We begin with Betsy reading a note written upon a prescription sheet smeared with marinara sauce, and the weird assertion, “Marc simply would not use a napkin. It was unbelievable–he looked as neat as a pin and was a total slob. I didn’t think gays were allowed to be messy.”
I didn’t think gays were allowed to be messy. Wow, just…just wow. Do I even need to point out how awful and stupid that is? “Gays aren’t allowed to be messy,” holy fuckin’ shit. Maybe that could work as a character flaw if anyone ever called her out on this shit, but no one does. That is just a thing that she believes, and continues to believe, and that is just fine with ol’ cliché-breaker, MaryJanice Davidson.
Also, what the fuck, Marc refuses to use a napkin? Is this character development, or just incredibly stupid, especially for a fucking doctor who should be used to constantly cleaning himself off and washing his hands, as patients lives could depend on his ability to sterilize himself. Is it supposed to be funny? Cuz it’s not. It’s just incredibly fuckin’ dumb, as per fuckin’ usual.
He writes (on a marinara-stained prescription sheet):
Hello, oh vampire queen. Hope lessons with what’s-his-face went okay. If he gives you any shit, lemmee at him. Jessica’s working late at The Foot and I’ve got the midnight shift this week. Don’t bother looking in the fridge, we drank all the milk. I might bring some patient files home for you to look over. Hungry?
And then we get to read all about how much Betsy hates it when someone who finishes the milk doesn’t immediately go out and replace it (despite her never caring if it’s her), and how much tea without milk, or at least cream, is disappointing. She whines and whines, even to go so far as noting she’s on her third cup of (milkess) tea when Jessica comes in, laughing at Betsy’s sushi pajamas (can we say, Buffy rip off?) and that she’s reading giant books with Gone With the Wind on in the background. MJD has Betsy often mention how much she loves the book and movie, going so far to even just abbreviate it GWtW and assume we’ll know what she means–and since it’s after she’s mentioned it so many times, we do! I just find it weird when books fangirl over other, better books. Like she’s saying we should just go read that instead?
She tells Jess she’s been studying, and for, “Half an hour! It’s been endless. I’m so ready for a break,” which really isn’t nearly as cute, quirky, or charming as MJD apparently believes. And this is before she doubles-down on making Betsy as whiny, selfish, willfully and proudly ignorant, and superficial as possible. Go read some reviews for the later books; they’re nearly all one-star, riddled with unhappy, disappointed fans who used to relish opening each book, and now question whether they’ll ever be back. She only gets way more selfish and tragically idiotic as time goes on.
But enough of the future! Let us speak of the now: Jessica asks if Betsy wants to take in a movie, and tells her to guess which one. She immediately guesses, Gone With the Wind?, even though she’s actively already watching it so that’s a very stupid guess, and mostly is just setup for one of their repeated arguments about the tome, with Jessica calling it “a movie which glorifies slavery while elevating the rich plantation creeps to the status of demigods,” and Betsy claiming:
“First of all, they’re not demigods. They’re as flawed as people can be–the heroine’s a jerk, for god’s sake. Margaret Mitchell makes no secret of the fact that Scarlett O’Hara is vain, willful, obstinate, selfish…”
“Yes, yes, all right. But Mitchell also points out that Scarlett treats her servants–”
“Not after the Civil War ended, they weren’t. She treated them better than all the white people, even her own husband! Husbands.”
“And the hero is a womanizing, cruel gambler who raped his wife when he got drunk. I mean, hello? These are flawed people. The slaves and servants, on the other hand, are almost universally good, long-suffering, and devoted to their families. The whole point of the book was that there was plenty of bad stuff perpetuated by the North. I mean, how many of the freed slaves really did get forty acres and a mule?”
This was an old and well-loved (again with Betsy assuming some argument is a sign of love!) discussion. I think Jessica secretly liked the book–I’d found my copy in her room more than once (because people never read something merely to educate themselves on their arguments!)–she just liked to argue about it (sure). And most whites wouldn’t dare defend it to her. Me, I had no shame (clearly). Also, she was wrong.
“It’s a book that glorifies white people at the expense of blacks.”
“The vain white people who ended up alone and unhappy, or the white people who got the shit kicked out of them by the Union Army? Or the white people who starved to death during Reconstruction? Or–”
“You know, for somebody who could buy London, you’re awfully touchy about slavery. I mean, no one in your family was ever a slave.”
She sniffed. “You can never know my pain.” And they go on and on until she makes the cardinal mistake of making a reference most of her readers would probably understand, then immediately undermining it by directly listing where it came from:
“Help, help! (Jessica) said. “I’m being oppressed!”
“Thief! You stole that line from Monty Python.”
Anyway. Do I even need to express how fucking gross this is? I mean, Betsy is trying to say that the white people were worse off in Gone With the Wind because they were lonely?! Betsy is saying that the white people, who caused the Reconstruction to happen, are the real victims of the Civil War? Betsy is saying that the white people who “got their asses kicked by the Union Army,” again completely by their own choice, as they were the ones who seceded over such a despicable institution, they were the ones who said the color of their skin made them superior beings, and because they lost we should feel sad for them?!
I’ve read Gone With the Wind. The black slaves/“servants” aren’t exactly written as universally good…there is a scene where a black man tries to rape Scarlett, and the fucking KKK is written as the fucking heroes for going after him to lynch him. The KKK are presented as heroes! Multiple times! And most of the time when she bothers writing a black character, they are pretty childlike and presented as pretty stupid–she even writes out their speech in a different fashion than whites–the whites all speak proper English, and the blacks get that gross racist basically unintelligible ‘oh boya yessuh massa I sures hope y’all duhsn’t hurt meh’ type-shit…it is not without terrible, terrible flaws, especially from a modern eye. And yeah, you shouldn’t judge a book by modern standards, but y’know…GWtW was published in 1936. The Civil War was from 1861-1865. There are at least some differing standards in that eighty year timespan…I hope. We sure were past active slavery, at least. Margaret Mitchell lived from 1900-1949, so she sure as fuck didn’t live through any of that shit to have an insider’s perspective…it is an active glorification of the American South pre-, during, and post-Civil War. The only whites who are really presented as vile, vicious, horrible humans are those northerners in the Union Army! It’s bullshit to pretend that the majority of northerners were super-enlightened and considered black people their actual equals, but to make them out to be all evil, and the Southerners all noble, tragic (anti?)heroes is pretty gross.
Also, telling Jessica that she can’t feel strongly about slavery because of the assumption that, as Jamaicans, no one in her family was ever enslaved is also pretty fuckin’ gross. Jessica apparently agreeing as much, well, she is being written by the same Midwestern blonde twit that’s glorifying Betsy…anyway, I would argue that the knowledge your ancestors would have been slaves if they lived in the country of your birth is still pretty horrific. Just because she’s apparently not of African descent doesn’t mean her family wouldn’t have been slaves–it’s not like they were only after Africans, or they would see any fuckin’ difference at all between “African-American” and “Jamaican-American”–it was about the color of their fucking skin, not the nation of their birth!
Anyway, all of this is just setup for a truly asinine joke–Jessica wants to take Betsy out for “research,” watching a vampire movie. Betsy whines she “doesn’t like movies with Roman numerals after the titles,” which, if that’s a thing that’s incredibly stupid. She’s also afraid that she will become afraid, as she doesn’t like “horror movies,” although in the end she laughs her head off, “In particular, when the hero leapt over a moody crowd of bad guys, had a sword fight in midair with the villain, and landed lightly on his feet all the way across the room just in time to prevent the heroine from falling to her death. Then he caught his sunglasses, which had been flying toward him (contemptuously tossed by the villain’s henchmen) in slow motion, and popped them on his head while the heroine gazed up at him adoringly.” The title of this movie? Blade V: Return of the Vampire King’s Nephew. Seriously. Return of the Vampire King’s Nephew. Oh golly, my poor knees, how I’ve slapped them! Ugh. Nevermind the fact that one of the refreshing things about Blade was that he and the heroine had no romantic connection whatsoever, and were allowed to just be two people working against the undead…the Vampire King’s Nephew. Since there are only 3 actual Blade movies, I suppose IV in her world must have been Blade IV: The Vampire King, unless she meant Drake as the vampire king, in which case…when the hell did Dracula ever have a nephew? Am I overthinking this? Yeah, totally. Is it my fault? No, I’m not the author who thinks it’s soooo funny to make a ridiculous movie title and act like it’s legit. It’s not actually funny. It’s cheap and pathetic, and kind of jolts you out of the real-world atmosphere she’s trying to build by adding something so ludicrously stupid, something we know does not exist.
Whatever. Betsy keeps up a commentary on how ridiculous the movie the author of Betsy herself made up: “Oh look! Even though he emptied his pockets in the earlier scene, now they’re bulging with extra bullets. How handy! (which is extra stupid, in that dumb action movies are famous for never seeing them reload, not magically-appearing extra bullets to reload with) Somebody shoot the head writer. Hey, even better! Even though he parked miles away, his car is waiting for him right outside the bad guy’s lair. What, is it like the Batmobile? Does it come when it’s called?” The end came to a predictable, yet satisfying, conclusion, (god that is an excessive use of commas) with plenty of room for yet another sequel, again as if Wesley Snipes as Blade wasn’t a closed trilogy.
She then tells Jessica they need to have a bad vampire movie night, name-dropping classics such as, “Nosferatu (yeah, I’m so sure this twit would ever willingly watch not only a black-and-white, but also silent movie), Dracula, Fright Night, Dracula–the one with Gary Oldman running around in a little old lady hairdo. I don’t know what was creepier, the way he licked blood off razors, or the way he wore his long white hair in a bun.”
Jessica cracked up. “Like Gary Oldman isn’t scary enough!”
“Exactly. And that one with Eddie Murphy and Angela Bassett? Oooh, and Vampires with James Woods. And Dracula 2000 and–”
“I am so glad the millenium thing finally happened. I was getting really sick of movies sticking the number two thousand at the end of every damn title,” as if that was actually a thing the majority of movies did, rather than, like…well, Dracula 2000 is actually the only one I can think of.
Anyway, it is revealed that Betsy has been maneuvering Jessica to walk down a dark, empty alley with her, and Jess figures out she’s hunting. Betsy claims that two guys (who she says smell like dried semen and pancakes–and I ask what the fuck have these two men been doing?) followed them to/into the movie theater, loitered near the snack bar when they were buying sodas, followed them in and have been right behind them upon leaving, all of which doesn’t paint Betsy as a clever predator more than it makes Jessica look pretty stupid. I mean, if two creepy dudes are following two women for that long, even without vampire senses they’re bound to notice–especially as obvious as loitering around the snack bar for no apparent reason, or following directly behind them, sitting behind them, following them directly yet again…I don’t think I am excessively paranoid, but I am certainly aware when strangers are behind me for a suspiciously long time. I also wonder just what the fuck it is about these women that is any particular lure, super-lure enough to make them follow them into and watch an entire movie just to stay close to them…why? I’ve never been to Minneapolis, but I am positive they could have found other women by themselves–and in a minute, Betsy turns around to tell them to back off, and they say, “Give us the purses, bitch,” and we find out only Jessica is carrying something purse-like, although it’s “technically a handbag.” Jessica asks what the difference is (maybe just going along, I dunno), so Betsy can explain, “Well, a purse is more like a bag, and a handbag usually doesn’t have a handle. I know it seems complicated (does it?) but it’s really–”
“Bitches, gimmee your shit now!”
I scowled at the interruption. Muggers were so rude! “No.”
And we are later in this discussion informed that the muggers had expected the women to hand over all of their belongings and then submit to rape, and now they have no idea how to proceed because Betsy is just so sassy, as if no women ever stand up for themselves and fight a potential rapist. Ugh. Fuck you, MJD. That is a gross misrepresentation of women. Oh sure, two dudes scented with pancakes and dry semen telling two dudettes “bitch gimme your shit” is a guaranteed, foolproof way to force any woman/women to do anything you want, unless of course one of them happens to be a vampire queen!! For only vampire queens are brave enough to tell them to back off! Again, fuck you.
Anyway, Betsy whines at them to go away, because she’s going to end up drinking their blood otherwise and she really does not want to, as they’re not wearing deodorant, I guess. She claims she was “nonconfrontational” in life, which is nowhere near any reality as presented by any of her actions and words in this book. They move to attack, and she notes that they were probably moving fast, but to her it looked like they were charging her while knee-deep in molasses. She grabs one by the wrist and tosses him into a wall, which I’ve emphasized since this is the umpteenth time already that someone grabs someone else by the damn wrist and it sends that person flying–I know they’re vampires and using vampire strength, but I still don’t think that grabbing someone by their damn wrist, even with superstrength, would automatically send them flying yards away, especially not consistently. Every single time one of these characters grabs someone by their damn wrist, I can guarantee you that person will fly, and most likely break something upon landing. A brick wall, a stone statue, another person…it doesn’t matter what, it doesn’t matter who is tossed, they will fly away and then break something, but not die.
The other one I caught by the neck, shook like a terrier shakes a rat, then briskly bonked his head with mine. He sagged in my grip, unconscious. Thank goodness! The last thing I needed was this guy trying to hump me while I drank.
“Don’t look, ith groth,” I told Jessica, then sank my fangs into his neck.
He was gross, he was disgusting, he reeked, and it was just fine. His blood wasn’t gross. His blood was like sweetly potent burgundy. His whiskers rasped against my cheek as I drank my fill. It was over in less than a minute.
But then she sees Jessica is vomiting, and says she told her not to look! Jessica says it wasn’t that, it was just because of how fast she moved; “I mean, my adrenaline barely had time to get moving and it was scary but you weren’t scared and then one of them was flying through the air and then it was over. I think it was more that than anything else.”
And they move on, Jessica makes some comment about it must have been that bad popcorn, she’s used to gourmet popcorn (it’s a joke), and then she asks Betsy whether the would-be mugger will end up like Nick.
Good question. I thought about it. “I don’t know, I don’t think so. I mean, Nick liked me before. (more on that later!) So the feeding–me biting him–meant more than it did…or should have, I guess is the way to say it. And it didn’t seem to affect Marc (even Jessica doesn’t point out what she pointed out very recently, that Marc sure moved into Betsy’s home pretty damn fast, so clearly there likely was some part of Marc who was affected, but that would imply MJD knows a damn thing about continuity and keeping her work straight, which I assure you she does not). But this guy is a stranger.”
Jessica does rightly point out, “You’re talking out your ass. You have no idea.”
“None,” I said glumly (so I guess all that was designed to make her feel better?) “Thus Vampire 101 with Sinclair.” (NO SHIT)
We went home.
And the chapter ends there. I think I’ve already said enough about this pathetic chapter, so I don’t really see the need to repeat myself. It’s dumb, it’s definitely a racial quagmire if not all-out racist, and Betsy remains a dumb bitch gifted with power she certainly does not deserve. At least in these earlier books, she knows that she shouldn’t be the all-powerful vampire queen. In these earlier books.
WHAT’S NEXT: A very short chapter 23 (this review of 22 is longer than chapter 23) just to prove what we already know, Sinclair is a chauvinist, and what we then learn, Sinclair is unnecessarily violent towards anyone who slights Betsy in any way, her father is an asshole, and what admittedly is probably the funniest way to bribe a “good guy” vampire queen into doing the right thing.