Hello, lovely reader!
Again, happy anniversary and welcome to the new tenth-anniversary bonus material!
First things first:
I’M SO SORRY.
I know there is going to be a lot of wailing and teeth gnashing because this new bonus material is (A) not entirely new, but mostly (B) not Midnight Sun.
The Twilight movies have been over for years, Smeyer. I don’t think anyone cares about Midnight Sun anymore, especially since you’ve assured us it will totally not happen.
(If you are worried that I don’t understand your pain quite enough, let me assure you that my mother has made it abundantly clear.)
“My mother desperately wants to hear about the inner turmoil of my abusive fantasy man! Whom I masturbate furiously to every night!”
A very short time ago, my agent approached me and asked if there was anything I could do for the tenth-anniversary rerelease of Twilight. The publisher was looking for a foreword of some kind, a “happy anniversary” letter thing. It seemed… well, to be honest, really boring. What could I say that would be fun and exciting? Nothing.
Well, for once we agree. After reading her verbal diarrhea, both fictional and nonfictional, I too can’t imagine her saying anything fun or exciting.
So I thought about other things I could do, and if it makes you feel better, Midnight Sun did come up. The problem was time—as in, there wasn’t any. Certainly not enough to write a novel, or even half of one.
So write some short stories, you dumb bitch. Some authors can knock off a story in a few days. Just throw together some shorts about the early lives of the Cullens, for example. I’m sure plenty of fans would have bought your stupid book all over again if you threw together a story about Carlisle and his time in Volterra, or his first days after being vamped, or when he discovered he could live off animal blood. How about Alice’s origin story? Rosalie and Emmett’s first meeting? I guess we can’t expect a story about Rosalie’s origin, since I can’t imagine Smeyer writing about a savage gang-rape.
I mean, it wouldn’t be very imaginative. But it would at least be something new!
You know, Bella has always gotten a lot of censure for getting rescued on multiple occasions, and people have complained about her being a typical damsel in distress. My answer to that has always been that Bella is a human in distress, a normal human being surrounded on all sides by people who are basically superheroes and supervillains. She’s also been criticized for being too consumed with her love interest, as if that’s somehow just a girl thing. But I’ve always maintained that it would have made no difference if the human were male and the vampire female—it’s still the same story.
No. It really isn’t.
Sorry, Smeyer, but stories don’t exist in a vacuum. We live in a world where sexism has strongly affected gender attitudes, and it has affected storytelling as well. Maybe in a perfect world a woman in a story would be seen just as a person. It happens occasionally, like in Alien, where all the characters were effectively written without gender, which created one of the most badass female heroes of all time.
But in the real, imperfect world, we still get plagued with the woman who has to be rescued by a big strong manly man, because she can’t possibly take care of or rescue herself due to having woman parts. See also: almost every movie made back in the fifties… except The Thing From Another World. That one was actually pretty feminist.
So no, it’s not the same thing with a guy, because a guy being rescued by a girl is a relative rarity even now. It’s like saying a movie with blatantly racist stereotypes is not really racist, because hey, they had some humor from a white-trash guy too! Race doesn’t matter!
And no, Smeyer. The biggest problem with Bella is not that she gets rescued often. Let’s take a look at the Marvel Cineverse for an example of why this is horseshit. Nobody who watched the Iron Man movies felt it was sexist for Tony to rescue Pepper from any kind of peril, because Pepper was a smart, self-reliant woman who simply wasn’t able to fly or shoot repulser beams from her hands. And she actually participated in helping Tony, using her brains. Or how about Thor, a superpowered guy with a magic hammer, rescuing Jane in Thor: The Dark World? Of all the complaints about that movie, none of them involved “oooo, Thor rescued her so it’s sexist!”
Why? Because those movies treat the female characters with respect. They are intelligent, capable characters who may not have the superpowers of their boyfriends, but they are treated respectfully both by the men around them and by the people writing the story.
Same with Man of Steel. Superman is the most absurdly overpowered superhero in the history of comics, but Lois didn’t come across as pathetic, weak or useless merely because she’s a paper doll beside Clark. So him having to rescue her didn’t seem sexist.
Or hey, how about the Dresden Files? That series has many different superpowered species – three kinds of vampires, werewolves, wizards, demons, gods, etc – in a world mostly populated by feeble humans. But being human doesn’t equal being weak or pathetic or needing rescuing in that series. Yes, humans are often prey for vampires and the like. But we also see characters like Murphy, a tiny woman with no powers, carving up a plant fae with a chainsaw, or the equally mundane Marcone becoming the Baron of Chicago.
And the same goes for Bella being obsessed with Edturd. Not too long ago, historically speaking, women were expected to subsume their personalities, their opinions, their legal status and their sense of self into their male partner’s identity. So yes, it is sexist to depict a woman who immediately gives up all sense of self because now she has a MAN, so she doesn’t need a job or college or friends! The Man is her whole life!
So you say gender doesn’t matter, and it’s not just a girl thing? How often do we see movies or books where the GUY is too consumed by his girlfriend that he has no life outside her? Answer: not that fucking often.
And of course, Smeyer deliberately ignored the real point: if being passionately attached to someone and/or being rescued was the ONLY problem with Bella, then it wouldn’t necessarily be sexist. There are THOUSANDS of reasons why the Twilight books are seen as sexist, including:
- glorification of abuse victims staying with their “true love”
- rape peril
- praising female characters who have no interests or thoughts of their own, depending on men to tell them what to do
- Edward constantly mocking and laughing at Bella
- Edward’s loathing for all women who aren’t his cheerleaders
- babies held up as the only thing women should want in life
- Bella having no ambitions outside of macking on Edward for all eternity
- Bella swooning a lot
- women horrified by the idea of necessary violence
- women who aren’t silent smiling worshippers of Bella being depicted as cruel bitches
And I could go on and on. So no, Smeyer. Whether you like it or not, it IS different when a woman constantly needs rescuing, especially if she doesn’t ever show signs of brains, bravery or ingenuity.
So I thought to myself, Well, what if I put that theory to the test? That might be fun. As per my usual, I started out believing that I would do one or two chapters. (It’s funny/sad how I still don’t seem to know myself very well.) Remember how I said there was no time? Fortunately, this project was not only fun, but also really fast and easy.
In other words, her new project was to essentially find-replace the names of her characters, change a few details and pronouns, and then sell it.
That is fucking shameless.
It turns out that there isn’t much difference at all between a female human in love with a male vampire and a male human in love with a female vampire.
If you need further proof that Smeyer knows as much about men as she does about the cosmic cogs that move the universe… then look no further. Apparently she thinks there is not really any psychological difference between men and women. Just toss in some Man Things instead of Girl Things, and voila! Totally the same!
And that’s how Beau and Edythe were born.
Ugh… those NAMES. They sound like antebellum grandparents.
1. I’ve done a pretty straight-across-the-board gender swap with all the Twilight characters, but there are two exceptions.
• The biggest exception is Charlie and Renée, who have stayed Charlie and Renée.
Of course they did. If they hadn’t, then we’d have a flaky, irresponsible male character… and a female cop.
Here’s the reason for that: Beau was born in 1987. It was a rare thing for a father to get primary custody of a child in those days—even more so when the child was just a baby. Most likely, the mother would have had to be proven unfit in some way. I have a really hard time believing that any judge at that time (or even now) would give a child to a transient, unemployed father over a mother with a steady job and strong ties to her community.
Yeah, except that we hear nothing whatsoever about the whole custody arrangement… especially since Renee technically KIDNAPPED her daughter.
Of course, these days if Charlie had fought for Bella, he probably could have taken her from Renée.
Which is a big if, since Charlie is almost as passive and lazy as Bella is. I somehow doubt that gender-flipping him into a woman would make him any more inclined to fight.
Thus, the more unlikely scenario is the one that plays out in Twilight. Only the fact that a few decades ago a mother’s rights were considered more important than a father’s rights, as well as the fact that Charlie’s not the vindictive type, made it possible for Renée to raise Bella—and, in this case, now Beau.
- Right, because a father would only fight for joint custody if he was vindictive.
- Because wimmenz are obsessed with babies, and the menfolk don’t care unless they want to fuck them.
- Well, that and sexism, and sexism against men is the only kind we should acknowledge. A longstanding tradition of stories with helpless, useless love interests? Not sexist! Totally not!
- Just admit it, Smeyer: you didn’t want to write Charlie as Charlize, the female cop.
• The second exception is very small—just a few background characters mentioned only twice. The reason for this exception is my misplaced sense of justice for fictional people. There were two characters in the wider Twilight universe who really got the shaft in an ongoing sense.
Which ones? There are so many characters who got shafted: Leah, Mike, Jessica, the Volturi, Billy…
• 5% of the changes I made were because Beau is a boy.
Which basically amounts to “he watches action movies! And wears T-shirts! And reads books that AREN’T romances!”
he’s not as angry—he’s totally missing the chip Bella carries around on her shoulder all the time.
So she’s admitting that Bella is a passive-aggressive bitch?
• 70% of the changes I made were because I was allowed to do a new editing run ten years later. I got to fix almost every word that has bothered me since the book was printed, and it was glorious.
Except it still has the awful quotes about heroin, the totally-wrong “lion and the lamb” quote, etc.
As I continued into the sequels to Twilight—and even Midnight Sun, where I got to look inside Alice’s head with Edward—the way Alice’s visions worked was refined. It’s more mystical in Twilight, and looking at it now, there are ways she should have been involved and wasn’t. Whoops!
Nope, sorry, there is no possible way Alice’s visions can follow any logical progression.
I hope you have fun with Beau and Edythe’s story, even though it’s not something you were waiting for.
No, I don’t think ANYONE was waiting for yet another retelling of the same damn story. Yes, part of it is different, but otherwise it’s the same horrible story all over again.
I truly had the best time ever creating this new version.
I thought about all the money I’d make from it!
I love Beau and Edythe with a passion I did not see coming, and their story has made the fictional world of Forks fresh and happy for me again.
Holy fuck, she’s going to write ANOTHER version of it, isn’t she? She’s going to write the whole thing over again, but now Edward is a faerie instead of a vampire.
So in conclusion: this entire book was only written so Stephenie Meyer could politely say “fuck you” to anyone who pointed out how sexist her books were… and she did this by writing ANOTHER book filled with sexism. God help us.