Friday, December 21, 2012

Narcissus in Chains chapter 18

And once more, I have to get creative with my posting. Because all they do in this chapter is have sex.

I am the wrong audience for a sex scene, okay? I'm not offended by sex. I am bored by it. I think part of it is, well...I can't really relate to a sex scene. Maybe eventually I'll get it. As of now, though, I have NO IDEA why this would be stimulating for anybody.

And it doesn't help that we get sentences like this:

But the ardeur colored all of it, whether I was craving flesh, or blood, the sex was there in all of it.
LKH, I hate to break it to you, but not everybody has a vore fetish.

I think part of the appeal of vampire fiction, at least for me, is the usual "I have to fit in" sub-plot. A character has a natural instinct to kill, and must choose between surrender to their instincts and being a social outcast (and being murdered by the torch-wielding villagers) and supressing their instincts, suffering, and reaping the benefits of having a social life. And then you get the sub-sub-plot of finding that one person who understands the vampire well enough to indulge in some of their instincts, while still being safe.

Basically, it's a metaphore for sex and relationships. You don't do asocial shit, you get to have friends. You don't abuse potential love interests, eventually you get one that will stick around for a while.

That's why even Twilight had a little (VERY little) appeal to me, and of course I read P.N. Elrod's vampire mysteries like candy (First book: PI wakes up as a vampire, and must solve his own murder while his murderers--assuming vampires aren't real--continue to try to kill him. BEST. PLOT. EVER.) And why Anita Blake kept my interest for nine books. The subtext is about finding balance, I guess, and that's why we start with violent characters who slowly become un-violent, and peaceful characters who learn how to value swords, or a well-aimed left hook. It's not something you even need to be aware of as a writer, though if you ARE aware of it you can really fuck with the audience.

And I guess the reason this series became a turn off for me stopped being about finding balance and became pure indulgance without consequence. Which is bullshit.

“Ma petite, ma petite, I would change this if I could, but I cannot. We must make the best of what is given us.”
Yeah. Fuck you, Jean Claude.

Let's go ALL the way back to Guilty Pleasures and remind ourselves what the dynamics were back then. Richard did not exist. You had Anita Blake, necromancer and vamp killer, Edward the sociopath, Anita's various female friends which included Ronnie, The...uh, stripper dude whose name I can't remember, which is sad because he was the best damn character in the book. And in contrast to this simi-normal collection of humanity you had this backdrop of lawlessness that was the vampire community, and the amoral law of the shapeshifters--their rules were more about dominance games than morality. Anita's primary influience on the preternatural community was morality. She replaced Nickolaus with Jean Claude, the truely fucked up Alpha/Lupa of the werewolves with Richard. In Obsidian Butterfly she killed a bad vampire-god-thing but left the "not killing people" vampire-goddess-thing alone. Whenever someone did something amoral and wrong Anita was the one who stepped in. In a way Anita was the Bran of this universe. You do not fuck with Mercy's Bran, and you did not fuck with Anita. She was good, she was fair, and if you crossed the line into hurting people, she stepped in and killed your ass. She provided restraints that made the preternatural safe. In return, the preternatural gave her danger and excitement. She was finding balance, the preternatural community was finding balance, and a good time was had by all.

And that all went out the window in this book.

I turned and caught sight of myself in the standing mirror in the corner. My eyes had filled with pale brown fire, not the darkness of my own eyes, but hers. “No,” I said, softly. I felt her thousands of miles away. Her pleasure at my terror rolled through my body, raised my beast and sent me falling onto the bed. My hands strained for something to hold on to, some help, but there was nothing to fight; it was power and it was inside me.
Oh, by the way? that "her" thing caught me just as out of the blue as it did you. The "her" is Bella Morte, Jean Claude's sire's sire. Or something like that. She's the source of the ardeur. And she's just possessed Anita's body, so all we're going to see from her POV is curtain flutters and a thin glaze of non-con.

So even when it's consensual, in that she's gonna agree to do it, it's not gonna be consensual.

How does this book lose balance?

This whole scene here, for example. It's not about finding control, it's about losing control. It's about running right up to the end of the cliff and falling off. There are no limits anymore. Nothing is safe, nothing is sacred. It's whatever the author wants it to be.

Hands slid along my skin, a mouth closed on my mouth, and I couldn’t see who was right above me, kissing me. I could feel the weight of their body, another set of hands, but I could see nothing but a shining amber light.


We've gotten this idea in pop culture that limits are a bad thing. We think we want to be out of control, but in reality we just want a couple of the restraints vaguely loostened so we have a little more wriggle room. Limits and Boundaries keep people safe, both physically and emotionally, and it is a good thing to find the hard rules (IE Rape and murder are both bad) and the ones that can be flexed into a pretzel for the enjoyment of all participants. Vampires are sexy because they are dangerous. Vampires become sexy and attractive when the audience believes they could sex them up and not be hurt in the process. Vampires with limits, in other words. They'll break the skin, but they won't drain you dry.

Yay. Anita has flung Belle Morte out of her body using the power of orgy sex. Thrilling.

What you get without limits is basically the entire Anita Blake series from this point on. Rape. Murder. Rape again. Respect that only exists because you have a bigger threat/gun/beast/penis/power than the other guy. The only limits are the ones you create for yourself. And the sad thing is the series tries so hard to pass this off as a good thing. It's almost like reading an Ayn Rand book. You know, the parts where they try to pass off taking care of orphans and the elderly as bad things.

Anita has now insulted a very powerful vampire. And the chapter has ended. I can't even hope that Belle Morte shows up and bashes skulls in, because everybody in this bed is in the latest book.

The most telling thing about it is, nobody suffers concequences for their actions. Micah becomes Anita's primary love interest from here on out. Jean Claude is the Most Powerful Vampire for quite a long time. Richard, who continues to try to impose limitations on his pack, gets thrown aside for an endless progression of were-felines. Anita has so many live-in-lovers you lose count. I am not saying it's bad to have sex with multiple partners, but when you have enough men in your harem to qualify as a hoarder if they were cats, you have ISSUES. And none of them, except maybe Richard, have anything near what I would call a good life. The books don't seem fun from here on out.

In other words, there's a reason why we don't eat nine billion bon-bons in one sitting, kids. Technicolor vomit isn't fun to clean up. Most social rules we have? Exist for the same reason. 

And now that THAT boring chapter is out of the way...on with the parade of awful!

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I got linked here from this post:

    and I just want to say that I really agree with this bit:

    "We've gotten this idea in pop culture that limits are a bad thing. We think we want to be out of control, but in reality we just want a couple of the restraints vaguely loostened so we have a little more wriggle room."

    Pop culture (and our culture in general, really) really have this idea that all rules are bad and need to be broken. Oh, few enough stories advocate rape and murder, but opposition to those things always have to come from the protagonist's own gut reaction. Personal vengeance is fine, it seems, but impartial justice is not. This always annoys me.

    (to be sure, you could claim that there is also a flip side in the form of people who really seem to believe that rules are their own justification and do not need to make sense. Those exist, and they're bad. But they tend to have very little impact on pop culture)