Monday, 6 January 2014

Lessons from the "Twilight" saga

"Men have no control over their own sexuality: it's up to women not to excite them, and if they do, anything bad that happens is their fault.
It's a good thing to abandon any ideas about education and career to marry your boyfriend from high school and have kids immediately after leaving school.
Your boyfriend should be the entire focus of your life.
If your boyfriend dumps you, your life has no meaning.
If he sneaks into your bedroom at night to watch you sleep and lets your tyres down to control your movements, it's 'love', not frankly pathological stalking.
Every woman really wants children.
A life-threatening pregnancy is no reason to have an abortion.
Your rejected lover can 'imprint' on your infant daughter for her to grow up as his destined mate: she has no choice in the matter."
(from 1 of the comments here:


NOTE: I know what you're thinking. Get over it. "Twilight" is so 2012. But it's not over. The "Twilight" films are still being constantly shown on TV, and yesterday morning, I came across an article about the series. All I can say now is, if you no longer pay any attention, good for you, and you can stop reading now and move onto my other entries. But if you, like me, feel that you can't escape from "Twilight", the way one can't escape from Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian..., read on. 
It should also be noted that this entry, unlike my previous criticisms on "Twilight" (written on 11/1/2013), isn't about the quality of "Twilight" as a literary work. I'm not going to write about Stephenie Meyer's ignorance of vampires and werewolves either. This entry is about the themes and ideas of "Twilight" and Stephenie Meyer's politics, the main reasons for my dislike.
"...It's therefore understandable that some have questioned the merits of Twilight's message for womankind.
Still, the author of the books on which the films are based, Stephenie Meyer, has answered her critics. Bella, she says, isn't "a negative example of empowerment". After all, "The foundation of feminism is this: being able to choose." Ultimately, says Meyer, what Bella does is up to Bella. That ought to be enough to qualify her as a feminist.
This seems to imply that anything a woman does is a feminist act, unless she's performing it because someone's put a gun to her head..." 

Stephenie Meyer's definition of feminism is easily refuted: 
"I think women who have fought and are still fighting for women's equality through the Feminist movement would take issue with Meyer's implication that a person can apply whatever definition they wish to another's political ideology. For those who firmly believe that it is impossible for an opinion to be wrong, though, this definition is still, at the very least, meaningless. The simple proof of this is that a woman can choose to be subservient to men or value men and masculinity more than women and femininity. This is undeniably anti-feminist. However, it is her choice to be anti-feminist. Therefore, according to Meyer’s definition, anti-feminism can be a form of feminism. A self-negating concept would not have made a very sturdy “foundation” for such a huge movement."
This is a very informed, detailed and excellent essay that analyses the anti-feminism of "Twilight":
"Throughout the whole series, we never really see Bella struggle over a decision or a choice she has to make. Rather, quite the opposite occurs, her decisions invariably come immediately. The closest thing she has to a decision making process is “What is best for Edward or brings me closer to Edward?” [Presumably, Stephenie Meyer believes that Bella’s severe devotion to Edward (that starts after they’ve had just a few conversations) that not only tops, but also erases all her other priorities, values, aspirations, and thought processes is proof of their true love.] Even Bella herself admits to her lack of choice when it comes to Edward."
I should say, however, that I don't remember if she has any priorities, values, aspirations... before meeting Edward. Whilst calling herself an introvert or at least saying that she has difficulty relating to other people, Bella doesn't seem to be very introspective. 

"Also, notice that Edward himself is not enchanting and attracting her. He is a complete jerk when they first meet for no reason apparent to her. If she cared about personality or being respected, she would have written him off and spent her time developing relationships with the people who were warm and welcoming to her (literally every human in Forks.) However, this doesn’t deter her because she’s fallen in love with Edward’s body, not Edward. From what I recall, the only quality she even mentions, other than his inhuman beauty, is that he is over-protective." 
Again, bad boy fantasy. 
"... I've held this as a general theory for a while, so listen up, nice guys (or Nice Guys), but maybe not for the reason you'd think. I actually don't think girls like a guy who treats them bad. But I do think they--we--get off a little on the idea of changing someone for the better, or the idea of having the power that someone loves us so much that he'll change or sacrifice something for us. [...] A nice guy doesn't need to change, and, most importantly, he's already nice to everyone. How do you know that you're special if he treats everyone else with as much kindness and respect as he treats you? The "bad boy" type, though? He may range from simple, garden-variety jackhole (hello, Sawyer!) to appalling psychopath (hello, Dr. Lecter!), but you know he loves you because he's completely different around you. You are an exception to his very nature.")

"In New Moon, Edward lies to Bella about his reasons for leaving. Since there was no way she could stop him, he clearly does not see her as an equal who deserves to know why someone who claimed she was the most important thing in the world is leaving her. He also takes away her ability to choose how to handle his departure, removing everything that he thinks will remind her of him. Bella has become so dependent on Edward for happiness and meaning that in her life after his departure, she becomes an empty, emotionless “zombie.” Not for a few days or weeks, for months. It seems that by leaving, Edward has put her on auto-pilot, as she has no interest in choices or oppurtunities she may have that won’t help her bring Edward back. She literally has no life, personality, aspirations, happiness, anything without Edward. She only manages to even partially regain any of these things by coming dependent on another man, Jacob, and using him as an emotional crutch."
Think about it. Bella lives with her dad, then falls in love and gets into a relationship with Edward, and in his absence, what does she do? She finds solace in another man: Jacob! 
I'm not so imbecile as to make any comparison between the Stephenie Meyer and Jane Austen, but reading this part I can't help thinking that Fanny Price and Jane Elliot, if they must end up being alone, can carry on with their lives just fine, and with some hesitation, believe it's the same for Elinor Dashwood.

"There has been much debate surrounding the Twilight saga, in particular the character of Bella Swan, her personality traits, and whether she is a good role model to the thousands of young women who declare themselves devotees of the series. Many literary reviews of the series label Bella Swan a heroine. By definition, a heroine performs heroic acts- and consistently so. A heroine is noted, and celebrated, for her courage and daring actions. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a heroine as ‘a woman distinguished by exalted courage, fortitude, or noble achievements’. Bella Swan exhibits none of these qualities. On the contrary, Stephenie Meyer’s protagonist displays very little courage, demonstrates very little fortitude, and is constant in need of reassurance or protection from the dominant male figures in her life. Bella Swan spends the majority of the Twilight saga standing precariously on the side-lines of the action, in full faith that men will fight her battles for her. Throughout the Twilight saga, she is constantly described as fragile and breakable, her victimhood consequently exploited and fetishized.  Much of the physical interaction between Bella and her male counterparts reveals a loss of control- or rather, a willing relinquishment. She is often pulled, dragged and restrained by her love interests Jacob Black and Edward Cullen, with these adjectives betraying the physical manifestations of her willing oppression that leak into the fibre of the text..." 
One perhaps may say that Stephenie Meyer, when choosing as the narrator an insecure, diffident teenage girl, does a good job in describing quite accurately how lots of girls feel at the age. I don't feel the need to repeat what I already wrote on 11/1/2013 about Bella's lack of personality, which is the more important reason lots of girls can imagine being Bella, but it's not a nice prospect if girls see themselves as Bella and then act like her, in relationships with men.

The author analyses how George Eliot's essay "Silly novels by lady novelists" applies to "Twilight" (and "50 shades of grey"). 
1 small but not insignificant point: "Did I mention the numerous allusions to Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, the Merchant of Venice, Midsummer Night's Dream, etc etc in Twilight? All squeezed out for the romance subplots and none of their depths or powers. Thus Bella is rendered "intellectual."" 
"... It does show an interesting spectrum on female sexuality, and by “spectrum” I mean “only extremes.” Twilight is an awful series of books that have sexual denial, yearning, and weirdly chaste abstinence as their main selling point. FSoG is an awful book that has cheesy/porny S&M and B&D as its main selling point. And yet both are written by women, for largely female audiences, and feature female protagonists who are legendarily Mary Sue idiots who are powerless and spineless and entirely dominated by men and controlled by their baser emotions and sexual appetites." 
For "Twilight", another site coined the term "abstinence porn". An unusual, perhaps undefinable oxymoron, but somehow it fits the series perfectly well.


And so on and so forth. 
Let's hope that I've written everything, once and for all. 

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