Friday, September 9, 2011

Lafayette and Jesus continue to depress me

I've complained before that I just can't agree with the idea of True Blood being as pro-gay as everyone likes to celebrate

But I'm going to go further in a little rant because I am getting really sick of Lafayette and Jesus and their complete and utter lack of intimacy.

I think this season has really hit hard at how sanitised and cold Lafayette and Jesus' relationship is. It's now so glaring that the characters now irritate me immensely and I'm begging to want to skip past their precious little sanitised platonic, don't-put-off-the-straighties 'relationship'.

The most glaring example of it is the lack of any kind of sex or physical contact between them. True Blood is very free with displaying sex and nudity and it’s a very sexually charged show. In this series we've seen Sookie, Jason, Alcide, Eric, Bill and Sam naked. We have seen Sookie straddle Bill repeatedly, Jason spent pretty much the entire first season naked and having sex from numerous angles – and I'm sure we all remember Eric's bondage session in the basement (I know I do). Sex and nudity is extremely common on this show. But not just sex and sexuality, couples, coupling, kissing, intimacy – it's there.

Now look at Lafayette and Jesus. They have yet to share even a serious kiss. Most of the time they don't even touch. Even Arlene, Terry and Andy Bellefleur have all had more action than Lafayette and Jesus. Contrast that with Tara and Naomi - we have gratuitous sex displayed instantly with the same-sex female couple (almost before we knew Naomi's name or any kind of relationship was established). We rarely see them together in a scene when they are NOT kissing, having sex and happily naked – happily pandering to to the straight male gaze.

Someone coming to this season without seeing the previous seasons would be forgiven for thinking they were friends or room-mates. There’s no sense of them actually having any kind of relationship, it’s rare you see anything from either of them that indicates they have anything other than a platonic friendship - even less! Friends generally have a greater sense of connection between them than this supposedly year-old couple. Even beyond the physical distance, there’s just no rapport between them. No pet names, no internal references, no in-jokes, no body language communication - there’s no connection between them, no sense of unspoken understanding. Where’s the eye-contact? Where’s the facial expressions that communicate a whole conversation? Where is the connection, the relationship, the sense that they are actually a couple. Look at Arlene & Terry - they look at each other, they are connected, they react together, the communicate non-verbally, they seek closeness together. Even Sookie and Eric/Bill communicate a lot with eye contact - in fact that was a major part of the conclusion of the last episode when Sookie made dramatic eye-contact with the vampires. And this is very glaringly missing from Lafayette and Jesus’ relationship, beyond the physical distance and lack of intimacy.

And this is beyond glaring now. Never mind that for most of this season, Lafayette and Jesus' “relationship” has consisted of Jesus nagging and prodding Lafayette to going places and doing things he didn't want to. Never mind that last season the best they could manage is a slight kiss under low-light (never in full daylight! Never that!) Never mind that this season has shown less affection between the two than you'd expect from siblings. Never mind even them getting into bed wearing more layers of clothing than Arctic explorers (in Louisiana!). No, even without all that, the last 2 episodes have just put the icing on the cake

If Beloved were going to walk into a life threatening situation, into a building protected by a killer ward, to meet a powerful, highly dangerous person who has killed and kidnapped people I wouldn't give him a quick peck and wave goodbye.

If Beloved had carved up his arms to save lives, had his arms burned and was stood in obvious pain, I wouldn't put my hand on his shoulder than lay my head on that hand (got to be careful, almost had meaningful physical contact there!) And I wouldn’t turn AWAY from him to hug Tara instead. He didn’t even get him a bandage or a rag for his injuries!

If Beloved was laid in bed with me, crying and hurting because he'd lost a friend and considered himself responsible for his friend's death, I wouldn't give a brief peck on the forehead then turn over, AWAY from him! Especially maintaining a good 18 inches between us at all times – seriously, Lafayette's going to strain his neck muscles having to lean over that far for his platonic peck. There was no comfort, no reaching out, even the language is distanced, platonic and lacking in a connection - and it was really jarring.

What does Jesus have to do to get a hug here? Well, we know - because the closest we got was when Lafayette held him in Mexico after Jesus was bitten by a venomous snake. Better stock those snakes! Even when alone, in their own bed, after a year of being together? This can’t even be excused as a closeted

I don't know whether it's the writers, whether it's caving to the straight whining we've seen over True Blood being “too gay” or whether the actors, despite auditioning to play gay men, just find teh gay to be tooooo icky, but this Amuses Me Not.

Halfway to the Grave, by Jeaniene Frost, book 1 of the Night Huntress series

Cat's father was a vampire – a vampire who raped her mother and was never seen again. She has been raised to hate  all of the undead – and even a part of herself, constantly checking herself – and being checked by her mother – to ensure that she never becomes everything she fears. As part of this – she hunts. She hunts the vampires who troll the bars and clubs, cheered on by her mother.

Until she meets Bones. A vampire who isn't so simple, and a vampire who shakes Cat's oh-so-simple world view. Increasingly she realises that not all vampires are as she always imagined – nor are all humans so clean as she'd like to think. It grows further confusing for her as her relationship with Bones deepens into something more.

Not that Bones is peaceful – he's a vampire with a mission – and that mission involves the deaths of many more vampires and shutting down a predatory ring that no-one would argue is anything but evil.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review of 'Sandman Slim' by Richard Kadrey

Sandman Slim is about a young man who is tossed into Hell alive by his fellow magicians.  Early on he exhibited far more talent than the rest of his circle and he assumed that jealousy caused them to want to be rid of him.  Once in hell he was put into an arena reminiscent of the roman Colosseum to fight various creatures.  Stark was expected to die immediately, but much to the shock of the fallen angels that populate hell he survived.  Eventually, he became a sort of hit man or "the monster that killed monsters," because being human, no one expected it of him. 

Stark is given a key to the room with thirteen doors, that allows him to travel anywhere and when his girlfriend Alice is killed on earth by the very same circle that imprisoned him in hell, he murders his handler Azazel.  He escapes hell with The Veritas, a coin which always tells the truth and the black blade.  Due to his time in hell, Stark is very hard to kill though being stabbed or shot will still hurt.  After one attack with a weapon his body become impenetrable to a similar attack, which is good because this book is absolutely filled with action.

Okay, we should talk about the problems.  This book is largely set in L.A. and there are no people of colour.  This kind of erasure is commonplace but it is still highly irritating and especially so when the protagonist is a White male destined to save the world. There are also no GLBT characters however they are not completely erased because Kadrey decides to use a homophobic slur twice in the book. First on pg 106:
"Why don't you get out of here Grandpa? We have a reputation and you're driving down property values. Cherry doesn't want to talk to you.  And, by the way, you look like a faggot in that jacket."
 And then again on pg 121:
Wells snaps, "Don't touch that." He's still not looking at me. "And the Sub Rosa can kiss my ass. I don\t work for pixies and necrophiliacs"

He says, "pixie" the way a redneck says faggot."
Okay, here's the deal: If you are going to erase a marginalized group erase them completely.  There is no justification for throwing in hateful slurs. It dehumanizes and detracts from the value of the story itself.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review of The Neon Graveyard by Vicki Pettersson

The Neon Graveyard is the last book in the Pettersson's Zodiac series.  I didn't feel any sense of sadness when I finished reading and perhaps because by the time this book ended, I was more than ready for this series to come to an end.  What started off as an amazing idea with a unique and a large world ended up being tired and overly drawn out.  Having read all six books, I think that this series could easily have been reduced to four books.  A book for each sign just dragged out the inevitable end of the series.  Honestly, from book one, was there ever any doubt that this series would end with the death of the Tulpa?

The Neon Graveyard could easily have been renamed to everyone gets theirs in the end.  In The City of Souls: The First Sign of the Zodiac much time was spent confronting the issue of absolutism.  It was clear that for Warren the means justified the ends in every situation and if someone had to suffer or die, then so be it.  This made him no different than the Tulpa and so basically from that point on it was clear that though Warren was official a member of the Light warriors that he was closer to a Shadow warrior.  In The Neon Graveyard Warren's hatred of Joanna/Olivia was a driving force.  He threatened several times and made it clear that it was his goal to see her dead.  

Ultimately what Warren wanted was power.  When he realized that Joanna/Olivia may not be the Kairos he was determined to cross over the Midhaven to steal away Hunter and Solange's child and raise her as light.  So wrapped was he in this mission, that he did not care about his troop's reaction to Felix's death.  I was Joanna/Olivia who recovered his body.  When Vanessa sacrificed herself so that Joanna/Olivia could escape Midhaven with Hunter, Warren once again ignored the pain that his troop was feeling because he saw an opportunity to kill Joanna/Olivia.  In the end he was trapped in Midhaven and Tekla became the new leader of the light.  

To Warren, Joanna/Olivia's greatest fault was her refusal to obey his commands and sacrifice herself to his every whim regardless of what this cost her.  It seems that what Warren forgot is that in a matriarchal society, women have power and do not necessarily have to submit to a man.  In the end, Joanna/Oliva, Chandra and Tekla, the three women whom he had wronged imprisoned him in midhaven.  I suppose one could see this as an empowering act but it still does not explain how it is that a man became leader of a matriarchal society to being with.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Small Favor, by Jim Butcher. Book 10 of the Harry Dresden Files

Harry's life is all exciting again and the plotting in the supernatural world is reaching greater, and more confusing, levels.

An entire building was destroyed by immense power and in the aftermath it was clear that Marcone, Chicago's mob boss, has been kidnapped. Harry is on the job working with Murphy – and only has more incentive when Mab, Unseelie Queen of the Winter Court, calls in one of the favours he owes her to get him involved – and threatens him with her not-inconsiderable wrath should he refuse. Of course, this is complicated because Summer objects most strongly – strongly enough to send champions to seek and kill Harry to end his involvement.

To make things far worse, the Knights of the Blackened Denarius – Fallen Angels bound to human hosts – are involved. Not just some as he had previously faced – but all of them in their infernal power and plotting, and he only has 2 Knights of the Cross to back him up.

And into this web of plotting and lethal intrigue steps the Archive – the sum of all the world and all of history's knowledge.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fangs for the Fantasy podcast, Episode 31

This week we discuss:

True Blood "Soul of Fire", Richelle Mead's Succubus Revealed and Vicki Petterson's Sign of the Zodiac

True Blood: Soul of Fire

I thought last night's episode wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either.  Just when we thought that all of the ties were wrapped up, Marnie invaded Layette's body. I guess with two more episodes still to go, it wouldn't do to have her so easily conquered.  So let's start at the beginning shall we?

When we last left off, Bill, Eric, Pam and Jessica had gathered in front of goddess emporium all dressed in black ready to finally kick some witch ass.  As they gear up to fire on the emporium, Jason jumps in front of them and tells them not to fire, which is met with a round of fucking Sookie from the vampires.  I found myself saying, finally and giggling out loud.  The writers have to know that Sookie's version of spunky agency is irritating at best; however, I didn't like the fact that Pam reduced her to a slit in a sun dress.  Just having the characters say fucking Sookie was enough, there was certainly no need to reduce her in this manner.

When Marnie demands a sacrifice to secure Sookies life, Pam disobeys both Bill and Eric and shoots off the RPG.  This  pisses Eric off, but Pam tells him that she is not worth his life.  I have to say that I agree with Pam.  I get that Sookie is fae, but is that really enough to have someone over a thousand years old happily give up his life for her?  I am tired of the men on this show fawning all over her.  At HBO in the inside the show section, the writers let us know that the rift between Eric and Pam will continue into the next season.  I simply do not understand Eric choosing Sookie over Pam.

Back inside, Marnie kills one of her captives, which allows Jesus and Laffyette the opportunity to drag  the body into the bathroom to plan a magical assault on Marnie.  While this is going on, Marnie looks into the blood and sees her own death.  She attempts to prevent this by having everyone form a circle. The complete circle causes the vamps to be drawn towards the force field ( couldn't they have spent some money on some kind of special effect? The scene itself looked ridiculous) but Sookie uses her mystical fae powers to bring an end to this.  Marnie rewards her by encircling her in fire.