What would Lisbeth Salander do?
I came to it late. I remember feeling superior to the best-selling trilogy when the hard-back editions landed on my desk. I think I was reading 1984 or Tess of the D’Urbervilles at the time and thought: heh, what odd Scando rubbish. It’s Eng-lit for me or nothing darling!
But now I know my place. And it is with my nose stuck deep in the binders of Stieg Larsson’s Milennium Trilogy paperbacks, missing Tube stops as my eyes speedily undress the pages.
It’s taken over my life. For one thing, I can’t stop wondering what Billy’s Pan Pizzas from 7-11 are like (the heroine Lisbeth Salander’s favourite food). Nor can I stop thinking about the Swedish addiction to caffeine (even the criminals offer coffee). Today, in an admittedly deeply nerdy word game I played with three friends where the goal was to say as many words as possible beginning with B in a minute, I offered Blomkvist (the trilogy’s journalist hero) as a word. Whenever I meet men now, I have a brief and offputting fantasy of seducing them a la Erika Berger (Blomkvist’s long-time lover) – frankly and with handcuffs.
But mostly, I think: What would Lisbeth do? If you don’t know, which you probably do, Lisbeth Salander is the genius goth bisexual violent hacker goddess who stars in Larsson’s books and makes them so deeply irresistable. Among her favourite activities are sitting and thinking, trying to prove Fermat’s theorum herself, and Taser-ing assholes who deserve it. She “obeys God’s law” rather than the law. In other words, she’s a deadly, terrifying, fraudulent yet moral arse-kicker and we’re not used to having heroines like that. (It can be only a matter of time before a video game is made called Lisbeth’s Final Fantasy: Stockholm After Hours or similar.)
Anyway, I find the question of “what would Salander would do?” cropping up more and more. Her USP of infuriating taciturnity combined with total pragmatism – and her razor-sharp, deadly cool assessment of situations – are appealing. Her reaction to and radar for sexism and misogyny is brilliantly unforgiving and clear-sighted.
Oh, and her hacking – in my world known as stalking – is second to none. Which is where I begin to get concerned. Seated at my own MacBook (Salander’s always at her 2002 edition), I have found myself fancying myself a bit of a LS, a bit of a dab detective on computers. My behaviour on facebook and google recently has been disturbing and suggests that the Salander character has inflitrated my brain to the point that I’ve started trying to, err, hack. Or more precisely, to do personal investigations, her speciality.
This evening I sat down and did a routine check (Lisbeth is always doing them) on a character I have reason to be vaguely interested in due to his past behaviour (again, a major motivator of LS), though only when I’m really bored. I idly check his facebook page from time to time (rather than his email, police record or hard drive). Still, over time, it is updated to reveal more and more about his life – namely the wife he hid so deftly from conversation for months. Now I’ve got her name – and a little judicious googling revealed her job. I also am familiar with his sister, who she works for and his father, who has a twitter page and photos online. I am building a picture of the guy to fill in the blanks about his personal life he withheld so tiresomly and protected so vigilantly. Unlike Salander, I am not catching a murderer (I don’t think). Nor am I going to be able to use this info to write a maximum security report. But all the same, I can’t help feel that a little of her has rubbed off on me – and I have to admit if feels rather empowering. Each nugget of information gathered forms a “note to self”. Most satisfactory.
Now I’m tired and it’s late. What would Lisbeth do? She’d probably spend the whole night “briefing herself on the police reports, essays, database and archives” after making coffee and settling on her Ikea sofa. Or she’d head out in disguise and taser an asshole. In this circumstance, I think I’m just going to go to bed.