Twilight: The Texts and the Fandom, Week 5 re-cap
This week we focused on romance, intertexuality, and the representations of men/masculinity of the saga.
On Monday, in response to the writing options (posted here) the majority of students chose Option 1, writing a about a fantasy partner. Many expressed their dislike for the savior/damsel in distress meme of the saga and noted they don’t want or need a partner to “save” them. A number of students argued Bella and Edward are too co-dependent and their relation is overly obsessive and unrealistic. In terms of fantasy partners, the most common desired attributes were a partner who they can laugh with, be friends with, and share a non-controlling, egalitarian relationship with.
The best model for a healthy couple in the saga was repeatedly named as Alice and Jasper. As one student wrote, “Most marriages last not because of love, but because of how well you function together.” The notion that Bella and Edward do not function together well was echoed by many.
Though I do not find the criticism of their relationship surprising, it makes me wonder how many fans out there are truly “Team Edward” and how many feel the same way about Bella and Edward’s relationship. Are the responses of these (all but one) female college students different given that they, unlike Bella, see the importance of placing primacy on education and future career options? Or, conversely, do fans across the spectrum of experiences recognize the problematic aspects of Edward as romantic partner?
A few students chose Option 2, writing “alternative romantic myths.” Some of their alternatives included “Love isn’t easy,” “There is more than one type of love,” “Love can hurt,” and “Love yourself first,” “When one door closes, another door opens.”
- Only one student chose Option 4, recasting the films. Her choices were very intriguing. She cast as follows (my comments in parenthesis):
- Director: Quentin Tarantino (wow, would make for MUCH bloodier adaptations with many more beheadings than just Victoria’s!)
- Bella: Anne Hathaway (ooooh, Bella as Ella Enchanted revamped – interesting!)
- Edward: Robert Pattinson (only person she kept the same)
- Esme: Kate Winslet (ooh and then Carlisle could be Leonardo diCaprio! – though I love Facinelli)
- Carlisle: Denzel Washington (huh – not sure how the ultra blond do would work on him….)
- Jasper: Adam Brody (a great alternative! he has got the Jasper look down…)
- Emmett: Andy Samberg (hmmm, not sure he lives up to my own picture of Emmett…)
- Rosalie: Frieda Pinto from Slumdog Millionaire (hmmm, again, the choice highlights how WHITE the saga is…)
- Alice: Natalie Portman (love this choice!)
On Wednesday, in response to the discussion about the saga’s depiction of males and masculinity, students shared many insights, a few of which are highlighted below.
- Jasper is likely such a fan favorite due to his relationship with Alice
- Though many of the male characters fit inside the “real man box,” especially in regards to their violent tendencies, many also express deep and varied emotions (something that is more traditionally associated with femininity)
- Emmett , some argued, is a hypermasculine jerk. Yet, a few “Team Emmett” people in the room vocally disagreed…
- The saga’s depiction of single dads (Billy, Charlie) is rare and refreshing
- Billy Black and Sam Clearwater are presented as rather old and ineffectual according to some. Some felt representing Billy as disabled was good, others felt it made him appear weak (not because he was disabled but due to the way the disability was represented).
- Jacob was variously discussed as a better option than Edward, as a more realistic partner, and as too violent/controlling/manipulative
- The Volturi were discussed as the “hyper-patriarchs” who won’t let their wives out of the tower
- Surprisingly, no one had anything good to say about Edward… (perhaps some of you might like to counter this in comments!)
On a final note, one of the most interesting student papers I read this week read Bree Tanner in relation to rape culture, arguing her forced turn to vampirism can be read in relation to the rape meme and violent masculinity that underpins the saga.