Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Anita Blake: I Hate Authority Just Because...

Anyone that knows me is aware that I am not a fan of the later Anita Blake books for several reasons (mainly the substituting plot for sex and the severe lack of character development, or in some cases the characters devolving). One of the things Anita has always been known for was mouthing off to authority type figures. Sometimes she was just being a pain (such as with Bert) and other times she arguing because the authority figure was being sexist or bias. Now, often times with the latter I had an issue with the author constantly putting these type of people into the story, because it felt like she was giving an Anita an excuse to mouth off. However, in the latest Anita Blake book, Kiss the Dead, there is a chapter where we are clearly supposed to be hating the authority and siding with Anita yet I found the detectives quite pleasurable and only doing their job. I have to say the following chapter had me seething, even more so than other ones. Yes, the entire chapter is written out below so you're aren't only going to get bits and pieces. Also, I am not trying to snark this. I am sure there will be a few lines of snark here and there, but snark is not my intent.

If I'd been on my own, or just with another Preternatural Branch Marshal, I could have gone home, but working with SWAT meant that I had to give my version of events, since we had wounded officers.

I sat at the little table, huddled over my umpteenth cup of really bad coffee, feeling the dried blood on my pants crinkle as I shifted my weight in the hard metal chair. Two men in nice clean suits sat across from me, asking the same questions for the dozenth time. I was beginning to resent them, just a little.

Detective Preston said, "How did Officer Hermes get his leg broken?"

I raised my eyes from the tabletop to look at him. He was tall, thin, balding, and wore glasses that were too small and round for his angular face. "Are you asking the same questions over and over because you think you'll wear me down and I'll tell a different story, or do you guys just have nothing better to do?"

I rubbed my fingers across my eyes. They felt gritty, and I was tired.

Already Anita is getting snappish. However, I will defend her here. Honestly, if I was covered in blood, extremely tired, and was being asked the same questions over and over again, I'd be a bit irritable as well so I will be keeping this in mind as I read the chapter.

"Ms. Blake..."

I looked up then, and I knew it wasn't a friendly look. "Marshal, it's Marshal Blake, and the fact that you keep forgetting that is either deliberate, or you're just an asshole; which is it? Is it a tactic, or are you just rude?"

Asks the person who is being even more rude. However, I will defend Anita here again. It is very possible the detective is deliberately forgetting her title, but then again, this also reminds me of the earlier books when she threw a fit when someone called her Miss instead of Ms. Nothing wrong with correcting someone, but you don't always have to get snappy. However, the above passage shows that this wasn't a first time mishap so although Anita is annoying me, I can still see why she may start getting snappish.

"Marshal Blake, we need to understand what happened so we can keep it from happening again."

The second detective cleared his throat. We both looked at him. He was older, heavier, as if he hadn't seen the inside of a gym in a decade or more. His white hair was cut short and precise to his soft face. "What I don't understand, Marshal, is how you moved fast enough and with enough force to break the ribs on both Marshal Brice and Officer Hermes, and break Hermes's leg? Why did you attack your own men?"

I shook my head. "You know the answer to all of that."

"Humor me."

"No," I said.

No? Wait ... why is she just flat out refusing? Did she already say why, or is she assuming they already know the answer? If the former, I can understand her putting her foot down. Again, she is tired and what is the point of repeating the same thing over and over? If the latter, why is she refusing? Why is Anita dragging her feet and making things worse?

They both sort of stiffened in their chairs, Owens, the shorter, rounder one, smiled. "Now, Marshal Blake, it's just procedure."

"Maybe, but it's not my procedure." I pushed back my chair and stood up.

Again, I understand Anita is tired as all fuck, but these detectives are only doing their job. From what we have seen so far, the worst they have done is repeat questions and refused to call her Marshal. Actually, we've only seen one of the detectives refuse to call her by her title ONCE. The repetition of questions and dismissal of her title has been told to us. Normally, I would take this at its word, but Anita has a knack of blowing things out of proportion quite often so far as I know, these detectives may have only asked the same question two or three times. However, I am going to give Anita the benefit of the doubt here. Either way, it does not change the fact that the higher ups are only doing their job.

"Sit back down," Preston said.

"No, I am a federal officer, so you guys aren't the boss of me. If I were SWAT, I might have to sit here and take this, but I'm not, so I don't. I've answered all the questions, and the answers aren't going to change, so ..." I waved at them and started for the door.

First, I've had several friends point out the flaw of Anita not having a boss, especially if she is going to be working in a group unit. I mean, who do you go to if Anita messes up or acts up? Secondly, does anyone else get the sense of Anita is pretty much sticking out her tongue and saying, "Neener neener, you're not the boss of me,"?

"If you ever want to work with SWAT again, you will sit here as long as we want you to sit here, and you'll answer any question we ask," Preston said.

I shook my head and smiled.

"I fail to see the humor," Owens said.

"Last I heard, Brice and Hermes are both going to heal up just fine."

Wait .. what? I feel like something has been cut here. Preston is threatening Anita that she will never be able to work with SWAT again, and then she smiles, indicating that she knows something that will keep this from happening. Suddenly, it's Brice and Hermes will heal up fine. What? So because they are going to be a-okay, this stops the higher ups from refusing to let Anita work with SWAT? How?

Preston stood up, using that tall, gangly height to look down on me. I so didn't care. "Hermes is over six feet tall, and you shoved him into a wall, left a fucking imprint of his body, and shoved a vampire halfway through the wall by throwing Hermes into her. That's not standard operating procedure, Blake. We want to understand what happened."

"You have my blood tests somewhere. I'm sure that'll help you figure it all out."

Oh, so Anita hadn't told them why earlier. She had been assuming they just knew just how special she is. Tell me again, why was Anita refusing to tell the detectives that she happens to be faster and stronger than normal humans? There was no reason to not tell them. As she just said, there are blood tests out there, and it seems to be common knowledge that she's super awesome so why not just say, "Oh, I happen to have lycanthropy so I am now stronger and faster," especially considering she is already assuming they know anyway? You know, Anita, mentioning that would have probably made this little procedure go by much more quickly.

"You carry six different kinds of lycanthropy, but you don't shapeshift, which is a medical impossibility."

"Yeah, I'm just a medical marvel, and I'm taking my marvelous ass home."

"Which home?" Owens said.

I looked at him, eyes narrowing. "What?"

"Your house, or the Circus of the Damned and the Master of the City of St. Louis; which house are you going to tonight?"

"Circus of the Damned tonight, not that it's any of your business."

Okay, I am going to side with Anita here. He does not need to be asking where she is going to be sleeping. Well, unless he thinks she is hiding something and may run away or start something, but even so, knowing where she is isn't going to be much help. There's not much he can do so yeah, I can understand why Anita would be a bit tiffed about the detective asking.

"Why there tonight?" he asked.

I was tired, or I wouldn't have answered. "Because we're scheduled to sleep there tonight."

"Who are we?" Owens asked, and something about the way he said it made me suspect that it was my personal life more than my professional life they were after.

I shook my head. "I don't owe you my personal life, Detective Owens."

No, Anita doesn't owe him her personal life. I will give her that. As for the"something about the way he said it made me suspect that it was my personal life more than my professional life they were after," why add that? I would think asking about where you sleep has little to do, if anything, with your professional life.

"There are people on the force who believe your personal life compromises your loyalties."

This is something that makes sense. Replace monsters with the mob and Jean-Claude would be the Don. It makes sense for the boys in blue to question where Anita's loyalty may lie. No, not every crime is related to Jean-Claude's crime ring, but what happens when it does? They don't KNOW whether Anita would warn JC and co. Also, keep this in mind for later.

"No one who's ever put their shoulder next to mine and gone into a dangerous situation with me questions my loyalty. No one who went into that house today with me questions my loyalty, and frankly that's all I care about."

"We can recommend that you are too dangerous and unpredictable to work with SWAT here in St. Louis," Owens said.

Ha ha. Silly man, don't you know that Anita Blake never has to deal with nasty repercussions?

I shook my head, shrugged. It was easier to do now that I wasn't in the vest and all the weapons. "You're going to do whatever the fuck you want to do. Nothing I say will make a damn bit of difference. You're obviously decided to use my sexual orientation against me." I said it in that way deliberately; I  knew the rules, too.

"We haven't questioned your sexual orientation, Marshal Blake," Owens said.

Which they haven't. He asked where she was going to be sleeping and questioned her loyalties, but no where did he even mention her sexual orientation.

"I'm polyamorous, which means loving more than one person, and what I heard was you saying that the fact that I wasn't white-bread, missionary-position monogamous compromised my loyalty. Isn't that what they used to say about homosexual officers, too?"

I debate on Anita being polyamorous, but I'll save that for another post. As for what is actually written here, first I would like to point out the "what I heard." Again, the detective in question has said nothing about her sexual orientation or her being poly. I'd even go so far that he never even indicated any of the sort, but that's what Anita heard

"It's not the number of men you live with that we object to, it's that they're all wereanimals and vampires," Preston said.

Okay, remember that mafia/mob reference I made earlier and how that could make others question Anita's loyalty for good reason? Put that into place again. What's worse is that later in the book even Anita starts to question her own loyalty and debates whether she can be both a human servant and a marshal.

"Was I a U.S. Marshal, or Jean-Claude's human servant? Was I a Marshal, or Micah's Nimir-Ra? Was I a police officer, or Nathaniel's sweetie? Was I an officer, or Nicky's master? Was I a cop, or the new Mistress of Tigers of Sin, and Dev, and Jade, and Ethan, and Crispin, and ... Could I keep being a cop and be everything else?" (Kiss the Dead, hardback edition, page 299)

That's right. Anita, herself, even questions of whether she can be both, but if someone else questions it, how dare they! They're not being reasonable. They must be some sort of bigot that is out to get her! Clearly.

"So, you're discriminating against my boyfriends because they have a disease?"

Again, this was never said and no where was it indicating that this is what the detectives were thinking. I could refer you back to the mafia relation, but I am going to assume it is still fresh in your head.

Owens touched Preston's arm. "We aren't discriminating against anyone, Marshal Blake."

"So, you aren't prejudiced against vampires or wereanimals?" I asked.

"Of course not, that would be illegal," Owens said. He pulled on Preston's arm until the taller man sat down.

I stayed standing. "Good to know that you aren't prejudiced on the basis of illness, or sexual orientation."

Even though he gave no indication that he was prejudiced in the first place. He questioned your loyalty and with good reason, but he never said nor indicated it was because he was prejudiced. 

"Poly-whatsit isn't a sexual orientation; it's a lifestyle choice," Preston said.

"Funny, I thought it was my sexual orientation, but if you're a psychologist with a background in sexuality, by all means, you're right."

And this is where my brain broke. First off, Preston is actually correct. Polyamory is not a sexual orientation. Saying it is would be like saying BDSM is an orientation or being monogamous is a sexual orientation, but to clear it up even more, let us look at the definition.

sex·u·al o·ri·en·ta·tion
sexual orientations, plural
A person's sexual identity in relation to the gender to which they are attracted; the fact of being heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual

Now, I am aware there are more sexual orientations used than just homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual. There are several other such as omni or pansexual and asexual and then some that are more on a sliding scale, such as heteroflexible or homoflexible. However,  these all have to go with the gender and/or sex that you are attracted to. Polyamory, on the other hand, is a romantic preference.

"You know full well I'm not," Preston said, and the first hint of real anger was creeping into his voice. If I kept poking at him, maybe I could get him to yell and that would be on the video, too.

Oh, so Anita is intentionally trying to piss him off. Of course, that is nothing new. It's certainly not professional, but nothing new. Also, she realises that her being difficult is also going to be on said film as well, right?

"I have no idea what your areas of professional expertise are, Detective Preston. I thought since you were speaking like an expert about my sex life, you must know something I don't."

"I did not say a damn thing about your sex life."

I know I am probably starting to sound like a broken record here (or even an Anita Blake book), but again Preston is in the right. None of the detectives said anything about Anita's sex life. In fact, Anita's sex life and preferences weren't brought up until Anita had brought them up yet we are supposed to be hating these guys.

"I'm sorry, I thought you did."

Is this anything like Anita's hearing?

"You know damn well I didn't."

"No," I said, and gave him the full unhappiness in my eyes, and the beginnings of anger in my cold, controlled voice, "no, I don't know that at all. In fact, I thought I heard both of you question my loyalty to my badge and my service, because I'm sleeping with monsters, and that must mean I'm a monster, too."

You guys must be sick of hearing it from me, but again I refer you back to the mob analogy. These detectives have every right to question her loyalty, because her sleeping with the monsters actually could compromise her duty to the boys in blue. This isn't a case of Anita sleeping with multiple human men and then the cops questioning her loyalty. As for Owens and Preston saying (or even implying) that she was a monster simply because she slept with them, well...

"We never said that," Owens said.

I think Owens said it for me.

"Funny," I said," because that's what I heard. If that's not what you meant, then please, enlighten me. Tell me what you actually meant, gentlemen. Tell me what I misunderstood in this conversation."

Anita sure seems to hear people being prejudiced against her being a monster because she sleeps with monsters quite a lot even when nothing of the sort has been said. Same goes with her "sexual orientation," her being short, half Mexican, and being a woman. 

I stood there and looked at them. Preston glared at me, but it was Owen who said, "We would never question your home life, your sex life, or imply that who suffer from lycanthropy, or vampirism, are less worthy of the rights and privileges accorded to everyone in the country."

Say it with me, everyone, "Because they haven't!" Okay, they asked where she was going to be sleeping, but that's about as personal as they got.

"When you run for office, let me know, so I won't vote for you," I said.

He looked surprised. "I'm not running for office."

"Huh, usually when someone talks like a politician, they're running for something," I said.

You know, make what you want of this. My brain is too full of rage and hurting from all the stupid. I simply cannot think any more. This chapter killed my brain cells, people.

He flushed, angry at last. "You can go, Marshal. In fact, maybe you better go."

"Happy to," I said, and I left them to be angry together, and probably still angry with me. They could recommend that I not be allowed to go out with SWAT anymore, but it would be just that, a recommendation, and the other officers didn't like these guys any better than I did. They could recommend all they wanted; they could go to hell for all I cared. I was going home.

You know, it might not go through this time, but if you don't play well with others, eventually, they are going to put you up, Anita. Or in real life, they would. As I stated earlier, Anita never suffers ill repercussions in this series even though logically, she should. Of course, in real life, the officers wouldn't be the ones deciding whether Anita stayed with them or not so it would be moot whether they liked the higher ups or not.

(chapter taken from Laurell K. Hamilton's Kiss the Dead, hardback edition, pages 216-220)

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