Posted by: mzbitca | December 2, 2008

It’s starting to get awkward

“Twilight” chapters 3-5.

Ok…I kinda like Bella at this point.  Edward…kinda creepy in that “he might be full of shit or he might also torture kittens in his bedroom” way.

Bella is showing a little bit of spine.  She argues with Edward and gets irritated with his annoying and erratic behavior.  She is in many ways a teenage girl. She ignores and is irritated by the three boys that do like her and is instead fascinated by the one show seems mildly aware of her existence.  However, even in the little bits of temper and independence we see they are always tempered by her looking into Edward’s eyes.  The language involving her is very passive, especially the sentence where she reports to finally being “released” when Edward looks away.  After Edward saves her she realizes that something is not right and attempts to get him to admit it.  He plays dumb and questions her judgement.   Unfortunately, Bella goes from a girl smart enough to realize she’s getting played and to pick up that Edward’s dad, her Dr. is aware of something, to assuming that he’s mad at her and regrets saving her.  Not a very rational reaction from someone who was unwavering in the truth and strong in her anger the day before.  

Three major things stuck out to me in these chapters, two I’ve been able to square away with the whole he’s a vampire thing, even if i feel there is something far more malevolent about them beneath the surface. The other I can’t and I don’t like it’s inclusion or Bella’s reactance to it

 

The first major event is the car accident, or lack thereof.  Bella is almost hit by a car in her school parking lot but Edward manages to save her by Hulk smashing the car or something.  The only thing is noone sees him so it just looks like Bella managed to jump out of the way relatively quickly.  But of course Bella is the epitome of girl in distress who can barely put one foot in front of the other without taking out herself and any nearby small children. So Edward is needed to save the day and fuck with her head just a little bit more by trying to make her think she’s crazy when she acknowledges he moved to quickly and was too strong to be normal.  

The second event is the lunch that Bella and Edward share.  You know, the lunch with giant red flags all over the place.  Edward starts the whole exchange off by admitting that he knows the right thing to do is to stay away from her but he doesn’t care.  I get that this is supposed to be all romantic and “Romeo and Juliet” and whatever, except that he is refering to the fact that she COULD DIE.  He drops his little hints that he’s dangerous and Bella believes him.  Then he ends the conversation with telling her that if knows what’s good for her, she would not be his friend. It’s a rape apologists dream conversation.  “He told her he was dangerous, He can’t be responsible for his actions even though they’re HIS actions and he knows damn well she could/will get hurt. The stupid bitch was warned, she could of walked away..wah wah wah, men have no control, her skirt was to short” 

The final thing was probably the area that pissed me off the most.  I was willing to cut the lunch some slack and admit that since Edward is a vampire you would argue that he’s obviously not the most moral person in the world.  That’s a fine area to explore if it’s done well.  But when Edward physically drags Bella to his car that is a line that shouldn’t be crossed.  He is physically over-powering her, she is scrambling to keep her footing and doesn’t doubt that he would drag her along the ground if she fell. Anyone who has ever been dragged against their will can tell you it is not exciting and romantic it is terrifying.   She also acknowledges that if she tried to run away she would not be able to escape him.  You know who else has experiences like that? The women I met when I worked at a Domestic Violence shelter.

I know I’m still in the beginning of book but I think my biggest problem is the fact that Vampires are supposed to be dark and twisted, their bloodlust is supposed to be thinly veiled sexual aggression, they are supposed to be questionably ethical and damaged.  The problem here is that it’s been candy coated into some cheap teenager romance where they get all the damage with none of the reality.  That is where there is a dangerous combination in my opinion.  Also, the message that Bella wants theman who is standoffish and strong and self-assured and not fawning all over her instead of the three guys who apologize for their behavior, are overly respectful and attentive and ask her to dances is a basic support of the typical Man-Woman dynamic which most of us would agree is pretty fucked up.


Responses

  1. I followed you over from Feministe… Anyway, I’ve been so intrigued by the phenomenon that is Twilight, I just got the audiobook from the library, and I’m right alongside you in terms of how far I am into the novel. So far, I very much agree with your assessment. Especially in terms of liking Bella. I’ve read so much about Twilight the last few weeks that I was predisposed to find her whiny and horrible, and then was surprised to find myself liking her, and sympathizing with her.

    And I was also frustrated by the fact that at first she stood up to Edward re: his role in the car accident, caught what was going on with Dr. Cullen, and then later, seemed to get all “he must totally hate me” about it.

  2. Yes, it does get frustrating reading the book. I got about 1/4th of the way through it and quit reading it. My daughters said I quit just right before it started getting really good. I decided I would wait and just see the movie with them. I have to say I really enjoyed it. I still do not plan on reading the books, I will just until until each movie comes out.

    A fun website that has a neat Twilight, Bell/Edward pendant is:
    twilightpendant

  3. That is the thing that irks me the most. He goes to a lot of trouble to make her doubt her judgement…and how many times do we hear victims say that people asked them if that is really what happened, or are they sure they know what they saw, or if they aren’t confused or imagining things? It’s abusive behavior, and I think I am the most infuriated by it b/c back when I was curious about it (b/c I am a sucker for a good vampire fantasy, obvs), all of my super religious friends, especially my Mormon SAHM friends, some who ban the HP series, were all ga ga over this series. They kept telling me how incredible and romantic it was and how they just loved it and wanted to be loved like Edward loved Bella and be so in love…

    But that isn’t love…it’s abuse…and it worries me that so many people find this romantic and not dangerous…

    He creeped me out in the movie. In a serious I have had relationships go wrong like that kind of triggering way.

  4. PS, OK slow down! I am going to try to catch up tomorrow! I need to find a clever stretchy book jacket for public reading…

  5. I think the part bothering you, how she does her quick turnaround, is what made me start to dislike her so much. She’s already making her definition of Self depend on Edward and her relationship with him, which, ultimately completely negates the idea of Self. Forge ahead, brave soldier.

  6. Fascinating!

    @Ouyang Dan: The people (women) you mention that ban Harry Potter but are nuts about Twilight baffle me. How is it any different to believe in magic and believe in vampires? Especially when vampires are metaphors for sexuality. Sure, Harry and his friends have crushes and kiss and wave wands in the air, but Twilight is obviously way more sexually charged. It’s just… ridiculous. If nothing else there are at least themes of friendship and bravery and the value of using your mind in HP. Are any of those present in Twilight? Does Bella have any friends!?

    @mzbitca: I loved seeing another post from you today! I’m wondering about the vampire universe that Myers is creating. It does vary, and I as I mentioned in an earlier comment, my personal yardstick of vampires is “Buffy” and Joss Whedon. So what’s the deal with vampires going out in the day? And maybe glowing? And how can they feed without people? The last one I’m especially interested in, as it seems reminiscent of “Tru Blood.” (I watched an episode of that and wanted to like it since I also love and adore Alan Ball, but don’t have HBO an so haven’t seen more of it and sadly didn’t enjoy much of what I did see. But they create synthetic blood on that show- what’s Twilight’s answer?) How much is Edward’s behavior attributed to his being a vampire? Are all vampires like him, can read minds and act hostile and abusive? Or is he just that dreamy and special?

  7. @Margosita: it boggles me too. Especially since one of the best things about the Potterverse is that it is devoid of external morality. There is no Christian concept of God nor Satan, or any other religious element whatsoever. All morality is completely part of the individual. You are the product of the choices you make, not simply what life or something bigger has handed you. Even Voldemort’s ultimate fate was his own, in that he assumes that the Potters are his enemy, when it could just as easily been the Longbotoms. How differently could his story have turned out if the Boy That Lived had been the Bumbling yet Lovable Neville.

    Plus, vampires are supposed to burst into flames and die in the sun. Period.

    None of this Glam Rock Vamp bullshit.

    Bella would be interesting if she had anything unique about her. She could be an incredible fanworthy girl…but she is this empty shell needing this god-like character foilish boyfriend to give her value…and it boggles me.

    Love is not defining yourself based on another person.

    I am starting today…so I will hopefully be able to chime in here soon!

  8. @Ouyang Dan: VERY well said! “None of this Glam Rock Vamp bullshit” = fabulous.

    I also thought this article really hit the nail on the head in regards to Twlight.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2008/dec/04/twilight-film-vampire

    It compares Twilight to Buffy and one comes up very, very short. It’s well written and the points are well made.

  9. I try not to compare the two genres, really. It’s apples and oranges, to be cliche.

    actually, the further I read, the more I realize that I would probably really like this if it were written from a vampire POV. I like vampire stories. I liked Buffy b/c of the concept of someone as strong as a vampire and the interaction. As much as I don’t want to cut a female protagonist out of a story, I find the background stories on the Cullen family very interesting.

    But yes, vampires do not sparkle. *grumbles*

  10. “actually, the further I read, the more I realize that I would probably really like this if it were written from a vampire POV. I like vampire stories. I liked Buffy b/c of the concept of someone as strong as a vampire and the interaction. As much as I don’t want to cut a female protagonist out of a story, I find the background stories on the Cullen family very interesting.”

    There is a version of Twilight from Edward’s POV. It isn’t finished, but you can find it on Meyer’s website under “Midnight Sun”.

  11. I should add-

    While it is interesting to hear the inner-workings of a psychopath’s Edward’s mind, there really isn’t too much expose. You don’t hear as much back-story as you would think.

  12. Actually, Anon, I have read a bit of it. That isn’t really what I had in mind (and honestly I found it poorly done), the inner workings of how to kill a 17 year old girl and everyone else in the room, while weighing the pros and cons of killing the others first and letting her blood go bad, or drinking her first and risking them getting away…it was very unsettling to say the least…and this is coming from someone who LOVES vampire lore and stories. I can’t really explain why I don’t care for it as much…

    I am thinking I would more enjoy their story a la Anne Rice, where you actually get to experience their lives and backstory.

    • If it really is that bad that creeps me out because of how lightly it’s treated, at least to this point in the book. He reminds Bella she should stay away and that’s it? If he was really serious about protecting her maybe he should go into more detail.

      This also reminds me of a fan fic read about Angel where you could hear the way the thoughts waged war in his mind between him and Angelus

  13. He kind of chronicles all of the ways in which he could kill her and clean up the mess afterwards so his family could get away.

    I don’t know why Angelus didn’t bother me so, and in fact I find the dialogues he has w/ himself (in Season 4 Angel) amusing. Maybe it’s b/c Edward, for all intents and purposes, maintains a soul. He has a conscience and is aware of the consequences of his actions. Apparently, to kill humans or not is a choice they make, and not just purely demonic/animalistic instinct.

    I am trying to find the passage where Ed actually does tell Bella that he planned how to hunt her. It was pretty creepy in context.

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