Sunday, March 31, 2013

I'm tired of reading about virgins

I'm half way through a book at the moment which stars a female vampire hunter who falls for a vampire and the two begin working together to stop a bigger, badder vampire. It's basically Angel and Buffy except in this book the main character, Cat, is half vampire and half human, the product of a rape that left her mother emotionally and mentally damaged. Cat has spent her whole life feeling guilty for being the end product of a violent rape and ruining her mother's life. Her mother is always quick to remind her that she is a "monster" and that her birth ruined her life and branded her a slut in the eyes of the townsfolk. This is really fucked up. Cat did not ask to be born. It was not her fault that her father raped her mother. It is not her fault that she is half vampire. Her mother needs to cut the shit and stop making her feel like crap for who and what she is. Cat never tells her to stop with the abuse though - she lets her get away with it because she was raped by a vampire and has had the terrible burden of raising a half vampire child. This is really sad.

So, to escape her mother and in a desperate attempt to earn her love and acceptance, Cat becomes a vampire hunter. She goes out night after night and kills vampires just so she can run home and tell her mother who will smile and tell her "Well done! another monster gone!" which is disturbing because Cat is half vampire - does her mother think she, too, should be killed for just being what she is?

So she meets Bones and the two strike up a relationship and it's pretty much just sex at first but then Cat begins to get to know him as a person and discovers that vampires are not all monsters. Like mankind, there are good and bad ones, and she eventually realizes that she cannot be a bigot and go about killing vampires simply for the crime of being a vampire. It's the story of a woman who has been emotionally damaged by her mother and through her relationship with Bones slowly learns how to accept her own vampire side and to be less of a cold blooded, robotic killer.

Cat is a cliche when it comes to her relationship with Bones. She is a virgin and has avoided men her whole life. She knows nothing about relationships and is frightened by her desire for Bones and feels guilt after she gets too excited with him. She thinks what she is doing is wrong and in one chapters says he should ask for her to apologize to him after she groped him in a corridor. She knows nothing about sex. This annoys me. I've read too many books about women who are these sheltered, innocent flowers who need a man to come along and teach them about sex. God it annoys me. Just once I would like to read a book about a woman who has had partners, is mature, and unashamed about enjoying sex.

Considering Cat's past though it's remarkable that she allows herself to have a sexual relationship with Bones at all. Sex shaming is a bit theme of the book. Cat has gone through life carrying the terrible truth of her violent arrival into the world on her back. Despite that, she is very patient and loving toward her mother, and never once tells her off for her behavior. Cat shows through her relationship with Bones that she is able to rise above her traumatic upbringing and make decisions of her own.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Does Twilight deserve all the hate?

I read Twilight when it first came out and loved it. I would wake up extra early in the morning just to read some before work I was that obsessed. The films were...okay...but not as good as the books. My twilight fan girl phase did not last long. I moved on to other things. It's been a while now since these books came out and it's still pretty common for people to bitch about them (especially on message boards for writers). And you know what? God it's old. Do these books really deserve all the hate they get?

Listen, they were not that original, or well written. But they worked. There's no such thing as an "original" plot. Everything has been done before. Stephanie's characters are pretty plain and her plot is in Twilight is not that strong. But (for me) I was able to look past these flaws and enjoy the story which I found enjoyable, fun and easy to read.

Yes, Bella does get obsessed with Edward. Yes, she does sacrifice a lot for him. Yes, one might argue that she might not be the best role model for young girls. But who says she has to be a role model? She's a fictional character. Since when do fictional characters have to lead by example? When did their actions become so important? Who decided they should be role models to young readers? Can't characters be flawed and make mistakes and questionable decisions?

"Concern trolls" almost act like Bella is the anti-Christ. They are horrified by her decision to be with Edward who they think is a stalker and abusive (um, why? how? He was nothing but polite and patient and gentle with her). They see Bella as a cardboard cut out who any young girl could easily imagine themselves as. They are concerned about her relationship with her parents and how she has trouble making and keeping friends (other than the Cullens) and what terrifies them the most is her decision to let her life revolve around Edward rather than leading a human life, going to university, etc.

They think Bella and Edward's relationship is sick and twisted and that is makes abusive relationships dangerous and exciting and glamorous.

Okay, firstly, in my opinion their relationship is not abusive: Edward spends most of the first book trying to avoid Bella. Yes, he watches her at night, I can see how some might find that creepy, but that is a fantasy people: stop taking this shit so damn seriously! I honestly feel like people get too worked up about Twilight and over analyse it and find creepiness where there really isn't any.

It's just a book, people. Young girls are not idiots. They know it's not true. They know abusive relationships are not fun (not that I think it was abusive!). These books are escapism, fantasy, nothing more. Stop getting your knickers in a twist. Because I'm tired of all the whinging and "Someone think of the Children!" shrieking.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How politically correct should you be?

I was reading a chapter in my book for university about how writers should be politically correct at all times and make sure not to use phrases/terms that might offend people. I respectfully disagree. The book said that we should not use the word 'disabled' because it might offend some people who are disabled and do not like that term. I am disabled. I have dyspraxia. I don't have a problem with the term. I know others do, though, but I am not going to stop using that word just to protect their feelings.

Here's the writing you will never be able to please everyone who reads your book. Because you do not know who your audience is going to consist of and there is no way to predict what is going to offend them or not. Also, shouldn't we, as writers, have the freedom to write whatever we want? If I want to write a character who is a racist shouldn't I be able to do that? Shouldn't I be able to have him say the most terrible, ugly, racist slurs without being labelled a racist myself? I am not my characters - I am me - the writer - we are not one and the same. If my story demands a racist or a Nazi or any other disturbing character should I not have the freedom to bring them to life in all their flawed majesty?

Don't censor me. I should be able to write what I want - as long as it is not illegal. And it is not illegal to write a racist character or call another character disabled or anything else that might fall into the category of politically incorrect. The only thing I would tell writers NOT to do is to defame someone or an organisation in writing: do not bitch about your boss or workplace, or your cranky uncle or aunt, or that bitch in school who made your life hell. You can't do that. You can't paint real people as dicks in fiction. You can't use their names or their likeness or anything else associated with them.

Back to being politically correct...there's freedom of speech and writers just being plain dumb. We should be able to write what we want but be cautious: if your entire plot and characters comes across as racist propaganda you might turn the entire internet against you and become the target of trolls, facebook hate pages, and numerous rants on YouTube.

Should you be politically correct? To a degree, yes. Ask yourself: will my book offend people of this religion? or people of this race? If you think it might come across as massively offensive perhaps tone it back a don't want to spend the rest of your life getting prank phone calls and pizzas delivered to your house!