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Posts tagged ‘Twilight’

Being Native in the Twilight Saga and The Importance of Being Sam and Emily…

I’ve gotten more than a bit of attention for my post on racism in the Twilight Saga, and more than my share of criticism.

Apparently if you don’t think that the over-description of non-white vampires and other non-white people is the author’s way of being explicitly Not Racist (I call this exotification, but wev), especially when she remarks how exotic and strange their “bushy hair” and dark skin were, then you are digging too deep and just looking for something to complain about because you don’t like something.

Perhaps.

Or, maybe I don’t need to go digging for racism because it is pervasive and so ingrained in my daily life that I can just casually sit and let it come to me.

Most notable is the way that I see Native Americans/First Nations/Indigenous Peoples portrayed in pop-culture in North America. I have seen in various places that people are So Excited! that The Saga has treated Natives so well and depicted so greatly, and that all the actors are actually Native and blah blah blah…

Funny, is that I found in the Wikipedia entry, the first line in almost all of the actors portraying the Quileute people spelled out all of their ethnic heritage, to verify that all of those actors were indeed Native American or First Nation (with the notable exception of Taylor Lautner’s entry, who is the only actor they didn’t seek out specifically for being Native American, and, while I think it is cool he discovered a part of his ancestry, didn’t discover he had any Native blood until he researched for his Twilight role). To secure the cred of the makers of the film, so that we all know that not only do they look Native, but that they are indeed Native. To secure the racial and ethnic integrity of all the actors, making sure that we have no doubt about their heritage so that the makers of Eclipse can smile smugly to themselves about how good they were to all of those indigenous actors…

While I do want to give credit where credit is due, I fully support the casting of Native/First Nation actors to play these roles, especially when we have movies and directors who are refusing to do so (I’m looking at YOU M. Night…), there has been a notable culture surrounding these movies, and their fandom that OMFG YOU GUIZE BUT THEY ARE CASTING REAL NATIVES SO YOU MUST BE SO PROUD!!!!11!!ONE!

But be honest about it. The casting director did not specifically seek out only Native actors for the Native roles. Only for the non-principal parts. For the role of Jacob they were perfectly willing to go with someone who looked Native enough, and settled with someone who considers himself White. But when it came down to how good he looked for the big beefy wolfy role in in the subsequent movies, they were willing to toss him aside for someone who looked closer. Fair enough, sure, because nowadays, you really can’t tell if someone is truly Native (or any ethnicity) just by looking at them. But the makers of the Twilight Saga movies sure as hell were not hopelessly devoted to the idea of casting only Native actors in Native roles. Don’t kid yourselves.

Treating Native people so well.

Indeed.

It also has started this belief that somehow Native people need to look a certain way or somehow be able to verify their Native blood, which as I have noted before, is a racist concept, and hurtful to Native/First Nation people. I just simply do not know other ethnic heritages where it is demanded that we do this — that we must provide this information — to be allowed to be recognized. Prove that you are called on the roll and we will believe you. The fact that I carry a Tribal card makes me no more Native than others who have lived with a deep sense of their heritage and yet don’t have their name on a roll.

Even more troublesome (to me, at least) as I have read these books, multiple times, is the framing of the Sam and Emily Relationship.

The imprinted and forever dynamic. This cosmically chosen and all enduring love that can survive all and can escape nothing…even Sam’s accidental outburst of Werewolf rage, that left Emily with scars running all down one side of her face and further. She forgives Sam because he couldn’t help what he did, and Sam is very overwhelmed with guilt and truly sorry for what he did because he loves her so much and tries very hard to make sure he never does it again… Really, what choice does she have? Sam has imprinted on her, and they are to be together. Forever. She belongs to him and he to her and nothing can keep them apart… not even the rage that marred her face.

Where have I heard this before?

As a Native woman who spent a good portion of her life growing on a reservation and who still fellowships with those still there, this is not uncommon to me. I’ve heard so many times how our men are volatile…how they can not control their rage (especially when drunk)…how they beat their women in fits of that rage… All the stereotypes that made us less-than (as if White Men never beat their wives or girlfriends or had fits of uncontrollable rage or couldn’t control their liquor), that were intended to Other us and make us into these odd savages that should be tucked safely aside and controlled. It worked, for a long time. We are even just now still reclaiming land that was ceded under treaties.

And knowing the stats of Native women and domestic violence, and knowing that they are shockingly higher than other minority women living in the U.S., devastatingly higher than White women, I wonder how anyone could possibly make this allusion in a book and not see the racist undertones that they had created. How they could not see the triggered memories that they might invoke in some people? Emily’s unquestioning acceptance of Sam’s treatment of her…how it is all OK because he really, really loves her… and how anyone could read this and then accuse me of digging for racist undertones to get upset about.

Which is a common theme in this series of books and movies; as long as you really love someone all of your distasteful behaviors are perfectly excusable. Stalking, control, emotional abuse, sexual assault, and now physical and brutally violent abuse. All tied up neatly and passed off as Epic Examples of True Love.

I know that many people who grew up on reservations work hard to overcome stereotypes, that they work hard to make sure that they are never seen as someone who falls into the trap of being seen as just another “dirty Injun” or “angry drunk from the rez”. Yes, these stereotypes hurt more than just women and it hurts me to know that a series so popular would choose a Native American couple to display this kind of “accidental” event. It hurts me to my core to see it in Sam and Emily. Almost more so than an ancient duty that keeps the tribal youth from being properly educated and remaining high school dropouts, almost more so than it reducing them into barefoot savages who run around naked in the woods eating raw animal flesh and invading each others’ thoughts (and reducing the only woman wolf to a bitter and angry ex-girlfriend).

Almost.

But Sam and Emily are important, because they symbolize the way modern pop culture and media still see Native people in relationships. This is how a White woman novelist and White woman screenwriter see us.

Stephenie Meyer and Melissa Rosenberg might have done some research when doing their writing, but it doesn’t replace lived experience. It doesn’t erase the pain, the hurt, or the shame. Their intent might even have been to uplift and make Native culture beautiful, but intent doesn’t matter more than actions. What matters is what came out of this in the effort to chug movies and books out at the speed of Fast Food cups and ticket sales.

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Being Native in the Twilight Saga and The Importance of Being Sam and Emily…

I’ve gotten more than a bit of attention for my post on racism in the Twilight Saga, and more than my share of criticism.

Apparently if you don’t think that the over-description of non-white vampires and other non-white people is the author’s way of being explicitly Not Racist (I call this exotification, but wev), especially when she remarks how exotic and strange their “bushy hair” and dark skin were, then you are digging too deep and just looking for something to complain about because you don’t like something.

Perhaps.

Or, maybe I don’t need to go digging for racism because it is pervasive and so ingrained in my daily life that I can just casually sit and let it come to me.

Most notable is the way that I see Native Americans/First Nations/Indigenous Peoples portrayed in pop-culture in North America. I have seen in various places that people are So Excited! that The Saga has treated Natives so well and depicted so greatly, and that all the actors are actually Native and blah blah blah…

Funny, is that I found in the Wikipedia entry, the first line in almost all of the actors portraying the Quileute people spelled out all of their ethnic heritage, to verify that all of those actors were indeed Native American or First Nation (with the notable exception of Taylor Lautner’s entry, who is the only actor they didn’t seek out specifically for being Native American, and, while I think it is cool he discovered a part of his ancestry, didn’t discover he had any Native blood until he researched for his Twilight role). To secure the cred of the makers of the film, so that we all know that not only do they look Native, but that they are indeed Native. To secure the racial and ethnic integrity of all the actors, making sure that we have no doubt about their heritage so that the makers of Eclipse can smile smugly to themselves about how good they were to all of those indigenous actors…

While I do want to give credit where credit is due, I fully support the casting of Native/First Nation actors to play these roles, especially when we have movies and directors who are refusing to do so (I’m looking at YOU M. Night…), there has been a notable culture surrounding these movies, and their fandom that OMFG YOU GUIZE BUT THEY ARE CASTING REAL NATIVES SO YOU MUST BE SO PROUD!!!!11!!ONE!

But be honest about it. The casting director did not specifically seek out only Native actors for the Native roles. Only for the non-principal parts. For the role of Jacob they were perfectly willing to go with someone who looked Native enough, and settled with someone who considers himself White. But when it came down to how good he looked for the big beefy wolfy role in in the subsequent movies, they were willing to toss him aside for someone who looked closer. Fair enough, sure, because nowadays, you really can’t tell if someone is truly Native (or any ethnicity) just by looking at them. But the makers of the Twilight Saga movies sure as hell were not hopelessly devoted to the idea of casting only Native actors in Native roles. Don’t kid yourselves.

Treating Native people so well.

Indeed.

It also has started this belief that somehow Native people need to look a certain way or somehow be able to verify their Native blood, which as I have noted before, is a racist concept, and hurtful to Native/First Nation people. I just simply do not know other ethnic heritages where it is demanded that we do this — that we must provide this information — to be allowed to be recognized. Prove that you are called on the roll and we will believe you. The fact that I carry a Tribal card makes me no more Native than others who have lived with a deep sense of their heritage and yet don’t have their name on a roll.

Even more troublesome (to me, at least) as I have read these books, multiple times, is the framing of the Sam and Emily Relationship.

The imprinted and forever dynamic. This cosmically chosen and all enduring love that can survive all and can escape nothing…even Sam’s accidental outburst of Werewolf rage, that left Emily with scars running all down one side of her face and further. She forgives Sam because he couldn’t help what he did, and Sam is very overwhelmed with guilt and truly sorry for what he did because he loves her so much and tries very hard to make sure he never does it again… Really, what choice does she have? Sam has imprinted on her, and they are to be together. Forever. She belongs to him and he to her and nothing can keep them apart… not even the rage that marred her face.

Where have I heard this before?

As a Native woman who spent a good portion of her life growing on a reservation and who still fellowships with those still there, this is not uncommon to me. I’ve heard so many times how our men are volatile…how they can not control their rage (especially when drunk)…how they beat their women in fits of that rage… All the stereotypes that made us less-than (as if White Men never beat their wives or girlfriends or had fits of uncontrollable rage or couldn’t control their liquor), that were intended to Other us and make us into these odd savages that should be tucked safely aside and controlled. It worked, for a long time. We are even just now still reclaiming land that was ceded under treaties.

And knowing the stats of Native women and domestic violence, and knowing that they are shockingly higher than other minority women living in the U.S., devastatingly higher than White women, I wonder how anyone could possibly make this allusion in a book and not see the racist undertones that they had created. How they could not see the triggered memories that they might invoke in some people? Emily’s unquestioning acceptance of Sam’s treatment of her…how it is all OK because he really, really loves her… and how anyone could read this and then accuse me of digging for racist undertones to get upset about.

Which is a common theme in this series of books and movies; as long as you really love someone all of your distasteful behaviors are perfectly excusable. Stalking, control, emotional abuse, sexual assault, and now physical and brutally violent abuse. All tied up neatly and passed off as Epic Examples of True Love.

I know that many people who grew up on reservations work hard to overcome stereotypes, that they work hard to make sure that they are never seen as someone who falls into the trap of being seen as just another “dirty Injun” or “angry drunk from the rez”. Yes, these stereotypes hurt more than just women and it hurts me to know that a series so popular would choose a Native American couple to display this kind of “accidental” event. It hurts me to my core to see it in Sam and Emily. Almost more so than an ancient duty that keeps the tribal youth from being properly educated and remaining high school dropouts, almost more so than it reducing them into barefoot savages who run around naked in the woods eating raw animal flesh and invading each others’ thoughts (and reducing the only woman wolf to a bitter and angry ex-girlfriend).

Almost.

But Sam and Emily are important, because they symbolize the way modern pop culture and media still see Native people in relationships. This is how a White woman novelist and White woman screenwriter see us.

Stephenie Meyer and Melissa Rosenberg might have done some research when doing their writing, but it doesn’t replace lived experience. It doesn’t erase the pain, the hurt, or the shame. Their intent might even have been to uplift and make Native culture beautiful, but intent doesn’t matter more than actions. What matters is what came out of this in the effort to chug movies and books out at the speed of Fast Food cups and ticket sales.

Eclipse: I Had To Blog It Sooner Or Later

I put it off as long as I could… and then I rolled up to Fast Food Establishment after a swim one day to get a veggie burger and LOW AND BEHOLD I had to drink my unsweetened effing tea with THIS FACE staring at me.

FOR SERIOUS YOU GUIZE!

He is all up on my cup!

For the number of times that we eat fast food (it is certainly Not Many), I don’t feel that I deserve this.

So, Eclipse has had it coming a long time now and I just needed a PRECIPITATING EVENT! Take THAT, Stuffy Neurologist!

*ahem*

So, Eclipse. I heard some rumor of a movie coming out or something?

When we last left our Hero and Heroine… (I CAN’T EVEN TYPE THAT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE!) Bella had just come back from almost Not Dying in a great big Not Conflict at the hands of the Pope Connection The Volturi or some shit. Bella must either be turned into a vampire or killed, so sayeth the Volturi. Alice, Edward and Bella were all allowed to walk away with little more than a promise to make that happen some time in the near future. I did that once, when I gave birth. They let me leave the hospital once I promised I would poop sometime the next day. I didn’t really know that was going to happen… In all fairness, Alice touched one of the Big Bads and allowed him to see all of her sooper seekrit thoughts (OK, I fucking love Alice, but her power is used all too conveniently, and then has these way too convenient blocks). She has shown him a future that she ain’t sharin’ with no one and I guess no one ever told Alice that Secrets Don’t Make Friends, which is a lesson we teach The Kid…

*heh-hem*

So they bounce. They get home. Charlie’s rightfully pissed off cuz his kid went skating around the globe and left her pup out in the rain all forlorn. But Jacob got the last laugh, you see. In a jealous fit he brought their secret motorcycles and plopped them down on Charlie’s lawn and got Bella good and grounded. More grounded. I’m not sure.

I told you Secrets Don’t Make Friends.

So Eclipse picks up right where New Moon left off… sort of.

Bella and Edward are back together and So! In! Love!, planning their future, only not planning the same future. They are filling out all the college applications, Bella planning on going as far away as possible, like, to Alaska to avoid the sun and make sure there is plenty of wildlife so she can soak in her new vampiness that she is planning on having and sticking to that vegetarian diet (there’s that word again!). Edward, however, keeps popping in with all of these great school applications for her, like Dartmouth, assuring her that she could easily get in (umm, my realism radar went off knowing the kind of portfolio you need for that kind of school, including attendance and extra curricular activities all of which Bella’s include 1) loving my Perfect White Marble Boyfriend 2) hallucinating about him when he is gone and 3) running off to another country to save his life when my death attempt didn’t work out. Not Ivy League last I checked.). He also seems to think that 1) Bella is going to easily give in to the idea of putting off aging past 18 for another year or two, since her priorities are so well on track as it is, and 2) that the Volturi are going to be reasoned with so easily for something like “Hey, Bella just needs to go to college as a human!”.

I am thinking it is No and No.

Also, if she agrees to marry him, he will make her a vampire, himself, at the moment of her choosing, no more fight (nooooo, that’s not manipulation!). Playing on Bella’s jumpiness about nuptials. Because he is still stringing this along, even though Bella has made her choice, even though the Volturi have said that it must be so or she must die, and even though Bella put it to Edward’s whole family for a vote, because it endangers their lives too. It was nigh unanimous, BTW, save Rosalie (who IS my favourite character, and will be discussed ad nauseam in a future post), and Rosalie has her reasons, and in the end, it isn’t really that she is against Bella at all, she is just all wistful and stuff b/c Bella has a functioning womb. Edward just doesn’t seem to give a flying fuck about what anyone except what Edward wants, despite who it is putting in danger. And this rightly pisses me off about Edward because we can clearly see that he is the only holdout here (except Jacob, but Jacob is also being selfish).

But, as it turns out, Charlie has granted Bella a great reprieve to this eternal grounding she received.

She has to spend more time with her friends, more specifically Jacob, because she is spending, in his opinion, too much time with Edward.

I need to take a pause here and describe this magical thing that happened between New Moon and Eclipse.

Jacob has taken a mystical transformation. Not just from boy to werewolf, but from Nice Guy ™ to Douche Bag®.

In New Moon, Jacob was a supportive friend, if not a little whiny like I expect boys of his age to be (and girls too, I am an equal opportunity former education major). He was there to be Bella’s friend when her world came crashing down, and sure, he had FEEEEEELIIINGS for her, and let that be slightly known, and we all saw that she exploited those feelings a little more than slightly to her own selfish ends. But they had a friendship nonetheless, and despite it seeming that Bella can’t go five days without her dude to lean on, Jacob was a good friend to her. But she was selfish about it, and used it to keep her thoughts away from Edward, and to fill the gap where he was gone.

In fact, just when Bella was about to “settle” and thought that life with Jacob was better than life with no boyfriend at all, that was when Alice came swooping in to knock the plot back to normal, AMIRITE?

Now, once Jacob starts speaking to her again, he mocks her friends, which, even if you hate vampires, you should have the decency to respect that the person you claim as your best friend considers some of them near family and not insult them every chance you get. He comes to her school to menace Edward (don’t worry, Eddiekins is not saved from my eyebrow arching), and it is almost as if it is more fun to taunt Edward than be a friend to Bella at this time.

The culmination of all of this douche-tasticness is when Jacob has Had Enough of Bella’s wishy-washiness (which isn’t even real, because at no point ever in the books could any critical reader ever think that Bella is going to really leave Edward and wind up with Jacob. Ever.) and FORCES HIMSELF ON HER. He kisses her even though she tells him no. Even though she tries to stop him, and then she just gives up and lets it happen, hoping it will be over soon because she knows she can not stop him.

Let me give you a lesson kids: This is sexual assault. Any time someone does anything of a sexual nature that you do not want, it is sexual assault. If you say no or do not consent to it, it is sexual assault. This scene in the book disturbed me to no end. And if you think for a moment that Bella’s giving up and allowing it to happen somehow implies consent, well, you are R-O-N-G. Many victims of assault and rape will tell you that they reached a point where they just stopped fighting and let it happen, knowing that their assailant HAD MORE POWER OVER THEM AND THEY COULD NOT STOP IT.

Then Bella punches him and pretty much breaks her wrist. This is all funny Ha Ha to Jacob, because he got his rocks.

Even better still, when they get to Bella’s house, and Charlie, and by Charlie I mean Chief of Police Swan hears the story, he pretty much congratulates Jacob on his accomplishment and they all have a hearty laugh at Bella’s expense.

Great writing there, Stephenie Meyer!

For anyone wondering why I waste my time reading and writing about this stuff, this is exactly why, because I need to be able to know that this is what is being passed off in YA Lit as romantic. This is what she has created as the basis for “Team Jacob”.

But before anyone thinks that I have given Edward a pass, his overprotective hovering is enough to make me choke. His pissing match over “If I ever get her back in any less condition than I left her in” blah blah blah… Bell is a thing… something that had best be pristine before he puts the sparklepeen in it.

He dismantles her truck to keep her from visiting her friends on the reservation. He persuades Charlie to allow he and Bella to fly to Florida to visit Renee (remember her? Bella has a mother!) instead of letting her know that Victoria (Ms. Not Appearing in the Last Novel) was sighted and that her life was potentially in danger (though Jacob would have told her this). Even when Bella convinces him that she should be safe on the reservation with her friends, she is handed over like a child in a custody drop off in a case of bad-boy ping-pong.

We always see this narrative of Bella being passes from one man’s arms to the other. Again, and again, and again.

It never seems to end even when the Epic Battle We Never See happens and the rest of the cast of the book is fighting for their lives. Now three books into the series, I wonder, why is this still exciting and romantic? Why do more people not see how sad and pathetic this is? I was ecstatic when another mom at swim lessons told me that she had discussed some of these same themes with her ten year-old, who is also a mature reader, because young girls should be thinking about how “Team Jacob” and “Team Edward” are not really healthy teams that have anyone’s best interest but their own in mind.

They see Bella as a porcelain doll to be kept neatly in a box and protected (and Edward actually kind of does that in the fourth book).

I have some more themes to discuss, but they need posts of their own, and this has gotten long. Consider this introductory.

I have discussed the racism in the series as a whole, but I need to discuss the racism in the relationship framing of Sam and Emily (and there is potential for a post on romantic relationships in YA Lit overall).

Also, I want to get a little more into the dynamics of Bella, the lack of “Team Bella“, and the place where the book actually passes the Bedchel test (I think, yes it does, briefly).

So, discuss. I will trash your favorite series more later. I may need to drag it off the shelf again, as apparently reading it three or so times eight months ago doesn’t have it fresh in my memory…

STOP STARING AT ME EDWARD!

Other “Twilight Saga” blogging…

Eclipse: I Had To Blog It Sooner Or Later

I put it off as long as I could… and then I rolled up to Fast Food Establishment after a swim one day to get a veggie burger and LOW AND BEHOLD I had to drink my unsweetened effing tea with THIS FACE staring at me.

FOR SERIOUS YOU GUIZE!

He is all up on my cup!

For the number of times that we eat fast food (it is certainly Not Many), I don’t feel that I deserve this.

So, Eclipse has had it coming a long time now and I just needed a PRECIPITATING EVENT! Take THAT, Stuffy Neurologist!

*ahem*

So, Eclipse. I heard some rumor of a movie coming out or something?

When we last left our Hero and Heroine… (I CAN’T EVEN TYPE THAT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE!) Bella had just come back from almost Not Dying in a great big Not Conflict at the hands of the Pope Connection The Volturi or some shit. Bella must either be turned into a vampire or killed, so sayeth the Volturi. Alice, Edward and Bella were all allowed to walk away with little more than a promise to make that happen some time in the near future. I did that once, when I gave birth. They let me leave the hospital once I promised I would poop sometime the next day. I didn’t really know that was going to happen… In all fairness, Alice touched one of the Big Bads and allowed him to see all of her sooper seekrit thoughts (OK, I fucking love Alice, but her power is used all too conveniently, and then has these way too convenient blocks). She has shown him a future that she ain’t sharin’ with no one and I guess no one ever told Alice that Secrets Don’t Make Friends, which is a lesson we teach The Kid…

*heh-hem*

So they bounce. They get home. Charlie’s rightfully pissed off cuz his kid went skating around the globe and left her pup out in the rain all forlorn. But Jacob got the last laugh, you see. In a jealous fit he brought their secret motorcycles and plopped them down on Charlie’s lawn and got Bella good and grounded. More grounded. I’m not sure.

I told you Secrets Don’t Make Friends.

So Eclipse picks up right where New Moon left off… sort of.

Bella and Edward are back together and So! In! Love!, planning their future, only not planning the same future. They are filling out all the college applications, Bella planning on going as far away as possible, like, to Alaska to avoid the sun and make sure there is plenty of wildlife so she can soak in her new vampiness that she is planning on having and sticking to that vegetarian diet (there’s that word again!). Edward, however, keeps popping in with all of these great school applications for her, like Dartmouth, assuring her that she could easily get in (umm, my realism radar went off knowing the kind of portfolio you need for that kind of school, including attendance and extra curricular activities all of which Bella’s include 1) loving my Perfect White Marble Boyfriend 2) hallucinating about him when he is gone and 3) running off to another country to save his life when my death attempt didn’t work out. Not Ivy League last I checked.). He also seems to think that 1) Bella is going to easily give in to the idea of putting off aging past 18 for another year or two, since her priorities are so well on track as it is, and 2) that the Volturi are going to be reasoned with so easily for something like “Hey, Bella just needs to go to college as a human!”.

I am thinking it is No and No.

Also, if she agrees to marry him, he will make her a vampire, himself, at the moment of her choosing, no more fight (nooooo, that’s not manipulation!). Playing on Bella’s jumpiness about nuptials. Because he is still stringing this along, even though Bella has made her choice, even though the Volturi have said that it must be so or she must die, and even though Bella put it to Edward’s whole family for a vote, because it endangers their lives too. It was nigh unanimous, BTW, save Rosalie (who IS my favourite character, and will be discussed ad nauseam in a future post), and Rosalie has her reasons, and in the end, it isn’t really that she is against Bella at all, she is just all wistful and stuff b/c Bella has a functioning womb. Edward just doesn’t seem to give a flying fuck about what anyone except what Edward wants, despite who it is putting in danger. And this rightly pisses me off about Edward because we can clearly see that he is the only holdout here (except Jacob, but Jacob is also being selfish).

But, as it turns out, Charlie has granted Bella a great reprieve to this eternal grounding she received.

She has to spend more time with her friends, more specifically Jacob, because she is spending, in his opinion, too much time with Edward.

I need to take a pause here and describe this magical thing that happened between New Moon and Eclipse.

Jacob has taken a mystical transformation. Not just from boy to werewolf, but from Nice Guy ™ to Douche Bag®.

In New Moon, Jacob was a supportive friend, if not a little whiny like I expect boys of his age to be (and girls too, I am an equal opportunity former education major). He was there to be Bella’s friend when her world came crashing down, and sure, he had FEEEEEELIIINGS for her, and let that be slightly known, and we all saw that she exploited those feelings a little more than slightly to her own selfish ends. But they had a friendship nonetheless, and despite it seeming that Bella can’t go five days without her dude to lean on, Jacob was a good friend to her. But she was selfish about it, and used it to keep her thoughts away from Edward, and to fill the gap where he was gone.

In fact, just when Bella was about to “settle” and thought that life with Jacob was better than life with no boyfriend at all, that was when Alice came swooping in to knock the plot back to normal, AMIRITE?

Now, once Jacob starts speaking to her again, he mocks her friends, which, even if you hate vampires, you should have the decency to respect that the person you claim as your best friend considers some of them near family and not insult them every chance you get. He comes to her school to menace Edward (don’t worry, Eddiekins is not saved from my eyebrow arching), and it is almost as if it is more fun to taunt Edward than be a friend to Bella at this time.

The culmination of all of this douche-tasticness is when Jacob has Had Enough of Bella’s wishy-washiness (which isn’t even real, because at no point ever in the books could any critical reader ever think that Bella is going to really leave Edward and wind up with Jacob. Ever.) and FORCES HIMSELF ON HER. He kisses her even though she tells him no. Even though she tries to stop him, and then she just gives up and lets it happen, hoping it will be over soon because she knows she can not stop him.

Let me give you a lesson kids: This is sexual assault. Any time someone does anything of a sexual nature that you do not want, it is sexual assault. If you say no or do not consent to it, it is sexual assault. This scene in the book disturbed me to no end. And if you think for a moment that Bella’s giving up and allowing it to happen somehow implies consent, well, you are R-O-N-G. Many victims of assault and rape will tell you that they reached a point where they just stopped fighting and let it happen, knowing that their assailant HAD MORE POWER OVER THEM AND THEY COULD NOT STOP IT.

Then Bella punches him and pretty much breaks her wrist. This is all funny Ha Ha to Jacob, because he got his rocks.

Even better still, when they get to Bella’s house, and Charlie, and by Charlie I mean Chief of Police Swan hears the story, he pretty much congratulates Jacob on his accomplishment and they all have a hearty laugh at Bella’s expense.

Great writing there, Stephenie Meyer!

For anyone wondering why I waste my time reading and writing about this stuff, this is exactly why, because I need to be able to know that this is what is being passed off in YA Lit as romantic. This is what she has created as the basis for “Team Jacob”.

But before anyone thinks that I have given Edward a pass, his overprotective hovering is enough to make me choke. His pissing match over “If I ever get her back in any less condition than I left her in” blah blah blah… Bell is a thing… something that had best be pristine before he puts the sparklepeen in it.

He dismantles her truck to keep her from visiting her friends on the reservation. He persuades Charlie to allow he and Bella to fly to Florida to visit Renee (remember her? Bella has a mother!) instead of letting her know that Victoria (Ms. Not Appearing in the Last Novel) was sighted and that her life was potentially in danger (though Jacob would have told her this). Even when Bella convinces him that she should be safe on the reservation with her friends, she is handed over like a child in a custody drop off in a case of bad-boy ping-pong.

We always see this narrative of Bella being passes from one man’s arms to the other. Again, and again, and again.

It never seems to end even when the Epic Battle We Never See happens and the rest of the cast of the book is fighting for their lives. Now three books into the series, I wonder, why is this still exciting and romantic? Why do more people not see how sad and pathetic this is? I was ecstatic when another mom at swim lessons told me that she had discussed some of these same themes with her ten year-old, who is also a mature reader, because young girls should be thinking about how “Team Jacob” and “Team Edward” are not really healthy teams that have anyone’s best interest but their own in mind.

They see Bella as a porcelain doll to be kept neatly in a box and protected (and Edward actually kind of does that in the fourth book).

I have some more themes to discuss, but they need posts of their own, and this has gotten long. Consider this introductory.

I have discussed the racism in the series as a whole, but I need to discuss the racism in the relationship framing of Sam and Emily (and there is potential for a post on romantic relationships in YA Lit overall).

Also, I want to get a little more into the dynamics of Bella, the lack of “Team Bella“, and the place where the book actually passes the Bedchel test (I think, yes it does, briefly).

So, discuss. I will trash your favorite series more later. I may need to drag it off the shelf again, as apparently reading it three or so times eight months ago doesn’t have it fresh in my memory…

STOP STARING AT ME EDWARD!

Other “Twilight Saga” blogging…

Racism in Twilight?

So I have taken us to about the middle of the second book in the fangirl acclaimed Twilight Saga, New Moon.

We have discussed many things, such as intimate partner abuse, personal autonomy, agency, and myriad other topics on this journey.

Now, all snark aside (I totally can’t back that up) I want to discuss something serious.  I want to discuss themes, obvious and otherwise, of implied racism in the series.

All throughout the series we are bombarded w/ an image of beauty as white.  As pale, flawless, sparkling alabaster skin as the image of perfection.  Smeyer’s vampires are all various shades of white, and this is part of their perfect beauty, pallid, nigh transparently pale skin.  It glitters in the sun like diamonds.  It is the epitome of perfect beauty.

It comes as no surprise to me at all, considering how most media, in movies and such, consider white to be default, the norm.  Pale skin, light eyes and fair hair are the ideals of conventional beauty in our world, and anything other is exactly that; an Other. (more…)

Dreams and Choice and the Horrors of people liking you…

Or, New Moon, chapter 1.

Back by popular demand!

OK, no one was demanding it, but I actually had fun w/ my critical analysis of Twilight and I can’t really help myself.  One of my compulsions is sequence and completion.  If there are X number of things in a series, and I experience 1, then I will then proceed to experience all of them until completion of X.

It’s a sickness.

This time, I have, thanks to the massive amount of time spent traveling and the fact that this isn’t difficult reading already read them, completed all four books, so I can process this in smaller pieces more slowly than before.  This is important to my analysis, b/c I don’t want to miss the points that I find noteworthy.  There are a lot of themes throughout New Moon that didn’t appear in Twilight that need discussion.

Now, where was I?

When we last left our Protagonist, Miss Bella Swan, SMeyer had just finished having her Perpetual Savior rescue her from certain doom, like a good boy, in a last ditch effort to toss in a climax and any other semblance of a plot.  Despite Edward’s creepy, stalking, controlling, and otherwise emotionally abusive behavior, Bella is simply over the moon (no pun intended) and “irrevocably in love with” our vampire heartthrob.  What we saw was Bella being punished for trying to solve her own problems on her own terms and against Edward’s orders.  Of course that means he has to swoop in and rescue her from herself and the mess she’s made.  Bella gets broken, bitten, and sliced up to beat hell, only to have her all too tempting blood sucked from her hand by her Perpetual Savior, in an awakening moment of self-restraint to prevent her from being changed.  She deserves all of this of course, for not listening to Edward in the first place, and don’t think for a minute that she misses a chance to blame herself for the actions of others.  She is rescued, a far fetched tale of happenings is concocted, a heart attack avoided by promises of devotion, and Bella is tricked and forced to go to the Prom “for her own good”, even though she begs not to b/c she is clumsy and afraid of dancing.

Caught up?

Good. (more…)

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