Thought I’d go ahead and stick it all in one post:
Thought I’d go ahead and stick it all in one post:
I promise, I’m getting to the end of my rope talking about Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake stuff, as far as overall commentary goes. There’s a lot to talk about, its a long series, but I’m getting tired of it and am taking a break from reading the series and buying it.
People love to portray gods, angels, goddesses, and Jesus Christ as white people and this explains why some of them believe white folks are god’s chosen people and everybody else is scum. I don’t believe for a second for that ancient Egyptians all look like white Europeans, no offense to all the white people who have ever played Egyptians in movies. I think that kind of religious idealism only works in literature and is contrived in film.
Practically everyone in the Anita Blake series is white because Laurell K. Hamilton is white and interacts probably mostly with white people. Therefore, in the ABVH universe, if the god/creator is white then it only stands to reason that the majority of the people in her created world are white. The characters are created in the likeness of their god, which would be Laurell K. Hamilton.
Every now and again, somebody like Bernado, Jamil, Shang Da, Jade and Vivian (*rolls eyes*), Yasmeen, and Raphael pop up, but only at Hamilton’s whim. There are neither consistent nor regularly appearing characters. That’s if they’re aren’t already dead, raped, tortured, or mutilated as sufficient to Hamilton’s liking.
Of course, by the reckoning and conception of the god of ABVH, Black people do not typically become vampires. Perhaps we should be happy. Who wants to see pasty, ashy, bloodless Black people? Only white folks look good that way apparently. We’re not called ‘people of color’ for nothing. Still, what I find lamentable is that Hamilton, as the god of ABVH, couldn’t figure out a better way to portray Black vampires, as opposed to almost scrapping them from the story all together. Examples of solutions: They have a gene that protects them from the worst of vampirism, like the discoloration when they haven’t fed. They’re usually a different kind of vampire than the typical European brand (which is the explanation that I go with in my writing, tying them in more culturally with Black history as I understand and sense it). The pale ashiness just doesn’t show up on them the same way. I don’t know! Any of these explanations would have worked for me but she just decided to make it so Black people don’t seem to catch vampirism, period. On the other hand, she had no problem making it easy for them to be infected with lycanthropy. So she can see them as animals, but not as something so classically reserved for the European as vampires, huh?
That is just quintessentially ignorant and white racist right there.
There is a constant reinforcement of white middleclass American and (romantic) European motifs, primarily French and British, in Hamilton’s universe. Maybe it is not so much that she can’t write Black characters or that Anita just seems white, but more that she has built a world in which people of color are excluded and made fodder by default.
Writers are the gods of their own literarily crafted worlds. They are limited only by the reach of their own minds and imaginations and experiences, and sometimes by the demands of the market for those who are published. Obviously, some people imaginations can’t reach that far. And then again its not so much an issue of the imagination as it is white people just not “knowing how to write” people of color in a genuine, not-so-racist way. And maybe they just shouldn’t. That is why they are the gods of their own world and in that world representations of people of color reflect their own pathologies about people of color rather than presenting real persons who inhabit and exist within these worlds.
I’m pretty sure she’d shrug and give some insensitive answer to this line of thinking, but, hey, what can you do. She writes what she writes and I think what I think about it.
ever more critical,
Laurell K. Hamilton has practically copied the passage about Anita being half-Latina from previous books and pasted it into every new book of this going-on-20-book-series. The only reason I think of Anita as half-Latina is because Hamilton keeps using Anita to say that she is. The truth is I don’t believe it. For the same reason that I can sometimes tell when a white writer is trying really hard to “write” a person of color, and failing horribly–its a sixth sense. Anita Blake’s biraciality has no real importance in the series; it can easily be removed, and the story would practically be the same. Anita Blake herself is not particularly a shining example of race consciousness, neither is Hamilton by her own admission. If you took out every point where Anita has said that her mother’s side of the family is Mexicano and replaced it with something white, privileged, middleclass, and American-sounding, and possibly made Anita blonde, this story would sound more or less the same if you ask me. My disbelief cannot be surrendered or suspended.
Why do I think of Anita as white? Well, Laurell K. Hamilton doesn’t really gives me a choice. I can never shake off this sensation that Hamilton is portraying Anita Blake as white while exotifying her as part Latina. Like I’ve said before, the only thing about Anita that’s Latina is her hair and that is constantly pointed at in the books. I think if you took out the grandma and the mother and replaced Anita with a white woman there would be absolutely no difference in the series. It doesn’t help that Anita has no substantial female friends (mentors or enemies either), she is homophobic, and she either victimizes other women or is portrayed as having antagonistic relationships with almost all the women who crop up in the series, especially the few women of color. Her whole presentation is that of a white woman. I was just making a horrible joke, actually, about her hair type because even that is aligned with the curliness of Jean Claude’s hair, an ancient white Frenchman who is the complete personification of Hamilton’s complex over pretty white people in her portrayal of Anita. All it would do is make Anita less ansty about being dark-haired and white.
Overall, Anita’s presentation is that of a white woman who emerges from the mind of a white woman. I’ve always struggled with LKH saying that Anita is half-Latina but never actually feeling that it was true or, I guess I should say, I’ve struggled with feeling that her Mexicana heritage matters…because her presentation is that of a white girl. What’s even the point of mentioning in almost every book that she’s half-Latina and forcing readers to ruminate over her angst with the situation? My point overall is that, as a woman of color reading about a woman who is at least mixed, I get no sense that Anita actually thinks about race as a serious issue (outside of her angst over her beauty and her history with her grandma); her background is that of a privileged, middleclass American white girl. As a half-white person (just plain white as an extension of Hamilton’s consciouness), race is something she can ignore if she wants.
Again, I continue to struggle with LKH saying that Anita is half-Latina but never actually feeling that it’s true. I don’t really intend to keep giving LKH my money, so I don’t know if this will change. I’ve stopped at Bullet and committed myself to not buying anymore.
Anita’s Mexican mother married a blond-haired, blue-eyed white man, Anita herself is pale as a sheet and its constantly alluded to over the course of the series, she surrounded by white people all the time, all her boyfriends are white, her background is pretty WASP. She’s white.
ever more real,
See? I can do more than criticize, lol. (yeah, right)
Anime enters her mind
I was absurdly, ridiculously happy when Anita said something about Nicky’s hair hanging in his face making him look like “an anime character” in Bullet.
Anita’s Penguins: A Love Story
I visited a Borders that was closing down and spent a lot of my mom’s money. I came across a little bookmark with penguins assembled on the ice and a little penguin hanging off the tassel. I got it, smiling, as I thought of Anita and her stuffed animals and all the penguin paraphernalia she’s evergotten from Jean-Claude as gifts.
Now what’d I do with it…?
‘The Harlequin’ book signing in Atlanta
I was in Seattle at the time, dealing with the undergrad life. I told my mom to get me the book from the store as a present and my sister with me. Who happened to be there? Laurell K. Hamilton doing a signing. I wanted Jean-Claude’s quote, ‘One lives in hope’ signed in my copy. My sister’s phone was dying and she had just enough power left to turn it on and hear the message I left her saying what I wanted Laurell to sign. What I said in my message is not what my sister heard.
She got the book autographed and told me later that Laurell was “a really pretty white lady”.
To this day, every time I think of it or look in the cover of my copy of The Harlequin I nearly cry in embarrassment. It reads in Laurell’s decent handwriting so confidently: ‘One lives and hopes’.
And the worst part about it is that I think Laurell knew because my sister told me that she asked, “Are you sure?” before signing it!
I’m tough to please in most arenas. I know that. I don’t settle. And I know that.
I stopped by and read the background bit/bio written by Laurell K. Hamilton about herself. As much as I criticize and sometime even loathe the Anita Blake series, I can’t help but admire this author. I realized it as I was reading and couldn’t help but smile.
She’s one writer that I can honestly say is published for a good reason. She has skill. She’s talented.
I am kind of disturbed by her track record in horror, as outlined in the ‘Laurell’ section on her website. I know sometimes Anita does things to creep people out in a show of power and I wonder about the information Hamilton selected to place in her biography. All the physical, psychological, and sexual violence the in ABVH series, plus her history in the horror genre (what she’s said she started out writing) makes me wonder about her being a sociopath herself. I believe this kind of writing has an effect on the mind and spirit and, to say the least, I find her writing “track record”…disturbing, kind of inhumane, and…frankly…creeeeepy.
But, then again, I think the same thing about Stephen King. What kind of person writes this stuff, you know?
Even so, I don’t know if I’ll ever make as big as her, but I love how she has shown everybody who ever said she wouldn’t make that they’re a bunch of fucking liars and I take heart in her success. I wonder if I’ll ever look back on all the people who said I wouldn’t/couldn’t make it with my writing style and energy and go “Muhahaha!”
I don’t want to follow her on my new Twitter buuut…I’m thinking about it, to be honest, just to show a little support (though she has enough of that, that’s why she’s still publishing). I also don’t want to overpraise her either. There’s definitely some stuff about her books that get on my nerves, for sure, and I talk about it extensively here. Call it bitchin’ and moanin’, whatever it is to whoever, I do my best.
for real honest,
Laurell K. Hamilton focuses a lot on exotified/exoticized bodies. I may have touched on the topic on several occasions at Elia’s Diamonds, but here’s the real deal. By making them normative, Hamilton hypes up the hype and fetishizing surrounding certain body types. For example, several of the polyamorous Anita’s guyfriends and/or significant others and sex partners are “exotic dancers” (I don’t know how PC that is, so the quotations), strippers, have been prostitutes, cops/ex-military/mercenaries, or trained dancers. Most of the men surrounding her are either totally survival-of-the-fittest-tight-bod or decorative beauties. Normal yet intelligent guys (Zerbrowski? Maybe? Though he is a cop….) with just enough fighting skill to get them out of a tough situation are few and far between. Women for that matter, too. Most of the women are either weaker than her or some kind of challenge to her. I understand that normal people will most likely die around her, sure, but that doesn’t cover the fact that Anita looks down on people who are, er, “preternaturally challenged” (meaning that they are human), or who are survivors of physical and sexual abuse and torture at the same time that she champions them.
It’s like taking all the beauty and the brutality of the world’s most prominently exotified animals, mixing them with human beings, and putting them in strip clubs and other places where people sell sex, and saying this is the world, deal with it. This isn’t to ignore the kitchen-bedroom-restaurant-life scenes; its just to draw more attention to the exoticizing. The most problematic thing for me is that if lycans really existed, this is probably how it would be. Although, Hamilton claims that being made a vampire doesn’t make you any sexier or rather it doesn’t change your appearance. But does lycanthropy change your appearance (since it changes your metabolism and eating habits)??? The unanswered question, yah! If I’m not mistaken.
The further you get along in the series, the less “normal” people you see as main characters. And primarily by “normal”, I mean usual body types or ostracized body types. Its all six-packs, broad shoulders, breasts-that-need-bras or cute small high tight breasts, muscles-in-extra-places-that people-can’t-see-and-that-mere-humans-don’t-have, sexy but petite lingerie, curls and waves and long hair, brushed silk drawers, kinky corsets, pale white this and pale white that, blonde hair-blue winter-spring sky eyes, the ardeur made me do this and the ardeur made me do that. And Hamilton seems to think that adding in some scars here and some folds there makes that big of a difference. Just like she seems to think that giving Anita curly hair and dark eyes makes her appearance less than that of a white girl.
Anita tries hard not to boo-hoo about being half-Latina in her blonde family. Reality check, honey, you’re white to most eyes….
A character like Jamil is portrayed as “dark-skinned ‘muscle'”, of course. And, of course, his body is probably very tight.
I’m not going to lie: I’ve been socialized to think that tight bodies and thinness are sexy. That defined curves and hollows reign supreme. In some part of my mind, I’m always questioning what I think is beautiful or sexy because I know its social conditioning from a society that has taught me not only to hate myself but to disregard and harshly criticize body types that aren’t of the type of molds Hamilton depicts. Those bodies that everybody secretly thinks of as sexy and slutty and beautiful.
The disclaimer here is that the tight bod, hypersexualized bodies in these books are kind of an embedded motif. That is to say, the exoticism is part of the package.
Ever more on point,
One of the few books I ever pick up anymore is Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series–and that’s saying something. As I get older, my tastes become more specific. I am less amused by the things that occupied me as a child and as a young adult, percieving them as a semi-exciting maze that has no other paths and leads eventually, always, to the same damn dead end produced by the publishing market.
This being said, I have yet to write about in detail Laurell K. Hamilton’s fixation, like most racist fetishist participating in racialized fetishism on the page, with paleness and whiteness as opposed to brownness and the so-called ‘darkness’. Hamilton’s Anita Blake is caught up in the racialized dualism of ‘darkness; and whiteness with little to no middle ground. I will suspend my belief in the concept of the willful muse to go so far as to say that Laurell K. Hamilton herself is trapped in the same dualism, seeing as how Anita comes out of her head: Anita is a reflection of the author’s own psyche.
Through Anita, Hamilton toys with the idea of brownness through summer tans and suggestions of “darker heritage’, but couches the entire story from the prospective of a woman who is half white and middleclass, with an angelic deceased Latina mother, a mean strict Catholic Latina grandmother, surrounded by her white lovers–a score of men telling her how beautful she is mostly because the women around her are either victims, “meat” for abuse and weak, tarts that just wanna start something with Anita, resources for Anita to learn for and therefore do not appear often (and nor are they called upon by Anita as allies regularly), or more evil, sadistic, and scary than Anita is and, therefore, must be killed. Examples are Vivian, Raina, the Mother of All Darkness, Jade, Belle Morte, Cherry, and so on and so forth. Infrequent characters like Sylvie (victimized by Hamilton as well) and Claudia being the exception (and still white and blond at that).
Hamilton spends all this time, all sixteen or so books, establishing Anita as a woman whose beauty lies merely in the suggestion of her ‘darker heritage’, when she herself is pasty pale, petite, and curly-haired and might as well be white. She toys with the idea of ‘darkness’ while never really presenting anybody besides minor characters like Raphael and Jamil as truly “dark” or ethnic, whatever that may mean. What is the (political) point of even building and portraying Anita as half Latina when she’s just going to play with the idea of her being Latina? You could easily swap her out for a white girl and there wouldn’t be that much of a difference. There’s no point in emphasizing her Latina heritage if all her worth is couched in her pale white skin. Her Latina blood is just something to eroticize and exotify.
Shoot, the only thing that’s Latina about Anita, as my friend who is Mexican would say, is her hair. Believe it.
I am sick of writers and the media couching racial commentary in multiracial and biracial terms, as if this is the only perspective valid enough to be represented because whites are more accepting of someone who is half white. Of course, not everyone who is multiracial or biracial is half white, that’s a given, but that’s the most common “combination” that gets recognized and fetishized.
Laurell K. Hamilton uses biraciality as a spring board to toy with color and brownness when in reality there are no main characters who are people of color. Everything and everyone is seamlessly and technically white. Everybody is white, even Anita, at the very least physically. And I think its because LKH knows that a person, particularly a woman, who is truly ethnically brown, or dare I say, Black even, would stick out like a sore thumb with all those pretty, pale, white Europeans that she’s crowded this story with.
Ever more real,
My simple thoughts on the topic of bestiality in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton.
Bestiality as a topic of morality is a big deal for most people–I think its safe to say. Laurell K. Hamilton, in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series, has definitely toed this line in my opinion.
My easy thoughts on bestiality in this series are as follows: Do I believe Anita has committed acts of bestiality? Well, it depends on how you look at it. She’s only ever had sex with her were-lover(s) while he/they were in half-man form. Do you consider her lovers to be mostly human, mostly animal, or uniquely both while in half-form? I would say that only being in full animal form constitutes bestiality. If they can still talk to her and rationalize as usual while furry, sex with them can never be bestiality in the traditional sense.
A response to inconsistencies in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Personally, despite all the things I enjoy about it, the series is just too violent and psychologically straining for me to want to comb through it again to examine all the inconsistencies, but I’d be interested in looking at specific inconsistencies across a couple of consecutive books if anyone has suggestions.
A lot of readers and fans of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Vampire Hunter books (ABHV) seem very interested, amused, or just plain fed up with the inconsistencies and plot holes in the series. I myself haven’t kept track of all them, but I’ve noticed a few and when I was active on the ABVH message boards I read about some.
I don’t want to offer excuses or definitive explanations, but I think of the whole situation as thus: My simple and easy response to these inconsistencies and plot holes is the fact that this is a nineteen (plus) book long series. Its complicated and nuanced and there’s a lot of stuff going on in these books, not to mention its written from the first person limited perspective. There’s bound to be mistakes because humans make mistakes. Hamilton is not exempt from the erring that is inherent in human nature, no matter how good a writer she is. If you want me to offer another explanation, then maybe the inconsistencies are actually Anita’s and she herself ain’t nowhere near perfect.
Personally, again, the series is just too violent and psychologically straining for me to want to comb through it again to examine all the inconsistencies, but I’d be interested in looking at specific ones across a couple of consecutive books if anyone has suggestions.
More sharp but wistful criticism for Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series.
I got through Hamilton’s Bullet, Anita Blake Vampire Hunter 18. I was surprised by a lot of what I read, particularly the scenes involving Richard–I too never thought that that would ever happen. However, Anita is the one I’m kind of disappointed with.
There are very few people of color in the Anita Blake series who take center stage from her point of view and the ones that are there are often villains ,so evil that she has to kill them, or victims that Anita leaves behind and/or has to go back and save. Like Vivian for example. Vivian is described as technically African-African but practically white in the Irish way with straight hair and gray eyes, characteristics few Black people can lay claim to. She is violently raped and beaten by a Vampire Council member, the Master of Beasts, and his son. And…Anita leaves her behind initially to be abused some more.
In Bullet, Vivian’s posture is visibly huddled, she’s saying she wants to have a baby with her white boyfriend, and she’s obviously still recovering from the abuse. Forever concerned with appearing weak or showing any kind of emotion like worry, vulnerability, or stress (which I totally understand but still), Anita adjusts her body posture while standing with Micah and says she doesn’t want to “huddle like Vivian”. Micah gallantly and lovingly reminds Anita that she will “never huddle like Vivian” (p. 34 of Bullet). Never mind that Vivian is a survivor of sexual violence and physical abuse at the hands of masters and other weres–Anita’s gotta be strong! Everybody outta the gotdamn way! Big-Balls-All-Go-No-Quit Anita Blake is coming through!
I actually kind of liked her as a character until I realized something: No one can be on her little express train to dominance except the people under her. Does she get an ego boost out of being Ms. #1 Bitch & Protector I wonder? Why is she portrayed this way?
I’ve thought a lot about it and I’m still struggling with my understanding of her. Its always changing as the series goes on and I understand that every position she finds herself in requires her in some way to be the way that she is, but as a fictional person constructed by another person I find it hard to accept that everyone around her (maybe except Edward, or, that is, “Ted”) is submissive to a degree to her personality. Sociopathic, half-white, half-Mexican, presumably (upper) middleclass, necromancer-federal marshal-vampire executioner-Nimir Ra-Regina-multi little queen-lupa badass with almost a dozen lover/boyfriends and sex partners. She’s a powerhouse and there is no equal sadly.
Being somewhat of that strong independent nature myself, I wish there was a different way to portray the so-called strong female character. I rationalize Anita’s lack of strong female friends by telling myself that there can never be more than one bitch in the room. But why does she have to stand alone be so individualistic in terms of female companionship? She has all these guys around her but no solid consistently reappearing female friends except Ronnie and Claudia. Is Anita Blake a post-feminist bitch feminist archetype?
In my initial issues with Hamilton’s series, I point out my purely selfish need to see a woman of color stand toe to toe and side by side with big bad Blake. That hasn’t changed and I guess that’s why I’m taking the villainizing, victimization of, and the on and off again appearances of women and people of color in the series so hard.
The closest we really get to people of color regularly in this series is Richard’s eroticized exoticized tan and Hamilton/Blake hinting at his “darker” ancestry which I take to mean that he has indigenous ancestry. Heaven forbid he have some Black in his white, middleclass blood.