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Eve Dallas is a terrible cop.

There, I’ve said it. I thought it the first time I read the series and as I wind my way through for the third time, it still strikes me as true. It’s not her ability to solve crimes that are at issue. As a detective, she’s very good, as she is written to be, and solves the crimes, gets her man/woman and throws them ‘in a cage’ at the end of every installment. This is her job, both as a detective and as the main character of an ongoing series of books. She’s entertaining which makes her fun to read about. She is an excellent example of a strong female character, one who has strengths aside from being able to beat up bad guys and being bitchy.

But gods in dark little holes, I’d never want to meet the woman myself. She’s a stone cold bitch who misuses her authority like nobody’s business. She browbeats damn near every person she meets from receptionists whose only crime was being there to the people she interviews. She is always using threats and harassment to get information she wants without a warrant and acts like people who want a warrant are the scum of the earth who do so as a personal slight to her. In the book I just finished, Holiday in Death, Eve thinks she knows who the killer is and makes his life hell for several days while she tries to pin the murders on him. She knows in her heart, which she admits to in the book, that she knows it’s not him, but has a personal reason for wanting it to be him anyway. She bullies him, uses illegal, warrant-less means to dig up dirt on him, threatens to destroy his life with information she knows about him and is eventually forced to let him go. In another scene she fails to indicate her change of lanes while driving, hits a cab and when the cab driver comes out and calls her on it, pointing out that her lights and siren were not on and that she didn’t use her indicator, she threatens him with resisting arrest, assaulting an officer and a few other things. And the cab driver was right! What makes it worse is that the people around her praise her for this kind of behavior and think she’s ‘iced’.

Eve Dallas is a bit of a Mary Sue. She’s a very readable and pretty entertaining one, but it can be annoying and distracting at times. I’m not going to lambast authors for writing wish fulfillment into some of their work. The idea that authors should avoid this at all costs is pure silliness. What’s the point of building a whole new world and creating new characters if you can’t have some fun with them? I don’t mind that Eve Dallas, Sookie Stackhouse, Bella Swan and any other female lead you want to add to this list, happens to be seen as hot by the male lead and maybe one or two others. That’s part of the fantasy. Men do it too, writing male leads that have women throwing themselves at him all over the place. Fine and dandy, but for the love of chocolate chip cookies, be subtle about it! You want to avoid readers rolling their eyes as much as possible. A few characters wanting to hump the female leads leg is fine, but when more than half of the men in the series want to hump their legs, you’ve gone to far. Balance is key.

And that’s what’s happened to Eve and her use of her authority. I want her to use it, I even want her to misuse it on killers, jerks and really annoying people, but she doesn’t. She’s a complete bitch who throws her weight around with pretty much every person she meets. We’re talking 90% here. No, I’m not kidding, she’s that bad. Yeah, she’s had a rough life and all, but it doesn’t really come back to bite her in the ass like it should. Instead, people throughout the series praise her to the hilt for it, which starts to get old if you read too many of the books back to back, which I keep doing. It starts to become book after book of Eve worship. She always talking about how she’s protecting and serving the people of NYC, but we really just see her abusing them most of the time.

Do I love the books? Yep! Do I think they could be better? Well yeah, but what book couldn’t be better? Eve has a lot going for her as a character and it outweighs her annoying parts. That’s one of the joys of reading books you love that have flaws. You get to find out why you love it anyway so you can make your own writing more compelling.

Write on~

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Posted by on December 31, 2013 in All About Writing

 

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Chinatown: Most overated movie of all time.

film-noir-chinatown-1974-movie-poster-via-professormortis-wordpress

This movie sucks.  I know, heresy, but let me explain.  My husband and I watched this movie because it’s the ‘definitive’ film Noir, and I kind of like film noir on occasion.  The movie Brick was so good that we decided to see the movie that launched a genre. And we would really like our 130 minutes back. The whole movie was great, right up to the last ten minutes, when nothing that happened in the proceeding two hours mattered! We watched the plot twist and turn, clues revealed that only made the whole skein yet more tangled and it was great. Then the whole sordid mess was uncovered, the knot untangled, the pattern made plain. Hurrah! Our hero has unearthed everything and now the bad guys will be caught, our hero made a difference. The pain and effort was worth it! But alas no. It was a total and complete waste of his time in every way. Nothing changed except that more people were now dead than when he started. It could be argued that his involvement made the whole thing worse.

And I now need to take a shower, because I feel dirty. The whole movie is just one big waste of time. And I feel this way about so many ‘great’ movies. I don’t need them to have a happy ending, I’m okay with bittersweet, like Gladiator and Sucker Punch. I’m okay with main characters dying as long as they accomplish something with that death. I’m not okay with main characters getting the ever loving snot beaten out of them, their life put on the line and it not meaning a thing in the end. Maybe I just hate tragedy, and that is true, I’m not a fan of it. Romeo and Juliet strikes me as just one long exercise in failed communication and futility. But even in that story, their deaths ended the feud, so they did accomplish something. That didn’t happen in Chinatown. It was just sheer futility and pain, struggle for nothing, not even character growth. I don’t find that to be a story worth spending time with because it’s not a story, it’s just something that happened, but didn’t mean anything.

Yeah, that ending might be true to real life more often than not, but I don’t watch movies to relive all the times real life has kicked me in the face. I watch most movies to see somebody beat those odds. One of the many questions writers ask themselves when constructing a narrative is ‘why this character and why now?’ The point of that question is to make sure that we are telling an interesting story, that the story we are telling is a pivotal point in that character or the worlds history. That’s why when we look at history, we see the points of change like WWII, The eruption of Pompeii, Fall of Rome, etc. We don’t tell the story of a boy 10 years before the fall of Rome because nothing is happening there! Unless the story is about the boy himself, then you can do it, but if it’s about Rome, no one cares. The why is as important as the when. Why are we telling this story? Does someone in it triumph over their adversaries to meet a goal? Because if they don’t why are you writing it? What’s the point in the telling?

tumblr_md1ul6cNys1qzsuffo1_1280You can probably tell that I am not a fan of literature. I can respect some fiction because thrillers, suspense and mysteries mostly end with the hero solving the problem or living or whatever. I prefer to travel off planet for my fun, but that’s personal taste and not a problem of the story being broken. And Chinatown isn’t the only movie I’ve seen with this problem. Most of the movies coming out with Oscars tend to have this problem. The movie is great right up until they slit their own bellies at the end. I always walk away from those wondering what the writers or directer or producer were thinking. I wonder if they just couldn’t figure out what to do with the ending or if they all have prosaic sponsorships I don’t know about.

To be fair, Chinatown might be a classic because it’s the first Film Noir or maybe it’s an example of some filming technique I don’t know about. I’ve not been to film school, so I don’t know. But I am of the opinion that it isn’t fit for general consumption. I found very little to recommend it. If you did, more power to you, in at least that much, it’s still a free country.

 

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