I’ve ranted and raved at length about the things about Twilight that bother me, like the racism, sexism or the whole “If you don’t have a man, your life is worthless.” But there are some things that piss me off that don’t fit so neatly into the riffing.So this is going to be an ongoing project, not a begin-to-finish one. Parts of it may appear in my snarks, or they may not.
The Warped Definition of “Good
“The Cullens are supposed to be “good” vampires. Why? Because they don’t (usually) drink human blood.They also do other things that are supposed to mark them as “good” in our eyes, such as being rich, being white living as a fake family, saving Bella Swan from preying mantises, and defying the Volturi.
But are they actually “good”?
In a word… no.
Obviously the definition of “good” and “evil” vary a lot, but I think we can all agree that to be a good person, you have to do good things fairly consistently. You have to be unselfish and/or charitable and/or just actively kind to most other people at least some of the time. Exact definitions may vary (for instance, different religions may think differently about what charity is), but it generally boils down to thinking and doing good things.
Why are we supposed to think the Cullens are “good”? Because they usually don’t actively try to do evil things.
Wow, the saintliness is just blinding me.
Smeyer has a very passive definition of “good,” which is basically that you don’t DELIBERATELY murder people. If you do, just be mildly disappointed in yourself, but don’t have any lasting guilt – it’s not like murder is a big deal or anything. It’s only EVIL if you make murder and blood-drinking a general lifestyle choice, but not if you occasionally kill innocent people because you’re too selfish to stay away from then.
Think I’m kidding? Reread Midnight Sun. It’s established that Jasper is always about to lose control (and yet they expose him to lots of innocent people EVERY DAY), that Emmett doesn’t think it’s a big deal if you murder someone, and that Rosalie ONLY wants to avoid murder so they won’t have to switch high schools.
And Edward – supposedly the PERFECT MAN – cold-bloodedly plans to kill twenty people. His only qualm about it is that it will disappoint Carlisle and make Esme worry. Not that it’s WRONG or that innocent people will die if he does, but that it will mildly upset the other sparklepires. He’s also downright sadistic towards the other students, such as enjoying the idea of scaring them.
So how does that make them morally superior to the Volturi?! The Volturi are evil, but at least we’re not expected to admire them or think they are good people. The Cullens do the exact same stuff as the Volturi, and they don’t feel any worse about it, but because they mostly kill people in the heat of the moment instead of making it a way of life, we’re supposed to see them as “good.” IT’S STILL MURDER, YOU CLODS.
And this isn’t the only attitude that makes them not “good.” Despite the “moral” standing of not drinking human blood, the sparklepires seem to have nothing but contempt for human beings… and, well, pretty much everybody else who isn’t part of their little circle. That is not the attitude of a “good” person.
NEWS FLASH TO SMEYER: your vampires are not even remotely “good.”
- It takes more to be a “good” person than the absence of evil. There are a lot of people in the world who are not evil, but they aren’t really good either because they don’t do anything for others – whether it’s acts of charity, donations, or just saying a prayer for somebody who needs it (or if you’re not religious, just thinking good thoughts about them).
- For example, the Cullens are supposed to have more money than God. They buy islands off the coast of fucking Rio, they casually buy designer dresses for prom, they have empty mansions scattered all around the world, they buy new cars the way a child buys a new Hot Wheels… Smeyer just gives them a surreally huge amount of money. After all, heaven forbid Bella Swan get a fucking job.
- And yet, I cannot remember a single solitary mention of the Cullens donating any money to charities, helping the needy, or using their infinite time and resources to help other people.
- I mean, why haven’t they cured cancer if they’re so fucking smart? Because they have to attend high school 452 times and stalk teen girls!
- And yes, I know Carlisle is a doctor. But you know what? THAT’S HIS JOB. That’s not charity. And it’s not a job like a cop or a firefighter where he’s risking himself for others. The only reason he’s a doctor so he can be on hand to bandage Bella’s booboos.
- And it’s not like he does anything that a human doctor couldn’t. He isn’t using his vast wealth or vampire powers to help ANYONE.
- Merely taking a moral stance does not make you good. If that moral stance isn’t based on goodness or unselfishness somehow, it’s empty.
- I mean, vegetarianism to spare the animals death is a good moral stance. Does that mean that all vegetarians are good people, or that vegetarianism ALWAYS stems from that motive? HELL NO.
- So what is the basis of the Cullens’ moral stance about human blood? There isn’t one. They loathe and have contempt for human beings who aren’t Bella Swan, so obviously it’s not out of caring for the humans.
- And it’s obviously not because they think murder is wrong, because as I mentioned above… they pretty clearly don’t.
- So their whole “we’re better than regular vampires because we don’t (usually) drink human blood” thing falls flat because there’s no real reason for them to think that.
I’ve also heard people arguing that their “goodness” is shown in how they unselfishly save Bawla Wan from whatever is menacing her this week. Um… no. That’s not unselfish at all.
They have exactly two motivations for saving Bella Swan:
- Because the crabby, sexually-repressed Edward likes her, and keeping her alive is the best way of keeping him from being an even bigger pain in the ass.
- Because as soon as she meets them, she’s unofficially welcomed into their weird little family because she’s obviously destined to become a sparkly rich vampire. So she’s already part of their Suey little clique, who are only concerned with certain other members of their clique and nobody else.
It’s also hard to take their “unselfish” rescuing of Bella seriously when she’s the Sue of the author. I mean, of course they’re going to rush off to rescue her… but not dive into traffic to save a toddler chasing his ball, or use their vampire speed to rescue a suicidal person trying to leap off a building. At least THAT would create some sense of moral greyness.
So yeah, that’s why I don’t consider the Cullens to be “good,” and definitely not the moral superiors of the Volturi. Another reason to cheer for the vampire Catholics!
Okay, this is not going to be about the usual relationship issues with Twilight, because I snark on those plenty in my regular snarks. You know, the pedophilia, the stalking, the “I wuvs you so much I’ll commit suicide if you move away!” melodrama, the fact that the “romance” is entirely hormone-based, the gay overtones, etc. Those topics have been talked about to death, and so there’s really no point in making a separate rant about them.
No, this is more about the fact that everybody in this series – even some of the minorest of minor characters… even the VILLAINS – is hammered into a romantic relationship. Monogamous, heterosexual ones.
Now I have no problem with love, romance and marriage, and I can even (sometimes) stomach the literary concept that you have one special person in the world who is just right for you. But… EVERYBODY seems to have that in the Twilight series. It is the NORM to have a star-crossed soulmate forever-and-ever relationship that you just INSTANTLY KNOW ABOUT as soon as you meet that person, without spending any time with them.
I mean, the werewolves have that creepy imprinting thing, guaranteeing that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM will find the girl of his dreams, and they will be Fated To Be Whether They Like It Or Not Dammit. Sometimes Smeyer creates random minor characters who have NO OTHER PURPOSE in the story except to be imprinted upon. And if she rejects him, he’ll just mutilate her until she Stockholms herself into loving him… which is another rant for another day.
And every vampire who has ANY actual impact on the plot has has these Fated Destined Dramatic Romances of Troo Luv, and they never even think about anyone else. Even better: if a vampire’s mate dies, they NEVER GET OVER IT. They just mope for eternity, never hooking up with anybody else even temporarily. How likely is it that EVERY SINGLE PERSON would react exactly the same way?!
I mean, the VILLAINS have “happily ever after” romances! Look at the villains: Victoria, Chelsea, Laurent, Aro, Caius… they’re all devotedly in love with just ONE PERSON over all the centuries and millennia. Yeah, nothing says “Evil Villain of Depraved Bloodthirsty Vampiriness” like a happy content domestic life!
And that would be FINE… for some of the characters. But all of them have perfect eternal marriages where they’re always compatible and never get bored? Yeah, that seems likely.
And NOBODY DOES ANYTHING ELSE. I mean, no character in this series dates multiple people to find out who they’re compatible with. Which makes no sense – if a person became a vampire and retained their sexual drive (despite the lack of sexual reproduction), they probably wouldn’t sign up for one-person monogamy for the rest of eternity ASAP. If you had an ETERNITY in which to fuck around, and no apparent religious beliefs to hold you back… you probably would.
I mean, wouldn’t you expect at least SOME vampires to have a lot of sexual flings with other vampires?
Maybe serial monogamy, breaking off the relationship when it gets dull and moving on to the next one?
Even some same-sex experiences, since you would probably find yourself attracted to a lot of varied people over an IMMORTAL life?
Wow, that explains a lot, doesn’t it?
And nobody is ever attracted to ANYONE except their Speshul Soulmate Forever-And-Ever Happily-Ever-After. No vampire guy looks at a woman and thinks, “Wow, she has a nice ass”; no vampire gal looks at a hot guy and drools. Same with the werewolves. I’m all for fidelity, but… this just gets smothering and boring. No suspense. No change. No effort. It’s STAGNANT.
I think there is exactly one vampire with a semi-normal sex drive in the entire series. That would be Tanya, a Denali vampire who apparently used to seduce human men and then feed off them. Meaning that instead of sitting around pining for Troo Luv, she had sex with men in the past and pursued a vampire guy when she became romantically interested in him. Imagine that!
What are we supposed to see her as? A hopeless slut who isn’t “pure” enough to be loved.
On the flip side, there’s only one werewolf who doesn’t get the Troo Luv treatment. Again, it’s a girl who DARES to have had a real, normal relationship based on mutual liking and not imprinting. What a pervert!
Smeyer tries to act like she likes the character of Leah Clearwater, but she really heaps a lot of shit in the character. She makes her infertile for no reason (except that we must worship Bella for her Speshul Sparkling Uterus!), her boyfriend dumps her ass for Troo Imprinted Luv, and she ends up with NOBODY. To make matters worse, Smeyer seemed to be setting up a potential romance based on mutual liking and respect with Jacob… and then screws Leah over again.
Also… Smeyer features vampires from 1000 B.C. to the present, from various cultures and countries. NOT ONE OF THEM IS GAY OR BISEXUAL. Now, I’m not a fan of shoving in token gay or bisexual characters just to make a point, but she crams in so much romance and Troo Luv that it seems unlikely that ALL of it would just happen to be between heterosexuals.
And it’s… just not realistic. The whole idea of hetero/homo/bisexuality as actual labels or a restricted pool of sexual partners is a very recent phenomenon. For most of human history, people’s sexuality was classified by what they DID, not with pat labels – partly because in most of them, it just wasn’t a big deal to be bisexual. People cared more about whether you were begetting heirs or “receiving” buttsex than who you found attractive… mainly because when the societal stigma of bisexuality is removed and people are open to it, people tend to go with that. According to Lisa Diamond, the majority of LGBT people are bisexual, and a lot of people have interests that veer outside of “all straight” or “all gay” (even if a lot of people repress that because they don’t want to be “outside” straight or gay). Personally, I think that the majority of people who identify as gay or straight are actually bisexuals who just have a strong interest in one gender.
Remember Shakespeare? He lived in a time when bisexuality was extremely common, because it just wasn’t seen as a big deal to have emotional/sexual relationships with men, but also marry women.
It’s even reflected in his work. Just read The Merchant of Venice – it’s abundantly clear that Antonio is madly in love with Bassanio, but he’s also willing to help Bassanio get a wife. Both men spew the kind of dialogue that would easily fit lovers. And Portia is clearly aware of this attraction of Antonio’s, because the first thing she does when she meets him as herself is make him swear to uphold her marriage. Or As You Like It. We could classify Orlando as pansexual, because he seems to be attracted to the same person in the guise of both a man and a woman.
So how realistic is it that a number of people who have lived for MILLENNIA would be completely hetero in every way?
I mean, the Volturi leaders lived in a time when people had very fluid sexuality. Bisexuality was the NORM when Aro was living his human life – it was literally institutionalized in some Greek societies like Sparta, where having male-male relationships was a part of growing up. It’s why the love of Alexander the Great’s life was a man (Hephaestion), but he also fell in love with and married Roxana. So why would anyone from that time period – or many of the ones that followed, like in ancient Rome or medieval Europe – have only had ONE relationship in their life?
And if she just left it up to our imaginations, that would be fine. But she doesn’t. She just HAS to assure us that everyone in the cast has only ever had one paramour, and it’s their Forever And Ever Hetero Soulmate. Away from that person, they are utterly celibate. The only person who has more than one relationship is just faking to get someone to do what she wants.
And it wouldn’t bother me so much if there wasn’t SO much homoeroticism in these books. But it’s downright distracting sometimes how many people come across as enamored of the same sex, while assuring us that they are SO not doing anything sexually unless they are several times married to a member of the opposite sex.
So in conclusion: do not try to depict the world as totally devoid of same-sex attractions while also having Carlisle and Amun keeping pretty teenage boys that they seem to find more interesting than their wives, or having Bella wrap herself around Alice to sniff her hair and ogle Heidi’s sexy legs.
Bella Being the Center of the Universe
I’ve always said that Bella is a narcissistic, obnoxious, dumb, whiny, spoiled little twit who looks down on everyone else (including her own parents), thinks she’s too smart for everyone around her, stalks the object of her affections, and becomes literally suicidal if he leaves. And no, I am not misusing the word “literally.”
And some other people (more thoughtful than the more die-hard fans) have replied by saying that they considered her less-than-flattering portrayal to be a pretty realistic portrayal of a teenager’s mind. Well, I cannot disagree with that. Bella has a lot of the rotten characteristics that crop up during everybody’s teenage years, and it would be just fine’n’dandy if a character were depicted as such. I mean, Holden Caulfield is a fictional teenager with a lot of personal defects, yet people enjoy reading about him. So if Bella were being depicted as being melodramatic, whiny, narcissistic and stupid BECAUSE SHE’S A TEENAGER and hasn’t yet learned enough about the world and herself to be otherwise, I would be fine with that.
Here’s the problem with this theory: Smeyers doesn’t think that Bella is any of the above. She repeatedly reiterates that Bella is an Old Soul who is not only more mature than her peers, but also her PARENTS. She reiterates that Bella is uber-selfless, supersmart, suffers in silence, humble, and is in Troo Lurve that will last forever and is based on Destiny and not Edward’s sparklepeen and fat wallet.
“But satireknight,” you may be thinking, “it’s a first person narrative! So of COURSE Bella would think that about herself.”
Sadly, I’m not talking about Bella’s self-perception. I’m talking about how other people act towards her.
- In Midnight Sun’s first-person narrative from Edward, he attributes all sorts of virtues to Bella and is repeatedly staggered by how Suishly wonderful she is compared to, sniff sniff, OTHER mortals. Just the way she sees herself.
- In fact, he does the same in Twilight. And the other books. So does his “perfect” family except for Rosalie (who is Just Jellus of her uterus, of course).
- Everybody in Forks is rabidly interested in her. She sees this as perfectly normal, if annoying. And nobody treats newer students the way they treat her.
- Nobody ever calls Bella out or reacts to her as if she were a melodramatic, selfish teenager. Nobody rolls their eyes when she says cheesy crap, nobody ever tells her to get over her own pretentious ass, nobody ever shrugs her melodrahmaz off, and nobody is even remotely disturbed by how crazy and obsessive she is about Edward. In other words, just how she sees herself.
- Most of the cast is very, very old and you would expect them to be emotionally far beyond Bella’s “deep tortured” self. Not so. They still think she’s just wonderful.
So basically, Smeyers actually THINKS that Bella is a smart, humble, selfless Wiser Than Her Years teen who is destined for a Troo Luv better than anything YOU could ever have, and that she deserves it too. It’s not just in her head, but ingrained into the reality around her. Is there anything more Suish than that?
I’d also like to point out that Bella has a lot of classic codependency signs, and Edward has most of the ones she doesn’t have.
The (Lack of) Math in the Twilightverse
I know I ranted about this before, but it bears repeating, because it’s one of those things that nobody seems to notice about the Twilight universe: mathematically, there is no way the vampires could actually exist.
So I’d like to introduce you to Daybreakers.
Now Daybreakers is a vampire movie, set in a world where vampirism actually exists, and the majority of the population is made up of vampires. To remain “normal,” the vampires must ingest in a certain amount of human blood regularly. If they don’t, they turn into berserk batlike abominations that kill everyone and everything around them. Animal blood can sustain them for a short time, but it’s not a great solution.
Another important aspect of these vampires is that it takes just ONE BITE, one nonfatal bite, to turn you into a vampire. That’s why there are so many: if a vampire bites someone, his victim becomes a vampire. And so it goes on, until there are only a few humans left in the entire world, most of whom are being drained of their blood to sustain a doomed vampire population.
So why am I bringing up this movie? Well, Smeyer’s vampires work on the same principle. Her vampires have only two ways of drinking blood: they kill their prey, or they turn them into fellow vampires.
And sadly, that doesn’t work. Her books imply that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of sparklepires just roaming around the place, and EACH ONE needs to feed at least every couple weeks, probably more frequently. Maybe ten or twelve of those vampires drink from animals instead of humans, which introduces its own logical problems (WHY DOES NOBODY NOTICE THE DEAD ANIMALS?!).
So there are two possible scenarios:
- Her vampires are killing at least two humans a month. Apiece. That is a lot of dead bodies. I mean, look at Volterra. Are we seriously supposed to believe that Volterra, a real-life CITY with a population of only 11,000 in the popular vacation area of Tuscany, has a vast organization of vampires hiding there WITH NOBODY FUCKING NOTICING THEM?!I mean, that is simply not possible. Say there are 500 vampires hiding in Volterra. That is at least A THOUSAND PEOPLE DEAD EVERY SINGLE MONTH. That is TWELVE THOUSAND PEOPLE A YEAR. Rock bottom minimum, assuming that nobody just eats when they feel like it. And nobody has fucking noticed the disappearance of MORE people than the actual city holds?!
And that’s just in ONE CITY. These creatures are roaming all over the entire planet, allegedly. I’m pretty sure that with normal mortality an d birth rates, the earth’s population of humans would be dropping sharply ALL THE TIME. It wouldn’t take long before the human race was EXTINCT. And again, nobody notices the sudden disappearances, the large number of dead bodies, and the large number of DEATHS. Because, you know, it’s not like that sort of thing gets INVESTIGATED.
- The above scenario, except that her vampires are also producing OTHER vampires (even by accident) which are also going to need blood. So hundreds, even thousands more humans will die over a single vampire’s lifetime, and they will probably produce at least a few more undying abominations that will ALSO require thousands more.You see what I mean? The sheer numbers of vampires – and the fact that they seem VERY casual about turning people – means that the human race would probably be extinct in months, if not weeks. This is not rocket science – this is basic math and logic. So of course, it has no place in the Twilight universe.
And it wouldn’t be a problem if the sparklepires were more like Anne Rice’s vampires. Rice’s vampires are far more plausible because they don’t HAVE to either kill or turn their victims. They’re capable of just drinking a smaller amount from a human victim, then letting them go. They also have a certain mesmeric quality that allows them to befuddle their victims into not remembering. They only kill if they WANT to, and they only TURN people if they want to.
In fact, Smeyer’s vampires are pretty shitty parasites (and yes, they are parasites, not “predators”). The most successful parasites are the ones that keep their hosts/victims alive and well. Take actual real-life vampire bats:
Now, like the Daybreakers vampires, these creatures need blood. They actually NEED it – they’ll starve if they go for more than a couple days without it. They mostly feed on cattle and other big animals, by making a tiny bite and lapping up a small amount of blood. The only physical threat to the victim is the possibility of rabies; the blood loss itself and the cut made for it is inconsequential. That way, the same beast can be fed on multiple times by multiple bats, and can CONTINUE to provide delicious blood.
The Twishite vamps? They KILL their victims, so those victims can never provide food enough, and cannot produce offspring to continue the species. And what would happen once the humans and large mammals were all gone?
Great design, Smeyer. Your vampires would wipe THEMSELVES out along with the human race.
The All-Male Werewolf Pack
You may have noticed that Twilight is not so much a story as a very long sexual fantasy, where a lily-white vampire and exoticized Native American werewolf are constantly fighting over Smeyer’s Sue while she ogles both of them. Personally I think there was a lot of porn in Smeyer’s early drafts, but that’s just me.
You may have also noticed that Smeyer doesn’t really seem to like other women. All the female characters in this series fall into three separate categories:
- Murderous bitches
- Mean girls/sexual competition
- Worshipful servants of Bella
So… yeah, the only female characters that Smeyer has any liking for are characters like Alice, Emily and Esme, who exist solely to dote on Bella and/or the men who serve Bella. The rest of the time, she seems to avoid writing about female characters whenever possible… and nowhere is that more evident than in the werewolf pack. The werewolves are male. All of them.
Actually, that’s not accurate. In all the centuries of werewolves of the Quileute tribe, there has been ONE SINGLE SOLITARY FEMALE WEREWOLF. And she’s regarded as a freakish aberration.
That’s right: an active, strong female character who knows her own mind is treated as a freak. I do not need to even make a joke about that.
But it actually makes a lot of sense. After all, in real life, wolf packs are known for being all-male affairs, with icky girls kept far away… oh wait, no they’re not. Wolf packs are very co-ed, and females get to be as alpha as the males. I swear, this is almost as stupid as Laurell K. Hamilton creating a lion pride ENTIRELY MADE UP OF HOT MALES. Not quite as stupid, but pretty close behind.
Well, I can think of only two reasons why Smeyer would have her werewolves be ALL MALE with one token Smurfette. Both of them are really offensive and/or stupid.
- Smeyer appears to be heterosexual (well, probably), so she decided to make the werewolves all hot, muscular, semi-naked, exoticized males even if they’re not interested in her Sue. Cuz hey, she can still fantasize about them even if they don’t actually want to pork her Sue.
- Smeyer doesn’t like the idea of female werewolves because that means the female characters are out doing badass, actiony, buttkicking ACTION instead of staying home and cooking for the menfolk, like the girls SHOULD be doing.
I have no idea which one of these reasons was Smeyer’s motivation for making the werewolf pack all male… or whether it was both of them. But either way, it doesn’t give a satisfactory explanation for why the werewolves are all made MALE.
Which leads me into…
I feel so so sorry for this character, especially since in a better-written series, she would be the protagonist… and Bella would be the weird girl who ends up doing evil things on behalf of the villains.
As I mentioned before, Smeyer tends to talk about Leah as if she likes the character, but she actually treats her worse than ANY OTHER supernatural creature on the “good” side in the entire series. Hell, there are VILLAINS who get less shit in their lives than she does, and most of them are centuries old.
And I think it boils down to one thing: Leah is an action chick. She works alongside the males, does the same things as them, and is not excluded in any way because she is female. That is honestly what makes her the most likable female character in the entire fucking series, especially since she isn’t inclined to just sit around suffering and silent because a male (Sam) tells her to.
And… that’s not what Smeyer thinks a woman should be. I mean, consider the female characters that Smeyer glorifies – women like Bella, Esme, Kebi and Emily. What do these women have in common? Well, they do most if not all of the below.
- Domestic (cooking and cleaning for Da Menfolk)
- No fighting and/or action
- They don’t interfere with the Manly Man activities
- The men are in charge, and the women do as they say
- They tolerate anything the men do Cuz They Luvs Them.
- They don’t bother the men with their petty little problems.
- Except for Bella, they hardly ever speak.
- They really don’t have any kind of REAL social life outside the home/surrogate family. You never hear about Esme going on a trip to go skydiving, or Emily leaving Sam to cook his own damn dinner so she can go out with the girls.
In fact, Smeyer symbolically denies that Leah Clearwater is even a female, because a woman like Leah defies everything that Smeyer glorifies in the feminine sex.
Don’t believe me? Just consider:
- First, she makes Leah infertile. Because if Bella and Rosalie teach us anything, it’s that a woman’s purpose is to have a functioning uterus so she can squirt out at least one kid. If she can’t do that, her life is hollow and empty.
- Secondly, she also robs Leah of the one thing that every other person in this series has: a romantic relationship. Hell, even CHARLIE ends up with a girlfriend, and he’s a lifeless corrupt lump. Previously, Leah was seriously involved with Sam Uley, but he leaves her to marry her cousin Emily. Emily is a domestic doormat who happily does nothing but silently serve Sam and his friends, even though Sam ripped open her face. No other male is attracted to Leah… so as far as the series is concerned, she’s now sexless.
So yeah, if you’re a woman who wants to do the same things as men and not be restricted by a bunch of sexist conventions… you might as well be a man. Nobody will want you, and you’ll never have kids. Have a nice life, bitch!
Esme And Carlisle
A lot of people hate Twilight, but most of them have a sort of sneaking fondness for Carlisle and Esme. This may be because they are among the few characters in the whole series who actually act like GROWN-UPS… which means that Smeyer must be deliberately making everyone else act like annoying 12-year-olds.
But I don’t like them. Why?
- They’re boring.
- They uphold the misogynistic ideal of “woman as subservient housewife who is just there to support the man and never have a thought in her pretty little head.”
- They’re both creepy.
Anyone who has read my snarks probably has noticed that I make a lot of jokes about Carlisle being a pederast. Well… I wouldn’t make those jokes if he hadn’t chosen a pretty teenage boy to be his life companion. Remember, he was a doctor in a major urban hospital during a plague, yet he found no pretty young ladies to make into his life companion. He chose a teenage boy… whom he then forced into vampirism, and whisked away to a secret place so nobody would know what he did.
Are you creeped out yet?
If not, there’s Carlisle using his, Esme’s and EDWARD’s name for their little made-up corporation, like they’re a ménage à trois. And having their bedroom right next to his, being the only ones on the whole floor. And the fact that of all his “children,” Edturd is the only one he waxes lyrical about.
And if we’re counting the movie…
Remember: turning someone into a vampire is supposed to be a metaphor for sex. Even after marriage, Bella and Edturd do not have that experience… but Carlisle DOES turn Edturd.
So yeah, my comments about him being a pederast? THEY ARE SUPPORTED BY THE TEXT. I don’t think Smeyer meant to do that, since her vampires are “perfect,” and Carlisle seems to be her Vampire Joseph Smith analogue. Plus, she doesn’t want to acknowledge any sexuality except super-ultra-squeaky-clean monogamously straight… which makes it especially funny when she keeps accidentally implying that Carlisle is secretly bonking Edward.
It doesn’t just apply to Carlisle. One of his buds, Amun, kidnapped and forcibly turned ANOTHER pretty teenage boy whom his wife is extremely jealous of, but she tolerates his presence because her husband is more interested in the boy than in her. Sound familiar?
And it also creeps me out that he’s basically gathered a group of people who unconditionally worship him, never blame him for doing terrible things to them, and accept him as their leader. Smeyer tries to spin him as a patriarch… but honestly, all I see is a cult leader. He selects people and isolates them from their family and friends, and sets them up as part of a “family” that he dominates as a charismatic leader. Sounds culty, no?
Hell, Emmett refers to him as GOD at one point. Not kidding.
I can only assume that Esme was introduced to make it seem that Carlisle was totally not gay and/or having sex with his “son,” and to maintain the whole perfect nuclear family thing that every single social gathering must be modeled on.
But Esme is creepy too. I’ve touched briefly on her weird, weird behavior before, but the more I think about it…
First, backstory: before she became a vampire, Esme was unhappily married to an asshole that she ran away from, and she had a baby who died a few days later. So she tried to kill herself, and was turned into a vampire by Carlisle because… well, she’d fallen in love with him when she was a teenage girl. Another “father/daughter” romantic relationship… ewww.
So now, because her only biological child is long-dead, Esme has the other Cullens as her surrogate children and accepts Bella as a new “child” even before it’s decided that Bella will join them. This sounds okay at first. Then… you sort of realize that Esme is actually YOUNGER than at least half of her “children,” and that ALL of them are grown adults… and they were all grown adults when she MET them.
Isn’t that kind of weird?
The answer is… YES. It is weird. It is VERY weird to “adopt” fully grown people who are only slightly younger physically than you, and treat them like your actual children. And while I MIGHT be able to swallow this if she were physically the same age but much older chronologically, or substantially older physically… it becomes downright bizarre when you consider that she ISN’T. Physically, she’s maybe five or six years older than most of her “children,” and not much older chronologically. She’s actually YOUNGER than Jasper.
And what really creeps me out is… this is not an “act” for the purpose of blending in. She is regarded as if she were their actual mom, and acts like it too.
And it’s not like these were lonely orphans who might cling to Esme as the mother figure they’ve never had. Bella, Edward, Rosalie and Emmett all had their own families whom they presumably loved. Bella has parents. Edturd had parents. Rosalie had parents, brothers and a fiance. Emmett had a huge family that he apparently loved a lot.
So why the hell would they just accept being “adopted” by Esme and Carlisle, and accept them as parents? Especially since Esme does this before actually having a reason to think they’ll join the cult?
When you add in the loss of Esme’s baby and her inability to have another biological child… it makes Esme seem less like a font of maternal love… and more like one of those sad crazy women who snatch babies at the supermarket so they can be a “mommy.” Except she tries to “collect” grown people who had their own lives until Carlisle isolated them from everyone they knew and loved.
Don’t you find that weird and creepy?
I know I’ve ranted about this before, but Alice’s ability is both the most potentially powerful and yet the most ill-conceived and WASTED power in this whole series. Yes, I am including Avatar dude. It still boggles my mind that he was in this series… more on that later.
So, how is it ill-conceived? Well, because a reliable precog in any story means that… there’s no chance for things to go wrong. There are two ways you can write a precog: fuzzy on the details, or wildly unreliable. This allows for some tension about the plot and how it’s going to unfold, and some doubt about how things will turn out for the characters.
And Alice’s powers are treated as fucking INFALLIBLE. Even though it’s repeatedly shown that they aren’t, and Smeyer even reluctantly admits that they aren’t, EVERYONE acts like they are. Hell, in the same scene that she admits that her powers completely failed and Edward almost died because of it… Aro uses one of her visions as a reason NOT to mess with Bella and Edturd. Meaning… he’s acting like the powers that are PROVEN to be unreliable ARE reliable. And nobody corrects him.
And having read ALL of Alice’s thoughts, he has no excuse. This is shamefully bad writing.
There’s also the uselessness of them. Yes, she can see the future, but only in a flowchart way. Person will choose A or B, which will lead to other simple choices that are easily followed – if he chooses B, then that leads to C or D, and if he chooses C, that will lead to E and F, but if he changes his mind and goes with D, then he’s instead given choice G and H. It’s incredibly simplistic, and doesn’t really allow for the incredible complexity of the world. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure book.
Ever heard of the Butterfly Effect? It’s the idea that even tiny changes in the world have ripple effects that can seriously change events.
Consider: Person has choice A (go on a bus to another city) or B (don’t). He chooses A, but delays for two minutes to get a hot dog, he ends up missing the bus. So he has to take a DIFFERENT bus to the same location. If he hadn’t missed that bus, he would have ended up in the wrong place and been mugged. But because he was on a different bus, he meets a new friend who might introduce him to his future wife two years in the future, at a party thrown by a person the guy MIGHT meet if he breaks his leg, etc.
Yes, that’s ALSO incredibly simple, but it’s an example of how even small things can have a huge effect on a person’s life. So Alice’s powers are entirely based on the most simplistic depiction of linear time… which is about what I expect from Smeyer.
And really, this makes her powers ridiculously easy to thwart. All you have to do is keep doing stuff on the fly, or do something that can’t possibly lead to that outcome she predicted. Hell, stop for ten minutes and look at carpet samples – that would be enough to thwart the bitch.
But her powers are also useless because of the timing. There is NO consistent timing for her visions of the future, and no consistent way that they work. Whenever Smeyer needs a crisis, her visions are either waaaaaaayyy too late (the guy almost running Bella down) or completely absent (Jasper going nuts and trying to kill Bella). What’s the point of having powers if they ALWAYS notify you way too late that something bad is going to happen? Hell, sometimes Alice’s visions are SO late that they become totally pointless; she could have just as easily have SEEN that van approaching Bella.
And that would be fine… if it were noted as being a flaw. But no, Alice’s foresight is totally reliable and we should never question it.
And you know what? SOMETIMES IT DOESN’T WORK AT ALL. For instance, she apparently has no visions about Victoria and Laurent returning to Forks, even though she can easily see Bella jumping off a cliff. She also doesn’t foresee her OWN BOYFRIEND, who is always on the verge of losing control and whom she monitors with her foresight, suddenly attacking Bella. And neither of these incidents are EVER MENTIONED as failures. We’re just meant to ignore them.
So yeah, Alice’s powers are way too specific for any kind of actual reliable plot involvement, but they’re also too useless for how much people rely on them. FUCK, THIS WRITING IS BAD.
The Power Overload in Breaking Dawn
I think one of the most obvious ways that Breaking Dawn spun out of control was the vampire superpowers. Yes, the vampire powers like mind-reading or precognition were established in the first book, but those are pretty standard superpowers. And honestly, they aren’t too implausible with the premise that these are human abilities amped up (although why a biological mutation would cause THAT is never explained).
But then in New Moon we started getting vampires whose powers made less sense, like only being able to sense thoughts if they were touching someone. And inflicting pain psychically. And… relationship identification. Is that the vampire equivalent of someone who looks at two people and says, “They are so totally boning each other”?
But then in Breaking Dawn, Smeyer went totally off the rails. In more ways than one.
Okay, some of them are still vaguely plausible, like “the ability to distract people” or “repulsing people” or “the ability to not have anyone notice you”… although I’m not sure if those are superpowers so much as personal liabilities that they just claim are superpowers. And “ability identification” just seems like stating the fucking obvious.
And there are a few who just don’t seem like they should NEED to be superpowers. I mean, did Victoria NEED to have an evasion superpower? She can’t just be really stealthy and good at losing people? Did Heidi need to have supernatural sex appeal instead of just being vampire sexy?
But now… now, in Breaking Dawn, there are vampires who can BREAK RELATIONSHIPS… because yeah, personal relationships aren’t based on shared personal experiences or memories. They’re like memberships in a club – you can just choose to dissolve them at any time and stop paying fees. But then, this IS the series where an entire epic romance is based on personal smell and looks, so… maybe it’s not that implausible.
And then there’s “visual projection.” One of the Amazons… has the power to be a HOLODECK.
She literally makes people see completely convincing, realistic depictions of whatever the fuck she wants. What the hell is that a natural outgrowth of?! And why the hell was it even necessary?
And then there’s “psychic electrokinesis,” meaning the vampire can zap people like a taser. Again… what is this a natural outgrowth of?! A tendency to zap people with static electricity?! Hell, I can do that!
But as bad as those are… two of them are so bad that my mind boggles.
One of them is the Avatar.
No, not the blue elf-cat people. The Avatar who can control the elements.
Let me explain in further detail – there is a sparklepire who can control earth, fire, water and air. He is apparently the only one in the world… which makes me think Smeyer watched Avatar and decided to nakedly rip it off. HE CAN CONTROL THE ELEMENTS.
Again… exactly what preexisting human ability leads to THIS? Affecting other people’s minds, precognition, mind-reading… all these are all preexisting theoretical supernatural powers. You can find them in other stories. Hell, I could stretch my imagination enough to believe that actual real skills could attain supernatural accuracy, like James’ tracking or Maggie’s ability to detect lies.
But elemental manipulation? There is NO theoretical ability OR real skill that can translate to that! Not unless you’re God and make planets for fun.
And the worst part? This power is useless. Completely useless. It really doesn’t have ANYTHING to do with the plot except introducing another creepy character who comes across as the victim of a pederast. It is in this book for one reason – Smeyer thought it was cool.
Speaking of God, this brings us to the OTHER the-fuck-is-this? superpower. Allow me to introduce Siobhan.
She’s another one of the five million vampires introduced in Breaking Dawn that I think we’re supposed to care about even though we’ve never seen them before, they don’t do anything interesting and they’re ultimately just there to tell us how wonderful the Cullens are and how much the Volturi suck.
And there are exactly two noteworthy things about Siobhan:
- She is the ONLY female leader of ANYTHING in the whole Twishite series. Maybe this was Smeyer’s feeble response to people calling her books sexist, or she had a split-second of logical thought.
- She can control reality. No, I’m not kidding. SHE CAN CONTROL REALITY.
And yes, we are not meant to question this. I know Smeyer has serious issues with creating tension because she’s always assuring us that nothing is actually dangerous to her characters… or at least refusing to show us anything interesting. But in this book, she has a character who can literally decide “I want things to turn out this way” AND HAVE IT HAPPEN JUST BECAUSE SHE WANTS IT. Thus assuring that there is absolutely NO risk that things will go badly for the main characters, which sucks when this is the final book of a series and SUPPOSEDLY has a climactic clash with the bad guys.
But no, this character just wishes for everybody to be happy and wander away from it unharmed, and it happens BECAUSE she wished for it. And it’s not left ambiguous whether this woman is just very lucky, or whether she has this power. We’re assured that she TOTALLY does have this power, it is reliable and apparently doesn’t have limits.
That… is not a superpower. That is a GOD power. But Smeyer presents this as being no more significant than being really good at card-shuffling, because she’s an idiot.
You know what the funniest thing is? This character is NOT reckoned as one of the most powerful in existence. The Twilight Saga Wiki lists the most powerful vampires and ranks BELLA of all people as the second most powerful, behind the Avatar up there. Bella, whose only power is that she is immune to SOME vampire powers, and sometimes can make other people temporarily immune. THAT is apparently considered a superpower even among vampires, and everyone who sees her power in action acts like she’s the greatest thing ever.
Hell, why is Siobhan considered less powerful than that creepy Egyptian kid? Sure, his powers are very impressive and useful… but not compared to the ability to REWRITE REALITY. Creating a geyser or tossing rocks around is NOTHING compared to the ability to change the world if you had the imagination to.
Or how about ALICE? Alice’s powers are ridiculously unreliable, inconsistent and sometimes downright useless. Forget foreseeing the future – Siobhan can MAKE the future through sheer force of will.
But the woman with literal GODLIKE POWERS is considered to be less powerful than the living taser woman. Yes, the woman whose special ability is to zap people with electricity is considered MORE POWERFUL than the God-mode vampire.
Inconsistent Sex Metaphors
Vampirism is a metaphor for sex.
Now, I don’t have a problem with Smeyer using vampirism and blood-drinking as metaphors for sexual activity. That is something that authors have been doing since the 19th century – Carmilla was used to depict a lesbian/bisexual vampire. Dracula was pretty obvious about blood-drinking = sex, some bisexuality and the title character even metaphorically raped Mina Harker. Interview With The Vampire used it as a metaphor… again for same-sex attractions and bisexuality.
And in Twilight, it’s a metaphor for sex too. Straight, missionary, lights-off sex only, of course. Edward won’t fuck turn Bella until they’re married, because he’s old-fashioned and crap like that, so Bella has to marry him (horrors!). And it’s also extended to the Denali sisters, where sex and vampiric feeding are one and the same until they convert to Mormonism become pseudo-vegetarians. And of course, Bella wants Edward to take her metaphorical virginity instead of Alice. Uhhhhhh…
But… it doesn’t work here as well as it does in those other books. In fact, it doesn’t work at all. Why?
Think about it. Edward doesn’t just have the cravin’ to drink Bella’s blood. We’re explicitly told that he wants to KILL her. A lot. In other words, Smeyer is metaphorically equating sex with DEATH. Fuck, even the VICTORIANS weren’t that bad, and they thought sex was the most shameful despicable thing ever.
It’s redundant. Le Fanu, Stoker and Rice all used vampirism to depict sexuality that was not okay in the time, whether it’s ANY sexuality in the Victorian era (Stoker) or bisexuality in the Victorian era/1980s (Le Fanu, Rice). But Smeyer lives in the 21st century, no matter how much she clearly wishes she lived back when women were chattel and had no rights. For the most part, it’s kind of unnecessary to pretend that sex doesn’t exist and only express it through some non-threateningly fictional act like vampiric blood drinking. I mean, one of the most lauded networks in existence has a boob/sex quota for almost every show they have.
So no, Smeyer doesn’t need to veil this in metaphor.
But it’s not just kind of useless, it’s downright redundant. Why? Because sexuality (or a bland, flavorless knockoff brand of sexuality) is actually dealt with OPENLY in the series… in Smeyer’s really prudish teehee-don’t-say-the-S-word way. Bella and Edward also have to negotiate sex and when they’re going to have it and when they AREN’T going to have it, etc etc. And Edward’s attitude towards sex and becoming a vampire is pretty much the same.
And finally… because it’s inconsistent.
Consider this: Edward and Bella have the whole vampirism/sex metaphor thing going… fine, okay. Redundant as it is, it’s a classic metaphor. But… we’re not meant to extend the metaphor beyond Hetero Married Sex (or, if you’re a Denali Sister, if you’re a total slutty slut slut whore). The metaphor begins there, and STOPS there.
- Bella is assaulted and bitten by James. Apparently we’re not meant to interpret this as a metaphorical rape, the way Stoker did. Hell, she doesn’t even suffer trauma from it.
- The Cullens drink blood from animals. Does that count as bestiality?
- ALL THE NEWBORNS.
- The fact that forcing someone to be a vampire is not really seen as a big deal. EVER. See below.
- Vampiric bites are NOT interpreted as sexual if they occur between people of the same sex.
- Carlisle has that highly romanticized story about turning a dying Edturd into a vampire and carrying him off to be his life companion. But it’s a FATHERLY kind of rape.
- He also turned Emmett and Rosalie… but we’re not supposed to see anything sexual in this.
- Alice offers to turn Bella into a vampire. Again, we’re not supposed to interpret this as anything sexual. Hell, it barely even seems like a friendly gesture as much as “I’m sick of Edward whining.”
So vampirism is a metaphor for sex… but only when it applies to hetero married people. WORST. SEX. METAPHOR. EVER.
Why not sex?
Speaking of sex… why don’t Bella and Edward have sex?
A lot of blinkered idiots out there insist that Twilight is somehow better than a lot of young adult fiction because Bella and Edturd don’t have sex until they’re married. Of course, the story ACTUALLY encourages teens to get married young to someone who treats them like shit because they want the good ol’ rumpy pumpy.
As Stephen King wisely put it, “It’s exciting and it’s thrilling and it’s not particularly threatening, because they’re not overtly sexual. A lot of the physical side of it is conveyed in things like the vampire will touch her forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for girls, that’s a shorthand for all the feelings that they’re not ready to deal with yet.” So it allows them to read about sexuality without being spooked by the idea of sexual pressure, which exists in the REAL WORLD when you are dating REAL GUYS.
But if the whole fucking series is about two horny teens in “luv”… why don’t they have sex?
Before anyone gets their hackles raised, I am NOT advocating teenage sex. All religious issues aside, teens shouldn’t have sex because frankly, teens are idiots and walking hormone factories. So frankly, they are not mature enough to handle the possible repercussions of sex, including disease or pregnancy. Especially if they’re doing it bareback like Edward and Bella do, because neither one is smart enough to ask, “Hey, could a vampire knock someone up?”
But in the real world we live in, lots of teens have sex. Lots of PEOPLE have sex. When they are in a serious relationship, it’s usually only a matter of time before they take Grandma to Applebees, burp the worm in the mole hole, Slytherin her Hufflepuff, frolic in the cornfield, gabbling the spondles, and other terrible euphemisms for sex. Why? Because humans like sex. If we DON’T have it, it’s usually because
- A. We have suffered sexual trauma.
- B. We have social reasons not to (monogamous marriage).
- C. We have religious reasons not to (chastity rules).
So… why don’t Edward and Bella have sex?
It’s a simple question. They’re horny as hell. Neither one has been raped or molested sexually except maybe by Carlisle but of course that doesn’t count because he’s perfect and totally straight. They’re not married or otherwise committed to someone else. Bella’s an agnostic and Edward’s only religious belief is “God hates me.”
One possible reason people USED to bring up was that, being a vampire with super-duper-awesome-mega-strength, Edward might kill Bella if he had sex with her before she became a vampire. Not “before they got married,” before she was a VAMPIRE. This excuse fell apart when Breaking Dawn came out, because suddenly Edward is totally okay with fucking Bella while she’s human… as long as they’re married first. So obviously that’s not the reason.
Another excuse is that he’s “old fashioned,” and that therefore he wants to wait until marriage for sex. This is also horseshit, because “old-fashioned” men in the very early twentieth century (especially of Edward’s upper-middle class) did not stay virgins until marriage. They had plenty of sex. They could have sex with pretty much anyone as long as they kept it under wraps – married women, prostitutes, mistresses, men, even children. As long as you were discreet, you could get away with it.
Which “old-fashioned” people were expected to be virgins until marriage? WOMEN. Not only were women expected to keep their V-card unpunched, but they were expected to not know shit about sex. Or talk about it. Or like it.
So while I could buy that Edward wouldn’t want to have sex with BELLA, since he wants to marry her, and women who have sex before marriage are disgusting whores unworthy of love… it doesn’t explain why he hasn’t gotten his rocks off with anyone in the last century. Hell, I’m shocked his biological father didn’t take him to a brothel.
And really, this whole question expands to include most of the cast. I mean, why are ALL the teens in this entire town so weirdly asexual? None of THEM apparently have had sex… or make out… or anything like that. They hung out on a beach miles from the nearest adult, and NOBODY was even groping. What planet are we on?
The Too-Straight Love Triangle
I know I’ve already ranted about the strong bisexual vibes of this series with no actual acknowledgement of the non-straight people of the world. But it makes even less sense when you consider the gross and weird love triangle.
Okay, Bella lusts after Edturd. Edturd lusts after Bella. Jacob also lusts after Bella. And Bella, in defiance of the You-Are-Asexual-Except-For-Your-Troo-Luv rule, lusts after Jacob. Got that? It’s a simple enough love triangle that spewed out a thousand more bad love triangles in bad supernatural fiction.
But then Breaking Dawn … hoo boy.
Yes, in Breaking Dawn we discover that Jacob’s happiness-inducing personality and the days he spent getting to know Bella weren’t the REAL reason either of them liked each other. How silly, to think that spending time around each other has anything to do with love! No, they only liked each other because Jacob could sense that an ovum in Bella’s ovary was going to be his true love someday. And in turn, that ovum was manipulating Bella’s emotions.
Got that? Let me repeat. A gamete… a single cell… that doesn’t even have the full genetic information of a human being… is capable of CONTROLLING THE EMOTIONS AND INFLUENCING THE BEHAVIOR OF TWO PEOPLE.
It kind of blows your mind how stupid that is. And of course, we have a woman being literally controlled by her reproductive organs. Of course. Because she hasn’t become infertile perfect and sparkly yet. And it suggests that if Jacob had screwed Bella, he might have ended up ditching her to fuck his own kid because SOULMATE TRUMPS ALL.
But on topic, this is handled the same way Smeyer handles everything else: half-assed, sexually-repressed and without any kind of logical thought. Because she doesn’t actually think about how this works. Think about it: if Bella’s ovum is capable of forcing Jacob and Bella to feel sexual and emotional attraction to one another because it will one day form half of his Forever And Ever Sealed In The Temple Soulmate… shouldn’t the same apply to Edward too?
I mean, Edturd is producing the single sperm cell that will one day be half of Jacob’s Forever And Ever Sealed In The Temple Soulmate, just as Bella is producing the egg. They have the exact same amount of input into the human genetic code. So logically, Jacob should feel the same overwhelming attraction to Edward, and Edward should be controlled into loving him by the contents of his testicles. Which I’m pretty sure you can find on a million slash fanfics.
And lest anyone claim that Edward hadn’t produced that sperm cell and THAT is why… remember, he meets Jacob on his wedding night, shortly before he beats rapes fucks Bella. So yes, he should have the same effect on Jacob that Bella does. And according to Smeyer, her vampires don’t change and have NO bodily functions, so the sperm should have been there all alone.
Maybe all the animosity between Edward and Jacob is basically a couple of biphobic guys insisting, “NO HOMO! NO HOMO!” way too hard, and compensating with extreme nastiness to hide their secret attraction to each other. Makes much more sense than the alternative.
And consider this: the MALE gamete is the one that determines the sex of the child, not the female. The ovum has NO input on the child’s gender. So… Jacob would have been destined to fall in love with Hellspawn Renesmee… if she had been a boy.
Who Are All These People?
Another bizarre part of Breaking Dawn is the supporting cast. Which is huge. And… I don’t know why.
For the previous three books and maybe half to two-thirds of Breaking Dawn, the vampire cast is pretty small. We’ve got he Cullens. We’ve got half a dozen Volturi, we have Victoria, James, Riley and Laurent, and lots of nameless cannon fodder that nobody cares about because they’re not important. Most of those characters don’t have a big presence in the series, and most of them don’t even have a lot of screen time.
But in her infinite stupidity wisdom, Stephenie Meyer decided that the last half of the last book was the ideal time to introduce a whooooooooole bunch of new vampires who are totally important to Carlisle and his faux-family even though we’ve never seen them or heard about them before, except for those chicks from Alaska. It’s like she realized that her “saga” is about as epic as a sitcom episode, so she tried to cram in a huge cast and tell us that this is some kind of epic, important event… which ends with nothing really happening.
What’s wrong with this? With any actual saga or large-scale story, you have to introduce your cast gradually. Imagine Lord of the Rings if Eowyn had only been introduced a few minutes before she slew the Witch King. Or if Lando was introduced as Han’s old frenemy JUST so he could fly the final mission against the Death Star. Imagine how awful that would be. Imagine the Harry Potter series if Luna Lovegood and Dobby and Remus Lupin were all introduced in Deathly Hallows.
So if you want us to think these people matter, don’t have a tiny, emotionally-incestuous cast for three and a half books, then cram in a bunch of new characters. If they are important enough to actually feature and have backstories and names and take part in the not-very-grand finale, then don’t introduce them at the last minute.
So why did Smeyer introduce these characters? Allegedly it’s because the Cullens need people to “witness” for them… whatever that means. I’m not entirely sure. So what, assembling some random schmucks will somehow convince the Volturi to not attack… or something. If they had said they were there as backup or as allies, it would make sense to people who are NOT Smeyer.
What “witness” apparently means is… even more people show up to tell the world how awesome and perfect the Cullens are, and how they are way better than the Volturi, so don’t you dare investigate them for committing a crime that someone mistakenly reported. So it’s kind of like Charlie’s work as a cop.
But ultimately, the characters are just useless.
There MIGHT be some kind of flimsy reason for the characters to exist if there was actually, you know, A FIGHT. But there isn’t.
Instead, a bunch of people turn up to announce “Yay Cullens! They’re perfect! Boo Volturi! U suk!”, which accomplishes nothing in the long run except filling up space. The Volturi don’t leave because of anything they say or do – they leave because Alice shows up with a hybrid to prove that hybrids are totally a thing, and the Volturi accept the whole thing and just walk out.
So these characters just show up to do nothing.
Nobody Says Anything Bad About “Perfect” People
Anyone (with a brain) who has read Twilight will probably know that Smeyer thinks the Cullens are “perfect.” And not just because she uses the word until it withers to a wisp and dies. Apparently she thinks that being her imaginary “perfect” nuclear family means that they are automatically likable, no matter what they do. Right?
For some reason, we’re supposed to side with the Cullens on EVERYTHING. For instance, we are not supposed to see a problem with the fact that Edward has murdered multiple people in the past, because they were criminals. Yeah, that’s still murder. He didn’t attack them for the sake of their victims, but because he wanted human blood… which he KNEW he didn’t need. It was basically a vampire teen rebellion. So no, he doesn’t get any kind of moral credit for that. He could have stopped the rapists AND slaked his thirst on animals…. but he didn’t. He CHOSE to murder people.
And no, Smeyer. The fact that he didn’t kill “innocents” doesn’t mean he isn’t a murderer. He is. He’s a serial killer. Just cuz Dexter kills serial killers doesn’t mean he isn’t one.
And hey, remember that fun incident in New Moon where Edward decided to go out and murder some people? Apparently that isn’t supposed to reflect his moral state. Nor is deliberately choosing to get hundreds or thousands of people killed, which he KNOWS will happen. Or telling Bella about being a vampire even though he knows it could get her and his “perfect” family killed.
We’re simply NOT SUPPOSED to blame the Cullens for anything they do. It’s like Charlie’s policing method. People who are “perfect” should never be investigated for a crime because they are “perfect” and would never do something wrong or illegal, except when they totally do and think they can get away with it, but you shouldn’t blame them because they’re “perfect.” And if someone thinks they did something wrong because of a bad tip, it means that the other someone is evil and vile.
Actually, it’s like Charlie’s entire approach to life. If he’s decided you’re a good person, he will REFUSE to acknowledge any kind of accusation, even if you’re his fucking daughter. Hell, he’ll refuse to acknowledge that there even might be any kind of validity to people not liking them. He flies into a rage at the idea of people NOT LIKING the Cullens, as if their personal opinions are an affront. He picks a FIGHT with his oldest and best friend, merely because Billy doesn’t like the Cullens.
And no, this isn’t regarded as odd behavior. Bella acts as if this is TOTALLY NORMAL, for Charlie to be angrily defending people he’s never even MET. In fact, she immediately takes the same stance before she’s even spoken to Edward. If someone is even implicitly critical, she starts bristling and assuming the worst about the speaker.
This is a really old-fashioned, harmful way of seeing the world – the “right kind of people” can’t be guilty of spousal abuse, child molestation, etc because…. well, they’re the RIGHT KIND OF PEOPLE. You know, pious upper-class white people who wear pleasantly bland clothes… like some people I could mention.
And on the reverse side, we are not supposed to ever think that the Designated Villains might have a reason to crack down on the Cullens. We’re MEANT to see them as just seeking to annihilate the Cullens for no reason, but they actually have some good reasons.
Why? Because the Cullens BREAK THE RULES. A LOT. They tell a human about their nature… with NO intent of killing or turning her. That is a violation of what Alice incorrectly calls their ONLY LAW. And yet… we’re not supposed to think the Cullens are at fault here – Edward for telling her, or his family for not growing some balls and saying, “You told her, so now you kill or change her. Decide, or we will, because this can’t go on.”
Same with the hellspawn Renesmee. Apparently we’re supposed to hate the Volturi for believing that the Cullens would ever make an immortal child… even though that is EXACTLY what it looks like, and the Cullens didn’t avoid this by keeping Renesmee out of sight until she could pass for an adolescent. No, the Volturi should be seen as meanies who have NO basis for their suspicions, despite having no knowledge that hybrids could even exist. They should have ASSUMED the Cullens were in the right, with no evidence to support the assumption!
And this is true because… because… because the Cullens are the Right Sort Of People, dammit! I mean, sure Edward tried to publicly expose himself. Sure he told his human girlfriend he was a vampire without planning to turn/kill her. Sure they made a pact with werewolves to kill other vampires. Sure they were seen with a young child who exhibited vampire abilities.
Yeah, they keep casually violating longtime vampire laws, but they wouldn’t… violate vampire laws! And you’re an asshole if you DARE to think they’re not in the right! Do NOT say anything negative about them!
And if nobody is allowed to say anything negative about the Cullens, we are equally unlikely to hear anything GOOD about the Volturi. Nothing they do is mean to be seen as fair or legitimate; it’s all just seen as a big conspiracy to oppress the innocent Mormon Church Cullens. Even though in New Moon, Aro bends over backwards to accommodate them, and we’re even told that the Volturi are actually pretty nice to gifted vampires who are either redundant or no longer needed.
All other vampires seem to hate them and love the Cullens because… reasons.
So the lesson of Twilight is: if you’re a white, upper-middle-class wealthy American with bland clothes and a nice car, nobody should dislike you or suspect you of EVER doing something wrong, because you’re The Right Kind Of People. Not like those minorities or poor people or Catholics!
I (Don’t) Hate You, Vampire Dad!
There’s a trope called “I hate you, Vampire Dad!” which…. basically means that a vampire sire turns someone else into a vampire, and the fledgling is… not happy. Sometimes it means that they were turned against their will, or that they found out being immortal wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. But the fledgling gets pissed off at their maker, ranging from lingering resentment to “I WILL FIND YOU AND KILL YOU AND SALT THE EARTH WHERE YOUR ASHES LIE!”
And Twilight is…. very strangely devoid of this trope.
Why is this notable? Because EVERY SINGLE member of the Cullen clan except Bella was turned without their consent, since apparently you can just fucking do whatever you want with a dying person. It’s not like dying people should be respected or anything. In pretty much every case, Carlisle decided to turn someone else into a vampire for reasons that had nothing to do with what THEY wanted, and more with what HE wanted. The only one that isn’t totally skeevy is Emmett being turned, because at least it was based on Rosalie wanting to save him.
And frankly, a lot of the Cullens seem to hate their vampiric nature. Edward whines and moans endlessly about it. Rosalie hates it because becoming a vampire took away the kind of life she wanted for herself. Even Esme, who couldn’t have a thought of her own if you gift-wrapped it, is dismayed by what being a vampire causes her to do sometimes.
And yet… none of them resent Carlisle for it.
It would be natural and normal that, if someone had doomed you to a life without your family or damned your soul to oblivion… you might feel a little upset about that. But no, Edward and Rosalie not only don’t hate Carlisle for this, they fucking WORSHIP him. It doesn’t seem to bother them at all that he did this to them, and he did it for purely selfish reasons.
And even weirder, NOBODY seems to do this. None of the vampires seem to resent being vamped for the selfish reasons of their sires. For instance, consider the Avatar… I mean, Benjamin. His maker Amun murders his uncle, kidnaps him, imprisons him, and turns him so he can use Benjamin as a weapon… and Benjamin doesn’t apparently hold a grudge against him, and shows no interest in leaving his psychopathic ass.
Biological Vs. Supernatural
This is one of those things that probably bothers me a lot more than it does other people: the fact that Smeyer can’t grasp the difference between biological and supernatural vampires and werewolves.
See, there are two kinds of creatures in these sorts of stories:
- Pseudo-scientific ones, like a virus or aliens or even consisting of a separate species. A good example is the werewolf type shown in the new Dr. Who series, which is actually a sort of parasitic alien thing that infects hosts and causes them to react to moonlight by shapeshifting.
- Supernatural ones, where the supernatural essence is fueled by spiritual or magical… stuff, such as a demon or losing their soul. Like Dracula, who is repelled by Christian items because it’s spiritual vampirism, or Buffy where it’s all about the vamps losing their souls.
The problem comes when an author tries to marry these together, because…. it almost never works. Look at the awesome vampire novel The Strain which gives us an awesome, biological approach to vampires. Then in the third book… it turns out that vampires are actually fragments of a fallen angel and they reunite to… you know what, never mind. The point is, after such a cool science-worthy premise was presented, it did a 180 and introduced angels into the mix.
The biggest problem is just that the supernatural and the scientific don’t match up. Just look at the blinkered idiots out there who think science and religion are diametrically opposed, and only one can valid. Which is stupid, because they approach different facets of reality. A SCIENTIFIC approach has measurable quantities and effects that can be mapped out, and have some kind of similarity to things that already exist. A supernatural one like demons and the soul CAN’T be measured or scientifically validated. So for one to produce the other… well, it basically needs GOD to get involved.
Honestly, I have only read ONE vampire/werewolf novel where the supernatural and biological worked well together: George RR Martin’s Fevre Dream. The basis of vampires in that was that they were actually a different species, which came about as a result of God’s intervention after Cain murdered Abel. So God actually turned them into a NEW SPECIES similar to humans – they cannot interbreed with humans, they have their own set of species traits, and it cannot be transmitted to humans in any way.
And Smeyer wants it both ways. Even though she’s as scientifically savvy as a person who believes the Earth is flat, she tries to introduce scientific explanations for things like vampirism and shapeshifting. You know, things like venom, cell membranes, genes being added to vampires and werewolves, etc… things that can be measured. Too bad everything she says is horseshit.
And it doesn’t work when paired with Edwards “my soul will cease to exist!” angst, or the vampires being defined as “undead.” She’s trying to have all the angst of Anne Riceian vampires from an actual supernatural font, while using pseudo-scientific explanations for how they exist. THEY’RE NOT SUPERNATURAL. They are more like mutants, with all those new genes and new fluids and pervasive cell change. And that doesn’t INVOLVE THE SOUL any more than being one of the X-Men does!
Consider that Smeyer actually goes out of her way to mention that Twilight vampires have extra chromosomes. Their vampirism is DIRECTLY linked to those magically-appearing extra genes.
It’s even worse with the werewolves, because Smeyer actually goes out of her way to come up with a SUPERNATURAL explanation for the Quileute werewolves to shift, which involves spirit-walking and sharing a body with a wolf and stuff like that. Except it’s also genetic and inexplicably carried by the Y chromosome. Guh.
Which brings me into….
Science For Da Suk
Maybe I’m expecting too much, but I am amazed by the constant scientific fail in these books. It’s weird to pick on that, but… I just keep boggling at how many times basic errors are made that could have been easily edited out.
- A species with 25 pairs of chromosomes COULD NOT reproduce with humans.
- Extra chromosomes do not give you superpowers. They give you birth defects.
- And logically that means that the vampire “venom” is infiltrating and REWRITING THE DNA of every single cell in the human body.
- Smeyer presents lycanthropy as being a Y-linked condition… which is extremely unlikely because Y-linked conditions are rare. Why? BECAUSE THE FUCKING X-CHROMOSOME CONTAINS MORE INFORMATION.
- Smeyer refers to a new moon as an eclipse. No. It’s not.
- The insistence that vampires are capable of making a car instantly slow down or change direction because… they have better reflexes. Never mind that a car will just start skidding if you do that… and that two tons of steel and plastic will NOT change direction when it’s hurtling at a hundred miles an hour. STUPID.
- Venom does not transform anything. Ever. If it transforms something into something else, then it’s not venom.
- Venom also cannot replace ALL bodily fluids. Bodily fluids are different for a reason. Mucus and bile do very different things. So do tears and blood. Replacing any of these things with another fluid would probably either kill you or at least leave you in agonizing pain.
- Apparently Twilight vampires do not have a functioning digestive system… which makes you wonder exactly where the blood goes. There is NO explanation for this.
- The Law of Conservation of Mass gets ass-raped in these books… in a big way. Not only do the vampires absorb blood with no waste products, but the wolves turn from large teenage boys to THE SIZE OF A CLYDESDALE. Now, these boys are supposed to be, say, the size of Liam Neeson. Liam Neeson is not the size of a Clydesdale. WHERE IS THE MASS COMING FROM?
- Nothing in blood smells like freesias.
- Nothing in the body smells like freesias.
- Freesias do not make carnivores hungry.
- The blood of animals is not that biologically different from humans. Yes, it’s not so similar that it could be transfused or anything… mainly because of antigens… but there’s not a huge difference in structure and content between them. So there’s no reason why all animal blood causes golden eyes, and human blood causes red eyes.
- The sparklepires have nice even human teeth instead of fangs, presumably because the fangs are reserved for not-white-not-Mormon people. You know what happens when you try to bite someone with those teeth? All of them will bite and cut at the same time. Actual blood-drinking creatures have FANGS so they don’t cause their pray to instantly spray blood all over.
- The idiotic idea of “crystalline” cell membranes… which are both rigid and yet allow sparklepires to move faster than any human.
- The insistence that sparklepires are icy cold. They apparently radiate cold. This… is stupid. They should radiate at least a small amount of heat because they ingest nutrition, and that nutrition presumably has to be processed by their bodies SOMEHOW. But even if you buy that they don’t… their body temperatures should rise and fall depending on what is around them.
- And of course, the werewolves have high body temperatures ALL THE TIME. Which of course causes no damage to the body whatsoever. And despite being only about 109 degrees Fahrenheit, they apparently RADIATE such strong heat that they insta-melt all snow floating around them. Because that is apparently how heat works, which is why campfires regularly turn snow to rain because OH WAIT NO THEY DON’T.
You know, if I didn’t know better, I would think that Smeyer was a teen virgin who thinks dogs poop out their babies. There are SO many weird, inaccurate things written about sex and pregnancy in these books, it’s almost mind-blowing.
One thing is the idea of Edward having all his fluids replaced by venom. If Edward ejaculates venom, shouldn’t he have turned Bella into a vampire as soon as he had sex with her?
And since he knocks her up immediately…
- Tell me, Smeyer – how does “venom” bring genetic information to the ovum? Do you even know what sperm are? Or do you think that SEMEN (the liquid itself) is what impregnates women?
- And even if you could buy that Edward is still producing sperm after a century of being a vampire…. wouldn’t the sperm be destroyed or mutilated by the venom? Even if the sperm were “transformed” by the venom, it would leave it unable to effectively fertilize an ovum.
- And if we’re supposed to think that the sperm in his testicles just… sat there for a century… no. It would have gone bad long ago. Unless sperm is frozen at a very specific temperature, colder than your average FREEZER, it will quickly go bad. So unless Edward was jizzing tiny ice cubes into Bella’s uterus… which I suspect she would feel… it should have not been viable.
Speaking of sex with vampires… who in hell would want to? These vampires have “crystalline” skin and are ice cold. Girls, would you like to stick a frozen popsicle covered in icy sandpaper into your vagina over and over and over? Guys, would you like to repeatedly jam your dick into a rough, prickly hole in the ice? That sounds as pleasurable as… well, attacking your genitals with ice and gravel.
And… how the hell do vampires have sex anyway? Since sexual arousal requires blood flow and blood pressure… they could never become aroused. So do male vampires walk around with a perpetual boner? How do female vampires comfortably have sex if their vaginas are always in “not aroused” mode? The vagina is only about 3 inches long when the woman isn’t aroused; it expands and stretches out and becomes lubricated when the woman is ready to have sex. So if the vampire body can’t change enough to accommodate a pregnancy, it can’t change enough to have sex.
…. And Silly Pregnancy
Can you believe that Stephenie Meyer has multiple children? I barely can. Because again, teen virgin who doesn’t know where babies come from except from those creepy pregnancy dolls.
- Stephenie Meyer apparently thinks that babies start breathing as soon as the mother goes into labor. If that were so, then the human race would be extinct because… labor takes a fucking long time, and it would mean that every single baby would be dead by the time the mother squirted it out. Babies receive oxygen through the placenta until they are actually born, when they start breathing with their lungs.
- One of the ongoing dilemmas in Breaking Yawn is that the moment Edward finds out Bella is pregnant, he decides she’s getting an abortion in his usual enlightened way. He keeps pestering her about aborting their hellspawn until it snaps her spine like a twig.
Well… moral issues aside…. how the hell would they do that? We’re told constantly that the Sparklepires are totally indestructible, so exactly how would one abort a vampire baby? Certainly none of the usual methods would work! And I’m pretty sure any method that WOULD kill a vampire baby would… um… probably kill Bella too. Which defeats the whole purpose.
To make the whole thing even sillier, we’re also told that the placenta is rock-hard… which would make it very difficult for Bella to walk. Or breathe. Or not have organs smashed into paste. So…. that adds an extra level of “nope, not happening.” I don’t know why people act like this is even an option.
- The demands for an abortion are even more bizarre because Bella is apparently at full term when Edward has to chew their hellspawn out of her belly. And yet until the very last minute, Mr. Perfect keeps trying to emotionally blackmail her into aborting the kid, instead of… I dunno… having Carlisle give her a Caesarian.
I mean, God forbid that they extract the perfectly-viable baby from her in a controlled, low-risk operation, with anesthetic and a trained MD. They have to WAIT for her to go into labor, spew blood and have her spine snapped in half… and THEN extract the kid in a rushed, incredibly uncontrolled Caesarian done by a noob who does it WITH HIS TEETH. It’s like Smeyer doesn’t know that there are options OTHER than full-term vaginal delivery, or that high-risk pregnancies aren’t usually allowed to go all the way to that point. Any doctor with more brains than a rock would have opened Bella up and yanked out the kid as soon as it was viable.
- When Bella is pregnant, she is sick because her hellspawn wants blood. So they give her a sippy cup filled with blood, and suddenly she’s just fine. Uh, babies don’t get food from the stomach. The way it works is that:
- food is eaten by the mother
- the food is absorbed into the small intestine’s villi, as usual.
- the baby absorbs nutrients from the bloodstream through the placenta.
So… if the baby needed ANYTHING, it would just suck it directly from Bella via the placenta. So I could understand giving her a transfusion, but having her DRINK it is idiotic.
Seriously? NOBODY notices?
One of the most ludicrous ideas of the series is that the Cullens manage to completely fly under the radar in human society, and that Bella is the ONLY person who manages to figure out their secret nature.
Let’s set aside the fact that Bella repeatedly shows the deductive skills of a houseplant, and that about half the story in New Moon is based on the fact that there are werewolves, she has been told there are werewolves, she has SEEN the werewolves and has been told of their relationship to vampires, which she sees in action for herself… and she still can’t figure out that werewolves exist.
She also is told that Victoria is around and gunning for revenge…. which makes it a huge shock for her when she finds out Victoria is in the area and gunning for revenge.
And she is shocked to find out that there might be a tenuous connection between mysterious deaths in the area, and vampires who explicitly tell her that they kill humans.
You know what? Bella has the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes…’s chair.
But let’s forget about that for a moment. The whole premise of the series rests on every. Single. Person. That the Cullens meet being completely unobservant of the VERY OBVIOUS weird shit about them. Even if people didn’t figure out they were vampires… despite all the blood-drained animal carcasses in the region… THEY WOULD KNOW THERE WAS SOMETHING WEIRD ABOUT THEM.
I mean, the Cullens are not spending their time in little out-of-the-way places where they won’t come into contact with people. They are deliberately going to lots of places full of people like hospitals and public schools so the maximum number of people can see them.
And they’re supposed to be attention-grabbers. Supposedly they’re super-hot and everyone crushes on them or is jealous of them. Nobody gets to be all “The Cullens who?” – all the nurses crush on Carlisle, pretty much all women (including middle-aged receptionists, ewwww) lust after Edturd, and Rosalie and Alice pretty much take over the prom with their expensively-dressed sex appeal. They are not being subtle about their presence.
And when that happens, PEOPLE NOTICE YOU. They notice details about you. For example, take actor Elijah Wood. He has big eyes. They’re very large and striking.
You could not see this guy on a near-daily basis… or even in his movies… without noticing his eye color. And he just has BLUE eyes. If you saw a very attractive person with GOLDEN eyes, you would definitely notice and remember their eye color. If that eye color CHANGED, it would probably stick out even more.
Also, supposedly sunlight makes them sparkle. Uh, no person living a semi-normal life can exist entirely in ambient light. It just doesn’t happen. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to walk by a lamp.
AND their skin is supposed to be super-ultra-mega cold. As in, it’s regularly compared to ice AND concrete/marble/granite/other hard stony things. Just try walking through public school hallways and classrooms all day without touching anyone. If you were ice-cold and/or rock hard, PEOPLE WOULD FUCKING NOTICE.
Just consider Carlisle. He is a doctor. In a hospital. Doctors have to touch people. They might notice if their doctor’s hands are not only cold, but ICE-COLD AND ROCK HARD. They also are in surroundings with lots of light/neutral colors and harsh lighting. Good luck not sparkling when that happens. And if ALL the nurses are besotted with Carlisle, why do none of them notice his shifting eye color?!
Now admittedly they might not realize they are vampires. They might think they are blood-drinking aliens. Or blood-drinking faeries. Or some other species that leaves blood-drained animals littered through the woods, decimating the local wildlife. But they would definitely know that there was SOMETHING strange about these people, and be able to explain exactly what the strange things were.
I can only conclude that everybody in Forks – and all the other places they live – has figured out that the Cullens are vampires (or maybe blood-drinking fairies or aliens), but are too polite to actually mention it. There’s no other reason for nobody except Bella to have deduced the fucking obvious.
The Religious Bigotry
Yeah, I’ve brought this up before in my snarks, but New Moon makes it pretty obvious that Stephenie Meyer is putting some of her own bigotry into the crap she writes.
See, Stephenie Meyer is Mormon. That’s not a problem itself, since I like works by a lot of prominent Mormon authors, like Shannon Hale, James Dashner, and even Orson Scott Card (despite him being kinda batshit and a bigot). Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite high fantasy authors since EVER. He’s a genius. And all those people are very talented. Also, they are capable of writing works with mass appeal (even though Card sometimes chooses not to) so that you couldn’t tell just by reading what religion they have or how they choose to observe it.
Not so with Smeyer. Not only is she a shit writer, but you can tell that she belongs to SOME sort of religion, and one of the more repressive “old-fashioned” stripes of that religion as well. Not the ones who pretty much function normally in society, but the ones who cluck about family values and fuss about people making out on TV.
You could theoretically handwave most of her whatthefuckery as being the product of a woman who isn’t very smart, isn’t very educated, and clearly hasn’t had a lot of contact with the Real World outside her little subculture. But when we go to Italy, it becomes obvious that some of her offensive material is VERY deliberate. We meet the Volturi. They are the villains.
And they’re Catholics.
Yeah, it’s not even subtle. This is very, very blatant, and it’s also obviously VERY deliberate. The way she handles this makes it pretty obvious that, unlike the other stuff, there is no way this can be handwaved under the heading of, “Oh, she’s got the brains of burnt toast, so she probably doesn’t even know it.” This took EFFORT.
Why is this in here? Well, Mormons have a long history of hostility towards Catholics, dating back to Joseph Smith. He taught that all other churches were bad and wrong, but that the Catholic Church was the church of Satan, a “great and abominable church,” the “whore of all the earth,” Babylon, the “mystery of iniquity,” and various dated and disproven accusations like idolatry and crap like that. It’s all pretty typical anti-Catholic insanity from the 19th-century, when a lot of people were huge bigots towards Catholics.
The most hilarious part of his rantings against the Catholic Church is when he declares that it “persecuteth the saints of God, that shed their blood” (Doctrine and Covenants). Well, the Mormon Church was founded in the first half of the 19th century… in the United States. You know… the country where the Catholic Church has NEVER had any power, and which treated Catholic minorities like shit (Italians, Irish) for a looooooong time, well into the 20th century. Hell, some of them are still treated like shit. The ones who were persecuting the Mormons were pretty much all denominations of PROTESTANT, which Smith regarded more favorably than Catholics.
Why did he do this? Well, Joseph Smith inserted a lot of popular stuff for the time into his religious doctrine, including the fad for Egyptology, “temperance” and the pseudoscience and pseudosociology of the time. This included anti-Catholic rhetoric, which was a cherished tradition in the US well into the 20th-century, especially in New England (where he grew up). And since Smeyer is old-school Mormon, I suspect she is one of the people who still fixates a bit on those terrible Catholics.
Smith was also descended from the Puritans. For some reason, the Puritans have gotten a reputation for being gentle tolerant people who sang Kumbayah with Natives at Thanksgiving, and were unfairly picked on for their religion. They weren’t. They overthrew the English government and executed Charles I, whom they hated mainly because he married a Catholic and they thought the Church of England wasn’t violently un-Catholic enough. Most of the Puritans who left for America did so because they were butthurt over losing political power. They HAD actually found a place that tolerated their religion… but it wasn’t Anglo, so they didn’t want to stay.
Oh, and they had nasty little rules that denied converts land rights and voting rights. Plus there was that whole wonderful WITCH HYSTERIA, which was mostly based on rampant misogyny and bigotry. Yeah, there’s a reason “Puritan” is now synonymous with a tight-assed, joyless priss. How did Smith feel about these violent and intolerant people? He thought they were wonderful and God was totally behind them. Including the bigotry, misogyny and presumably the political coups.
How do Catholics feel about Mormons? I haven’t done an extensive poll, but the general consensus among people I’ve asked seems to be “Fuck if I care.”
(Also, I personally am of the opinion that Smith had a special hate-on for the Catholics for 2 reasons:
- His weird fixation in the D&C on Catholic decorations, vestments, etc. seems very typically Puritan. “How DARE other cultures have pretty luxurious things in ANY of their churches! Excuse me while I put on my heavily-decorated soldier’s uniform and parade around my huge ornate temple!”
- The Catholic Church was pretty much what he desperately wished his religion to be, minus the restrictions like “no sex for the priests.” Not only was it a very widespread religion with a lot of devout adherents, but it is led by a single man who is regarded as divinely-guided. PLUS it had the authenticity of having been around for over a thousand years, rather than popping up centuries after all other major religions)
So, having probably pissed off any Mormon readers of this wiki (SMEYER STARTED IT!), I’ll get back to the important point of: How is she pegging Catholicism on the Volturi? Oh, I’ll point out everything when it comes up. But consider:
- The Volturi have a special city-within-a-city in Italy… just like the Vatican.
- The Volturi love luxurious stuff, Renaissance-style art, etc.
- The Volturi wear robes. Not pants and buttoned-up shirts like the oh-so-righteous Cullens, but ROBES!
- The Volturi have had their organization in place for many, many centuries, which they did by squashing the REAL ruling covens! (Just like Smith claimed)
- The Volturi are the ones who basically run the entire vampire world, except the brave little breakaways like the Cullens who won’t let the vampire pope tell them what to do.
- The specific mentions of “white hats” and “saints” in the Catholic sense (a word mostly used in the LDS and Catholic churches, but for different purposes).
- In fact, Smeyer smugly puts in a mention of a “saint” (obviously meant to be a Catholic saint) who isn’t actually dead, and who instead is one of the evil vampires.
“HAR HAR, SEE WUT I DID THERE? See, the Catholics think they have this super holy saint who was martyred, but actually he’s an evil vampire! They don’t even really celebrate their holidays; they just have them as secular celebrations of the CITY! Their teachings are like SO FAKE compared to our stories of invisible gold plates with a disproven pseudo-Egyptian language! LOL! I’m so smart! That’ll teach the Catholics to steal the word ‘saint’ from us Mormons!”
See, this is what I mean when I say Smeyer’s bigotry is very deliberate here. You could theoretically consider the previous stuff I mentioned about the Volturi as being the subconscious projection of a bigot. But she actually dreamed up a fake story where we find out that a fictional Catholic saint is actually a giant fake, and all those poor stupid evil Catholics are honoring an evil vampire. Ooooo, I c wut u did thar, Smeyer! That means that Catholic beliefs are all stupid stories and we should all follow Vampire Joseph Smith Carlisle in becoming white and delightsome!
And really, she had to go out of her way to make this story about a Catholic missionary. It couldn’t be about a Roman general or a great medieval politician… it could ONLY be a Catholic “saint.”
Oh, and Smeyer lucked out on the “saint” thing, because in the fourth century people were still being “locally canonized.” I doubt she understands how saints are declared, because it’s actually pretty hard to get someone canonized these days. There is a LOT of paperwork involved, AND there have to be documented miracles (with spontaneous, lasting action that the experts can’t explain) before anybody gets their picture on a little card or a medal. She probably just thinks, “They find someone evil and make him a saint! Cuz they’re CATHOLICS! I’m so clever!”
And by jamming this bit of nonsense in, she also totally undermines the whole idea of the Volturi. This story sounds like he was a missionary who got turned into a vampire… except he became a vampire in the 1300s BC. So please, explain to me why in the 500s an almost 2000-year-old vampire was randomly pretending to be a Catholic missionary, long after he had secured power and influence? Did he do it for shits and giggles? EXPLAIN, YOU DUMB TWAT.
And for fuck’s sake, if he and the others had been in charge since the Etruscans were in power, WHY would he only try to grab glory as a SAINT? Why not pretend to be a god? I’m pretty sure that gets you a lot more than pretending to be a martyr!
Oh, and as the final indignity, Smeyer made all this shit up.
Yes, the most famous and beloved “St. Marcus” is the Apostle Mark from the fucking Bible. I think Smeyer is too stupid to realize what she implied there.
- He’s the patron saint of Venice, not Volterra.
- Volterra’s patron saint is St. Justus, a Catholic bishop in the 600s.
- Also, Mark’s feast day is in late APRIL, not March.
- Why did Smeyer change this? I have no idea. There is no real reason.
- And no, St. Mark did not die in ROMANIA, which didn’t resemble modern Romania AT FUCKING ALL, and wasn’t even a proper country back then. According to early Christian folklore, he was martyred in EGYPT. And even if it’s only folklore, that still makes it more believable than anything Smeyer writes.
- And if we’re meant to think that this Saint Marcus is a DIFFERENT Saint Marcus/Mark… well, Catholic saints with the same name tend to have additions to their name, like surnames or place names, so you can tell them apart. This is especially true of saints important enough to be patrons of cities. Guess how many “Saint Marias” there are!
- There are some interesting folklore traditions about St. Mark and the undead, actually.
- For instance, folklore said that the spirits of the soon-to-be-dead would walk through churches and cemetaries on his feast day.
- And there are romantic traditions like giving roses or doing rituals to pray for romantic success. You know, because Catholics don’t believe that you choose your love in the preexistence.
- So yeah, wasted opportunities.
- If you want to read a GOOD book about St. Mark’s Day and the undead, try The Raven Boys. That book uses real folklore… AND IT DOESN’T SUCK.
And remember how I said that Smith claimed that the Catholic Church “persecuteth the saints of God, that shed their blood” (Doctrine and Covenants)? Well, that sort of attitude is present in the placement and attitude of the Cullens. Of course the Volturi are depicted as “persecuting” them, even though the Cullens blatantly break vampire laws and don’t show any common sense in hiding their law breakage. It’s like saying that a Mafia family is being “persecuted” by the FBI.
There’s also the movement of the Cullens and where they tend to live – the western areas of the United States. See, Joseph Smith wanted to effectively create his own little theocratic kingdom, and other people weren’t too fond of the whole Mormon religion and whatnot (sometimes with good reason, sometimes not). So they ended up getting pushed further and further west. Yes, they and the Denali coven have all moved to the western United States, where they can practice their religion way of life, free of the evil oppressive Catholics.
Oooh, it’s so subtle.
One thing you quickly notice about Smeyer is that she has contempt for humans compared to her precious sparkling vampires. No humans could ever hurt her vampires, no humans are as smart/strong/fast/talented as her sparklepires, and of course the vampires don’t need humans for anything except a civilization to leech off, money, services like building their fucking McMansions, etc. They don’t even really need them for food! They just prefer it.
And the natural extension of that is that they also don’t need Renfields. What are Renfields? In vampire fiction, Renfields are basically human followers of vampires who do the crap that vampires themselves can’t.
This makes logical sense, because vampires couldn’t logically do EVERYTHING they would need to keep secret. This is especially true of any large group of them. The larger and more organized the group, the harder to hide them, and the more outside ties are needed. How are you supposed to get electricity, running water, legal issues, quicklime, ways to hide all those bodies, transportation, etc, if you don’t have any people interacting with the outside world?
The answer: you can’t.
“How dare you shut off our power! Don’t you know what we are?”
“No, not really, sir.”
“I can’t tell you. It’s a secret.”
“But I’m really scary and intimidating, and I will slaughter you and everyone at your company!”
“Sure you will, sure. We’ll turn your power back on when you send us a check.”
“I can’t. I… don’t have a bank account.”
“… JUST BECAUSE, OKAY?”
This is one of those things that just doesn’t work in a modern setting. You just can’t have unobserved, unnoticed centers with electricity, elaborate decorations, heat, air circulation etc. You can’t have them flying in dozens of people every few days without tickets which means money, or a private jet that needs fuel and maintenance. You can’t have them being totally unnoticed without people to file fake police records, obscure footage, manipulate the news, and handle all the dead bodies.
I could stretch credibility to buy that the nomadic covens could go basically unnoticed, because all they’re taking from humans is blood. They’re not being secret and unnoticed while also having their own buildings and infrastructures. But the Volturi are another matter.
In short: You can’t have a large cadre of vampires being unnoticed while having all the benefits of being known to the world in some way.
This is the kind of thing done better in some other shows, like Being Human. In that series, vampires have infiltrated positions that allow them to cover up things; the local vampire leader is a cop, which lets him make sure the cops don’t investigate the suspicious deaths and stuff. Those vampires don’t need human servants because they can, mostly, blend in with the humans and take care of potential threats from a HUMAN level.
But it doesn’t seem like the Volturi do that; they seem to only be Volturi and not have any influential jobs outside it. So it’s really ridiculous that the Volturi have a grand total of ONE human servant. ONE. And she doesn’t really seem to do anything that a vampire couldn’t do – she isn’t out there erasing footage or bribing dirty cops or being a prominent politician. She’s a RECEPTIONIST in an underground facility that you only know about IF YOU’RE A FUCKING VAMPIRE.
Even Smeyer seems to belatedly realize that this wouldn’t work, because in Breaking Dawn she introduces a human lawyer who has been forging official documents for the Cullens for many years. Yes, apparently their elite smarterthanyou tactic of having a printer isn’t enough to fool everyone, so they now need a human to provide everything they need.
Edward The Totally Super Scary Mofo, No Really, Please Believe Me
One of the things Smeyer seems to have trouble with is the idea of showing vs. telling. One of the biggest problems with this is that she tells us ALL THE FRIGGIN’ TIME that Edward is a scary, dangerous mofo whom even other vampires dare not fuck with, because Bella can’t imagine any vampire more dangerous and scary than the Cullens.
But it dawned on me when I was reading the end of New Moon: Edward is one of the least scary people in the entire series.
No, really. We’re told repeatedly how scary and dangerous he is, mostly by himself. Bella keeps claiming that she can’t imagine anyone more powerful, scary and amazing than him or the other Cullens, but that seems to be just because Edward said it so often that her tiny brain eventually adopted it.
But how does does Smeyer show it?
- Nobody we see is scared of his anger. No other vampires react whenever he throws a tantrum or gets mad. In fact, they make a point of IGNORING him whenever he does.
- His scary scary aura of boundless predator danger… which nobody at the school notices.
- His girlfriend, whom he informs could be crushed like a cracked eggshell approximately once every two minutes, keeps noting that she’s not scared of him at all. Over. And over. And over.
- He gets butthurt when people AREN’T scared at him. He body-tackles Bella to try to intimidate her when she says he’s not scary (which she STILL isn’t scared by), and sulks at school because nobody is freaked out by him.
- He doesn’t fight in Twilight. Instead of leaving Bella to the ministrations of Carlisle, a doctor who is not tempted by human blood, and attacking the vampire who had beaten her up and bitten her… he sits there letting other people do the fighting.
- When does the scary, menacing, super-strong Edward try to fight someone? When he’s confronted by a TWELVE-YEAR-OLD GIRL. And he gets his ass handed to him on a platter.
- While everyone else is doing battle against the newborn army, he’s off hiding on a mountaintop with Bella.
- When Edward and Alice are up against two of the Volturi… it’s abundantly clear that they’re going to get their butts kicked.
Now, I fully acknowledge that…. well, even though I’m pretty Edward lies and exaggerates about how awesome the sparklepires are, since his girlfriend is stupid enough to believe him… that the vampires are a lot stronger and faster and more physically adept than humans. This is pretty standard in vampire tales because…. people want to be vampires. Therefore, I know that Edturd is faster, stronger and more theoretically capable of kicking ass than any human…
… but I don’t believe it.
The simple fact is that all the stuff about Edward being “scary” should be based on my knowledge of his strength and speed and his shitty driving skills. I know that he has those things… but it’s purely intellectual. On a visceral, emotional level I don’t see him doing anything except throwing tantrums like a spoiled child and failing miserably to intimidate others, and TALKING about how dangerous he is. Therefore, I know he SHOULD be scary, and yet I don’t find him scary or expect anyone else to.
As a comparison, let’s consider Sam Gamgee in Lord of the Rings.
One of the first words that comes to mind when people mention Sam is “brave.” Nobody could ever deny that Sam is a very brave character – the mere act of following Frodo once he finds out about Ringwraiths and shit like that shows that he is a brave little hobbit who will never move from his path. The Nazgul and orcs are the stuff of nightmares for Sam, and he sees things are even worse and more repellent in his journey. And yet he never even wavers.
But does Sam ever call himself brave? No. Even the omniscient NARRATOR only definitely uses the word “brave” for him ONCE, and the word “courage” mostly to describe what he’s trying to summon up. Sam would never use such a word for himself.
What convinces us of Sam’s bravery, and makes that one of the greatest characteristics he possesses? His actions. We are SHOWN what he does out of courage, like charging an orc tower single-handed, or fighting Shelob, or facing down strangers who could kill him easily. The very act of following Frodo into Mordor, on a suicide mission that would have almost certainly destroyed them both, is an act of courage. We don’t have to be TOLD that he’s brave, because we already know it. We feel it. We experience it.
He is the opposite of Edward, who tells us constantly that he’s scary and dangerous… and while Edward should be, his pathetic ineffectuality and his constant ego-masturbation totally undermine any scariness he might have had. You might be able to convince people with words alone of something… but when someone points out that it’s all words and no actions, the bubble is popped. The spell is broken. And suddenly, like the emperor’s new clothes, everyone can see what the text is actually showing us.
The “telling” is necessary because Smeyer basically needs to brainwash her audience. Unless she TOLD us how deadly the vampires are, and how scary Edward is… would his actions actually support it? NO.
And that, kiddies, is why “show, don’t tell” is so important.
The Good Ol’ Days
A lot of people out there have a nostalgia for the “good ol’ days.” They may be the “good ol’ days” of their youth (which is why you hear older people talking about the good ol’ days of the 1950s… sexism, gay-bashing and political oppression) or the “good ol’ days” of a time they never lived in, but have heard glowing stories about how great it was back then for someone.
I don’t really buy into this. Every era of human history, no matter how glamorous or inspiring, has a dark underbelly that people don’t want to think about. Think of the young people of the 1940s, who fought against Hitler’s tyranny and were called the “Greatest Generation”… except that period and the subsequent 1950s had a lot of political corruption, racism, and sexism. And not everyone from then was originally anti-Hitler and pro-save-France-and-England-and-stuff. All time periods are like that – the chivalric medieval periods, the Regency period, ancient civilizations like Egypt or Greece.
So it automatically rubs me the wrong way when people describe Edward Cullen as “old-fashioned,” like that’s a good thing and don’t you dare question it. The assumption is that “old-fashioned” means something good, presumably that he has better manners or something like that. The problem is… “old-fashioned” usually has some nasty side-effects.
Now, I’m not saying that these periods have no merit. They do. Ancient Greece was one of the most disgustingly sexist civilizations in human history, and one city practiced regular infanticide, but they also produced great political, artistic and philosophical advances that are still relevant to us today. So it’s not about pretending that old things are BAD because they were flawed…. but you need to not pretend that the bad didn’t exist. And when people hold up “old-fashioned” as being a virtue… they’re doing just that.
A good example is Jane Austen. While she didn’t look at ALL the flaws and virtues of her society, she didn’t shy away from addressing things that were wrong and unfair, like the snobbery of the upper classes towards the sailors who gained fame and fortune from defending their country. That was presumably a real problem, albeit a minor one, and it’s something she acknowledged. Same with a lot of sexism ingrained in the system.
Let’s look at when Edturd was born. He was born during the Progressive Era of American history, which roughly lines up with the start of the Edwardian era, and he became a vampire around the end of World War I. In other words, he came directly after the Victorian/Gilded Age period of history, which had a lot of great social achievements… and massive problems.
- I think I’ve explained enough that I think Edward is a sexist piece of shit. More precisely, he embodies a lot of the worst aspects of Victorian attitudes towards women. Women are inferior to men intellectually, they are supposed to be completely sexually ignorant, and attitudes from ANCIENT GREECE were used to explain why they shouldn’t do anything that men did. Two words: wandering womb.
And Edward not only has these problematic attitudes, but he can’t even fake the politeness that men were expected to show women of their own social class. He mocks and laughs at Bella all the time, including when she fell into a mud puddle. He tried to physically attack a little girl vampire. And oh yeah, his response to being told “no” by a woman is a stream of shrieked profanity. Yes, he’s such a nice guy.
He also regularly shows that he has great liking for Emmett, who is a meathead with a fight boner, while heaping scorn on Rosalie for no particular reason. It comes across as disliking that Rosalie says what she thinks and does what she wants instead of smiling and saying nothing like Esme, or usually agreeing with him like Alice.
And his desire to marry Bella is often held up as a shining example of old-fashioned values…. except that when he was alive, marriage basically meant that a woman became an appendage to a man, with no legal rights of her own. Now, this had obviously changed a lot during Edward’s lifetime, but can you imagine someone THIS hostile to women being supportive of women’s suffrage? I can’t.
In short, Edward’s “old-fashioned” attitudes to women mean that he wants them to shut up, smile, and support the menfolk.
- He’s also probably really racist. I’m not saying all rich white people from back then were racist (just look at people like Theodore Roosevelt), but let’s just say that life kinda sucked if you weren’t a WASP. Which Edward was.
This was a period where black people were lucky to be counted as second-class citizens, anti-Semitism was a cherished form of bigotry in many upper-crust people, and (as weird as it seems now) Italian and Irish people were also treated like shit to a somewhat lesser, but still notable, degree. Yes, apparently being descended from ONE Northern European island was good, but it was BAD to be descended from its neighbor. Edward was a WASP from a moderately wealthy background and implied upper-class origins, which means he pretty much was on top of the world.
Consider: does Edward seem like the kind of person to accept differences of any kind in other people, or to look down on them as his inferiors? Hint: Midnight Sun.
And frankly, by today’s standards he’d probably be pretty racist just by virtue of the attitudes that were floating around when he was younger. There were a lot of attitudes that were considered acceptable – or even liberal and enlightened – that would make modern readers cringe.
So, you see… two examples of why “old-fashioned” is not a particularly good thing, especially when none of the virtues need apply.
Where’s The History?
This is something that struck me when I was thinking about when Edturd was born. Twilight books have no sense of history.
I don’t mean just the vampire history… although that is painfully shallow, what with whole wars being just kind of glossed over. I mean that the vampires live through whole world-changing eras of human history and… it just sort of isn’t noticed. I mean, the closest we have to acknowledging this is Edward fussing about how Frank Sinatra is superior to groundbreaking rock’n’roll (AS FUCKING IF).
There are only a couple of exceptions I can think of, both centering around Edward’s early life. One was Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918, which obviously was used as a way to make Edward sick so Carlisle could “save” him without his consent. The other was World War I, which would have been going on during Edward’s teen years, and we’re in fact told that he wanted to be a soldier and fight in the war, although it ended the year he became a vamp… and, well, America only ENTERED the war near the end, despite him apparently wanting to all along. So I doubt he would have gotten to anyway.
The problem is that no world events ever seem to be noticed by the vampires. Like yeah, they acknowledge WWI happened. One of the worst wars in history – not because of the number of people killed, although it was massive, but because it was so ineptly handled, so traumatic, so pointless, and so badly-finished that it led to ANOTHER world war.
And yet…. there’s no acknowledgement of it except that Edturd wanted to be a soldier. He didn’t have any friends that died in the mud, there was no real emotional investment there. Hell, why didn’t Carlisle sign up since he’s nigh-unkillable and SUCH a devoted doctor? Not enough pretty underage boys in the army?
And there’s so many other things that they were presumably present for that are never even touched on. I mean, World War II was pretty fucking devastating in every way. Yet it might as well have not happened for all the acknowledgement in this one… even though you’d think even “perfect” vampires might be a wee bit worried about things like atomb bombs.
Or what about Carlisle? He was born at the start of the Jacobean era, right after the Tudor dynasty had finally puttered out. He was alive during the whole Guy Fawkes thing. The foundation of the first British colonies in the New World, which led to the formation of TWO major countries. The start of the Thirty Years War. And that’s during his LIFETIME, even before he became a vampire.
And that doesn’t include other things as well. What about the American Revolution, and the formation of a new nation that changed world politics forever? What about the formation of the British Empire, seeing his homeland become an empire that literally spanned the world? What about the creation of new countries like Australia? What about the more casual travel to places like China? What about the rise of terrible powers like the Soviet Union, which was very different from any civilization before it, and whose Cold War with the US led many people to believe that the world could be destroyed? What about the abolishment of slavery in many countries, including a war in the US partly over the issue? What about 9-11 and the rise of terrorist organizations? What about the counterculture of the mid-twentieth-century, which led to new attitudes about sex, art, culture, gender, etc?
Any person who lived through those times would have seen – even from a distance – a lot of really dramatic important shit. Even if they weren’t personally involved, it would be impossible to not see the world reworking itself into new shapes over and over again. How would a person from the early 1600s see these events?
So… what do we get from his history? He met an Italian painter, and his dad was one of the witch-burners from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Or the Volturi. They’ve been around for THREE THOUSAND FUCKING YEARS. But there’s no sign that they really saw anything during their time as vampire lords. But the rise and fall of whole empires and civilizations appears to have happened while they were doing other stuff, so they just didn’t notice. Really, why would you?
One of the best things about including vampires in fiction is imagining a character NOW who has had the experience of seeing important historical events firsthand. You can handle this in a funny way, like Spike talking about being at Woodstock. Or you can use it in a serious way, like Henry Fitzroy being the (real person) bastard son of Henry VIII, who became a vampire instead of dying of tuberculosis. But it allows the author to imagine how things have been, and how a person from then would see the world now.
Instead, we get a lot of people whom we’re told are really old, and a cluster of random dates. Like Bella herself, the vampires have no well-rounded backstory… just a lot of black space and a few details.
I Need Some Action!
I’ve been handling some heavy analytical topics, so I’m going to deal with something that just bugs the hell out of me. Why are there no fights in this series? Or at least, nothing we get to read about…
- Twilight: The climactic battle between vampires…. happens while Bella is semiconscious on the floor, keeping her eyes closed the whole time.
- New Moon: An awesome scene of several werewolves ripping a vampire limb from limb totally happened… but we don’t get to see it. Edward also attacks a little girl, but there’s no fight because he immediately gets pwned without even a hit.
- Eclipse: Bella barely seems to know what’s going on during the one fight scene she’s present for, and all she can do is be a mild distraction. That epic clash between the newborns and the vampire/werewolf army? Pshaw, we don’t need to see THAT.
- Breaking Dawn: The most notoriously anticlimactic grand finale since the Matrix trilogy finished. Sadly, this one doesn’t end with the main couple dying. No, the Cullens gather a bunch of mindless followers so they can face off against the Volturi and have a chance at actually triumphing in a battle…. only to have Alice and Jasper show up and announce that there’s no reason to fight. So everyone goes home, allegedly because the Volturi are sooper-scared of Bella’s Magic Love Shield and don’t wanna fight anymore. Nothing is resolved.
I just… look, I know this series is first and foremost a romance. So it’s not surprising that the main thing that’s going on is romance, and more romance, and bad romantic dialogue, and plot is a distant fourth. I don’t like romance. Does it show? I can enjoy a romance if it’s well-written and has a plot and good characters, but romance alone is boring as hell to me.
I like movies where robots beat monsters with boats.
Okay, I got off topic. The point is, I understand that a romance series won’t have a huge amount of action, just like how an action movie won’t have a huge amount of romance… but this is billed as a “saga.” A saga is a long, complicated story with lots of characters, usually with a heroic focus. HOW DO YOU HAVE A HEROIC STORY WITH NO ACTION? OR HEROES?
The Twilight series has villains, armies, alleged good guys, evil plots, revenge, murder, dismemberments, blood feuds – all the ingredients of a story that should have at least SOME action. And there IS action. A fair amount of action. There are actual action scenes where people are hurt and die. And you know what? WE DON’T SEE IT. Because Smeyer hates me and wants me to suffer, she always carefully averts her eyes whenever something unprettyful and unromantic might be happening!
And lest anyone think this is my personal pet peeve, consider the movies. ALL of them had to amp up the action just so they’d have something… ANYTHING to keep the audience from slitting their wrists. Both Twilight and New Moon had extra fights that were NOT in the book, and Eclipse added as many fight scenes and newborn army scenes as they were able to do.
Breaking Dawn? They added in a full battle scene as the grand climax of the movie…
… and it wasn’t a great battle scene, especially since I think there were about two dozen people on either size, and the “battle” mostly involved running across a field. But you know what? It was SOMETHING unpredictable and action-packed…. until they revealed it was all a vision of a possible future courtesy of Alice, and nothing fucking happened. In fact, there are parts of the movies where you can almost feel the directors STRAINING because they want to make a battle scene SOOOOOOOOOOOOO BADLY.
Really, Smeyer’s resistance to ever writing action scenes is weird to me. She clearly has come up with scenarios that involve violence and action… but she doesn’t want anyone to see them. The one action scene Bella is present for is so awkwardly written that I suspect the editor made her add the scene in, because “Bella swoons and is conveniently unconscious while the evil vampires are killed” is a lame finale for even this series.
Personally, I think she doesn’t think women should watch or enjoy action/violence. Her female characters react to the idea of anyone fighting with fluttering, swooning dismay, because someone might get HURT and Proper Women are super-compassionate and gentle and useless. So I think she thinks that women should be reading soppy romances and dreaming about Twoo Wuv. Not watching movies with explosions and action.
Excuse me. I have to go watch a robot’s arm sprout a sword so it can slice the wings off a Lovecraftian clone monster from another dimension. While reading a book about a zombie T-rex powered by polka music. Because FUCK YEAH.
Mind-Reading For Lazy Writers
Ever watched the movie X-Men: First Class? It’s about the youthful misadventures of Professor X and Magneto, and how they started the X-Men before splintering off into two groups. Professor X, in case you aren’t a comic-book nerd, is a telepath. He can read the minds of everyone around him unless they take measures (like Magneto’s silly-looking helmet) to shield their minds from him.
And one of the interesting things about the movie is that X is depicted as… stunted, socially. He’s charming and able to communicate with people effectively, but he seems to have some problems with basic empathy because… he’s grown up able to read minds. He hasn’t had to develop the ability to understand people’s feelings, emotions and their desire for privacy, because he can just read their thoughts and know instantly. And he has few moral compunctions about violating others’ privacy, unless they specifically demand it.
And Edward is more of the same. He also can read minds… but since this is a BOOK series and not comic-books or movies or some other visual medium… it doesn’t work just for plot convenience or characterization. No, it exists for lazy, lazy writing.
As a result, Edward is just as socially stunted as X… no, he’s actually worse, because he can’t even fake normal social skills for more than a few seconds. We NEVER see him interact with people in a semi-normal manner for even a few minutes, which is presumably why he spends so much time brooding in corners. If he had to have a real conversation with anyone, he’d be exposed as the weirdo he is.
And if you don’t believe me, look at how Edward treats Bella when he wants to know things about her. He doesn’t converse with her like a normal person – he interrogates her on shallow trivia for the next few days.
It’s also lazy because it allows Smeyer to not have to develop any characters. Since Edward is “perfect” and has no unworthy biases or nastiness (in her eyes), he can just notify us about whether a character is good or bad, what their motivations are, and so on. There’s no need to develop them, or have anyone’s facets and complexities slowly revealed throughout the story. Who needs dimensions and depth when a character can just SAY that they are this or that?
This is also stupid because Edward can only read whatever thoughts a person is having at that particular moment. He’s not like Aro, who could probably map someone’s personality pretty accurately, because he’ll be able to see EVERY thought they’ve ever had.
Trying to get an accurate read on a person’s entire personality with whatever they’re thinking at a given moment is like taking a snapshot of a forest, and insisting that that accurately depicts that forest all year long AND all the life in it. People are more complex than what they’re thinking of RIGHT NOW, and they have ups and downs. A person could be thinking nasty things one day because their morning was bad, and be the soul of generosity the next. But this doesn’t happen in Twilight, because Meyer doesn’t write characters – she has dolls that she labels, and nothing more complex.
Imagine a person is kind and unselfish and gives their money to charity and volunteers at homeless shelters, and helps their parents constantly, and is generally nice to people… but that person thinks briefly of Bella as a bitch while in the cafeteria. According to Smeyer, NONE of that matters, because Edward read their mind and knows that that ONE THOUGHT (which, of course, is purely based on jealousy and not a justifiable dislike) is all that defines their character. And we’re meant to actually think it is.
And thirdly, it’s ALSO lazy because it doesn’t mean that Edward is fascinated in Bella for what she is. He’s ONLY interested in her because he can’t read her mind. He’s like a bratty little kid who wants to look inside a wrapped present and becomes obsessed with it, but only because he’s not allowed to know what it is, not because he actually thinks it is something he’ll want. And like a little kid, he’d probably be really disappointed when he finds out it’s a callus remover for Mommy.
I know that obviously Edward has other reasons to be interested in Bella, such as her weird flowery smell or her alleged attractiveness. But those are not about Bella as a person. They are purely physical, and so the reactions to them are purely physical. Edward’s inability to read Bella’s thoughts is the ONLY ASPECT OF HER that he finds interesting personally, because it’s such a fucking novelty to him that he can’t simply read her immediate thoughts and decide that she’s not worthy of him.
And before anyone says, “Well, he could have found out she’s super-deep and smart by reading other people’s minds…
… just don’t. He does NOT do that in Midnight Sun, and there’s never the slightest hint that he does. Also, Bella doesn’t talk to other people, so they would have no way of knowing that she’s roughly as deep and intelligent as a mud puddle.
Lots of online critics have talked about how vacuous, bland and featureless Bella is. Vacuous, bland and featureless Stephenie Meyer has claimed that she did this on purpose so vacuous, bland, featureless teen girls could more easily pretend to be her.
Personally, I disagree with them. Bella has plenty of personality… it’s just that it’s all vile, conniving and selfish.
However, Bella does have some glaring blanks, including…. her past.
Yes, we’re told some stuff about Bella’s past. Her parents divorced when she was a baby, she lived in a posh suburb of Phoenix despite her mother having no skills, education or job, she once did ballet, and she went to school there. Seriously, I just summed up Bella’s entire life until she came to Forks in ONE sentence. EVERYTHING.
Now this wouldn’t be so jarring if
- Bella weren’t the main character.
- There was a plot to distract us.
- Bella didn’t spend half the first book talking endlessly about Phoenix.
I mean, Frodo Baggins didn’t spend all of Fellowship talking about his life at the Brandybuck compound, so it doesn’t really matter that we know almost nothing of what happened there. But because Bella never shuts the fuck up about Phoenix, it’s very noticeable that she had no friends there, no memories, no places she liked to go that weren’t directly plot-related, no people she knew, no actual experiences in school.
Sure, she mentions/shows PLACES she’s familiar with, like the airport or her former school. But you never get the sense that she actually spent any real time there. We never hear about her old friend X or her time doing Y or that awful teacher Z who gave her such a hard time.
And as with a lot of flaws, this is something that happens a LOT in Twilight. All the characters supposedly have been places and done stuff, but there is no sense that they actually have. We’re TOLD that they’ve been everywhere worth going and done everything worth doing… and yet I totally can’t buy that.
But with Bella it’s utterly unforgivable, because NOTHING HAPPENS in these books. And we spent 95% of the series in her vacant head. The least we could get is some sense that she did SOMETHING in her life besides dry-hump Edward.
And this is even more baffling because… Meyer based Bella’s life in Phoenix ON HER OWN. She grew up in the same city, in the same suburban region, probably attending the same school (despite Bella trying to pretend that SHE SO HOOD). She spent her whole childhood and adolescence there. She mined so much of her teen bitterness for Bella’s experiences in Forks…. so how come she couldn’t mine it a little for anything BEFORE Forks?
Renee, Rotten Mom
As with the sex thing, you would not know from reading this series that Meyer is a grown woman with children, because… she depicts parents in a super-weird way. And nowhere is this more obvious than Bella’s mother Renee.
Renee is, to put it nicely, an imbecile. In order to make Bella look super-competent, mature and responsible, Meyer essentially makes Renee functionally retarded to the point where she is incapable of navigating her own neighborhood, cooking for herself, paying her own bills or going grocery shopping. If Renee was capable of caring for herself like any other adult, then how would we ever know how wonderful Bella is?!
Frankly, when writing YA fiction, you need to write competent adults who actually do their jobs, and are not tolerated despite their plot-necessary incompetence. JK Rowling did a semi-decent job with this, especially after the first couple books of her Harry Potter series – while obviously the adults like Dumbledore and Snape are sometimes unaware of what’s going on, they also know things the heroes do NOT and have their own plans. Furthermore, they don’t allow the Hogwarts students to essentially run wild and do whatever they want for months at a time.
Renee? She’s a blithering moron to make the “heroine” look good.
And worst of all, Meyer doesn’t seem to grasp that it shows Renee to be a horrible mother. In the books, Renee is “good” because she lets Bella do whatever she wants. She doesn’t seem to grasp that a parent who is completely incapable of caring for their child – or even themselves – IS NOT A GOOD PARENT.
I’d also like to remind you that Smeyer just brushes off the whole circumstances of Bella leaving Washington as a baby. I’ve never been divorced, but I’m pretty damn sure that when you share a child with someone, you can’t just grab the baby and leave for another state with the intent of never coming back.
The whole “Renee is an idiot unfit parent” thing is even more egregious in Life and Death. Meyer’s whole reason for not genderflipping Charlie and Renee was allegedly that custody wouldn’t be given to a man unless the mother was an unfit parent. She then completely undermines this by demonstrating that… Renee is an unfit parent, since she needs her child to “take care” of her and apparently keeps him so isolated from real life that he has never seen a normal parent/child relationship.
And even worse? Meyer is too stupid to realize that when you have a baby with a person who is an unfit parent… you don’t MAKE SURE they get custody.