One of the things I’ve always liked about the fantasy genre, is that while murder mysteries and romances deal with just the story and the (sometimes false) world in that universe, fantasy offers the opportunity for asking some bigger questions, and thinking about abstract concepts. Vampires in particular – as one of my favoured genres – offers much. There’s Blade – that deals with racial purity (of vampires), and how that can impact on the world. There’s Buffy – that deals with the nature of evil and the demands made on people in order for society to function. There’s a whole host of other fantasy books that deal with other themes, and within the aforementioned, there are other themes.
I’ve been having my husband read the SVM books, just because I often languish for a good chat about them. Sure, I can talk about how Eric and Sookie should be together, but hell, that is boring. How many times and ways can one say such things – not many let me tell you. Plus, my darling boy is a lateral thinker, so he always gets themes that I don’t.
I’ve read a few people who proclaim that CH’s books aren’t that deep, not thought out, and therefore, it’s being over-thought. Details are one thing – and honestly, if I wrote a book, I’d probably mix up Chow and Clancy myself if I wrote other things in the meantime. That’s small potatoes though – the themes are there, they’re consistent and they’re enlightening – exactly what I loooove about fantasy.
Plus, I’ve yet to have one writer I’ve reviewed telling me I’ve over-thought their story. I have had people thank me as one of the readers who “gets” it. My problem with a lot of stories is that the authors haven’t thought it out. It’d be nice to think that they would use logical deductions to think things out, but they don’t. The community isn’t going to help them either – this fandom is all about positive, while backstabbery and fuckery exist.
So, we were discussing the themes of the men in the fics – namely the difference between Bill and Eric. I said that I didn’t like Bill as much as I liked Eric just because (as my husband well knows) I don’t like being told what to do, and being controlled. It’s one of the big differences between Bill and Eric – Eric is bossy, sure, but Bill is controlling. He pointed out that both vampires are an allegory for men in general. The following is the summary of our chat that I want to preserve.
Bill is the guy who is controlling – he blames and excuses his poor behaviour on his nature. He says it’s because he’s a vampire, but it’s easily replaced with “I’m a man and can’t control myself”. How that is an often thrown around generalisation! He didn’t mean to twist Sookie’s arm – he had to because he’s a vampire and he was jealous. Replace that with man and it becomes unpalatable.
Bill simultaneously uses the vampire line to justify his behaviour, and to then eschew responsibility. He is more violent because he makes excuses for himself. It’s not his fault if he hurts you or kills you – it’s the vampire in him doing it. Because he never owns up to his own behaviour and choices, Bill is quite brutal over time. When it is convenient for him he has human interests, and human desires, but when it’s not, he defaults to blaming it on his vampire part.
Eric doesn’t control. He’s more the “give you some info and chuck you in the deep end” type. He’s no saint, for sure. But nor does he co-opt Sookie’s independence for himself. He expects her to rise to challenges, not sit at home and wait for the menfolk to figure it all out. He’s not there every single moment to control what it is Sookie wears, where she goes, who she talks to.
Bill is like that first boyfriend many girls have – that if he didn’t love you so much, he wouldn’t tell you what to do. If he didn’t care, then he wouldn’t spend his every waking moment buffering you from the world. Eric is much more of a prospect for an equal partnership. He is not constantly hovering. He does not excuse his bad behaviour with “But I’m a vampire (read man)”. He doesn’t run off in the heat of the moment, he doesn’t hurt in the heat of the moment. He has the press of vampire politics, but that doesn’t govern his personal behaviour – political machinations, sure, but not if he twists wrists in jealousy.