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Gunsmith Cats :: Blindsided
Gunsmith Cats :: Blindsided
Guest Review By: Nicotine Child

PLOT: 1/5 (What’s the PLO doing in a Russian sewer?)
CHARACTERIZATION: -5/5 (Sexual orientation is determined by height and physical appearance in this fic.)
WRITING: 2/5 (Whose POV is it from?)
REALLY NASTY LESBIAN RAPE SCENE: 6/5 ("I'll never touch a bottle of Stolichnaya ever again.").

Anyone watch the Season 6 final of Buffy? Did you find it offensive that of the only halfway realistic portrayal of lesbians on TV, one ended up dead and the other murderously insane? Well, many people did. And this is because Willow/Tara ended up falling into the Dead/Evil Lesbian Cliché, which portrays lesbians as being one of the following:

a) Evil Lesbian - a violent, promiscuous and mentally unstable lesbian who loves nothing better than to seduce, abuse and rape innocent virginal women, or
b) Dead Lesbian - a meek and dim-witted virginal woman who takes the Evil Lesbian’s abuse with gentle good humour. Usually dies - often by suicide.

The outrage over Tara’s death is not only because not only is the cliché is offensive, but it’s a really bad plot device. And not only does the fanfic I’m about to review use this cliché, but it uses it with characters that never displayed any hint of homosexuality in the canon! And that’s not all that’s wrong with this fic....

Gunsmith Cats is a cops-and-robbers style series that comes in both manga and an anime/movie called Bulletproof.Blindsided is an AU to Bulletproof, focusing on the characters Becky Farrah and Natasha Radinov.

The characterisation in this fic is based on stereotyping physical appearance. Playing the part of the Evil Lesbian is Natasha Radinov, a psychotic ex-KGB, ex-Russian-Special-Forces freelance assassin that loves killing people. She appears only in the anime, where she's hired to kill Rally Vincent and May Hopkins (the actual leads of the series). She’s tall, wears pants, and cuts her hair short, so the Author Hath Decreed that not only is she a lesbian, but she’s a rapist too, despite the fact that she never shows the barest hint of such tendencies in the anime. This is fanfic characterisation at it’s very worst...

Playing the part of the Dead Lesbian is Becky Farrah, a private investigator/informant that appears in both the manga and the anime. She's a sort geeky-looking girl with glasses and freckles, but netherless is a cunning and street-smart operator who wouldn't think twice about blackmailing a mob boss or videotaping a gang shootout for her own ends. Oh, and she loves money. But in this fic that fact that she looks like a stereotypical computer nerd means that Becky suddenly turns into a spineless sulky wimp who freezes up at the first sign of violence.

The fic starts with Becky running after Rally and May, who have just chased Radinov into a closed-down museum. Apparently Becky wants to help, even though she has no back-up, no weapons, and is scared out of wits. VERY SMART! She's out of character already - canon Becky would never do anything so stupid.
"Rebecca, you don't do this!" Her mind screamed wildly. "No matter what, don't you ever follow!"

For God's sake people, thoughts go in italics, not speech marks! A character's mind cannot "talk", unless the character is schizophrenic or something.

Becky's in the museum, ready to race into the action for "the first time in her life" - even though in the canon she's in the action all the time - when Radinov suddenly appears, grabs Becky, and knocks her out. Hell, I would have done the same to the dimwit, except that Radinov's supposed to be after Rally and May, since she did swear she'd kill the two for humiliating her in the anime. But the Author Hath Decreed that Radinov shall now totally abandon her canonical obsession for revenge and kidnap Becky instead.

Radinov then ties her up and dumps Becky into her car.

Becky found her hands were bound with a thin, itchy hemp rope and she cried out sharply, jumping back with fear and surprise.
"Keep silent." The driver spat at her. Low and unaccustomed to rebellion, Radinov's accent thick and unbroken.
"Rally? Mae?" She asked before she could prevent herself. "Did you murder them?"

Hang on a sec - eyes as cold as ice and just as devoid of warmth or compassion - that doesn't sound right. The above is a metaphor, where something is said to be something else. So, her eyes are as cold as ice and just as cold. So Radinov must have literally ice-cold eyeballs.

Good. I'm glad we got THAT sorted out!

Anyway, Radinov drags her out of the car and through the airport, pointing a gun to Becky's back to keep her moving. And of course, NO ONE NOTICES IT, although they do manage to notice that Radinov is somewhat scary looking and that Becky is terrified. Radinov even manages to somehow get her gun through security. Either the people at this airport are extremely stupid or they consider people getting kidnapped at gunpoint to be a NORMAL thing. And even on the plane, with Becky shivering and Radinov looking at a file of her, no one does anything. Of course, the fact that timid-mouse Becky didn't even THINK about raising the alarm doesn't help - she's too busy being afraid. I'm starting to hope Radinov shoots her.

The plane lands and Radinov drags Becky out of the airport to the front. The description of St Petersburg is remarkably detailed, considering that it's from the point of view of Becky, who has never been to Russia in her life. And there’s a car waiting for them, containing Radinov’s underworld contacts, a bunch of people who sound remarkably like the PLO.

Becky's heart sped up a notch as she noted the sooth, black sedan with tinted windows idling under a steady motor to their left. Not as large as a limousine, but adorned with four facing back doors and seats that faced one another inside, the farthest door opened by a young, stone-faced woman with a flat, military-style beret on her tiny head.
Sliding over with a slight smirk on her arrogant lips, she eyed both of them as if they were an exotic, unknown species. Becky, especially.
"Tonight's shipment, Nastash." She said coldly. "We have men watching the canal."
Radinov nodded her head once in agreement or understanding, her sunglasses still over her eyes as were those of an older gentleman facing them. All in darker, loose-fitting clothing and each one wearing a flat hat on their heads. Many like the woman's though some more showy or decorative with a gold pin or jewel-encrusted pendant.

I apologise for having to quote so much. The author tends to drop important details from her sentences, so I have to quote huge slabs for it to make sense.

And where is their hideout? In a sewer. A SEWER! Even though the Russian Mafia practically own all of Russia, Radinov’s stuck in a sewer with a bunch of Patty Hurst wannabees. Note to all you authors out there - don’t use the paramilitary-group-hiding-in-a-sewer cliché. Ever. Especially if it’s set in Russia.

I was under the impression that the whole point of Radinov kidnapping Becky was to use her as bait to lure Rally and May to Russia, so Radinov could kill them on her own territory. But apparently I was wrong, because Radinov then has Becky dressed up a slut and then drags her to a nightclub. Now if this is Radinov's brilliant reason for kidnapping Becky - to whore her - I am going to be deeply disappointed. Okay I lied. But shouldn't there even be an attempt at a plot?

Radinov then sits Becky down and starts drinking vodka, when some drunk guy approaches. Becky panics and knocks over his bottle. The drunk guy demands that Becky pay him back with sex, and Radinov lets him. Now I’m very confused.

The drunk guy takes Becky outside the club, intending to rape her, when Radinov appears out of nowhere and shoots him in head.

There was that blood-soaked alcove. Too full to see the actual grey matter within but she did note the outer circle covering of bone beneath the flesh and membranes. Gaping at her, and she could do nothing but to stare at this vomiting mouth, shaking violently as more ruby syrup dripped upon her flesh.

Hmm, that ruby syrup sure sounds......tasty? Another hint for all you aspiring authors out there - don’t overdo the gore. It sounds ridiculous.

And it’s at this point that the fic really goes off the rails. After using Becky as a decoy for an assassination (I assume that’s what happened), Radinov then drags Becky off to some hidden hiding spot and rapes her with a vodka bottle.

Yes, you heard me. Rapes her with a vodka bottle. It seems that Radinov's had a little to much to drink (she’s an alcoholic now?), and can’t control herself And it‘s NOT a non-consensual, where one party objects at first but both enjoy it and know one gets hurt. Becky gets held down by the throat. Try your best not to go insane as you read it.

Becky tried to catch her breath. This hot mouth, drawing on her lips as no one had before. This one woman, stronger than any mere petty criminal. Violent and reckless, her hands seemed to show no mercy or regard for her present state. Jerking sleep from her consciousness like a rabid animal tearing flesh from the bones of its prey. Becky knew nothing as far as what to expect from this woman, her teeth now catching Becky's lower lip harshly, leaving a florescent streak of pain there and a wetness that could only be her own blood. Crying out from the fire of such an injury, she was rewarded with an eager tongue, moving and darting as if to gouge her. Every movement that of a killer, sticking and moving to devour a seperate area. To tear and to bleed.

Is Radinov trying to rape Becky, or eat her?

Radinov: Fee Fi Fo Fum! I smell the blood of an American-woman!
Becky:Is that a vodka bottle in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

And even worse, she takes it without a fight! It was at this point that I started fearing for my own sanity.

Pushing Becky's thighs apart with one of her own and holding her by the neck with her right hand. As almost to choke her, and Becky remained immobile for that moment. Trapped by the strength of her jailor's heavy limbs, she feared to move as her neck could easily be snapped by the Russian woman. Laying like an obedient puppy on her back, her legs open to that chilly rush of air, escaping under the covers. The most basic submissive position, but she could not move away.
And even still, a greater desire held her in place. A need she well understood and lived by. The necessity of anyone who lived outside the lines. Followed any dangerous criminal and videotaped their activities.
This need to know. To experience life from their side and to find out as much as she could. To enter the mind of the beast for herself.

The part about "entering the mind of the beast" is bullshit: Becky does what she does for money. That’s been made clear since the very start of the manga.

And afterwards, we get this:

Shutting out the mildly biting humiliation of the recent act and her own painful turmoil, Becky tried to focus all her attentions on her comrade's state of mind.

She’s just been RAPED and she considers it just a MILDLY BITING HUMILIATION!!! MILDLY BITING !!!

Okay, calm down. It’s just a fanfic. I can’t hurt me. Unless the author finds out where I live...

I’ll never look at a Stolichnaya Lemon Russki the same way ever again. Hehe - lemon Russki. I slay myself unintentionally. And did you notice the part of Becky suddenly becoming a virgin? She‘s 22! Check out the authors bio:

I write erotic fanfiction, of the anime genre, as well as twisted stories, involving said characters and both my own as well as the original, storylines.....erotic fanfiction is sexually explicit, so please, keep the flames to yourself...I write what I want, when I want to. If you do not enjoy reading erotica, please do not even bother. I stress the beauty and mental phsysiognomy of the act, more than just the act itself. And please, when they say adult, they mean it. Do not read this stuff if it grosses you out, or you are too young. If you do, you have given up the right to complain about anything. And please, save the flames....I have to write this in, just so I can say I warned ya! I really enjoy writing twisted stuff. If that is what you are looking for, you have come to the right place..muahahahaha

My dictionary defines "physiognomy" as the art of determining character or personal characteristics from the features of the face or the form of the body. So, according to this author, any woman with short hair who wears pants is an evil alcoholic lesbian who likes to rape other women, and any woman with glasses and freckles is a spineless wimp who doesn’t mind being raped. This author doesn’t need a slap to the head, she needs a mallet to the fuckin’ head.

Why hasn’t this author been flamed into oblivion? Rape is NOT erotic! It’s sick and violent and horrifying! And the reviews for this are all along the lines of "keep up the good work"! Come to think of it, I’ve always had the sneaking suspicion that authors on FF.net can delete flames from their reviews. What does everyone else think?

The next morning Becky wakes up in the sewer (how did she get there?) and gets dragged by Radinov outside. Again, the city is described accurately from the point of view of Becky, who not only doesn’t know where she is, what’s happening, or even what’s being said by the other characters, has been missing her glasses since her first trip to the sewer. She can’t even see properly. Maybe that’s why it’s called Blindsided.

And this, ladies and gentleman, is the major flaw in this fic. This story is told from the point of view of a character that doesn’t know what’s happening. And we, the readers, are supposed to know what’s happening from the information we get from her. The author’s made a serious mistake here, and the author has tried to correct this by suddenly switching to passive voice during key scenes, as if an outside narrator is giving us the information that Becky can‘t.

Four stops later found their destination at the region known as the Nevskiy Prospekt. Directly across from the Grand Hotel Europe. One of the finest in Russia, the Bolskoy Philharmonic and St. Catherine Cathedral flanking either side. Just to her left, Becky noted a bank and several eateries. On her right, a king's ransom in fancy shops. Radinov ushered her up the street, heading towards a large bridge, crossing the width of one of several canals the city held. More blocks of walking to and fro among the crowds. Never quite finding enough open space to even attempt escape. When they stopped before an aging apartment building, her interest was once again peaked.

See what I mean? Passive voice sounds a lot like present tense. When present tense is used with past tense (Becky’s POV), it seems like time is being stretched out unnaturally. What’s even worse is that the author attempts to speed up action scenes by cutting out important nouns and pronouns. This example is from when they where in the nightclub earlier.

When the older man took a seat before them, she had not even heard his approaching footsteps and jumped back, even as Radinov did not flinch. Her dark glasses gone, those narrowed eyes devoid of sanity or concern as she stared this rustic gentleman back in his own. This drunken, working-class man, reaching to place an arm around Becky, who pushed herself away and only closer to her kidnapper. Knocking his bottle to the floor in her haste, and there was that gun behind her, the moment the bottle crashed and shattered on the smooth, stone floor. She gasped, the scream catching in her throat.

Who’s eyes are devoid of sanity? Who did the gun come from? Kind of uncomfortable to read, isn’t it?

Anyway, they go and visit Radinov’s mother. No, I’m not making this up. I really wish I was. Seems that not only is Radinov know an alcoholic lesbian rapist, but she has a Norman Bates complex as well. Her mother’s about 50 years old, which is slightly worrying when you consider that Radinov is 35. And living with her mother is Radinov’s lesbian lover, Irina, who isn’t impressed with her new competition. Two Dead lesbians for the price of one! And why didn‘t Radinov use Irina as bait for the guy at the nightclub? It would of been a lot easier than using Becky. Gah - I‘ve gotta stop thinking so hard!

Radinov:Hey Ma! I brought home a new bitch! Can I keep her?
Radinov’s mother:Yes, but only if she sleeps in laundry.

They all then sit down and have a nice family dinner. Seriously.

Their hostess raised her glass first, toasting the meal and handing a specific glance to her daughter before allowing the company to take their seats again. Smiling, as she watched Becky, who could only smile back and wonder at how such a kind individual could raise a psychopathic murderer. Radinov's expression changed none, not even after her fourth glass or the variety of soups and what she recognized as Beef Stroganov. Excellent, all things, but she had no idea as to how to finish them. And whenever she would clear one plate, the mother handed her something else. Always refilling her glass, the smiles becoming laughter as she spoke to Irina.

Am I the only one who thinks that a rape victim, her rapist, and the rapist’s mother and lover all having a nice dinner together is REALLY FUCKING TASTELESS!!

*must... not... go.. insane... from... horrible... fic*

Later on they all go to bed and Becky picks this moment to escape. Picking up a bag containing falsely identified credit cards (it just happened to lying about), she sneaks off to a hotel room. Not a police station or anything like that, mind you. In the room, she calls Rally and May, (not the American embassy, which would of been the smart thing to do). Halfway through the phone call, she gets a note under the door.

Setting the receiver on the table, she headed for the slip of paper. Took the note in hand and brought the fuzzy print as close as she needed, to be able to read.
Becky Farrah,
Come out now or have the police do so in plastic.
She did not have to read the signature to know who this was from. Her heart racing, she turned to head back for the phone when the lock to her door suddenly slid open.

Let me get this straight - Radinov signed her threatening letter?

*And the award for the worlds dumbest crook goes to....*

Irina then barges in, and Becky legs it to the subway. Even so, Radinov quickly catches up to her and bitchslaps her into a wall, knocking her unconscious. This part was actually done quite well, it stays mostly in Becky’s POV, and the narrative is tense and exciting. When the POV switches to Radinov, it‘s noticeable and avoids confusion.

"Dammit!" Radinov lifted the girl's body, the back of her head bleeding a touch from one small laceration. "Still, she only fainted. We'll have to take her somewhere. Tonight's work is done."

This is where it ends - for now. This fic is still in progress, and if the author can keep writing it the way she wrote the last part, this fic may be salvageable, good even. But I’d recommend deleting everything from when they ‘re picked up in the car to when Becky runs for it. What Radinov said - Tonight’s work is done - suggests that Radinov’s plan really was to lure Rally and May to Russia. If that’s the case, then the PLO wannabe’s, the scene at the nightclub, and especially the rape scene served no purpose and did nothing but fill in time. To salvage the fic, they all need to be ditched.

Basically, the major flaws in this fic were:

CHARACTERIZATION: Fanfiction is meant to explore the characters, not turn them into offensive stereotypes.

POINT OF VIEW: If the character doesn’t know where the hell they are, then the emphasis should be on how unfamiliar everything is. And if the POV of the character cannot provide vital information, then the POV must make a clear switch to a character that does. Even then, constant POV switching will confuse matters.

PLOT: Please, ditch the tacky clichés. Don’t make huge deviations from the main plot just to prove how nasty a character is. And rape is very offensive, especially when it’s trivialised by calling it "a mildly biting humiliation" and having the victim have a happy dinner with the rapist the next day.

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People on ff.net CAN delete flames from their reviews if they want to. I know because I have an account ther and they have a liitle delete review feature thing. This is a good review and a good point your making. Sexual cliches piss me off, ie weepy ukes, insensiteve semes, weak women, really butch lesbians etc.
Keep up the good work ^_^
-Tavern Wench (Queenofthespleen@aol.com)

I can see Goldie doing this... but not Becky. Becky is COOL, damnit!

*shudders* Some of the physical descriptions made me cringe. And I'll stress as I have many times, I HATE PAIRING STEREOTYPES. WHY does there "need" to be a Clearly Defined Masculine Role and a Clearly Defined Feminine Role?! Can't people just be themselves?!

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