Dear Anne Rice: Words have Meaning, and Not What You Think.


This post comes with a warning of violent imagery ahead AND TRIGGER POTENTIAL.

Edited to add a link.

Anne Rice, like most people, enjoys sharing her opinions on various subjects. Mainly her focus is on the dread spectre of Censorship and its buddy, the Lynch Mob. This week’s focus? The ‘romance set during genocide’ between an enslaved Jewish Woman and the fucking piece of shit Nazi who is in charge of the concentration camp she’s imprisoned. Yeah. Conversion of a Jewish woman to Christianity with a magic Bible rounds out this tale of WTF.

[edited to add this bit:]
Before we address this topic, please, go watch this PBS documentary. Let it set the tone of what is to come on this lil rampage o’mine. MEMORY OF THE CAMPS  [end edit]

Despite Ms. Rice’s vocal railings, criticism IS NOT censorship, for the Big Book (dictionary) tells me so.

criticism

[krituh-siz-uh m]

noun

1. the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.

2. the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.

3. the act or art of analyzing and evaluating or judging the quality of literary or artistic work, musical performance, art exhibit, dramatic production, etc.

4. a critical comment, article, or essay; critique.

5. any of various methods of studying texts or documents for the purpose of dating or reconstructing them, evaluating their authenticity,analyzing their content or style, etc.  :historical criticism; literary criticism.

6. investigation of the text, origin, etc., of literary documents, especially Biblical ones: textual criticism.

VS

censorship
[sen-ser-ship]

noun
1. the act or practice of censoring.
2. the office or power of censor.
3. the time during which a censor holds office.
4. the inhibiting and distorting activity of the Freudian censor.

If one could replace the phrase “Politically Correct” with “Treating People of Different Backgrounds With the Same Amount of Dignity and Respect,” that would be pretty nifty. Only someone socially blind would think that people calling out the bullshit of fucked up power dynamics (how could an imprisoned Jewish Woman be the equal of a Nazi Commandant?) highlighted by the sheen of MILLIONS OF BODIES KILLED BY THE NAZI REGIME AND FORCED CONVERSION TO CHRISTIANITY is fucked beyond comprehension.

I understand the author, Kate Breslin, is getting a lot of flak for her novel. But in her quest to write ‘inspirational’ literature, did she really think that having her Jewish protagonist convert to Christianity to be something Jewish People wouldn’t have noticed? What does it tell those of Jewish Ancestry that this romance pivots on the plot point of conversion in order to survive, as if they haven’t lived that tripe for centuries? It is disrespectful. A man in charge of thousands of lives (and a huge chunk of those died because the concentration camp cannot be compared to a resort, thus disease, starvation, and exposure take their toll) falls in love with a non-Jewish looking Jewish woman… I want to pound my head against a brick wall.

I. Just. Can’t. Even.
People are entitled to criticise things. People are allowed to have opinions, even if one deems them ill-informed. That’s one of the nifty things about living in the modern age, the ability to share information and thoughts, with others, to garner feedback and expand one’s previously held notions.
Yet, intrepid defender of the internet, Anne Rice, says that people commenting on said book are censoring it; that it’s the end of free speech, that dissenters are forming internet lynch mobs to take down authors.
Umm, Anne?

One can Google “Lynch Mob” and come up with a few different definitions. For example, there’s a band.

Doing their part to boost mousse sales since 1989

Doing their part to boost mousse sales since 1989

But once you slither past all the glam rock photos, the true nature of what a lynch mob becomes very apparent. And no, Kate Breslin is not being lynched. Want to see what a lynch mob does? Do you, Anne? I mean, I realize you were born in the South, and to a point, have white privilege of overlooking things that don’t apply to you (the trump card is to be a white male) and misappropriate words and their meanings.
Anne, this is CRITICISM, not a lynch mob or censorship.

Oh, disgust is there. But only because the Jewish people have been forced to convert to Christianity for eons, there really is no call for it to be romanticised with a fucking NAZI.

Oh, disgust is there. But only because the Jewish people have been forced to convert to Christianity for eons, there really is no call for it to be romanticised with a fucking NAZI during the fucking Holocaust.

Anne, dearest Anne… this is a lynch mob.

And this is a lynch mob.

And this.

So when you say that the Internet Lynch Mobs are coming, forgive me for coughing out “BULLSHIT” because no one [to the best of my knowledge] is pounding on Kate Breslin’s door, dragging her out by her hair, binding her to a post or tree or stringing her up then lighting her body on fire. No one is, and no one is advocating for that, and to use such loaded terms as “lynch mob” is incredibly disrespectful, not that you care. Personal attacks against the author aren’t okay, either, just to be clear. But calling out her blindness on a topic she researched and wrote about with a heavy Christian slant isn’t the same as pitchforks, torches, and a noose.

Pictured: what Anne Rice imagines when people talk about a book they haven’t read.

Anne, you’re fond of countering all nay-sayers with the Lolita argument [that a book about child-rape is acceptable to society] but here’s the thing: the only person who thought the ‘romance’ between Humbert and Lolita was romantic happened to be Mr. Humbert Humbert. Everyone else saw it for what it was, and in the end, Lolita wanted nothing to do with him. Context. It matters. One cannot compare the mental meanderings of an unreliable narrator and pedophile with the overt message that don’t look Jewish, don’t act Jewish, and maybe a powerful man will love you enough to help save a single trainload of people from the gas chamber.

Censorship implies a government backing. That’s not what is going on in relation to Kate Breslin. And with your statements, Anne, that people should ONLY comment on the work if they’ve read it, and that they need to do so in a manner YOU find acceptable… is that not a form of censorship, by your definition? That people are supposed to review/comment only in ways you’re comfortable with?

I appreciate the voices speaking out, it offers other perspectives. I appreciate the views people share, because how would I expand my understanding of the human condition if I discounted and ignored them out of hand? But to use terms like “lynch mob” shows an immense disconnect with history. Anne, do you realize Jewish people have been lynched, and now you’re trying to silence their voices so you can make the situation about your views… tell me, is that not the act of a lynch mob? Silence those who don’t comply… that’s what you’re trying to do.

And as a side note, Ms. Rice, you do realize that FTC regulations apply to people giving reviews to work done by those they know, right? Like, you literally have to disclose that you know the creator in your review of their work… which people you socialize with don’t do… where’s your ire for that, blatant disregard of set regulations? Or that one of your delightful pets is a known troll who’s gotten his ass kicked off writing platforms, let alone his penchant for hanging out with tweens (another Humbert Humbert on the prowl? I hope not!) and having them do his dirty work… have you no opinion on that? Curious minds want to know where you stand when you entertain dishonest people and hold them in high regard.

Actually, that right there tells us all what we already knew; you have no problem with dishonesty when it’s self-serving, and it’s easier to blast strangers for stating opinions about a work than to address the rats you hold in high esteem.

Congrats, Anne Rice. You have stopped being relevant because hypocrisy, yo.

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6 thoughts on “Dear Anne Rice: Words have Meaning, and Not What You Think.

  1. Reviews of books can, and should, go beyond merely looking at whether or not the spelling and punctuation is all right. Subject matter matters. If people don’t enjoy a book, it’s entirely fair to say why, and if that reason is that a book exploited a tragedy and insulted millions of people who died and who are still living with the physical and mental scars, that’s fair to say too. Whether Anne believes it or not, the very reasons some people might be against a book might be the reason others want to read it. More than once, I’ve read books others deemed bad, and I made the decision solely on negative reviews. Whether or not I find that book to be good, a sale has been made. For many authors, the ultimate goal is sales, not to positively change the world.

    The author of that horrid book has likely had her sales go through the roof because of this controversy. She’s not hurting. She’s going to be cashing some nice checks off of this.

    Reviews are only wrong when they focus on people trying to tear down a book solely because they dislike the author (“I don’t like that author, so I’m going to trash all their books, even if I like the books, just because I don’t like the author”–and this happened to me, which has affected my writing ), or because they randomly picked someone to ruin for the fun of it. Real criticism of the writing, story itself, and subject matter, are exactly what reviews exist for.

  2. By the way, I don’t know if this just happens to me, but when I come to your blog directly, to ttps://mandireiserra.wordpress.com , no posts ever show up. I can only see them when I get an email notification with a direct link to a new post. I’d like to be able to go back and read more, but literally can’t since nothing is there.

  3. I’ve always liked Rice’s writing, but as a human, she isn’t the best. Disappointing. She gets so defensive with her books and any criticism.

    • Her vampires were my ambassadors to the genre and I used to look up to her until she made her stances known. She’s entitled to her opinion, even of it’s a shitty one. And you’re right. Mention the word ‘edit’ and she gets immensely defensive.

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