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The Case For Twilight's Bella Swan, Feminist

Posted on Wednesday August 4, 2010, 17:04 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
The Case For Twilight's Bella Swan, Feminist

A lot's been said about Twilight over the last couple of years. Often it's been said by people who have neither read the books nor seen the films (so, like, you don't know, man, you weren't there), but since Twilight is a huge cultural phenomenon, that's to be expected. Whether you've deliberately exposed yourself to the series or not, you probably know a few things about it. There's a girl who falls in love with a sparkly vampire. It was written by a Mormon housewife, so they don't have sex outside marriage. And you've probably heard that Bella's an appalling role model for modern teenagers, regularly denounced by feminists and any right-thinking person. Now while I'm not going to make excuses for the series as a whole (well, I might make a few), watching the third film - Eclipse - last weekend, I'm beginning to be irritated by the dismissal of its feminist credentials. The following discussion contains spoilers for Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, so don't read on if you don't want to know what happens.

First of all, let's think about author Stephenie Meyer for a moment. Sure, she's religious, and was a housewife when writing the books, and that's not supposed to be what feminists strive towards. On the other hand, the point of feminism was to give equal opportunities, not to say that no woman should ever be a housewife again. And as careers go, and as I think we can all agree that, at this point, Ms Meyer is almost certainly the principal earner in her particular family. So it doesn't seem as though either her religion or her choice (I hope it was a choice) not to work while raising her children has held her back.

And then there's Bella herself. Bella whose every waking thought is about some boy / creature of the night. Bella whose boyfriend Edward keeps trying to make decisions for her, and who goes all to pieces when he leaves. Bella who gets married at 19 and has a baby almost at once (really almost at once because the gestation is all screwy) and who refuses to consider abortion despite huge risk to her own life. At the same time, though - and particularly as played by Kristen Stewart in the Melissa Rosenberg-scripted films - I kinda respect her. Once having fallen head over heels for some guy (unwise) she starts making her own decisions and following her own path (wise), and while her choices wouldn't be mine* that doesn't make them bad or wrong.

Do I wish that modern entertainment would portray more women as independent creatures not obsessed with finding the perfect guy? Sure. Do I think that abortion should be destigmatised onscreen and at least presented as a viable option (especially in cases of maternal danger!)?** Yes. Do marriages entered into between a 19 year-old and a 107 year-old typically last? Not so much. Should we all have the mental fortitude to resist whatever romantic vicisitudes life or sparkly vampires throw at us and not wimp into months of depression, and should we arguably demythologise romantic love and maintain some sort of self in our love lives? Of course.

But Bella's not responsible for righting the wrongs of a generation just because she ended up more popular than other characters. Holding her up for particular blame or shame just because Twilight became a phenomenon isn't really helpful; at the very least (and again, more in the films than the books) she's a well-rounded female character on screen, and that in itself is something to welcome with open arms. The problem is less with her per se and more in the fact that we don't have enough such female characters. It's the same with many other characters on film: there tends to be outrage every time we see a negative portrayal of a gay character onscreen, or Muslim character, or name-your-minority-here, simply because there aren't enough of them overall to balance things out. We don't get up in arms every time we see a white, straight male bad guy because - hey! - the hero's almost certainly white, straight and male as well. Feminists don't - or shouldn't - demand that every woman on screen live up to some feminist ideal when the population as a whole doesn't; what's irritating to us (unless they revoke my membership for not hating Twilight) is when every single screen lady apparently lives to find a bloke, be killed in a third-act shock or just be sidelined, just as it's irritating when every single person of Arab origin onscreen seems to be a terrorist.

ANYWAY, Bella's relationship with Edward, while starting from a place of (unhealthy) obsession, evolves into something that's still obsessed (on both sides) but actually rather balanced between give-and-take. He may try to control her life, but she simply doesn't let him. She negotiates to get turned into a vampire whether he will or no; he negotiates to turn her himself in exchange for marriage (which is not something she's keen on, despite her obsession, which I found rather refreshing). She accepts his no-sex-before-marriage rule, but insists on sex while she's still human, which he's reluctant to agree to***. She keeps her two admirers (Edward and wolfy Jacob) from killing themselves or each other, and ends up forcing both of them to respect her decisions. If the teenage girls who idolise these books insist on as much give-and-take in their own relationships, they might just turn out rather well (although if they expect real boys to behave like Edward, they're on rockier ground).

After becoming a vampire, it turns out Bella's power is self-control, to an extent, and neutralising the power of others to protect her family - an old-fashioned power, sure, and a little first-base if we're talking symbolism for women, but not one that's offensive or outrageous, surely? After all, she's well powerful, and she's got the same powers as the X-Men's Leech, who's a bloke, so it's not like they gave her the power of sewing fast or cooking blood particularly well or something else that's blindly associated with women.

The only caveat to my view that Bella's basically OK comes from Meyer's other book, The Host. That stars a lead character, Melanie, who's implanted by a bodysnatching alien, Wanderer, (bear with me) but somehow manages to continue to exist as an independent entity in her own head - so now there are two personalities in one body on an Earth divided between the bodysnatched masses and the tiny minority of still-human rebels. Interesting idea, especially when our heroine(s) return to Melanie's brother and boyfriend in a hidden desert community. I'm not going to go into the plot too much, except to note that both characters, Wanderer (later Wanda) and Melanie, seem to live to make others happy. They are almost aggressively eager to martyr themselves for the good of the group as a whole. That left a far worse taste in my mouth than anything in Twilight, and casts a pall over Bella's efforts to balance her own interests with those of her family, her husband and his world - a more relatable set of dilemmas. Maybe, I thought, Meyer really thinks that's how things should be. More likely, she's writing what she knows, and what she knows is putting her family high on her list of priorities.

But leaving the books aside ("Yes, lets!" I hear you cry), the way I see it Stewart's Bella isn't a cypher, she isn't weak and she isn't another cookie cutter romantic heroine. She does have a weakness (Edward, OMG) but that's not quite the same thing as being a wuss. Someday, we may have a cinema full of strong female characters, where Angelina Jolie takes all the action leads and Catherine Keener is the highest paid star in Hollywood and Emily Blunt is never out of work playing complex and interesting leads. Until then, Bella isn't the worst offender. Give her a break.

* Full disclosure: I haven't been hit on by any sparkly vampires, so can't be entirely sure how I'd react.

**Actually, in fairness to Meyer, abortion isn't presented as a sin in the book. BELLA doesn't want to have one, but she is urged to consider it by Edward and virtually all his family as a means of saving her own life. We can conclude, therefore, that Meyers is at least open to the question of abortion in cases where the mother's life is in danger, which happily puts her on a level above Sarah Palin, say.

**The sex, as it turns out, ends up rather dangerous. It is, however, explicitly consensual and apparently not bad. Again, while we might think that women being into physical domination is not exactly compatible with feminist dogma, to deny that some women kinda like physically strong men / physical domination seems silly.

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1 lona_no_friends
Posted on Thursday August 5, 2010, 16:48
Still crap though

2 danielcharlwood
Posted on Thursday August 5, 2010, 17:07
I can't believe anyone would bother to write so much about something so utterly vapid.

You really need to grow up.

3 Sarah Records
Posted on Thursday August 5, 2010, 17:11

I don't agree with the point you make about it being 'refreshing' that Bella doesn't want to get married, because it's rendered null and void by the fact that she wants to be a vampire. I haven't read the books but am I right in thinking her aversion to marriage is because she thinks she's too young to make a decision that'll last for a long time? And yet...she's happy to make the decision that she wants to become a vampire? I.e, she wants to DIE and be undead for eternity? That's cool, but marriage isn't?

Whatever, Bella Swann.

4 K0rrupt
Posted on Thursday August 5, 2010, 17:24
I find Bella to be one of the dullest female protagonists in recent memory. There is nothing interesting about her, she's obesessed with Edward and in my view there's nothing particularly interesting about his character, other than that he's a vampire...a sparkly one at that.

And yet despite Edward's seemingly vapid personality she is complete obsessed by him so much so that she doesn't particularly mind when she's hurled halfway across a room by Edward into a table. That when he leaves she goes into a complete state of depression and pretty much shuns her friends and family. She attempts to kill/harm herself in various ways to try and make him come back. She strings along Jacob despite the fact that she wouldn't choose him over Edward because she's completely OBSESSED by him.

I don't particularly like her as a character and i don't think that Stewart does the character any favours by playing a hollow shell of one. Thats just my two cents on her

5 kpenga
Posted on Thursday August 5, 2010, 17:43
Wouldnt be more honest just to say "You know what? I know it's shit, but fuck it. I like Twilight".?

6 Helen OHara
Posted on Thursday August 5, 2010, 17:53
It's no more shit that any number of other franchises that get far less vitriol from, well, everyone. I guess I feel sorry for it.

7 sinead1810
Posted on Thursday August 5, 2010, 19:00
Sarah Records - No, you are not right. The reason she does not want to get married is because she does not think marriage is necessary when you are already committed to someone. That would be the difference between her 21st century outlook and the more traditional early 20th century outlook of Edward.

8 oui3d
Posted on Thursday August 5, 2010, 19:55
I think The Onion says it best.

It's a creepy old man and a teenage girl. Surely there are website for his little pecadillo?

9 oui3d
Posted on Thursday August 5, 2010, 19:56
Oatmeal.. Onion.. Some foodstuff.

10 Dirtdingus
Posted on Thursday August 5, 2010, 20:02
I watched Twilight recently and was disgusted by the character of Bella Swan, writing her off as the sort insane bint who'd marry Death Row convicts because her infatuation only seems to grow based on how shitty Edward is too her; but i'll understand if my opinion is educated enough on the subject, based only on the one movie.

Team Jacob. ;D

11 Dirtdingus
Posted on Thursday August 5, 2010, 20:06
(Sorry- realised how many spelling mistakes were in the prev. post.)
I watched Twilight recently and was disgusted by the character of Bella Swan, writing her off as the sort insane bint who'd marry Death Row convicts because her infatuation only seems to grow based on how shitty Edward is to her; but i'll understand if my opinion ISN'T educated enough on the subject, based only on the one movie.

Team Jacob. ;D

12 Lemure
Posted on Thursday August 5, 2010, 20:47
Do you wish culture wouldn't portray women as all seeking the perfect guy? Show me one woman who can HONESTLY say she isn't. Like it or not we humans are pack animals and nobody truly likes being on their own.

And yes we certainly did need another discussion on Twlight, no argument there. Surely Ramona Flowers is a FAR more interesting character?

13 angier21
Posted on Thursday August 5, 2010, 21:04
Yeah. Twilight isn't nearly as sexist as Beauty and the Beast.
I think the real problem is that the series is that it's targeted to a younger audience, who are a more impressionable than the older folks who read the series (quite frankly, anyone over 30 who likes Twilight scares me. No offense, Helen). The thing is, when someone in the target audience reads the books or sees the movies, they get an rather unhealthy look at a relationship that is really, thoroughly fucked up. (Oh, yes, I just pulled the "it harms our children" card).
What really pisses me off is 'New Moon'. Bella spends months in depression after the supposed love of her life abandons her (for her own good, he says. You'd think she'd be able to move on a little?) So Bella finds a companion: Jacob. But then he leaves her, too (for her own good or for his own embarrassment, it's hard to tell), but she stubbornly refuses to be rejected twice, she finds him, and they try to work it out. BUT THEN, once she finds out where Edward is, she rushes to save him, brings him back home, and they make up. And poor Jacob gets left in the dust.
Now, I don't know about you, but if someone I was truly in love with up-and-left, leaving me to suffer alone, I might not be so fast to forgive him. The author had a great opportunity to take this struggle on through the next book, and talk about how you actually repair a broken relationship, instead of just making it all better, and maybe turn it into a love triangle that gets solved by a baby.
That's my bit.
By the way,
Team Lucien

14 willkillyoulast
Posted on Thursday August 5, 2010, 23:52
Hmmm...I agree to a point. In comparison to others, Bella isn't the worst. She is amazingly compassionate at times, and has an underlying strength...but that's down to Stewart in the movies. I mean, yeah, it's the same character in the book and movie, but Stewart brings Swan a sense of self-acceptance and courage that Meyer couldn't.
That's not to say Meyer isn't a good author, she IS, but her leads are always just slightly bland. Bella's fictional, so it's her creator that get's the main backlash of readers/viewers...and it sucks for Meyer, as all she did was write a book.
And people who have sworn hate against Twilight wothout seeing/reading it (mostly the same people who hate Cyrus/Beiber/Gaga - I'll admit, I despise Miley Cyrus, but Justin Beiber can't help his unfortunate voice, and Gaga is oddly a breath of fresh air in my view - Hollywood simply because it's the norm, and they want to be 'different' by refusing to accept what is popular...not the way to go if you want ot be unique, it's actually quite ironic) tend to hold something against Stewart despite the fact that she's a pretty damn good actress.
So...yes, Bella ain't too bad, in truth. But as Angier21 said, New Moon is the vocal point for this outburst. Our protagonist curls up and dies on the inside on the departure of Edward, her love. Her next move? Cosy up to Jacob...but, wait. Only after he starts ignoring her does she 'realise' how deeply she needs him...this, with the Edward-chase in book one shows how desperately Bella wants what she can't have...AND how desperately she needs a man to get her through. Now, I'm only sixteen so I have no real experienceon these things, but surely someone with self-respect can cope? And there-in lies our main problem...Bella Swan simply has no self-respect. At least in the first two books, which is clearly outlined. However, in Eclipse, she gets used to the male attention(/testosterone/hormones/) and suddenly builds up some courage and well, you see what I mean...

15 willkillyoulast
Posted on Thursday August 5, 2010, 23:53
By the way, angier21...Jessicas Guide to Dating on the Dark Side?

16 clearwriter
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 00:50
I have to agree with one of the above comments, Helen O'Hara; wouldn't it be easier just to admit it's shit, but you like it anyway.

To what franchises do you refer?

Twilight is one of the worst written and poorly plotted film franchises around and with absolutely vapid characters. What is as bad as this?

17 MarwoodBramwell
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 02:23
Ok, Helen lets see if I get this right:-

Aside from the insane obsessive behaviour,

The 1920's gender stereotyping,

The constant stating of moral absolutes (even though repeated circular conversations are in no way dramatic),

The fact that all of Bella's so called "friends" don't have the ability or backbone to stage an intervention for her own good.

The bizarre core strand that "parents can't possibly understand love".


You're point is actually this isn't that bad for Hollywood? That's no reason to stop calling a spade a spade. It might be a slightly shinier spade, it's still buried up the the handle in mysogonistic manure.

On a different point:- 4 stars? REALLY? The acting is shakey at best even from the more solid cast members such as Bryce Dallas Howard, Jacob's script and performance comes out of a 1970's porn film (Mumble, look down, swallow, pause, swallow again, remove shirt, frown, swallow)...

But what happened to David Slade? Hard Candy had a few moments of shake camera etc, and 30 Days of Night didn't always show the action at it's best but ever single fight and training sequence in Eclipse badly suffered from the camera being framed in too tightly on the subjects, compressing their movements, limiting any sense of scale, speed or power in combat and neutering the vampires and werewolfs sense of awe and impressiveness. I'm sure there was a dramatic fight towards the end of the film, not that the choice of shots showed anything more grand than a playground brawl... Such a let down after the breifly impressive shots in the trailer!

18 blindfold
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 09:48
You are having a laugh!

I'm getting fed up of the kermodes and Empires of the world saying Bella is great cause it's all her desicion, she isn't having them made for her.

Bella is still a very unlikeable character as she is so mopey and self centered. The amount of sheer danger she causes other people would give anyone pause for thought. And the guys really need to state a little more clearly just what it is about her that they are so attracted to, cause i'm having trouble by any straight guy would fall in love with Skeet ulrich wearing a wig.

FOR LAUGHS: those of you that own NEW MOON - Skip to the end when she is running through the crowd of red robes people to rewach Edward. Right in a slow motion bit where she jumps over a fountain you can see Stewart's saggy sking flop about all over her face. it really is quite gross - and yet hilarious.

back to the criticism - i just think there are better stories with better characters to be told. This is Emos Delight.

19 pottynoodles
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 09:52
I think the reason people are so vitriolic towards the Twilight series - both novels and films - is the fact that it's core values are dubious. Essentially the point is to subsume all self-respect and one's involvement in real life and escape to a world where you can have noisy (marital) sex and your ex-boyfriend, who previously had been madly in love with you, falls in love with your mutant vampire baby, born with a full set of gnashers after eating its way out of you.

I did quite like the first book and film of the series but I honest to God lost all involvement in the story by the middle of the second book. I think the thing I took most out of the books was that Bella was too frightened to throw herself properly into the real world of building a relationship with her estranged father, becoming involved with and committed to her friends and accepting a world where people will die and you have to experience their loss. She loses Edward in the second book, only to get him back. Her new family are now immortal and barring some eejit tearing off their head, she'll remain in stasis with them, a teenager forever and won't have to deal with the ultimate human experience, namely death.
Love you Helen, but disagree on this one.

20 Lindz28
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 10:01
Okay my two cents goes like this. I've read the books and seen the first two films. The books are good - thats all. Not Like The Best Thing Ever OMG!! THe worst thing about the books is Bella, and to have your main character as unlikeable, whingy and annoying is a fail for me. Kristen does give her some intelligence and (I think) a natural beauty that at least slightly explains why these two boys are fighting over her. Okay so maybe she isnt the worst female character, but she certainly should not be put up on a pedastal as 'the ideal.'

21 Dirtdingus
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 10:02
Yeah Rammy Flowers is awesome and all but she's only a lil more than a 2D character, in books chock full of great female characters like Knives, Roxie Richter, Julie Powers and obv. Kim Pine (boy's equivalent of Jacob.)

22 spark1
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 10:36
she's no buffy summers, that for sure.

23 sephiroth7
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 10:43
Bella Swan, Cunt. There's your article.

24 britesparc
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 11:58
I really wish I knew a teenage girl I could borrow these books off, as I don't want to (a) buy them or (b) be seen reading them in public, but I do want to be able to comment on them from the educated standpoint of actually having read them.

They do sound a bit shit, though.

25 undesirablenumber1
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 12:15
Some valid points, but still undermined by one crucial flaw. See if you can name one common interest that Bella and Edward have, except the interest in being together and the logistics of how that would work? More than than that, can you name a single thing Bella herself is interested in, other than Edward? As far as I can see from the films, she is a blank surrogate for the author and for the reader, to fulfil some females' fantasies of being tussled over by supernatural teenage studs.

The argument that men objectify women and so women should get a series that lasciviously lingers on Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner is rubbish too. How is it sound logic that because men are twats, women should sink to our level? Women are better than us because they're NOT all about that, contrary to whatever amount of Twilight or SATC becomes part of the zeitgeist.

But you know, just my opinion.

26 ushie.p
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 12:58
Oh dear. Helen I'm sorry to say that the other recent blog you wrote about pretty boy character actors was in my opinion not very good and that's putting it mildly but unfortuantely I feel the same about this blog.

I have read the books and seen the first Twilight film twice. The books made me laugh because they were too ridiculous to be taken seriously by me, the birth of Bella's baby was a very interesting birth and kudos to Meyer for the gore but that's the only stand out part. The fourth book I felt was so terrible and a totally cop out ending made for a very dull conclusion.

The first film I saw once in the cinema with my mates who love Twilight and I had no idea what all the fuss was about and the second time I decided to give it another go, I figured if people love it so much I must be missing something but I found it just as rubbish.

Bella and Edward are the worst characters in the whole thing! Jacob comes second. Bella is so dull, has zero personality and couldn't care less about her friends or trying to re-connect with her dad. She's obsessed with Edward who is just as dull and the second he pays attention to her she ditches her friends to be a part of the Cullen family! Then she carries on moping around being obsessed with Edward. She's pathetic. She tries to kill herself or if you prefer becomes a daredevil and almost kills herself because it's the only way for her to connect to the missing Edward, she gets all hot and bothered over Jacob and practically makes out like she's his girlfriend now and the second Edward comes back into ther life she ditches Jacob and runs back to Edward. All the while begging to become a vampire and ignoring her old freinds still. Pathetic.

May I just add that the only reason Edward likes her so much in the first place is because of an attraction to her smell, HER SMELL!!! Not actually to her personality, HER SMELL!!!

27 pottynoodles
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 13:03
ushie.p and undesireablenumber1, I couldn't agree more

cmere though Helen - don't stop writing these blogs, 'cos say what you like about them (and people certainly do!) they definitely inspire some great discussions. keep beating your feminist drum - if we all agreed sure wouldn't it be very boring?! cheers.

28 ushie.p
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 13:18
P.S. As for the whole feminist slant, manipulating Edward a bit whilst she's begging to be turned into a vampire and managing to get her way slightly is not feminism precisely because she's begging for it and we constantly says she she becomes a bit manipulative.

As for her power of forming an invisible shield, which is the reason why she was able to withstand the gory pregnancy is not feminism either, she has a power which allowes her to do such things, OK while she was human it wasn't that strong but it was there subconsciously and when she became a vampire her power became very strong. Her power allows her to such things, not her "feminist" character.

Lastly stopping Edward and Jacob from killing themselves or each other and respecting her decisions is not a feminsit front either. They're both in love with her and know that at the end of the day if they kill each other they'll break her heart and that's why they don't kill each other. They know she cares too much about both of them and would be distraught and probably curl up into a ball again for months on end and it would be their fault and so they don't kill each other.

29 Bluehawk
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 13:41
Sorry Helen, but I think it's a lost case. The opening arguments against Bella are quite strong and unforgivable. The rest of the, well written, article is devoted so much to excusing Bella's character, it actually proves the opposite. If Bella was a ''feminist'' (loaded term), you wouldn't need to defend her so much.

Look at Angelina Jolie. Nobody has to stand up for her. THAT's wat makes her a truly independent woman. The only discussions questioning Angelina are about her breastsize or if she uses her sexual side to much, but never about her place in society. Angelina IS a white, straight male. You can't say this about Bella. She's passive, undecisive, and wants to be dominated. That's fine for some girls, but don't expect a lot of respect for that stance. I'd rather see more Angelina's. Not because of the looks, but because she is a true equal to any man.

30 clearwriter
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 13:55
I just want to reiterate an above posters excellent, astute point: name interests, other than wanting to be together, that Edward and Bella share, or even Bella and Jacob for that matter.

Please Helen, give us that?

31 Sphinx
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 14:19
I've only watched the first one - enough for me I tell you!! Bella hangs on to every word Edward says, she is in no way wary or cautious towards him or his family. The most dire quote in the whole film in when Edward shows her how he burns in the sun....'You're beautiful!! Sweet Jesus that's bad!!
I don't think she's independant at all but very much co-dependant, the obsession completely consumes her anything else going on in her life is secondary.
I mean there have been girls like her Star, that evil twin from the hammer horror classic I mean what's so wrong about making characters like Kate Fuller? Bella is as feminist as Willie Scott!!

32 ushie.p
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 14:24
Lol pottynoodles! Hello there.

Bluehawk, yeah defo Angelina Jolie. Her real life shenanigans aside, she is portrayed as a strong, independent women and can always bring the smackdown to any man if necessary, excuse the wrestling terminology. I don't particularly like her much but I guess that's because of all the media faff but I have to agree, she can defo be a feminist icon, the only glitch would be the use of too much sexuality. Uma Thurman can be a feminist icon when she puts her mind to it. Michelle Yeoh is not bad either. Helen Mirren holds her own everytime although she hasn't really been required to fight anyone ha ha or do action-fests, she simply commands respect through her speech alone.

I'm trying to think of more likely feminist icons. Can't think of any more at the moment.

33 Pezbury
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 15:14
Can I just say... I can see where everyone's negative comments are coming from and I understand them.

But, as I feel that any kind of literature/art/music etc can and should be interpreted by each individual, I'd like to put my stance on Twilight.

I see this as, simply, a love story. For me, it's escapism - a pretty simple story about falling madly and completely in love.

As one commenter said (in a negative way) that Bella seems to be an empty shell so that women can fulfill their fantasy in imagining themselves in this position... Why not? Most of us who are Twilight fans take it for what it is. A fantasy. An enjoyable bit of escapism and entertainment.

I'm not saying I think anyone's comments are wrong. This is just another angle on it.


34 Helen OHara
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 16:52
Interesting comments here. A couple though are revealing, I think. Suggesting that all women are "obsessed" with finding the perfect guy is the sort of two-dimensional stereotyping that so annoys me in Hollywood. Many women may be interested in finding a partner, but to dismiss them as interested only in that is exactly what Hollywood does to all our detriment. At least in Twilight we see her dealing with the aftermath of that, which is a tiny improvement.

And suggesting that Bella "manipulates" Edward and Jacob is also reductive and offensive language, bowing to this manipulative bitch idea of women too. If Bella manipulates Edward, so does he in return; so does Jacob - manipulation is something men do too and to dismiss her for that is crazy.

The idea that the Bella of the books is something of a blank slate I'd totally accept, hence my emphasis on Stewart's performance as her. She's no mopier or more self-centred than most teenagers, on film.

Much as I adore Angelina Jolie (and I really do - that's a story for another day) women onscreen don't have to be her, or as strong as her, to be valid female characters. They don't have to be flawless, or wise, or even share any interests with their boyfriend (good point, that). They just have to feel like real people for me to celebrate them, because most women onscreen don't.

As for the idea that this is a film with 1920s values and moral absolutes, I'd disagree. Bella's recognisably modern, she does face dilemmas re marriage & birth &, er, becoming a vampire, and there's no reason to think she and Edward will particularly occupy 1920s gender roles.

I happen to think that these films are OK, no worse than many, but even if they're as crap as many of you think, the vitriol which greets them is out of all proportion to their quality, and seems based on the fact that anything teenage girls like is viewed as inherently suspect by the rest of the race. And that's not enough for me.

35 Aeolus
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 18:38
I'm sorry Helen but both you and Meyer are simply wrong. Feminism is not simply the ability to make a choice. The simple proof of this is that a woman can choose to be subservient to men or value men and masculinity more than women and femininity. This is undeniably anti-feminist. However, it is her choice to be anti-feminist. Therefore, according to the opinion of yourself and Meyer, anti-feminism can be a form of feminism. Which i think is just circular and self defeating. Essentially it is meaningless.

When you say that Bella is feminist you are reffering only to the blatant and obvious feminism. For instance directly denying women jobs and choices etc..etc. Simply because they are women. The opression of women goes much deeper than this. In fact it is still very much ingrained into our culture and society. one example of this is the concept of male brotherhood in industry and politics and the advantage this gives to men. Be it rounds of golf with the boss or a strip club with colleauges. Not to mention other examples. The role of woman as housewife and man as educated breadwinner etc..etc.. You get my point?

I suppose you could sum up feminism as political, social, economic and domestic equality of the sexes. Twilight is pretty much the antithesis of this as a concept. Bella quite clearly is not an equal in her relationship with Edward. Both physically and mentally. Whether it is his control over her life (In one scene he dismantles her car.) Or the fact she only has the illusion of choice. Numerous times she is described as being almost hypnotised by his presence and his vampire traits. The vast majority of her choices therefore seem to be rushed and irrational.

This happens to such an extent that she is willing to abandon all of her previous commitments. She is willing to ignore the advice of everybody else including her family because of the rather subtly abusive hold this male character has over her. I could go on but i have run out of space.

36 supermaddy
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 19:06
I side with Helen on this one and disagree with the comments made by the previous poster (sorry!).

Firstly, it's obvious that there are roles society has decided upon and then ingrained into the system for men and for women. And it's obvious getting out of them is a nowhere near complete struggle. But I think that the judgement that Bella is anti-feminist is very very harsh. I may think Sarah Palin is not my kind of feminist (she is like evil incarnate) but the reason is not because of her appropriation of feminism as a cause- it's because the supposedly feminist arguments she makes are so factually inaccurate and vacuous of all common sense that it is kind of terrifying she could be in a position of power and/or influence.

Firstly, Bella is an equal in her relationship to Edward- she does think he's too good for her, but he thinks that way about her too. He dismantles her car, she still finds another way. The point of the books and all the agony etc (you say abusive hold) is mutual. TOkay it makes her mopey, but it makes him suicidal. It almost seems worse for him.

And the illusion of choice? She could have abandoned both Jacob and Edward- neither are going to kill her if she doesn't. She makes her real choice, and gets everyone else to agree with her using rational argument (or what counts as such when vampires are the topic of discussion). And making a choice quickly does not make it any more or less valid.

On the ignoring advice and commitments thing, who are you to say that for her the advice is good or bad? And where does she give her family up? which I assume is what you meant. Looking at the relationship between movie Bella and movie father, she takes the pepper spray and carries it around, she doesn't ask for advice or pay attention to his disdain for Edward but then Charlie respects her choices, and in number four it becomes even clearer her family could never be abandoned. [SPOILER ALERT] Rather she finds a way to work them in to her world

37 Aeolus
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 22:02
Again I disagree.
The relationship certainly isn't equal and the actions and attitude of Bella send out an incredibly bad message to young girls. For instance Edward himself is not actively enchanting and attracting her. Especially at the beginning. He is a complete jerk when they first meet for no reason apparent to her. If she cared about personality or being respected, she would have written him off and spent her time developing relationships with the people who were warm and welcoming to her for instance every single human being she meets in that town. Yet this belligerence and hostility doesn’t deter her because she’s fallen in love with Edward’s body, not Edward. This dangerous aesthetic obsession has been satirised by writers from Homer to Shakespeare to Bellow. But 'satire' is the key here. Meyer takes such infatuation seriously and tries to give it credence as a valid, sensible and mature way to love. From what I recall, the only quality she ever mentions, apart from Edwards inhuman beauty, is that he is over-protective. She often tries to apologise for the more sinister of his controlling actions by putting it down to his being overprotective. If she is as smart as Meyer says she is then surely this girl would realise that such exercises in apologetics are common in victims of emotional and physical abuse. Especially in violent and opressive relationships.
Again i will quickly come back to your insinuation that the relationship is equal. In New Moon Edward leaves Bella alone without telling her why. Not only does he deny her the knowledge of why he is leaving (Because he can. What can Bella do to glean it from him?) He also takes away the choices in how she handles his absence. He removes all trace and evidence he ever existed. The fact that Bella depends completely on this boy for her emotional and physical sustenance renders her an empty vessel, a zombie. Meyer has written her supposedly strong female character as a girl utterly dependent on a man.

38 bdblade
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 23:42
If femminism wishes to be portrayed as vapid, self obsessed, needy, jelous and completely depended on a guy just cos he's hot. Then yes she's a feminist icon.

Otherwise its poorly written rubbish.

39 bdblade
Posted on Friday August 6, 2010, 23:54
Edit -

I should have added, that this is no fault of the film or Kristen stewart. The source material is much much worse than the end product in the cinema.

However, if i was a woman it would be the exact opposite of how i would like to be portrayed. Something equating to a fully rounded character would be nice.

I would say emma watson and Hermione do a better job as a feminist icon.

40 angier21
Posted on Saturday August 7, 2010, 10:05
No, I meant Underworld.
I actually like the first and bits of the third one. (It's not much better than Twilight when it comes to character vapidity, but at least interesting shit happens occasionally).

41 willkillyoulast
Posted on Saturday August 7, 2010, 11:57
Wow. Are we really having an ARGUMENT about a fictional character? It was discussion about feminism, based on the character of Bella Swan and peoples opinions on her choices...which are directly linked to Meyer, who orchastrated those choices FOR her. Bella Swan is simply a part of Meyer. I may be a hypocrite, but if you're going to talk about someone, talk about Meyer. And if you're going to talk sbout Meyer, bare with me for a minute. author, a reviewer, a journalist...all of these people have a writers license. This enables them to write what and how they like. It's not a material item, it's figurative, and is more like an unspoken understanding. But it allows a writer the ability to write what they feel is right...and the writer also has the right to feel differently from the reader. I know I would have rathered this book had it been penned by Suzanne Collins or Carrie Jones, both of whom have written books in which their lead characters are girls who have an ever-present sense of power and cannot be led astray by male 'forces'. But that's debatable. As an author, Meyer wrote what she felt was right for her book, and as her own person, she felt this was okay...if you dislike it to the point of bashing it on the internet, write your own version. I promise you, no two versions of the book will be the same; the people who dislike Meyers books as well may dislike your take equally. It's a matter of taste.
As an avid reader, I adore books with substance, with a good STORY, but mostly, with a lead character who is not bland. That's MY opinon, and I may share it with someone else...that doesn't mean that person would enjoy a story written by me. Do you see? You can whine all you want about the books, but they're not going to disappear. Meyer wrote Bellas story. No one elses. Bella is a unique character for sure, and I disagreed with many of her choices, but it's a book. It's not for everyone. Feel free to tell me if this makes no sense, I just woke up.

42 Aeolus
Posted on Saturday August 7, 2010, 14:11
Wow thankyou so much for pointing out the obvious willkillyoulast. "Meyer wrote what she felt was right for her book."

You would make an excellent detective you know that?

What we are doing here is discussing what Meyer felt was right and whether we agree with her.

43 Kapa
Posted on Saturday August 7, 2010, 21:21
hi... my credentials: i have seen the first movie and suffered through all the books... i think that the main "character", bella, is a person that cannot deal with reality! she doesn't invest or, dare i say it, commit to any of the normal people in the book (father, mother, friends...). but rather she obsesses about this weird, perfect looking old guy, that has superpowers. and that's not all.. she also doesn't have to deal with things every human has to deal with, like death or aging (except if you count almost turning 19 as! i think the reason for this detachment from reality is her author.. meyer is a mormon after all, and mormons believe that they will become "godlike" and also live forever with their immortal families (i m not sure if mormons believe that they become sparky gods though..), therefore they too don t have to deal with death.

...just my opinion
have a nice day..

44 lolawants
Posted on Saturday August 7, 2010, 21:46
Bella Swan is in actuality fashioned after the first and foremost female rebel of all time - Eve. Eve is no sacrificing Virgin Mary. Eve is no reformed hooker Mary Magdeline who falls back into rank and file.

No, Eve is actually a shizz stirrer of the highest order. She saw some forbidden fruit and wanted to partake of it, even if God himself told her not too. Not only does she partake of it, she persuades Adam to come along for the ride. All heck breaks lose, they are cast out of the garden of Eden, but not before Eve all by her lonesome brings on a new age and world order of mortality - where death and se x is introduced. Eve goes against God and nature, collapses the golden age all by her lonesoem and why? She wanted a tast of the forbidden - nothing more.

Now if people could stop being so literal and look at Bella in a less reactionary light, they'd see she actually fits the same Eve-like rebellious mold. Bella goes against God and nature, taking a grab of Edward, even though she shouldn't want to. They bring about a child, which brings about the Volturi's wrath--which brings about Bella single handedly toppling the vampiric world order and introducing a new age of her own - where humans and shapeshifters and vampires all mix and mingle in ways unheard before.

Bella is a shi zz stirrer, she's a taker, she brings about catastrophic change in her world - --- all because she just doesn't want to leave her monster lab partner alone.

I'm somewhat amazed how people have not caught onto this theme - there's an effing apple on the cover ya'll.

45 lolawants
Posted on Saturday August 7, 2010, 21:47
Bella Swan is in actuality fashioned after the first and foremost female rebel of all time - Eve. Eve is no sacrificing Virgin Mary. Eve is no reformed hooker Mary Magdeline who falls back into rank and file.

No, Eve is actually a pot stirrer of the highest order. She saw some forbidden fruit and wanted to partake of it, even if God himself told her not too. Not only does she partake of it, she persuades Adam to come along for the ride. All heck breaks lose, they are cast out of the garden of Eden, but not before Eve all by her lonesome brings on a new age and world order of mortality - where death and se x is introduced. Eve goes against God and nature, collapses the golden age all by her lonesome and why? She wanted a taste of the forbidden - nothing more.

Now if people could stop being so literal and look at Bella in a less reactionary light, they'd see she actually fits the same Eve-like rebellious mold. Bella goes against God and nature, taking a grab of Edward, even though she shouldn't want to. They bring about a child, which brings about the Volturi's wrath--which brings about Bella single handedly toppling the vampiric world order and introducing a new age of her own - where humans and shapeshifters and vampires all mix and mingle in ways unheard before.

Bella is a pot stirrer, she's a taker, she brings about catastrophic change in her world - --- all because she just doesn't want to leave her monster lab partner alone.

I'm somewhat amazed how people have not caught onto this theme - there's an freaking apple on the cover ya'll.

46 scifi
Posted on Saturday August 7, 2010, 22:45
For the record: I have read all the Twilight books and seen the movies thus far. I enjoyed them and read them partly because my teenage daughter was reading them and partly because I didnt feel I could either criticise or defend them without having read them myself. (As a teacher anything which makes kids read or talk enthusiastically (for or against) a novel attracts my interest.) Oh yes - and I'm over thirty too.
I didnt think they were particularly well written, acted, directed, produced etc. but neither were they 'terrible'. (Parts of Harry Potter are poorly edited and Robert Muchamore's 'Cherub series is fairly grotty and formulaic in places for example.) I found 'Twilight' interesting precisely because it falls into that category where some aspects of the story/characters are fascinating, but they fall short of being properly realised. It is a series which allows those inclined to 'fill in' the blanks with their own values, motivations, interests. And there we have it - for those inclined. Of course we don't learn properly what other interests Bella or Edward have - though music briefly appears to be a common love - but the reader isn't fed this information perhaps because Meyer isn't up to the business of subtle characterisation and because she has no need of it. All of us are attracted by surface characteristics initially; these lose importance or are enhanced by the other qualities a person has to offer. Both Bella and Edward allow us the readers to do what Jacob, poor mut, is fated to do; imprint!

Aside from this there is just enough on offer to polarise opinions. You can hate Bella and rightly argue she is selfish, obsessed, blinkered, or you can relate to that self same obsession/fascination with learning about another being, an unknown quantity whom teenagers particularly willingly invite to validate or annihilate their own existence. Personally I like the 'inter- species alliances aspect - a positive message?

47 Aeolus
Posted on Sunday August 8, 2010, 01:42
Oh do you mean the Eve who was made from man, for man? The Eve who was punished by men and the patriarchal god for making a free choice? The legacy of this free choice was an eternity of pain and suffering.

Again another great message by Smeyer.

48 lolawants
Posted on Sunday August 8, 2010, 02:47
Aeolus--you do realize there are various manifestations of the Eve story, right? That the Western Christian tradition is the one you are soley attributing to that story, and not the only version to look at? SM is Mormon. Mormonism has some ideologies that I can neither fathom or champion. But their Eve tradition subverts itself from the Western Christian roots you speak of and follow older Jewish traditions that are neither judgemental nor dealing with original sin. Mormons do not believe in original sin, Aeolus. They don't assign Eve that doozy. Like certain Jewish traditions, Eve is seen as the mother of mortality and free choice. She is revered in the Mormon religion for using her free will and bringing about a new world order that allowed everyone a chance at life.

Feel free to look at various Eve traditions, especially feminist reinterpretations who tend to see her as an instigator and usurper--not because she even has grand designs and plans. But because she simply wanted to.

So, Aeolus, keep being a sad sack that insists on looking at everything through your very narrow lens. I guess it's much more efficient that way.

49 clearwriter
Posted on Sunday August 8, 2010, 02:56
I cannot believe anyone, with any kind of a developed taste in film, who's seen greats, can even begin to discuss this film as though it actually has characters.

There are no characters, only caricatures and vapid nothings.

If we see two characters telling each other they love one another, over and over, without ever actually seeing that love develop in some meaningful way, how can we connect with the characters?

What makes Edward and Bella love one another in these films? There's is no evidence of shared interests and without shared interests that only leaves lust. However even that is missing with the 'chastity ring' Edward. How can a person begin to care about a relationship between two characters based on what we see between Edward and Bella? Why, oh why do these characters love each other?

What makes this character Bella worthy of being discussed as some sort of good example of a real woman? Bella is a whiny, wimpy girl who is obsessed with a guy based solely on looks; there's no evidence of anything else.

And can I just bring to light one of the two worst moments for her as a strong female character:

1. When they were leaving the Volturi's and Bella saw the little kid being taken to be eaten. How can you respect a character who is supposed to be our protagonist who does nothing upon seeing this? She saves her own skin by keeping quiet and heroic Edward did the same.

2. The latest film showed a brave and fearless Native American woman take her own life to save her husband's. Our finale sees the same scene played out and we think 'brave' Bella will do the same and herself a cut on the arm! What's the point in making a connection between these two events and women, when one is so courageous and the other so spineless in the same circumstance?

I just cannot believe that anyone who knows good film and good screenwriting, would think there was any real merit in theses films and more shockingly, in the characters. Four stars out of five?

50 BenTramer
Posted on Sunday August 8, 2010, 13:52
To put down Bella for being selfish and vapid is to miss the point. That's why girls like it so much - they are utterly selfish, vain, vapid creatures. As soon as they hit puberty, they go for the cliched "bad boy" so they can cause as much trouble as they possibly can for their family and friends and Bella is no exception. They are natural-born troublemakers.

I take it from this article, Ms O'Hara, that you're a feminist. So you're admitting you're biased in all your writing then? Dear, oh, dear, Empire, journalists should be impartial, not man-hating divas with an axe to pointlessly grind against men (who, no matter how much you hate them, will continue to exist.)

And whoever said Kristen Stewart is a "pretty damn good actress" needs their head examined. What has she ever done on screen that is in any way memorable? Pulling a sulky face for 90 minutes is called doing NOTHING. Young actors now only have empty ego, the true greats have ferocity, sensitivity, imagination, personality, a sense of humour and a bit of life experience. These actors start acting so young, there's no time to build any of that.

Twilight will be completely forgotten as soon as the last movie hits the bargain bin at your local video shop (in about 5 minutes time) and all the hormonal girls that wet themselves at the mention of its name will grow up, get a life and get REAL boyfriends. It is utterly forgettable tosh. Compared to Salem's Lot with David Soul, Twilight has no balls. To quote Austin Powers: "It's the Diet Coke of evil."

51 Bizz90
Posted on Sunday August 8, 2010, 18:55
Most points have already been made, and quite effectively at that, but i'd still like to throw my hat into the "Twilight is shit" ring anyway. Because i was there, i saw the movies (against my will/better judgment) and genuinely tried to find the light in them, and they still sucked. Big time. I try my best not to get too enraged about it but the pandering displayed in recent issues of Empire is, if i'm honest, actually sort of sickening. People can like what they want to but when a film magazine gives a 2 page article on how, and i quote, "hunksome" Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner are i get a bit disenfranchised. I agree with the second comment, it's not so much the actual content of the franchise (although i personally hate it) it's the attention it gets. Extracting meaning from Twilight is like extracting blood from a stone, it's dawsons creek only one of them's a vampire and the other's a werewolf. Wanna watch it then fine - go ahead but it's no more or less cerebral/meaningful than the Pierre Morel action porn Empire loathes so greatly.

52 Amelie_Scotland
Posted on Sunday August 8, 2010, 20:31
Here's what my problem with Bella is.

She doesn't have a choice most of the time even though the films and books are about making choices. She's pushed around by the men in her life and lets Edward do everything for her, from pushing her into marriage to taking the engine out of her car so she can't visit Jacob. She never does anything for herself, nor does she try to stop people from doing evetything for her. Bella herself is one of the most selfish, stupid, shallow and irritating characters in YA (not to mention how Twilight's popularity has effected the rest of the genre) who worries about nothing more than Edward and happily strings along another guy before giving up absolutely everything just for the man in her life. She jumps off a freaking cliff because she got dumped! How is that a good thing? Feminism is about choice, but choices have consequences, something Twilight lacks. There is absolutely no conflict in the book that isn't resolved in the most ridiculously happy manner possible.

There are things we all should know - Stephenie Meyer is a terrible writer and yes, these books are anti-feminist. Portraying obsession and borderline emotional abuse as love is dangerous and stupid, especially when you're writing it for teenagers, not to mention the complete lack of an actual love story (she wants to fuck him, he wants to eat here. Dietary cravings =/= love). Love shouldn't bully you, it shouldn't hurt and it certainly shouldn't take away your choices. Whatever it is in this horrible books, it ain't love.

53 clearwriter
Posted on Monday August 9, 2010, 02:46
Amelie_Scotland raises an excellent example of how absurd Helen O'Hara's argument is, that Bella represents a real girl/woman, by highlighting the scene where she throws herself off of the cliff in the second film.

A real woman Helen O'Hara dear, would not throw herself off of a cliff just because she got dumped. An emotionally disturbed and god love her, weak woman would. However, a strong and modern (which Helen O'Hara believes Bella is) woman wouldn't throw herself off of a cliff over a boy.

Maybe I'm wrong here? Maybe I meet too many real women to fall for this arguement, but that doesn't seem real to me at all.


And let me highlight another weak point of her character. Aside from leading on two men, she finally concedes to loving Jacob...only to tell Edward she loves him more!? What kind of character is this fickle little moper? Is this really what a modern woman, who looks good for feminists is?

Heaven help the entire sex if Helen O'Hara's idea of women is in anyway true; and heaven help the film industry if too many people continue to give films like this four out of five stars!!

54 reinhardt76
Posted on Monday August 9, 2010, 11:12
Who cares?The whole things a rip off of Charlain Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries, anyway Twilight series is no worse than JK Rowlings badly written HP & the The Order of the Phoenix, the 'I'm famous so i dont need editing book' if you dont believe me sum the plot up without using Wiki

PS i love the irony of being asked if I'm human on a blog about Vampires

55 pixiegrace
Posted on Tuesday August 10, 2010, 01:21
I have read the books and seen the films and I don't really understand why people find Bella and Twilight to be such poor role models. The entire human race is a poor role model for itself. Bella's actually done very little to piss me off as against the rest of humanity. She didn't burn down any forests or get her boobs out to sell something. Besides, I'm 22 years old, and my generation is full of Bellas. Women who obsess over men, change their lifestyles, priorities, friends and ambitions for a guy? All over the place. Bella reflects reality. It may not make anyone happy, but she does. Teenage girls are like this. Not all of them, obviously, but a fair few will go a bit psycho over at least one guy at some point. They may not marry him, or be tossed around by him to prevent them being murdered, or rescued from the wrong end of a van that's spun out of control, but that's cos the book is fiction. It's embellished for dramatic purposes. Ditching their friends in favour of their guy (the lure of the ride is powerful) and acting like their whole world has plummeted to the ground cos he fucks off, not to mention choosing the guy their parents hate over the one they like...all somewhat likely to occur in your average teenage girl's life.

What irks me more than anything is the whole teenager goes with 109 (or however old he is) vampire "ugh paedophilia" thing. Grow the hell up. It's a BOOK. About vampires. Immortality and all that nonsense. How many other vampires in fiction are sprightly youngsters who take up with someone their own age?!

Sheesh. Haters gonna hate. Are people really this pernickety just cos it's so popular? You can always go and watch/read something else...

56 pixiegrace
Posted on Tuesday August 10, 2010, 01:45
I should probably have also noted in that post that I've actually never heard anyone who likes Twilight have this in-depth a discussion on it. And I know you'll all say that's because there's nothing to discuss, it's vapid and ~nonsensical, and everyone who likes it is a brain-dead fangirl, yet there's almost 60 passionate arguments here going to some effort to completely denounce Bella and the series. Considering how empty and useless it supposedly is, I find that a tad ironic. There's maybe a 1% demographic out there defending it. The whole debate comes from haters. Haters arguing with each other over and over again about how crap it is. It's fascinating.

And out.

57 Bethany__
Posted on Tuesday August 10, 2010, 13:55
No. Just no.

I was a scarily big fan of the books before the whole shebang about the movies came about.

But then I came to my senses and realised that Bella Swan is possibly the farthest from feminist you could possibly get.

She relies on Edward for everything; protection, satisfying her neediness... everything. Even catching her when her "clumsy" self falls over.

Twilight... or Twishite as I prefer, is a blemish on the face of literature. And this is coming from an informed point of view. It's a disgrace that the movies are winning so many awards, but at least they'll never win any Oscars.

Touch wood.

58 clearwriter
Posted on Tuesday August 10, 2010, 15:21

I'm more passionate about debating the bit with a person who works on a high profile film magazine, who is holding up twilight as anything more than drivel.

I think it's shocking that some people get paid for their opinions; worse still when it goes against what good storytelling is.

59 Bizz90
Posted on Tuesday August 10, 2010, 22:40
@ pixiegrace

you and i both know that the idea of there being a "1% demographic" defending Twilight is a bit of an understatement. The whole reason for the gigantic backlash is the enormity of the fanbase, if there's only 1% of that demographic actively defending the franchise it's because the other 99% is, and i say this in the nicest possible way, unable of forming a coherent argument or oblivious to the fact that some people actually don't like Twilight.

60 pixiegrace
Posted on Wednesday August 11, 2010, 00:53
Exactly. 1%. :)

61 Helen OHara
Posted on Wednesday August 11, 2010, 07:43
BenTramer, feminist doesn't mean anti-male or "biased". You might want to stop reading the Daily Mail and actually educate yourself on what it is because, with all possible respect, comments like that make you sound cretinous.

clearwriter, it's made clear in both book and film that she is cliffjumping, a perfectly normal (if risky) sport, not attempting suicide. Nothing wrong with doing extreme sports (even if in her case it's because she's a bit bananas).

62 Bizz90
Posted on Wednesday August 11, 2010, 14:23
Helen O'Hara, educating the haters - one blog at a time.

and fair enough pixiegrace.

63 Haley_ann
Posted on Wednesday August 11, 2010, 16:47
Ben Tramer

Firstly am frankly a litle insulted that you would group all teenage girls in the category of being vain and selfish, having gone to an all girls secondary I can say that I know a lot of girls who have never fitted that that discription.

Secondly I'm not quite sure where you got the anti-male message from in Helen's article. It seemed to me to be more about arguing that Bella is her own person and can make her own decisions then abusing the male characters (and thereby men as a whole).

on everything else though I would agree with you. the films are nothing to write home about and I have seen nothing in Kristen Stewart's acting thus far to merrit much praise

64 clearwriter
Posted on Wednesday August 11, 2010, 21:13
Helen O'Hara

Not sure about the book and admittedly I've only seen the film once, but it was by no means clear that Bella herself was cliff jumping.

The werewolves were obviously enjoying a sport. Bella was either attempting suicide and fair enough, that's probably not the case, which leaves the only other alternative which is that she was continuing to do absolutely mental things to entice Edward back to her.

If the latter is the case (I don't really care either way because I'm mainly shocked that a person employed as a film reviewer could argue for such a piece as Twilight) then it further goes against her being a good example of a feminist; it makes her look even more pathetic and lacking in the ability of forethought

This character is no-way a feminist, nor is she a good example of what girls and women should be aiming for. The character is vapid and 2-dimensional (in the film) and there is no sign of any relationship between her and Edward; except as far as "I love you" "I love you more" and gazing into each others eyes.

It's sad that money gets wasted on this rotten writing(screenwriting, I haven't read the books) and film-making, when their are so many talented people out there who simply cannot get a foot in the door.

And nothing annoys me more than when people argue that a franchise or film or whatever, has so many millions of fans, so it must be good. Numbers at the box office do not make a quality film, but surely to god everyone on here knows that.

65 scifi
Posted on Wednesday August 11, 2010, 21:34

Errh ... perhaps the 'millions of fans' do not want to be educated, just entertained! Admittedly it's great when you have a combination of the two, but pretty rare...

Are you not 'entertained'? You are obviously a sensitive, intellligent soul - unlike the rest of the unwashed screaming bloodthirsty citizens out there ... but the 'pen is mightier' ... and all that ...

Chill out and cut Helen some slack!

66 everthing
Posted on Wednesday August 11, 2010, 23:04
i LOVE this post, and I think you're absolutely right to defend this character. I will try not to repeat or exhaust any of the considerable points made above, but I would like to point out that no one is holding Bella Swan up as some kind of role model, screaming - 'HEY girls - THIS is what you want to be!' - the fact that critical analysis (perhaps, correctly) identifies her as someone who doesn't make the most moral, selfless choices is not the fault of the character, author, screenwriter or actress.
No character can withstand such impossible standards, and now I come to it - who gave her those standards in the first place? She is a fictional - one is not obliged to like her, but I see little point in the outraged statements regarding her personality just because they don't measure up to an individual's ideals...
Another point I would like to make is that Bella displays many traits similar to that of Cathy Earnshaw in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights but I don't hear anyone screaming about her obnoxious behaviour or sordid, unhealthy love affair with Heathcliffe that chance and projected romanticism has turned into what is now known as a tragic love story. Yet here is Bella, whose story is remarkably similar, who acts, in my opinion, in a far more self-less way than the heroine of Wuthering Heights and is met with an overwhelming amount of negative criticism.
She is her own story, and as such, is tied to the narrative she inhabits - if she were a carnation of sunshine and happiness - with no negative traits at all, I think we would be facing a far sicklier story and a far less pressing reason to defend the heroine of this particular tale...

67 snooker23
Posted on Thursday August 12, 2010, 14:03
I wouldn't say that Bella not wanting to get married gives her any kind of feminist credentials. She gives in because her sparkly boyfriend witholds sex. Not a lot of resolve there.

Still I suppose it is refreshing that she isn't as obsessed with marriage as - oh well - pretty much any woman in a rom-com.

On the other hand flying off to Italy to save the guy was refreshing and suitably feminist. Pattinson filling the 'damsel in self-inflices distress'.

68 clearwriter
Posted on Friday August 13, 2010, 02:00

If I wasn't chilled (and I mean totally) I wouldn't have time to debate on here.

And if I said that I only watch films to be educated, which I don't think I did, or that there's something wrong with films that just entertain, which I don't think I did, then oops.

What's with all that '...unwashed, bloodthirsty citizen...' stuff?

Helen is a big girl, she can handle a little dissent I'm sure; although I'm not sure she can take valid points on board when her mind is made up.

Ah, the internet message boards. I thought people would enjoy debate without getting antsy after all these years.

69 ushie.p
Posted on Friday August 13, 2010, 17:26
I've pretty much said everything I need to say about why I disagree with Helen's opinions on this blog but what I would like to say now is that for those people who are wondering why so many of us are even discussing this blog in the first place even though the majority of us don't like the books or the films let alone Bella's character is because the point that Helen is trying to make is interesting/absurd (delete as apropriate) enough to make us want to add our own thoughts and opinions to the matter. Just because the majority of us don't like the books or films and Bella's character and just because she is a finctional character doesn't mean that we shouldn't discuss the issue at hand, it doesn't mean that the thoughts and opinions expressed here are a waste of time. If you feel that way then quite frankly English Literature lessons should be cancelled in schools, colleges etc. forever because they are mostly about books consisting of fictional characters. The reason we are discussing this issue is because we have thoughts and opinions on it, that is what makes a discussion regardless of the source material itself being fact or fiction.

70 ushie.p
Posted on Friday August 13, 2010, 17:27
I meant regardless of whether the source material consists of fact or fiction.

71 blindfold
Posted on Tuesday August 17, 2010, 12:30
Hehe.. Ouch!

Yes feminist is not Anti-Man. it's equality. So feminism is more leveling out thinsg for both sexes so we all have the same opportunities and not women getting back at men, or having dominance.

It is odd how that is always mistaken, and often mis-used!

Sadly though - strive we may for equality - we are all in the end going to have to settle for balance as things will never be equal. its like hoping for peace on earth - won't happen, but we can at least make it better.

72 Quentin Black
Posted on Saturday August 21, 2010, 00:51
Twilight is poorly written wish fulfilment for teenage girls that not only sets the feminist movement back but is also a potentially harmful influence on it's target audience. The books are some of the worst written books set to paper and the films do not fare much better. I have tried watching them all on various occasions but the offensively bad plot, poor acting and terrible effects force me to turn it off. The amount of time Empire spends promoting and backing this series up (in addition to all the puff pieces Empire seems to dedicate it's time to nowadays) is steadily making me and my friends doubt Empire's veracity and integrity.

I back danielcharlwood in saying "you need to grow up".

73 Cookiedough
Posted on Monday September 13, 2010, 22:44
I don't know if Bella Swan is a feminist or not and in a world of labels, reassessment, revisionist-theory and yet more labels, I don't know how helpful the argument is.
Amidst all the snorts of disgust and derision for the franchise itself, what I find refreshing about Bella is that in a world where women are represented in film as supposedly smart, liberated and independent, then in the end fail miserably and fall inevitably into cookie cutter (hello, Meg Ryan and in particular Helen Hunt - What Women Want my arse), Bella doesn't set out to be anything. She's not particularly waving a banner for any contigent, she's not trying to represent or be a poster girl for anyone and in a cinematic-world where women have to project some sort of message (usually a really patronsing, glib one), Bella is nothing but her pain-in-the-arse, mopey, vampire-obsessed self. That's got to be worth celebrating, surely?

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