Does Laurell K. Hamilton ‘like’ Black people enough to include them more in ABVH?

I’ve never heard anything positive about people from the Mid-West and racism. I don’t know if Laurell K. Hamilton ‘likes’ Black people. She certainly does spend a lot of time making sure that the only two Black and part-Black persons who appear now and again in the series are sufficiently subservient, raped, tortured, mutilated, sexist/helpless, victimized, etc. (Jamil, Vivian). It also doesn’t help that both of these characters are lycans, inextricably tying Black people with animal behavior and baseness/lowness in the series. With the exception of the two ancient, creepy, chalky vampires accompanying Musette in Cerulean Sins, in Hamilton’s world, Black people don’t seem to catch vampirism so naturally she doesn’t have to write about them. Figures.

I don’t think that I want her too anyway. I don’t think her skills are that good so as to attempt to transcend her own glorified whiteness. I really don’t believe that out of all the Black people rumored to live in St. Louis that there’s not one who is a main character or regularly seen face in the series in her imagination. To boot, no Black person in ABHV has any authority or power.

I think as a white woman who is always most likely surrounded by white people, Black people never really occur to her for her books.

But if I had to say if Hamilton ‘likes’ Black people, I’d say no.

MsQ

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Three Memories of Laurell K. Hamilton/Anita Blake I’d Like to Share

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!

Really,

Ms. Queenly

Laurell K. Hamilton: Admiration is the furthest thing from understanding?

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,

Queen

Toying with Whitness and ‘darkness’

Elia's Diamonds

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,

Ms. Queenly

Polyamory in Anita Blake–*thumbs up*

The polyamourous relationships in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series is actually, in my opinion, is one of the positive aspects.

In the interest of preserving certain heterosexist ideas about coupling, polyamorous relationships (not necessarily polygamy) are often presented in the light of being impossible or merely for the benefit and gratification of one or more persons in particular, in this case, the male(s) involved.

As each man for the most part is willing to make Anita the center of his romantic attentions, I don’t see anything wrong with Anita’s situation. As a matter of fact, I think there’s something beautiful in the way Anita and her lovers love each other for the most part. What I find I have a problem with though is the ones who pop in and out like Jason although he’s clearly labeled ‘friend’ for a reason and serves his purpose I suppose; furthermore, I deplore Anita’s treatment of characters like Requiem (and her homophobia). People often say you can’t love more than one person at a time and I would  disagree that only one person can exist in our hearts at a time. I must admit my bias though: images of a woman in a polyamorous relationship sit better with me than a man surrounded by women (especially with a ton of kids in the background).

It always kind of irritates me how many people expect all intimate relationships to mirror heterosexual relationships in nature and presentation because that’s all they know and its what’s comfortable, safe, and acceptable in their little worlds. The media loves to show us the examples of polyamourous relationships that don’t work out or are corrupt in some harmful way. What I think is that the most loving and “functioning” polyamorous relationships are the best kept secrets of the world. I think polyamorous relationships, when they are expressed as true demonstrations of love and devotion, exercise and challenge people’s views of they connect to each other intimately. It really is something inspiring to behold when three or more people decide to test those waters and bond together in the interest of mutual love, attraction, and care.

As contentious as I am on the topic of this vampire hunter series, I commend Laurell K. Hamilton for taking a chance at portraying a polyamorous relationship involving her leading lady, Anita Blake.

ever more sincere,

MsQ

I. Anita Blake series Inconsistencies

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.

Queenly

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.

II. Bitch Feminism and Anita Blake, #1 Bitch?

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.

Why?

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.