‘The Hit List’: Laila Karlton–LKH, are you fking serious!!!

DISCLAIMER: I was reading this over at wikispaces and I had to there. I said I would never BUY another Laurell K. Hamilton book. I never said I wouldn’t glance through it if my mom brought it home from the library even after I told her I wasn’t reading the stuff anymore….

So we finally get a real Black female character, Laila Karlton, who isn’t some completely exotified kind of Black, like Vivian the lightskinneded and Irish. She is in fact a federal marshal (or is at the time she introduced) though she’s not real at all–as in 3-dimensional. I knew LKH couldn’t pull it off.

Laurell K. Hamilton, let me tell where you went wrong, AGAIN:

  1. Your description of Laila Karlton is so minimum it’s insulting. I see her muscles but I don’t see the rest of her.
  2. Why does she have to be 5-foot-whatever pounds of muscle? Thinking of how people stereotype Black women, like Michelle Obama, for example, as muscled he-women Amazons, I can say I don’t appreciate this description at all.
  3. We didn’t know she was Black (with a capital B, not a lowercase ‘b’, LKH) until she said it herself. Scared much because you knew you were doing a shit job with this character from the beginning, like with all your other Black characters?
  4. Why is it that the first thing Anita and Laila talk about is how petite, big-breasted, and big-assed Anita is because she’s part-Latina? As I’ve said before, Anita is for all intents and purposes white–stop hyper-emphasizing and hypersexualizing what you view as her “ethnic” features. Which are basically her hair, her ass, her “dark” eyes, and her breasts.
  5. Why is Laila presented as jealous of Anita’s petite white body?
  6. Furthermore, why is it we spend so much time talking about Anita’s shining, hardass reputation again? What’s with the flattery for both her track record and her body?
  7. I’m thinking of Laila’s father and brothers: Of course, there are big, strong Black men, but of all the body types you could write about, why are you choosing to write about the most stereotyped and racialized ones you can think of?
  8. Anita has to be the guru on hunting and executing and Laila gets to listen to her condescenion as the rookie-type? Great.
  9. Why do you have to continue to beat down every female character who comes along with Anita’s reputation, physical appearance, misogyny, and cred in the field?
  10. And Laila’s a racist because the guys in her family taught her to be like that?
  11. Laila is weepy in the hospital and needs peptalk from the white-skinned wise one who doesn’t even shift at the full moon though she possesses/is infected with mutiple strains of lycanthropy?
  12. Did I mention how fucked up it is that, once again, Black people like Laila can be made into werewolves, animals, but are never, like, swans or “good” vampires (with even unchalky skin, of course. Ashy skin does not look good living Black people, it doesn’t look good on any one actually)?

This is why I refuse to buy anymore of your books. Laurell K. Hamilton, you’ve lost me.

Really,

Ms. Queenly

 

Read all my other posts on LKH and Anita Blake here.

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the god of abvh is white

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,

Ms. Queenly

Anita Blake–Half-Latina?! Who knew!

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.

I’m through.

ever more real,

MsQ

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

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

ABVH Tight Bod Superiority Complex

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,

 

Ms. Queenly

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

Author Message Boards in General

This post pertains to events that occurred on November 24 2009.

4 of my threads on J.R.Ward’s message board have pulled by moderators in less than a couple of hours. The threads were “Race Issues in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series”, “Homoeroticism in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series”, “A Little Respect: The Ladies in BDB”, and “Rap and Rap Culture in BDB”. I rubbed the mods and admins the wrong way with my radical activist and Black feminist views.

Most of all, I rubbed the hardcore, die-hard fans and the lazy escapist readers the wrong way!

100+ views for two of the threads, I think. I don’t know how many they really got because they were pulled so fast! Over 600+ views (720+ for one of them) for two of the those threads. 600+ views! For people who didn’t want to listen to what I had to say, they sure did look…A LOT! And read a lot of it, too, apparently.

Ha.

Message boards for authors are a joke. At least in my experience. Ward’s BDB message board, in particular, a place for hardcore white, middleclass, feminist-wannabes to vent about much they LUV machismo, being oppressed, and reading about other white women who are internally oppressed and like being oppressed just like them. Its sad. Then you have women of color, poor, and/or working class women who read this romantic redressing of old anti-feminist and first and second wave white feminist archetypes and are sucked in by it. It is also a place for escapism and a extension of the marginalization and exotization of minority people including Hispanic/Latinos, Black and African peoples, Muslims, and the queer community.

I had much of a similar problem with moderators on Laurel K. Hamilton’s boards. My previous account was suspended maybe once or twice and I received plenty of warnings from mods who pulled my threads. But it was the snarky white members that were really causing all the problems. That’s why I voluntarily left the boards there.

The mods and admins are angry and they are the gods of BDB Boardom! I hath been judged and warned!

But seriously.

I really am tired of not having a flame-free environment online at the very least to discuss the issues I find in the series that I read with reasonable people who are open to understanding the social implications of the books they read. I am sick to death of lazy ass mods and capitalist white-minded site admins who want to satisfy their white readers at the expense of minorities.