Lie to Me

As always, I’ve been making pictures. Usually it’s because I don’t want to rant about something, or because I have something short to say. I got pissed off with being accused of censoring people, so I made this lovely little picture. Of course, I’m thinking I should just agree that anything less than enthusiastic support is censorship – because that means that participation here would go up 500%, with all the brownnosing comments I’d get – particularly since everyone will be henceforth forced to read my LJ, even if they don’t like it. And link to it. And tell me what a spectacular job I’m doing here. But sadly, I can’t make money doing that, so I’m just going to leave it and put up with people not liking to read something. Call me a generous censor.

Also, there’s Pam the SnarkParrot – who sits on Eric’s metaphorical shoulder in fanfic and makes snappy one liners. She is seriously such a multi-dimensional character! Behold her awesomeness. She can walk into a room on her waddly little parrot legs and leer at Sookie’s boobs. She can say something nasty to Sookie for withholding sex from Eric and bob her head up and down. And what’s wonderful? That’s all she’ll ever be! She can repeat Eric’s agenda on command! Joy! That’s everyone’s favourite character, right? *rolls eyes hard* Apparently it is.

And finally, who I always think of when I read “Little One” in Eric’s dialogue. Totally okay, cause it seems they boned too.

So, the formal synopsis has come out – the one from the publisher.

I wanted to pick one particular paragraph out of it, because I’ve been thinking about these issues for a while now:

Growing up with telepathic abilities, Sookie Stackhouse realized early on there
were things she’d rather not know. And now that she’s an adult, she also
realizes that some things she knows about, she’d rather not see—like Eric
Northman feeding off another woman. A younger one.

Now, I know, there’s going to be two kinds of reactions at least. First one is “CH IS TEARING DOWN SAINT ERIC”. Ah, no, she’s not. The “feed only from Sookie” shit is fan invention.  I’ve pointed out time and again that Eric hasn’t fed enough from Sookie to sustain himself, and that he’s not keeping his fangs to himself because he’s a vampire. Eric doesn’t even say that he’s feeding only from Sookie in the text itself – it has become a way to romanticise Eric, and make out like he’s the victim of Sookie – all that time while he was ditching fangbangers on the floor and not feeding well while she was selfishly having control of her own body and dating Quinn. Meanwhile, Eric’s half starving to death, because Sookie just won’t knuckle under.

The second reaction is that Eric is forced to feed off this person as a one-off, because Felipe will think he’s not tough enough otherwise or something like that. Because Felipe will apparently give control of one of his Areas not based on income, but based on who and what Eric feeds on. You know – the way business decisions are made all the time – based on diet and perceived manliness lol. Instead of backing up his books to stop Victor getting rid of him, Eric is faking polaroids with fangbangers and sending them to Felipe to keep his position. That this feeding is an anomaly, and normally, Eric is totally keeping his fangs to himself. Again, Eric is a vampire. He feeds off blood – and not only Sookie’s. So far, he’s even fed off Pam in the text:

Eric needed all his blood to heal himself, and he took some of Pam’s too.
Dead and Gone, p. 308

Oh, and to show that there’s none of the fan invention about how he only gives blood to Sookie, there’s this:

“Do you need my blood?” he asked her.
Dead in the Family, p. 301

Note, Eric doesn’t ask Sookie if that’s alright to give blood to Pam or take it from Pam. The “mine” thing goes only one way, and it is that Sookie’s blood belongs to Eric, and Eric can take other people’s blood as much as he likes, and give his blood to who he likes. There’s a reason it’s called possessiveness and not equality. It’s supposed to demonstrate that possessiveness is not a good thing, and the inherent unfairness there is because Eric gives different standards to himself than there are for Sookie.

From what I can see, this is complex fan mythology that has gotten way out of hand, to the point that Sookie is bashed for invented offence to Eric without any canon proof. It’s a way to separate evil Bill who fed on others from saintly Eric who keeps his fangs up at all times when Sookie isn’t around. And it’s curiously ironic to me that while almost all of these fans want to bash Sookie into line, force her to face up to “truth” before she’s ready for it, are not willing to do the same when it comes to facing truth about a fictional character they have sanctified. Well, the yearly dose of their own medicine will satisfy my schadenfreude meter for a bit. But in the meantime? They’ll be bashing CH and bashing Sookie…and not bashing Eric. I’d say “Surprise!” but it really isn’t. *Sigh*

One of the other ways that Sookie catches it in the neck is by not asking questions, not being informed enough. Not knowing stuff. Not following things up. You know – one of the myriad of complaints about how Sookie is lacking. That she doesn’t ask the questions that she should. I’m not sure what logic people are working under when they make these complaints. Because of course Bill would spill the whole “I’m really going to see my ex-lover Lorena” if Sookie pushed him on the lie about Seattle. And of course Claude would spill the entire fairy agenda if only Sookie asked. Beings who make a habit of lying will apparently totally break under the pressure of Sookie reiterating the original question. 

I’m never sure what they think she could actually do to inform herself more. Or what questions open the magic box. I mean, we humans have courts and stuff and they work on the judge asking the same question twice, right? And then the truth comes out and all is known…wait….

Of course it doesn’t work like that – liars lie even after you ask them the tenth time. Liars lie because they want to tell the original lie. Not because they really want their lie to be discovered. It’s not all some cry for attention, or the requisite number of times the monkey whacks the coconut until it cracks. Not to mention, when it’s a lying vampire coconut, cracking may not actually be a good thing:

He said, “Pam, don’t speak. That’s an order. Sookie, leave this be.
I am ashamed to say that at that moment I was scared of Eric, this
desperate and determined vampire who was attacking his best friend
because he didn’t want me to know…something.

Dead Reckoning, p. 89

And behold, how they don’t tell you their lies until they’re found out:

“What’s all the big hinting about, Eric? Bill?”
“Eric should not be agitating you when you’ve
got a lot to handle already,” Bill said, finally.

“Ask him why he came back to Bon Temps,
Sookie,” Eric said very quietly.

Definitely Dead, p. 183

Notice how both Eric and Bill don’t actually tell the truth about the situation until they’re rumbled on actual truth? And then they hurriedly put in the actual information. But kindly make sure that Sookie gets a hair’s breadth away from figuring it out on her own? And I haven’t even bothered to quote Quinn who didn’t let her know Victor was coming until the cavalcade is on its way. It’s a consistent theme – the truth will be kept from Sookie until she tries damn hard to find it out…and after other people help her, like Pam with Eric, and Pam with Bill. Otherwise, she’s floating free in the dark, and the menfolk are happy to leave it that way. For their own benefit.

But there’s more to this too – not the issue of who Eric is feeding on – obviously, this is where Eric’s happy to keep her in the dark. But also, Sookie is happy to be kept in the dark on that one. As I mentioned previously, I’m a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. There’s this one scene that always stuck with me. After an event where an old friend betrays her, Buffy asks Giles to lie to her about how simple life is. He tells her that all things are easy – that the good guys are always good, the bad guys are always bad, and easily distinguished. That everyone lives happily ever after. That scene always stuck with me, because sometimes lies are just nice. I try not to do them myself, but I definitely see the appeal. They make us feel like things are going to go well, and that everything is going right with the world.

Sometimes Sookie engages in subterfuge with her own life, so as to maybe not hear lies, but maybe not to hear the truth. I think that she does it to protect herself from unwelcome truths, and I think it’s essential for her mental health. I often find it kinda shocking when Sookie asks questions she ought not to ask in fanfic. I would fear the answers myself, and yet Fanfic Sookie doesn’t seem to fear them – you can tell because she asks the question anyway. I always get the urge in fanfic to tell her not to ask…just before I remember that answers are almost always good in fanfic.

I suspect that that’s because writers of fanfic think it’s important – and they always have good answers to the questions. Positively Sookie never hears what I would fear the answers to be. And of course, that’s why she asks them – so that the writer can demonstrate why it is that Eric is an all around good guy, and so that the writer can clear up something that bothers them about the books. What they should have done is have a think about why Sookie doesn’t ask such an obvious question.

One of the classic questions with good answer is the issue of fidelity. Usually Fanfic Sookie asks a question I don’t think she should if she can’t handle the honest answer. And by honest, I mean the possibility that he’s willing to sleep with other people. Of course, in fanfic she’s then promptly reassured that Eric will never cheat on her, that nothing has ever felt so good around his cock etc. etc. Sometimes Eric even tells her off for thinking to ask the question of a man who was never a Christian, and thus never bound by the rules of his gods to be with one woman, has been sleeping around for a millennium and even mentions other women while in bed with her. Sookie is so unreasonable and she never ever trusts Eric!

Well…except when she chooses to trust Eric and doesn’t ask him if he’s faithful. She doesn’t even want to know if he is or not – she’ll trust him and not ask. *sotto voce* I have never, in 17 years of marriage, asked my husband if he’s only sleeping with me. I’m pretty sure I know him well enough to think monogamy might be important to him. (Anyone would think I fell in love with someone I knew!).

I’d also like to point out the last time Sookie extracted a promise of care and fidelity:

“I know you’ll – feed on someone else besides me,” I was trying very hard to keep my voice level. “Please, not anyone here, not anyone I have to see. I couldn’t bear it.”
Dead Until Dark, p. 167

Bill breaks up with Sookie, and all of a sudden he wants to have all of his dates with Selah at Merlotte’s, in an effort to pressure Sookie to get back with him. He made sure it was someone she had to see, someone he brought into town deliberately to harass the shit out of Sookie. He made sure that Sookie got the full panorama of what he was doing to Selah to his telepathic ex. What a prince! So you know, if I were Sookie, I would never, ever ask again something I didn’t want the very opposite of. And may I point out, that being in a committed relationship with Bill did not stop Bill dumping her for Lorena – and before he was kidnapped, that’s exactly what he did – called Eric to arrange a dumping ceremony with bonus pension cheque. So you can ask someone to be faithful all you like and that doesn’t mean anything.

I think there’s a supremely good reason why Sookie has never asked bluntly, brutally honest Eric about his fidelity. It’s because when you’re ruthless, that’s because there is no limit you won’t go to. Before I get complaints that that’s just Sookie’s “unfair perception” that Eric is ruthless, and that he’s a sweet little kitten, observe:

“And this is where my ruthlessness will be of service to both of us.”
Dead and Gone, p. 97

Oh, I know, that’s usually turned into Eric’s internal thoughts being that he’s only ruthless over Sookie, and is terribly sad she thinks so badly of him.  Cause, you know, you get to be a thousand year old vampire by being a sweetie pie in a world which contains guys like Andre. It couldn’t be that *gasp* Eric is being honest. He’s not using the word by accident.

Ruthless doesn’t always mean good things. I sometimes think that perhaps one of the problems is that people don’t really grasp – those who are not ruthless – just how deep into the murky depths ruthlessness can go. That’s normal, because really, ruthless types are few and far between (thank goodness). There’s positively no limit they won’t go to. It means having no pity or compassion for others – never saying “That’s enough” or “This is too far”. They won’t reach a depth to which they won’t go.

Looking at Eric, and his little tale about Chico and his mother in Dead Reckoning, there’s some selfish desire there to have nothing bad happen to Sookie and Pam at Victor’s hands, but the thought that it’s too much, or terrible is not even on his radar. Nor should it be if Eric actually has a depth of character. He’s killed way too many mothers and fathers over the years to really angst over something terrible happening to someone’s mother. Eric weeping over Chico would ring so hollow. No one noticed him feeling sorry for Bruce’s children in the first book right? He didn’t weep for Ginger’s mother when she was found dead in his club.

So what would a ruthless, practical vampire do in the face of necessary infidelity? Somehow I don’t think it’s going to be sticking to principle. No, it would sound a little like this:

“I can only tell you that I’m not having sex with my maker. But I would if he told
me that was what he wanted. I would have no choice.”

Dead in the Family, p. 244

Having no choice is not the same as saying “I will die before he forces me to sleep with him – fidelity is that important to me”. And obviously, Appius was there for a couple more days after this statement – with no guarantees that Eric didn’t sleep with him after Sookie asked Eric about it. Yet Sookie never ever asks again. Because the truth is what the hell is she going to do if Eric says he did. Think about how she would then reply to that answer. And that will help you understand why she doesn’t ask about it.

Rather than ask him to be with only her, or tell him he can be only with her is pointless. Finding out means that she has to do something about it – and in truth, the supe world is full of infidelity for a purpose. Alcide sleeps with other women for his pack, as does Calvin. Vampires demonstrate with Ginger and Belinda – that it’s much of a muchness, and there’s this one big pool fangbangers that they all share.

Then there is fidelity out of convenience, and need. Let’s look at Pam for a case study on what it looks like to be faithful to one person…which involves not being faithful no matter how much you love them:

“I tried to interest her sexually. Bobby Burnam tried the bribe.”
Dead in the Family, p. 78

So Pam is happy to sleep with the BVA agent, but unless we’re expected to believe that Pam met Miriam and fell deeply in love with her and wanted to turn her within the space of two months, then this was during her time with Miriam. There’s Pam, using what she’s got to get what she wants. If the BVA agent was interested in Eric, there’s absolutely no reason as to why Eric wouldn’t consider sleeping with her in order to give his bar a boost – sleep with her so she’ll look the other way when crimes happen in his bar.

If given the choice between having his business go down the tubes or using the only reliable bribe material Eric has, what’s he going to do? Let his business go down the tubes, or have sex to get himself out of a tight spot?  Because I’m not sure that I would bet that pragmatic, political Eric wouldn’t take one for the team rather than lose his investment and look shaky politically. There’s a difference between Hallow who tried to force Eric into sexual servitude, and an Eric who chooses to look after his own interests.

And I don’t think that’s the only time that Eric’s fidelity can be called into question either. If Felipe comes and demands sexual favours from Eric what is Eric going to do? Say No? No is not often an option in the vampire world:

“He doesn’t demand sexual services if the woman is not so inclined, and he asks
in return only a few hours in the bar and special chores from time to time.”

Definitely Dead, p. 122

This is Felicia, commending Eric on being a good boss because he doesn’t demand sexual servitude? If this is a positive point for Eric, it says something all together totally fucking heinous about the vampire world. Not only that, but even Bill expects some of that sort of argy-bargy with his human – and I’d say that that is based on past experience:

ERIC: “I need you to bring your human to Fangtasia tomorrow night.”
BILL: “Why?”
ERIC: “I need her services.”
BILL: “Eric, you know she is mine.”
ERIC: “Of course, Bill. There will be none of that.

The Secret Dialogues of Bill and Eric, The Sookie Stackhouse Companion, p. 94

So Bill knows that some sheriffs expect you to pass around your human like a party favour, and let everyone have a turn. Just like some sheriffs and kings like Peter Threadgill expect sexual servitude. This is the inherent problem with possessiveness – the human is the metaphorical bong to be passed around so everyone can have a toke. That’s because possessiveness requires you to be seen as a possession. Sookie has always felt that keenly in the company of vampires:

I realized I’d been rented, like a chainsaw or backhoe.
Living Dead in Dallas, p. 47

And to be ignored when she’s sitting right there, like a tasty desklamp or something:

Then, with all those cold eyes fixed on me, I realized that they were waiting for me,
that Andre had been addressing me directly. I’d become so used to the vamps
talking over and around me that I’d been taken by surprise.

All Together Dead, p. 15

Sookie has been around Bill and Eric and Pam before this – not so much contact with Andre. So the vamps talking over and around her are indeed, all of the Shreveport vampires – which includes Bill, Eric and Pam – Sookie’s primary vampire contacts. She’s not having long chats with Felicia and Indira, and didn’t speak directly to Thalia until Dead Reckoning. This is Sookie demonstrating how much things are tilted against her – and she is seen as a possession, or some of the backdrop to vampire drama.

So it’s no wonder that she doesn’t ask answers to difficult questions, like “Are you faithful to me?” I wouldn’t either – not if I treasured my illusions about the man I loved and the people I considered my friends. At all. Because I would be forced then to make decisions based on logic, rather than feelings. There is a reason why lies appeal. Because in a world where you’re the bong or the desklamp, the possession, then maybe you don’t want to have that hammered home and the ugly reality set out in cold harsh light of day.

Sookie took the requisite bashing for not asking about Eric about what he’s going to do when she ages. Sookie had this to say about it:

I said, “You know, Eric, I can’t…” And then I stopped dead. I’d almost insulted
him unforgivably. I knew he felt the wave of doubt emanating from me.
I’d almost said,”I just can’t imagine you sticking around after I start to look old.”

Dead Reckoning, p. 151

I have to say, I agree with Sookie not actually asking Eric. When I said I loved my husband, I didn’t actually mean “I love you…until you get cancer or grey hair, and then I am gone.” I would find it personally insulting that he would think my love so shallow he had to ask. It would imply to me that he thought I was in this for the looks, and people with prideful issues don’t take well to being accused of being shallow. And for the record – seventeen years now, he has a few grey hairs and a couple more wrinkles, and I still think he’s lovely. Probably because I love him for him, and am not a shallow twit.

In fact, that fear is so prevalent in people’s minds – that Eric’s “love” is so shallow that there are a whole host of Vampire Sookie fics wherein she turns because who would possibly love her when she’s old? This is a giant fear for a lot of women – that when they are old, no one will want them. Of course, that’s why some people read vampire fiction – they’re in love with the idea of being youthful forever, lovable forever.

But not only would it have insulted Eric, but what would Sookie do about it if he said “Nope, I find women ages thirty five and up to be absolutely repulsive”? Hope she dies before then? Break up with him? Accept her lot as soon for the scrap heap? Really – what is the outcome of that one if the answer isn’t positive? The fact that it is a fear for so many women to the point where they make Sookie a vampire to avoid this very issue – tells me that they fear it’s not a good answer to this question. But Sookie is expected to just blithely ask as if there’s no problem.

I think the question is better dealt with by taking what you can get. Asking him now could change everything for the worse. Particularly when Sookie already doesn’t think she’s of particular worth to Eric:

“I think you look great,” I said. Only the fact that he might accuse me of false
modesty kept me from saying, “So what on earth are you doing with me?”

Dead in the Family, p. 160

It really isn’t much of a surprise that a woman who has faced constant rejection from humans, combined with a husband who is not always the most reassuring of guys means that she’s not going to ask. After all, there is more to this than just good honesty:

“I always tell you the truth,” he said. And there wasn’t a trace of that smile left on his face.
“I may not tell you everything I know, but what I tell you…it’s true.”

Dead and Gone, p. 178

Some truths are hard to face – and maybe you don’t want to have to face them. Maybe facing them will destroy everything you cherish right now. And since Eric has said he’ll be truthful, then why ask if there’s a possibility it’s a truth you won’t like? To hear the very worst of fears realised from the mouth of the man you love is a harsh one. I don’t think it’s sensible to chance it. To be told that you are furniture that will be ditched when you’re ratty and your telepathy don’t work so good. Because that’s the thing – asking questions and getting honest answers does not equate with getting good answers.

To add to that, Sookie is a telepath. She’s heard the lies people tell all their lives. Has the true knowledge of their deeds made her happy? I would say not. Sookie gets a pipeline of truth all the time – the truth about all kinds of nasty things. I would think that there is some part of her that would value happiness over truth, since she has always known that she can get the truth if she wants it – and sometimes, whether she wants it or not.

I’d also like to point out that this is yet another similarity that Sookie shares with Eric – not wanting the truth in case the truth is rejection of all that you hold dear. As I’ve discussed before, Eric’s emotional cowardice springs from the fact that he fears that the answers to his serious questions to Sookie will not be good ones. So he doesn’t ask, he doesn’t risk. The difference is that Eric lashes out when he doesn’t get the answers he wants, while Sookie just avoids the subject and fears the worst. This is why I will root for Sookie over Eric – because if she made snide remarks about how Eric is a slut, or their relationship is worthless because she didn’t hear what she wanted to, I would consider them to be as bad as each other. But it is Eric who wants a truth, and wants a good truth with the merest of carrot dangling he can get – and he’ll lash out and point out all her relationships are doomed or spend time yelling at her on the dance floor if she doesn’t comply to questions he hasn’t asked.

So I don’t see Sookie as fatally stupid for not asking some of these questions. I think it’s okay if she doesn’t ask questions about Eric’s fidelity. I think it’s okay if she doesn’t ask questions about whether Eric will ditch her when she turns thirty. With a history like hers, I would grasp onto just that little piece of happiness I could have. It’s not as if she doesn’t have precedent for it:

I was bone-deep grateful for the pleasure he’d given me.
A piece of happiness should never be taken as due.

Dead to the World, p. 189

She wasn’t expecting Eric to stay with her once he got his memory back, and planned for that. Taking what she can get while she can have it is the story of Sookie’s life. She hasn’t demanded that she deserves all of the stuff that so many readers think is what she should have rights to – without any proof that she has rights to it, means to get those things, or guarantees that everything will be fine and it’s hers forever. What Sookie most often has is the idea that happiness is fleeting, and that she should accept what little she does get because she’s never going to get it all.

Even when you need the truth, the people who inform you may not tell you. Even when you want the truth, you may be better off sticking with your illusions. That time is apparently coming to an end for Sookie, with CH telling us that Sookie will find out the truth on things. I don’t think it’s sensible to expect all these truths to be good. Looking at the circumstances of Sookie’s life, there are some things I’m not sure I would ask in the same position, unless it was a deal breaker for me to know the answer, no matter how badly it all turns out. Sometimes, if I were in Sookie’s position, I would want someone to think about my sanity, and just lie to me.