At least she’s got that dead-eyed stare down

My blog stats are taking a nose dive, and you know what that means! Time to start talking about Twilight again. What? It’s not like I didn’t warn you that that’s my strategy. Haters to the left.

344802103_1edeec9687When I first heard rumblings that they were going to cast Dakota Fanning in New Moon, I was all, “What is this noise? Who would she even play? It’s not like there are any preternaturally intelligent creepmaster flash children in this series.” At least not until Breaking Dawn. ZING! I’ll be here forever. Try the stuffed chicken breasts. (Okay, you’re right, that was not a zing.)

First of all, fun fact: after being ten-going-on-eighty-seven for the past, oh, century, apparently Dakota Fanning is almost fifteen now. Speaking of vampires, I always kind of thought of her as a real-life Claudia from Interview With the Vampire. Now that theory is ruined, although we’d really have to test her DNA to be sure.

Second of all, funner fact: people are saying that they’re going to cast her as Jane in New Moon. Personally, I think this casting choice, if indeed it is true, which, shouldn’t this all be settled right now? Don’t they have to start shooting this movie two weeks ago if it’s supposed to come out before the end of the year? Or are we in for yet another faithful but soulless adaptation, complete with clumsy editing and a terrible soundtrack, because nobody seems even remotely capable of planning ahead and the whole thing gets rushed? At least they’ve got more money this time around, so maybe the Volturi temple of doom set will be kick ass.

What was I saying? Oh, this casting choice is dead on. I barely remember Jane, but what I do remember was that she was small and creepy and had truly terrifying mind powers–I think maybe she was able to make people feel excruciating pain they weren’t really experiencing? That’s bananas. Which leads me to a question: Aro is, like, totally power hungry and yet he and his posse of ancient bloodsucking lunatics have absolutely no desire to maybe take over the world? Why don’t vampires rule the universe, if indeed they’re so impossible to outwit or defeat? Why are they afraid of being revealed to the world by mad hoards of newborn vamps or Edward stepping into a crowded Italian piazza and *~*SPARKLING*~*?

I think about this way too much. Time to get a life.

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My own personal brand of heroin…

I didn’t always love Twilight. Actually, the first time I read it I thought the plot was boring and saggy, the pace was off, Bella was annoying, and Edward was too smug to be a heartthrob. I returned it to the library and thought nothing of it again until I saw the first teaser trailer for the movie and then it hit me–Edward (portrayed excellently by Rob Pattinson) was a dish! I had to know more, and so I bought a copy of the book at Target and devoured it and its sequels in a matter of months (would’ve been shorter, since I was nothing less than obsessed, but I had to wait until this August for Breaking Dawn to come out).

Yes, the books have flaws, but I love them now the way you love your siblings–you fight and you disagree and after living in close quarters with them for eighteen or so years you can see every little annoying foible, but you love them so very much in spite of all these things, which makes it extra special when you get the opportunity to enjoy their company. Which is why I was so incredibly pumped, after reading Breaking Dawn, which as you know I just loved, to see the movie. Despite my young age I’m practically an old person, so I didn’t go see the movie at midnight on Friday like all the whippersnappers probably did, but I did see it on Friday night and I have some thoughtsicles, which I will now present in bullet points because my brain is fried from editing MB this weekend (still not done! Oh how I suffer…):

  • Casting: Superb in most cases. Rob Pattinson, who is my new fake boyfriend (not to be confused with my fake husband, That James McAvoy), was spot-on with his portrayal of Edward, and I think that comes from the fact that he threw the whole “Edward Cullen is the world’s perfect man” concept out the window and instead went deeper, dredging up Edward’s insecurities and fears and self-loathing, playing him as a guy who has been lonely for a century, thinks he’s soulless and doomed to the fiery pits of hell, and has literally no idea how to deal with the sort of human emotions that he’s been suppressing since he turned. Kristin Stewart was exactly how I imagined Bella, and although I could’ve done with a little less polysyllabic grunting in place of actual words, she was just as awkward and unsure and subtly bitchy as I imagined. The Cullens, too, were well cast, especially Emmett, who is perhaps my favorite Cullen after Edward (although I do love Alice, too, don’t get me wrong). I can’t wait till the Eclipse and Breaking Dawn movies, which are Cullen-eriffic, because they’re probably my favorite part of the series. You know what else I loved? Seeing Michael Welch in the role of Mike Newton! I love Michael Welch as Luke Girardi from Joan of Arcadia and was so so so happy to see that he’s still acting. You know what I didn’t love? Stephenie Meyer’s cameo. It pulled me RIGHT out of the story.
  • Plot: For the most part I think the film was adapted well. The nice thing about the Twilight books is that they’re so bloated that when you take out all the stuff that’s not really necessary, you’re left with a silver screen sized story (as opposed to the Harry Potter books, which if you try to pare them down you end up with a woefully anorexic adaptation like Goblet of Fire). I haven’t read Twilight in probably six months, so I wouldn’t really notice if the story was missing anything specific, but I thought all the important stuff was in there. I think that Bella’s voice over was unnecessary, though, and at times made little sense. My cousin Emma mentioned that they left out one of her favorite lines, when Edward says, “If I could dream I would dream of you,” to Bella, and I agree, that’s a great line and they should’ve left it in. But otherwise I was pretty impressed with the way everything moved, I thought the pace was pretty spot on, and while the scene-to-scene transitions could’ve been better, I considered this aspect well done.
  • Scenes: LOVED the baseball scene, I always imagined it would be awesome to see all these super humans playing the great American past time. I thought the meadow scene was perfectly serviceable, because Edward’s sparkly skin was done probably as best it could’ve been given the fact that it’s one thing to read about and another thing entirely to SEE on SCREEN. I liked that they made the sparkles look the way it looks when the sun is shining down on snow. That was clever. Also, the movie reminded me that probably the scariest scene in all four of the books, including Bella’s demon birthing scene in Breaking Dawn, is the scene when Bella is surrounded by all those drunk guys in Port Angeles. Because that could ACTUALLY HAPPEN, and it does happen, and it’s one of my worst fears about living in New York, or any city really. Too bad not all of us have a bad ass mind reading Edward Cullen to frighten off would-be attackers. Also, that kiss scene was hot. Looking forward to more of that in the future!
  • Soundtrack: Honestly, I was underwhelmed. The only song I even noticed enough to look it up later was “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse, which I downloaded on iTunes and am now listening to on repeat every second of the day. I listened to the clips of Rob Pattinson’s music and while it’s awesomely garbled and weird and I would like to own both songs, I’m pretty sure they weren’t actually in the film? Maybe one of them was, but I don’t remember it.

Overall, I loved the movie. I can’t wait to see it again (I will probably see it one or two more times in the theater, let’s be honest) and buy it on DVD when it comes out. And I don’t know if you know this, but they’re now officially making New Moon into a movie, so even though I’m not very excited to see only a tiny bit of Edward and way more of Jacob Black than I could ever want, the farther they get in filming the series the closer we get to watching the awesome sexy chaos of Breaking Dawn on the big screen, so I’m all for it!

All right, back to work.

Is Bella Swan anti-feminist?*

I was waiting for this: a Jezebel post on Breaking Dawn. I’m a little bit surprised that the Jezebelles were so unkind to the book, considering that resident Jezebel YA expert Lizzie Skurnick is a fan, but in retrospect I should’ve known this was coming. I mean, Stephenie Meyer has been getting slammed for being anti-feminist from the very beginning of Twilight, so much so that she’s actually responded to these accusations on her website:

I am all about girl power—look at Alice and Jane if you doubt that. I am not anti-female, I am anti-human [Ed: bolding Meyer’s]. I wrote this story from the perspective of a female human because that came most naturally, as you might imagine. But if the narrator had been a male human, it would not have changed the events. When a human being is totally surrounded by creatures with supernatural strength, speed, senses, and various other uncanny powers, he or she is not going to be able to hold his or her own. Sorry. That’s just the way it is. We can’t all be slayers. Bella does pretty well I think, all things considered. She saves Edward, after all.

Okay, so there’s that. And Meyer does have a point–I mean, all of the female vampires are very powerful, with Alice, the smallest and easiest to underestimate, probably being the most powerful of the Cullen coven. In New Moon and Eclipse, the greatest threat to Bella’s safety is from a female vampire–Victoria. Even some of Meyer’s Twilight mythology reflects the way the world is changing for women–while werewolf packs were traditionally all-male, in Eclipse we get the transformation of Leah, a female Quileute, into a werewolf. Even magic is conforming to a new societal ideology. So there’s no lack of powerful, kick-ass females in this series–Bella, the heroine, just happens not to be one, and that’s because she’s at a vast disadvantage by virtue of being so normal and human. There’s nothing strictly anti-feminist about that; in fact, it makes the whole series more relatable.

Also, Bella holds her own. She’s not a quivering coward of a girl–she’s steadfast, loyal, shrewd, discerning, and a master at overcoming fear in pursuit of that which she wants most. The moment we meet Bella, we learn that she’s done a very brave thing: she has agreed to go live with her father, Charlie, in Forks, a man she barely knows in a dark, rainy place she, a desert girl raised, couldn’t possibly feel comfortable in, because she wants her mother, who has recently married a professional baseball player who travels a lot, to be free and happy in her marriage. Maybe that’s grotesquely self-sacrificing, but it’s also incredibly sweet, and it soon becomes clear that Bella is a girl older than her age who has spent her entire adolescence taking care of her flighty mother. When Bella, despite her relative normalcy, starts getting a lot of attention from the boys at her new school, she is made uncomfortable by it because she understands how patently superficial it all is. She would rather just have some good, trustworthy friends who can make her stay in Forks bearable, but instead she gets a bunch of dopey, slavering aspiring boyfriends and a grip of backstabbing mean girls who only deign to hang out with her because the boys like her. Bella is diplomatic but acutely aware of the social pitfalls of this situation and does her best to avoid them.

As someone who feels like an outsider, it makes sense that she would be drawn towards another outsider, the shadowy, mysterious Edward Cullen (yes, he is beautiful, but Bella, after he treats her in an infamously and inexplicably rude manner, while puzzled, is fine with being disliked by him; she just wishes he’d stop glaring at her and then saving her ass all the time, because consistency is all the girl’s looking for in this brand new strange world). Edward is weird, duh, because he’s a vampire, and so he does act like a creepy stalker at first, but this is where the premise is really important–he is just as surprised by his behavior as she is, that he is both drawn to her and repulsed by her, and the fact that his mind-reading power doesn’t work on her puts them on equal footing because he has no intellectual advantage over her. Also, he recognizes right quick another thing that’s special about Bella–she attracts trouble. This is not because she is a ditz who blithely walks into potentially dangerous scenarios, although she is startling cavalier with her own safety, it just never occurs to her that anyone would want to hurt her. She thinks of herself as scenery in a world full of actors, not because she’s a mopey self-hater but just because that’s how she sees herself. Edward, because he has the ability to, tends to intervene in these situations–he stops a car from running her over, he rescues her from a pack of guys that are trying to assault her, etc. Yes, he is overprotective, but that’s because, especially as time goes on, he sees that he is making her world less and less safe simply by being in it.

Edward is not possessive. Actually, it’s the opposite–he knows that he’s bringing danger into her life and struggles daily between sticking around to prevent it from hurting her or leaving her to prevent it from coming at all, but she clings to him, willing to brave the risks and the fear in order to love him. That’s either incredibly romantic or incredibly stupid, probs both, but either way it’s Edward who tries to push her away in New Moon. To Bella’s credit, she does not rend her clothes and gnash her teeth and sob her guts out when he tells her that he’s leaving–she just accepts it, and then the lights go out for three months while she grieves and adjusts. Please don’t anybody ever tell me that when they were broken up with by someone they really loved the same thing did not happen because I will not believe you. And then Bella tries to move on with her life, albeit painfully and slowly. THIS IS NOT ANTI-FEMINIST. Bella alternately puts herself back together and falls apart because she’s a young girl with a sense of commitment and love more mature than her years and experience. This may not appeal to some people’s particularly sensibilities, but it’s not hatefully misogynistic.

Even when Edward comes back, he keeps encouraging her to consider her options–human (or half-human, anyway) Jacob who she can grow old with and have babies with, or eternal, potentially soulless death with a vampire who cannot give her children (WE THINK SPOILER!!1!). Or, you know, neither, although once Jacob comes on the scene full-force that doesn’t seem to be considered, which IS potentially anti-feminist, I’ll give you that. If Natalie Babbitt was writing this book, we know what the answer would be (hint: immortality is not a good idea and while cool for a couple of decades gets old, FAST, with or without a soul mate). Bella makes her own choice, and I know there are angry fans out there who think that Jacob’s imprinting on Renesmee in Breaking Dawn invalidates Bella’s choosing Edward in Eclipse, that’s silly, it just doesn’t. It was hard, she really considered what it would do to the three of them, she made her choice, she gets points for that. If Jacob had just fell in love with, like, Leah or something, would that invalidate Bella’s choice, too? Of course not. Was Stephenie Meyer supposed to make Jacob miserable and spurned in love forever for Bella’s choice to have power? No! And Edward is still trying to get Bella to change her mind about him and choose to remain mortal while she is pregnant in the hopes that she’ll save her own life, despite how much it would hurt to lose her. That’s not possessive, that’s passionate. That’s love. Idealized love, perhaps, but love all the same.

I guess what this comes down to is that I don’t think a woman is anti-feminist just because she knows what she wants and what she wants happens to be a life with a man she loves. On a related note, her decision to keep Renesmee (or, whatever, the baby who ends up being Renesmee) is just that: HER CHOICE. HERS. Bella says she never even thought about being a mother, but the truth is that she’s been mothering her own mother for as long as she can remember, and when she moves in with her father she mothers him; nurturing comes naturally to her, and it makes sense that those instincts would kick in once she was carrying a baby of her own. And Bella’s choice to become a vampire is not something she does on the fly–she considers it, decides to do it, and then waits three books to really sort it out in her mind before she commits to it, in the face of monumental opposition from the one person who would benefit from her becoming a vampire the most–Edward.

*I swear to God, at some point I will stop talking about Twilight and start talking about my own books again. But that can be summed up in one run-on non-sentence: revisions revisions revisions revisions wrote a single sentence in MB this weekend revisions revisions look I’m halfway done!