In honor of what is still celebrated as “Columbus Day” in most of the United States, why not read up on the Quileute people and consider their representation in the Twilight saga?
I wonder how schools in Forks present “Columbus Day” in their curriculum. When my children were in elementary school, they learned of Columbus as the heroic man who “discovered” America. I hope Forks schools offer a more accurate lesson, one that differs from that spoofed in this someecard:
If instead of acting like Columbus you wish to think about the representation of indigenous people in the Twilight saga, here are links to several earlier posts:
Twilight Profits and the Quileute People
Check out Bitch Flick’s deconstruction of Total Film’s list of greatest female film characters, “Seriously? These Are the 100 Greatest Female Characters?”
Should Bella have been on it?
On the one hand, she is surely a better FEMALE character than Audrey 2, the PLANT from Little Shop of Horrors, voiced by a man.
On the other, she, like too many of these “great” characters, is a victim of sexual violence, and is both very young and very white. So, that begs the question, how is Total Film defining great?
It would be nice if the list included more female character diversity, and, um, no male-voiced plants!
The most recent Breaking Dawn trailer is very dramatic with suspenseful music and lots of action. The end of the trailer focuses on how the werewolves are ready to kill Bella. The sexism that this is representing is very clear to me.
For one, it seems that everyone is pressuring Bella, the woman, to give up her baby. Don’t get the wrong impression. I do not agree that Bella should give up everything to be a mother nor am I like people who are against abortion because of the constant messages it is supposedly murder. But I do think Bella should be able to make her own decision and the males in the movie should give Bella some respect. For example, Edward and Jacob would give up anything for Bella, just like she hopes to do for her baby, yet they won’t allow her the freedom to make her own choice.
Another very disturbing message I got from the most recent trailer is that Edward can, just like the popular t-shirt, bite the pillows, bruise Bella’s body and bust the headboard without causing emotional trauma. If this were to happen to a real woman, it would classify as sexual violence. In the trailer, this event is classified as “their best night ever.” As clueless as Bella is to this abuse, others may say it is alright because the Edward suffers and feels bad for what he has done. Does this really make a difference? No, it doesn’t. Bella is still injured and her continued desire for him suggests she thinks his violence is ok.
It seemed that even though the two different versions of the Breaking Dawn trailer were quite different that there basic message was the same. The first trailer was building up on the wedding and the honeymoon. This is the basic story of how Bella and Edward can live a happy full life without having to worry about what kinds of things others are feeling or what consequences their love will have on others. For example, Jacob, who they have both put through so much pain, and now they expect him to show up just to be disappointed at seeing the woman he loves get married to his primary enemy.
The second trailer is based on how Bella gets pregnant and is dying and becoming weaker by the second while many are planning to kill her. This is again a message that the two who truly love each other can always make it through if only they love each other enough. It’s Disney all over. Also, once again it seems the woman has to face the difficulties when the man is the one who always saves the day. In the first trailer Bella has to do something she wishes not to, get married to Edward, and in the second trailer she has to go through the pain of saving her pregnancy while others torment her about her choice to keep it.
Even two and a half minutes of preview can bring harmful messages to those who can’t truly understand the problems with this sort of setup. This is a reminder: everything is more than it looks like if you read between the lines.
Sorry for the blog silence! The semester has started and getting back into the swing of teaching put blogging on the back burner for awhile.
But, this morning finds me in Seattle (after a very delayed Southwest flight last night from San Diego) and tomorrow I head out to Forks for Stephenie Meyer Day. The Hillywood Players will be there too. Hurrah!
I will be talking about my book Seduced by Twilight and am very much looking forward to interacting with fans, scholars, locals, and everyone in between!
If any of you that read the blog will be there, please let me know!
Updates about the weekend to follow via Twitter (follow me @seducedbytwi) as well as here at the blog.
The following piece ran in the books section of the North County Times, Sunday, August 28, 2011.
With the newest movie of “Twilight” set to come out this November, there has been a lot of talk about who is on “Team Edward” and who is on “Team Jacob” —- but what about Team Bella?
That’s the question that author and Cal State San Marcos professor Natalie Wilson asks.
“Some of the messages that the books are giving are a little bit problematic in terms of what women’s roles are,” said Wilson in a recent interview.
Wilson teaches several courses in the women’s studies program at CSUSM. But last year, she taught one titled “Twilight: The Text and the Fandom” —- which was also the substance of her book, “Seduced by Twilight: The Allure and Contradictory Messages of the Popular Saga” (Mcfarland & Co., $35).
Wilson said that she thinks the love portrayed in the Twilight books and movies is a very unhealthy love. In her book, she goes over the text of the four novels in Stephenie Meyer’s series, and tries to illustrate how the books present a passive image of women.
Wilson admittedly comes at the Twilight books from a feminist perspective, and also tries to analyze how notions of race, gender and capitalism play into the books and films.
“Some people say that ‘These are just movies’ or ‘They are just books,'” said Wilson of the reaction she sometimes receives to her views on the “Twilight” phenomenon. “But there’s something deeper going on. It’s not just entertainment, because pop culture and entertainment do shape how we think about things.”
“Edward is a very abusive character, and he is very dominant and you don’t realize that until you take a second glance at it,” said one of Wilson’s students, Cardina Ballardes.
“Love is something that both people feel,” added Wilson’s daughter, Naomi Clift, 12. “It’s not all about looks, but also personality.”
Wilson said her feminist perspective was inspired by her upbringing in Hollister. She had an older brother, and says she didn’t agree with how her parents’ rules for him were different from those they had for her. She now has two children of her own (a son and daughter) and she tries to instill feminist concepts when teaching them.
In general, Disney movies and the majority of other romance films that portray a “happily ever after” ending are actually presenting a negative and false image, she said. Wilson said she prefers novels like the “Divergent” trilogy and “The Hunger Games,” which portray a strong female protagonist.
The anthology which I co-edited with Maggie Parke is now available. Excited it came out the same week as Bella and Edward’s wedding day as will as within the same week as the remake of Fright Night (my review of which is forthcoming). Here is the table of contents:
Table of Contents
Part I. Twilight as Pop Cultural Artifact: Pilgrimages, Fan Culture, and Film Adaptations
The Vampire Capital of the World: Commerce and Enchantment in Forks, Washington
TANYA ERZEN 11
Fanpires: Utilizing Fan Culture in Event Film Adaptations
MAGGIE PARKE 25
The Hero and the Id: A Psychoanalytic Inquiry into the Popularity of Twilight
HEATHER ANASTASIU 41
Someday My Vampire Will Come? Society’s (and the Media’s) Lovesick Infatuation with Prince- Like Vampires
COLETTE MURPHY 56
Team Bella: Fans Navigating Desire, Security, and Feminism
ANANYA MUKHERJEA 70
Part II. Once Upon a Twilight: Fairy Tales, Byronic (Anti) Heroes, Post- Feminist Romance, and Growing Up in a Twilight World
“How Old Are You?” Representations of Age in the Saga
ASHLEY BENNING 87
Read Only as Directed: Psychology, Intertextuality, and Hyperreality in the Series
ANGELA TENGA 102
Torn Between Two Lovers: Twilight Tames Wuthering Heights
SARAH WAKEFIELD 117
Rewriting the Byronic Hero: How the Twilight Saga Turned “Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know” into a Teen Fiction Phenomenon
JESSICA GROPER 132
A Post- Feminist Romance: Love, Gender and Intertextuality in Stephenie Meyer’s Saga
HILA SHACHAR 147
Part III. Twilight Through an Intersectional Lens: Patriarchy, White Privilege, Heteronormativity, Rape Culture, Religion
Maybe Edward Is the Most Dangerous Thing Out There: The Role of Patriarchy
MELISSA MILLER 165
Denial and Salvation: The Twilight Series and Heteronormative Patriarchy
ASHLEY DONNELLY 178
It’s a Wolf Thing: The Quileute Werewolf /Shape- Shifter Hybrid as Noble Savage
NATALIE WILSON 194
Violence, Agency, and the Women of Twilight
ANNE TORKELSON 209
Un-biting the Apple and Killing the Womb: Genesis, Gender, and Gynocide
LINDSEY ISSOW AVERILL 224
August 13th, as noted Eclipse, is the date Edward suggested for he and Bella’s wedding. The invitation above names 5:00 as the time, and 2011 the year. That makes today the day!
I hope Edward will stop calling her silly, and that she will start to see him not as a vampire-God, but as an equal.
Other than this hope, I will hold back on any more critique and instead offer them best wishes.
Hopefully their love will help them weather the ups and downs all long-term relationships require, whether “sealed” by marriage or not.
Finally, I like to think that they would offer their best wishes to a very dear female friend of mine who is marrying the woman she loves today. As each of them seems tolerant of difference, I don’t imagine them following the dictates of the religion of the author that created them, but instead believing that love is love, whether between vampire and human or woman and woman.