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September 07, 2010

Reading Update: Serial Killing Hello Kitty and (update) Feminist Swedish Mens

Angela S. Choi Hello Kitty Must Die

Stieg Larson The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hello Kitty: Recommended. Can't say too much more since I'm reviewing it for Hyphen. But I asked for their lit editor to request this book, because I suspected it of being a genre-buster ... and I wasn't disappointed. Hie thee, Asian America, to a bookstore, to support the downfall of Azn Chicklit! Yee haw!

One note: she busts the genre, but doesn't bust some of the problematic tropes involved, such as the pushy Asian parents, the abusive Asian uncle, the thousands of Asian American men who are all losers, and the white men who rescue Asian girls from all of it. Argh.

Also, she stoleded the last image directly from Heathers and it didn't really fit that well. Well, actually, she stoleded the whole plot from Heathers ... kinda. Anyhoo.

Dragon Tattoo: an addictive read, although the writing was only competent. Interesting stuff in there: not white guilt but male guilt. I'm in the middle of the next book and Larson seems to be motivated entirely by misogyny ... I mean by his mission to combat misogyny, as if that were the only thing wrong in the world. All the mens are either older, enlightened, feminist mens who handle women perfectly and are always mentoring (and sometimes fucking) younger, brilliant women who look like children ... or they're older or younger vicious misogynists who think all women are cunts and whores. There's no in between, and no subtlety or nuance in his understanding of how sexism actually works in society. Sigh.


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It was when Salander was described, on top of being incredibly competent with computers and having a photographic memory and being magnificently smart, as ALSO global model material, that my Mary Sue alarms started to ring. Salander is not really a woman, she is a male fantasy.

And of course she sleeps with Blomkvist, because he is irresistible to every woman on the planet. Mary Sue alarms doubling in volume.

And the solution to mysoginism everywhere is Salander beats up and tortures one individual. Oh well.

My mom loves these books. I have carefully not talked to her about them.

Didja notice that Salandar is flat-chested and surly in the first book (which I loved) but then suddenly sprouts tits (that feel real! because she's rich!) and rationality in the second and third books? He shaved away all her non-fantasy elements.

My Mom has all three of the "Dragon Tattoo" trilogy. I'm a lazy and undisciplined reader, so I skipped around in the first book. The reason I read just the first few chapters of the second book without continuing, though, was out of disgust at the part where Salander lives out a "White Savior Lady" fantasy with a teenage boy -- where she fucks him and helps him with his homework. Wasn't there also something about her new fake tits giving her more confidence*, too?

I also agree that Salander is a Mary Sue (Blomkvist too, I think), and I think Larsson has a lot of weird creepy issues with women in general. There's a lot of hype backlash for these books but in this case I think it's deserved. I hate how much credit Larsson's getting for being a beacon of progressive thought or some such horseshit.

* I don't have a problem with fake bewbs as an idea, because if a woman wants to get them done that's her business... but the pressure on women to get them done is something I definitely have a problem with, and a supposedly pro-woman author promoting fake titties as a step on the road to perfection for women is really fucked up.

I didn't catch the savior white lady thing, Numol, thanks for pointing that out!

My problem with the fake tits is that Salander is a FICTIONAL CHARACTER. Whatsisface made her flat-chested and childish-looking (and fetishized that) and then gave her fake boobs to "correct" the "genetic disorder" that keeps her childish looking. Then acted as if that was somehow empowering.

You know what would have been empowering? If you HADN'T INFANTILIZED HER IN THE FIRST PLACE, whatsyerface. Or else shown that whatever body you're born with can be kickass without having to conform to mainstream boobty standards.


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