Archive for Twilight

Parenthetical aside

Posted in Post is Unrelated with tags , , , , , , on May 17, 2009 by Rachel Vampirely

It seems I can no longer make fun of Twilight, because a bunch of 15-year-old girls want to make it a religion. Yes, for the low, low price of your dignity, you too can believe that the characters in the Twilight Saga are all real, that Stephenie Meyer is the bestest best author in the whole wide world ever, and that if you’re a good little girl you’ll get to spend eternity with the Cullens. That’s super. Let’s glamorize death a little more, and maybe we’ll get more of those Black Parade suicides. I’ve always wanted more emo suicide girls on the internet.

So that’s it. No more recaps. It would just be downright rude of me to make cracks at and belittle an entire religion here.

Also, it seems I’ve been linked to from Twilight Sucks (a livejournal and a message board by that name), and Something Awful(!). So uh, welcome, guys. I hope you enjoy my pain.

Extra Credit: The Twilight Saga and domestic abuse

Posted in Twilight with tags , , , , , , on May 10, 2009 by Rachel Vampirely

This probably won’t be funny, so tl;dr for those of you who want laughs: Bella just fell down the stairs, Edward loves her okay he loves her she just makes him mad sometimes. Also, Twilight is serious business.

I know I make light of this a lot, but I wanted to break it down, point by point. From what I have seen so far, the Twilight series is about abuse, plain and simple. Edward is an emotional batterer, and Bella is constantly and persistently victimized by his actions. What makes it sad is that the author herself seems to have no idea that she was writing about an abusive, codependent teenage relationship. If she knew, I have a feeling she would have at least attempted to address some of the issues caused and raised by her characters and their relationships with each other.

This issue is somewhat personal to me. I have been in relationships with manipulative, and, at times, emotionally abusive people. I, like many people, also have friends who have a history of abuse. Because of this, you would assume that Bella would be a sympathetic character. This would be the case, were I not aware of the intent behind the writing. The relationship, despite its obviously harmful characteristics, is displayed as romantic. Edward, fans of the series say, is chivalrous, protective, and honorable. He opens doors for Bella. He’s sweet and thoughtful. He’s noble and caring. The creepiest part of all of this is that the justifications fans create for Edward and Bella’s actions are eerily similar to what victims of abuse tell themselves while they try to cope with their harmful relationship.

Let’s get a little deeper and dirtier with some examples. The symptoms of abuse are easy to find online, I am referencing the list found on HelpGuide.org.

Abusers use the following tactics to remain in control of their victims:

  1. Dominance. Abusive individuals (for example, Edward Cullen) need to exert control over their partners. By say, making their decisions for them (“Bella, please just do this my way, just this once.” Or, the “memory tampering” in chapter 17 of Twilight. Or dragging her to the prom in the epilogue), and expecting to obey without question (the whole of chapter 18 when Bella attempts to argue with Edward). Further example of this can be found in the fact that Edward refuses to let Bella drive, and their carefully constructed “rules” on what physical conduct is acceptable and unacceptable, rules which often come to Bella’s detriment.
  2. Humiliation. An abuser will do whatever they can to make you feel bad about yourself, or “defective” in some way (i.e. Edward’s conversations with Bella through much of Twilight revolving around the fact that she is an idiot for being with him, she can’t survive without him, etc.) The idea is that you are the crazy one, and if you believe you’re worthless and can’t find someone else, you won’t ever leave. Bella makes comments in Twilight and early on in New Moon to the effect of “I am too plain and boring for Edward, I don’t deserve him.” This is the product of naturally low self-esteem, and, in realistic characters, the fact that her lover calls her an idiot whenever he can.
  3. Isolation. The abuser needs their victim to be dependent on them, and will often try to do this by cutting you off from the outside world. Edward seems to perpetuate this less on his own, as Bella readily throws herself into it. She has no actual friends in the series beyond Edward and his sister, Alice. Her only social activity is working at the local sports store, if you can call that social. She is willing to isolate herself from her parents as well, if it would mean getting to spend eternity with her abuser. You could argue that Edward is manipulating her into this (I mean, really, there’s nothing bad about being a vampire).
  4. Threats. Abusers will threaten violence on their victims in order to exert further control. In the Twilight series, this is a little more subtle and insidious. Edward warns Bella that he could hurt her, that he could lose control at any moment. In chapter 8 of Twilight, he admits to having murderous thoughts regarding the ruffians Bella was accosted by, to further illustrate how dangerous he is. Even more shocking, he tells Bella later that he wanted to kill her when they first met. Every chance he gets, he “warns” her that he could murder her at a moment’s notice. Worse, his attempts at “saving” her often end in physical harm coming to her anyway, such as the James “conflict” and Bella’s birthday party in New Moon. Bella learns to make excuses and quick stories for the bruises, cuts, and broken bones she sustains, in a rather unsettling mirror of an abuse victim’s behavior. That’s not to mention Edward’s vague suicidal threats, should anything happen to Bella.
  5. Intimidation. Abusers will often try to scare their victims into submission. Edward in chapter 13 of Twilight, jumping around, smashing trees, showing off how fast and strong he is, in an attempt to make Bella frightened of him. Do I really need to say more?
  6. Denial and blame. Abusers are very good at making their own excuses for their actions, and shifting the blame. Again, this is a little more subtle in the Twilight series. Edward blames his behavior on being a vampire, on having to resist human blood, and on having buried his humanity for so long. In a supernatural setting, it’s hard to say that these excuses are not justified, but they are still excuses. Bella, again, readily assumes the blame for anything bad that happens to her as a result of Edward’s actions. Edward will occasionally make the token effort to convince her this isn’t the case, but there are a few times where she shoulders the blame unhindered. Edward has also told Bella that if she gets hurt, he’s going to blame it all on her. He also seems to think that if she kisses him too hard and he eats her, that’s going to be her fault as well.

Abusers will also exhibit signs of remorse after periods of abuse, entering the “honeymoon phase” of the cycle. They will make it up to the abused in whatever way they can, in an attempt to keep the victim with them. They may say “I’m sorry I hurt you,” when what they mean is “I’m sorry I hurt you, because I might get caught.” This creates further conflict in a victim who would otherwise leave the relationship–“when he’s not making me feel like garbage, he’s very sweet.” Edward writes songs for Bella, and offers to buy her expensive gifts. Then he refuses to let her drive and warns of the threat of violence if she open-mouth kisses him.

Bella, as well, exhibits signs of someone who is abused. She accepts the blame readily when terrible things happen, especially when it was through no fault of her own. She suffers mysterious injuries, and will have elaborate tales for how she sustained them (“I fell down the stairs and into a window”).  She has incredibly low self-esteem, and considers herself lucky to be with Edward. She is always ready with an excuse when Edward begins to treat her coldly, hurts her, or otherwise emotionally abuses her.

Abuse, whether it’s physical, emotional, or sexual, is a real issue. It can be insidious, as the abusers are often very good at hiding their behavior from others, or even convincing others that they should be excused from what they do, due to everything from a bad childhood to a bad day. Emotional abuse is unfortunately the most ignored, as it leaves no obvious bruises or scars. Victims will assume that since their partner has not put them in the hospital, there is no abuse occurring at all. Seeing it occur so blatantly in Twilight, a book that is shoved down the throats of young girls as a model romance, honestly makes me scared. Watching others defend the story with the same reasons and excuses abusers and their victims would use doesn’t just make me scared. It makes me sick.

But it’s just a kid’s novel about vampires. It’s not that big a deal.

Discussion questions

Posted in Twilight with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2009 by Rachel Vampirely

You’re never going to believe this, guys. There are discussion questions in the back of this book. Like someone is going to suggest this for their local Oprah Book Club.

Let’s have a look…

1. Is the fact that Edward can’t read Bella’s thoughts more important than it seems? Do you think it will serve a larger purpose?

It does serve as a startling way to show the lengths he will go to control and manipulate her. He makes a point of reading the minds of her friends while she’s talking with them, so he knows exactly what she’s saying about him. I guess it’s supposed to have something to do with this “glitch” in her brain Bella talks about earlier, and how they’re totes soulmates and stuff.

And it could also have to do with the fact that if he could read her mind, all he would hear is white noise. Wake up, Eddy, there’s nothing to read in there.

2. Bella faints at the smell of blood. If she were to become a vampire [recapper’s note: LOL], how might this serve as a hindrance? How might it be an asset?

Spoiler time. Because Bella is disgusted by blood, it means that when Edward turns her into a vampire in the fourth book, she is immune to bloodcraze. I am not even joking. So she will get all the good things about being a vampire, and will have nothing to do with the one. single. flaw.

Aren’t we just HAPPY for her???

3. Is Edward selfishly putting Bella in danger, or is Bella being too stubborn for her own good? Is it a little bit of both? What are the threatening factors facing Bella and are there ways to avoid them?

I wouldn’t put it past Edward, in my own mind, to purposely lead her into danger so he can save her time and again to force her to create a dependency on him. I wouldn’t put it past Bella, in my own mind, to consciously put herself in danger so that Edward feels the need to constantly be near her to protect her  (Hell, she actually considers this at some point in Twilight).

And I guess we can expect to see a lot more seriously boring vampire twit villains in this series. Hooray for monologging.

4. Temptation is a major theme in Twilight–more accurately, resisting one’s temptations. Discuss the subplot of Carlisle’s job as a doctor in relation to this major theme. How well does he handle temptation? What do you feel would be the most difficult part for him in his role? Why does he remain working as a doctor when the Cullens don’t seem to need his income?

Yeah, you know, I would like to discuss the subplot of Carlisle’s job as a doctor. Namely, how he still is one.

Carlisle was born in London, in the 1600s. Before the United States existed, and before we had things like social security cards. What I want to know is how he has managed to fake being a person to the point where he can hold a job as respected and screened as medical practitioner.  Does he have a fake ID? fake SSN? Rosalie and Emmett get remarried every few years, to keep up appearances, but Smeyer never explains if Dr. Cullen has to re-attend medical school every few decades to keep up on the latest methods of treatment. Or does he still use leeches and believe in humorism?

(Hint: The reason she explains the remarriage but not how Carlisle can hold down a job is because marriage is way more important than having a job.)

I’d also like to know how the Cullens “don’t seem to need his income.” Carlisle is the only family member with a job. Come to think of it, none of the women in this book have jobs. Alice and Rosalie are “in high school;” Esme is a stay-at-home vampmom; Bella is a listless, whiny little tramp; Bella’s mom just follows her super-young baseball-playing husband around like a lost puppy…

Here’s my own discussion question. Why does Stephenie Meyer hate women?

She totally doesn’t, you see. She believes that feminism is about choice, and if every single one of her female characters choose to stay at home and have babies and have no life outside of their husband and kids, then, by golly, that’s their choice, and they’re feminist for it! If her main character chooses to dig herself deeper and deeper into a controlling, manipulative relationship characterized by abuse and “hurting to protect,” well, by golly, that’s her choice, and she’s a strong role model for girls everywhere!

5. The Cullens live, act, and care for one another as a family. How much of their ability to do so is dependant on Carlisle’s rule that they live in a manner that contradicts their nature–hunting animals instead of humans? Do you think that they would be able to maintain their bond if they weren’t all committed to this plan?

Oh please.

The only reason they hunt animals instead of Bad People in this book is so Stephenie can have wonderful, perfect, beautiful, caring superbeings as the protagonists. Her attempt to create a conflict in “but just drinking animals is like only eating tofu” falls completely flat. One, Carlisle actually overcomes his bloodlust. Two, Edward, when faced with the tasty, tasty buffet of Bella’s O+, seems to have little to no problem not partaking (and spoiler, he later becomes “immune” to her.) Three, the only person who ever bitches about this lifestyle is Edward, in an attempt to look edgy and brooding. The hunting animals instead of humans aspect of vampirism is an easy out for Stephenie to have characters who are Good In Every Way, instead of, I don’t know, well-rounded, three-dimensional characters, with real flaws. “Too perfect” or “can’t have babies” are NOT FLAWS.

6. Edward saves Bella on more than one occasion. Discuss the different instances and how Bella reacts before she knows what he is and after. Also discuss how Edward reacts after each instance both before and after she learns he is a vampire.

Lord, there was a difference? Let me try to remember.

Bella, before she finds out Edward is a vampire, is less committed to loving him forever and forever. Once she finds out he’s one of the beautiful dead, and can make her one, too, she is immediately caught up in the glamor of faux-suicide and the romance of “dying” for someone you love.

The good news is that before she learns he’s a vampire, she doesn’t expect him to save her. This all dissipates when she realizes that he’s like totally strong and stuff.

I really don’t think Edward gives a damn either way.

7.Alice explains to Bella the theory of how vampires come to exist. She mentions that most have some memories of the transition and their life prior to it. How does what we learn from James about Alice’s past explain her lack of memory?

Uh. Are you serious?

She was a frigging vegetable.

8. Once Edward has tasted Bella’s blood, do you think it will make it harder to resist Bella–specifically her blood? Will the fact that he is able to control himself make Bella want to be changed into a vampire? Do you think that it is fair of her to ask that of him? Do you think it is fair of him to refuse?

Ugh. Again, let’s recap the pros and cons of being a vampire.

Pros:

1. Super power carried over from your natural skills in life (reading minds, seeing the future, loving people will all your heart, etc.)
2. Super strength, speed, and senses.
3. Aphrodisiac breath.
4. Heart-stopping beauty.
5. Don’t need to breathe.
6. Totally immortal, to the point where only chopping you to pieces and lighting the pieces on fire will kill you.
7. Sparkles.
8. An easily-overcome addiction to human blood.

Cons:

1. NONE WHATSOEVER.

OF COURSE BELLA WANTS TO BE A VAMPIRE. I still think the only reason Edward is refusing is because if she were just as strong as him he couldn’t order her around. What he fails to realize is that Bella’s supervampire skill will be “obeying everything Edward says,” because she did it so well in life.

And, to address the first part of the question, you would think that tasting the forbidden fruit of Bella’s blood would make him want it more, but no. Sadly, this is not the case. He grows immune to her smell, and while he still appreciates it, eventually gets over his fear of accidentally eating her if she dares to open-mouth-kiss him.

Sigh.

9. Jacob Black tells Bella a story about his tribe and the “cold ones.” He doesn’t believe any of it but says his father clearly dislikes the Cullens. If Jacob’s father believes the Cullens are dangerous, why doesn’t he warn Bella or Jacob? Is he protecting a secret of his own?

Oh God. One, HE DOES WARN BELLA. ALL THE FREAKING TIME. HE PAID HIS KID TO GO TO PROM AND TELL HER TO BREAK UP WITH EDWARD. HOLY FREAKING CRAP.

The secret is that Billy Black has a Myspace and picked up all his social talent on the world-wide web.

10. Stephenie Meyer has noted that each of the novels in the Twilight Saga pays homage to other literary classics.

Sorry, I have to stop here. Are you freaking kidding me?

Okay, continue.

For Twilight, she has said Pride and Prejudice was the key inspiration.

….Are you serious?

Pride and Prejudice is often described as a “romantic comedy.” What parts of Twilight are romantic? What parts are comic? Describe the similarities between Elizabeth Bennet and Bella Swan. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Edward Cullen. What role would Bella’s friends play in a “remake” of Jane Austen’s classic story?

Oh.

My.

God.

I think the world has finally snapped.

I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that it is utterly ridiculous, insulting to a classic work of actual literature, and only serves to further feed Stephenie’s bloated ego.

Twilight — It’s Pride and Prejudice. With vampires.

I’d much rather read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, personally.

Addendum

Posted in Post is Unrelated with tags , , on April 10, 2009 by Rachel Vampirely

I described the super creepy key-claiming scene from chapter 12 to my boyfriend, Mikael. His immediate response? “You know there’s panties missing from her laundry hamper now.”

The mental image of Edward clutching a pair of Hello Kitty bikini-cuts to his nose and inhaling like an addict will be with you… always.

In addition, all Twi-Haters should spend some time here.

Introduction

Posted in Post is Unrelated with tags , , , on April 7, 2009 by Rachel Vampirely

Once upon a time, there was a woman named Stephenie. She had a dream about a vampire and a high school girl. The vampire sparkled. But that is neither here nor there.

95.86% of you have heard of the Twilight Saga. Most of you have formed an opinion of it before you came here.

I certainly did.

I hate vampires. I hate teenagers. I hate Mary Sues, emotionally abusive “romances,” and blatant overuse of adverbs. Above all, I hate Twilight.

But I’ve never read it.

This can’t be fair, many argue with me. How can you hate something when you haven’t even experienced it–sashimi fugu poisoning, Escherichia coli, and being covered in bees notwithstanding?

Yes, I just compared Twilight to getting E. coli.

At any rate, the challenge has been thrown down, and I can’t stand idly while my integrity comes into question. Not to mention that hating something, I mean really giving it all my vitriol, is but one of my many gleeful pasttimes. Maybe you should just read the recaps and see for yourself.