Heart of a Tiger

Well, I’ve done a post on Bill-as-Eric, but I haven’t done a post on Quinn-as-Eric. He’s relatively popular too, so it’s only fair, with all the suitor confusion. There’s very little Quinn fic in the Fanfic.net fandom – but no one needs it when you can make Quinn into Eric. Mostly Quinn as a character called Quinn is wholly dismissed or used as a backup for psychotic Bill – you know – when Bill can’t skeeve Sookie out and drive her into Eric’s arms (a ringing endorsement for Eric uh? “Better than a psychotic stalking rapist”) then Quinn is used to sleaze onto Sookie, so she learns never to stray from Eric’s field of vision.

As Bill becomes more and more of a parody, jacking it in the bushes and such, then Quinn needs to be pulled out. It’s become predictable now – Bill is mentioned, and readers know that’s a pointless segue of Bill-hate, and Quinn is similarly predictable – he’s almost always a jackass. You can’t do anything so outrageous like just leave them out. No, you’ve got to turn Bill, Quinn and occasionally Sam, Preston and Alcide into raving doucheturds, because they’re the only men in the world Sookie could possibly date other than Eric, and she would never look outside this circle of badness if they’re all lunatics, but Eric’s the best of a bad bunch. Lol.

Of course, Quinn is more likely to be given less of a chance than Bill, merely because Sookie slept with Eric, and Sookie was willing to go out with Quinn – even finding them attractive standing side-by-side:

I would never have believed that in Eric’s presence I could think
another man was attractive. I’d have been wrong to think so.

Definitely Dead, p. 91

So that’s a shout-out for Eric fangirls to bring on the Quinn hate, and for fanfic writers to make it clear that Sookie is completely disgusted by Quinn. But only for superficial things – like the bald head, or the fact that Sophie Anne sent him to ask about the Summit, or the dirty-were/wet-dog shit from Twilight, or the “babe” thing. Never about the person he is – and if you had a problem with the person he is, well, you’d have to steal some of fanfic Eric’s magnificence, and that’s no good. We just need the barest of parody to make fun of Quinn for daring to compete with Eric, and then, we’re off.

Certainly, Book Eric sees Quinn as a real romantic threat. He’s not banning Bill or Sam from the area, because he doesn’t see Bill or Sam as a threat to his romantic relationship with Sookie. But he’s absolutely out of his mind with the idea that Quinn could show up. In a world without vampires manipulating two assets (because Quinn can make just as much money fighting in the pits as Sookie can as a telepath) Quinn would have it all over Eric. And Eric knows it. Hence why he’s not giving Quinn a chance to work it out. He could just ask Sookie, but Eric’s proactive like that with rejection as I’ve mentioned before, and he’s not giving Quinn one single iota of a chance.

So where does Quinn-as-Eric pop up? Well – where you’d expect – with Eric’s attitude towards women, children, and specifically Sookie. There’s this bizarre and out-of-character streak of sexual honour that shows up in fanfic Quinn-as-Eric, because Eric doesn’t have anything of the kind. Eric controls himself, and that’s just about where his interest stops. This is why I wrote the post on the dangers of polarisation – and this is one particular piece of polarisation that’s wrong, and gives a distorted view of Eric as a character.

I’ve said over and over and over…and over that Eric is not a rapist – that that is important for him. But that doesn’t translate to “Hates any kind of sexual victimisation and will not stand for it.” I’m going to show you how Eric gives tacit consent to sexual victimisation – by not doing a damn thing and not seeing anything wrong with it. Eric is also not a protector, which I’ve said over and over and over…and over. Both of those qualities belong to Quinn – not Eric. If you’re looking for a guy who’ll get morally outraged over Bill or Uncle Bartlett, or one who will put himself at risk to protect Sookie physically, Quinn is your guy. Just grow his hair out long, streak it, have him learn Swedish for some inexplicable reason, and we’re all good. He’s not a vamp – he can do that. You can even have him have babies with Sookie, without the need to make Eric Vamp-Daddy extraordinaire.

Eric is not morally outraged by anything much – it’s only his history with Appius that stops him from being a rapist, not some fundamental moral belief or because he’s a crusader for the helpless. I mean, he murders women without a pang and women recover from rape much better than death. In addition, he has one of his previous murder victims serve him in Fangtasia, whom in Dead Reckoning, Eric gives a good beating to, without needing to:

“You know, he could order her to be still and she’d have to do it.”
Dead Reckoning, p. 27

Oh, I know in the eyes of the fangirls, Eric’s doing Pam a favour of some kind by beating her down when he has at least 850 years on her. She actually had an option to enter into fighting back a beating…with him asking her if she wanted to spar on Sookie’s toaster. I’m not sure when he asked her if she’d like to engage in battledome in Sookie’s kitchen, but I’m sure they planned it. Plus, she was all lippy and didn’t know her place like a woman should.

But Pam takes beatings on Eric’s behalf. It’s both a good thing, and a bad thing. The bad thing being that Pam has to get beatings, but the good thing being that Eric doesn’t see Pam as somehow lesser because she has boobs. That bodes well for his relationship with Sookie – because it means that he’ll listen to her, rather than automatically dismiss her because she’s a girl. Eric doesn’t root his high-handedness in the fact that she’s a woman, but rather in the fact that he’s selfish – which means that he doesn’t harbour feelings she’s just not up to par, by virtue of not having a dick. When Eric married Sookie, he did it because he wanted to, rather than because he thought women should be happy with whoever sweeps them up into marriage.

So with Pam, we can see that Eric doesn’t degrade or underestimate her – he calls her ruthless. That’s good. But the bad thing is that he doesn’t have any special reason as to why it’s bad that girls get beaten, rather than boys. Eric is more equal in view of the sexes than many people would be comfortable with. He really doesn’t try to make any special rules about the way you treat women vs. the way you treat men. It’s why he hasn’t apologised for the metric shit-ton of beatings Sookie’s taken on his behalf.

We don’t actually see many women murdered on the page – they tend to be left out of violence, by the preponderance of the statistics, and usually CH tries to avoid any comparison to domestic violence scenes – with men beating women down. You can find that out your window, or even in fanfic. Most of the women are murdered on the page by other women. But Eric certainly doesn’t hold being a woman against someone when it comes to killing one. When asked to kill Lorena, Eric roars with laughter, and his biggest concern is:

“I would have to pay a huge fine,” he said when he’d quit chortling. “And I’d have
to accomplish it first. That’s easier said than done. She’s three hundred years old.”

Club Dead, p. 52

Zero moral outrage that he’d have to kill a woman, or hurt a woman. Now, of course, the classic fangirl way to explain that away is just to point out some True Blood style guff that Eric is internally thinking he’d do anything to avenge Sookie’s death.  Or perhaps, we could go the Occam’s Razor route, and assume that Eric just doesn’t have any problems killing women, rather than contorting some weird way to make Eric agreeing to kill Lorena as a statement made of love and romance.

Eric doesn’t have any problems with women being tortured either:

“And rather than put all our human employees to death or torture, we thought
perhaps you would look into their minds and tell us who it was.”

Dead Until Dark, p. 201

That’s all of the human employees – which includes Belinda and Ginger (who later dies due to Eric’s battle with the witches) and all the other women who work there. Lest you say “Oh, but that didn’t happen” – what if Eric hadn’t met Sookie? What if he’d met her a week after he found out $60,000 was missing? You think he would have given those waitresses a pat on the head and sent them home with a gift basket? I think not. If he thought it was Longshadow, he didn’t need a telepath to eliminate the waitresses – he could have watched him and caught him in the act. Eric would have been just fine with torturing his waitresses to find out if they stole his money.

But we see Eric showing his stellar caring skills when a woman has been beaten badly, for sure. Right about here:

“She’ll heal without going to the hospital,” he said briefly.
His indifference made a chill run down my spine.

Dead as a Doornail, p. 227

This is the same woman he called “meat on the hoof” – ie. up for slaughter – when it came to Mickey – the vampire in his area, he was responsible for, and got rid of with a two minute phone call for the price of a phone call. On the same night, he watched a woman with many wounds sweep up with a triumphant smile. Eric just isn’t that bothered by women getting beatings, or women being hurt. Not enough to you know, not send Sookie to Mississippi, or show concern for her after Mickey gives her a backhand.

Eric knew what was going to happen to Tara, and had little or no sympathy for her. He was just fine if she got the shit beaten out of her, raped and killed – just so long as it didn’t happen to Sookie, Eric didn’t mind what happened to Tara:

“He’s capable of …things that are barbarous. Don’t go around Tara.”
Dead as a Doornail, p. 41

Eric knew exactly what was going to go down for the rest of Tara’s life – that Mickey would eventually kill her, and was definitely not worried about the terror she was enduring. Eric wasn’t just fine with it – he wanted Sookie to be fine with Tara’s impending death too, and just let her friend swing in the wind. In that way, Eric was just fine with whatever Tara had to endure, as long as Sookie didn’t get caught up in all of it, and get killed or hurt in the process. And it can’t be that Eric was under the illusion that Tara was in the situation of her own volition – otherwise, he wouldn’t have feared Sookie having anything to do with Mickey, if Mickey was the type to get consent.

As I pointed out above, Eric is concerned with the idea that he might be a rapist, but he doesn’t really have any definitive idea that rape is so wrong that he’ll stop Mickey doing it. Whatever Mickey does is fine to do – and Eric doesn’t do a thing about it until it’s in his interests to do it. In exchange for stopping the rape, he got the story out of Sookie on what happened while he was cursed. Otherwise, without that leverage, Eric wouldn’t have done a damn thing. I doubt very much that he knew Tara’s character to deem her worthy of rape and death – and even if he did, that’s not any better. If he wanted her dead, then he should have killed her quickly and cleanly, not let Mickey rape and do whatever he wanted to her for weeks.

As you can also see from the above quote, he knew about it for a while – the above conversation he had with Sookie was when she came to get a bartender – and picked up Charles Twining. For all the time Charles was a bartender, Eric knew that Tara must have been going through hell, and did absolutely nothing about it, and probably didn’t give it a moment’s thought. Eric was just concerned for Sookie not to be raped and murdered – but he really put the responsibility for that on Sookie – not on Mickey the rapist. Eric could have ordered Mickey not to touch Sookie, but he didn’t. He could have gotten a rapist “barbarous” vampire out of his area, but he didn’t do that either. He let Mickey have free reign.

Same dealio with Alexei – Eric didn’t see any problem with Ocella having Alexei around. It’s not just about what he could and couldn’t do about it (which is nothing) but about his attitude towards that fact:

“Well, like Appius having sex with Alexei. It was not a big deal for you, even though
Alexei was thirteen.”
“Sookie, it was what you call a done deal long before I even knew I had a brother. In Ocella’s time, people were reckoned practically grown at thirteen. They were even married that young. Ocella never understood some of the changes in society that came with the centuries. And Alexei and Ocella are both dead now.” Eric shrugged.

Dead Reckoning, pp. 150-151

This is not Eric saying that what Appius did was wrong – this is Eric justifying that society is different nowadays and people seem to frown on having sex with young boys. That back in Ancient Rome, it was the done thing (and so it was – there was a system of mentorship through these relationships Mr. Minty tells me) and just that Appius hasn’t changed. Considering Appius is dead now, Eric’s certainly avoiding making disparaging remarks about a disgusting child rapist too – even though Sookie says it’s a problem. Trust me, if there was a time when it would be useful for Eric to show disgust and hatred for Ocella, now would have been the time. But Eric doesn’t even feign that he was disgusted by what was going on.

Of course, that’s where Eric is most polarised in fanfic – he’s portrayed as being completely disgusted by Ocella – yet, I would challenge anyone to find Eric’s disgust on the page – it’s really just reader transference, and it’s wrong. In the above case, why not set Sookie straight that in fact he’s horrified by Ocella, the now dead child rapist, his own rapist – not talk about how it was a “done deal”? The truth is that that’s because Eric is not disgusted or horrified by Ocella. In fact this belies his disgust with child rapists generally:

Eric was relieved beyond measure that the older vampire had brought a bedmate with him.
Dead in the Family, p. 173

There’s Eric, grateful as hell that Alexei is taking one for the team, as such. No disgust – just personal interest – Eric would much prefer that someone else is pleasing Ocella in bed, and he doesn’t care who it is, as long as it’s not him. It’s my personal thought that based on Ocella’s jealousy and possessiveness in front of Sookie that he turned up every couple of hundred years and made sure to drive off any women in Eric’s life. But Eric doesn’t really mind what Ocella does as long as he’s not taking Eric’s control away from him.

That’s important to him – his control over his own sexuality – who he’s with, and that he’s not “owned” by anyone. It’s also why I believe Eric turned down Hallow – to the point that Pam thought he was nuts:

“We were sitting in the office with the young witch, and
Chow and I were arguing with Eric about his refusal.”

Dead to the World, p. 44

I can’t think that it would have sat well with someone’s former “love slave” (as Sookie calls him) to be in a similar situation again – even if it meant saving his business. Eric doesn’t like not being in control of what’s done to him – one of the clear indicators to me that he’s a resistant abuser – one who has things he won’t even entertain. Eric is all about consent when he gets involved, and not being owned, but I doubt he has such an aversion to sleeping with someone for gain.  Of course, Pam and Chow couldn’t see the problem – but that’s undoubtedly because Pam would do just about anything, and was never subjected to similar treatment under Eric.

I have no doubt that Eric would do pretty much anything when it comes to bedroom preferences – he’s been around enough fangbangers to do what they like, most notably with a co-worker of Sookie’s:

“I have been with this one,” he said coolly, tapping Dawn’s picture. “She liked pain.”
Dead Until Dark, p. 107

Eric doesn’t say that he likes pain – but Dawn certainly did. I have no doubt that Eric is used to doing what his bed partner wants, and finding his own fulfilment at the same time. In fact, as long as he’s in control of the situation – what he does and doesn’t want to do, Eric seems happy to indulge his customers:

“That’s how I make my money, Sookie, on the perverse dreams and fantasies of humans.”
Dead Reckoning, p. 69

While Eric is probably monogamous to Sookie right now, this is how he makes his money. I doubt he had any qualms about the perversity of it before Dead and Gone and the return of his memories. But I always find it rather bizarre logic when Sookie thinks Eric will be “bored” of “vanilla sex” after a year or two in fanfic. It’s usually a precursor to Sookie being forced to consider anal, to show Eric she can be interesting, because Sookie would never get curious about anal sex like the author does, so she has to have a reason why she’s considering it. Lol.  The truth of the matter is that Eric has spent a good part of his sex life post vampire in a relationship with Appius, almost exclusively, he would have been with fangbangers – who love being bitten, and probably enjoy bloodplay and masochism etc. His sexual mores are so broad, there’s only one edge – he doesn’t rape anyone. “Vanilla sex” is probably an exciting change up from whatever crazy shit he’s been doing for hundreds of years.

As I’ve mentioned before – and it’s the reason I don’t review ESN – is that my sister is a very, very open swinger, and has been explicitly clear (TMI just doesn’t encapsulate it) with me since I was twelve. I have had enough discussing of my and other people’s sex lives to last a lifetime before I reached legal age, so I don’t do it online or at all if I can help it.  But I have considerable knowledge of what exactly one does if they’re bored after time – and it’s not as simple as anal. If only. I would have saved me being bewildered when subjected to a 45 minute amateur “porn” video on pony play and electric play, involving a lot of strapping, being led in and out of stalls and riding women while whipping them. So it always confuses me when Eric is sated by anal, and all the talk about exactly how experienced he is in everything, which never seems to encompass more than just relatively widespread practices. And my sister is not over a thousand years old, so you know, pretty much any bar she had (and I’ve yet to find the limits) would be completely wiped after so long.

Indeed Sookie points out that vampires by and large are relatively jaded too, thanks to the long period of time they’ve spent on the Earth:

Vampires seem, as a whole, to be extremely tolerant of any sexual preference; I guess there aren’t that many taboos when you’ve been alive a few hundred years.
Club Dead, p. 182

Eric isn’t going to find anal a new and exciting thing he’s never done before. The very idea is laughable. Eric strives for normality – human normality – he’s an ordinary bar owner, who pays his taxes, has a wife and a house – and probably welcomes not having any bizarre fetish demands to get his current lover off.  I’d also suggest that the author should readjust their view of what is apparently vanilla. Anal sex is defined as “vanilla” by the British Medical Journal – there’s nothing much weird about it. Certainly not enough to justify that being something that would hold an apparently easily bored vampire in thrall – and definitely not one who spent at least a couple of hundred years in a relationship with Appius, which surely involved giving and receiving anal sex.

Of course, that’s the other area that gets whitewashed about Eric – that he’s definitely not gay, and never saw any merit in men.

Eric was trying to cop a feel from Tara. Or Eggs. It was hard to tell.
Living Dead in Dallas, p. 263

He’s the only vampire we’ve seen on page (and screen) with another man. Bill certainly doesn’t flirt with other men on the page, or kiss other men on the page – it is only Eric that does that. Despite the relatively popular meme in fanfic of Eric telling Sookie to lighten up and bullies (or emotionally blackmails) her to do what he wants sexually, he himself is relatively strait-laced – he doesn’t kiss other men, and is occasionally delighted by anal from Sookie, like he’s never done it before.

I doubt there’s much Eric has never done before – it’s not a matter of never having done it – it’s all about the way he constructs himself, and the freedom to be in control and do what he wants. He’s not a rapist, but he’s not a conventional romance hero who finally wants to push the boundaries with a lover after a thousand years. Eric has done and seen things:

“Believe me, Sookie, this little gathering of trash is nothing,
nothing, compared to some of the places I have been.”

Living Dead in Dallas, p. 260

Nothing. That orgy is nothing compared to some of the places he’s been. And he has previous orgy experience in that he’s worn an animal hide to one. This is not who wants to change it up with a little bit of kink – this is a guy who’s been places he can’t do more than refer to in an oblique manner. This was my first hint that Eric had some issues in his past – combined with his refusal of Hallow – and as I’ve discussed before his hygiene rituals – all of these things are markers that twigged me to something like Ocella in his past before I read Dead and Gone. 

I’m not going to deal in depth with the idea that Eric is a protector – don’t want to repeat myself – he sent her to Dallas and Mississippi, and sometimes he shields Sookie from damage, and sometimes he doesn’t. When it comes to were assassins with guns, yes. When it comes to arrows chucked by a vampire, Eric is on the floor leaving Sookie to fend for herself. I’d also like to point out that just because Eric says he’s protecting Sookie – one has to exercise some logic to that statement. Because leaving someone lying on the floor during a vampire battle is not any kind of protecting I think Sookie needs. If she needs to lie down in the middle of a battle, I’m sure she can do that by herself.

Both of these qualities come in fact, from Quinn – he’s the suitor most likely to be morally outraged by the idea of Uncle Bartlett and Bill in the trunk. Quinn’s the guy who’ll want to put himself in the line of fire without concern. He’s the one who’ll get a chip on his shoulder about it, and castigate himself over it:

I knew that Quinn, perhaps because he was a big, formidable guy and, perhaps
because he was a weretiger who could turn into this fabulously beautiful and
lethal beast, was in a funk because he hadn’t killed all our attackers
and saved me from being sullied by their touch.

Definitely Dead, p. 271

Quinn is disgusted with himself for being unable to protect Sookie, and even worries the weres who’ve bundled him into the van when they do assault Sookie. His stance on how he feels about violators of women – he did after all, shred Clete and George. While Eric might have taken relish in that, it’s probably a combination of vampire – who likes violence – and the fact that Eric considers Sookie his. It’s not because Eric has any fundamental problems with rapists – he let Mickey stay in his Area, and Bill’s still alive. I doubt very much that Quinn would have been cool with all that sort of stuff.

Quinn has a strong idea of sexual honour – he’s not content with not being a rapist – he’s a man who killed all the women who raped his mother and put himself in vampire debt to clean up his mess. If you want a suitor who’s liable to go berserk in the face of stuff like that, Quinn is the perfect romantic hero there:

“They offered to take me on as a blood donor or a whore for visiting vamps instead, and he just about took out the one who said that.”
From Dead to Worse, p. 161

This is the same man who took an arrow for Sookie too – as well as carrying her into the Hair of the Dog to confront the weres and warn them that a Friend of the Pack had been attacked in their area. All of this stuff was at risk to himself. Quinn tries his level best to protect Sookie without fail – standing in front of her (unfortunately she was attacked from behind) and chucking himself in front of her in the case of the arrow. Above, he’s pissed off that he failed in his protection – this is not something he picks and chooses if and when he can do it.

I’ve dealt with the fact before that Quinn is highly unlikely to be through and through evil – he’s endorsed by the telepathic Mr. Cataliades. I doubt very much that Sophie Anne thought that she could give Quinn an order to procure Sookie for him. Like Victor Madden, Sophie Anne had plans to use Quinn to manipulate Sookie, but she wasn’t in cahoots with Quinn. In fact, Quinn wouldn’t brook the idea of Sookie (or anyone) including his sister being under vampire control:

I want you to know that if you don’t want to be with Eric, if he’s using
any coercion on you, if he’s got any leverage on you the way they do
on me…I’ll do anything in my power to get you free.”

Small Town Wedding, The Sookie Stackhouse Companion, p. 68

Quinn knows just how much it would cost him to get free of vampires – he’s been trying for many years to do so. But they pretty much own him, which is what takes him out of the running for Sookie – the fact that he has no chance of getting free. Still, he’s willing to put himself at risk to get Sookie out from under. This is not the idle boasting of a man who doesn’t know what he’s offering when he offers to protect her. Sure, Quinn might be impulsive and physical, but that doesn’t mean that he’s somehow not good enough. If one of the requirements for shipping is making sure there’ll be a guy who has a strong idea of how to treat a woman, and not get hurt, Quinn is unmatched by both the vampires.

Bill comes closer than Eric ever does – killing Uncle Bartlett – although Bill is largely motivated by the idea of possession, rather than protection. The real protector of Sookie over Uncle Bartlett was Gran – not Bill. What Bill did he did out of possessiveness – because he wanted to kill the man who’d done that, without ever asking Sookie if that was something she wanted – it was all about what would make Bill feel better, not what would help Sookie. The total of Eric’s reaction to the trunk incident is just awareness and concern for Sookie – he’s not going out dispensing justice, as I’ve discussed previously – he hid Bill’s crime, rather than punishing it. He still talks to Bill to the point that they have secret dialogues in The Sookie Stackhouse Companion. I doubt that Quinn would speak to Bill, and would probably happily try to off him, just as he did in Dead and Gone.

Quinn is the suitor one should look to for all of the things Eric is seen as owning – when Eric has the opposite of evidence that he’s like that. It’s a real pity to me that Eric is made out to be something he’s not – a man disgusted by sexual victimisation, and a protector, when in fact, he’s not either one of those. Quinn doesn’t get much trim in fanfic, despite the fact that he is the guy who’s disgusted by sexual victimisation and a protector – he’s kinda written off in favour of giving Eric the heart of a tiger.