Posted tagged ‘Bella Swan’

Bella and Sookie, Edward Cullen, Bill Compton- The Lines Are Drawn

February 9, 2010

Read yesterday about the upcoming first run publication of 350,000 copies of the new Twilight graphic novel.  “The characters and settings are very close to what I was imagining while writing the series,” Stephanie Meyers, the author of the original Twilight series has said of the graphic novel.  (Does this mean that Ms. Meyers always pictured the characters and settings as cartoonish?)

Okay. Stop.  Guilty confession time.  As followers of this blog know, I wallowed in the Twlight series.  I have also, more recently, wallowed in another vampire series—The Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris, also known as the Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries.

(What can I say?  I get tired, manic, depressed.)

Which brings up another question.  Why is the Twilight Saga (whose collective sales have now reached 45 million) so much more popular than the Southern Vampire Sookie Stackhouse Series?

(Don’t get me wrong.   Charlene Harris is unlikely to live in a garret.  Still, 45 million!)

What makes the difference especially remarkable is that the two series have enough in common to make a vampiric copyright lawyer lick his blood-stained chops.  Both focus on a human-vampire love story; both share telepathy, characters whose minds cannot be permeated by telepathy, super-handsome, super-sexy vampires (well, Edward Cullen is sexy in principal at least), shape-shifters/werewolves, love triangles,  heroinic (as in both addictive and held by the heroine) special blood, attempted suicide through sun-stepping, a ruthless vampire hierarchy, controlling and hyper-jealous male lovers, and fast, fancy cars.   Most importantly, both series have spawned commercially-successful screen versions.

So what makes for the phenomenon? (Other than the casting of Robsten.)

First, there’s the teen factor.  Perhaps (believe or not) tweens and teens simply read more.  After all, they have parents who tell them to turn off the TV and the internet, and they usually don’t have full time jobs.

Then there’s the identification factor.  Bella Swan, the Twilight heroine, is herself a teenager. (Sookie’s in her early twenties.)

More importantly, Bella is presented as Every Girl—Every Girl who is cute enough but clumsy, and who also happens to have some nearly magical qualities (not even known to herself) which, in turn, attract a consummately handsome, devoted, rich, strong, elegant, vampire; a vampire, who, although insistently male (at least he insists he’s male), loves her for her essence, not her body; a body which he adores,  but which he heroically resists (sigh), both to protect her soul and safety.

Sookie is harder to identify with.  She is very much not Every Girl, but a cocktail waitress specifically based in Northern Louisiana.    She introduces herself in the first book Dead Until Dark as someone suffering from a deformity.   She’s also super-attractive.     (The way her mental abilities cause human suitors to lose interest in her well-built body is a bit like the pre-feminist tales of women who were told to hide their smarts if they wanted to hold onto a man.)

Sookie’s vampires, unlike Edward Cullen, have little high-minded hesitancy about sex (or about manipulation and violence.)   Moreover, Sookie’s vampires (i) don’t just lust after her blood but frequently bite her, and (ii) spend about half of every day actually dead.  (These qualities may well be confusing to a young adult reader.)

So maybe here’s the distinction:  Twilight characters are good.  Good.  GOOD.   Except when they are bad.  Bad.  BAD.

Hmm…  Is it possible that the qualities which  seem to make Twilight so popular are the same qualities that make it adaptable to graphic novel form?  (A world that can be drawn in black and white lines.)

Teenage girls, it seems, are idealists after all.  Idealists and Every Girl and lovers of the fantastical.

For Romantic Twihards – Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa…errr…Robsten (Maybe)

October 25, 2009

This morning, I wrote a post that suggested that many Twilight fans may not be rooting for “Robsten” (that is, a real life romance between Robert Pattinson and Kirsten Stewart) because it runs counter to the whole gist of the Twilight fantasy (which is the nearly perfect Edward Cullen pursuing the nearly ordinary Bella Swan.)  The emphasis of the Twilight series on Bella as “everygirl” (who is secretly strong, brave, and deeply attractive) made me think that many fans may be hoping for a romance between RPatz and another everygirl (that is, a fan rather than a movie star.)  Given the lives of the two Twilight stars though, I compared the magic (and likelihood) of such a fan-tastical relationship to the existence of Santa Claus.

Thinking about this post later, I worried that I was a bit ungenerous to Twilight fans.  Frankly, I think many fans find the alleged romance between Rob and Kirsten to be fairy-tale-like enough to be perfectly satisfying.  In other words, for these New Moon-struck fans, Robsten may be Santa Claus enough.

Then I wondered, what exactly makes these fans root for Robsten?

1.  Rob and Stewart are simply both so young.

2.  And good-looking.

3.  Not just plain old ordinary good-looking—go-together, top- of- wedding-cake good-looking.

4.  Kirsten is very pretty, but, at least when playing Bella (and not going too heavy on the eyeliner), has a definite American girl-next-door quality.

5. The paparazzi have hounded Rob and Kirsten enough to give them an “underdog” quality.  (You really can’t have a fairy tale without an underdog quality.)

6.  The alleged interest in Pattinson by established female stars, such as Shakira, makes Kirsten a double-underdog.

7.  Most importantly, if “Robsten” is real, other elements of Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, also become credible … elements such as the existence of perfect male romantic heroes pleading for marriage (and abstinence beforehand),  the happily ever after ending for one and all (even third wheel Jacob), one little bite turning Bella into a super-model.

(The repeated requests of certain Twilight fans to Rob to “bite them” tends to support this last theory.)

For prior post in favor of Team Fan (and no Santa Claus) check out:  https://manicddaily.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/is-there-reall……errr…-robsten/

For more Robsten, RPatz, Stewart, and Twilight, check out other posts in thosoe categories, by going to my homepage:  https://manicddaily.wordpress.com.

For Wishful Twihards – Is there really a Santa…errr… Robsten?

October 25, 2009

Waiting to get my hair cut yesterday, I happened onto a magazine covered with pictures of Rob and Kirsten.  (To the non-cognoscenti, Robert Pattinson and Kirsten Stewart.)

Yes, I only happened onto the magazine (OK!), although I confess I had noticed it before (on nearly every newsstand I walked by.)

The headline  is something like “Welcome to Our Home” and describes the 34th floor of a hotel in Vancouver as the Robsten “love nest.”   As “proof” of the Kirsten/Pattinson relationship, the article declares that Rob refused to leave Vancover during a recent solo one-week break, because Kirsten was stuck there still filming.

During my shampoo, I tried to reconcile OK’s article with (i) recent reports in other “news” sources of Kirsten firmly disclaiming any love relationship with Pattinson, and (ii)  the sinking feeling in my stomach.   That sinking feeling reminded me of the terrible disappointment I felt in the December of my fourth or fifth year of life when, after I had badgered her  nonstop for several weeks, my mother finally admitted that there was no Santa Claus.

It was odd.  I had been quite sure that there was no Santa Claus.  I had gone through the impossibility of it repeatedly in my head;  my endless questions were framed with the statement, “I already know the truth, so just tell me okay?”  But when my mom actually said the words aloud, tears sprang to my eyes, a huge lump filled my throat and chest, and I could hardly stand to believe her.

“Reliable reports” posit that Summit Entertainment, the maker of the Twilight movies, won’t let Rob and Kirsten admit to their relationship for fear of scuttling the credibility of the Jacob-Bella focus in the upcoming New Moon and Eclipse movies.  (For any non-cognoscenti still reading this post, Jacob, played by brawny Taylor Lautner, is the werewolf rival, of the divine vampire Edward, played by RPatz.)

That doesn’t make sense to me.  First of all, even the most rabid Twilight fans must know that the Twilight movies are just movies.  (Although some are crazed enough to seem to need Midsummer Night’s Dream’s Peter Quince explaining that “Lion” is really played by a man.)  Still, it’s hard to see Jacob as a credible rival to Edward, even in the books.

Even so, Summit may be on to something (besides publicity) in keeping “Robsten” under wraps.   The fact is that the people who like Twilight like fantasy.  And the true fantasy of the books and movies   (other than the werewolf/vampire bit) is not the love affair of two super-glamerous, wealthy, and successful movie stars who are constantly thrown together, but the unbreakable romance of the nearly perfect (though secretly flawed) Edward and the nearly ordinary (though secretly attractive and brave)  Bella, despite all of his efforts to keep his distance.

As a result, I suspect that the true Santa Claus story for most fans is not the real-life probability of “Robsten” but the other-wordly possibility of Rob holding out for a real life Bella, someone who, like them, is loyal, brave, true, klutzy, and, with the right makeover, could look really great.

Sorry, girls, but I don’t think there is a Santa Claus.

If you’re interested in slightly silly…errr… thoughtful posts re RPatz, Robsten, and Twilight, check out my other posts in those categories, especially post discussing why some modern females prefer Robert Pattinson to Marlon Brando, and why I know my feelings for RPatz are strictly maternal.  Find these from ManicDDaily home page:  https://manicddaily.wordpress.com.

Also for subsequent post re Yes, Virginia there is a Santa…errr… Robsten, check out:  https://manicddaily.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/yes-virginia-t……robsten-maybe/

The Twilight Amorality of Edward Cullen – What Does It Mean?

October 15, 2009

Maybe it’s the stress of the bad news (that horrible moment when the balloon landed and the first responders realized that the six-year old boy was not in it), or relief at the good news (the wonderful moment when it was discovered that the little boy wasn’t ever in the balloon, that he had been hiding in a box in the garage)—

Or maybe it’s the fact that the Dow’s close above 10,000 and Goldman Sachs’ good earnings report have been called by some at Fox, the “Bush” recovery, and  by others as  no recovery at all (apparently Goldman would have done better if it had simply invested in an index fund and the economy is certainly not out of the woods yet)—

Whatever—it’s all made me decide to write about Twilight again, the phenomenally successful series of books by Stephanie Meyer – 70 million sold and counting.

Specifically, I want to write about the amorality of Twilight, and to wonder what this amorality, or really, the audience’s acceptance of this amorality, may mean.

First, for those who don’t know the series, the Twilight saga, written by Mormon Meyer (a graduate of Brigham Young University), has typically been considered to be an anachronistically moralistic series of books.  This characterization has resulted primarily from the fact (spoiler alert) that the sexual consummation of the passionate love affair between vampire Edward Cullen and human Bella Swan (even full frontal nudity) is pointedly delayed until marriage.   Then (double spoiler alert), once they do get married, Bella nearly instantly becomes extremely pregnant.   (It was a good thing they waited!)

Edward is repeatedly characterized in the last three books, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn¸ as a “perversely moral vampire” with very old-fashioned ideas.  His “family” is also characterized as amazingly moral because, by and large, they feed only on the blood of wild animals.  And, although they do seem to take particular pleasure in certain endangered carnivores, they try to avoid having an unduly negative impact on the environment.  (At least it’s not Aunt Susie.)

A closer look at the books (which I must confess I’ve taken, repeatedly) shows the vampires’ morality to be very one-sided, i.e. it’s all about sex and very little about money.   (Yes, the vampires, who are rich due to prophesy of stock market trends, do give their old clothes to the werewolves, but even they admit that they only wear things once.)

Not only are the vampires amoral, they are also incredibly solipsistic:  they (Edward in particular) only care about their own (Bella.)

In scene after scene, mayhem occurs just offstage.  In New Moon (the movie about to come out),  a large tourist group is fodder for the “Voluturi”, the vampire leaders.  Edward hurries Bella away so she won’t be upset by the sounds of the mass slaughter, but makes no effort to save even one tourist.  (Okay, they’re tourists….)

Similarly, when vampire mayhem stalks Seattle (of all places) in Eclipse, Edward’s main concern seems to be the negative attention the slaughter may bring.  In a hypothetical plane crash in that book, he talks, hypothetically, of reaching out to save only Bella from certain death.  (Doesn’t he have two hands?)

In the fourth book, Edward and Bella even stand passively (if uncomfortably) by as their vampire guests roam the countryside feeding on humans (granted, the guests go out of State.)

I know, I know.  There’s only so much a person…errr. ..vampire… can do.  Maybe Edward is right to focus his energies.  But what’s amazing to me is is the shift this represents from the classic romantic hero.

When did Superman even abandon a kitten up a tree to save only Lois Lane?  In nearly  every opera you can think of (Aida, Il Travatore, the Magic Flute), the hero must part from his love for the sake of Truth, Duty to  family, society, or gypsy clan, and some really heart-wrenching singing.   Romeo (yes, a hothead) forsakes Juliet to avenge Mercutio.    Even Harry Potter (who is a classic, if modern hero) leaves Ginny to save Hogwarts.

Edward’s solipsism is especially misplaced since he is supposed to be a World War I kind of guy.  It’s hard to imagine another generation so bound by duty.

So what does Edward’s amorality, and more importantly, fan inattention to it, say about modern culture?  (And please don’t get me wrong, I still love both him and his portrayer, Robert Pattinson.)

Certainly, we live in a country with a lot of fellow feeling.  I think about all the wonderful first responders who chased down the balloon today in which the little six-year old was, thankfully, not lodged;  I think of all the millions of Americans who undoubtedly hoped and prayed for that little boy’s safety.

But then I also think of the health care debate, the intense furor over the “public option”.

And, forgive me, but I also think of the outrage over Obama’s comments to “Joe the Plumber”; the casual ‘spreading wealth around’ remark that drew so much ire and concern, and that were raised with such anger (and comparisons to Stalinism) by my taxi driver in Florida.  (See earlier post re incredulity in Florida.)

Goldman Sachs’ outsized bonuses also somehow come to mind.

Hmmm…..

Monday – Ten Signs That Yours Has Been Stressful

September 21, 2009

Monday – Ten Signs that Yours Has Been Stressful

1.         You have gone through four sticks of gum;  three that you just put in your mouth on the subway platform, one that you actually chewed earlier in your office.  Your office!

2.         Your eyes keep catching the eyes of the crazy muttering man sitting opposite you on the train–swollen, hooded, troubled eyes.  Even when you finally just shut your eyes, pretending to sleep, you can’t help peeking to see if he buys your little charade.  He doesn’t.   (Maybe it’s all the gum-chewing.)

3.         You begin to deconstruct Twilight in your head.   (“Deconstruct as in Harold Bloom and Jacques Derrida.)   You focus, for example, on the fact that “Bella Swan” must be named for (a) Belle, as in La Belle et La Bête (Beauty and the Beast), and (b) the Ugly Duckling.   And Edward Cullen is a combination of….. (a) Edward Scissorhands (you guess, not having actually seen the movie), and (b) cull as in the culling a herd, as in Edward in his vigilante days.   Then you actually begin to wonder about the symbolism of Jacob being a wolf.  But wasn’t Esau, Jacob’s brother, the “hairy man”…?

4.         The train stops for a long time in the tunnel.  Your jaw is getting seriously overextended. 

5.         When the conductor announces that the delay is due to a sick customer, you are genuinely relieved that the sick customer is not you.

6.         You really do not chew gum, you never chew gum.

7.         You step off the train onto a platform where a man sings the Flight of the Bumblebee in falsetto.  You are very glad that you will not be sitting opposite this man.

8.         All thoughts of blogging about political, social, artistic or poetic issues fly from your head and you wonder whether you couldn’t just post a picture of your cute little dog instead.  (You realize sadly that you don’t have a picture scanned.)

9.         Before taking that same cute little dog out for a walk, you hurriedly eat several slices of a kind of cheese you don’t much care for.  In an effort to assuage displaced guilt, you tear off some of every slice to give to the dog.

10.       When you finally take the dog out, you stop for a moment on the patio of a restaurant behind your building.  The restaurant has recently started playing elevator music, and before you realize what you are doing, your hips begin to twitch in time with the beat.

Agh!  You hate elevator music.  Worse than chewing gum!

Agh!

Feeling that all is surely lost—what’s happening to you?–you look out over the horizon.  The sky above the river is blue and pink and orange, the river below the sky is blue and blue and blue, a crescent of moon barely gleams through the spectrum like the most beautiful distinction possible, your dog’s eyes (you are carrying your dog through the restaurant patio) stare up at you in gratitude.   (Possibly for all the cheese.)

In less than a second, your hips let go of even the memory of those untoward twitches, and you walk straight and true out of range of the muzak, your forehead unwinding, your chest sighing, your tense jaw beginning, at last, to find peace.

Check out 1 Mississippi above for more about the peace of rivers.