Progressive, yes?

I dropped in today on a movie review on the latest Harry Potter – which was released today around the world. Before I was obsessed about SVM, I used to be obsessed about HP. Unfortunately, contrary to JKR’s assertions that you could figure out the ending from the books that preceded it, I did not consider she would introduce a whole new mythology in the last book, and that the “figuring out” would be done with the stupid cover art. Woe betide silly me – I thought she meant the text. So I’m not so thrilled with the ending of the series – it left a bad taste in my mouth and I’ll be waiting for it to come to DVD/cable. Rest assured, I made sure I wasn’t going to be screwed in the arse with CH – and read her Lily Bard and Harper Connolley books to see if the HEA made a lick of sense. As I’ve discussed before, I’m looking forward to it.

But the fluffy movie reviewer said something that had my mouth gaping open. That when the series of movies started, it was light and fun and fresh, but like all of these things, it lost that and started to become heavy. Or something to that effect.

All I could think was that her brains had fallen straight out of her fucking head.
I don’t know how Harry (and I’ll endeavour not to spoiler the ending, but talk about previous movies – be warned) could be light, fun or fresh in light of the death of so many characters he loved. How could he be the same carefree twelve year old that existed when the books came out? Ah, that twelve year old hasn’t been tortured, he hasn’t hurt people, he hasn’t had to face his enemy, and he hasn’t lost half the people he knows. That would be why the movies aren’t so light, fun and fresh any more. The character has lived through the heartbreaks of the previous movies, and now has to fight for his life. If he’s happy about that, the character is a fucking idiot.

But it occurred to me that this is the same complaint that some readers have about SVM – Sookie and Eric are not as light, fun and fresh as they were in the first books. Apart from the fact that relationships are not totally comprised of just flirting with each other, there’s the fact that there’s a big difference in the progression of the characters.

Sookie for her part, is not the woman who hasn’t hurt people, been tortured, had to face her enemy and hasn’t lost people who love her. She’s not the woman who had her first love robbed from her by vampire machinations. She’s not the woman who had her second lover robbed from her by memory loss and his penchant to be a complete dick when he’s out of control and rejected. In those first books it’s easy to keep things light, fun and fresh. Sookie’s on the wrong end of a lot of bad experiences by the last couple of books.

Eric for his part, is completely emotionally disconnected in the early books. It’s easy to be fun, fresh and light when you’re not feeling anything much going on, but manipulation. Once you crave a woman to the point that she’s your heart’s desire and you can’t seem to make her comply, that changes who you are. Eric hasn’t been on the wrong end of a lot of bad experiences – rather he’s started opening up and caring about someone again – feeling again. Which is painful.

Some of the imagery I loved most from Dead and Gone were these lines:

I could feel each muscle, each bone, through the cool flesh. It was like
holding hands with a statue, a very beautiful statue.
Dead and Gone, p. 98
Through the fabric of his shirt, I could feel the muscles and tendons and
the bones of his spine as they moved.
Dead and Gone, p. 169

Sookie referred to Eric being like stone before in Club Dead and I believe in Dead Until Dark. Now, she’s pointing out that he’s starting to become more like a being – coming back to himself, opening up – becoming real, touchable and regaining some of his human attributes. I loved Dead and Gone a lot for the sheer amount of symbolism in the text. The man of stone turning into a human again. But that’s not painless – and it involves vulnerability.

Eric isn’t going to be as light and fluffy as a man separated from his emotions. I don’t think I’d trade light, fluffy and fun Eric for the callousness that he has in the early books. No siree Bob. I don’t yearn for an Eric who would willingly sell Sookie’s services to Dallas. I’ll take the Eric who tries to keep Sookie with him instead of pimping her services to Felipe for his own monetary gain.

So I can’t agree with this fluffy movie reviewer or anyone else who misses light, fun and fresh. Characters in series are supposed to progress – they’re not supposed to be the same character that they were when they started, and act as if the previous books haven’t happened. That’s part of the character arc – the character needs to show that stuff has affected them, or there’s no point to writing series at all. The person who likes that sort of storyline is Alan Ball – with his Sookie who completely forgets that vampires are rotten bastards when talking to Barry Bellboy and depicts working for them like being a fluffy bunny at the marshmallow factory, rather than the lamb selling the slaughter floor.

Each book can stand alone as a story, but the character is not the light, fun, fresh character who hasn’t experienced every book. Killing progression and resetting the character back to happy, fun, light and fresh reduces previous plot points to plot pointlesses.