I’ve been off blogging for a long time, thanks to my move from Ottawa to Hamilton, ON. The post-move flotsam is finally at manageable levels, and I’m back to Brown Papering again.
Author Stephenie Meyer
I hadn’t heard of Stephenie Meyer or the Twilight Series till a few months ago–an omission akin to not realizing there’s a country called China on our planet. The words most closely associated with the series are Harry Potter phenomenon–yes, it’s that big. The plot is simple: Bella, a high school student in whose voice the series is written, must choose between her two loves–the vampire Edward and the werewolf Jacob. The twist: vampires and werewolves are mortal enemies.
I’m not quite sure why this series is so wildly popular amongst teenage girls (its targeted demographic). We’ve all known a Bella in high school. She never had to ask for a ride. All the boys wanted to protect her. She would break her thumb just when she’d volunteered to help. She always fainted if she stood too long in the sun. She always got lab partners who made sure her experiments always ran true and her equations resolved themselves. (I remember proving gravity worked at 9800 m/s/s).
Anyway, any girl with a smidgen of feminist sensibility will long to give Bella a good swig of Skele-Grow so she can generate a spine. While the series is cast as a human versus vampire conflict, I think it’s more a gender struggle, inter-species romance notwithstanding. Edward is older, wiser, faster, a mind-reader, gorgeous, and immortal to boot, while Bella is a badly-co-ordinated young girl with a knack for getting into danger from which she must be rescued by an external agency. Bella seems to derive an atavistic pleasure from being a doormat, apart from grating attempts at assertiveness such as complaining about a dress or a too-expensive birthday gift. Spoiler alert: In Breaking Dawn, the fourth (and last?) book, Bella is about to marry Edward, and go to Dartmouth (my old school!) and become a vampire. A virgin bride at eighteen, Bella gets pregnant after her wedding night, and decides to keep the baby (no surprise there). And it keeps getting worse; read and see.
Sexism, yes. But racism? Here’s an interesting take on Meyer’s work at author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez blog. Valdes-Rodriguez writes:
Of primary concern for me is the treatment of Meyer’s main Native American character, Jacob Black. He is presented initially as a sweet, normal teen boy from the Paiute Reservation, but we soon learn that he is a werewolf, and that werewolves are the enemies of vampires. The vampires, at this point in the story, are shown to be European in origin, and as pale as pale can be – and friends to Bella, our human protagonist.
Jacob loves the irresistible Bella, just as Edward does, though he and his kind seem unable to resist their sinister nature the way the white vampires do. In the first two books, Bella is mildly drawn to Jacob (and even kisses him), particularly when Edward seems to lose interest in her. In the final book, Bella must choose between these two boys.
Naturally, she chooses the (white) vampire over the (brown) werewolf.
After reading the whole post, I’m not quite sure what I think. I didn’t pick up on some of the minor plot points in the book, but then, I didn’t really read the books closely (Bella’s hand-wringing got so tedious I skipped quite a bit). I’m going to have to reserve judgement until I re-read the series. But this much I know: I’m a Jacobite. Edward–go take a gender studies class at Dartmouth.