The Imaginary Heroine

searching for the plot

The Imaginary Heroine’s Fictional Boyfriends March 25, 2010

As promised, here’s a list of my fictional boyfriends.

Harry Potter, the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
I know a bunch of people are going to skeeved out when they read this. Let me just say, I started reading Harry Potter in junior high, when we were about the same age in book time. As the gaps between books widened, I aged faster than Mr. Potter did. All of this is moot though, because Harry’s birthday is July 30, 1980. So, he’s seven years and about a month older than me anyway. So there.

I didn’t really feel romantically attached to Harry until the much-maligned fifth book came out (I was still two months shy of sixteen when it came out in 2003, so I was still in non-creepy territory. Thbt!). A lot of people have complained that they couldn’t stand Harry in book five. He was a whiney pain-in-the-butt, always on about how unfair life was and losing his marbles to the Dark Lord.

Here’s the thing…that was just how I felt too. High school pretty much sucked for me. Like Harry, I spent a lot of time at odds with not only a large number of my closest friends, but also several teachers and my high school. Throw in some metallic maroon combat boots and the inevitable teenage cry of “no one understands meeeee!” and you’ve got the wretched disaster that was sixteen year-old me.

When Harry was shouting down Professor Umbridge in class and forming secret resistance societies, my bolshy (and, yes, whiney, pain-in-the-butt) sixteen year-old self just swooned. When he wasn’t defeating evil, Harry was just trying to get by and do right by people. He also had a mischief streak a mile wide without being an obnoxious “bad boy.” Something that really appealed to this goody-two-shoes. Harry also has great taste in women, as evidenced by his proximity to smart gals like Hermione and Ginny. Add in dark hair and some glasses…I’m sold.

Just like Harry, I ended up dropping out before my senior year and heading off into the world. Sure he went to look for Horcruxes and I went to college, but we can’t all be “the Chosen One.” I will always think of Harry Potter as my partner in crime, my brother in arms, and my only high school boyfriend.

Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, portrayed by David Boreanaz
This one gives me pause now. I used to think Angel was, like, the be all end all of hotness. I definitely blame him for giving me a type: dark eyes, dark hair, straight brow, tan skin, buff shoulders…. Which is basically 7abibi all over, now that I think of it…

Now I realize that it’s pretty creepy for a 240 year-old guy to be sleeping with a seventeen year-old. Even if the 17 year-old in question is a vampire slayer. Plus, all these vampire romances sound good in theory, but the lack of body heat just…ew. Ew. I have a feeling a physical relationship with a vampire would be kind of icky, actually. Who knows what kind of nasty diseases a vampire might have lurking all over their body – they’re basically invincible!

That aside, Angel won my heart and stomped all over it again and again in college. And I loved him for it. It gave me an escape from a crazy class load, 3/4 time job, and roommate angst. Buffy and Angel on DVD definitely helped me survive some grueling semesters.

Yes, he spent some time saving Buffy, but he didn’t mind when Buffy saved him. And she did. Quite a lot, actually. That is what made Angel awesome. He loved a girl who could kick his ass. He even loved her after she killed him, for goodness sake. That is one man who knows the value of a good woman.

I ended up following Angel to his spin-off show and liking him the better for being a bit darker and a bit funnier than he was in BtVS. I have to give the writers and Boreanaz credit, because the Angel/Angelus duality helped me hash out a lot of feelings about good and evil inside myself and finding a moral compass after you realize you aren’t and never will be all good all the time.

Seeley Booth, Bones, portrayed by David Boreanaz
I followed David Boreanez on to his next project, a TV show called Bones. I had never been into a crime drama before, but I was willing to give it chance if it meant I could see his pretty face again. I was prepared to be bored or grossed out, but guess what? Bones kicks all kinds of ass.

Yet again, we see David Boreanaz sharing face time with a kick-ass woman and doing it well. Sometimes he plays the blue-collar, Catholic straight man to her intellectual, atheist jibes. Other times he plays the wise guy and urges her to listen to her heart to find the answers she’s searching for. The show achieves a delicate balance by giving the female lead traits often considered masculine and giving traditionally feminine traits to the male lead. The inversion leads to both humor and illumination as they work together to solve the crime du jour.

I would argue that Boreanaz must be a vampire in real life, because I swear he’s gotten better looking with age. He’s able to carry off both the manly man shell of FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth while staying true to an inner core of intuition, love, and harmony. He’s the thinking woman’s heart-throb.

Ramses Emerson, The Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters
I’ve talked about him before on this blog. Walter Peabody Emerson, a.k.a. the Brother of Demons, a.k.a. Ramses is totally hot.

Ramses is the scholar of the bunch, with several degrees and near perfect fluency in myriad languages, dead and alive. Don’t let that fool you though, because he’s also a master of disguise with a wicked sense of humor and enough mischief to match Fred and George Weasley. Plus he “doesn’t fight like a gentleman” whether he’s faced with drunken British Officers or Turkish spies or his dastardly cousin Percy. He’s not afraid of personal injury if he thinks it’s in the service of good, as evidence by his damaging pacifist cover for an extremely active career as a secret agent. He’s also an unabashedly adoring husband and loving dad. Swoon.

Ramses is another guy who is attracted to smart and determined women. How can he not be with a mom like Amelia Peabody? It’s an aphrodisiac, I swear. Show me a man who loves smart women and I’ll show you a milliondy-twelve women of worth willing to love him back.

Honorable Mention:
Mr. Knightly, Emma by Jane Austen
I sort of surprise myself on this one, since my favorite Austen is definitely Sense and Sensibility. But Edward Ferrars just can’t stand up to Mr. Knightly (or really anyone, come to think of it). Mr. Knightly was always trying to boss Emma around, but still loved her and sought her opinion even when she stood up to him or refused to take his advice. Sure his constant nagging could be interpreted as paternalistic and icky, but I choose to read it otherwise. Emma was written as such a stubborn and self-assured character that she needed a powerful counterpart. Someone who was willing to tell her when she was full of crap or being a bitch to Miss Bates. Someone who urged her to be better, because she could and should. That’s why I would say Mr. Knightly has the edge over everyone’s favorite haughty-to-hottie hero, Mr. Darcy.

I find most of Austen’s heros fairly tame. The guys with real spark end up being huge jerks, like Wickham and Willoughby. What is Austen saying here? Is she pulling a Gottleib and telling us to settle for Mr. Dependable-but-dull? Is she telling us that a happy marriage means turning your back on fun, exciting partners? Although Austen gives her heroines a traditional happy ending, the fact that she herself never married and her quotes on the subject of marriage, spinsterhood, and female worth are indicative of a deep skepticism of marriage and men.

Fred/George Weasley, the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
They’re a ton of fun, that’s for sure, and plenty brave. They also seem to be appreciative of powerful women. Fred took the Angelina Johnson to the Yule Ball for cripes sake! Don’t remember her? She was a quidditch chaser who was good enough to make captain and a witch talented enough to try for TriWizard Champion. I hear she married George after the Second Wizarding War! My admiration for the twins is somewhat limited by their secondary (tertiary?) character status. There’s not much to go on here since the Harry Potter series is mostly limited to Harry’s POV. What did they get up to when Harry wasn’t looking? I’m betting they were “up to no good,” of course.

Eric Northman, the Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris and True Blood, portrayed by Alexander Skarsgård

This is a fairly recent one for me. I just started reading the Sookie Stackhouse books this year. If I talk about why, I’ll be giving up a crapload of spoilers about the book series and possibly the TV show, so I’ll just zip it. He’s definitely got the high mischief factor going on. I can’t like Eric all the way since he’s definitely a selfish jerk. On the other hand, he’ll tell you so up front. Points for honesty? Being a former viking, he definitely goes against my normal physical type. I’ll stay tuned on this one. The jury is still out.

Who are your fictional boyfriends? Have they changed over time? Want to fight to the death over Angel? I’m dying to know!

Advertisements
 

Sookie is Mahn! March 4, 2010

Filed under: Books,Rants,Television — imaginaryheroine @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

[Spoilers: True Blood Season 1]

I love Anna Paquin. Despite her lean build, she was a good choice to play the quirky and down home Sookie Stackhouse (Book Sookie is a curvy size 8 – 10).

Unfortunately, while re-watching TrueBlood Season 1, I’m more and more struck by how much the writers have dumbed down the series’ heroine.

Sure, Sookie starts out a bit naive. She’s inexperienced with men due to her “disability” and wholly unprepared for how deep the rabbit hole went into the supernatural world.

The Sookie of Charlaine Harris’ addictive Southern Vampire books is a quick-witted spitfire. After growing up hiding her gift, she’s gotten good control over how much she lets people see of her thoughts and emotions. She knows when to talk and when to shut up. She deals with the strange and dangerous with aplomb, waiting until she’s put the fire out and gotten into her favorite Mickey Mouse sleep shirt before she gives herself permission to have a melt down. She knew getting involved with the boss was messy, so she didn’t.

That’s why she’s awesome. She’s kicking @$$, taking names, navigating relationships, and staying on budget to make house repairs.

Sookie in True Blood is disappointingly dim. She babbles. A lot. Usually saying exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time to exactly the wrong person. After she sleeps with Bill, she has a public monologue about how great sex is and how it’s no one’s business…uhm…what? In the season finale, Bill is burning to death in the sun and she just stands there crying while Sam buries him, meaning it was taking longer to cover him up than if two people had been working on it. WTF?

Most obnoxiously, she gets all squishy with Sam and then pushes him away and then takes him back and then pushes him away, because getting involved with the boss is messy and this show is all about every character making exactly the wrong decision every single time. Especially if it involves sex and/or drug use, because those things are supposedly inherently entertaining. Or something.

Book Sookie would smack TV Sookie upside the head and tell her to get it together and grow a brain while she’s at it.

Psst. Hey writers! Sookie is not an adjunct character to the supers. She’s the MAIN character!

I guess what I’m trying to say is…

Get away! Get away, suicidal cellist! Stop following me!

Get away! Get away, you suicidal cellist! Stop following me!

 

A New Dawn part 2: “The Good Girl Always Goes for the Bad Boy” by Megan McCafferty March 3, 2010

[Part of a series discussing the essays in A New Dawn edited by Ellen Hopkins. These posts may contain spoilers about all four Twilight novels and Midnight Sun.]

This was a fun essay about how the popular trope “good girl + bad boy = LUV4EVA” is used in Twilight both traditionally when Bella falls for Edward and then inverted when Bella wants to have sex with and be bitten by Edward and he resists.

“In one of the most amusing passages in the whole series, Bella says, “you make me feel like a villain in a melodrama-twirling my mustache while I try to steal some girl’s virtue.” To which Edward replies, “I had no right to want you-but I reached out and took you anyway. And now look what has become of you. Trying to seduce a vampire.”

McCafferty writes engagingly about her own bad boy crush in high school and how the old trope doesn’t always (ever?) play out in real life. On the heels of an essay that contemplates whether or not Edward is a sociopath, it seems like a subtle hint about just how seriously one should take Twilight as a dating guide. Which is to say, not at all.

Following my own post about Edward’s sociopathic and abusive tendencies, I feel kind of silly asking the question:

Is Edward really a bad boy?

...whatevs

This is the only vaguely bad@$$ Edward pic out there...

I know you’re thinking “WTF, mate? A little consistency here!” But truly, as bad boys go, Edward is kind of lame. You know, if you put aside the whole killed lots of people and wants to drink Bella’s blood thing.

He’s unfailingly polite, never swears, tries to save everyone and their Auntie Mildred from danger, and studies Shakespeare and concert piano all night while his family have hot vampire boinkfests. He has been a virgin for 100 years, people, saving it all for THE ONE to whom he would pledge his undying love and devotion. I guess I’m sort of ruined by the actual bad boy Edward from Wide Awake. Now there’s a proper bad boy with a potty mouth, a history of arrests, and an intimacy problem a mile wide.

Just like I never really fancied myself in love with Edward, I don’t think I’ve ever had a real crush on a real bad boy. Maybe I found them attractive in fiction (see above re: Edward in Wide Awake and also Eric in the Southern Vampire Series), but acting like an asshole never seemed as adorable in real life as it did in print or on a screen. Even in my pseudo-punk phase, I always liked nice boys. What can I say? I’m a sucker for that whole decent human being with a subtle whiff of mental health routine.

 

True Blood: Love and Hate at First Bite January 29, 2010

I bought the first of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books (aka The Southern Vampire Series) in the airport on my way out (boo LAX red eye) and I read it all in one sitting. Since most of the weekend was a bunch of sitting around and being confused and depressed en masse, I went through a lot of books. I went through books 1 – 6, buying a new one each day and finishing it by that night. I’m now finished with all the published books (#9 Dead and Gone was scrumptious) and I can’t wait for #10 Dead in the Family to comeout in May. If you haven’t read them yet, you simply MUST!

Which brings me to last weekend, which I spent doing a data analysis for work. I mean all weekend. I worked in excess of 30 hours in two days with my boss hounding me by phone, text, and email via blackberry every second. Sans over time pay. The joys of being a independent contractor just keep on coming. I started my taxes a couple days ago… Pardon my lolspeak, but FML.

Since inputting data doesn’t really use all of my brain and bored brains make mistakes, I finally got around to watching True Blood Season 1, which I borrowed from my friend KristinV over Christmukkah vacation and hadn’t gotten around to watching yet.

I have to say I’m deeply ambivalent.

Before you think I’m biased by the books, I want say that there are some major differences from the books that I am not only okay with, but actually prefer. I love TV Tara. She is so much better than book Tara, who is white and a somewhat peripheral character. I LOVE that from the looks of IMDB Lafayette is going to be sticking around longer than he did in the books. Jessica is a totally new character and I find her beyond awesome (“You suck… ha ha that’s funny, because you really do suck ha ha”). The opening credits are a thing of beauty.

I love that the show has a life of its own. I stumble through a few scenes that are excitingly familiar, but then I’m left guessing like everyone else.

That said, I HATE all the super nasty sex. I mean, I know – it’s HBO. And I know, there’s some pretty sexy sex in the books. I know. And I don’t object to there being sex. Even fairly dark, sexy sex. It’s a sexy vampire show. I get it. But a lot of it is really violent and what’s more, characters are sort of getting off on the violence.

Violent sex is just something I have trouble dealing with on screen. There were some parts in the book that mixed sex with violence, but they were moments of horror and treated as such.

I also think in print I’m more able to tune things out. I can sort of pan away in my head and imagine only what I can handle. On the screen it’s so much harder. The scene where Jason pretends to attack Dawn was too hard to watch, even though I kind of thought I knew who it was and it turned out to be okay(ish) in the end, since she ended up being turned on and consenting to sex afterward.

Interestingly, I had less of a problem with violence-as-a-turn-on-leading-to-sex situation in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Possibly because neither of the characters was entirely victim or attacker. Both were trained, badass spies. Jane was giving as good as she was getting, not cowering in fear and submitting to a stronger opponent. John wasn’t covering his head and wishing it would all stop. Violence was the medium by which they came to the conclusion that though they weren’t compatible as their alter egos, they were amazingly compatible as their authentic selves.

I also feel like the violent and abusive relationship between Spike and Buffy in Season 6 had elements of this going for it. Both characters were equal attackers, victims, and willing participants. The audience was also supposed to be disgusted. Buffy felt like a lesser version of herself and so she punished herself by giving in to her lust for Spike, wallowing in the degradation. This goes on until Episode 6.19 “Seeing Red,” when Buffy decides to put a stop to her self-destructive habits, including boinking Spike on the sly, and he attempts to rape her. Spike is horrified and ultimately leaves Sunnydale to seek out his redemption through the recovery of his soul. For me the attempted rape is one of the most disturbing scenes of the entire series. Again, I think equal footing and consent is ultimately the issue. Once consent is revoked and terror is used as a tool to coerce carnal access, it’s harder to hold on to elements of the erotic.

I think an integral element of True Blood is supposed to  be the examination of how closely mingled sex and violence can be. So it toes the line between disturbing and erotic, but for me some of it is too far over that line to be enjoyable. I guess in some ways my brain rating is PG-13.

A lighter criticism: Why is Bill being stalked by a depressed cellist? That man needs a more subtle leitmotif STAT!

On balance, there are some bits I’m really in love with. So, I’m still going to watch Season 2 when it comes out on DVD and maybe Season 3, if Season 2 isn’t so rape-fetishy.