Posted tagged ‘Twilight Saga: Eclipse’

Super Hot Day Brings Up Edward And Bella Again – Is The Fascination About Sex, Marriage, Feminism (Or Lack Thereof)? Or Just All the Carrying?

July 6, 2010

Modern Harried Female and Embarrassed Robert Pattinson (as Edward Cullen)

I hate to try the patience of my regular followers.  I ask for forgiveness based on the fact that it was 102 degrees in my city today, and  I have used very little AC for several hours in a perhaps misguided attempt to support Con Edison (as well as our troops abroad, and our environment at home.)

So, under guise of a very wilted brain, I am returning to a discussion of Twilight, it having re-entered my consciousness with the new Eclipse movie.  Only this time I’m approaching it from a sociological perspective and not an “isn’t-Robert-Pattinson-so-much-cuter-than-that-Lautner-guy” perspective.

There has been much discussion of the sexual conservativism of Mormon Stephanie Meyer’s books (the lesson of “sure, dear, sneak a vampire up to your bedroom every night, just don’t, you know, have, like, sex with him. “)

But the truly old fashioned aspect of the books relates to sex as in gender roles, rather than to sex (or the lack thereof) as an activity.  Frankly, when viewed through this lens, the appeal of the books to middle-aged women (the mothers or grandmothers of the target teen audience) is really kind of sad.

Much is made in the movies of a love triangle between Bella and her vampire suitor Edward and werewolf suitor Jacob, but, frankly, in the books – spoiler alert- Edward wins hands (ahem) down.

No, the true choice for Bella (as written) is not between Edward and Jacob, but between a) Edward, a life of very ample financial security, sex (finally) and devoted, if controlling, companionship, and b) having a life on her own—that is, going to college, having a career (vampires have to keep too low a profile to pursue work or renown in any meaningful way), having an ongoing relationship with her birth family, having children (although this one doesn’t come up for a while), having her choice of friends, having to wear sunblock, and (though rarely mentioned) eating food.   (Edward sort of sums all these things up in “having a soul”.)

This choice, if you think about it, sounds an awful lot like the choices faced by many women in the past (and currently in much of the world) in marriage.   Going from one set of fairly controlling males (the father and his sphere) to another (the husband and his sphere).   Trading off the possibility of independent personal development for material security and sex with a sole partner.

Even more strange from a feminist perspective is the fictional fact that Bella feels forced to make her choices quickly primarily because of her vanity.  (Okay, and hormones.)  She can’t stand to delay a transformation to vampiredom, even to go to college for a couple of years, because it will cause her to become “older” than her vampire beau.  She feels the tick of a biological clock that is not based on reproductivity but firm thighs and an unlined countenance.

Yes, young love is powerful.  But why do older women (much to their own embarrassment) read the books so avidly?

The only answer I can come up with (and I should know) is that Edward promises to take care of everything.   He is handsome, considerate, unconditionally loving, but, more importantly, extremely attentive to detail.  He loves to buy presents.   He arranges for house cleaners.  He cooks!  He carries Bella around, never ever complaining about how heavy she is.  One big reason he wants to get married is simply to be allowed to pay Bella’s bills.

The modern older woman a) rarely has anyone carry her groceries much less herself, and b) generally has to pay her own bills.

Of course, the success of the books probably also arises from the fact that even as Bella makes some very unliberated choices, she ends up repeatedly saving the day, and generally doing adventurous, independent, types of things.   (All the while being carried at moments, and having important bills, such as medical and travel, paid.)

It’s interesting that the non-Mormon director and screenwriter of Eclipse, presumably sensitive to feminist issues, actually change the dialogue to have Bella say that her motivation for becoming a vampire is to be her truest self (rather than her love of Edward.)   While the change may be intended to promote the idea of strong women, it ends up meaning that Bella’s choice is for wealth, supermodel looks, superhero/bloodthirsty strength.  (And still no college or family!)  Somehow the doing-it-all-for-love part seemed better.   (Especially given the carrying.)  (And the saving the day.)

Eclipse/Airbender/Whizzing Fit Bodies/Why?

July 5, 2010

Whizzing Fit Body (In Heels)

What does it mean that the two (by far) top selling movies this weekend are The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, taking in an anticipated $181 million in six days, and The Last Airbender, taking in a very unanticipated $70 million in five?

  1. That American moviegoers couldn’t give a rotten tomato for what professional critics say.
  2. That the male members of families, couples, households going to Eclipse had to see something, and (according to moviegoing statistics) only 20% could be coerced into spending 90 minutes with Tayler Lautner’s abs.
  3. That for all the hype about Team Edward and Team Jacob, the team people really belong to is Team Jasper as played by Jackson Rathbone ( in both movies).
  4. That a lot of households had air conditioners on the blink.
  5. That in times where solutions to problems seem truly intractable, not only beyond execution, but beyond knowledge, there is something beguiling about mayhem that results not from societal, political, economic or natural forces, but, primarily, from the vengeful character of a single good-looking, and possibly destructible, individual.
  6. Aren’t stories with tons of plotlines, subcharacters, flashbacks, unknown connections, secret powers—fantasies that almost need a diagram for anyone but the cognoscienti to follow—fun?  At least rich sources for argument? (Making all that time you thought was wasted reading the books and/or watching the cartoons finally worthwhile.)
  7. Who cares if the actual dialogue is execrable?
  8. Seemingly, moviegoers really do like seeing very fit people whizz around in semi-computer-generated martial art mode.   My concern is that there’s no real “control” to test this supposition, i.e. few alternatives.  Personally, I think at least 80% of the audience at my Eclipse viewing would have been perfectly happy with fewer fight scenes; the other 20% of the audience did not look very happy in any case.

Caveat – all comments on The Last Airbender are based on secondary sources, including those extremely uninfluential reviews.