Thursday, December 22, 2011

No "Bones" about it...

NBC's Bones' creator and author of the best-selling "Bones" series, Kathy Reichs, has a prejudice against Pit bulls. As a faithful watcher of her show and a loyal reader of her book series (I've now read about half of them), I've started to pick up on some distrubing trends. I love her series and her books, but this is yet another example of the pit bull stereotype being propagated without any basis and without really adding much to the story. It is unclear how much experience Reichs has with pit bulls, but based on the way she describes them, I doubt she has much.

Whenever Reichs refers to a strong, threatening or menacing character, she says he looks like a pit bull. I'd say it happens at least once-three times per novel.

Recently, while reading Fatal Voyage, I came across this scene:

A tow-truck has just picked Dr. Temperence Brennan up and she is entering the shop with her dog, Boyd, a chow-mix, who is described simply as "protective" when growling at the pit. (FYI- a breed that also may have some difficulties getting adopted because of its bad breeding practices that have led to some aggressive tenancies- read more)

"The flesh on Boyd's snout compressed against his gums. His body tensed. The growl deepened [...] Bowman met us with a length of rope. 'Had this in back,' he said. 'Flush can be peevish.' ... Crossing the lot, I stepped through the door and circled Flush. An ear twitched, but he didn't look up. Maybe pit bulls are calm because they are secure in the belief that they can kill anyone or anything that provokes them. I hoped Boyd would keep quiet and keep him distance [...] Boyd was straining at his collar, every fiber focused on the pit bull. Flush was either sleeping or playing possum, waiting for the chow to approach."

Sarcastically, she adds... "The garage had the usual tasteful garage appointments. A calendar ... a cigarette machine [...] Three kitchen chairs. A pit bull."

This fine art photo is for sale by Etsy photographer Andra Lara for $25, click here.
So so many things about this passage disappoint me as a pit bull owner, who knows that my dogs are not different from other breeds (particularly Chows), and neither of whom would be as well behaved as Flush is described. (Winnie would attack Tempe with wiggles and jump on her waist, and Bruno would bark and wag, alerting everyone of the stranger present.)

Nothing in the passage about Flush was menacing, and yet, because he is a pit bull, something is conveyed to the reading audience, that she or Boyd are in danger. Even while laying sweetly, he is somehow described as suspicious... playing possum perhaps.

I seriously recommend Kathy Reich's books, they are intriguing, scientific, have great character development, and get me through me 3 hours of commuting each day, but hope that perhaps with a well-written letter (and a picture of my sweet pit bulls) I can convince her to stop referring to them so negatively in her best-selling books.


  1. That is such a shame! There was a Bones episode a while back that involved dog fighting and while there were some pits in the episode, I think the 'killer' dog was a German Shepherd. I may be remembering that incorrectly, but I was surprised the pit bull wasn't the killer if she's biased.

  2. Hey! I do remember that! I remember now thinking that was at least somewhat fair. Hopefully by including the Chow in the story, she was showing that the pit was well-behaved in comparison, not sure if that is the case though, given that she always compared menacing characters to Pit bulls. I continue to read the books, just wish she would pull back the negative references! I don't think she realizes that her readership and pit bull owners overlap.


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