Thought I’d go ahead and stick it all in one post:
Thought I’d go ahead and stick it all in one post:
From this point forth, I’ll be commenting on the Anita Blake vampire hunter series from memory, as I still have a few things to expound on. I have recently moved and the entire series is far away from me (like 3000 miles away) and packed up in storage. It will be there for some time, along with the rest of my library.
In some ways, its a relief. In other ways, I know I might need to refer back to the text and its alarming that I won’t be able to do it.
Really, I just need a break from this both great and disappointing series.
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,
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,