Mr. PMR: There’s all these women who’ve never had a hair on their head touched.
They don’t have the protection of a werewolf and his pack, a pile of vampires and
fairy men, and yet they never get beatings. But all these violent men surround
Sookie going on about protection, and overplaying the general need for it
because they keep the cycle of violence going on for their own purpose.
PMR: I don’t get any beatings either.
Mr. PMR: That’s my supernatural powers protecting you. I am awesome.
And so he is. 😀 This post is about something that whenever I see it misunderstood, drives me around the bend.And it sucks arse. It’s really because some people love to parrot the books without comprehending the books – and love to hop on the vampire blame train, and blame the victim of their lives and schemes.
I’m going to look at the statement so often parroted with no thought, and so often the cause of blaming Sookie for whatever shit comes her way. So I’m going to dissect those statements. I’d also like to preface this one by saying that I think a fair amount of this stuff is Twilight overhang. Some authors cross over to SVM because Twilight fandom is so huge, and they bring the “trouble magnet” bullshit with them. These series are not interchangeable. If all Sookie had to concern herself with was a skinned knee and some rather lame villains who telegraph plots to kill her with days worth of warning on where they’ll be and how they’ll do it, shit would be just fine in her life.
So let’s have a look at when the accusation actually appears in the text and examine that subtext, rather than just assuming that if Sookie is told she’s a lot of trouble, then so she actually is. First one is when Sookie gets rescued from the Fellowship of the Sun:
“The richer for several hundred dollars, and quite happy about it,”
Eric said in a dry voice.
“Now we just need Bill. What a lot of trouble you are, Sookie.”
Living Dead in Dallas, p. 184
This is the first time that Eric calls Sookie trouble. I’m not really clear as to why every word Eric pronounces is used as gospel. Unless we’re to assume the time he called Charles Twining a “stupid Englishman” means that he hates Pam, who is English. But still, what is it that Eric’s actually saying here? What is the trouble that he had to take, exactly?
Well the trouble he had to go through is trying to find out where to rescue Sookie. Why would that be that he thinks it’s trouble? Would it be because ordinarily, his employees can go sit and spin when it comes to a rescue? I haven’t seen Eric mounting up all his resources trying to help out Bobby or Mustapha, or any of his waitresses. He certainly didn’t call in a telepath to help his staff out with things they wanted to know – only what benefits Eric.
What Eric is saying – and what was inferred earlier by Pam and the Maenad treatment is that other, lesser employees are left to die. They aren’t brought back and helped out. Here’s a little quote to demonstrate that fact – that Eric might be great to his vampire employees, and not cruel to his human employees, but he’s no philanthropist boss who just lives to serve humans:
“We should have taken care of Colton and Immanuel.”
Did Eric mean the vampires should have killed the human survivors of that vicious brawl, even if they’d fought on Eric’s side? Or was he simply implying he should have done a preemptive glamour, erasing their memories? I closed my eyes. I thought of my own humanity and vulnerability, though glamouring had never worked on me.
Deadlocked, p. 124
Truly, it’s more “trouble” to do right by a human and protect them than it is to just leave them to swing in the wind. Even Sookie isn’t sure whether Eric means to kill them, or just take away their memories. Luckily, Bill has the above one solved. But what would Eric have done if Colton was the person in the Fellowship of the Sun? Would he have mounted up the cavalry and tried to find out if he was alive, or would he have just tried to cover up his involvement? I know which one I believe he would do – the most practical – dump Colton.
Part of this myth that Eric would protect anyone (and I see it around the place) is that he protects Sookie. But that’s just really an extension of his own self interest. It’s simple – he doesn’t want her to die because she interests him. He’s not generally interested in people, even Amnesiac Eric. I mean, Jason is missing for the entire time of Dead to the World, and does Eric spend his nights while Sookie is asleep searching for him? Uh, no. He doesn’t. He even tells Sookie just how much he gives a shit:
“Look inside yourself, Eric. Are you really, really sorry? Worried about Jason?”
Because the real Eric, in his right mind, would not have cared one little bit.
“I know I should be. I should be concerned about your brother, because I love having sex with you, and I should want you to think well of me so you’ll have sex, too.” You just had to like the honesty. This was the closest to the real Eric I’d seen in days.
Dead to the World, p. 211
This is unvarnished Eric – being as honest as he can be. And it’s not as if he hasn’t met Jason, or is unaware that Jason is missing. See, it’s just too much trouble to go and find Jason, or to care about where Jason went. There’s no calling in favours, or trying to find out if Jason might be retrievable – that would be too much trouble. Eric doesn’t give a shit where Jason went or really putting himself out in any way to find out if Jason’s going to be alright. You can’t really simultaneously believe that vampires think of their food, and also worry about the welfare of individual snack packs.
That is the reason Eric tells Sookie she’s trouble – because it’s his own twisted way of saying “Hey, if you were a regular person, I would leave you for dead. But since you interest and intrigue me, I don’t want to do that. So I will go to the trouble of not letting you die in the Fellowship’s rape basement. And a small part of me resents that fact – hence why I blame you for it.” It’s not because Sookie caused that trouble. After all, she didn’t go to Dallas because she thought the weather would be nice at that time of year – Eric sold her to them – rented her, as she says “like a backhoe”. Sookie really isn’t to blame for going to Dallas and doing her job.
Consistently, that’s what happens – Sookie gets involved in vampire shit, which risks her life, and then when Eric finds that her death causes him pause, he’s all ready to project that onto Sookie. It doesn’t actually mean she’s to blame for that, unless you think sleeping in your bed, in your house means that you are actually to blame for anything that happens to you then:
“Pam, it’s Sookie.”
“Oh, hello,” she said more cheerfully. “I hear you’re in even more trouble.
Got your house burned. You won’t live much longer if you keep that up.”
Dead as a Doornail, p. 211
When you go to bed tonight, are you going to take the full blame if someone tries to set your fucking house on fire? Cause I know I’m going to sleep in my own house thinking that the arsonist is to blame for that trouble, not me. And lest we forget, where exactly did the arson spring from? Well, at this time, Pam believes (as does everyone else) that it’s a Fellowship member, Geoff Marriot. Except that Sookie didn’t get herself wilfully involved with the Fellowship – that was again, Eric sending her to Dallas. As to the real cause, that would be Eric, who sent along a loaner bartender who burned her house down in order to kill her and get back at Eric.
I just can’t see how anyone could fail to see what is really being said here. Sookie is getting blamed for being trouble because it’s easier to let you die, but sadly for Eric, he has to go to the trouble of saving your life. Which could put him out, and make him worry. Yes, I know – it’s not very romantic – but it’s the best romance Eric can summon – the one of ‘I would be sad if you died’. Considering how many people the man has killed, that’s as good as coming to your window with a boombox. It’s not particularly romantic in the whole pantheon of “What is romantic” – it’s downright creepy. However, I’ve discussed that. Maybe you don’t like Eric as much as you think.
And it shows up again – Eric tells Sookie that she’s so much trouble, when Mickey turns up at the window in Dead as a Doornail:
“It’s a vampire,” I told Eric in the tiniest whisper I could manage,
and he put his arms around me and pulled me into him.
“You’re so much trouble,” Eric said, and yet he didn’t sound
exasperated. He sounded excited. Eric loved the action moments.
Dead as a Doornail, p. 220
So I’ll take a different tack this time to hammer the subtext through your head. If Eric didn’t take any “trouble” that was surely coming, then that would mean no fighting for him. He wouldn’t need to battle with Mickey and send him away. Remember, at this point, Eric doesn’t know that super-rock is going to take him out. (Must be a super rock if it defeated the undefeated Eric Northman who can stake Bill with his pinky finger, amirite?) If Sookie wasn’t to be “trouble” to Eric at that point, it would be that he’d just leave – no issue. What he’s saying is that against what he would usually do – leave the human to get killed like he did with Tara – he’s going to get into a fight.
Was Sookie to blame for Mickey coming to her house? In no way, shape or form. Mickey is to blame for that – he did it. Eric knew well enough to tell Sookie to keep away from Mickey weeks ago, and knew that Mickey was a scary dude. To mindlessly parrot Eric’s statement as a legitimate statement of blame is missing a big chunk of subtext. Eric is essentially blaming Sookie for being interesting enough that he doesn’t want her to die by being raped to death by Mickey. Part of Eric hates that he wants to go to the trouble of keeping her alive – particularly in light of the fact that he just threatened to kill her himself.
This accusation that Sookie is “trouble” seemingly only shows up when she has contact with vampires and other supes. As Sookie eloquently points out:
“I never was in a hospital till I knew you,” I said.
Dead as a Doornail, p. 191
In fact, that is the big contrast. Before Bill came into Sookie’s life (which is an explicit plan for the local vampire Queen – not one of Sookie’s own making) then Sookie didn’t have any trouble. After she meets Bill, she’s involved in fights with drainers, beaten, has her grandmother killed, attacked by a vampire, attacked by a serial killer, has her cat killed. Many years of life without problem, and yet the blame is apportioned to Sookie as if she had any fucking choice in all of this stuff. Before that, it was the life of working in a bar, going home and taking care of Gran. Nothing more than that.
Consider – she didn’t take it into her head to help out Eric at his business, she didn’t take it into her head to vacation in Dallas, Mississippi or Rhodes. She didn’t reach out to Niall and ask for him to bring all of his politics into her life. She didn’t welcome Eric’s political machinations or Lorena’s interference in her life, or send Mr. Cataliades to her own baby shower, and later to involve her with Hadley’s death. None of that shit has anything to do with Sookie calling down trouble on her head. Most of it was “Do this, or I will hurt you.” No one ever gave her a choice in Hotel California – it was a done deal before the books even started that Bill was there to ascertain her skills for use of the queen.
Doing a job is not an excuse to apportion blame to the victim either. We don’t say “Well, police officers wouldn’t get shot if they didn’t get that job” because that would be a victim-blamey loathsome type statement. That’s essentially what’s going on here with Sookie – she was friendly with Bill, Eric and Sophie Anne, and thus she is somehow to blame when they invite her give her no choice but to go to parties where people bring guns, swords and other weapons. Because she didn’t lament and wring her hands how she was forced every single moment, then going to Eric’s bar without being strapped into the front car seat means Sookie is somehow complicit in what Longshadow did? Pointing out that she didn’t fight, kicking and screaming not to go to Rhodes means she’s to blame for all the shit that happened there? I don’t fucking think so.
There is however, one accusation – on who is actually trouble that is true:
“Trouble,” she said. “And Eric.”
One and the same, I thought.
Dead and Gone, p. 288
I know most of the time when Sookie is brought up, she’s seen as the one who is “trouble”. Except before she met vampires, she was never in the hospital, never had anything happen to her. And in fact, part of the way that she came together with Eric is when she’s investigating the trouble he’s in. When she’s trying to figure out who the embezzler is who has taken his money. And Eric finds out about her telepathy because his club was raided. All the stuff with the witches was on Eric – Sookie had sworn off vampires and werewolves at that stage – she was in no way involved in any of that without Eric’s visitation to her house. All the stuff with Hot Rain is on Eric. In fact, Sookie spells it out really clearly:
He’d never have been targeted by Claude, by Jannalynn, if it hadn’t been for me,
and that was such a reversal on the usual situation – I’d been the object of so many
schemes because Eric was my lover – that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it.
Deadlocked, p. 313
Did Sookie meet Victor at a box social? No. She met him through Eric. He targeted her because of Eric. You can hardly develop a grudge over someone offering you a glass of blood, and then turn it into a scheme to try and abduct her to Las Vegas. A great majority of the targeting of Sookie has been because of Eric. The rest was as a result of Bill and Alcide. However, for the most part, Eric’s been the main conduit for all these exciting adventures. Without Eric, there’s no Dallas, no Mississippi, there’s no witch war, there’s no takeover, no Charles Twining, no Freyda, no Felipe, no political struggles, no killing in Two Blondes. Most of the adventures have been due to what Eric had Sookie do. And moreover, her visibility in those incidents is what widened up the field for other trouble to come her way.
Not only that, but at no time did Sookie threaten to send hired goons to make sure Eric turned up, plan to ensnare Bill by seducing him, or offer to torture Eric if he didn’t do what she wanted. This is what makes Sookie’s accusations of Eric being trouble the side I stand for. She didn’t force her company on Eric – the idea is laughable. She didn’t turn up in his bed, or order him to her bar, stay at his house by force. Sookie didn’t have the choice of free association with Eric, so if Eric wants to claim that he’s endured trouble – well, he actually had a choice. Sookie didn’t.
If you really think that before Sookie came into Eric’s life, he lived a sedate life of no problems, and had no issues, wow. I mean, did you forget that before Sookie was a twinkle in her father’s eye, this happened to Eric:
“The Halloween massacre of 1876, in St. Petersburg.”
“I was there,” Eric said. “It took twenty of us to clean up.
And we had to stake Gregory, it took all of us to do that.”
Living Dead in Dallas, p. 49
This is the same man who knows what it’s like to feel like a Crusader. He wasn’t living any life of the wallflower before Sookie met him, and he’s the source for action and exposition on Sookie in the books. Without Eric’s involvement, it’s Sookie raging at Bill over bequests to the Bellefleurs, and wondering if Bill’s going to be done on the computer any time soon. It’s certainly not because Bill lived a life of excitement that he involved Sookie in. The biggest thing Bill brought to her was the night in the carpark with the Rattrays. If Bill had his way, he would have been disappeared to “Seattle”, and Sookie abducted by a werewolf in Merlotte’s carpark for Lorena’s tender attentions – caused entirely by the trouble Bill brought her, not because Sookie is inherently a troublesome danger who just won’t stop bringing bad shit into poor Bill’s peaceful existence. It was up to Eric to give Sookie directions to go off to Mississippi, rather than hole up in a room with a gun and a bodyguard, all protected like.
The accusation that Sookie is trouble is a simple misdirection that has greater subtext than is evident to silly readers. It’s meant to infer that Sookie actually surviving her trials is a greater hassle than Eric would normally go to. It’s not a legitimate statement of blame for what is actually her fault. She didn’t call this stuff out of the ether onto herself – it came from her involvement with vampires. Without the vampires involvement in her life, there’s no introduction of weres or fairies – certainly no need for a fairy godmother to save your arse. Eric is saying that keeping humans alive in the normal course of things is difficult – it’s far easier to let them die or suffer – like it was for Ginger, Belinda, those two gang members in Shreveport, Audrina, Bobby, Mustapha. This is more of his “I don’t like having feelings” stuff that is the cause of his angst – not a statement of fact. Sookie is just not the troublesome telepathic type.