re surrounded by racism, the easiest thing to do is delude yourself. I suspect the author (raised near where I live) suffers from a combination of willful ignorance and pride.

        • Hooooooo wow.

          In Colorado: “No Mexicans After Night.”

          In Connecticut: “Whites Only Within City Limits After Dark.”

          In Nevada, the ban was expanded to include those the sign-writers term “Japs.”

          Just, wow.

  11. “But every single werewolf story has werewolves acting just like that, and we’re supposed to believe that people (even if they are lycanthropes) would be okay with having to grovel at the feet of anyone you’re not willing to fight to the death.”

    given that people are willing to accept lab-genes == submissive female, you may be setting your bars exceedingly high. ;-)

  12. I remember my friend’s friend who got rejected a US visa some few years after 9/11. She’s ethnically Chinese, and she is Chinese citizen. Her other friends who pretty much have the same documentation as her (same student papers, same passport, etc) got accepted, but she wasn’t. We’re convinced that this girl got rejected because she looks very much like a local South East Asian person. You know… tanned. What do you mean the Americans are paranoid racists? ಠ_ಠ

    So… In das_sporking there’s a tradition called “spitefics”, which is writing impromptu short fanfiction as a reaction to a bad scene in any story. I feel inspired to write one in response to burger Lafayette, and hopefully I didn’t make it sound as racist as the original. I don’t read the books so I just made up a lot of stuff. If I got anything wrong.. well, yeah.

    “Here’s your burger Lafayette, ma’am,” the new cook – Carson, was it? – said, handing her a plate.
    Ann stared at her plate and sighed heavily. It’s not really burger Lafayette if it wasn’t made by Lafayette, but she had always ordered that burger every time she ate at the diner and she just instinctively asked for it, even though she knew that Lafayette isn’t around anymore.
    She shook off the thought and unenthusiastically began to cut herself a slice of the burger. When she noticed that Carson was watching her, she felt a little bad and slowly ate the piece.
    “Is there something wrong with the food, ma’am?” she heard Carson ask.
    Ann shrugged, busying herself with cutting up the burger on her plate. “No. Nothing’s wrong. It’s just… different, you know?”
    Her mind flashed with memories of good old Lafayette. She remembered that every time he served her his burgers he would always say that they’re made with Gramma Lafayette’s secret recipe and that he hoped she enjoyed it like he enjoyed his Gramma’s cooking. She once asked him if he ever gets tired saying that and he said he would never get tired of boasting of Gramma Lafayette’s cooking.
    And now he’s gone. Just like that. It’s been a while since his passing, but she still missed him. His boisterous greeting and the way he would cheerfully tell stories as he cooked.
    Choking back her sobs, Ann pushed her plate away, her appetite gone. She dropped enough money for the payment and hurried out. The diner would never be the same without Lafayette, and it would be a while before she could bear returning there.

    I am not a good writer *is shot*

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