Dresden Files Storm Front Ch5

Last time, Harry does a bunch of stupid shit that’ll bite him in the ass later.

Today, he’s going to the pub.

The pub is a special wizard pub.

There isn’t even a jukebox. Mac keeps a player piano instead. It’s less likely to go haywire around us.

To once again get into the science/magic debate, what the hell constitutes “technology”? Pianos are literally finely tuned machines. If the laws of physics so much as quiver, they’re going to sound terrible.

Personally, I think the easiest magic handwave is somehow it’s tied to electromagnetics, as a lot of modern technology gets fucked up by that but it’s otherwise not a big deal. A wizard can be radiating EMP crap everywhere and it won’t affect people, cigarettes or guns. It’d still mean you need to use old model cars rather than anything with computers in it, but it wouldn’t be based on literal age (which should mean any 1940s+ piano is going to be wonky at best) or “delicateness” (in which case a literal piano may well work worse than an electronic keyboard) and in fact, wizards could invent their own stuff just fine provided they built with this in mind. But this does lose the special concept here that it’s a sliding technology scale, as opposed to magic and technology working together just fine until very recently.

But the only actually consistent way of doing that seems like it would end up as a consensus reality thing like Mage (again losing the originality aspect), where standard model pianos work because everyone was born after that blueprint was common, but any new system of hammers and threads would screw up around them until enough time passed that it became standard as well. And then we’d just have wizards funding free ipods for people so the consensus would solidify enough they could have some. (Actually, that might be an interesting plot – the real reason for all those initiatives to spread laptops worldwide is because there’s a secret cabal of incredibly powerful wizards who really, really want to watch cat videos on youtube, but so far they’ve only gotten as far as being able to use basic cellphones.)

I’d also have accepted the literally built in the 1940s rule. If the piano is actually from the turn of last century and in general, wizards squabble over antiques because anything with moving parts needs to be more than a half-century old to be any good to them, that’d work too. But instead we have the nonsense that Harry destroys copiers at range but an apparently brand-new stereo only starts skipping shortly after he turns it on.

If you’re tall, like me, you walk carefully in McAnally’s.

Huh.

Well. Subtext complaints retracted.

The place is thirteen-themed, and unlike the technology rule that part works well. Thirteen is associated with bad luck, but it’s far more solidly grounded as just plain magic – it’s the number above ten fingers and two feet.

Thirteen wooden columns, carved with likenesses from folktales and legends of the Old World

Here’s another urban fantasy problem – or specifically, an “our world” urban fantasy problem. This one is even thornier than the issue of integrating magic into history, and unfortunately, barring a time machine we’ll never be able to do much about it.

The actual things the likenesses are based on going to be all over Chicago and, by implication, the US in general. But those things never existed here. If we’re going on the idea that fairy tales are about real fairies, then the stories the native people told must be true of what lived here. And we really don’t know what those were. Honestly, we only have a general idea of how their culture as a whole worked – almost all of them died, we murdered most of the survivors, and the Europeans weren’t particularly interested in recording how some dumb heathens thought you should run things and even the couple who tried weren’t exactly very good at it. Pitifully few of their stories remain, most of those are suspect given the massive deaths and questionable interpretations of the people recording them, then the water was muddied further by a fresh crop of assholes.

You can’t tell a story about American fairies. Whatever “traditionally” lived here, whatever names it had and rules it followed, it’s gone. You can dig up a couple corpses to try to look more authentic and that’s the most anyone can do.

The only attempt I’ve ever seen to address this is the idea that colonists bring over their own magic creatures, so when we shot everybody, we also shot all the spirits they believed in. But that answers one question by raising a half dozen more: are spirits totally dependent on humans? how does that work with areas that are cut off from any human contact, are they magic-free? can you also murder them without murdering people by just forgetting the stories? if you write the story down, do they pop back into existence if a new person reads the story? can you invent brand-new monsters by writing something and telling people it’s a fairy tale? if spirits are tied to humans like this why don’t we see them doing anything to defend themselves?

(And generally, making things powered by human belief just raises again the question of why we don’t see this impacting how well societies do. Like, in Japan foxes are sometimes helpful and generally non-dangerous tricksters, and in Korea they feed you your friend’s maggot-ridden corpse before pulling out your liver to eat in front of you. That’s a pretty major disadvantage to Korea. Lot of people getting nommed on while Japan doesn’t have to worry about it. Maybe there’s a lag period where the creatures exist long enough to be a greater threat to invaders who aren’t familiar with them, giving a minor defensive advantage to offset the general losses, but even still, the first people to think up “unkillable monster that eats anyone who isn’t us” should’ve conquered the world, because that’s the most evolutionary fit belief.)

All these problems just to produce the general unpleasantness of handling the fact the “Old World” that came to America murdered so many people even their cultures are gone by creating a story where their cultures were literally murdered and replaced.

But I’m sorry, you were saying something about your fun pub.

Mac makes his own beer, ale really, and it’s the best stuff in the city. His food is cooked on a wood-burning stove.

More and more I’m thinking the reason Harry’s broke all the time is that he just can’t manage money. He’s got rent that seems to be only a few hundred dollars (five hundred will pay this month’s rent + part of next) yet he struggles to get it, he’s admitted his job pays very inconsistently, and the first thing he does upon getting that money is…head to what honestly sounds like a relatively expensive place. I mean, there’s a reason we largely stopped cooking over wood-burning stoves.

Even assuming the author is picturing this as working like D&D, where the bars are run by L30 former adventurers who are just in it for fun, so the fact this is apparently the only wizard pub in town doesn’t matter, there’s still the issue that unless this place is operating at a huge loss then wood-burning stoves and homemade beer is going to cost you through the nose. (And if it didn’t, then unless there’s a no-muggle shield on the place is should be swarmed by people looking for cheap quality food rather than having plenty of space.)

“Hey there, Mac,” I hailed him. “Been one hell of a day. Give me a steak sandwich, fries, ale.”
“Ungh,” Mac said.

For what I can only assume is ‘hilarity”, Mac mostly communicates in this grunt.

Harry also checks out the newspaper and we get a dash of exposition on the plot-important drug “ThreeEye”.

Jesus, this stuff is worse than crack.” The article detailed the virtual demolition of a neighborhood grocery store by a pair of ThreeEye junkies who were convinced that the place was destined to explode and wanted to beat destiny to the punch.

That really seems more like something to compare to PCP (you may recall that as the one that kept popping up in the articles about cannibalism). That’s merely in the realm of “highly debatable”. In contrast, most of the stuff attributed to crack has to do with the fact that if you’re addicted to it, you’ll be really desperate to get more when you run out. The “crack criminals are violent psychopaths!!!!!!!!!!!!!” is really about needing another reason to kill black people than anything else.

(One of the things this series has gotten flack about is whitewashing Chicago. On the one hand, yes absolutely. On the other hand, at least we’re spared “racism” as an endearing character flaw that by the way is validated by the fundamental forces of the universe. It means, at least, that the criminals here and the ones using crack Harry’s thinking of are presumably white people – though, I forget how the one we run across later is described. Hopefully I won’t have to take this back.)

ThreeEye gives you “third sight” and no, I don’t have a clue what second sight means in that case. Third sight is magic vision. Harry thinks it’s stupid to trick people into thinking they can do legit magic.

“If it was serious stuff, the department would have already called me by now.”

“The department who probably doesn’t know what third sight even is and can only identify magic by ‘I have no idea wtf this happened it shouldn’t be possible’ situations, because I like to not explain anything ever. Yup. Definitely they’d know if this was magic or not.”

Then, speaking of race, our Spicy Latina appears.

She was a woman of average height and striking, dark beauty, wearing a crisp business jacket and skirt, hose, pumps. Her dark, straight hair was trimmed in a neat cut that ended at the nape of her neck and was parted off of the dark skin of her forehead, emphasizing the lazy appeal of her dark eyes.

I actually like Susan Rodriguez best, largely because she’s the only one happy to interact with Harry on the only terms he’ll interact with women which means their scenes are the least painful. In other situations it’d be offensive that she tries to get stories by the power of her tits, but I just assume she acts like a normal person to other normal people and uses the power of her tits on people like Harry because if that’s all he cares about, you might as well use it for your own gain. That’s explicitly not canon, by the way, but just barely not contradicted if we assume most guys are similar sleezeballs.

(Note I said “least painful” and not “enjoyable”. There’s one big issue with this scene we’ll see in a minute, in addition to minor niggles.)

Rodriguez is a reporter for a silly ALIENS TOOK MY BABY type tabloid that she uses to publish actual legitimate supernatural events, presumably because it’s easier to have an editor who doesn’t bother to read anything being published than it is to argue each time that the aliens the woman reported really did steal the baby but they were actually glamoured fairies, who were then driven off by buckshot by an on-the-ball farmer during their flight to the secret gate on a nearby hill.

She was the one who had fainted after we’d soulgazed.

Minor niggle one. Also, Harry doesn’t even claim she chose to soulgaze, so there’s decent odds it just happened by accident because Harry was too alpha male to bother averting his own eyes.

She smirked at me. I liked her smirk. It did interesting things to her lips, and hers were already attractive.

Minor niggle two. This actually wouldn’t be a problem most of the time, but this book is generally vile, so – the problem with describing expressions solely based on hotness is that it’s the exact same reasoning as saying that he likes how she looks when she’s angry or sad, both shockingly common statements men make with no awareness of just how fucking creepy it is, and Harry’s previously suggested he kinks on damsels in distress, so.

She leaned toward me, enough that a glance down would have afforded an interesting angle to the V of her white shirt. “I’d love to hear you tell me about this one, Harry.” She quirked a smile at me that promised things.
I almost smiled back at her. “Sorry,” I told her. “I have a standard nondisclosure agreement with the city.”
“Something off the record, then?” she asked. “Rumor has it that these killings were pretty sensational.”
“Can’t help you, Susan,” I told her. “Wild horses couldn’t drag it out of me, et cetera.”
“Just a hint,” she pressed. “A word of comment. Something shared between two people who are very attracted to one another.”
“Which two people would that be?”
She put an elbow on the counter and propped her chin in her hand, studying me through narrowed eyes and thick, long lashes. One of the things that appealed to me about her was that even though she used her charm and femininity relentlessly in pursuit of her stories, she had no concept of just how attractive she really was-I had seen that when I looked within her last year. “Harry Dresden,” she said, “you are a thoroughly maddening man.” Her eyes narrowed a bit further. “You didn’t look down my blouse even once, did you,” she accused.
I took a sip of my ale and beckoned Mac to pour her one as well. He did. “Guilty.”
“Most men are off-balance by now,” she complained. “What does it take with you, anyway, Dresden?”
“I am pure of heart and mind,” I told her. “I cannot be corrupted.”
She stared at me in frustration for a moment. Then she tilted back her head to laugh.
She had a good laugh, too, throaty and rich. I did look down at her chest when she did that, just for a second.

The first half of this is fun. They’re bantering. They both know what they’re doing and are acting as two consenting adults. Then it all goes to hell.

One of the things that appealed to me about her was that even though she used her charm and femininity relentlessly in pursuit of her stories, she had no concept of just how attractive she really was

“I find it hot when women lack self-esteem.”

That’s seriously all this fucking is. You’ll hear over and over that part of what makes a woman attractive is not knowing they’re attractive. If you know where to look, you’ll find people expanding on this into admitting that insecure girls are best because you can control them, and then we get into the practice of insulting girls to make them sleep with you by convincing them no one else will ever want them. If you’re thinking that sounds incredibly shitty, now picture them continuing to call her fat until the girl ends up hospitalized for malnutrition, as happened to someone I knew. It has nothing to do with attractiveness and everything to do with control.

And so we see in the final line here – he’s pretending not to find her hot, even though he does. He’s pretending not to look at her breasts, even though she wants him to. Because admitting he finds her attractive would ruin his ability to control her. Her “attractiveness” has as much to do with the fact he’s frustrating her by pretending not to care about her body as it does her actual body.

Then he has the gall to present this to the reader as her controlling him.

Harry then proceeds to tell us he hasn’t had much luck on the dating scene. No worries, Harry, you’re well on your way to being a PUA.

But let’s just pretend that never happened, shall we?

Susan was a known quantity-she was attractive, bright, appealing, her motivations were clear and simple, and she was honest in pursuing them. She flirted with me because she wanted information as much as because she thought I was attractive. Sometimes she got it. Sometimes she didn’t.

What a completely reasonable relationship that sadly, bears no resemblance to how he talked about her paragraphs back but I’m entirely willing to embrace the immediate retcon. This sounds a lot the sort of thing a lot of fans of the book seem to be talking about when they describe the books as being full of strong female characters and Harry just having this particular flaw of chivalry, so maybe it’s yet another situation where readers give more weight to what’s told directly (Harry claiming he likes intelligent and straightforward women) than any of what’s actually shown.

But anyway, he then says that this is not one of those times he can “accidentally” let stuff slip, because heartsplosions are serious fucking business and also Murphy is already pissed off at him. He informs us he is a shit liar, a trait that seems remarkably inconsistent so far, and so decides to just repeat “no” in response to every question in the hopes this will put her off. Not only does this elementary-school word game attempt at deflection fail to actually work, Rodriguez decides to be funny by responding to it with a middle school level word game:

“Do the police have any leads? Any suspects?”
“No.”
“Are you a suspect yourself, Harry?”
Disturbing thought. “No,” I said, exasperated. “Susan-”
“Would you mind having dinner with me Saturday night?”
“No! I-” I blinked at her. “What?”
She smiled at me, leaned over, and kissed me on the cheek. Her lips, that I’d admired so much, felt very, very nice. “Super,” she said. “I’ll pick you up at your place. Say around nine?”
“Did I just miss something?” I asked her.
She nodded, dark eyes sparkling with humor. “I’m going to take you to a fantastic dinner. Have you ever eaten at the Pump Room? At the Ambassador East?”
I shook my head.
“Steaks you wouldn’t believe,” she assured me. “And the most romantic atmosphere. Jackets and ties required. Can you manage?”
“Um. Yes?” I said, carefully. “This is the answer to the question of whether or not I’ll go out with you, right?”
“No,” Susan said, with a smile. “That was the answer I tricked out of you, so you’re stuck, there. I just want to make sure you own something besides jeans and button-down Western shirts.”
“Oh. Yes,” I said.

She leaves while Harry is struggling to reboot his brain and Harry tries for sympathy from Sir Gruntsalot, who grunts a lot, then uses some of his only words to tell him he’s stupid.

Harry then whines that also, he has so much to do at night, so that means he has to investigate the missing husband tonight, as opposed to…why wouldn’t he get on that, god Harry why are you so lazy. Also apparently jamming up his schedule is his need to meet with “the vampiress” at night. I can’t remember if vampires in this setting are actually asleep during daylight, but I hope so instead of him being even more of an idiot than expected. He then rambles about the possibility that maybe their dinner date will involve sex omg sex that would be so great sex sex sex, followed by manpain.

I had been a miserable failure in relationships, ever since my first love went sour. I mean, a lot of teenage guys fail in their first relationships.
Not many of them murder the girl involved.

Yes, the book just one-upped your standard fridging.

And while the chapter’s almost over, the author manages to pack in more misogyny for the final paragraph, because he’s a professional like that.

I shook my head, bewildered. They say we wizards are subtle. But believe you me, we’ve got nothing, nothing at all, on women.

86 Comments

  1. GeniusLemur says:
    “They say we wizards are subtle. But believe you me, we’ve got nothing, nothing at all, on women.”
    Yeah, she asked you directly a bunch of times, then got you to agree to a fancy dinner with a third-grade verbal trick. That was amazingly subtle.



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    1. Farla says:
      Well, it obviously can’t be that Harry is an idiot, and it can’t be that she’s way better than him, so it must be that she used cheaty vagina powers.



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      1. SoxyOutfoxing says:
        I thought it was more of a foreshadowy “Women don’t want to have sex, so she must have some sort of hidden lady agenda that doesn’t involve using her vagina to have fun.”

        Isn’t the wizards are subtle thing from LOTR? Shouldn’t Harry have his own non-Gandalf stereotypes? Or does he think he’s subtle? Because that would make me laugh and laugh.




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        1. GeniusLemur says:
          Yeah, that’s really weird. After Harry’s been scornful of everybody for not knowing “real” magic from the pop-culture kind, he’s accepting bits from LOTR.



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        2. GeniusLemur says:
          “Or does he think he’s subtle? Because that would make me laugh and laugh.”
          Wait’ll we get to Fool Moon and the demon tells Harry (paraphrased), “Hell would love to get a soul as exceptional as yours.” I almost laughed out loud at that one.



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          1. illhousen says:
            Demon: I mean, Big L took one look at you and was, like, “Whoa! Get this guy down there fast! Then we can just lock women who get to us with him, no need for other tortures.”



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            1. DarthYan says:
              It’s mostly because of Harry’s mom. Part of the myth arc is learning about her. Harry actually does grow up considerably.



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          2. actonthat says:
            That is just amazing.



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      2. DarthYan says:
        actually it is meant to be harry as an idiot



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        1. Farla says:
          Nope. The universe itself is based on misogynistic ideas. If it was Harry being dumb, women shouldn’t hate better and the “love potion” shouldn’t exist.

          Also the centerpiece of this plot is a woman subtly manipulating Harry for her own ends.

          If it was “meant” to be Harry being stupid, there’d be something other than a pile of narrative endorsements.




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          1. DarthYan says:
            The women hating better isn’t established fact. The love potion is skeevy yeah. However it’s not meant to be endorsed. The ingredients could easily vary by person (ie some women aren’t attracted to money.)



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            1. illhousen says:
              I don’t see either Bob or Harry commenting that the potion wouldn’t work on all women. If it wasn’t an objective fact and they were just sexist, I would at least expect Bob to say something like how it won’t affect all women, but those who are not affected probably aren’t worth it or some other insulting dismissal along those lines.

              As it is, the potion described as universally applicable.

              That is the problem with establishing fantastic elements: there is no point of reference for readers, we simply can’t guess what is true and what is not when it comes to magic unless enough information is provided to us by the author.

              The default assumption is that the potion works on all women as there is no comment to the contrary.

              Same principle applies to women hating better than men: Murphy didn’t ask WTF Harry was smoking, she accepts the statement as a fact.




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              1. DarthYan says:
                Bob is actually influenced by whoever owns him (ie whatever persona he has is partially based on whoever owns him. As such some have drawn the conclusion that his views of sexuality are oartially based on Harry’s views. Since one of his former owners was a monster, his previous persona was a monster for instance.

                There’s also the fact that harrys sexism objectively gets other people killed, causing him to outgrow most of it. Summer knight is pretty good actually since its when harry finally drops the secrecy and is entirely on the level with murphy. It’s also clear that Harry has a crapton of issues (he wringfully believed the woman he loved betrayed him, for a long time she was the ONLY woman he knew, his other foster father was around in the 1700s and thus could be said to have partially rubbed off on him.




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              2. illhousen says:
                The point here is that there are ways to show that character’s opinion is just an opinion, not an objective fact. Butcher doesn’t use them.

                As for the second part, “it gets better” is a pretty weak defense since to get to the better parts you would need to slog through this mess, and it’s just not worth it most of the time.

                It’s not like there aren’t good books that are good from the start.




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              3. DarthYan says:
                Eh. I would agree normally. However given that the first one was deliberately hurling whatever cliche he could think of combined with it being written early on in butchers career I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt. That and I read his later books first and saw post development harry. If I’d read stormfront first I’d probably agree



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              4. Farla says:
                If what comes out when you’re not thinking about it is sexism, you’re sexist. That’s kind of how prejudices work.



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              5. Farla says:
                As such some have drawn the conclusion that his views of sexuality are oartially based on Harry’s views.

                Considering the skull’s views are rapist views, that just makes Harry look worse.

                There’s also the fact that harrys sexism objectively gets other people killed

                Saying there’s no authorial misogyny because women end up suffering for it rather than him is not a very good argument.




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              6. DarthYan says:
                1.) partially is the key word. Harry’s repeatedly proven wrong, he does ultimately grow more open with other people, and he acknowledges that his views are heavily flawed. Harry at this point is a 20 something year old guy whose in a shitty place financially, is still wounded by how badly his previous relationship failed, is still scarred by being betrayed by the man he had loved as a father (both of which are the primary reason for his trust issues), he was later raised by a guy who has some rather outdated views on gender and race due to being centuries old etc. Harry is a pretty damaged individual.

                After learning the truth of and patching things up with his previous girlfriend (they don’t get together), actually being in a relationship, being put in situations where his sexism makes things worse he does actually grow more mature in regards to gender (he acknowledges his sexism is a flaw, he treats women as equals who don’t need protection far more frequently)

                Also the entire reason harry’s sexism operates is “oh they are weak and helpless and need me to protect them.” In that case, having it be that the only times things don’t go to hell is when he treats them like equals and is fully honest with them (rather than being patronizing) kind of does work.




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              7. Farla says:
                No. This is not acceptable behavior for a twenty year old, it’s not acceptable behavior for a twenty year old who’s had a bad relationship, it’s not acceptable behavior for a human being.

                The fact this level of vileness is handwaved as an understandable and reasonable flaw is why I’m completely convinced that him getting over it is not going to actually end the sexism so much as slightly lessen it to the point you think it’s fine.




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              8. DarthYan says:
                Uh even the fact that he grows out of it, and that the author himself has acknowledged that the way the story and character were executed was lacking? You assert Harry’s supposed to be some paragon when it’s made clear that he’s an emotionally stunted and damaged individual who has to learn to overcome a lot of those problems.

                I was not justifying Harry’s behavior. I was merely explaining WHY he’s that way. Not the same thing.




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              9. Farla says:
                Okay, remember how I said the problem isn’t that the author thinks this is all totally laudable, it’s that it’s treated as a cutesy flaw? That’s the problem. The depths of Harry’s misogyny go well beyond understandable and frankly even the explanation for them doesn’t actually explain it. Having him get over a fragment of that misogyny will not cut it, and from what I pick up in these conversations, the people arguing he gets better only ever noticed a fragment in the first place. Thus, my extreme lack of confidence in statements it gets better.



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            2. Farla says:
              If it merely works almost all of the time, that’s still the universe saying women are objectively gold-digging bitches, it’s just there are a couple exceptions who are Not Like Those Other Girls. Not really better.

              Furthermore, we see it work and it’s on a woman who doesn’t seem to have any interest in money in a partner to the point she’s willing to foot the bill for the date.




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    2. illhousen says:
      Given that Harry’s MO seems to be “dick around, stumble upon the plot, set everything on fire”, a brick in the face appears to be more subtle than wizards.



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  2. sliz225 says:
    “One of the things that appealed to me about her was that even though she used her charm and femininity relentlessly in pursuit of her stories, she had no concept of just how attractive she really was-I had seen that when I looked within her last year.”
    I had the exact same thought that you did. It’s like that idiot song that goes, ”you don’t know you’re beautiful/that’s what makes you beautiful.” So confident women who aren’t insecure scare you?



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    1. Farla says:
      If she realizes she can date someone else, how can you bully her into anal?!

      See also all the discussion of how ugly girls are better in bed because they’re more desperate.




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      1. SpoonyViking says:
        “Bully her into anal.” Is that actually a thing? I mean, bullying someone into sex, period, is already horrifying, but bullying someone into anal sex just seems absurd.



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        1. Farla says:
          There’s three orifices to stick a dick and women tend to veto one of them, which for some men is a huge, huge deal.



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          1. SpoonyViking says:
            Ah, ok, I see what you were going for. Sorry, I totally missed the point. :-P



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    2. It reminds me of the song which was a hit on the radio a few summers ago. “Chloe”, where the whole point of the song is slut shaming her sister and telling her how hot it is that she doesn’t think she’s pretty and doesn’t even want her to think she’s hot because he prefers her needy and desperate.

      “I know your sister turns everyone on, but you’re the one that I want/Front page magazine/Everybody says that she’s a queen/But that’s you to me/And I just want to let you know that/She likes the flashing lights/I love the way that you like candle light.”

      I mean, really. Telling a girl he loves her by shaming her sister and admitting the girl’s old fashioned-ness and insecurity are what he finds appealing. No.




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      1. illhousen says:
        The sad thing here is that a lot of stuff like that starts from a good place. The message here presumably is that you don’t have to be a supermodel to find love. You don’t need to design your life around what appeals to people, you can simply be yourself and feel good about it.

        Unfortunately, somewhere on the way the message got skewed into this weird obsession with “natural” where women are still expected to be conventionally pretty, but shouldn’t appear as if they put any effort into it, otherwise they are just fakes.

        I think it’s victim-blaming mentality in action: trying to be beautiful to the point of health problems and denying yourself simple pleasures like comfortable clothing is bad, and obviously it’s a fault of women who do it rather than the society which expectations they are trying to meet because they were raised in it.




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        1. I genuinely believe the artist was attempting to compliment the girl he’s singing about. I know I hear this stuff from guys all the time.

          I mean, so many men fail to grasp that most women dress up to feel good about themselves and not to attract attention. But, since men (white men, specifically) are coached by society to believe that they are the center of the universe they just assume that getting their attention was what the woman was after in the first place. They also fail to realize, thanks to the miracles of Hollywood, that girls don’t just roll out of bed looking like a rock star.

          Fashion, makeup, and hair take time and effort, but we don’t applaud it as time well spent even when girls are degraded by their peers for not engaging in the activities. It’s very frustrating.




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          1. illhousen says:
            Yeah. Basically, a lot of the time message that should be “do what helps you feel good” ends up being “let me tell you how to be a good woman and not one of those fakey sluts”.

            What gets me is just how prevalent it is. I am pretty sure many authors by this point just copy the attitude they’ve seen in different books and real life without thought.

            Which is pretty depressing.




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            1. It’s worse too, because so often the part about “I wish you could see you the way I do” is lost and the message becomes “It doesn’t matter what you think, I think you’re beautiful”.

              It’s something I struggle against whenever I write romance, actually. It’s really easy to fall into these patterns without thinking about it. I mean, how many love confessions start with the guy telling the girl that he thinks she’s beautiful? That’s the primary emphasis. It’s just used ad nauseum. As terrible as the movie is, I’m always left with Odette from the Swan Princess going “What else?” after the Prince says she’s beautiful and the Prince goes “What else?” and then continues with “What else is there?”




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              1. Farla says:
                Well, it’s a messy thing, because part of being in love is usually finding the person attractive. The distinction is between finding someone hot and saying that therefore you sincerely love all of them as a person, vs falling in love with someone and therefore finding all of them beautiful, even the bits that aren’t conventionally attractive.

                Usually the quickest way to hint at the second is to give them some minor flaw and have the character include it on a list of why they’re perfect.




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              2. Oh, I know. I just feel like I’ve been reading the same exact love story in most of the YA (and quite a few of adult) novels I’ve been reading. I think I’ve gotten sick of the word ‘perfect’ in regards to relationships.

                I think the key part I end up missing is the interest because beyond just finding someone attractive, I want to know everything about them. The sit down and talk for eight hours nonstop kind of attraction, the part where we have fun together, the discussion of shared interests. The mental and emotional connection, it’s supposed to be wrapped up in “beautiful” but so many of these protagonists or male love interests feel so “me, me, me” that I don’t know what they’re looking for in a relationship other than a mirror.




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  3. Roarke says:
    “She put an elbow on the counter and propped her chin in her hand, studying me through narrowed eyes and thick, long lashes.”

    Studying what, his nose? She can’t make eye contact with him.

    You know, one of the ways this scene could have worked a bit better for me is if Harry had shown regret for not being able to make eye contact with people, well, not people, but Susan specifically. At least in this culture, eye contact is a pretty big thing, including during romance. Like if he actually liked her as a person he’d regret not being able to share eye contact with her, because that’s a powerful thing. But I guess she’s got a pretty good set of eyes framed in that white blouse of hers, too, and Harry made sure to push back his tears and just get an eyeful of those.




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    1. Farla says:
      Studying what, his nose? She can’t make eye contact with him.

      I best she’s studying his chest. She always studies his chest. Intently. Harry is sure this is unremarkable because only men have sex drives and objectify others.

      (The soulgaze only works once, so she can make eye contact with him now. But she’s probably still staring at his chest, because Harry’s appreciable qualities are definitely not found above the neck.)




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      1. Roarke says:
        “The soulgaze only works once, so she can make eye contact with him now.”

        Hm. I’m not sure whether I actively dislike that or if I’m just ambivalent about it. On one hand, people change, so if their souls can’t change enough for a second soulfuck to become possible, then there’s this weird fatalistic implication that I don’t like hearing whenever souls get brought up.

        On the other hand, I don’t really care because the group of major characters Harry can cow by soulfucking will diminish and that’s all to the good.
        edit: If you don’t like me calling it soulfucking, call me out on it and I will stop. To be honest, it’s sounding more and more inappropriate every time I type it.




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        1. Farla says:
          Well, it amuses me. It works well with how the narrative is both sex-obsessed and insanely prudish.

          I’m not sure if it actually has anything to do with being the same soul or not. I think the limitation is more to prevent people from checking the state of your soul every five minutes to make sure you’re not evil yet.




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        1. Farla says:
          Someday soon, there will be a relevant SMBC for everything.



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  4. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
    How nice that the bar owner found a restaurant cook who could handle a wood-burning stove. There are no burners (at least on commercial-scale instances) and no temperature controls: you have to “just know” how hot the cooking surface is at different distances from the firebox, which in turn depends on how and when you built the fire. It’s a completely different ballgame than using gas — which was available in commercial stoves in the 1880s, and 1930s stoves in restore-able condition are definitely available.

    Yeah, I’m nitpicking, but I thought the rule was “pre-1940 tech works fine,” and here we’ve rejected a valid, standard, functional instance of pre-1940 tech because I guess it’s too normal?




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    1. Roarke says:
      I wonder what kind of permits you’d need to operate a wood-burning stove in your business.



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      1. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
        This is apparently a standard problem in the Chicago restaurant business, probably due to wood-fired pizza ovens (and I wouldn’t be caviling if the pub simply specialized in pizza! there’s a very affordable pub I visit occasionally that does just that). The pub needs a restaurant license, a liquor license, AND a pollution control permit.

        http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/progs/inspectionspermitting/retailfood.html

        Applying for the pollution control permit is just $150, but it asks what pollution control system you’re using on the stove, and pricing on those is likely to equal the cost of the stove itself. It’d take a lot more research to parse that, since it probably intersects with the building code. (If anybody cared deeply, I’m obsessive enough to do it — it’s not like I didn’t spend silly amounts of time admiring vintage commercial gas stoves already.)




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        1. Roarke says:
          You’ve already responded well enough to satisfy me, at least. Pollution control is one of the more interesting parts of business regulation in the past few decades, though, I will say that.



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        2. Farla says:
          and I wouldn’t be caviling if the pub simply specialized in pizza!

          I don’t think it even makes pizza, only manly food like steaks. (I guess the Italians are too busy running crime?) Which is a shame, because if you actually wanted to avoid gas stoves (maybe having multiple wizards around pushes the safe date on technology back further? Or maybe 1940s tech is just generally safe, and no one wants to risk “generally safe” with gas lines?) then it’d make the most sense to be cooking food in ovens – it’s all around easier and takes way less fuel.




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          1. Roarke says:
            If having multiple wizards nearby made technology even wonkier that’d be pretty damn interesting. Very Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura.



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    2. Farla says:
      I’m pretty sure commercial brewing was also invented prior to WW2. This is solidly MY SUE GETS AN AWESOME HANGOUT territory.



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      1. actonthat says:
        Commercial brewing was “invented” in like 3000 BC, and has changed basically none. It could have actually been cool if they were using ancient methods/materials.

        (Fun fact: The Egyptian heiroglyph for beer was the symbol for “bread” over the symbol for “water.” Heh. Bread water.)




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        1. illhousen says:
          I always suspected that Egyptians were behind point-and-click quests.

          “Combine BREAD and WATER to get BEER.”




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        2. Farla says:
          My favorite story of its invention is the theory we first invented beer by putting grain out in casks and being too lazy to put lids on to keep the rain out. Water got in, grains rotted, people ate it anyway and were like wait it’s better this way! Then everyone got drunk very mildly buzzed.



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  5. Roarke says:
    “She was the one who had fainted after we’d soulgazed.”

    So this explains why Marcone is the love interest. Harry seems like a pretty lonely guy, and eye contact is an important part of romance. The last time he tried soulfucking a woman, Susan passed out from the terrible psychological impact of seeing Harry “naked.”

    But with Marcone, Dresden can hang out in that steel refrigerator all he likes, admiring the sleek lines and stark interior.




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    1. Farla says:
      Well, more accurately, it depends on if Harry’s supposed to top.

      If Harry is a dominant manly man, then Susan’s fainting indicates she’s been approved for further wooing – although she seems forward and independent, when it comes down she’ll be overcome by his manly manness and swoon. Marcone, in contrast, is totally inappropriate, Harry has totally failed to dominate him.

      If Harry is a woobie uke, then Marcone is the appropriate pairing, as Harry swooned in response to Marcone’s amazing tiger soul while Marcone-seme was just eh whatever. Susan, in contrast, just doesn’t have what it takes to see his weakness and take ruthless advantage of it.




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      1. Roarke says:
        Well Harry’s entire set of interactions so far have consisted of him being put upon by everyone and grumbling internally about how much it sucks that he’s so biddable despite being the clear alpha so…
        MarconexDresden it is!



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  6. Sazuka57 says:
    After reading the first few chapters from your take, it started making the whole misogynistic thing really obvious in these books. Yesterday, I found Cold Days in the library and eagerly borrowed it out, as I haven’t read it before, and I could see the sexism start right from the first chapter. The author also has a habit of giving us his ideas via Harry’s point of view…and there’s this really weird bit that the author was either trying to be feminist and tried too hard that it’s just funny, or it was plain old misogynistic. I don’t know.

    Still, I really enjoy this series, and the book’s been a pretty great read so far. Now that I notice the sexist elements though, I just roll my eyes and skip over them.




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    1. Farla says:
      I feel like I’ve heard Cold Days was when it went sexist again but it totally doesn’t count because he’s not in his right mind? That’s definitely an excuse for one of the books.



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      1. Sazuka57 says:
        Oh yeah he’s “tainted” with a thing throughout the whole book. The only time the excuse can be used is when he gets scary and out of character, as the “taint” tends to surge then ebb, or however that’s phrased.

        The rest of the stuff? It’s all him. I mean, from the moment he wakes up in the beginning of the book, the first thing he does is describe how absolutely beautiful and sexy the woman nursing him back to health is. In detail.

        So no, that doesn’t work. The inherent misogyny is there, even when the “taint” isn’t.




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  7. SoxyOutfoxing says:
    “On the other hand, at least we’re spared “racism” as an endearing character flaw that by the way is validated by the fundamental forces of the universe.”

    I had to read a hardboiled novel called Drowning City, by Ben Atkins, which got rave reviews because the guy was around nineteen when he wrote it and “It’s just like Raymond Chandler” apart from how it’s intolerably boring (I had no idea what the plot even was until seventy pages in) and the narrator/main character, named Fontana, is an irredeemable asshole whose overblown similes are truly awful. At any rate, a lot of the reviews I read mentioned period-appropriate sexism, and though I personally think that’s a lousy justification, I was willing to go with it, like yeah, if you want to write something that reads like forties hardboiled, you need to be sexist. (I just think if something requires you to be sexist that’s a good reason to not do that thing.) I was reading along, and there actually wasn’t much painful sexism. It was just the “Women have feelings and wear silly make-up and sit around passively while men make things happen, such mysterious creatures blah blah blah,” which isn’t especially notable, sadly.

    Then Fontana gets to narrate about a black person, his doorman to be precise. Turns out, despite the fact that he despises everyone else who crosses his path, Fontana is crawlingly, fawningly fond of this lone black person, and spends about a page extolling the many, many virtues of this perfect paragon of black awesomeness, (who is still not his friend, because Fontana is a speshul lone wolf and can’t have friends). Just reading it was kinda embarrassing; it was so out of character, and basically the author coming in and going: I AM NOT A RACIST I AM NOT A RACIST I AM NOT A RACIST for five paragraphs.

    For some reason, being overtly sexist is considered way more acceptable as a character flaw than being overtly racist. I’m sure they exist, because people suck, but I can’t think of one white racist-but-intended-to-be-lovable character off the top of my head, whereas insert sexist and I can think of dozens. Many of whom are meant to be the hero, like Harry here.

    I’m not trying to do the we’re-more-disenfranchised-than-you thing, it’s just something I’ve noticed. Authors will do backflips to avoid people calling their sympathetic characters racist, but saying they’re sexist will often get you a “Awh yeah, shucks, but it’s just his way.” Maybe it has something to do with how it’s easy to invisible other races, like “Harry isn’t racist; he just chooses not to associate with/notice the existence of any of the black people in Chicago,” whereas it’s necessary for women to exist so the main character has someone to point his heterosexuality at.




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    1. Guest says:
      “but I can’t think of one racist-but-intended-to-be-lovable character off the top of my head”

      I can, but none of them are white, which I assume is what you’re trying to say?




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      1. SoxyOutfoxing says:
        Yeah. Actually I could think of a couple of characters who held racist attitudes towards white people, but…meh. I’m definitely discussing the privilege of white men here, so they didn’t seem relevant. I’ll edit and clarify.



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        1. Roarke says:
          It’s kind of funny that deleting messages just turns you into “Guest.”



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          1. actonthat says:
            I guess they assume you’d only have bad reasons to have to kill a message. I can delete it for you, I believe.



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            1. Roarke says:
              Nah, I don’t mind it. I just thought the comment was a little too racially-charged or something, like I consider it kind of disgusting that non-whites can be “appropriately” racist. I didn’t want to really suggest that I was behind that idea, so… yeah. Oh well.



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          2. Farla says:
            You’re best off editing away the body your comment, rather than trying to delete the comment itself.



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    2. Anai says:
      Vimes from Discworld, I believe is. Though I guess he’s less “racist” than “speciesist”



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      1. actonthat says:
        Yeah, I can think of racist-against-fictional-species-causes-Unfortunate-Implications (hellooooo Harry Potter), but that’s not quite the same as “Oh, you! Hating black people so much in a real-world setting!”



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      2. Farla says:
        Well, Discworld “species” have pretty major overlap with our-world races.

        I think Vimes gets his pass because he’s more xenophobic than any other type of racism, and even then he usually gets over it within the book.

        And even then, the same author had two other “I’m not racist against black people” books, in the Rincewind subseries and the Witches subseries.




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      3. SoxyOutfoxing says:
        Part of the plot of Jingo relies on Vimes being so unwilling to seem prejudiced against the Klatchians that he refuses to consider they may be guilty of the crime he’s investigating, which reads quite a lot like NOT A RACIST to me, (though Terry does it with more nuance and subtlety). Most of his prejudice against other species consists of grousing a bit in his thoughts and then letting them become police officers. There’s the scene where he commissions zombies into the watch solely to make some random bigot unhappy. Plus there’s the whole “I’m a cop; I hatefully suspicions everybody of everything at all times” justification thing. And like Farla says, he tends to get over one prejudice per book; I don’t think Pratchett would ever say “Oh yes, Sam hates trolls, he is like that, it’s pretty hilarious achshully, what’re you gonna do?” By the time we reached Snuff, Vimes was the saintly saviour who believed that goblins had names and should have rights and let his son hang out with them.

        He is not a good bigot. I guess Fred Colon might be an example, but I don’t know. Are we meant to consider him lovable?




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        1. Roarke says:
          Whatever else we’re meant to think, we’re certainly shown that he’s borderline retarded.
          edit: By which I mean, I don’t think we’re supposed to hate Fred Colon.



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          1. SoxyOutfoxing says:
            Yeah, but I think we’re supposed to regard him as a vaguely grotesque buffoon, which I don’t think is how we’re supposed to regard Harry. Though if that was what Butcher was going for, he’s a more successful writer than we’re giving him credit for. :)



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            1. Roarke says:
              *snort*
              Indeed. In that case, this was all according to his plan from the get-go, and the fact that the average reader might love it despite it falling apart under the slightest critical pressure just means he exerted the minimum effort possible and succeeded. I will say I am genuinely envious; I have spent my whole life trying to obtain that ideal situation.



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    3. Tyler Preston says:
      Gran Torino movie with Clint Eastwood as the main character who is racist? does that fit what your asking



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  8. illhousen says:
    “For what I can only assume is ‘hilarity”, Mac mostly communicates in this grunt.”

    For my amusement, I am going to assume that Mac just really doesn’t want to speak with Harry, so substitutes words for grunts.




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    1. actonthat says:
      Wait, was that not supposed to be the assumption? /s



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  9. antialiasis says:
    [I had been a miserable failure in relationships, ever since my first love went sour. I mean, a lot of teenage guys fail in their first relationships.
    Not many of them murder the girl involved.]

    Wait, what? He didn’t kill her. She shows up alive in a later book. Did he just think he killed her or something? Don’t remember this backstory well enough.

    I hadn’t connected “not knowing you’re attractive is attractive” to PUA tactics. Ew. Ordinarily I would just have thought it was kind of a bizarre thing to be attracted to.




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    1. Farla says:
      I think he suddenly realizes next book that maybe he didn’t kill her, so I’m going with retcon.

      Ordinarily I would just have thought it was kind of a bizarre thing to be attracted to.

      Well, it’s not like you should punch absolutely everyone who says it, because sometimes the person means that not being overly concerned with appearance is a plus, which is totally reasonable, and when I see it in very old things it’s just part of a general love of humility as virtue, which still has some issues but not so much.

      But it’s usually tied to the idea the most attractive thing about a girl is having her self-esteem in the gutter so she’ll do anything you want.




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      1. DarthYan says:
        doesn’t happen till book 4.



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  10. GeniusLemur says:
    You know, something just occurred to me. If you replace Harry’s magic with slapstick, what’ve you got? Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Except we’re supposed to take Harry seriously.



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  11. JD says:
    You know, of all the terrible things about this book, the one I always keep coming back to is the ThreeEye. Why is it in CamelCaps? Has there ever in the history of the entire world been a slang term with a capitalization convention? (Strain names don’t count; they’re marketing terms. Anyway, this is obviously supposed to be generic.)

    It is so stupid, and so trivially improvable. Plain old “three-eye” I’d never have questioned; there is absolutely no reason this couldn’t have been completely unobjectionable. But no, it’s ThreeEye™, and it sticks out like a sore, implausible thumb, because… um.

    Maybe it is supposed to be cool? Something something cyber? I have no idea where even a ninety-year old man could have gotten the idea that CamelCaps is cool. Guh.




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    1. Farla says:
      It’s probably part of the general authors going mad with capitalization trend. He invented ThreeEye, therefore it’s copyrighted, therefore it’s double capitalized to show how extra copyrighted don’t steal.



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  12. tânisi, thanks to linking to my post about that awful Two Wolves story.

    However, I’ve got to contest your sweeping statements about how basically we (and by extension our stories and our culturally-specific stories/creatures) don’t exist anymore. Absolutely disease, massacres, and genocidal policies including kidnapping our children en masse have had a horrific toll on us. Nonetheless, we’re still here.

    You are right, that most non-Indigenous people do not know our stories. That does not mean that WE no longer know our stories. In fact, our stories continue to live on, as we do.

    We do not necessarily share them with outsiders, but that is not always the case, nor will it always be the case. The Rolling Head, Elder Brother, giant monsters with different abilities, Le Rougarou, sacred areas, landscapes torn apart by conflict between those who were not quite gods, not quite men… the reports of our cultural death have been exaggerated.

    Accessing these histories means forming real relationships with Indigenous people, which are mutually beneficial instead of exploitative. Assuming that we are too whittled down by colonialism to bring our stories forth ignores that our people do just this, all the time. In fact, in that article you link to, I gave some authentic resources that share some of these stories.

    kinanâskomitin for your concern, we’re not dead and gone yet ;D

    âpihtawikosisân




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  13. CrazyEd says:
    So, I was having a conversation about a character who the viewpoint character finds extremely attractive who unintentionally keeps doing things the viewpoint character finds unbelievably attractive without thinking about it, and I could not help but thinking back to this scene. The more I thought on it, the less sense it makes, and the worse it gets. In the case I was talking with the friend about, the character was a tomboyish girl next door type childhood friend who gets into a lot of harem fanservice anime type situations without realizing it because that’s the premise of the manga (that I only read for the absolutely adorable childhood friend romance between the two main characters, honest gub’na).

    And the more and more I talked to my friend about this manga girl unintentionally showing this manga boy her underwear and then getting embarrassed when he tells her he can see her underwear so she can correct whatever situation revealed it because he’s not a creep, the more and more I thought about this scene in comparison. How the fuck can you fail so hard at noir detective fiction to have a femme fatale who has less of a concept of how sexy she is than a massive Innocent Fanservice Anime Girl does? Did she dress like a stereotypical sexy secretary on accident or something? Is she really so innocent that she absolutely never notices the innuendo she throws Harry’s way?

    And the more and more I think about these two things at the same time, while writing something of my own, the more and more I think Jim Butcher has absolutely destroyed my ability to write a male character finding a female character sexually attractive under any circumstances without feeling like a creep. Because they’re doing what Harry Dresden would do in that situation. At this point, I could probably write a femme fetale in a noir detective story, and feel like a creep because the detective notices just how much of her gams are shown off by her intentionally-gams-revealing dress. Because Harry would’ve noticed the gams.

    Well, at least my detective wouldn’t pause the story to go on a huge rant about how she’s an evil whore for showing off her gams. That’s something, right?




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    1. illhousen says:

      Did she dress like a stereotypical sexy secretary on accident or something? Is she really so innocent that she absolutely never notices the innuendo she throws Harry’s way?

      No, no, read it more closely:

      One of the things that appealed to me about her was that even though she used her charm and femininity relentlessly in pursuit of her stories, she had no concept of just how attractive she really was

      Susan is fully aware that she’s flirting, she just also, as Farla said, lacks self-esteem to objectively measure her beauty and thinks she’s far less attractive than she is.

      In Butcher’s Harry’s mind, what makes her attractive is that she does act in sexy way but is also honestly amazed every time it works because she thinks herself plain if not ugly.

      Which doesn’t make much sense either, especially for this character archetype, but here we are.

       




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      1. CrazyEd says:
        See? This is what I meant by “the more I think on it, the worse it gets”.

        So, reading it that way, the poor manga girl who doesn’t realize she’s hugging her childhood friend’s arm while wearing nothing but a skimpy bikini until he asks her to remove his bicep from between her breasts is a completely situation entirely? Or, at least, a mostly different situation, I guess.

        Her childhood friend doesn’t find her hot because she keeps accidentally showing him her underwear. He actually finds it a hassle and wishes it didn’t happen. She definitely doesn’t think of herself as plain or unattractive. Sometimes she worries about her weight, in typical anime girl fashion, because she eats more than Goku and it goes straight to her boobs. That’s about as far as her body image issues go so far as I can think.

        Is a lack of a self-awareness (hey, that’s the word I was looking for) in that scenario as bad as a lack of self-esteem in Susan’s? Or is the problem more a matter of Harry’s fetishization of it than the thing itself? Or are the two situations apples and oranges (though… Harry kind of fetishizes that wolf girl’s lack of self-awareness in the second book, doesn’t he)?

        Regardless, I do feel a bit better about my own situation now. I don’t think I’ve ever done your typical “oh, no, I’m actually super average (until I take my glasses off)” mary sue type deal (which I think the same kind of thing as what Farla is complaining about with Susan, yeah?)

        I think I’m still going to have the problem with guys finding girls hot without feeling like they’re creeps (I don’t think I’m doing a really good job of making this manga guy out to be a not-creep here) unless you have a one-sentence cure for that as well, but my female characters definitely aren’t lacking in self-esteem, and my male characters definitely aren’t finding them attractive because of a lack of self-esteem (in the last two established relationships I wrote, in fact, a majority of the guy’s attraction to the gal is towards her self-confidence and assertiveness). If anything, I give characters (both male and female) too much confidence, because I am a generally prideful and strong-willed person with a high opinion of himself and I naturally tend to write similar people.




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        1. illhousen says:

          Well, what I’m saying here is that Harry finding Susan attractive in itself is not an issue here. They’re in the right context for this, and she flirts with him. Noticing that she’s hot is fine.

          What makes him a creep is that

          a) he specifically finds her lack of self-esteem attractive. He’s turned on by her thinking she is not attractive; and

          b) all the times when he notices how hot various women are in inappropriate contexts (ogling corpses, ogling a starving child in need of help, etc.)

          Now, in regards to that manga, I would actually question the narrative itself rather than the characters. The protagonist may or may not be a creep depending on his conduct, but the situation itself sure seems to be deliberately designed to appeal to the audience’s fetishes. Sexually charged situations being accidental is not exactly uncommon in anime, especially harem comedies, and usually it’s done to abolish the protagonist from blame (he’s not a pervert, you see, it’s all just a big coincidence) while still providing sexual content to him and, by extension, the audience.

          So even if the characters are technically fine, the narrative itself may not be.

          I’ve ever done your typical “oh, no, I’m actually super average (until I take my glasses off)” mary sue type deal (which I think the same kind of thing as what Farla is complaining about with Susan, yeah?)

          Not quite. It could be, but that depends on who the viewpoint character is and whether they’re projection of the author/audience or an object of fetishization. Generally, “I’m actually super average except totally not” is done by authors who want to live vicariously through their characters and have being super-hot as a part of their fantasy but also want to avert accusations of writing a mary sue.

          It’s closer to how Harry constantly presents himself as an underdog despite being a powerhouse.




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          1. CrazyEd says:
            Yeah, I get that, from a rational perspective. My problem is one of overreaction, more or less. I’m sure if you read something I wrote, you’d find it far less creeptastic than I would, regardless of how much of a creep someone was being for noticing boobs. Even though, more often than not, if someone is noticing boobs it’s because the woman is intentionally showing off her boobs. I think this might have something to do with the fact that I’m more or less asexual, so I’m kinda at a loss when it comes to this.

            I would actually question the narrative itself

            Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to defend the narrative. It exists to facilitate fanservice. Just that the character himself isn’t creepy, even in a harem protagonist kind of  narrative-justified way. Actually, a lot of this character’s problem is that he is a bit of a pervert, like pretty much every boy is at that age (just past New Years of their first year of high school). That’s why he’s so bothered by seeing his friend in a lewd situation. He has things he’d rather think about than how cute his best friend’s lingerie is so he can get into his university of choice. The reason why it happens to him, as opposed to anyone else, is because she relaxes a lot more around him than anyone else.

            There is a bit of blame abolishment involved, but it’s all far more realistic than most harem manga (she hasn’t somehow fallen backwards off a ladder and somehow landed crotch-first on his face, that stupid kind of thing), and when she dresses up like a sexy witch for Halloween, he goes “huh, sexy witch” like you’d expect.

            When he mishears her and thinks she’s talking about a thong instead of cute tea-bag holder things (it makes sense in Japanese), when he discovers his mistake, he places the blame solely on himself and is glad she only wanted to show off some little kawaii trinket she bought. Most of what happens, if it happened in real life, is stuff he’d actually be pretty blameless for (bikini-clad mental images aside); and when it’s not, he’s blamed for it. When he is laying on the floor of his bedroom and she bursts in entirely unexpected and he sees up her skirt, his response is… to immediately sit up and tell her not to burst in his bedroom unannounced like that. He doesn’t just lay there gawking like panties turn his brain off.

            It’s actually surprisingly refreshing, for being… well, what it is. It’s just that what it is is, well, what it is. I was joking with that “‘onest gub’na” thing earlier, but I honestly would be reading it even it was 100% devoid of fanservice contrivance. Actually, come to think of it, that’s basically why I read the manga Fujiyama wa Shinshuki. That manga was adorable as all hell.

            It could be, but that depends on who the viewpoint character is

            Hm, fair enough. I was thinking more along the lines of “Bella, as seen by Edward” than “Bella as the low self-esteem self-insert protagonist of Twilight”. What I meant by that was really “I don’t think I’ve ever fetished low self-esteem in women”. But I see what you mean. The viewpoint definitely changes things; you’re right.

            I actually recall reading somewhere on this blog someone saying that it’s pretty easy to tell the difference between bondage porn written by women who want to get off to submitting and bondage porn written by men who want to get off to dominating. I have no doubt it’s true. I think it’s kind of the same thing there. It’s the same content, but the viewpoint drastically changes it.




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