Monday, November 18, 2013

Danse Macabre--chapter 25

This chapter is an ongoing parade of pants-shittingly stupid inanity, and I have no idea how I'm going to make it through.

I skipped it last night because HOW CAN I MAKE ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY NOTHING FUNNY?!?

One POS paragraph at a time, CW, we can do this.

Anita comes out of the bathroom. This is starting to induce a pavlovian cringe--going into and out of bathrooms. Nothing happens this time, though, because it's just Jean Claude talking to a blond vampire. And it's the first blond where I can't decide if she's supposed to be teh evuls blonde, or an actual character.

Her long blond hair fell in a pale wave around her body, like a second robe, so long. She was a vision in pale delicate colors, then she looked at me. Her eyes were a pale icy blue, the wrong color of blue for that delicate face. Her face was a near-perfect oval, dainty and unreal, as if someone had carved her from some white, pure rock, and breathed life into her. Unless she worked at it, hers was a cold beauty. If her eyes had been a brighter blue, I think it would have made her look warmer.
Look. Speaking as an artist the most important aspects of an eye are that they are wet and roughly the right shape. Dramatic pictures aside, most people don't notice eye color. For example, I fucking love the picture of Sharbat Gula (Aka the National Geographic Afgan girl) because it's a good picture. The only reason I can tell you her eyes are green are 1. I looked up the picture several days ago and 2. I just looked it up again so I could refer to her by name and not title. And the green is more of a "well...I guess so" and not, you know, GREEN. Green eyes, blue eyes, violet eyes and gray eyes are all REALLY close together. You don't notice them from across the room. The famous "Don't fire till you see the whites of their eyes" line meant "let them get REALLY FUCKING CLOSE."

And I don't see how turning up the saturation would make blue less cold.

She had the blond Nordic beauty that I’d craved as a child. Craved so I’d fit in with my blond, blue-eyed father and his new family.

....you know, for all that Anita goes on and on and on and on about being mixed, and how it's thoroughly traumatic for her that she's not blond...she doesn't have a lot of Hispanic. The pale skin thing is negligable--you live in South Texas, you meet a lot of people who are mixed race, and you meet a lot of white people who married Hispanic people and took the Hispanic last name. I have, no shit, met an awful lot of blond, blue eyed Garzas. And Anita has no cultural ties to Hispanic things. There's no Tejano music, there's no mad rushes for pan Dulce or Bunuelos for New Year's. There is NOTHING to suggest Anita either has Hispanic heritage or values that Hispanic heritage. She brings it up a lot, sure, but it's always in how that heritage never measured up to white people--her heritage is only mentioned when it's a negative.  And while we're on the subject of blue eyes, there's a really interesting Creator Approved picture from the Anita Blake Comic Book...

This image belongs to Marvel. I have nothing to do with this. Come on Anita, pout harder.

Remember all those "Jean Claude has too-blue eyes" descriptions? Yeah. I can't tell.
Also: Marvel paid really good money for that image. And coloring job.

I weep.

And Anita isn't Nordic/Hispanic. She's German. German skintone might be white, but hair and eyes pretty much come in brown brown brown and uh...brown. There's the occasional blonde and blue set thrown in, but most of the "I ARE ARYAN GERMAN" actors--both when the Nazis were in charge and after--come from Sweden and Norway. Maybe her stepmom really is from nordic stock, but she'd be whining about the blond hair even if she weren't Hispanic.

Just one "I spent today tracking down my heritage" mention. Just one. 

 The big crisis is that Elinor is awake before noon. Yeah, everybody got a powerup, remember? A lot of vampires are waking before they're supposed to. I wanted one of them to turn into a charizard, but I guess you can't have everything.

Elinor also doesn't need to feed, because Jean Claude is full and then some. They contemplate how this will help them expand their power base. But enough about that, because Requiem is here!

Requiem shrugged back the hood without using his hands, the way you’d flip long hair behind your back. The hood slid down and the right side of his face was a mass of deep-purple bruises. One of his eyes was almost swollen shut...

I call bullshit. Not on the injuries. Abuse is wrong and always will be. I call bullshit on the whole "Meng Die beats up Requiem" thing. This isn't a character fail. This is a creator fail. The ONLY reason this is here is to obliterate any trace of Meng Die as a strong, competent female character anywhere near Anita's level. Because that can't be allowed at all. LKH wrote a character, realized that character was in competition with her main character, and decided to demonize the first character so that Anita would stay on top. How fucking competitive do you have to be to character assassinate your own fucking creations?

 Oh, and here's the other reason Requiem had to get battered into a pulp:

I did it without being asked. I’d noticed the bruises last night, but hadn’t seen all the bandages under his shirt. I had had no idea how hurt he was. I hesitated in the bathroom with the scissors in my hand. I caught sight of myself in the mirror. I looked sort of startled. Had he really dumped Meng Die because of me? Dumped another woman on the off chance that I might take him as a pomme de sang? I stared at myself in the mirror and just didn’t see a woman who could make a man dump someone on the possibility of sex. Elinore, maybe, but me… I just didn’t think so.

Anita is so desirable men would risk death at the hands of a woman to get to lie adoringly at Anita's precious feet.

Oh, and she's so modest she'll never admit it in a million years...but she sure is thinking it.

 Because it's not like one vampire just pounded another into raw meat, and this is wrong or anything. Nope. It's to prove that Anita is just that wonderful.

And Meng Die did this where everyone could see, so Anita asks how they covered it up:

“Mass hypnosis is not illegal, ma petite, only personal hypnotism.”
Mah. Gah. Gabada. Whaaaa...you're serious? LKH, you seriously expect your audience to swallow that the government left a loophole that big in the vampire laws? It's illegal to hypnotize one person, but not a whole crowd? Well, fuck, why aren't vampires on the payroll for politicians? Vote for me...vote for meeee...

Also: Way to go covering up serious domestic violence, Jean Claude. A sane person would have dropped Meng's cross-wrapped coffin off at the police station with a nice folder of photographs of Requiem's face, but you're much better than that.

Everyone in this book is horrible. EVERYONE.

 And of course Requiem is addicted to the ardeur and the only cure is to send him far away and never let him have pleasure again, so Anita has to take him into her bed. It's selfish for her not to. I mean, he just got beaten the fuck up for her and all. It's just her self-doubt telling her she can't possibly love more than one person. And look at those battered blue puppy eyes, don't you just want to?

“I don’t want to collect men,” I said. I stared down at the man in my lap. “I certainly don’t want them this… besotted. This a level of wanting that’s just wrong.”
The one thing that never fails to amaze me is how this book manages to say exactly the truth when it's trying to do "Character A is sorting through their inhibitions."

“Ma petite, you must meet this obligation.” 
I stared at him. “Obligation?”
 “You have addicted him to you. Would you be as cruel as Belle Morte herself and cast him away, with this desire riding him?”
This book was published in 2006. TWO THOUSAND MOTHERFUCKING SIX.

 And then Elinor and Jean Claude reveal that Anita is basically the dumping ground for Jean Claude's own ardeur, and she's taken all the pressure off of him. Isn't that nice.

Anita finally agrees, but not for right now...probably because even LKH knows the readers will revolt if she forces another sex scene down our throats. Requiem is hurt.

And then Wicked and Truth show up.

Anita and Jean Claude decide that means the powerup is tied to Anita's ardeur and not so much Belle's line--which doesn't explain Elinor but whatever--and that they need to go test the ardeur on more vampires. End of chapter.

Hate. Hate hate hate hate HATE this book.


10 comments:

  1. DAMN that is an ugly comic panel. The hair...oh the hair...it's positively Cthulian. If Cthulhu was in the habit of taking on dumb, self-obsessed people as his flunkies.
    ...Actually, maybe they're devotees of Azazoth. He is a blind idiot god, after all, who has to be constantly placated by two inhuman flute players, or else he'll wake up and rend worlds. Anita is an idiot who can't see what's going on around her ever, and she has to be constantly placated by skin flutes or else she'll destroy families, clans, and other social networks. So it fits.

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    1. ...I just had to double check that this image is legit because it looks like the hair has been copied off of one of them and pasted onto the other. It might be legit drawn, but an awful lot of that curly mess is the same.

      The comic is such a hot mess. Admittedly it IS based on the good books in the series, and it's in a medium where LKH can't shoe-horn sex in without Marvel going "UH HEY WAIT A MINUTE", but it took FOR. FUCKING. EVER to get through Laughing Corpse, because LKH insisted on a page-for-page adaptation as soon as Guilty Pleasures was a success. They broke it into three books which resulted in titles like "Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse--Book One: Animator"

      I read the first chunk of the comic years ago (which kind of got me off the wagon) and then let comic snark sites do the rest of it. It kind of sapped my will to live.

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    2. Now that you mention it, they do have the same hair! And the same face, or just about. And LKH *chose* this artist *deliberately.*
      I admire your ability to read any of those unsnarked. The bits where she describes in a text box what you're looking at on the page maddened me.

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    3. I think my favorite part was the thighs bigger than waist or head. And the random pencil marks every-fucking-where. And how lace=scribble scribble scribble. And--yeah, I'd better stop here.

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  2. I feel like a pale icy blue sounds like the perfect color for Elinore, though? Fuck, what's wrong with being a "cold beauty"?

    I hate how LKH takes a very real and very painful issue (that the standard for beauty is being white and how that affects REAL women of color) and warped it into an excuse for Anita, who is conventionally hot in every single way, to be able to angst over her looks without actually having anything that would ever be considered a flaw in our culture, save for her heavy scarring. Seriously, her big obvious scars should be so much more of an image issue than "oh no I am a white woman with DARK hair, this is totally the same as legit ethnic angst and on par with what real WoC actually go through!" because LKH seriously cannot think outside herself and her own experiences enough to ever imagine what a Hispanic woman might actually go through in regards to self-image and beauty standards.

    And Anita seriously is so white I think her mom was Spanish as in FROM SPAIN and Anita is just dumb enough she thinks it's the same thing as Mexican. I say that not because she looks white--there are, as you said, many Mexican people who are quite pale--but because she's got zero Mexican culture. This is not to say "any person of Mexican heritage isn't REALLY Mexican if they don't know/practice Mexican culture" but that in Anita's very specific case, it makes NO SENSE for her not to. Why? Well, she idolized her dead Mexican mother like crazy, whereas she felt rejected by her white father when he re-married to a white woman, whose side of the family she clearly does not identify with at all. That alone to me seems like it would make her more inclined to embrace her mother's side over her father's, and try as best she could to look into her mother's heritage and identify it. And even if she decided not to---maybe it was painful for a long time to associate with anything she associated with her mom--there's also the fact that her Mexican grandmother moved in for awhile to help raise her, and it seems downright impossible to me that she never picked anything up from her.

    What it comes down to is that Anita is LKH, LKH is not Mexican in terms of heritage or culture, and so while she may claim that Anita has Mexican heritage, she's not ever going to look it (despite claiming everyone can tell her awful dark ethnic heritage by her dark hair...which the totally white LKH also has) and she's sure as hell not going to have any cultural ties to it because LKH doesn't and she cannot have her avatar being any different from her besides the wish-fulfillment aspects of being super-hot, having loads of men, etc.

    Also, in terms of Anita's mixed heritage only ever being brought up as a negative thing, it gets even worse in that being part Mexican is treated as "bad" not as in "being mixed will result in facing difficulties because people are shitty about it" but as in "being mixed is JUST BAD IN ITSELF" which is really gross and racist.

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    1. Elinor sounds perfect.

      The culture thing. Good fucking God the culture thing. I'm REALLY trying not to rant about it because White and Not My Place, but it's really dominant down here and really cool, and there are SO MANY THINGS a woman raised by her HISPANIC GRANDMOTHER ought to have. A craving for good tortillas and real mexican food would be a big one (There are very, VERY few real mexican restaurants up north. And by "North" I mean "Dallas, TX." And that's just my white-girl standards. St. Louis would be a wasteland of microwaved salsa and Taco Bell.) The music. Dear fucking God Selena Quintinella-Perez is a fucking GODDESS down here, and she's been dead since the ninties. The holidays, the fact that EVEN DOWN HERE hispanics ABSOLUTELY are under-represented in just about everything...there are nine zillion things that Anita should have absorbed just via osmosis, and instead she's like VIVA LA FRANCE because Jean Claude is french. We're oh so careful to weave french through everything but GOD FORBID we even TOUCH on hispanic culture.

      Yeah. It's irksome.

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  3. "you know, for all that Anita goes on and on and on and on about being mixed, and how it's thoroughly traumatic for her that she's not blond...she doesn't have a lot of Hispanic. The pale skin thing is negligable--"

    As someone who is mixed, I can tell you that it is very, very obvious that LKH has no idea what it's like to grow up mixed and the experiences and mindset of being mixed. And yeah...her white skin is really meaningless, particularly when coupled with Mexican. Because Mexico has it's own 'mixed' race status. You have the people descended from or related to the indigenous people, which does come with darker skin and the rounder features (think Inca). And then there is the Spanish influence, and Spaniards are pretty fair-skinned with sharper, thinner features then the native Indians of Mexico. A person can be purely 'Mexican' and still consider themselves 'mixed.' And Anita's fair skin could have come from her Mexican side, they do have 'white Mexicans' which are Mexicans of purely/mostly European descent. Race and mixed-race have different connotations down there, and Anita with her very fair skin would be seen in a more positive light within Mexico.

    It really doesn't matter how black her hair is or how dark her eyes are, she has white skin and she acts really, really white. Her half-Mexican status is just a label for her to throw around so she can be 'exotic' and 'ethnic' and more special than her boring white Nordic step-mom. And it's insulting to someone who has grown up mixed to read this half-assed and clumsy attempt to write an exotic character purely for the sake of being exotic because the author thinks being plain vanilla white is boring. I'm sorry, LKH, that you find your heritage boring, but I'm very proud of my heritage and family and I dislike the idea of you flinging it around as some sort of Sue trait to make yourself feel better (LKH did write a blog about how she felt her pure white heritage was boring in comparison to the more 'exotic' races). It makes me feel like she doesn't see non-whites/mixed as being people, but instead as fancy little garments to dress her characters up in and parade around as something sexy and 'exotic.'

    Sorry for the rant...but LKH's hamfisted handling of race is just so infuriating.

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    1. No problem. You said pretty much what I wanted to say, anyway.

      I grew up down here, where 80% of the population is hispanic. There's an awful lot of really shitty racism down here, but the culture itself is awesome and everywhere, and it's like "At least get the FOOD in there for fuck's sake." You got a chance to do something really cool, and you're going to ignore it in favor of rants about how you're Not Blond?!?

      But of course researching hispanic culture and how it feels to be raised mixed race is too hard.

      And it really strikes me that Anita's heritage is intended as a FLAW. LOOK SHE'S NOT PERFECT, SHE'S PART HISPANIC.

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    2. Exactly. Also, I notice that she focuses on white people being offended and racist toward her. But what about other Hispanics? I feel like LKH thinks all Hispanics/Latinos are just one big happy spanish-speaking group of people who get along perfectly. Puerto Ricans hate Mexicans...in fact many other Hispanics tend to view Mexicans unfavorably because of the negative stereotypes associated with Mexicans often bleed out to other Hispanics.

      But of course, research into her MC's heritage and the racial implications of such is far too hard for LKH. She's also probably one of those people who view all Asians as being the same. Japan, China, Korea, all interchangeable 'exotic' slant-eyed people in her mind.

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    3. I think she grasps that Japanese and Chinese people are different, since Graham is half-Japanese and Unkewl, whereas the tigers are part-Chinese (enough to make them seem ~exotic~ *GAG*) and Kewl.

      No word if she knows what Korea is, though. And I swear she thinks religion is a racial trait. ('You are Japanese! You are Buddhist. You over there! You're Chinese, therefore Vague Oriental Theology. You there! Icky whitebread, therefore Unkewl Christian. I am the amazing mixed-race woman with pasty white skin (WHITE! PASTY! WHIIIITE!), therefore Kewl Christian. Also I get the Voodoo trait from taking the half-Mexican template. Why are you looking at me as though you want to strangle me? Are you a jealous hater whiny baby?')

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