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A descent into madness, of a particularly gruesome kind
November 18, 2011 1:44 PM   Subscribe

"But when a saga popular with pre-adolescent girls peaks romantically on a night that leaves the heroine to wake up covered with bruises in the shape of her husband's hands — and when that heroine then spends the morning explaining to her husband that she's incredibly happy even though he injured her, and that it's not his fault because she understands he couldn't help it in light of the depth of his passion — that's profoundly irresponsible." MetaFilter's own Linda Holmes on the "psychosexual horror-show" that is The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. posted by davidjmcgee (274 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Team Buffy.
posted by foldedfish at 1:53 PM on November 18, 2011 [76 favorites]


I've only seen one of the Twilight movies, but here's what I learned about werewolves from watching it:

-When you become a werewolf, you have to get a haircut

-When you become a werewolf, you become allergic to shirts

-Domestic violence is totally OK when you're a werewolf

-Dreamcatchers. Werewolves love that shit
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:54 PM on November 18, 2011 [19 favorites]


I read this article today on the Twilight saga that may be giving it too much credit, but was an interesting read nevertheless:
Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of the popular The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo series, is emotionally stunted but, damn it, she actualizes herself! She punishes the people who hurt her, she sleeps with whomever she wishes, she zips around on a motorcycle, and she’s a master computer hacker. In other words, our actualized female heroine might as well be a tiny man.

[...]

Bella holds up a cracked mirror and shows us some things we don’t want to see. But she also reminds us that the imagination resists checklists of appropriate behavior. Teen girls resist checklists. The really interesting conversations start to happen when we stop circling the wagons against “bad examples” and “passivity” and start exploring not only what we want our heroines to be like, but why.
That said: burn it with fire.
posted by Phire at 1:55 PM on November 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


Team Buffy, indeed.
posted by Danf at 1:55 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Breaking Dawn is when games of Terrify the Twilight Noob reach truly diabolically sublime levels:
The release of Breaking Dawn raised the game to new heights; when "playing" it with my aunt, I had the pleasure of saying, "No, Jacob doesn't end up with Bella. Bella marries Edward at the beginning of the fourth book, and then she gets pregnant with his half-vampire baby and it comes to term in like a month and then it breaks all her ribs and her spine coming out and Jacob falls in love with it." And I didn't even get to tell her how they delivered the baby.
I have to admit, I'm a bit morbidly curious as to how they filmed the delivery scene. (Cleolinda isn't making any of that up, by the way. And she did indeed skip over the most horrifying part.)
posted by kmz at 1:56 PM on November 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


All that being said, and true, I still want to see what the wedding dress looks like.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:58 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Team Sookie Stackhouse
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:58 PM on November 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


Team Count von Count
posted by PenDevil at 2:00 PM on November 18, 2011 [44 favorites]


Team America
posted by Debaser626 at 2:00 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Team Jefferson, motherfuckers.
posted by COBRA! at 2:01 PM on November 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


Team Lost Boys. Jami Gertz >>> Kristen Stewart.
posted by zomg at 2:01 PM on November 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's tough to take that splash of gendered critical positioning seriously when the piece as a whole is written in the tone that it is. You're either in universe or you aren't. Nice young girls probably shouldn't marry vampires, particularly if they're sexually abusive? It seems like she has a serious and reasonable point to make but this isn't how you make it.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:01 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am getting the impression that Twilight is a shitty series of books or something.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:02 PM on November 18, 2011 [16 favorites]


Thanks for posting this - the Hairpin had a bit about how feminists should accept Bella as the right kind of feminist heroine who is more recognizeable to teenage girls in her general passivity than characters like Buffy. And it just made me so mad! We don't want teenage girls to recognize themselves in, and imagine themselves as, a character so passive that can't help but be in love with an abusive, controlling stalker. The normalization of creepy abusive relationships makes me SO ANGRY.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:02 PM on November 18, 2011 [66 favorites]


Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of the popular The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo series, is emotionally stunted but, damn it, she actualizes herself! She punishes the people who hurt her, she sleeps with whomever she wishes, she zips around on a motorcycle, and she’s a master computer hacker. In other words, our actualized female heroine might as well be a tiny man.

Wait, what? I don't know many men who do any of these things.
posted by aught at 2:02 PM on November 18, 2011 [38 favorites]


Oldie but goodie: Buffy vs Edward.

(Not that Buffy was perfect, of course, but compared to Twilight it's like a flawed gem vs a turd.)
posted by kmz at 2:02 PM on November 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


Team Nancy Drew, dammit.
posted by MexicanYenta at 2:02 PM on November 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


I can't wait to see this. Not all Twilight fans are pre-adolescent girls. Didn't RTFA because of spoilers.
posted by shoesietart at 2:03 PM on November 18, 2011


Going to have to go with Team Kharn.

Also, these shows typically have two or three different monster/human strains that prey on humans.

Where's my horror out of time and space that feeds upon the lucious energies of those no longer human?
posted by Slackermagee at 2:03 PM on November 18, 2011


i'm torn. i hate bella as much as i love kristen stewart. i hope she finds herself some great roles in the coming years.
posted by nadawi at 2:04 PM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Am I the only one who thinks Robert Patterson looks like a silent film star with all that grey makeup on? From what I read, the big marriage night scene would play well in silent film format, all sped-up and old-timey, with title cards and everything.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:05 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Team Pam's Pumps Forever.
posted by The Whelk at 2:05 PM on November 18, 2011 [14 favorites]


Team Lasombra antitribu.
posted by penduluum at 2:06 PM on November 18, 2011 [14 favorites]


Did a vampire ever almost kill you and it felt like a kiss?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:07 PM on November 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think the record will go to show that I loathe the undead.
posted by pts at 2:09 PM on November 18, 2011


So, on another note ... my wife and her girlfriends (all 30-40ish mothers) are all about the YA novels. They trade them with each other. Whatever. I watch football and play video games. Everyone has their quirk.

However, they're making a special trip tonight for Breaking Dawn, for a specific reason. They need to preview the wedding night scene before they'll let their daughters see the movie.

"Huh?" I ask. "The wedding night? What happens?"
"Well, they break the bed."
"They break the bed."
"Yep."
"Like, he fucks her hard enough to break the bed?"
"Right."
"Well, I've done that. Fucking IKEA shit. So, this bed-breaking love scene is in the book?"
"Well, when she wakes up and looks around, she's sees that they've broken the bed."
"So, it's not actually in the book? There's no line that goes, 'And then with a final mighty thrust...'"
"No."
"But your girlfriends are afraid they're going to show that in the movie."
"Right. And they want to preview it before their tween daughters see it. To make sure it's OK."
"Isn't this guy a vampire? Don't people get killed in these movies? Violently?"
"Yes. And the other guy is a..."
"He's a werewolf. I know that. But the violence is OK?"
"Well..."
"And these girls, they've read the books already, right?"
"Yes, but..."
"What's the movie rated?"
"PG-13."
"And you're still worried?"
"It's different...
"OK, fuck this. I'm going downstairs to watch the Broncos game."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:09 PM on November 18, 2011 [140 favorites]


Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of the popular The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo series, is emotionally stunted but, damn it, she actualizes herself! She punishes the people who hurt her, she sleeps with whomever she wishes, she zips around on a motorcycle, and she’s a master computer hacker. In other words, our actualized female heroine might as well be a tiny man.

I always wonder, as a queer person who zips around on their bike, is a bit emotionally stunted and has mastered some things at which it is usually considered masculine to excel, just what "might as well be a tiny man" means for my gender performance. There's this trend in feminist criticism right now (which is basically coming from an important analysis of misogyny, true) to talk about women/queer folks who aren't femme as if we are all trying to be "tiny men".
posted by Frowner at 2:10 PM on November 18, 2011 [68 favorites]


Now I'm wondering what Tebow thinks of Breaking Dawn Part I.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:11 PM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Team Trio. "We're your arch nemesis-es. You may've beaten us this time, Slayer. But next time... Umm... next time..."
posted by Bron-Y-Aur at 2:11 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Team Severen..
posted by dirtdirt at 2:11 PM on November 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


(...and as if our gender performance comes from our over-valuation of the masculine rather than anything else. Like, I am not a persuasive public speaker because I think I'm a dude, all right?)
posted by Frowner at 2:12 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


In other words, our actualized female heroine might as well be a tiny man.

Yeah, I understand and am sympathetic to the author's discussion of flawed characters, and that we shouldn't unconditionally condemn a book because it portrays things that are considered un-feminist or anti-feminist values, but can we please stop assuming that anyone who does anything besides swoon and give birth is automatically some sort of penis-envy wish-fulfillment fantasy? That was such a terrible line that I almost stopped reading right there.

It's like the author assumes that men and women are Venn diagrams that never touch, and that the "women" side, by definition, doesn't get to do or want anything that reflects agency. Salander would be wish-fulfillment for any gender: FFS she solves Fermat's last theorem on a stakeout, then gets shot in the head, buried alive, and escapes. It's really fun when people gloss over unrealistically capable male characters by saying they're what every man wants to be, then turn around and say that any fictional female character (or, hell, real woman) who wants the same thing is just trying to be a man.
posted by Tubalcain at 2:12 PM on November 18, 2011 [40 favorites]


I just read that Hairpin piece and it's fucking awful. God forbid we critique a work where the hero is an emotional and physical abuser of the heroine.

Now I'm wondering what Tebow thinks of Breaking Dawn Part I.

Good ol' conservative Christian values. I'm sure he loves it.
posted by kmz at 2:14 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of the popular The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo series, is emotionally stunted but, damn it, she actualizes herself! She punishes the people who hurt her, she sleeps with whomever she wishes, she zips around on a motorcycle, and she’s a master computer hacker. In other words, our actualized female heroine might as well be a tiny man.

Those are awesome things to do! I wish I were cool enough to be a tiny man. Alas, I am a large man, and I do none of those things.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:14 PM on November 18, 2011 [19 favorites]


Just in case you were cheering the nearing of the end of the series, Jacob and Isabella have been the most popular boys and girls names in America since 2009.

So enjoy all your werewolf inspired NFL quarterbacks and disturbing sexual disenboweling fantasy spawned olympic figureskaters for the next 15-25 years. And when Jacob Romney and Bella Clinton are running for Senate in the 2040's, look back on this time and laugh (or cry sadly).
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:14 PM on November 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Same, nadawi. Kristen Stewart radiates so much seriousness and intelligence, it makes no sense to watch her play this idiot. That dissonance was nearly the only interesting thing about the first movie for me.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 2:16 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Now I'm wondering what Tebow thinks of Breaking Dawn Part I.

"You know, people aren’t always gonna like you. But you have to believe in the people around you and keep fighting, because you’re gonna get knocked down. But it’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up. And that’s something my parents always preached to me, and I believe. Team Edward!"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:17 PM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


In other words, our actualized female heroine might as well be a tiny man.

A sexy, sexy tiny man.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:17 PM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell: Not to put a damper on this evening's plans (or their excuse for this evening's plans) but Roger Ebert states in his review that the wedding night takes place...well I'll let him tell it:

When she and Edward fly to Brazil and a luxurious honeymoon hideaway on the beach, where the morning after her wedding night she is black and blue with bruises, the frame of the bed is broken, all of the furniture is tossed around and the draperies are shredded. Good gravy! What happened?

We have no idea. The movie doesn't show us! Yes, the most eagerly awaited deflowering in recent movie history takes place entirely off-screen.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:17 PM on November 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Team Chocula!
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:18 PM on November 18, 2011 [20 favorites]


Can't wait to see this movie. The Twilight books are great.
posted by koeselitz at 2:19 PM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think the other point that Sarah Blackwell skims right past is that there's a difference between depicting a realistic abusive teen relationship like Bella and Edward, vs. celebrating an abusive relationship.

And yes, I think we get to criticise that relationship as abusive, even though Edward is a vampire. That's how worldbuilding works - you don't get to throw out pieces of reality for convenience's sake if there's no in-narrative reason to.
posted by muddgirl at 2:19 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know why, exactly, but for some reason my mind boggles at the thought of a vampire jetting off for a honeymoon in Brazil. Boggles, I tell you.
posted by afx237vi at 2:20 PM on November 18, 2011 [13 favorites]


Yes, the most eagerly awaited deflowering in recent movie history takes place entirely off-screen.

Might be the only classical element of the movie.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:20 PM on November 18, 2011


Team Frank Booth


Am I doing this right?
posted by TrialByMedia at 2:20 PM on November 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Roger Ebert states in his review...

Thanks, but I already sent that to my wife and laughed heartily while doing so. ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:21 PM on November 18, 2011


Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of the popular The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo series, is emotionally stunted but, damn it, she actualizes herself! She punishes the people who hurt her, she sleeps with whomever she wishes, she zips around on a motorcycle, and she’s a master computer hacker. In other words, our actualized female heroine might as well be a tiny man.

There's this really specific self-critique in feminism and queer theory which basically says:

1. We pretend that we value women and non-gender-conforming men, but really we like butch/masculine-acting people best - they are the most respected and listened to, and the most sought-after as sexual partners. Trans dudes find it easy to date; trans women don't, and their sexuality is often treated as a joke. Anything conventionally coded as 'feminine' like fashion, long hair, frilly things, emotional openness, sexual submission, childcare, house work, emotional work, relative physical weakness, etc, is devalued compared to "macho" stuff.

[This is obviously true]

2. So then anyone whose gender performance is "masculine" is automatically slightly suspect because they get privileges and because there's a possibility that they basically like computer programming because it's dudely.

[This is a problem]

3. And therefore, people who are femme or feminine are being authentic and anyone who is not a straight cis guy who is not feminine or femme is not being authentic and is just doing it for the privileges.

[this is also a problem]

4. And thus, artistic representations of femmeness and femininity are the only true/real/good representations of people who are not straight cis dudes.

[And thus, we arrive at Hairpin, I guess.]

Basically, I think there's a lot - a LOT - of truth in Premise 1. I see it play out all the time, and I see how when I do "masculine" things I get respect in activist communities and when I do "feminine" ones I get disrespected and ignored. (ie, persuasive radical argument in strong language in a meeting +100; making sure that the guest speaker has something to drink, -100)

But then we get into this sort of problematic question of whether anything is intrinsically feminine or masculine, which I do not think is the case.

And the other hazard is that if we say 'la la, nothing is really masculine or feminine, so I'll just do what I want!!!" we risk slipping back into "and by happy coincidence, what I want is to overvalue 'masculine' things!!!"

So it's a real bind.

[
posted by Frowner at 2:23 PM on November 18, 2011 [128 favorites]


> If you recall the lore from the earlier films, you'll know that marriage to Edward means Bella must become a vampire herself, which any groupie who has slept with Gene Simmons will understand.

God bless Roger Ebert.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:24 PM on November 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


Nice moustache.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:25 PM on November 18, 2011


She punishes the people who hurt her, she sleeps with whomever she wishes, she zips around on a motorcycle, and she’s a master computer hacker.

There's this trend in feminist criticism right now (which is basically coming from an important analysis of misogyny, true) to talk about women/queer folks who aren't femme as if we are all trying to be "tiny men".

Um, femmes can do all of those things too.

And the really good ones can do it without breaking a single nail.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:25 PM on November 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


Team Tebow
posted by dov3 at 2:27 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Cleolinda isn't making any of that up, by the way. And she did indeed skip over the most horrifying part.)

Well don't keep us in suspense, spill the beans please! It's not like most people here are going to see it and don't know what happens.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:28 PM on November 18, 2011


Um, femmes can do all of those things too.

And the really good ones can do it without breaking a single nail.


But see, here we get slippage about what it means to be "femme". Which I have no trouble with at all, yeah, but there's this whole discourse about "femme" as opposed to "queer masculinity" or "trans masculinity". I mean, if we want "femme" to mean "anyone who wears dresses sometimes/has long fingernails/wears glitter" - if femme is purely aesthetic - that solves a huge amount of theory problems but doesn't really do much to deal with the whole valuing "masculine" stuff over "feminine" stuff.
posted by Frowner at 2:30 PM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Why hasn't someone made a triology - or quadrology - of movies based on the Alanna series? Not that I really want them to be movies, because I'm not so much into changing mediums, but it would make the books so much more popular, and they are so very much more awesome.

Or Entries from a Hot Pink Notebook - that's one of the few books/shows where I feel like I recognised the high school life, as opposed to it being some strange californian fantasy.
posted by jb at 2:32 PM on November 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


from article: “But when a saga popular with pre-adolescent girls peaks romantically on a night that leaves the heroine to wake up covered with bruises in the shape of her husband's hands — and when that heroine then spends the morning explaining to her husband that she's incredibly happy even though he injured her, and that it's not his fault because she understands he couldn't help it in light of the depth of his passion — that's profoundly irresponsible.”

... because every single time there are bruises or broken furniture after sex, it's because there was violent abuse. Decent people have quiet, civilized sex, preferably while reading a book.
posted by koeselitz at 2:34 PM on November 18, 2011 [29 favorites]


Yeah, I understand and am sympathetic to the author's discussion of flawed characters, and that we shouldn't unconditionally condemn a book because it portrays things that are considered un-feminist or anti-feminist values, but can we please stop assuming that anyone who does anything besides swoon and give birth is automatically some sort of penis-envy wish-fulfillment fantasy? That was such a terrible line that I almost stopped reading right there.
Wait, wait. Are people now saying that it's somehow 'un-feminist' to 'act like a man' and transcend gender roles? Really? I thought that was the whole point of feminism. And "Tiny Man" is now a common term? I thought it was a really odd way to describe the heroine.
posted by delmoi at 2:34 PM on November 18, 2011


In short, I think there's this slippage between "femme" and "conventionally coded as feminine" which gets confusing as a basis for a theoretical analysis. Like, I can be an emotionally-present sexually submissive butch person (although actually I'm not), you can be a ninja with stealth glitter skills and no ability to talk about your feelings and then what?

"Femme" and "butch" seem to me -as I think about it at this very moment, so maybe this is just stupid - most useful as ascribed qualities, like "she is butch in this particular social milieu at this particular time", "he describes himself as femme because that's how we name people who are emotionally present and do their nails".
posted by Frowner at 2:34 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


She does not actualize in the sense we have come to expect from our heroines, an expectation that, I might point out, is quite often based on a masculinist understanding of what being effective in the world looks like. Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of the popular The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo series, is emotionally stunted but, damn it, she actualizes herself! She punishes the people who hurt her, she sleeps with whomever she wishes, she zips around on a motorcycle, and she’s a master computer hacker.

Right on! As a red-blooded North American misogynist, I'm happy the feminist movement is finally getting pragmatic and realizing that things like access to justice, the ability to freely choose your sexual partners, being a motorist, and technical expertise in a field dominated by men are all things that it is unrealistic for women to aspire to.
posted by [citation needed] at 2:35 PM on November 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


Well don't keep us in suspense, spill the beans please! It's not like most people here are going to see it and don't know what happens.

Imagine a C-Section. Except instead of a doctor using surgical instruments, it's Edward using his teeth.
posted by kmz at 2:35 PM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Team RPATTZ's rapid and widely recorded descent into total madness and loathing.
posted by elizardbits at 2:35 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


if straight middle aged men fawned over bella like straight middle aged women fawn over edward/jacob, there would be an uproar.
posted by nadawi at 2:36 PM on November 18, 2011 [25 favorites]


There's this trend in feminist criticism right now (which is basically coming from an important analysis of misogyny, true) to talk about women/queer folks who aren't femme as if we are all trying to be "tiny men".

Not just trying to be men, but trying to be tiny men...that seems extra condesending and generally fucked up.

Well don't keep us in suspense, spill the beans please! It's not like most people here are going to see it and don't know what happens.

C-section by vampire fangs. Seriously.
posted by asnider at 2:37 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Teamsters
posted by mazola at 2:37 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, wait. Are people now saying that it's somehow 'un-feminist' to 'act like a man' and transcend gender roles? Really? I thought that was the whole point of feminism. And "Tiny Man" is now a common term? I thought it was a really odd way to describe the heroine.

I am posting too much and I have to leave in a minute.

There are a LOT of feminisms and a lot of feminist concerns and a lot of social circles.

In my social circle, "transcending gender" is kind of like being a white person and saying that you're "colorblind" - it's choosing to ignore something that powerfully shapes the world we live in usually from a position of privilege and lack of solidarity. Like, if I "act like a man" and become a CEO and treat my secretary badly or turn into Margaret Thatcher or something - options only available to me because of a lot of race, class and gender-performance privilege.

But there are also situations where the right to "act like a man" is relevant.
posted by Frowner at 2:37 PM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah, if some 50something dude was told Kristen Stewart, in front of hundreds of people, that he frequently masturbated while thinking about her and then tried to get her to sign his used underwear, mayhem and prison sentences would follow.
posted by elizardbits at 2:37 PM on November 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


I have to admit, I'm a bit morbidly curious as to how they filmed the delivery scene. (Cleolinda isn't making any of that up, by the way. And she did indeed skip over the most horrifying part.)

Yeah, I wondered how they were going to deal with that ever since it became apparent that they were really and truly going through with a fourth movie. I guess they played it pretty straight, huh? That's more than a bit squicky, but also kind of admirable, in a really twisted way.

I can't find it on the internet right now, but there's some line from BD about "a thrill of passion running though my dead veins", and that seems to pretty well represent that book and its ability to be simultaneously hilarious and creepy in its overwroughtness.
posted by kagredon at 2:38 PM on November 18, 2011


TEAM MIKE NEWTON
posted by NoraReed at 2:38 PM on November 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Team Blade! Because there are always some motherfuckers trying to ice-skate uphill.
posted by quin at 2:38 PM on November 18, 2011 [12 favorites]


was told Kristen Stewart &c
posted by elizardbits at 2:39 PM on November 18, 2011


Haven't seen the film, but the final ten minutes were leaked on YouTube yesterday (they're gone now, or I'd share). My overwhelming reaction: I didn't think there'd be so many blood vessels.

So... you guys know about teenage werewolf Jacob "imprinting" on Bella's baby, right?
posted by changeling at 2:39 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I maintain my position that the only Twilight worth mentioning is the one you step into.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:39 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


if straight middle aged men fawned over bella like straight middle aged women fawn over edward/jacob, there would be an uproar.

Well, there should be. Especially since Oz is way hotter.
posted by jb at 2:40 PM on November 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


TEAM MAX SCHRECK
posted by mhoye at 2:40 PM on November 18, 2011 [13 favorites]


(also because watching Wesley Snipes, Ryan Reynolds, and Jessica Biel do a cheesy '70s montage to killing the Twilight universe would be the best thing ever).
posted by quin at 2:40 PM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Team Deacon Frost. Because the Blood God is a fucking hurricane!
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:41 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thing is, if I had a 10-year-old, which I fortunately do not, I wouldn't want to be explaining that USUALLY bruises are a disaster, but consensual bruises can be fun. As perverted as I was at 10, though, I don't think I would have learned that distinction on the street along with the meaning of "cocksucker." Geez. Unenviable parenting task ahead.
posted by skbw at 2:42 PM on November 18, 2011


Team Venture!
posted by hellojed at 2:42 PM on November 18, 2011 [14 favorites]


(And just before I leave for real, I want to say that Critique-of-Masculinity-Radical-Queer World and Mainstream World are TOTALLY different. Something that I disagree with in Radical Queer World context (like treating "femme" and "butch" as clearly defined categories with no slippage) might be something that would be a useful starter point of inquiry in Mainstream World.

It's like, I have FAR more in common with and care more for someone I disagree with in Radical Queer World than with someone I disagree with in Mainstream World.

In short, femme and feminine people are devalued and "tiny men" do indeed get a lot of props that we shouldn't get.
posted by Frowner at 2:43 PM on November 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah! Go Team Venture!
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:43 PM on November 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


If either one of my parents had tried to explain to 10 year old me that consensual rough sex was a-ok I think I would have killed us all in self defense.

oh god the horror.
posted by elizardbits at 2:43 PM on November 18, 2011 [31 favorites]


my favorite twilight related thing is someone explaining how they think twilight/edward is barely veiled mormon prophet slashfic.
posted by nadawi at 2:45 PM on November 18, 2011 [13 favorites]


... because every single time there are bruises or broken furniture after sex, it's because there was violent abuse. Decent people have quiet, civilized sex, preferably while reading a book.

Not only does Bella wake up with bruises and broken furniture, she doesn't remember how it all happened. If I remember right, she doesn't actually remember the sex at all.
posted by kmz at 2:45 PM on November 18, 2011


Team Damon!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:45 PM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


my favorite twilight related thing is someone explaining how they think twilight/edward is barely veiled mormon prophet slashfic.

she's ex-mo herself, so it's not like she's pulling this all out of her ass, either.

posted by elizardbits at 2:46 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damon/Alaric OTP4eva
posted by kmz at 2:46 PM on November 18, 2011


TEAM MAX SCHRECK

Nosferatu version, Christopher Walken version or both?

I'm saying both.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:49 PM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


(i'm also exmormon, and the perfection stuff and physical comparisons are pretty close, as well as the find a man to complete you, married and with child right after high school stuff)
posted by nadawi at 2:49 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


They need to clarify what was going on the bedroom by having bottles of amyl nitrate in the floor.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:50 PM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


What does it mean that the “Twilight Belt” so closely resembles the Bible Belt?
There is no more divisive book on Goodreads than Twilight. It manages to top both our Best Books Ever and Worst Books of All Time lists. And now, surprisingly, we've discovered that where you live can indicate whether you're a Twi-Hard or not.
posted by stbalbach at 2:52 PM on November 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


find a man to complete you

Regardless of the Mormonism that maybe be at play, this is such a fucked up notion, IMO. If a woman is not complete without me, why would I want her? And, conversely, if I am not complete without a woman, why would she want me?

People can and should be complete on their own, preferably before engaging in Serious Relationships.
posted by asnider at 2:53 PM on November 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Team Where Did Edward's Butt Crack Go?
posted by argonauta at 2:53 PM on November 18, 2011


Um, femmes can do all of those things too.

And the really good ones can do it without breaking a single nail.


They can do it as a mother bear

They can do it trying not to care

They can do it in the rain

They can do it even with great pain

They can do it shouting "YIPPIE KI-YAY"

They can do it any other way

Its feminism, right and true

For what they want
so shall they do.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:53 PM on November 18, 2011


my favorite twilight related thing is someone explaining how they think twilight/edward is barely veiled mormon prophet slashfic.

One of my coworkers just admitted that he's going to see it tonight with his wife, and I was trying to explain that the entire franchise takes on a much more surreal aspect once you realize that the main characters all have some degree of Asperger's, and that the main problem is that the most important ass kicking character: Alice, is sadly relegated to a small part in the first movie due to a writer who didn't understand who the real protagonist should have been.
posted by quin at 2:53 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I remember right, she doesn't actually remember the sex at all.

According to the link asnider posted above, that's accurate:
Edward is afraid to fuck his new bride. The reason: he’s super strong and she’s just a human – Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex type of situation here. But Bella wears him down and Edward throws it in her – and knocks her the fuck out, leaving her badly bruised.
posted by davidjmcgee at 2:54 PM on November 18, 2011


1. We pretend that we value women and non-gender-conforming men, but really we like butch/masculine-acting people best - they are the most respected and listened to, and the most sought-after as sexual partners.

I've always wanted to read Whipping Girl for this reason, since it seems one of the major sources of this (totally valid, at least in Part 1) critique. And I totally see what you mean in parts of the Hairpin article, like the sentence before the bit we've been talking about:

She does not actualize in the sense we have come to expect from our heroines, an expectation that, I might point out, is quite often based on a masculinist understanding of what being effective in the world looks like.

Two of the characters she mentions in particular, Katniss of The Hunger Games and Lisbeth Salander, definitely do have a sort of caricatured masculine value to them, although not really in the way that the author points out. It's not sleeping around or wanting revenge on people that makes them "masculinist", in my opinion, but more the idea that these are characters who deliberately devalue the more stereotypically feminine virtues, like healing or interpersonal relations. Salander and Katniss both don't really understand other people or particularly want to, and one of Katniss' big things is being grossed out by her sister and mother's apothecary business. There's an argument to be made that their lack of these things is deliberately pointed out as a weakness, but as characters, they do definitely reject them, and they're extremely successful in spite of doing so.

The thing is that if we're trying to portray femininity as a good thing, Bella--from what bits of Twilight I've read and read about, does a pretty terrible job of it. She's constantly unhappy because she can never turn anyone down, her need to be taken care of is because she literally can't even walk around without hurting herself (something which is played for laughs), and the things she is good at, like cooking, are taken for granted and never shown as anything more than the kind of unskilled work we expect from a woman. Even the Hairpin article doesn't seem to be able to get beyond the idea that being a man is about doing fun and rewarding things, being a woman is about being unhappy and dominated, and that Twilight is brave because it points out that femininity is about being constantly controlled and near death.

It's totally possible to repurpose even the most apparently undesirable aspects of femininity. The Rifters trilogy managed to create a character who is unstoppable and hyper-capable specifically because she is a sexual submissive. You could take a storyline about childbirth and emphasize the courage of doing something so dangerous. But instead it's just taken for granted that of course Bella's going to give birth, not because she's brave or has any kind of personality, but because stuff just sort of happens to women, and it's their job to accept it.
posted by Tubalcain at 2:56 PM on November 18, 2011 [12 favorites]


All Twilight fans need to watch Lair of the White Worm. It's like Twilight except with British accents!! Hugh Grant is in it, how much more romance could you need?
posted by benzenedream at 2:57 PM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Team Blade! Because there are always some motherfuckers trying to ice-skate uphill.

Indeed.
posted by Ritchie at 2:57 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


She punishes the people who hurt her, she sleeps with whomever she wishes, she zips around on a motorcycle, and she’s a master computer hacker. In other words, our actualized female heroine might as well be a tiny man.

...

Wait, what? I don't know many men who do any of these things.


Do you know any male movie characters who do? How about female movie characters?

Don't be obtuse. She's talking about social construction of gender. All those personas--punisher, adulterer, motorcyclist, hacker--are overwhelmingly presented as male in movies and TV shows. Not universally, but overwhelmingly so.

Team Pam's Pumps

I'm on that team!
posted by mrgrimm at 3:01 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Team Sarasti?
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:05 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Team Witch Baby!
posted by brujita at 3:06 PM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Frowner, you don't have to stop posting! Your comments are the best part of this thread... or at least this femmey radical queer thinks so.
posted by overglow at 3:08 PM on November 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Team Count Bloodcount
posted by mazola at 3:09 PM on November 18, 2011


TEAM BANZAI!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 3:10 PM on November 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


Two of the characters she mentions in particular, Katniss of The Hunger Games and Lisbeth Salander, definitely do have a sort of caricatured masculine value to them, although not really in the way that the author points out.

But still, I think the problem is this assumption that the authors (or more generally, 'feminists') want girls to aspire to be Lisbeth, and I just don't think that's true. I haven't read Hunger Games, but Lisbeth is undeniably a fucked up character, no? Perhaps some people try to argue that Lisbeth is some feminist paragon, but I don't see it.
posted by muddgirl at 3:14 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Team Jefferson, motherfuckers.

But Jefferson Twilight is only good against Blaculas. What if you're being attacked by Honkulas?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:15 PM on November 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


C-section by vampire fangs. Seriously.

Dear god.

Although this idea pleases me in the sense that Stephenie Meyer might actually be trolling her own readers. Three books of intense self-identification with the protagonist, then that protagonist literally gets ripped open by her boyfriend's teeth. When I think of the relatives who I've seen with copies of the earlier Twilight books, I can't help but wonder how they got through that scene, if they did at all.
posted by JHarris at 3:16 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: What if you're being attacked by Honkulas?
posted by JHarris at 3:17 PM on November 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


I haven't read Hunger Games, but Lisbeth is undeniably a fucked up character, no?

Katniss is the protagonist of the The Hunger Games and I think she is definitely presented as someone to be emulated.

Lisbeth Salander is not from The Hunger Games, she's from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books.
posted by enn at 3:18 PM on November 18, 2011


C-section by vampire fangs. Seriously

There must have been a very awkward talk later.

The movie previews indicate her getting pregnant was a surprise, as it wasn't physically possible. So what happened, how did Bella get preggo with a bad ass vampire kid?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:23 PM on November 18, 2011


Edward is afraid to fuck his new bride. The reason: he’s super strong and she’s just a human – Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex type of situation here. But Bella wears him down and Edward throws it in her – and knocks her the fuck out, leaving her badly bruised.

"... And so the only way they can have sex at all is with a kryptonite condom. That would kill him."
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:24 PM on November 18, 2011


with a creepy demon baby that is magically smart and can sense feelings or some shit, yeah. and then the werewolf imprints on the toddler and everyone vomits.
posted by elizardbits at 3:24 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not only does Bella wake up with bruises and broken furniture, she doesn't remember how it all happened. If I remember right, she doesn't actually remember the sex at all.

What? The thing the audience has been waiting for for years and they don't get to see any of it?

Considering how the kid eventually has to be birthed, I think an argument could be made that Edward chloroformed Bellla then brought in a Xenomorph that had been hiding in the bathroom.
posted by JHarris at 3:24 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this - the Hairpin had a bit about how feminists should accept Bella as the right kind of feminist heroine who is more recognizeable to teenage girls in her general passivity than characters like Buffy. And it just made me so mad! We don't want teenage girls to recognize themselves in, and imagine themselves as, a character so passive that can't help but be in love with an abusive, controlling stalker. The normalization of creepy abusive relationships makes me SO ANGRY.

Haven't read the Hairpin article yet, but I think what Twilight nails--and other, "healthier" YA series miss--is Bella's angst and pain and melodrama, particularly as they're described in books one and two. Bella is powerless over where she lives. She feels isolated and not valued in her family, even as they all depend on her. She's lonely. She's smart, but not appreciated. She's deep, but no one else recognizes the depth in her. Her yearning for an intense (yes, abusive) relationship is very realistic for a girl in her position.

But where the books fail is that Bella never grows beyond that. She starts to, in New Moon. Before Jacob, too, gets jerky and proprietary, they're friends. They share interests together and laugh together. He's there for her when Edward really, really hurts her and dumps her and leaves her an empty shell. Jacob begins to move her beyond that place. This also rings true to me. Many people learn how to have healthy relationships only after intense, abusive, unhealthy ones.

But then Meyer disallows Bella this growth, because Bella is supposed to end up with Edward. She's supposed to never go to college. She's supposed to get married and have a baby only weeks after high school. She's definitely not supposed to screw until she's wed. The conception of adulthood here feels very childish, without the realistic distance or reflection that would come even out of late adolescence. Bella gets everything she ever wanted when she was a little girl, without realizing the things we're told we want as little girls aren't always very good for us. I'm not sure if this is Meyer's own feelings about marriage, or a reflection of her religious beliefs, or what, but it was almost physically painful for me to read. Like if I stayed in love with that schizo-effective coke addict I loved when I was 16 because he made me feel special. Or something.

Why hasn't someone made a triology - or quadrology - of movies based on the Alanna series? Not that I really want them to be movies, because I'm not so much into changing mediums, but it would make the books so much more popular, and they are so very much more awesome.

It would make more sense to recommend healthier paranormal romance, which is at least in the same genre. LJ Smith's series actually tend to directly subvert what I'm talking about above, in that the heroine grows, changes, and ends up loving someone who is deeper and more complex than the boy she initially loves (some of her books have girls rejecting romance altogether, too). Cynthia Hand writes books about angels which, likewise, are much healthier images of supernatural love.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:25 PM on November 18, 2011 [56 favorites]


I guess what I'm saying is that, in denying that teenage girls are sometimes awful people who want awful things, we risk not speaking to them. But if we don't include realistic growth past that point, we do them an even bigger disservice.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:26 PM on November 18, 2011 [26 favorites]


I think an argument could be made that Edward chloroformed Bellla then brought in a Xenomorph that had been hiding in the bathroom.

I have here in my hand ten American dollars with which to purchase a ticket for the movie you've just described.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:27 PM on November 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's sad when Xenomorph impregnation is really a more charitable reading of your work.
posted by kmz at 3:28 PM on November 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


Holy crap, the plot in Breaking Dawn is so insane, I almost want to see it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:28 PM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


It would make more sense to recommend healthier paranormal romance

Like "The Thing on the Doorstep."
posted by JHarris at 3:29 PM on November 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


Katniss is the protagonist of the The Hunger Games and I think she is definitely presented as someone to be emulated.

Again, I haven't read it, so this isn't very useful, because I don't know if she's particularly "mannish" (ugh) as claimed.

Lisbeth Salander is not from The Hunger Games, she's from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books.

Yeah, I know. My point is that, in the Millenium Series, Lisbeth is pretty explicitely a product of a fucked-up past, and serves as a male fantasy of revenge on villains. To argue that we should "emulate" Lisbeth is to argue that women are made better by being raped, which is pretty clearly problematic.
posted by muddgirl at 3:29 PM on November 18, 2011


Nosferatu version, Christopher Walken version or both?

I'm saying both.


THEY ARE THE SAME PERSON
posted by mhoye at 3:30 PM on November 18, 2011


(Wait, I think I see where your confusion was - that sentence should read, "I haven't read Hunger Games so I can't speak to Katniss, but Lisbeth is explicitely a fucked-up character").
posted by muddgirl at 3:31 PM on November 18, 2011


The movie previews indicate her getting pregnant was a surprise, as it wasn't physically possible. So what happened, how did Bella get preggo with a bad ass vampire kid?

You know, I've only read bits and pieces of the books, but I don't think it's ever explained. She's just that special, I guess. Really, I think it's that Meyer had kind of written herself into a corner and then just decided to ignore it because the happy ending is not complete without perfect kids (the books take a really weird attitude towards infertility.)
posted by kagredon at 3:31 PM on November 18, 2011


Film Crit Hulk wrestles with Twilight's storytelling problems in his usual insightful (and verbose) manner.
posted by aldurtregi at 3:32 PM on November 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


Frowner: "Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of the popular The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo series, is emotionally stunted but, damn it, she actualizes herself! She punishes the people who hurt her, she sleeps with whomever she wishes, she zips around on a motorcycle, and she’s a master computer hacker. In other words, our actualized female heroine might as well be a tiny man."

I always wonder, as a queer person who zips around on their bike, is a bit emotionally stunted and has mastered some things at which it is usually considered masculine to excel, just what "might as well be a tiny man" means for my gender performance. There's this trend in feminist criticism right now (which is basically coming from an important analysis of misogyny, true) to talk about women/queer folks who aren't femme as if we are all trying to be "tiny men".


Particularly troubling if you happen to be a trans woman with the same qualities.

(Okay, so I don't have a bike.)

The article and this thread have provided me several additional reasons to dislike the Twilight series. I wasn't exactly short on them to begin with...
posted by Dysk at 3:33 PM on November 18, 2011


Lisbeth is undeniably a fucked up character, no? Perhaps some people try to argue that Lisbeth is some feminist paragon, but I don't see it.

I looked at Lisbeth as being mainly a variation of the Byronic hero, at least in the book I read. I mean, granted she ended up doing "good," but I think that was mainly a side effect of doing what she wanted, societal norms be damned.
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:33 PM on November 18, 2011


Edward is afraid to fuck his new bride. The reason: he’s super strong and she’s just a human – Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex type of situation here. But Bella wears him down and Edward throws it in her – and knocks her the fuck out, leaving her badly bruised.

Deleted scene from the movie Hancock deals with, ahem, semen bullets.

"When I get to the moment, you know, start climbing the mountaintop, you're going to need to get as far away from that as possible."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:34 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't help but wonder what the actors talked about when they first saw the script.

PATTINSON: So my teeth go here.
STEWART: Well, you have to chew through the muscle and fat layer to get to the uterus oh my god why am I saying this.
PATTINSON: Do I chew up or down?
LAUTNER: Do... do I imprint on the baby when right when it comes out of her? I... I don't have to do anything with the afterbirth, do I?

ahahahaha I can't believe this is actually a movie though I would pay good money if it actually turned out like this (warning for gif-y interpretation of said birthing scene?)
posted by zennish at 3:36 PM on November 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


OK PhoBWanKenobi said it much better than me. Sure, Bella was explicitely intended (by Meyer's statements) to be an Everyteen. I was a teen girl once, but I grew up - and I don't mean that in a "oh teen girls suck" kind of way, but rather when I was a teen I was by necessity passive, but when I grew up I was forced to be "actualized" or whatever you want to call it. I had to get a job, get a roof over my head, get some kind of transportation or I would starve to death.

This sort of reveals the real "problem" with the Twilight series - it seems to argue that girls don't ever have to grow up. And yes, that should be troubling.
posted by muddgirl at 3:39 PM on November 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wasn't talking about them necessarily being a feminist paradigm, it was more in response to Frowner's point about "masculine" values being so often presented as more desirable than "feminine" ones.

Lisbeth (and to some extent Katniss) are definitely presented as characters with serious personality flaws--probably Lisbeth more than Katniss. Lisbeth is (I think?) identified as having some flavor of Asperger's, and she consistently has problems expressing herself to people. Katniss has to leave the room when her sister or mother are working, because while she's an experienced hunter and can kill like nobody's business, she can't stand the sight of the wounded.

But while you could probably make an argument for this being indicative of them being incomplete, that they'd be better off if they were able to manage them, I think both of the characters are undeniably presented as totally cool, and partially because they openly reject feminine attributes. The characters might angst over the things they're missing out on, but they're rarely shown to be less capable or interesting people because of it, and they're regularly shown to be more capable and interesting because of their ability to do traditionally male things like hacking or hunting.

There was a talk a while ago by feminist scholar Michael Kimmel and a few other people about how Lisbeth Salander was breaking gender role stereotypes, which I have kind of conflicting views about for the reasons described above. On the one hand, the things she's being lauded for are specifically masculine archetypes, and I can't think of a lot of cases of the reverse happening--a male character being celebrated for being good at something that's traditionally feminine in a way that's not directly about facing discrimination because of it.

On the other hand, one of the gender roles people seem to be talking about is this idea that any kind of self-directed action (or "self-actualization", as the Hairpin sarcastically puts it) is inherently masculine. Do we really want to say that the only thing that's authentically feminine is being submissive and inactive? That any kind of outward action is "masculinizing" a character? It feels like the Hairpin article is laboring under this idea that women can only be things that men aren't, and that since men have got almost everything covered, all that's left for women to do is moon around and get pregnant. I mean, calling revenge, one of the most fundamental human desires, indicative of being a man? Do you really want to go there, Hairpin?
posted by Tubalcain at 3:40 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't believe this is actually a movie

I can't believe this is actually a multibillion dollar franchise

*weeps*
posted by elizardbits at 3:40 PM on November 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


..and one last note before I'm accused of monopolizing the thread: I don't intend this as a criticism of people who enjoy the novels - I enjoy a lot of things. I intend this as a specific criticism of the idea that we should applaud the notion that Bella Swan is passive and internal rather than active and external.

I think both of the characters are undeniably presented as totally cool, and partially because they openly reject feminine attributes

And to be fair, in Lisbeth's case the novel was written by a man struggling with his own sense of cowardice in the face of injustice, which IMO makes analysis difficult. In many ways Lisbeth should be read as the avatar of a man, no?
posted by muddgirl at 3:46 PM on November 18, 2011


I think both of the characters are undeniably presented as totally cool, and partially because they openly reject feminine attributes

What about when Lisbeth got herself bigger boobs after she stole all that money?
posted by CrazyLemonade at 3:51 PM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


argonauta: "Team Where Did Edward's Butt Crack Go?"

Oh my god, I must see this movie, purely to experience the Robert Pattinson UnibuttTM.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:53 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


muddgirl -- To argue that we should "emulate" Lisbeth is to argue that women are made better by being raped, which is pretty clearly problematic.

I wouldn't say rape specifically made Lisbeth better, more that she persevered into that whole "What doesn't kill me makes me strong" thing. Characterizing Lisbeth this way is like saying "John learned maturity in the Army" is equivalent to "Killing brown people makes you better."
posted by localroger at 3:55 PM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, definitely, muddgirl. I mean, I think another thing to consider is that there is a wider variety of fictional archetypes for men than for women (as well as a lot more well-known fictional male characters), so masculine attributes cover a lot more ground than feminine ones. There are plenty of male healers or diplomats in fiction, for example, but they're not necessarily considered feminine because of it, while a woman who isn't a wife/mother/caretaker is going to be seen as taking on a masculine role regardless of the fact that while a lot of women are those three things, almost none of them are completely defined by it.
posted by Tubalcain at 3:55 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


In many ways Lisbeth should be read as the avatar of a man, no?

Which reminds me of some arguments that in certain segments of modern culture, nerdy men feel weak and disempowered by a society that no longer offers realistic masculine models to choose from ("You know what's cool? A billion dollars."), and doesn't value them anyway ("We don't want guys like you in this town."), so they imagine strong female characters that are free to do the things they really want to do. In a world where men have obligations, these fantasy women have choices.

Which explains characters such as Major Motoko Kusanagi, Lara Croft, Trinity and Alice.

These characters aren't there to appeal to girls. They're not even there to appeal to most guys. They're there to appeal to un-masculine guys that wish they themselves were that free and that cool.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:02 PM on November 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


Some 100+ year old pedo-vampire-crypto-mormon starts putting the moves on my daughter and he's going to meet team Vam Helsing.
posted by humanfont at 4:03 PM on November 18, 2011 [16 favorites]


In many ways Lisbeth should be read as the avatar of a man, no?

I don't know; why would this be the case? I thought the Mikael character would be Larsson's stand-in for that narrative. Is it because it's written by a man?
posted by Hoopo at 4:06 PM on November 18, 2011


Linked in the Film Crit Hulk article is one of the best things ever: Twilight mashed up with Lonely Island's Jizz In My Pants
posted by davidjmcgee at 4:07 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]



The movie previews indicate her getting pregnant was a surprise, as it wasn't physically possible. So what happened, how did Bella get preggo with a bad ass vampire kid?


The common belief is that vampires can't have kids. In fact, it turns out that male vampires are perfectly fertile, but female vampires are unable to become pregnant because their bodies are frozen as they were when they died, so they don't have menstrual cycles. Stupid women!
posted by that's how you get ants at 4:10 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


So if Edward is a super-human strength dude, and he pleasures himself, which one assumes he must, and he employs the "grip of death" that many men do...would he even be aware of Bella's presence, if you see what I'm saying?

The flip side is the real danger posed by dating a woman from Krypton for a human male...
posted by maxwelton at 4:11 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Another interpretation: what if Bella's a really repressed sexual submissive? She seems to kind of like the bruises, and she really wants to do it again. Edward is the one who's freaked out, in a creepy "Your kink is weird!" kind of way.

Reading it this way is still hugely problematic, as theirs is not exactly a healthy BDSM relationship (see above). In fact, I actually worry about this a little: what if there are tiny teenagers, just becoming aware of their sexuality, who read this and think this is the only way to be kinky? And then I think about how awesome it would be if there was a book targeted at teens that showed what healthy BDSM looked like, and then I think about how long it would be before I got burned at the stake for writing it.
posted by honeydew at 4:13 PM on November 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Edward definitely doesn't masturbate.
posted by that's how you get ants at 4:14 PM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


The common belief is that vampires can't have kids. In fact, it turns out that male vampires are perfectly fertile, but female vampires are unable to become pregnant because their bodies are frozen as they were when they died, so they don't have menstrual cycles. Stupid women!

I'm pretty sure that 'frozen' biology would result in significantly less meiosing where the sun don't shine.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:19 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The common belief is that vampires can't have kids. In fact, it turns out that male vampires are perfectly fertile, but female vampires are unable to become pregnant because their bodies are frozen as they were when they died, so they don't have menstrual cycles. Stupid women!

Wait, so the testicles continue to produce sperm, but the ovaries cease releasing eggs?

What if a woman was menstruating when she became a vampire? I can just see her cart at Costco.
posted by maxwelton at 4:20 PM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


What if a woman was menstruating when she became a vampire? I can just see her cart at Costco.

That is an amazing question I wish I'd thought of. There's already a girl-vampire in True Blood who still had her hymen when she was changed, so every time she has sex, she has to break it again because the damn thing regenerates.

But really, the more you try to think about vampire physiological processes, the less sense they make. And the grosser the whole thing becomes.
posted by emjaybee at 4:24 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Team Pants
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 4:25 PM on November 18, 2011


Cool Papa Bell: Which explains characters such as Major Motoko Kusanagi, Lara Croft, Trinity and Alice.

These characters aren't there to appeal to girls. They're not even there to appeal to most guys. They're there to appeal to un-masculine guys that wish they themselves were that free and that cool.


Wasn't Trinity male in the original script? Not that it really impacts the validity of your theory...
posted by Dysk at 4:26 PM on November 18, 2011


There are a lot of things that bug me about this whole series, that I don't think I have time to go into all of it. It's trite and unimaginative, plus the most sex-negative cultural phenomenon in some time.
posted by annsunny at 4:26 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Edward is basically the cool older guy who is really sophisticated when you're sixteen, but ends the relationship when your parents force you to go to college, even though you just know you'd love living in his trailer and would learn way more with him than at school. Then you lose contact and he ends up as an awkward Facebook friend for the next ten years, as you slowly discover that there's a whole big world your teenage self had never imagined. Unfortunately, Bella never reaches this point, and ends up literally frozen as a teenager forever.

I actually always wondered at Edward's decision to spend his infinite undeath in high school, often considered the worst years of one's life, when he's independently wealthy and has had time to absorb several lifetime's worth of knowledge. The implication is supposed to be that he's desperate to live among humans, and will put up with reading Animal Farm and going over photosynthesis fifty million times because it's the only way he can spend enough time around anybody to develop a relationship. Then as far as I can tell he ends up with Bella because as a result of his mind-reading capability and her mental shield, she's the only person alive who he can talk to without finishing her sentences.

Which is funny, because for all the flack Meyer has taken for making her vampires unrealistically invincible and wonderful, and their lives improbably rosy, this strikes me as incredibly sad.
posted by Tubalcain at 4:26 PM on November 18, 2011 [18 favorites]


IIRC in Twilight canon, the vampires' saliva contains some kind of infectious agent that turns people into vampires (with lots of pain and burning sensations), instead of the usual blood exchange situation, such that Edward won't even kiss Bella any more than a dry little peck on the mouth.

From this data I am forced to assume that vampire manpaste would feel like a 1930s Lysol douche.
posted by elizardbits at 4:26 PM on November 18, 2011 [17 favorites]


But really, the more you try to think about vampire physiological processes, the less sense they make

Yeah, even the less ludicrous fictional vampires like in "Let The Right One In" have the whole "physically require an invite to go into someone's house" thing. At least in True Blood the whole silly premise is treated with a self awareness and sense of humour. With True Blood you're laughing along with it; with Twilight you're laughing at it.
posted by Hoopo at 4:33 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wasn't Trinity male in the original script?

Never heard that. Could be possible.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:35 PM on November 18, 2011


Yeah, even the less ludicrous fictional vampires like in "Let The Right One In" have the whole "physically require an invite to go into someone's house" thing.

At least the vampires with weird rules and religious susceptibility can excuse it with the idea that they're explicitly magical or demonic creatures who don't have to play by our rules. Once you start describing it as an actual biological process, you have to start accounting for things like how vampires can have sex at all if they're dead and don't have a functioning circulatory system (or how they're alive but don't require any nutrients except those found in blood). Or how sex with someone whose body is described as "cold like marble" can be anything but terrifying and uncomfortable.
posted by Tubalcain at 4:39 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


from article: “But when a saga popular with pre-adolescent girls peaks romantically on a night that leaves the heroine to wake up covered with bruises in the shape of her husband's hands — and when that heroine then spends the morning explaining to her husband that she's incredibly happy even though he injured her, and that it's not his fault because she understands he couldn't help it in light of the depth of his passion — that's profoundly irresponsible.”

... because every single time there are bruises or broken furniture after sex, it's because there was violent abuse. Decent people have quiet, civilized sex, preferably while reading a book.


The irresponsibility might be that very high expectations are being established for the girls. They're going to think sex will always be so awesome (from the girl's point of view) as to leave broken furniture and bruises. (NTTAWWT.) One wonders if that's what the author intended and if so, I'm looking at her with a whole new regard.

Another interpretation: what if Bella's a really repressed sexual submissive? She seems to kind of like the bruises, and she really wants to do it again. Edward is the one who's freaked out, in a creepy "Your kink is weird!" kind of way.

That is exactly what the reviewers at Spill.com posited in their as usual NSFW podcast.
posted by fuse theorem at 4:39 PM on November 18, 2011


Not only does Bella wake up with bruises and broken furniture, she doesn't remember how it all happened. If I remember right, she doesn't actually remember the sex at all.

That's what's so disturbing about it - she's blacks the fuck out. Literally.
posted by maryr at 4:46 PM on November 18, 2011


Wow! I have a southern mom friend who freaks out on fb about Christina Aguilera or whoever gyrating on tv but is crazy about a vampire series that involves rough teen sex and a caesarian by vampire teeth!? My mind is boggled! I had no idea- I thought it was all about not-sex and saving oneself forever...
posted by bquarters at 4:46 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Team Thank God There's Other Stuff In The World To Read
posted by shiny blue object at 4:48 PM on November 18, 2011 [26 favorites]


Team Russell
posted by homunculus at 4:49 PM on November 18, 2011


Team von Krolock
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 5:00 PM on November 18, 2011


aldurtregi: Film Crit Hulk wrestles with Twilight's storytelling problems in his usual insightful (and verbose) manner.

THIS IS AN EXCELLENT PIECE.
posted by Decimask at 5:01 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


bquarters: "I thought it was all about not-sex and saving oneself forever..."

Quite the opposite. From book one, Bella is all about the sex. It's Edward who keeps her chaste, with his excuses about not wanting to break her in half with his vamp-strength, and being all old-fashioned and not wanting to deflower her before marriage, words that are almost completely inaudible over the noise of Bella dry-humping his leg for three books.

Given the attitudes of the various supernatural dudes in love with her, Bella, while waiting patiently for Edward to get over himself and make her immortal, should have been happily rotating on Jacob's wolfpeen so she could at least have retained a little dignity and not constantly fainted because she was so overcome with lust she forgot to breathe.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:04 PM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dysk: Wasn't Trinity male in the original script?

No, Trinity was always Mary Magdalene.
posted by localroger at 5:05 PM on November 18, 2011


RICK.

RICK.

RICK.

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE ICE-COLD UNDEAD SPERM, RICK.
posted by argonauta at 5:08 PM on November 18, 2011 [14 favorites]


There's only one Twilight and it's a Zone, not a bunch of dumbass himbos with fangs.
posted by jonmc at 5:08 PM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Team Tzimisce.
posted by clarknova at 5:09 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


RICK.

RICK.

RICK.


Okay seriously what is this meme.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:10 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's what's so disturbing about it - she's blacks the fuck out. Literally.

La petite mort, literally?
posted by fuse theorem at 5:11 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay seriously what is this meme.

CAPS LOCK IS HOW I FEEL INSIDE RICK
posted by epersonae at 5:13 PM on November 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


The common belief is that vampires can't have kids. In fact, it turns out that male vampires are perfectly fertile

posted by that's how you get ants


Eponys-disturbing.
posted by kagredon at 5:21 PM on November 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


TEAM SEVEREN U PUSSEHS!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:25 PM on November 18, 2011


I have to pipe up, and I mean this in all seriousness and sincerity:

Some girls bruise really easily.
posted by LordSludge at 5:31 PM on November 18, 2011


I'd say Team Brujah but we're too busy raging against the machine to have a team.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:43 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh hi, y'all.

Yeah. I like Sarah Blackwell a ton (we know many people in common), and I think that's a dynamite piece, though I don't ultimately agree.

As for changing tone between goofballery and gender critique, I plead one million percent guilty. Or really, I plead "reviewing Twilight for the NPR audience is a tightrope walk." I always get those gigs -- I did Real Steel, too. And G.I. Joe. You do what you can to touch on what seems to demand it without losing track of the kind of movie it is.

As for bruises, c'mon. There's no indication the bruises are either consensual or intentional. He just can't help himself. You want to incorporate mutually desired rough sex into a YA novel, that's cool, but this isn't that.

As always, thanks for a top-notch discussion. It's always a pleasure.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 5:45 PM on November 18, 2011 [19 favorites]


happily rotating on Jacob's wolfpeen

Dammit, I already made a tagline joke this thread!
posted by JHarris at 5:53 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm always partial to Team Attack of the Show. "You kill vampires, you don't date them!"
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 5:54 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


LordSludge: Some girls bruise really easily.

This sounds really creepy to me. I appreciate that this probably wasn't your intention, but it really does. Perhaps "some people bruise really easily" wouldn't be as bad...
posted by Dysk at 6:04 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


So what happened, how did Bella get preggo with a bad ass vampire kid?

OBVIOUSLY IT WAS THE HOLY VAMPIRE SPIRIT OF VAMPIRIC HOLINESS AND THE BABY IS BABY VAMPIRE JESUSETTE.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:12 PM on November 18, 2011


"some people bruise really easily" wouldn't be as bad...

Maybe he's never had rough, consensual sex with a man before.
posted by clarknova at 6:12 PM on November 18, 2011


Okay seriously what is this meme.

CAPS LOCK IS HOW I FEEL INSIDE RICK


See also the many Rick and Kaitlin skits on SNL.

RICK RICK RICK RICK caps lock isn't how i feel inside
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:14 PM on November 18, 2011


Blackwood, by the way. Sarah Blackwood. It was a long week. Full of vampires.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 6:18 PM on November 18, 2011


Dysk, how about about we not "zing" each other with pointless accusations of misogyny that are insincerely qualified.
posted by spaltavian at 6:19 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Team Necrophilia
Team Bestiality
posted by ostranenie at 6:30 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


>"some people bruise really easily" wouldn't be as bad...

Maybe he's never had rough, consensual sex with a man before.


Well, that, and also the topic of conversation is specifically a female who gets bruised during sex...
posted by LordSludge at 6:42 PM on November 18, 2011


About the only thing I know for sure about Twilight is that MetaFilter thinks I should hate it. It sounds like a terrible show, but I'm not so ready to portray teenage girls (or even adult women) as so utterly lacking in sense or agency that their impressionable young minds are being taught that actual sexual violence is a normal part of a relationship.

I think the violence in the books is a somewhat melodramatic metaphor for something that teenage girls understand perfectly well and that people on Metafilter often forget or deny: love hurts. As Neil Gaiman puts it:
Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.
This is what I think of when Linda Holmes says "Bella Swan wants nothing more than to be well and truly devoured from the inside out. This, we are given to understand, is the only way she will ever know real love."

This controversy is really about a certain type of thinking common on Metafilter that has a very rational, sensible approach to "healthy relationships" that focuses on shared goals, sexual and life compatibility, good communication and honesty, good-giving-game sexuality, no jealousy and so on. Basically a lite, zero-calorie version of relationships -- same great taste, but with none of the dangerous fattening calories.

The problem is that this is extremely remote from most people's lived experience of relationships, and the popularity of Twilight registers this fact, so it must be denounced.
posted by AlsoMike at 6:57 PM on November 18, 2011 [14 favorites]


Team Malkavian
posted by overglow at 6:59 PM on November 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, Metafilter is pretty clearly not part of The Twilight Belt:
A map of what each state thinks of Twilight ends up looking a lot like a map of the most recent election results... The Midwest and the South represent The Twilight Belt, while the coasts were decidedly less impressed with the book.
posted by overglow at 7:03 PM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


The problem is that this is extremely remote from most people's lived experience of relationships, and the popularity of Twilight registers this fact, so it must be denounced.

That's just Sturgeon's Law applied to relationships. Nearly all relationships are flawed from the start, and 90% of them never get fixed well enough to be really healthy. That this is the case should not be controversial, and I see no arguments here suggesting that portraying unhealthy relationships is necessarily bad; but Twilight romanticizes an unhealthy relationship, which is problematic.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:27 PM on November 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Team King Russell.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:36 PM on November 18, 2011


Team What Homunculus Said
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:46 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Team Peter.
posted by R. Schlock at 7:59 PM on November 18, 2011


Anaheim Ducks winger Bobby Ryan reviews the new Twilight movie. In case you were wondering what a professional hockey player thinks about vampire movies made for 12 year old girls.
posted by Hoopo at 8:06 PM on November 18, 2011


Team Ron James.
posted by looli at 8:09 PM on November 18, 2011


Hey, AlsoMike, I sort of get what you're saying--and I love basically any Gaiman quote ever--but something about your comment makes me feel a little twitchy. The thing is, actual sexual violence is part of a disturbing amount of romantic relationships. And stalking, which is another big problem that people have with Twilight, is part of even more.

So, sure, you can read the violence in the books as an overwrought metaphor for heartache. But you can also read the violence in the books as actual violence. Considering that nearly a quarter of women in the U.S. experience some form of intimate partner violence, it seems like the interpretation of the violence in the book as being actual violence is one that at least needs to be considered.

Also, if there is so much violence in romantic relationships, is that "normal"? It certainly shouldn't be.

The problem isn't just young girls (and boys and genderqueers) reading Twilight and thinking that stalking and violence are appealing. The problem is young people seeing their parents and other people in their lives in abusive relationships and wondering if that's what love is. The problem is all the other media that portrays rape as sexy, stalking as romantic. The problem is the young people who are themselves, in their own lived experiences, being stalked and assaulted by their partners and wondering to themselves, "Is this what love is?" I think it's pretty dangerous when the answer they can most readily find, in the fiction and fact around them is, "Yes, this is what love is, because love hurts."

I'm honestly not trying to score some cheap rhetorical point. I know what you (and Gaiman) mean by saying "Love hurts". Because I've felt that--the terrible pain of rejection, the way that someone breaking up with you can rip the breath from your lungs and shred your world (temporarily). The thing is, there's another possible interpretation of that sentiment, one which makes it more likely for people acting in abusive ways to justify what they're doing and people who are experiencing intimate partner violence to stay in that relationship because they are being "loved".

I think anyone reading anything will interpret it through the lens of their own experiences--how could you not? So I'm guessing that your interpretation of Twilight as a story about how love makes everyone vulnerable, and how being in love can make you feel as terrified and powerless as someone being attacked by a vampire is based on romantic experiences that have made you feel that way. Or in ways that you might metaphorize similarly.

But can you see that for someone who has experienced violence at the hands of someone who claimed to love them, Twilight will probably resonate very differently? I think that's where a lot of the vehement disapproval of the book comes from--not from some attempt to sanitize relationships into some bloodless, safe thing, but revulsion at the depiction of scenarios which look very much like the terrifying, unsafe, disempowering, literally (and metaphorically) wounding experiences of intimate partner violence that many readers have lived through being dressed up as beautiful and romantic, as something to be held up and longed for.
posted by overglow at 8:10 PM on November 18, 2011 [13 favorites]


kmz: “Not only does Bella wake up with bruises and broken furniture, she doesn't remember how it all happened. If I remember right, she doesn't actually remember the sex at all.”

maryr: “That's what's so disturbing about it - she's blacks the fuck out. Literally.”

Linda_Holmes: “As for bruises, c'mon. There's no indication the bruises are either consensual or intentional. He just can't help himself. You want to incorporate mutually desired rough sex into a YA novel, that's cool, but this isn't that.”

With all due respect, folks, this is nonsense. Bella does not at any point black out. There is an ellipsis whereby Stephenie Meyer manages to avoid actually describing sex (one imagines that if she did, she would explode with passionate bluster) but Bella emphatically does not pass out and not remember what happened.

The only reason one might be led to believe this is if one had (ahem) merely skimmed the text without actually reading what the paragraphs say. In fact, I get the feeling all of this talk about her blacking out and not remembering anything about the sex comes from the first sentence of a paragraph on page 89. I quote:
“I tried to remember this – to remember pain—but I couldn't. I couldn't recall a moment when his hold had been too tight, his hands too hard against me. I only remembered wanting him to hold me tighter, and being pleased when he did...”
Okay. See that last sentence there? She remembers what happened. She just doesn't remember feeling pain at all. This is, we have to grant, often how sex is. Part of the misunderstanding is also fed by Stephenie Meyer's particular brand of selective modesty which apparently does not allow her to describe anything having to do with sex, which is why that paragraph I quoted above trails off into ellipsis at the end. We're supposed to fill in the blank with "sex." And again, yes, this is how sex is sometimes – and sometimes not even just rough sex. Bruises happen for all sorts of reasons.

If that's not enough evidence, you can always turn forward a few pages to page 92, where Bella can be found telling Edward about what she remembers (again, with Meyer leaving out details):
“‘I didn't know what to expect—but I definitely did not expect how... how... just wonderful and perfect it was.’ My voice dropped to a whisper, my eyes slipped from his face down to my hands. ‘I mean, I don't know how it was for you, but it was like that for me.’”
I guess you could claim that Bella, the victim of abuse, is lying to her abuser and telling him she remembers it when she actually blacked out; but that seems like a monumental stretch to me.

The second time Bella and Edward have sex starts like this, just after Bella has been talking a little about a frightening dream she's been having – this begins on page 107, for those playing along at home:
“‘I can't, Bella, I can't!’ His moan was agonized.

“‘Please,’ I said, my plea muffled against his skin. ‘Please, Edward?’

“I couldn't tell if he was moved by the tears trembling in my voice, or if he was unprepared to deal with the suddenness of my attach, or if his need was simply as unbearable in that moment as my own. But whatever the reason, he pulled my lips back to his, surrendering with a groan.

“And we began where my dream had left off.”
... so here she's clearly conscious at the beginning of the sexing. Does she stay conscious? She wakes up the next morning, and after being embarrassed that she was emotional about her dream, we get this exchange:
[Edward:] “‘You never did tell me what your dream was about.’

[Bella:] “‘I guess I didn't—but I sort of showed you what it was about.’ I laughed nervously.

“‘Oh,’ he said. His eyes widened, and then he blinked. ‘Interesting.’

“‘It was a very good dream,’ I murmured.”
So, yeah. It's pretty obvious. Bella is totally conscious and awake during the sex she and Edward have. In fact, the implication is that she initiates it and is pretty active, if not dominant.

There is nothing in the text that even implies that she blacked out. There is only an ellipsis which is characteristic of Meyer. But at no time does she indicate in any way that that ellipsis is Bella's lapse of consciousness.

Finally, rereading Linda_Holmes' comment, I guess she may be talking about the fine point of whether the bruises are "consensual or intentional." I don't know that Edward intends them; I can see that he might not. Bella, however, clearly consents. She spends pages upon pages trying to convince Edward that she consents. There is no evidence whatsoever for a claim that what happens isn't consensual on the part of both parties.

I think most of this comes about because people read the novels of Stephenie Meyer out of a desire to be outraged by them. In that frame of mind, of course you can easily read all kinds of stuff into the books. But this particular claim – that Bella passes out and doesn't remember any of the sex, or that Bella does not consent to sex – is contradicted by everything in the text.
posted by koeselitz at 8:46 PM on November 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


The problem is that this is extremely remote from most people's lived experience of relationships, and the popularity of Twilight registers this fact, so it must be denounced.

True that. The thing about twilight though is it's not a living relationship. It's an enormous commercial enterprise with an ideology.

What it portrays is something I put in the category of Joyce Carol Oates's First Love: a hideous disease of a romance that makes casual domestic battery seem wholesome by comparison. And it's a fine work. But where Oates doesn't editorialize, doesn't moralize, simply presents the events and thoughts of her protagonist and lets readers draw obvious conclusions, Miller glamorizes hers. Makes its sparkle.

Twilight is a cracked vision: not because the characters are broken, but because the author is. I'm not interested in deconstructions of shitty relationships, but I'll spend hours on deconstructions of shitty film and literature.

It's great fun!
posted by clarknova at 9:07 PM on November 18, 2011


So what happened, how did Bella get preggo with a bad ass vampire kid?

Ok, this was either in the book or in a later interview by Meyer, but the gist of it is the Edward had sperm in his testicles when he was turned into a vampire because he was a virgin when he was turned and I think had never masturbated. The sperm stayed viable until the night Edward and Bella had sex, hence the pregnancy.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:13 PM on November 18, 2011


I will confess that all I read of Breaking Dawn was the initial sex scene and morning after - my sister had the book out, I'd read reviews online (specifically Cleolinda's) and was curious. I was lacking both a full firsthand context of what happened before and after the wedding night scene and an open-minded reading of the text. I don't own any of the books, so I can't reread right now to try another perspective.

I interpreted the part excerpted as her blacking out - that is to say, when I have had too much to drink and blacked out*, I don't remember my actions from that time. I remember snips when informed of them - I remember before the black out and perhaps a vision or sensation from it. That doesn't mean I wasn't aware or completely unable to make choices at the time. It just means I didn't remember it the next morning. If this happened to me without the influence of foreign substances (no, that doesn't not count as a "foreign substance"), I'd be pretty damned concerned. (As is Edward, IIRC, to his credit.)

All that said - I very much appreciated the idea that, as she dressed/undressed for her wedding night, Bella was *nervous*. Here we are swept up in all the ridiculous emotion and circumstance of Twilight and suddenly there's this realistic moment of nervousness about having sex for the first time, even though she knows she wants to and he wants to and it's OK. There are so many messages that these books send, actual or perceived, that I disagree with, but that one rang true and even positive to me.
posted by maryr at 9:15 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ok, this was either in the book or in a later interview by Meyer, but the gist of it is the Edward had sperm in his testicles when he was turned into a vampire because he was a virgin when he was turned and I think had never masturbated. The sperm stayed viable until the night Edward and Bella had sex, hence the pregnancy.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
posted by clarknova at 9:18 PM on November 18, 2011 [13 favorites]


so what i am taking away from all this is that koeselitz has a copy of breaking dawn handy.

i am giggling foolishly
posted by elizardbits at 9:22 PM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, yes, elizardbits, I have copies of all of the books, including the related novella, The Short Second Life Of Bree Tanner; however, I was quoting from my hardcover copy of Breaking Dawn. However, that's only because my paperback copy is on a shelf on the other side of the house, and my iPad (I have the ebook edition too) is charging in the other room.
posted by koeselitz at 9:35 PM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


The only one I'm tempted to truly read is "Midnight Sun".
posted by maryr at 9:36 PM on November 18, 2011


<>
posted by koeselitz at 9:37 PM on November 18, 2011


Midnight Sun might be the best one. And it's a free PDF on the Internet - you can't go wrong there. I recommend it highly.
posted by koeselitz at 9:38 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do vampires have to poop? I mean, they don't eat or anything, but they still drink blood, which implies some kind of digestive process.

Has this question been answered in the books? Also, does the poop glitter?
posted by empath at 9:41 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think most of this comes about because people read the novels of Stephenie Meyer out of a desire to be outraged by them. In that frame of mind, of course you can easily read all kinds of stuff into the books. But this particular claim – that Bella passes out and doesn't remember any of the sex, or that Bella does not consent to sex – is contradicted by everything in the text.

This is almost as much fun as reading people trying to rework Disney's take on Beauty and the Beast into a feminist piece rather than a paen to domestic violence.
posted by rodgerd at 9:41 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, does the poop glitter?

Only when you rub it on your bare chest.
posted by clarknova at 9:42 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Breaking Dawn sounds batshit fucking crazy, btw.
posted by empath at 9:42 PM on November 18, 2011


This is almost as much fun as reading people trying to rework Disney's take on Beauty and the Beast into a feminist piece rather than a paen to domestic violence.

Shit I thought I was the only one who felt that way about it.
posted by clarknova at 9:44 PM on November 18, 2011


Oh, it is crazy, empath. That's what I enjoyed about it, frankly. Linda_Holmes and I disagree on some things, but she nails this part of it in her review: where the crazy is a sort of sublimated subtext in the first three books, it becomes gloriously explicit in the last one, and everything just gets covered over with strangeness.

The novels were inspired by a dream Stephenie Meyer had some years ago of one of the pivotal scenes in the first book. She put an apple on the cover of the first novel because she thinks it's a story about temptation. This is one of the interesting things I like about the books - if they're supposed to be about temptation, they're sending the odd message that you should give in to temptation because it will be awesome. The central temptation is Bella's overwhelming desire to become a vampire. In the last book (SPOILER) she actually becomes a vampire. And it's awesome. And she lives happily ever after, the end. Like I say, it's an odd message to send about temptation, and certainly not a traditional one.
posted by koeselitz at 9:54 PM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


but the gist of it is the Edward had sperm in his testicles when he was turned into a vampire because he was a virgin when he was turned and I think had never masturbated.

Ummm.... you know you get pretty much unlimited refills, right?
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:34 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, you aren't the only one, clarknova.
posted by rodgerd at 10:44 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm betting Stephenie Meyer doesn't have the slightest clue.
posted by clarknova at 10:44 PM on November 18, 2011


they're sending the odd message that you should give in to temptation because it will be awesome

...and that if anything goes wrong it's the woman's fault!
posted by MattMangels at 11:02 PM on November 18, 2011


Team What Homunculus Said

I vow to lead our Team to victory. Unless that means actually watching the film, in which case I surrender.
posted by homunculus at 11:58 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


At the moment I feel that pretty much all the hilarious things that can be said about Twilight have been said, and a small publishing industry only exists to point out its (many) flaws.

The books have lots of problems and I'm no fan, but nothing will ever shift my admiration for Meyer for making a fortune out of writing four books about a teenage girl trying to deflower her boyfriend; Edward is the most hilarious and convincing reinvention of Joseph Andrews that I could imagine. (And while the books are no winners on the gender front, there's a ton of respected media aimed at girls that more or less boils down to losing virginity ending in disaster. Look at Buffy (a show I otherwise quite like); Buffy and Angel's sexual encounter is more of the more fucked up things I've ever seen on a teen show. )
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:09 AM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do vampires have to poop? I mean, they don't eat or anything, but they still drink blood, which implies some kind of digestive process.



According to Christopher Moore, no.
posted by St. Sorryass at 1:03 AM on November 19, 2011


nooneyouknow: "Ok, this was either in the book or in a later interview by Meyer, but the gist of it is the Edward had sperm in his testicles when he was turned into a vampire because he was a virgin when he was turned and I think had never masturbated. The sperm stayed viable until the night Edward and Bella had sex, hence the pregnancy."

It's not even that complicated. Dudevamps have workable sperm and make more in the usual way. Why said sperm isn't venomous like their spit and the stuff that waters their eyeballs isn't mentioned.

In the same book she describes another male vampire who's been going around having kids with human women for a century or so (been a while since I read the book; could be wrong about the length of time) because he thinks the halfvamp kids are a new awesome master race, and he'd probably be right if the process of birthing one didn't reliably kill the mother since they have all the upsides of vamps with none of the drawbacks. I guess the halfvamps could get together and half more halfvamps without damage, but she doesn't go into this so you're into the realm of (surprisingly enjoyable) fanfiction.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:23 AM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Edward had sperm in his testicles when he was turned into a vampire because he was a virgin when he was turned and I think had never masturbated.

Uh, virgin boys who've been guilted into not masturbating still have wet dreams......
posted by brujita at 1:56 AM on November 19, 2011


Well, Edward doesn't. He's a gentleman.
posted by No-sword at 2:51 AM on November 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Gentlemen or not, they still have them.
posted by brujita at 3:02 AM on November 19, 2011


I didn't say the sex wasn't consensual. I said the BRUISES weren't, in response to basically being called a prude who thinks sex is supposed to be neat and calm. The sex is obviously consensual, but while Bella clearly wanted the sex, there's no indication that she wanted it to be violent enough to wind up covered with bruises. That part is explained -- in the movie, which I was reviewing, as opposed to the book, which I wasn't -- in weirdly abuse-like terms, where he feels guilty and she winds up telling him it's okay because he can't help it.

I think that's creepy. Do I think teenage girls are stupid and will take it literally and conclude sexual violence is fine? No. But when I sat in the theater with a bunch of screaming girls, saw Bella wake up with a handprint bruise on her arm that those girls have a decent chance of seeing on themselves one day, and then I watched as Bella gave the classic "I know you didn't mean it, I still love you" speech? It made my skin crawl. I didn't go to be offended, I don't fail to understand that love hurts. It's creepy to me, and I said so, and if you don't think it's creepy, that doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong with me or with you. I would love to believe the way relationships are portrayed to young readers in fiction cannot possibly affect the way they grow to see relationships in ways that aren't intended. I don't. If you do, I hope you're right and I'm wrong.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 3:16 AM on November 19, 2011 [28 favorites]


AlsoMike, the violence is one thing, but here is Bella's attitude for almost the entire four books:

Edward is everything; I am nothing.

The Edward part is that real, all-encompassing love that happens to real people and that Gaiman wrote about. The "I am nothing" part is what creeps me out. It's what causes her to obsess over not deserving Edward, to abandon all of her friends and family to be with him, to lose months of her life because he's not around. She only really values herself at the end, when she finally becomes wife-and-mother.

I am in love. I love my husband, but I am me. Bella is only ever "Edward's Bella."
posted by that's how you get ants at 4:23 AM on November 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


koeselitz: Finally, rereading Linda_Holmes' comment, I guess she may be talking about the fine point of whether the bruises are "consensual or intentional." I don't know that Edward intends them; I can see that he might not. Bella, however, clearly consents. She spends pages upon pages trying to convince Edward that she consents. There is no evidence whatsoever for a claim that what happens isn't consensual on the part of both parties.

It still has the problematic element of portraying violence as a natural part and consequence of male sexuality, entirely beyond their control. Edward simply can't help it, he is unable to have sex without hurting his partner. Bella getting hurt by Edward? That's just how sex is. This is not a healthy way to cast male sexuality to any audience.
posted by Dysk at 6:26 AM on November 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


In many ways Lisbeth should be read as the avatar of a man, no?

Well, no. That wasn't my reading, but after seeing all the comments here, I'm beginning to feel I read too much complexity into Lisbeth's story. What I saw in the Steig Larsen books was an author who was disgusted with how men are able to beat, rape, enslave and murder women with impunity. Society does not care about their crimes, because their victims, as women, mean less than nothing. Lisbeth and her mother suffer all kinds of abuse at the hands of men, and officials who know do nothing, because they have other agendas at work.

Then we see Lisbeth fight back, and use violence against men the way they do against women, and the power structure is horrified. She is reviled and pathologized. So for the first book or so, the point to me wasn't that Lisbeth was a little man, or an avatar or the author, but that she was an illustration of the power imbalance. Men who hate women - no problem, carry on! Women who fight back? Crazy nutcases who need to be crushed into complicity.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:17 AM on November 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Really, my whole take on things is that it's an novel about (unrecognized) kinky sex birthed by fan-fiction inspired internet romance stories where since a significant quantity of the author-base (and the readers) are underage or have limited sexual experience, everything is over stated and hysterical. This is the shit I was churning out at the age of 14/15~ish and giggling and sharing with my girlfriends, albeit some of us were also giving things gay male protagonists having equally inane, abusive twoo romance.

Indeed this rams right up against the whole issue of “empowered” female sexual expression. It’s all fun and games until you move the rock and discover the vast number of people who are into stuff you don’t approve of. In that context you can’t really shriek at them to knock it off without shades of “proper women don’t get off on dysfunction and grievous bodily harm”. It’s troubling and awkward that abuse can be both a horrendous thing, but just like non-sexual violence, is still considered titillating by our species. butyou can't have people consuming only the porn you like.

It’s sort of like- this series glorifies being a housewife and mother, in the thrall of a heterosexual obsession with killing machines. People are screaming blue murder because this is generally not considered an ideal lifestyle choice- and yet this was produced by someone who is a housewife and mother who… has a fetish for killing machines! And she's making bank on her kinks, no less.

The problem is not that people get off on it, the problem is that there’s no room to discuss the consent aspect.
posted by Phalene at 8:29 AM on November 19, 2011


This is one of the interesting things I like about the books - if they're supposed to be about temptation, they're sending the odd message that you should give in to temptation because it will be awesome. The central temptation is Bella's overwhelming desire to become a vampire. In the last book (SPOILER) she actually becomes a vampire. And it's awesome. And she lives happily ever after, the end.

This is exactly the same story arc Clarice Starling follows in The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal.
posted by localroger at 8:36 AM on November 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think the other point that Sarah Blackwell skims right past is that there's a difference between depicting a realistic abusive teen relationship like Bella and Edward, vs. celebrating an abusive relationship.

I guess I'm a little unclear on that, as well, muddgirl. Or rather, I'm unclear as to how this particular depiction of abusive teen relationships is not celebrating them, since teen girls are idolizing this relationship already.

And how any part of their relationship is realistic.

--

Team Kronos, reporting in.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:54 AM on November 19, 2011


The only way to read those books is to imagine Edward is an imaginary friend. The last book is simply a depiction of her final and terminal break from reality. As for the movies? I don't know. I thought there were about green economy capitalism.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:43 AM on November 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Okay. One last effort at answering the "you don't understand the appeal of non-vanilla sex" argument.

The implication in the movie is not that Bella needs, wants or gets off on bruises. The implication is that the bruises are okay because she loves him and he loves her, so although she doesn't want bruises or find them sexy, they are an acceptable compromise so she can be with him and she knows he can't help it. If she were all, "Hey, I have bruises. HOT," that would be different. (If you don't agree about what the film suggests, that's cool. If you didn't see it, we can't really talk about it.)

I realize defending kinky porn against all enemies foreign and domestic is more fun than actually discussing Twilight, and I don't disagree. But I promise, this could not have less to do with tastes of which I don't approve. If you like a little bruising, in fiction or in life, that is your business.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 11:33 AM on November 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


Has anyone linked the page trying to debunk the myths that Twilight has about the Quileute tribe? Because it has gems like:
the Quileute do not have magical wolf genes of 24 chromosomal pairs (Breaking Dawn, 236-7), and are actually humans with 23.
(Actually, the site entirely reasonable, but I just am amazed that they have to explain that the werewolf part is not real, and they are normal humans.)
posted by jeather at 12:10 PM on November 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow just when I thought I couldn't dislike Twilight more I see the site Jeather linked to. Meyer expropriated a real American Indian tribe's name and twists one of their tribal stories with her made up vampire crap. Then she stereotypes them and made them into impoverished werewolves.
posted by humanfont at 12:26 PM on November 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


the mormons have a pretty long history of taking stories of american indians and twisting them into something that benefits them. it's not really surprising stephanie meyer would do the same.
posted by nadawi at 12:47 PM on November 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Then she stereotypes them and made them into impoverished werewolves.

Impoverished, woman-beating, in-sin-living, non-school-attending, fundamentally-inferior-tan-thier-white-counterparts werewolves.

As I found by reading the Sparkledammerung linked above, and following the links in that, then following the links that spiraled out from those, Mormon doctrine is fantastically, unabashedly racist. On top of just being bad Bible fanfic.

Learn something new everyday!
posted by clarknova at 1:58 PM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Impoverished, woman-beating, in-sin-living, non-school-attending, fundamentally-inferior-tan-thier-white-counterparts werewolves.

There's a lot of times where I feel the series somehow magically becomes the worst and most oppressive thing ever just because it's a) written by a Mormon female and b) it has the cheek to be popular with girls. I honestly can't see that the books don't do anything that hasn't and isn't being done by others. There's plenty of racist religions and ones that have had (and still do) horrific impacts on First Nations or Native Americans, and Mormonism doesn't even come near to be the winner in those stakes. Twilight is but one part of a set of cultural appropriations that those cultures have had to endure, and it's not, in my opinion, close to be the worse.

And while the books have issues, lots of issues, I do think in terms of problems with gender and class they're not even close to the mess that is Batman. Or a host of other superhero films. And I don't assume that the authors of those are Satan incarnate or their audiences so incredibly weak-minded that they need some sort of massive intervention. But so much of the Twilight commentary seems to assume that girls and woman need to be protected because there's no way they could just enjoy the series without it resulting in their brains and values being ruined for ever. Out of interest, has there ever been a particular work (not a genre) with a primarily male audience that has ever got this treatment.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:37 PM on November 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


people have written lots on the gender politics of superheros. as for brains and values being ruined, you don't really have to look further than the kerfuffle of the comics code authority.

i was raised mormon and generally come to their defense on this board, but you can't really ignore in a conversation of a mormon appropriating native american histories that the LDS church is basically founded on that very thing. i've read the book of mormon cover to cover 5 times and there's a lot of fucked up shit in there about skin color and tribes and warring savages. i agree with you that the mormons are low on the totem pole of people who directly fucked with the native americans, but they are pretty high in the list of people who have tried to change the histories whole cloth to suit their religion.
posted by nadawi at 3:55 PM on November 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


also: i don't care at all if people read the books. i like a lot of shitty things that don't fit into a perfect model of feminism. i just don't think there's anything wrong with discussing the problems.
posted by nadawi at 3:57 PM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the links and information, Nadawi. I don't mind the discussion, and I find that I often agree with a lot of the points, but there often seems to be a sort of sexist hysteria with people ripping (and a lot of that comes from women who I think would be horrified at that accusation) on Twilight that I just don't get myself. There's just so much paternalism in the whole 'girls should read x because they cannot be trusted to just be left alone and pick their own reading!' strand of the commentary that it makes my hackles rise. And it's got a sort of wider cultural traction that the discussions of gender issues in superheroes don't seem to have.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 4:25 PM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


i agree with that and think it happens way too much. i also think all the conversation about twilight is gender specific because there aren't a lot of boys reading it. i think it also has the perfect storm of "protect the women!" and "think of the children!" kids in general are used as a "we must protect them from themselves" thing.

i think the conversations about super heroes are normalized now because we've been having them them for 30 years at least. it's not new anymore. same reason the "barbie is destroying our women" isn't really seen around as much as it was in the 80s. i've been deeply entrenched in some of those conversations over the years (and then, to bring it back to the topic, about how to appeal to women and girls with comic books) and i don't see a lot of differences between this and that.

one difference is certainly the money and cultural saturation of twilight. people always line up to hate the popular thing, and at $175k for the weekend, no matter what the haters might say, twilight is doing just fine.
posted by nadawi at 4:34 PM on November 19, 2011


I do think in terms of problems with gender and class they're not even close to the mess that is Batman.

...as for brains and values being ruined, you don't really have to look further than the kerfuffle of the comics code authority.


If you actually like comics, and you want an antidote to Batman, allow me to recommend Marshall Law, especially the Private Eye one-parter. If you've read it you know what I'm talking about. If not, you won't be sorry.
posted by clarknova at 4:49 PM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, when he breaks your arm -- only because he loves you so much -- you should of course stay with him, because that's just how sex needs to be? And without that love, you are nothing?
posted by jrochest at 4:58 PM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay. I just got back from seeing the movie. So, if you haven't seen the movie yet or read the book, spoilery details follow.


HERE BE SPOILERS



The postcoital morning-after scene had Bella looking happy. She wakes in the bed, and the room is in a shambles. She looks over and sees feathers--down from the burst pillows, etc. She sort of half-smiles, and sits up. She gets out of bed and goes into the other room. She spends a few moments recollecting the night before--she touches her face, imagining/remembering the way Edward touched her. Edward comes over looking all mopey and sad. He's like, "How badly are you hurt?" and she's like (and I'm paraphrasing here) "what the fuck are you talking about" . . . she literally doesn't understand him. He pulls up her sleeve, and there are three tiny bruises--fingermarks--on her forearm. And she basically says that she was unaware of being hurt at all. He then moves her robe a little off her shoulder, and there are some more marks there. Edward looks terribly pained, but Bella is dismissive. She essentially says that it was awesome, and her concern is that is was good for Edward too . . . but she says "You're not going to touch me again, are you?" Her fear is that they will not be intimate again. In fact, she points out that she was happy that morning until Edward starts being all "Look what I did to you," despite Bella's happiness at having a wonderful experience. (and which the text that koeselitz quoted supports as well)

What follows is a series of vignettes of her flirting / trying to seduce Edward and him rebuffing her . . . for a while.

While I was interested and a bit concerned to see how this would be treated in the film, both the actual treatment and the observed audience reaction would suggest that the "sticking with the abuser" model so many fear is not the takeaway here. I was in a theater with my gf, and about 200 12-18 yr old girls and young women. Their reactions were largely laughing at the cat-and-mouse game the two engaged in. There were a few gasps at the reveal of the bruises on her shoulder . . . but CONTEXT, people! He's not an abusive boyfriend. He is a VAMPIRE. A superhuman, super strong, lethal predator. He is not some everyman, in the same way Bella is cast as an everyteengirl. With the exception of a few edge cases of people who cannot discern between reality and fantasy, I cannot imagine that the perceived subtext of the film is that it's okay to physically hurt the one you love.

This is a situation which is about as fantastic as it gets. I think that most of the viewers (even the younger ones) "get" that . . . that it doesn't map neatly onto "real life." Like you know, werewolves and vampires and humanvampirehybridbabies . . . NOT REAL.
posted by exlotuseater at 7:38 PM on November 19, 2011


Team Tyler's Van!
posted by Jacqueline at 8:08 PM on November 19, 2011


>> I guess what I'm saying is that, in denying that teenage girls are sometimes awful people who want awful things, we risk not speaking to them.

Yeah, I can't buy into the idea that thinking people must be fully accepting of the utter Mary-Sue-ness of Meyer's bibliography—simply because teenage girls can relate, and therefore we must reluctantly acknowledge that these books/movies truly get to teens on their level, in all their angst-filled, love-soaked, ingenuous, naive, romantic glory, one that we can't truly remember as adults but which must be real.

My teen was 12 when she began reading the books, in the summer before the first movie came out—mostly to see what all her friends were on about. (I was just pleased that she was purposely spending free time on a 500-page novel that wasn't required for school. Besides, I'd loved the Lestat books when I was a teen and thought it was nifty that we'd have that same glam vampire novel experience)

She loved Twilight (the first book) and tore through it, for all the reasons everyone did: fairytale, creative story capturing obsessive teen love, etc.

But book #2, New Moon... she dawdled. She started with enthusiasm, got through a couple chapters... but then put it down for weeks. Tried to pick it up again, whined about it a little, put it down. One last go, and finally tossed it aside. "I'll wait for the movie," she said.

"Why didn't you like this one, when you loved Twilight?" I asked.

"Because, oh my GOD, all Bella does is sit around in her bedroom for MONTHS, moping and crying and missing Edward. For months! And her friends are all, 'hey, let's go have fun,' and she's all BUT I CAN'T I LUV HIM SO MU-HU-UCH, and I am just... so annoyed with Bella. Like if she were my real friend I would dump her. There's being depressed over a guy and then there's being a sick loser. It just goes on and on. I keep waiting for the next chapter to get better but it didn't, just more moping and whining."

Sure enough... we saw the actual movie, and there are about 200 pages in the novel that the director conveyed in the film via one scene—by having Bella mope and look out her bedroom window, as the foliage on the trees changes through multiple seasons to show a year passing as she sits alone and pines for Edward.

Kid never picked up another Stephenie Meyer book, and never saw another one of the movies either. She was over it. She was 13 at that point —and despite never having had a romantic relationship of her own, she still was able to recognize Bella as a weak, pathetic person whose entire identity and life was defined exclusively through Edward. (Alice Cullen was a character she appreciated in the movie, but Alice alone wasn't enough to save her interest in the series.)

And she wasn't having it. These simply weren't stories that she cared about any longer.

Anecdata, I know. But here we are now, four books and four movies later, and my 15-year-old could not care less. She does think Taylor Lautner is hot, but otherwise she is wholly disengaged from the entire series and all its characters.

And I'm proud of her for it. Not because I think Meyer's writing is crap, but because I don't want my kid to be anything at all like Bella Swan.
posted by pineapple at 9:13 PM on November 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


>>"some people bruise really easily" wouldn't be as bad...

>Maybe he's never had rough, consensual sex with a man before.

Well, that, and also the topic of conversation is specifically a female who gets bruised during sex...


I'm not saying this to pick on or accuse you, because the reason I want to point this out is that this reads to me like an example of a common thing that doesn't get mentioned all that much. The thing is, if the bruised person in the equation were a man, you'd probably say, "some people bruise easily," right? I know I'm speculating about a hypothetical, which is kind of a jerk move given that we don't even know each other, but I feel like it would be unusual to see somebody separate "men" from "people" in that context. I'd like to see some kind of study that examines how often men get called people as opposed to how often women do.
posted by Adventurer at 10:13 PM on November 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd like to find out how often I do it, even.
posted by Adventurer at 10:15 PM on November 19, 2011


Um, no, I'd say "Some dudes bruise easily."
posted by LordSludge at 10:45 PM on November 19, 2011


Team Padmé Amidala Yoooo!!!!

Awesome makeup and clothes and didn't take any S***!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:51 PM on November 19, 2011


Until she got choked to death. Or died in childbirth of choking-related complications.

Or whatever! I'm just glad she's on team Loathesome Dead Protagonists. Oh wait, those movies had no identifiable protagonists. Never mind.
posted by clarknova at 11:01 PM on November 19, 2011


I think that's where a lot of the vehement disapproval of the book comes from--not from some attempt to sanitize relationships into some bloodless, safe thing, but revulsion at the depiction of scenarios which look very much like the terrifying, unsafe, disempowering, literally (and metaphorically) wounding experiences of intimate partner violence that many readers have lived through

You say that people disapprove of Twilight not because they want to make relationships safe and sanitized, but because they've had unsafe relationship experiences. But where is the contradiction here? The very fact that relationships can be unsafe creates the desire for safe, sanitized relationships. I think this manifests as a neurotic Lady Macbeth kind of reaction that tries to blot out the stain.

I know what you (and Gaiman) mean by saying "Love hurts". Because I've felt that--the terrible pain of rejection...

But this is not what I'm saying at all, and Gaiman is saying something much more profound than rejection hurts. He's saying loving and being loved takes you hostage. Not when they reject you -- it's when they "kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore." There are many examples of this. If a casual acquantaince told you out of the blue that they are passionately in love with you, you would probably feel horrified, and almost feel as if this was harrassment, even if you knew perfectly well that they are not a dangerous person. Avoiding the person you are in love with or have a crush on is also quite common. The intensity of having them look at you or talk to you is unbearable.

A quick glance through Ask Metafilter questions will demonstrate that this experience is routinely downplayed and denigrated -- it's thought of as insanity, childish infatuation, or maybe biologized as "limerence", all ways of denying the traumatic impact of love and keeping it at a safe distance. The term "love sick" captures something of how love is contrary to our well-being. People say they can't sleep, they can't eat, they can't function at work or school, they are overwhelmed with obsessional thoughts -- their whole world is turned upside down. Maybe this could be considered a type of abuse or harrassment, that the person they are in love with has inflicted this on them, but this seems like a stretch to me. But this is the sense in which I mean "love hurts."

The normal way of critiquing this is to oppose rationality and romantic Cinderella fantasies, but the function of the romance fantasy is to deny the trauma by drowning it with warm, sweet sentimentality. It's clear that the rational approach, for all its claims of being down-to-earth and sensible, is just a different method for doing the same thing.

But that's not to say that there's no good reason for doing that, and you touched on the reason: "there's another possible interpretation of that sentiment, one which makes it more likely for people acting in abusive ways to justify what they're doing and people who are experiencing intimate partner violence to stay in that relationship because they are being "loved"". Here we're talking about two interpretations of the Twilight books -- is it one or the other? But the crucial point is that these two possible interpretations exist simultaneously in abusive relationships. In such cases, there is often a strange overlapping or confusion between the normal trauma of love (which attests to its authenticity) on one hand, and physical/emotional abuse on the other. Somehow, enduring the abuse is tranformed into a way of maintaining fidelity with the catastrophic event of falling in love.

The rational approach wants to create a bright, shining line separating love from abuse, but it does this in a way that maintains the confusion between love and abuse. The logic is "There is no difference, so get rid of both." The result is relationships without love, relationships lite, modeled on a business-like contractual arrangement. But idealizing this while pathologizing people who do fall in love does not seem to be helping.

You say that people stay in abusive relationships because they feel they are being "loved", putting it in quotes to imply that if you experience abuse, then this is not "true love". This perspective is often intended to cause an abused person to doubt the authenticity of their love and end the relationship -- "He's hurting you, that means he doesn't truly love you, so end it." But it has the opposite of the intended effect, because it also turns into the reverse: "But I know he truly loves me, so what's happening can't be abuse." In effect, it creates the conditions for rationalizing abuse away, because it sets "true love" and "abuse" in mutually exclusive categories. To persuade someone that they are being abused, you have to convince them to give up something absolutely priceless, something that means everything to them.

This can be avoided by simply being honest about the impact of love. True love doesn't rule out truly awful relationships. The classic question "Why do you stay with him/her?" is not so mysterious, and people who have been in abusive relationships don't need to feel like they are sick and disturbed individuals. This is not to normalize abuse, just the opposite. We can only disentangle the traumatic impact of love from abuse by acknowledging it, and taking it seriously instead of dismissing it as a school girl fantasy and trying to eliminate it.
posted by AlsoMike at 11:49 PM on November 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


You know there's another way to read these books: as if all the the vampires are all traditional and the characters are all unreliable narrators.

In this reading Edward Cullen is a master manipulator and sociopath. He wields the full psychological power of his hundred years against a naive child, for no other reason than to live out some sick fantasy of young love. All his pouting and posing are a game he's playing with this kid, and himself. He knows exactly the sort of effect his ploys will have and his superior experience affords him the luxury of getting lost in the fantasy without losing control. He enjoys this diversion as you and I might an episodic drama.

And why is Bella Swan so hopelessly dependent on him? He's used some form of supernatural enthrallment to warp her mind. To make her the thrall of his unfathomably demented will. If he is her Dracula she is not his Wilhelmina. She is Renfield: chosen for her pliable character then broken by a malevolent force. The daylight excursions, the baseball, the sparkles: none of it ever happened. All false memories induced under vampire hypnosis. The only reality is the addiction. The slavery.

And his entire "family" is in on the ruse. Their friendly gatherings and the feigned rivalry are all a charade. The ultimate goal of this is to use her as the alchemical vessel in the creation of an unspeakable horror. Those Italian vampires are right to accuse the Cullens of perversion and threaten them with death. Their schemes are too ghastly, even for other undead horrors.

Finally Cullen does her the 'favor' of turning her, but only because she's more useful as a pawn in their very real rivalries with other vampires. As the decades pass she will slowly gain insight into the nature of these machinations, and come to know how truly she's been wronged, but by that time it will be to late. She's a monster now. There's nowhere to go. Besides, there's familiarity in it, and perverse appeal. It's a game she knows. She may as well play...
posted by clarknova at 1:16 AM on November 20, 2011 [25 favorites]


clarknova, i've spent ages rapturously describing how hilarious and utterly cracked-out-hilarious these books are to my partner (I am from the Cleolinda School of Twilight Appreciation) and have played many a game of Horrify The Twilight Noob with him, to no avail. He's always found it amusing, but no interest in seeing them to cackle with me.

I read him your interpretation and he perked up and said 'Now THAT i'd watch!'

Well played, sir.
posted by pseudonymph at 6:11 AM on November 20, 2011


..Proof-reading is my friend. Well, in my defense, it really is that hilarious.
posted by pseudonymph at 6:12 AM on November 20, 2011


ou know there's another way to read these books: as if all the the vampires are all traditional and the characters are all unreliable narrators.

This is exactly, EXACTLY, what I was hoping that Midnight Sun would reveal. Too bad it was more of the same overwrought drivel. I'm still entertained by Meyer's crybaby flounce on that one, though.
posted by elizardbits at 8:50 AM on November 20, 2011


I didn't marry Edward Cullen until I was 32.

Married at 18? Are you fucking kidding me? Edward said we needed to be married to have sex, which was a crock of shit -- not to mention a terrible reason for getting married young. We broke up when he proposed. It was hard on both of us, but instead of sitting in my room moping the year away, I decided to take some agency and find independence outside of my vampire ex-boyfriend.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:44 AM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


All his pouting and posing are a game he's playing with this kid, and himself.

Awesome. Vampire LARPing.
posted by benzenedream at 10:54 AM on November 20, 2011


The ultimate goal of this is to use her as the alchemical vessel in the creation of an unspeakable horror. Those Italian vampires are right to accuse the Cullens of perversion and threaten them with death. Their schemes are too ghastly, even for other undead horrors.

That is AWESOME.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:48 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The rational approach wants to create a bright, shining line separating love from abuse, but it does this in a way that maintains the confusion between love and abuse. The logic is "There is no difference, so get rid of both." The result is relationships without love, relationships lite, modeled on a business-like contractual arrangement.

Whose approach are you describing? What relationships? Who do you think uses their "rational approach" to reject love?

Perhaps you think that relationships that are modeled on contractual agreements are intrinsically love-free? In that case, I would point to the existence of marriage as a counterexample.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:33 PM on November 20, 2011


Um, no, I'd say "Some dudes bruise easily."

OK. Sorry I tried to mis-apply my thesis to you.
posted by Adventurer at 3:53 PM on November 20, 2011


LogicalDash, I think this approach is common on Metafilter as I've mentioned, and I do think the goal is to get rid of the traumatic impact of love because it is seen as dangerous, abusive and sometimes proto-fascist. The best film example is in the Star Wars prequels, where Anakin basically turns to the dark side because he loves his wife too much and wants to prevent her from dying. He rejects Yoda's deep "wisdom": "The fear of loss is a path to the dark side. Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed that is. Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose."

Far be it for me to tell others how to live, but for me, the dominance and evangelism of this perspective is a fearful attempt to eliminate some of the most profound aspects of being human.
posted by AlsoMike at 3:54 PM on November 20, 2011


Well, yes. That's the goal. Some of us feel that love without trauma is every bit as good as love with trauma. If you feel otherwise, please feel free to elaborate on that.

Faulting those who disagree with you for doing so too vehemently isn't a real argument. It's something like an ad hominem against an entire class of people.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:02 PM on November 20, 2011


It sounded like you were disputing that such an approach exists, so I'm glad you are now agreeing with me. I'm also not faulting it for being too vehement, I'm faulting it for failing on its own terms.
posted by AlsoMike at 4:31 PM on November 20, 2011


Failing to remove all the trauma from love? Fair cop, I guess, though I would point out that relationships in general tend to fail on whatever terms they've got.

Failing to describe people's lived experience? We're talking about a set of ideals. If they described the way people normally experience love, they would be obsolete.

Failing to produce happy, fulfilling relationships? No.

Failing to produce relationships that are as... uh, "high-calorie" as the other kinds...? I don't even know what that means. Are painful relationships supposed to be more substantial than painless ones?
posted by LogicalDash at 4:53 PM on November 20, 2011


People's lived experience of relationships is that the falling-in-love element which you are trying to eliminate is extremely valuable to them. They have to be made into victims of media brainwashing to account for the fact that they disagree with you.

The failure I was referring to was the failure to provide a real solution to the problem of abuse. And it doesn't recognize it's own potential for abuse. This guy I know had a baby, and tweeted something to the effect that he refused to call her "his baby" because he felt that she was her own independent person, and not his property. I told him that this seems to border on child abuse -- how would you feel if your father said to you "You're not mine." To see any connection, attachment or bond as pathological is pathology itself. Isn't it obvious that this distancing reaction is designed to lessen the traumatic love between him and his daughter? This is not very different from my previous example of an acquaintance who tells you they are in love with you and you experience this as harrassment.

What is traumatizing about this is the sudden encounter with the enigma of the Other's desire -- what do they want from me? Who am I for them? What thing in me causes their desire, the part of myself that is hidden from me? This mystery is present for us in every other human being, and for me, love is a radical confrontation with it in another person. It's telling that in most romantic fairy tales like Cinderella, we know all kinds of biographical details about Cinderella, but practically nothing about the prince. The same is true in courtly love poems which are about the Lady -- we never learn anything concrete about her, she is always an abstraction. The lover/object of love is a terrifying abyss -- no wonder that when we learn the details about the prince as a real concrete individual in Beauty and the Beast, he is represented as a monster.

What I see in the rational relationship is a desperate attempt to eliminate this encounter, which is why I think it's justified to call it zero-calorie love. I think it's desperate and neurotic because the trauma of falling in love or being loved has nothing to do with violating your autonomy. My friend's baby daughter could not have violated his autonomy -- in the first place, she's an infant, but also he planned with his wife to have a child, it's not like he was suddenly told that he was going to be a father. So it seems like translating the encounter with the abyss of the Other into a violation of your autonomy is a way of coping with it and keeping it and them at a distance. The problem is that having linked these two very different things and made them overlap in order to get away from them, letting someone in to love them and let them love you back weakens your ability to assert your autonomy, making you vulnerable to abuse.

I think progress can be made against domestic abuse by preventing this overlap, making clear that the trauma of falling in love is normal, having your autonomy violated is not. And these are two very different things. The danger of the rational relationship approach is that it insists on conflating them.
posted by AlsoMike at 12:09 AM on November 21, 2011


I told him that this seems to border on child abuse -- how would you feel if your father said to you "You're not mine." To see any connection, attachment or bond as pathological is pathology itself.

Putting those sentences together appears to imply some logical connection, but I don't see one. While your example is clearly unhealthy, I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with examining one's feelings about a relationship and deciding you can't handle them.

What I see in the rational relationship is a desperate attempt to eliminate this encounter, which is why I think it's justified to call it zero-calorie love.

"The Rational Relationship" refers to a set of ideals, I thought we agreed? And those ideals all have to do with things like, let's see...

shared goals, sexual and life compatibility, good communication and honesty, good-giving-game sexuality, no jealousy

None of those things happen in any particular moment, right? Good communication and honesty can only show themselves over an extended period of time, because communication that sounds honest might not reflect a person's actual behavior.

The encounter you describe is a particular emotional experience that happens in the moment. It may not involve any communication at all. If it does, the encounter is defined by a particular emotional reaction to the communication, not by any of its content, nor by how honest or jealous the communication is. Well, not unless the emotional pain you are describing is jealousy, but I'll do you the courtesy of assuming that you do not think that jealousy itself is valuable.

So it seems like translating the encounter with the abyss of the Other into a violation of your autonomy is a way of coping with it and keeping it and them at a distance.

Yeah, if you do that--and I think your father-friend has done that--then you're distancing yourself from your feelings. That might be useful as a way of dealing with a relationship after it's over, but I agree, it's not any good as a way of dealing with a relationship that you are presently in.

But "The Rational Relationship" as you described it initially is just a set of values. These are the things a relationship should be, in order to be Rational. They're not exclusive properties--BDSM relationships may be quite rational, and also painful, that being a more specific, personal requirement of the parties involved. Less fetishy relationships can do the same thing, because the general demands of rationality don't say anything about how it has to feel.

Basically, I think you've built a Straw Vulcan.

The danger of the rational relationship approach is that it insists on conflating them.

Perhaps you've met some people who use this approach who use it to conflate the scary bits of love with abuse. But I don't think that says anything about rational relationships as such, any more than the occasional she-woman-man-hater says anything about feminism as such.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:44 AM on November 21, 2011


I'm glad this series will have played itself out before my kids are of an age that they would care or notice. I fear for what new version of stupid that may come along though.
posted by dgran at 6:28 AM on November 21, 2011


Scientology + Frankenstein + Jonas Brothers = next YA blockbuster
posted by benzenedream at 11:52 AM on November 21, 2011


the jonas brothers are so 2006.
posted by nadawi at 11:56 AM on November 21, 2011



Basically, I think you've built a Straw Vulcan.

That conclusion is only possible if you assign me to an argument that I've not made. I've never said that the problem is with rationality in itself, and I only use the term "rational" to describe that view because it is presented in that way. But I don't accept that it is really rational or emotionless at all -- as I've said, its fundamental emotion is anxiety. And the opposite of attachment is not even necessarily logic -- in the Star Wars example, the dichotomy is a moral one, of Good vs. Evil, where Good is in spiritualized pseudo-Buddhist equanimity.

You seem to be under the impression that I am somehow arguing against good communication, honesty, shared goals and all of that, but I've never said those are bad things. The problem is that the rational relationship idea promises that we can have these as a kind of compensation for giving up on falling in love. It's not what it promotes that I have a problem with, it's what it excludes. What I am talking about is the unconscious emotional motivations that underlie these officially rational or moral concepts and give them their spark, not the value of these ideas on their own merits. The crucial question is what is its psychological function, and this is to repress the traumatic encounter with the Other.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:00 PM on November 21, 2011


The problem is that the rational relationship idea promises that we can have these as a kind of compensation for giving up on falling in love.

Well, you say that there is an idea that promises this, but you haven't described what the idea is. I thought you did so when you described the, ah...

rational, sensible approach to "healthy relationships" that focuses on shared goals, sexual and life compatibility, good communication and honesty, good-giving-game sexuality, no jealousy and so on.

But apparently you don't have a problem with any of those things. Apparently you have a problem with some other idea that promises that you can have a rational relationship as compensation for a loving one, rather than in addition.

I don't know, maybe there are some people who exclude sincere passionate devotion as a possibility, but such people have also been known to engage in profoundly irrational relationships, so I think you just object to passionless people and their relationship advice.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:04 PM on November 21, 2011


Team Țepeș. (Remember! It is pronounced Tszep-pesh!)
posted by Hactar at 11:38 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rationality will usually lead to better results than passion, but the problem with this is that while we are capable of rationality we don't live to be rational. The fundamental system by which our bodies tell us we are succeeding at life is emotional. We use reason, but we live for passion. And as I once wrote in a story, passion isn't sane.

Reason makes sensible investments, wears its seatbelts, and does not jaywalk. Passion climbs mountains, jumps out of airplanes, wrestles alligators, and builds working computers out of mechanical relays all for no objectively good reason.

And I think this is a key reason the nominally dreadful Twilight series has been successful; it is positively drenched in passion. This is a feeling that people want, the surrender that is blissful in and of itself, regardless of what it leads to. That Bella's surrender leads her to being eviscerated by her lover and her own child doesn't matter; the implication that she would do it all the same even if she knew the outcome is realistic. The only unrealistic bit is surviving the train wreck and living happily ever after, but that's the fantasy the passion whispers in your ear.
posted by localroger at 12:00 PM on November 23, 2011


Here's the thing, there is nothing wrong with fantasizing about being a house wife or stay at home mom before finishing college or having bed shatteringly injurious sex.

Period. Inasmuch as movies represent the realm of fantasy, these desires are not in and of themselves bad things. Where we worry is that exporations of fantasy particularly in the young will increase the desire to actually experience these things.

Fact: Many people will never get through college. Do we believe they should never reproduce? And for a woman who is not going to go to college,is she actually a totally different person at 19 than she will be at 21? Maybe, there is a lot of growth in the years of moving out of the parents home. But not everyone grows all that much as a result of leaving their parents home.

If we assume that financial independence is a measure of adulthood as has been mentioned upthread, than what are we saying about human beings who recieve financial assistance from the government or fellow human beings in order to live? Are they truly not adults? In many cultures it's perfectly permissible for an adult male or female to live with their parents for many years after school and the added financial security can be beneficial for everyone involved.

What if people in this very thread had parents who would love to have them at home, they could move in to their parents house and have a huge gain in income and/or time to devote to projects and work that would actually improve the world in a more meaningful way? Is it truly a sign of maturity to value independence over the well being of other human beings you could serve better without being so stubborn? Among those adults who have attained financial independence I know many who have neither integrity nor maturity and who believe they are better than others around them despite that they make no meaningful contribution to the well fare of others. The person who works in advertising to sell tobacco? Really? They are more adult than the social worker who lives at home in order to stay employed at a low paying non-profit they believe in?

What are these values really and do they ACTUALLY have any merit unto themselves or are they perhaps more foolishly self centered than the motto of self reliance at all cost might sound?

These movies scare those of us who frown on teen parenthood, uneducated parents, low income parents, dependent women, and women who desire a power imbalanced relationship with a man. And yet these things to not get caused by movies. They exist already and the desires for these things to play out in fantasy are in movies because of desires that already existed.

There may be a reinforcement loop wherein their presence in movies reinforces people's desire for them, but if this is the case we need to stop all people from watching all violence, sexual exploitation, and basically anything bad that could cause bad desire in film.

Or, we could use the opportunity to look at the fact that these desires exist in humans, that many humans act on them, and decide what of these things is actually bad vs that we have been socialized to believe is bad.

While making great strides in giving women the freedom to work and attain financial independence in this manner is a good thing, there are women who do not want this. Can we respect the rights of women to be stay at home wives/caregivers who value the freedom to be there for friends and family and to do whatever work they do simply because they want to rather than for the sake of needing money? Or men who choose to depend on a wife or family members to do the same thing?

How many people could make more ethical choices in what work they choose to do or in what way they make the world a better place and what financial controbutions they could have made had they stayed at home much longer? Perhaps if we abandoned the notion that to leave home as early as possible and attian total financial independence is for the better of society, and recognized that in some cases it might be that it in fact takes maturity to do the opposite in order to make a greater contribution- it might in fact serve many people and society better.
posted by xarnop at 2:49 PM on December 4, 2011


George Takei is the Broker of Star Peace
posted by homunculus at 7:13 PM on December 12, 2011


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