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ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?: The Inevitable Twilight Review

GAWWWWWD can I tell you how terrible this new Twilight movie was? I really don’t think I can keep doing this to Harold. A few years ago I made him watch Beaches and Steel Magnolias in a single day, and I don’t think that day even touches this month. Sex and the City 2 AND Eclipse? Do I hate this man?

To address the central theme of Eclipse, I offer this sample conversation:

Edward: Bella, I vant to marry you and THEN stick you – vith my fangs! AH AH AH!
Bella: Turn me into a vampire now! I’ll always feel this sure of our relationship! Human beings don’t evolve! They don’t!
Edward: One year of marriage! AH AH AH! Two years of marriage! AH AH AH!
Shirtless Jacob: Hey, Bella. Like, pick me and stuff.
Several Members of the Audience, Especially Garland: UNF.
Bella: Go away, Jacob! Your potential abusive relationship isn’t as compelling to me as this one!
Edward:Three years of marriage! AH AH AH…
Shirtless Jacob: I know you have feelings for me!

They have this same exchange over and over again. Edward, played by Robert Pattinson (FULL DISCLOSURE: The official editorial policy of Tiger Beatdown is that RPattz is “the worst actor in the history of filmed entertainment”) wants to put a ring on it, Bella (Kristen Stewart) wants to put the hurt on Edward, and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) wants to never ever wear a shirt. Which makes it nearly impossible to focus on half of this silly movie.

I would say I’m Team Jacob, but both of them are just such colossal assholes. So little of this movie is Bella telling them about what she wants, and so much of it is the two of them talking about her like she’s not STANDING RIGHT THERE. In one scene, Bella makes it extremely clear: she does not want to bump werewolf uglies with Jacob. He kisses her anyway. She punches him, but BOW she almost breaks her hand. (In the book she apparently does break her hand. I say apparently because I never finished any of the books.) I guess the verdict is in: don’t fight back ladies, it won’t do a damn bit of good.

The Twilight Series has always been a warped, frightening prism through which we are encouraged to view the power dynamics of modern relationships. Bella meets Edward, a possessive man who scares her and invades her personal space, and she cannot swoon fast enough. This teaches young women to ignore the signs that their relationships are abusive and glorifies a pernicious form of Stockholm Syndrome, which society calls The Good, Faithful Woman. For only The Good, Faithful Woman can find  TRUE LOVE. What is True Love? Well, you can’t control it, it consumes you totally, and once you’re in it, there is no escape. True Love is like the correctional complex in the 1992 masterstroke Fortress, similar to the prison planet in the atrocious Alien 3, and a carbon copy of the barbaric Rura Penthe, the asteroid Kirk and McCoy are sent to in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Besides lending itself to gratuitous science fiction references, True Love is a concept that evades criticism and interrogation – it is an end unto itself. The idea that mature adults can actively choose healthy relationships is non-existent in the Twilight universe.

In a bit of seemingly old-fashioned gender reversal, Bella wants to have sex and Edward doesn’t. Which is only gender reversal if you assume women don’t have sex drives. Edward wants to be celibate until marriage, which is his personal decision and we should all respect that. Buuuuuuuuuuut his personal decision comes with this asinine underpinning of weak, sexist chivalry — complete with the toxic fetishism of virginity, which transforms Bella’s into a commodity for Edward and Jacob to fight over. Since the voice of this bullshit patriarchal complex created to control women by controlling their sexuality belongs to this absolute, utter DREAMBOAT, it gets amplified. Amplified in the only way it can in the mind of a young, female viewer who has been conditioned to tie her self-worth to the appraisal of a man. This act of ideological transference is made all the more easy by the nature of the heroine. She has no stable personality. Her one leading characteristic is an inability to know what she wants. It is easy to empathize with a character who is everything to everyone: from the start of the movie you are encouraged to slip into Bella’s place. And when your sexy dead pretend boyfriend tells you “we should wait until marriage,” you can’t help but internalize that to some degree.

I am in full support of people who choose to remain celibate, as I am of people who choose to have casual sex. But there is a difference between knowing your full range of options and choosing not to have sex, and riding to Bonesville on the Marriage Express because you are consumed by pangs of lust and your family or religious community exploits this fact to shove you into a wedding that will negate your control over your own life. This is how people end up with people who they aren’t sexually compatible with. For life.

In Eclipse, Bella is planning to marry Edward after graduation, and then have him turn her into a vampire. There are a lot of scenes with her boring social circle planning graduation, and then her friend gives a really terrible Valedictory Address. They could have sent me 50 bucks and I would have written a better graduation speech in 5 minutes. Everything in the Twilight Universe is so mediocre, every character so bland, that even the vampires that have been around for centuries just bore you to tears.

Through Alice’s premonitions and some really shoddily done fake in-movie local news reporting (I would have preferred spinning newspaper headlines, frankly) we learn that an unknown vampire is raising an army full of new recruits. It is explained that newborn vampires are stronger than older vampires, because of the human blood that lingers in their tissues. Which is just bullshit. I have never, ever seen a vampire mythos in which age doesn’t confer strength. Underworld. The Vampire Chronicles. The Last Vampire. The Sookie Stackhouse Novels. Older vampires are stronger, faster, deadlier than younger vampires.

The vampires and the werewolves call an uneasy truce, so they can fight the vampire army together. Did I mention the werewolves are all Native Americans? Thanks, Native Americans! We appreciate you putting your cultural heritage under a modify/adapt for-profit creative commons license. We were trying to tell a story about dead white people, and instead of tapping into the rich European lore of vampires, we’ve decided to transfigure your myths for our purposes. Don’t worry, you’re well-represented in this story. For instance, none of you have real personalities of your own, but instead you form a hive mind, making decisions as a group because that’s a much more Native-Americany way to do things. You’ve very insular and suspicious, often violent, but you’re always ready to help a white man in need!

There are a few scenes I like, including the grand battle between the vampire army and the vampires and werewolves of Forks. In the glorious haze of battle the vampires and the werewolves work as one, forming momentary alliances based on skill and speed and slaughter. It is one of those scenes you spit out right after, ashamed at how much you enjoyed it. Because the world is larger and more complicated than simple alliances.

When Jacob finds out that Bella has agreed to marry Edward, he flips his shit and tries to run off to get himself killed in battle. So Bella kisses him. Bella seems to have two weapons in her persuasive arsenal: Sex kitten and shallow waif. She doesn’t seem to trust her own powers of non-sexual reasoning. And why should she? From the first page of the series she tells us how clumsy and boring she is, she lets everyone walk on her, and the man she loves consistently teaches her that her only function in life is to be the one he loves.

The only likable person in this whole film is Bella’s father, Charlie Swan. Charlie Swan, regionally ranked pornstache owner/noble sheriff of Forks, Washington. During one scene in the kitchen, he awkwardly tells Bella he hopes she is using birth control with Edward, and she informs him that she is a virgin. (NONE. OF. HIS. BUSINESS.) He responds by quipping to himself that he likes Edward more now, which is the wrong message to send about sex not being a physical necessity and instead being this bullshit ritual with very strict rules about who should be ashamed of themselves for addressing that physical necessity. This sexual coercion mangles the mind, putting a permanent buffer between all of us and our own sexual impulses, a buffer which can rob us of sexual satisfaction, a buffer which takes years to unload. This is the culturally-accepted Father’s Approach to Sex: encourage the boys, discourage the girls. Turn everything into a fucking war between the frisky lads and the frigid ladies. But Charlie Swan is often the voice of reason. When he thought his daughter was having sex, he mentioned contraception. When he sees how totally emotionally attached she is to Edward, he tries to create space between them. He is our tunnel out of Sullen Vampire Chastity Land, but his constant reminders of how terrible his own love life has been undercuts his message.

Stephanie Meyer has done the impossible: she has written a sexy morality tale. Twilight has all of the elements of “social guidance” films like Reefer Madness or Boys Beware — painting society in broad caricatures of the fallen and the chaste — but it is wrapped in this tween-friendly packaging, the media onslaught of which is hip and appealing and seemingly sex-positive. (It affirms young love! It lets us objectify men!) Young men and women are not going to stop having sex because of Twilight. But they are going to do all of the ignorant or emotionally damaging things people do when they are mortified by their own sexual impulses. Comprehensive sex education, in the classroom and in the culture, gives young people options. The more they are informed of their options, the less likely their sexual development will be marred by large amounts of toxic shame.

There is an important distinction to be made between Twilight fans and Twilight Inc., the runaway cultural phenomenon/sales Goliath. There are so many narcotic things about the Twilight series: it creates a sense of community, it allows sexually-repressed people a tightly-constrained sexual outlet, and it gives the reader something to long for. People have many complicated reasons for liking things, and mocking them incessantly only drives them deeper into their own insular communities, making it less likely that they will look at the series with a critical eye. Some of the criticism of Twilight and its fans is so sexist and homophobic (Sample Facebook Group: “Back in my day Vampires sucked blood, not cock.” Fuck you, Internet) that being a fan of Twilight can sometimes seem like the lesser of two evils. Dividing people into the righteous and the fallen is exactly the sort of shit we fight against, even if we don’t always like everyone’s choices.

Make fun of and eviscerate cultural artifacts and behaviors, but not people. When you meet a Twilight fan, don’t spit out Harry Potter agitprop at them or ridicule them for their choices. Just ask them if they feel at all conflicted about the series. More than likely they are familiar with the criticisms of Twilight and just need a little time to think about how these things have a negative impact on their own self-image. They don’t need you reaffirming their suspicion that the outside world will never understand them and that Twilight is the only thing they can trust. This is big tent community building. This is inclusiveness. This is necessary. Otherwise you’ll chase off all the complicated, imperfect people and the 50 or so of you with your shit totally together will have a big party without us.

34 Comments

  1. Tawny wrote:

    “Harry Potter agitprop”

    OMG this is my favorite idea of ever.

    And also a tiny part of a totally awesome article! I get so fed up with people hating on people for liking things they don’t.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink
  2. tiffanized wrote:

    Thank you for this post and your last two paragraphs, especially. A lot of us “Twilight people” know the saga’s flaws, probably better than its detractors do.

    Through the Twilight community I’ve met amazing, educated, professional, caring, intelligent people with whom I can share not just the Twilight stuff (which absolutely includes making fun of it, mercilessly) but real life stuff as well. And we know Robert Pattinson is a bad actor. Believe me, WE KNOW.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink
  3. jfruh wrote:

    “Thanks, Native Americans! We appreciate you putting your cultural heritage under a modify/adapt for-profit creative commons license.”

    Ha ha, that made me laugh! There is not enough good open source licensing humor out there, frankly.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Permalink
  4. Kathleen wrote:

    well, as somebody who is almost 40 I don’t have anything to say about the impact of Twilight on teenagers but what weirds me out is its HUGE fanbase among my contemporaries. Like, it really does seem like lady porn: the construction of male characters who have zero personality outside of INSANE PASSIONATE UNSTOPPABLE DESIRE FOR THE HEROINE. I totally don’t want to do one of those dumb equivalence things that seeks to evacuate the feminist critique (see! ladies objectify people too! There is no patriarchy forever no backs!!!!!)

    Nevertheless, I kind of feel like: wow. the appeal of Twilight is undoubtedly one part indoctrination by the patriarchy but at least one part solipsistic fantasy, which — okay, right, everybody’s got an ego and ladies particularly do not need to be ashamed of that fact but the Twilight books just seem to appeal to it so embarrassingly shamelessly. Maybe that’s okay? Or sort of a-political? vis a vis teenagers, I can see it that way — vis a vis grown ups, I dunno.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Permalink
  5. belmanoir wrote:

    A lot of this made me laugh. But this:

    Just ask them if they feel at all conflicted about the series. More than likely they are familiar with the criticisms of Twilight and just need a little time to think about how these things have a negative impact on their own self-image.

    just made me gag. That is incredibly patronizing! (And it’s not as if Harry Potter’s gender messages were SO fabulous.) Being a fan of something doesn’t mean you are a passive reader penetrated by the text! It’s possible to like something AND not want to recreate it in your own life/relationships. It’s even possible to like something and know it’s sexist, especially in a society like ours where pretty much ALL pop culture is sexist in SOME way. Twilight fans are not pathetic victims who need your compassion and encouragement.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Permalink
  6. Brimstone wrote:

    it’s interesting how all the ‘vampires are beautiful/sexually irresistible’ tropes in Twilight seem like they were originally meant to be scary. the ‘vampires are unearthly and beautiful’ is creepy ’cause their dead. the ‘you want to do what they say’ is them hypnotizing you

    but the criticism of Twilight is starting to feel like the criticism of Sex & The City. they’re both forms of media that Aren’t For Me but just ’cause i prefer my vampires scary doesn’t mean i should pass moral judgement

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Permalink
  7. kat wrote:

    @GarlandGrey very well-written. I’m not going to lie & say that I hated the series, because I took them at face value. They were entertaining enough. In reality, the suckage has created a valuable discourse on relationships and the import

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Permalink
  8. al_zorra wrote:

    “There are a lot of scenes with her boring social circle planning graduation, and then her friend gives a really terrible Valedictory Address.”

    Buffy’s graduation was so much more fun.

    Love, C.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink
  9. julian wrote:

    And Tiger Beat wins again!

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Permalink
  10. C.L. Minou wrote:

    @Kathleen: it’s also one part thinly-veiled Mormon allegory. And it’s kinda disappointing when your thinly-veiled Mormon allegory sucks worse than the Original Battlestar Galactica.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink
  11. Carax wrote:

    Haha, I really enjoyed the article.
    As a fantasy geek I have to take issue with
    “It is explained that newborn vampires are stronger than older vampires, because of the human blood that lingers in their tissues. Which is just bullshit. I have never, ever seen a vampire mythos in which age doesn’t confer strength. Underworld. The Vampire Chronicles. The Last Vampire. The Sookie Stackhouse Novels. Older vampires are stronger, faster, deadlier than younger vampires.”
    What you say is true; I’ve never read a vampire mythos in which vampires did not get more powerful with age, but that doesn’t mean that a reversal or re-working of this is “bullshit.” The only thing that keeps the countless different versions of familiar fantasy creatures interesting is that authors do just that, play with what’s expected. Having said that, though, Stephenie Meyers does have an astonishing ability to come up with the least convincing, most idiotic and ridiculous “innovations” ever, the chief sin among them being, of course, SPARKLING VAMPIRES. Ugh
    @Belmanoir
    Speaking as a person with a lot of Twilight fan friends, I guess what’s disturbing about it to me is that, as Garland pointed out, the characters are incredibly bland, and there are plenty of hot(ter) men out there besides RPatz and Taylor Lautner, so it seems like a lot of the attraction must come from the *very creepy to me* relationship itself. That something about being Bella is really attractive to them, you know? And as much as I can understand enjoying having a guy be totally, all-consumingly into you, I cannot understand what would be attractive about being Bella. Wanting to be Bella to me seems like wanting be helpless, and dominated, and…bland. So I guess when I see my strong, intelligent friends being really into Twilight, I feel like maybe the series is tapping into some internalized patriarchy they’re not registering. Which is, probably, patronizing, but I can’t figure out another explanation for it…

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink
  12. Scott wrote:

    @CL I was a bit surprised that wasn’t brought up in the main text.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Permalink
  13. Gina wrote:

    I’m kind of bothered by the notion that sexual incompatibility is the problem invoked here as a result of getting married in order to have sex. I’ve seen a lot of Christian people get married seemingly to have sex (I’ll never know their real reasons – I just know they expressed their sexual frustrations to me and got married after a short period of dating), and the worse problem I see is that these people aren’t compatible as friends. Even worse, and more commonly, these relationships between people who come from super-traditional backgrounds are usually very oppressive to the women involved. I’ve been married for almost 10 years and what I enjoy most about my marriage isn’t the crazy awesome sex – it’s the companionship with another person who respects me as a human being.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Permalink
  14. Ceci wrote:

    Alien 3 isn’t atrocious, just not as good as the first two ones. Other than that I agree with pretty much everything in this article.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Permalink
  15. ladysquires wrote:

    “I am in full support of people who choose to remain celibate, as I am of people who choose to have casual sex. But there is a difference between knowing your full range of options and choosing not to have sex, and riding to Bonesville on the Marriage Express because you are consumed by pangs of lust and your family or religious community exploits this fact to shove you into a wedding that will negate your control over your own life. This is how people end up with people who they aren’t sexually compatible with. For life.”

    I am going to this very wedding over the weekend. She’s still in college. They are both financially dependent on their parents. But they totally want to bone and can’t do it without putting a ring on it. It’s being held in a Baptist Church. No booze. Good times.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 12:23 am | Permalink
  16. Leah wrote:

    I have many friends who were fans of Twilight before the hype, and I remember hearing them say that part of their attraction to Bella was the fact that she was clumsy, and plain-looking, and insecure. She was different from the badass, drop-dead gorgeous heroines that are shown to us at every turn. The media tells women (especially impressionable teenagers) that in order to be wanted (which is a basic human desire), we must fit into a mold with pre-established standards for physical appearance and personality. So, for teenage misfits (girls who are either a) not Megan Fox or b) shy/socially awkward, Bella was a dream come true. She didn’t fit into this idealistic image of Venus, yet she still got her pick of two gorgeous men who would do anything for her. Bella Swan’s appeal is that she gives hope to those who need it.
    On another note, as archaic (not to mention barbaric) as it sounds, the fact that Edward and Jacob behave the way they do (trying to take control of Bella, essentially) also has an appeal to females. Some may argue that it’s a psychosis experienced mostly among teenage girls who want a strong, decisive man because they’re really still just little girls, however this sort of male dominance is a common theme in adult romance novels as well. In many cases, you can tell just be the cover: Fabio pressing his beautiful heroine against a wall or holding her practically limp frame in his big, strong man-arms. The blurbs tell of an irresistible attraction between the two which inevitably consumes the couple, often instigated by the man. In academic literature, a college-level textbook on psychology (Hockenbury & Hockenbury*) states that “…women tend to imagine themselves in sexually passive roles– that is, having something sexual done to them.” So, to teenagers who use Twilight as an outlet for sexual tension, it’s very sexy on a level that most self-respecting women growing up in this modernized era would never admit to.
    One final note: I wish the media would stop portraying “true love” as this Romeo-and-Juliet-esque force that possesses people to do absolutely anything and everything for someone they’ve known for a couple of weeks. Consummate love (according to Triangular Love Theory) is a combination of passion, intimacy, and commitment. The union of two infatuated people who haven’t known each other for very long (i.e. Passion + Commitment) is known as Fatuous Love. I wonder why? Anywho, true love should be represented as an ever-lasting version of Consummate Love, not a brief stint of its Fatuous counterpart.

    *Hockenbury, Don, and Sandra Hockenbury. Psychology. New York: Worth Publishers, 2000. Print

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 1:56 am | Permalink
  17. T. wrote:

    @Leah That’s exactly how I feel about Bella, although luckily I was too old to get into it when Twilight got big. When I was a teenage girl, every model I could try to emulate was working really hard to be whatever she was. Hermione Granger, Britney Spears, Sarah Michelle Gellar – they never even slept, much less spent months moping in a hotel room. They didn’t have time, what with their constant schedule of doing everything at once forever. A show like Buffy was all about how women can do it all, but in actual fact we can’t. No one can.

    And now we have Bella, who doesn’t have to do anything! That was my dream right there, to be honest. I would’ve let my terrifying half-vampire fetus chew its way out of my womb if they promised me a few weeks of bed rest afterward.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 5:03 am | Permalink
  18. tree wrote:

    my objection to meyers’ books is that her writing is appalling and simply confirms my belief that being published is not actually a measure of talent.

    however, i think this comment — and your family or religious community exploits this fact to shove you into a wedding that will negate your control over your own life — rather grandiosely erases a variety of cultures in which arranged marriage is both normative and the norm.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 7:45 am | Permalink
  19. SKM wrote:

    When I was a kid, I used to think Luke Perry was a terrible actor. Then I grew up and encountered RPattz, who is like an even woodener version of Perry.

    Pattinson makes Luke Perry look like Sidney Poitier.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink
  20. Obviously older vampires should be stronger than newborn vampires. Unless all newborns are exactly the same, some will be stronger than others, and the stronger newborns more likely to survive to be older vampires. If newborns were stronger, and older vamps weaker, then no older vamps would be able to compete with the newborns, and you just wouldn’t see older vamps.

    DARWIN 4-EVA!!!!!!!1!11!!!

    (I know — like anybody even cares. But not having read any of the books or seen any of the movies, this is the only point about which I can comment.)

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 9:55 am | Permalink
  21. JfC wrote:

    @Mr Subjective
    It’s a common myth about evolution that fittest=stronger=driving other species to extinction. You are probably 10,000,000 times stronger and more powerful than ants, but it would be virtually impossible to drive ants to extinction.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 10:49 am | Permalink
  22. Kait wrote:

    I don’t know if anyone has suggested this to you yet, but on youtube there is a guy called Alex Day, and he reads Twilight a chapter or two at a time, giving you his thoughts. I must say he makes reading it all the more enjoyable. And that I need to be his best friend. Anyways, check it out if you haven’t.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2L253VLwH3w&feature=channel

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 10:56 am | Permalink
  23. CapnColleen wrote:

    @Leah: I get what you’re saying about Bella’s awkward, insecure, not-at-all-like-a-supermodel thing being appealing to women (young women in particular) in the books. It was appealing to me when I read them initially. But I think that all sort of got squashed when they cast Kristin Stewart (who is totally beautiful in all sorts of conventional ways) to play her in the movies. Because Bella’s lack of a dynamic personality and lack of beyond-the-norm beauty on paper was kind of comforting. But in the movies the oh-so-important second half of that equation and turned Bella into a SUPER pretty girl with no personality.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 11:07 am | Permalink
  24. Kathleen wrote:

    @Leah &T. — yeah, totally. But this is what we criticize geek boys and “nice guys” for, right? The expectation that their averageness merits FABULOUS UNREAL LOVE MATINGS. It’s totally cool in teenagers, actually — not that I’m a developmental psychologist, but word on the street is their narcissism is par for the course. But in grown-ups, it’s, yikesy.

    And, @ C.L. Minou — yeah, totes about the Mormonism! which is, kind of relatedly, pretty racist (GG pointed this out, of course). Like, the whole Twilight series is a particular kind of white lady fantasy: passionately desired by the swarthy and the sparkly alike! Choosing, of course, the sparkly in the end! (no *really* swarthy types need apply — American Indians are about the limit, black men eek!)

    And this is where I am not so sympathetic to half-feminist readings of the reception of Twilight: I mean, the kind that emphasize the dom/submissive dynamic and how it’s real sexist. I mean, that reading is right, of course. But it doesn’t call out the other half of the work patriarchy does: appealing to our big dumb vanity. It’s really obvious all the ways that patriarchy appeals to men’s big dumb vanity. But this seems like a series of books that appeals to women’s, too — you are clumsy and average and yet the mens, THEY WANT YOU LIKE CRAZY. In this particular, patriarchally-themed but also super, super, super racistly-themed way (the average clumsy white ladies, so universally seductive!)

    it’s not like I think calling women out on their love of Twilight is the pinnacle of feminist activism. It’s probably not even that important? But I, like, I look at Twilight fandom and think damn, no wonder feminism is as undermined by women as it is by men. Damn, no wonder non-white potential feminist allies (not to mention non-white feminists) get a little exasperated. Not original thoughts, of course.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 11:08 am | Permalink
  25. Andrew wrote:

    Woo hoo, Team Bella’s Dad for life!

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Permalink
  26. Nora wrote:

    I read some of the books and am still all of TEAM MIKE NEWTON. He is the guy Bella rejects in the first book! I think maybe later in the series he throws up, but by that point I was listening to them in audio form while also playing Half Life 2 and so I’m a little hazy on the details and/or headcrabs.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink
  27. assassin wrote:

    @ andrew, i haven’t seen eclipse yet so i’m guessing they watered this down (like having her ALMOST break her hand instead of actually breaking it), but in the book, when bella comes into the house after having punched jacob and broken her hand, charlie LAUGHS at her. like, actually laughs. like it’s so cute that she wants to fight back but is so teeny-weeny and weakly vaginated that she would only injure herself. i threw the book across the room.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink
  28. ArtofMe wrote:

    I can understand Twilight’s appeal. Because Bella is so normal and plain in every way, readers can imagine themselves in her place. She’s just a regular girl. But to me, she’s boring. I’ve never understood the appeal of needing to relate to a character in order to like hir. I think it’s nice to have characters that I can aspire to be like. Not to mention, I think Twilight is badly written and the romance is unhealthy. I’d rather not have guys obsessing over me the way Edward and Jacob do with Bella. I like healthier relationships, not that sort of dependency that the books show. Not to mention, the sex is really stereotypical. Edward won’t have sex with Bella because he’s afraid he won’t be able to stop himself from hurting her. Gender stereotypes and rape culture, yippee!

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Permalink
  29. Molly Ren wrote:

    “…the media onslaught of which is hip and appealing and seemingly sex-positive. (It affirms young love! It lets us objectify men!)”

    Having actually gone to the first Twilight movie with my best girlfriend just to look at the pretty men, this is probably what frustrates me the most about the critiques of the whole Twilight franchise. I came out all excited that there was a movie where the dude was the sex object and there were so many examples of non-penetrative acts being sexy and was all ready to have conversations about sadism and pain and the male gaze even tho the writing was crappy. Instead it’s actually about chastity balls and Mormons.

    I’ve read a lot more feminist blogging since then, but I’m still disappointed.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
  30. Melinda wrote:

    @ARTOFME. SPOILER ALERT
    Can I just say that in the fourth book (I have, indeed, read them all, and will explain why below) she FINALLY gets to have teh sexytimez with Ed and it’s all “fade to black” and then she wakes up the next morning covered in bruises and the bed is broken… and OMG IT’S HEAVEN!!!
    Basically, he beats the crap out of her during sex, and it’s the best thing ever. For all the girls who are reading this book, if this ever happens to them, I worry what kind of expectations this creates in their minds. Nothing in the entire books (even the weird pedophilia) was as disturbing to me as that.

    My excuse for reading all four: Now, I work with kids. All ages, all day. It’s my job to keep to keep kids healthy. When twilight came out I noticed that alot, like a lot alot of teens and preteens were reading these books, and the feminists on the interwebs were saying some pretty scathing and worrisome things about them. So I read them, and I feel like now I can point out in them the parts (like above) that are particularly bad and that young women should NOT try to think of as perfect relationships, as they are painted…

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 11:51 pm | Permalink
  31. Victoria wrote:

    I tried to read a little bit of Twilight, but the writing is so bad that I couldn’t get past a page. And the movies: Not at all for me. So this is a fairly uninformed, and also devil’s advocate-y point, but:

    I had internalized all this crazy chastity=virtue, please-hero-man-come-save-me bullshit as a girl. Then I went to college and had lots and lots of sex, some of it excellent and some of it ill-informed and potentially damaging and not at all consensual, then I married one of the people I had lots of excellent sex with and am happy about that at some point every day.

    What I mean to say is that yes, this shit can be damaging, and we should definitely worry about girls, and also about the culture surrounding girls and the expectations a franchise like Twilight enhances and confirms. But even without help overcoming these rancid internalized ideas (of which I had none), lots of girls will become relatively well-adjusted ladies. And even without Twilight, girls are going to internalize this stuff. This is not to minimize any points made here, but to say that, well, there’s a little hope in the fact that ladies are tougher than the Twilight world wants us to think they are, and that gives me hope.

    Saturday, July 10, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Permalink
  32. EmilyBites wrote:

    Saw Eclipse yesterday with my sis (anything with vampires. anything), and it struck me as…sort of an extended awareness campaign for IPV, except without any awareness.

    I mean, in practically the first ten minutes, Edward DISABLES BELLA’S CAR SO SHE CAN’T GO OUT. Seriously, your boyfriend is disabling your car so you can’t visit your other friends? And that s annoying but somehow acceptable?

    The constant conversations between Jacob and Edward over Bella’s head while she’s right there. I just. And all the unwanted touching/grabbing.
    I wanted to reach into the screen and give Bella a can of mace.

    Sunday, July 11, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Permalink
  33. supersarah wrote:

    I will explain Twilight’s appeal: Girl meets boy. Girl wants to f*** boy’s brains out, and won’t take no for an answer. Despite girl’s raging (though very much checked) libido, no character in the entire series ever suggests that she’s a slut or a skank for having those feelings. This acknowledgment of teen girl horniness is powerful, affirming, and sadly lacking elsewhere in mainstream pop culture.

    Is it problematic that Bella’s desire is frustrated for most of the series, and treated as something dangerous that her love interests need to control? Of course! Do those problems reflect problems that real girls face every day in a real world that vilifies female sexuality? Unfortunately, yes. It IS possible to enjoy the horny while recognizing the negative aspects of the story, and of the culture in which it’s situated. I don’t “need a little time”, I’m not internalizing patriarchy or undermining feminism, and I resent the implication. Part of the fun of the series is thinking about and critiquing its sexual politics.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Permalink
  34. Momentary De-Lurk wrote:

    @SUPERSARAH: Right on! I read the books and my heart thudded like a teenager’s for them to just do it already. You’re right that there was no blame from Bella’s human friends or the other vamps for wanting to have sex with Edward (or even Jacob if she’d wanted to).

    I was completely able to recognize the generally poor writing skills of SM, her sonservative/backward/misogynist ideas about sex and purity that she addressed through the more important men in Bella’s life (Edward and Charlie) and the many, many inconsistencies of this so-called modern vampire romance.

    I don’t want to wave it off as “just pop culture” or “junk food for the brain”, because pop culture is a reflection of us at our best and worst, but I think does an ok job of portraying some generic struggles of the teenage female: surviving with (or in spite of) selfish, uninvolved parents, real sexual urges, navigating a first serious relationship, rebelling, emotionally maturing through all of it.

    I think SM did her target audience (young adults) a disservice by trying to wrap it up really nicely so that no one dies, or ends up totally heartbroken, or stays imperfect. Again, she’s not a great writer.

    Of the 3 movies, this is the one where Bella actually shows some agency, addresses Edward’s “ancient” and socially constructed need for them both to be virtuous until marriage, addresses the fact that young women her age generally don’t get married unless they’re knocked up, etc. Actually, credit the screenwriter for that more realistic POV- and even she’s not that good.

    For a great laugh and some critique of the series (books and movies-to-date), read this:

    http://community.livejournal.com/m15m/22620.html

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Garland Grey, emma! jane! sales!. emma! jane! sales! said: yes yes and yes. http://tigerbeatdown.com/2010/07/08/are-you-not-entertained-the-inevitable-twilight-review/ [...]

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Elizabeth Welsh, Amanda Fitzwater. Amanda Fitzwater said: Tigerbeatdown on Twilight's "sexy morality", "power dynamics of modern relationships" & how to engage the fandom http://tinyurl.com/2fo8zeb [...]

  3. links for 2010-07-12 « Embololalia on Monday, July 12, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    [...] Tiger Beatdown " ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?: The Inevitable Twilight Review There is an important distinction to be made between Twilight fans and Twilight Inc., the runaway cultural phenomenon/sales Goliath. There are so many narcotic things about the Twilight series: it creates a sense of community, it allows sexually-repressed people a tightly-constrained sexual outlet, and it gives the reader something to long for. People have many complicated reasons for liking things, and mocking them incessantly only drives them deeper into their own insular communities, making it less likely that they will look at the series with a critical eye. Some of the criticism of Twilight and its fans is so sexist and homophobic (Sample Facebook Group: “Back in my day Vampires sucked blood, not cock.” Fuck you, Internet) that being a fan of Twilight can sometimes seem like the lesser of two evils. Dividing people into the righteous and the fallen is exactly the sort of shit we fight against, even if we don’t always like everyone’s choices. (tags: feminism twilight fandom) [...]