Page name: Rebuttals Against Twilight [Exported view]
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Rebuttals Against Twilight!
This is a page showing a number of fantastic rebuttals against the book Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer. This page is a part of Anti-Twilight Group. Feel free to discuss these rebuttals on either this page or Anti-Twilight Group, just don't spam the other pages please.
NOTE: I, [UV-Reactive*] did not write these rebuttals. Credit goes to Arzim on www.twilightsucks.com on the forum boards. I have not changed any of her material and I will not take any credit for her work. These are fantastic rebuttals, thus I wish to share them with the EP community. Please do not pass off her work as her own, use quotations.
Here's an index of the arguments I've made so far:
1. "Edward is abusive"
2. "Fantasy does not excuse a lack of realism"
3. "The books are sexist"
4. "The books (Twilight specifically) have no plot/character development"
5. "Bella and Edward are in lust, not love"
6. "Bella is an idiot (aka Meyer tells and doesn't show"
7. "Imprinting IS sexual no matter what (aka imprinting is sexist and pedophilic)"
8. "Twilight sends bad messages... and it DOES matter"
9. "Science: Why Nessie can't exist"
10. "Science: Meyer fails at it"
11. "Choice: What Feminism isn't, and what Bella doesn't have"
Concerning common counterarguments made in defense of ‘Twilight’ (and subsequent books)
A common trend I’ve seen in the development of debates on Twilightsucks.com is that the Antis tend to argue in terms of the conceptual; the idea of sexism or the theme of misogyny. In converse, most of the Twilight fans I’ve come across rebut those cerebral arguments with semantics ones; i.e., they argue the plot (ha!) point of fact as opposed to the foundation of ideas at the root of those plot points.
Here are some of the arguments in particular that I’ve seen most often.
Anti: “Edward is abusive”
Support for this argument includes the following (and this is just a quick list):
1. Edward is controlling and domineering
2. Edward has an unequal share of authority over the relationship
3. Edward threatens suicide
4. Edward manipulates Bella into marriage
5. Edward actively attempts to prevent Bella from seeing her friend (removes engine, has her kidnapped)
6. Edward encourages Bella’s isolation from others
Now, I’ve found that the most common argument in rebuttal for “Edward is abusive” is “But he only does it because he loves her” or “He’s trying to protect her” or “His intentions are good” or “He recognizes that he makes mistakes/overreacts”.
I’m going to address these arguments in two parts. First, in terms of semantics; that is, the actual actions and consequences in the series, and second I’ll deal with the abstraction of intentions versus actions.
1. What is abuse?
Obviously Edward is not abusive physically to Bella, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not still abusive. That is, he is emotionally and mentally abusive. And the fact that he’s a vampire has nothing to do with it; Meyer is portraying a relationship between two people, and given the fact that Edward has a very human psyche (i.e. he experiences human emotions (anger, ‘love’, worry), human desires (sex), and was once in fact human) it is not a reasonable argument to simply excuse his bad behavior by simply arguing, “he’s a vampire, so it doesn’t count.”
So: abuse. What is it?
An abusive relationship is an interpersonal relationship characterized by the use or threat of physical or psychological abuse. Abusive relationships are often characterized by jealousy, emotional withholding, lack of intimacy, infidelity, sexual coercion, verbal abuse, broken promises, physical violence, control games and power plays.
Let’s break this definition down in terms of Edward and Bella.
Jealousy – If anything, Edward’s defining characteristic is in fact his jealousy. It is his jealousy (more than anything else) that instigates his abusive acts. He admits after the engine episode that the main reason for not wanting Bella to see Jacob was in fact his prejudice and jealousy, and that’s hardly the only instance of his jealousy.
Emotional withholding – The fact that Edward and Bella are supposed to share this incredible, transcendent relationship is undermined by the fact that rather than discuss his fears and uncertainties, Edward chooses to leave Bella at the beginning of New Moon. While it’s not a crime to end a relationship, the fact that Edward chose to do so in such a cruel and unusual manner instead of explaining his feelings and emotions on the subject is pretty abusive.
Lack of intimacy – The intimacy issue is a trickier when it comes to Edward and Bella. First, in terms of physical intimacy: the fact that Edward controls every single chaste little kiss AND withholds sex is incredibly controlling. That he does so supposedly to protect her is negated by the fact that he’s more than willing to sex her up once they’re married, even though she’s still a puny, fragile human (and she does get hurt). Their lack of emotional intimacy (again, with the above point about emotional withholding) is just as damaging (as referenced by Bella’s zombiefied state in New Moon.
Sexual coercion – Again, Edward controls every aspect of their sexual lives, against Bella’s will and in fact he demeans and treats her like a child when she attempts to sex him.
Broken promises – at the end of Twilight, Edward promises to stay with Bella no matter what. Yet at the beginning of New Moon, he massively overreacts to the supposed threat of danger and decides to break that promise, rendering Bella suicidal. Maybe this isn’t traditionally abusive, but it’s unnecessarily damaging.
Control games and power plays – All the above points serve the idea that Edward’s prevailing character (served by his jealousy) is controlling. And I don’t care how ‘powerful’ and ‘omniscient’ and ‘old and wise’ Edward is, when you’re in a romantic relationship with someone one partner cannot be completely dominating and the other submissive (unless it’s a BDSM relationship, but that’s another subject entirely). It simply isn’t healthy, particularly when it’s supposed to be this ‘great love of all the ages’ and representative of an equal partnership.
Let me just say this once to make it clear: intentions (good or bad) do not matter. It’s an instance of the classic phrase acta non verba, or “actions, not words.” It doesn’t matter if I tell you “I love you so much!” if I immediately follow that statement by trying to kill you. It doesn’t matter if I honestly DO love you and I STILL try to kill you; the action of attempted homicide still stands (and I’ll be charged with that) regardless of how I feel about it. If I kill someone and then say “I made a mistake” or “I loved him/her”, the fact that I feel bad about it in retrospect does not change the irreversible fact that I did, in fact, kill someone.
So if Edward removes the engine from Bella’s truck and then replaces it later, the fact that he replaces it later is irrelevant to the issue at hand; the fact that he performed the abusive act in the first place. I don’t care if he felt bad about it or changed his mind; he still performed the act to begin with.
If Edward only does anything “in order to protect Bella”, it’s again an instance of the irrelevance of intentions. Simply put, he doesn’t have the right to upend another person’s life or to attempt to control what that person does, even if he cares about them. It is not my roommate’s place to lock me in our room to prevent me from going out and getting trashed, even if she thinks she’s doing it to “protect me” or “because she cares about me.” Likewise, it isn’t Edward’s right to decide who Bella sees, when she sees him, where she sees him, and for how long. Just because he decided NOT to kidnap Bella for the weekend a second time doesn’t make the fact that he kidnapped her for a weekend for the first time moot.
Basically, intentions don’t matter. Actions matter. Even if Edward changes his mind or feels bad about it, that doesn’t erase the fact that he performed the act in the first place. If he feels bad about it, it doesn’t mean that his character isn’t an abusive one; you don’t judge a character based on the person he is by the end of the novel (or series); rather, you judge them (and form an understanding of them) by incorporating EVERYTHING you learn about them throughout the series. So while Edward DOES change and DOES make different decisions, his good decisions don’t negate the bad ones. He performs an abusive act = he is abusive, even if he feels bad about it. Capisce?
Anti: “[x] doesn’t make sense”
For the sake of argument, you may replace “x” with the lack of realism (in terms of plot and setting and especially the various relationships), the sparkly issue, the biology issue, contradictions and hypocrisies, the abandonment of traditional vampire lore, etc.
The response to this is either
a) an attempt to prove that [x] makes sense using a minutiae of plot point and semantics;
b) “It’s fantasy; it doesn’t have to be realistic!”
Since point a varies from debate-to-debate, I’ll stick with point b for the time being.
“It’s fantasy; it doesn’t have to be realistic” is so completely and utterly wrong on so many levels that I almost don’t know where to begin.
Let’s start with definitions.
“Fantasy” from Wikipedia:
The identifying traits of fantasy are the inclusion of fantastic elements in a self-coherent (internally consistent) setting. Within such a structure, any location of the fantastical element is possible: it may be hidden in, or leak into the apparently real world setting, it may draw the characters into a world with such elements, or it may occur entirely in a fantasy world setting, where such elements are part of the world.
Within a given work, the elements must not only obey rules, but for plot reasons, must also contain limits to allow both the heroes and the villains means to fight; magical elements must come with prices, or the story would become unstructured.
American fantasy, starting with the stories chosen by John W. Campbell, Jr. for the magazine Unknown, is often characterized by internal logic. That is, the events in the story are impossible, but follow "laws" of magic, and have a setting that is internally consistent.
“Realistic” from Merriam-Webster:
3: the theory or practice of fidelity in art and literature to nature or to real life and to accurate representation without idealization
In short, just because something is fantasy does not mean it is unrealistic. The object of writers is to make you believe the story they are telling; whether that story is a crime drama or Lord of the Rings is irrelevant. The point is that the author tries to immerse its reader so fully into the story that not only does the reader understand the complexities of the world they have created (like Trekkies translating the Bible into Klingon, for example) but can use the imagination to "believe" that that world exists. Realism does not mean that everything is exactly how it is in the real world; it means that the media (the book, the movie, the play) is so well-crafted that it seems real. Good writers make their readers believe.
How does the writer do this?
1) Create characters to whom readers can relate; characters who are complex and representative of three-dimensional people (and have complex, three-dimensional relationships);
(Since no one is perfect, Edward fails this test *g*)
2) Create a world with rules (and don't contradict those rules);
3) Use reason and logic to determine the course of plot and character arc.
Basically, giving "it's fantasy" as an argument against the total lack of realism in Edward and Bella's one twu luv-ness is just wrong. A good fantasy can utilize the idea of soulmates (like Richard and Kahlan in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series) while still taking time to develop the relationship and the characters in a believable fashion. Attraction =/= everlasting love. Everlasting love happens when you get two people who understand, respect, and enjoy the other in terms of personality and character. Edward's hotness and Bella's delicious blood do not a soulmate make. And justifying the pitiful relationship development with "it's fantasy" is only a crude cop-out reserved for those with no understanding of good storytelling.
Anti: "The books are sexist and even misogynistic at times."
Generally, the antis argue the following points:
- plays the weak 'damsel in distress' role;
- Bella is weak-willed morally (wants to have sex but Edward, the good, upstanding, moral man wants to wait until marriage);
- Bella has no ambitions outside of Edward (doesn't want to go to college);
- Bella cooks and cleans for her father
- Bella forgives Edward instantly for the New Moon fiasco ("forgive your man no matter what")
2. The other females are inferior to the male characters across the board.
- The "shallow" friends (Jessica, Angela, etc.) are not given as much screen time as Mike, let's say, and Bella writes them off as basically Barbie dolls.
- Bella's mom is flighty and inconsistent whereas her father is solid, dependable, caring.
- Rosalie had shallow ambitions as a human, was a damsel in distress, and has a victimized backstory as opposed to say, Jasper, who was kickass.
- Esme does nothing.
3. The werewolves
- They're shocked when Leah becomes a werewolf, but instead of becoming kickass like the rest of them she's a "burden" and a "harpy" because of Sam.
- Imprinting. The women get no say.
I'd call these the three main points that are argued, with the possibility of several more variations and much more support.
What the Twilight defense usually says in response to these arguments is the following.
1. "Bella doesn't mind", "Bella knows that Edward loves her", "Bella offers to cook and clean", "Bella DOES have ambition--marrying Edward"
2. "But Alice is strong, so therefore the books aren't sexist"
3. "They're just surprised that Leah is a werewolf, and wouldn't you be mad at Sam if you were her? That's not sexist!", "Imprinting is romantic, like soul-mates"
I mentioned the trend that I've noticed in the pro-Twilight versus anti-Twilight debates, that the Antis tend to argue in terms of the conceptual while most of the Twilight fans I’ve come across attempt to use semantics rather than philosophical rebuttals. The sexism debate is a perfect example of that.
Let's look at the "Bella doesn't mind" and "Bella offers to cook and clean" arguments.
"Bella doesn't mind"
The point that the books are sexist is not whether or not BELLA thinks they're sexist; the closest she gets to thinking about feminism is her essay on whether Shakespeare is misogynistic or not. It doesn't matter if Bella likes playing the damsel in distress or if Bella appreciates Edward telling her what to do--rather, what matters is the essential message of the book: the subtext, theme, and suggestions.
Even if Bella excuses Edward or Jacob's bad behavior, it doesn't mean that a) the readers should forget it or b) that the behavior isn't sexist. Who cares what Bella thinks? Meyer gives us ~1500 pages full of Bella's whiny rambling and TELLS us that it's not sexist or that it's not misogynistic, but what is SHOWN contradicts that.
In brief, even if it doesn't occur to Bella to say, "Hey! I want some gender equality!" or "Hey! I don't need some sparkly vampire to save me!" or "Charlie, cook your own food, you've been doing it yourself for fifteen years!", it doesn't mean that the sexism doesn't exist. In fact, the idea that "Bella doesn't mind" actually becomes an argument for the Anti-Twilight side--Meyer uses her main character to basically shout out from the rooftops that sexism isn't a big deal. Bella SHOULD mind, especially if she's supposed to be a strong, smart, independent female character.
It's the ACTIONS, not the intentions that matter. Bella does offer to cook and clean for Charlie, but again I say who cares what Bella thinks? Why couldn't she have offered to mow the lawn or fix the roof instead of pigeon-holing herself into the traditional female role? The part the matters is the fact that it's the female who performs the "female" duties as though it's expected of her. It's the subtext which tells the reader "this is what good, dutiful daughters do" that is the problem, NOT how Bella feels about it.
"But Alice is strong, so therefore the books aren't sexist"
I can't tell you how much I hate this argument. In short, 1 sort-of strong female character does not cancel out an entire book's worth of weak, pathetic female characters. Not only that, but Alice is only a strong character when compared to Bella or Jessica--if you pitted her against Buffy or Willow or Drusilla or Hermione Granger or Claudia (from IWTV (Anne Rice)), how do you honestly think she'd fare? Answer: not well. Just because 1 crappy female character is lightyears better than the rest of your crappy female characters does not make her a strong character independently. Even within the Twilight universe, how would she do if you put her up against Edward or Jacob (he'd rip her apart; she wouldn't be able to foresee his moves) or Jasper?
"But she can see the future!" is not an argument for her strength as a female character. In comparison to Edward and Jasper's gifts, hers is by far the most inconsistent and the most limited--for example, her visions don't always come true and she's unable to "see" the werewolves whereas Edward's gift does not err and he can read the werewolves' minds. Why is the female vampire's gift so inferior to the males'? Why is hers inconsistent (females=unreliable?) whereas Edward's and Jasper's are completely reliable?
Yes, Meyer tells us that Alice is a strong character (she can fight, she's physically strong), but other than that what do we really know of her? Instead of giving her some meaty interests like, I don't know, science or literature or art or history, Meyer turns her into a vampire version of the "shallow Barbies" whom Bella detests. She's 100 years old and Alice still likes playing dress-up and going shopping and planning parties? Why not give her some REAL qualities rather than the vapid and uninteresting activities of the boring, stereotypical fifteen year old girl?
So, just because Alice is a cut above the rest does not make her a good character. Just because she's stronger than the rest of the female characters does not make her a strong character. Just because she's more powerful than the rest of the female characters does not make her powerful. It's all relative, and if you judge Alice on her own merits she does not make the cut as a strong female character.
"They're just surprised that Leah is a werewolf, and wouldn't you ]be mad at Sam if you were her? That's not sexist!" and "Imprinting is romantic, like soul-mates"
I think the naked fact that Leah turned into a werewolf is great. It really interested me. The problem is how Meyer handled it. Instead of Leah becoming a functioning, useful, and integral part of the pack she becomes a nuisance and drives the pack crazy. Why? Because she's broken-hearted. So what does this say? A) allow your heartbreak to completely take over your life and make you a vindictive harpy bitch and B) your happiness is dependent on your love life. Why is it that Jacob gets sympathy for his heartbreak but Leah is just considered an annoyance? Certainly Sam's betrayal of Leah was worse than Bella's rejection of Jacob (though that's a topic for another day). The fact that Bella, who just lived through a terrible experience (New Moon) is unsympathetic to Leah is just another example of the rampant sexism in the books. Why does the only possibility for a strong female character have to be made into a petty and vindictive annoyance?
Concerning imprinting. It is not romantic. It completely removes the power of the female half of the relationship--rather than build a relationship on mutual interests, trust, and personality, the male imprints on the female and it's OMG! TRUE LOVE FOREVER! If you're going to use the idea of imprinting, a) why does it have to be romantic and b) why can't it be mutual? More interesting to me would be a male werewolf imprinting on another male--not necessarily in a romantic sense, though that would be interesting as well--to emphasize the "two halves of one soul" bit. Instead, we get the creepy Quil-imprints-on-a-two year old. Granted, it's not sexual or romantic but as Jacob explains it, Claire will practically be raised to become Quil's lover. Where's her free will? Where's her right to choose when she's able? Meyer thought it was a funny, shocking way to show how unpredictable imprinting was, but instead the reader gets the impression of the female having no chance at any point to make a decision her herself, now or in the future, and a solidification of the typical vanilla heterosexual relationship that is rampant in the series.
Conclusion? The books are sexist.
Anti: “Twilight has either no plot or a very, very tiny one”
Fangirl: “Bella and Edward’s love story is the plot” and “James trying to kill Bella is the plot”
As you’re all no doubt beginning to realize, I really love throwing definitions into the mix.
In literature, a plot is all the events in a story particularly rendered towards the achievement of some particular artistic or emotional effect. In other words, it's what mostly happened in the story or novel or what the story's general theme is based on, such as the mood, characters, setting, and conflicts occurring in a story.
The concept of plot and the associated concept of plot construction, also called emplotment, has developed considerably since Aristotle made these insightful observations. The episodic narrative tradition which Aristotle indicates has systematically been subverted over the intervening years, to the extent that the concept of beginning, middle, end are merely regarded as a conventional device when no other is at hand.
Plot is a tricky subject, particularly in literature. For this reason, I apologize in advance for the rambling and confusion that is sure to follow throughout this post.
Problems arise when one attempts to draw up a definition of plot; either the definition becomes too open (calling “everything” plot, i.e. the characters and their arcs, the events in the story, the theme etc.) or narrow (calling only literal benchmark events plot, i.e. 1. Bella comes to Forks, 2. Bella meets Edward, 3. Bella and Edward fall in love (debatable)).
With Twilight, there come problems with either definition, so to be fair (since the average Twilight fan admits that in terms of linear plot events, Twilight is pretty lacking) let’s look at the open definition in particular.
“Character arc and development”
Let’s consider characters. There is a complete lack of character development in the book, thus removing the idea of character arc as part of plot. Bella does not change in any essential way from page 1 of the book to page 400 (or however many pages there are) aside from meeting and “falling in love” with Edward. She is the same character. Meyer does not reveal that she becomes more or less trusting, more or less prone to anger, more or less kind, more or less world-wise, or any other possible changes for other characteristics. At the beginning of the book, she worries about her mother. At the end, the fact that she worries about her mother is the crux of the events-based “plot” that forms the dubious climax of the book.
Neither does Edward experience any great transformation as a character aside from his relationship with Bella. As a vampire, he is naturally unchanging, sort of preserved forever as a 17 year old boy, and Meyer does nothing to change this perception. He is presented as something of a loner, and that is the only characteristic to change simply by virtue of the love story. Aside from that, there IS no character to change in the first place; Edward, like Bella, is very much a blank slate on which the reader is intended to imprint themselves in order to live the story through Bella’s shoes and experience their personal vision of the “perfect man” with Edward as the vessel.
Meyer gives token “characteristics” to both characters (Bella is clumsy, Edward plays piano) but neither of these are true intrinsic traits which define the characters’ actions, wishes, and intentions. Rather, Meyer gives us traits which are focused outwardly rather than personal to each character, such as Edward’s jealousy over Bella’s friendship with Jacob. Given that he had no one to be jealous of in the past, this is not so much a character trait as it is an after-thought, a reactionary plot device to advance what little conflict there is in the series. Everything Edward focuses on and thinks about surrounds Bella; this is not a character which represents a three-dimensional person so much as the perfect (and non-existent) fantasy man. For this reason, Edward HAS no character of his own except for that which applies to Bella. Thus, the plot in terms of character arc is completely absent because there is nothing within Edward to change in the first place.
An argument against this might say…
“But the point is that Edward wasn’t truly “alive” until he met Bella, so his character arc happens when he meets Bella”
Wanting to kill her one day and then deciding that he can’t live without her the next does not a character arc make. And the idea that he wasn’t truly “alive” before Bella only reinforces the idea that Edward is just a blank slate; no real person (or even half of a person) simply exists for 100 years as a transient being with no personal characteristics and quirks and traits (talking old-fashioned does NOT count). Going from a “nothing” character to a one chock full of reactionary traits (e.g. wants to protect Bella) is not a character arc nor is it character development.
“But Edward is caring, loving, smart, awesome, sweet, sexy, psychic, hot, etc. etc., so yes he DOES have personality”
Most of those supposed characteristics are subjective in the minds of readers (“sexy”, “hot” – just because Meyer says so doesn’t make it true) and some of them are flat-out contradicted by the text (“caring”, “loving” – go read the ‘Edward is abusive’ thread).
Even if those WERE characteristics, they undergo no important changes or development throughout the series, so they’re irrelevant to the plot (which is the discussion at hand).
Most Twilight fans say that the “theme” of Twilight is supposed to be the “love” story of Bella and Edward. While this is obviously a woeful ignorance of what theme means, it does provide an interesting opportunity for me to really explore the merits of this supposed love story (see the upcoming Example 5: “Bella and Edward are in lust, not love”).
Let’s preface this argument with some words from Stephenie Meyer:
“Unintentional and rubbish [In answer to the question if vampires represent Satan]. No offense to your friend. It is possible to read TOO deep into a book. They're just vampires”
It’s interesting to me that Meyer calls an attempt at the basic identification of a metaphor “reading too deeply” particularly because I’ve heard that same argument many times from Twilight fans especially in the sexism and abuse discussions. It’s a popular argument (apparently learned from Meyer herself) to say that because the sexism/abuse was unintended, that it therefore doesn’t exist. This is obviously silly (and an argument I’ve covered before) so I won’t get into that too much except to say that the actions characters take (and in Bella’s case, her thoughts (or lack thereof)) DO send a message (the theme). In Twilight’s case, that message is almost certainly unintentional but it is projected quite clearly nonetheless; the message of sexism and abuse being acceptable.
Since Meyer herself argues that the books are NOT sexist and that the notion of Edward acting abusive is “hurtful” to her, it’s fair to say that she did not intend for that theme.
So what theme, if any, did she intend to portray?
I can’t think of one, and neither can the Twilight fans I’ve asked that question. They all say that “it’s just a love story.” While I disagree with them, I think it’s safe to say that the unintended theme (sexism is a-okay) and the intended “it’s just a love story” are debates for another day. For now, let’s just say that Twilight has a deadbeat theme and therefore, no theme contributes to the plot.
Since characterization and theme have been chopped down at the knees, I must turn my attention to the more narrow view of plot which is the basic step-by-step unfolding of events.
1. Bella moves to Forks.
2. Bella meets Edward.
3. Bella and Edward “fall in love” (given that this happens in about two weeks I really don’t know if it counts, but I’m giving Twilight the benefit of the doubt)
4. James comes after Bella.
5. James bites the dust (couldn’t resist, sorry).
Plot is incontrovertibly tied with conflict and that is another reason the antis argue that Twilight has no plot. Meyer supposedly used Pride and Prejudice as inspiration for Twilight, but the actual conflict of Bella and Edward getting together was resolved in a few pages; Bella whines about Edward shooting death glares at her, Edward disappears for a week, Edward comes back and starts following her around like a puppy dog.
Twilight fans argue that Bella trying to figure out what Edward was is another conflict. Given that the readers are told on the inside of the dust jacket that Edward’s a vampire, not only is this NOT a conflict for them, it’s more an annoyance. And once Bella finds out what he is, rather than being disgusted or afraid (a more likely response and one that could have led to some true conflict with Edward trying to win her trust or something), she is totally fine with it… that’s some pretty anticlimactic conflict resolution, if you ask me.
Then James comes. Most antis accept the James-wanting-a-taste-of-Bella as the main conflict of the book, yet it comes into play around 2/3 of the way through the book and reads like it was an afterthought, a conflict that Meyer tacked on once she realized that the book had no plot. It’s resolved easily enough considering the length of the book as a whole, and Bella escapes with a broken bone or two and no doubts at all about her relationship with a the guy of the same species as the guy who just hunted her down and nearly killed her. Whatever.
By my definition, Twilight has no plot. Events happen, sure, but they aren’t accompanied with and don’t effect change in character development, thematic development, and conflict. Instead, Twilight is 400+ pages of whiny rambling and immature gushing over the elusive perfection that is Edward Cullen, a tabula rasa of a character and no more real than a three-legged gnome casting love spells on unsuspecting Elvish citizenry.
Anti: “Bella and Edward are in lust, not love”
Fangirl: “They say they love each other all the time” and “Bella and Edward are soul-mates” and “Bella and Edward can’t live without each other” and “Bella and Edward are perfect for each other”
As always, let us begin with definitions:
noun: 2: usu. intense or unbridled sexual desire : lasciviousness
3 a: an intense longing : craving <a lust to succeed>
Transitive verb: to have an intense desire or need : crave; specifically : to have a sexual urge
Infatuation is the state of being completely carried away by unreasoned passion or love; addictive love. Infatuation usually occurs at the beginning of a relationship. It is characterized by urgency, intensity, desire, and/or anxiety, in which there is an extreme absorption in another. It is traditionally associated with youth.
Bella tells us, Edward tells us, and Meyer sure as hell tells us that Bella and Edward have true love. They are soul mates. Bella’s lifeblood—her very essence—sings to Edward’s soul.
The best part is that this incredible true love (“Better than Elizabeth and Darcy,” Meyer claims, “better than ‘evil’ Heathcliff and selfish Catherine!”) happens within the first five seconds of meeting each other. Amazing, I know—who’d have thought that people could realize their love for all eternity with one glance at the other’s stunning, gorgeous, sparkling mug?
Well, I don’t. And the antis don’t. And all the evidence in the series points to, “No, B & E are not in love.” Lust? Given by the amount of times Bella tries to corrupt Edward’s delicate Victorian sensibilities by employing her lascivious feminine wiles, I’d say that’s a hell-fucking-yes. Infatuation? Every other word is “ZOMG, Edward is so hawt!” and “I lurrrvveee him!” So yeah, the word is infatuation.
The fact is, there is no indication anywhere in the series that Edward and Bella are compatible mates. They don’t ever have conversations (aside from how wonderful the other is and/or “I’m dangerous, stay away!”), they don’t ever do anything together (what’s wrong with seeing a movie or reading a book together? They watch Romeo and Juliet in the first book but that was a thinly-disguised plot device for the express purpose of comparing them to R&J [ironically apt, given that R&J were in lust as well] and for the gag-worthy suckfest of quoting the lines at each other).
Of course, it’s not their fault that they aren’t compatible—it’s the fact that there’s nothing to be compatible with. Bella and Edward are empty tabulae rasae and as much as Meyer wants us to believe that they have twu luv, she shoots herself in the foot by not giving them actual personalities. When a character’s only trait is his “hotness”, there really cannot be any basis for a true-to-life relationship and thus we get the lust-fest that is all four books.
Twilight fans disagree with me and will say, “but it’s fantasy, and this is true love!”
The deus ex machina of true love does not simply erase the necessity of character formation and development. True love does not replace the need for relationship building. Meyer attempts to distract the readers from this fact by emphasizing Edward and Bella’s “need” for each other and the supposed reality that they simply can’t live without each other.
On the basis of what, I ask? What is it about Bella that Edward cannot live without, and vice versa?
So in lieu of forming an actual emotional connection, Meyer chooses instead to romanticize suicide. This is potentially my biggest problem with the entire series; the idea that an author writing a young adult series would ever, ever romanticize or gloss over or present suicide as “acceptable” or “understandable” is absolutely unforgivable.
I don’t care if Bella wasn’t “actually” trying to commit suicide when she jumped off the cliff, it was a suicidal act by virtue of the fact that she was willing to potentially end her life just to hear Edward’s voice again. And don’t even get me started on the Edward-goes-to-Volterra bit.
In brief, it is not love when the two characters’ relationship is based only on looks and lust. It is sure as hell not “true love” because the participants are willing to kill themselves rather than face a future without the other. At best, it’s dangerous infatuation and at worst it’s a horrifically unhealthy and abusive relationship.
Anti: “Bella is an idiot”, “Bella is superficial” (aka Meyer tells and doesn’t show)
Fangirl: “No, she gets good grades and likes to read”, “Bella hates superficial people, she’s really deep and stuff”
Unfortunately this is not an argument where I can use definitions effectively, but for the sake of good humor let me present just one:
1 usually offensive : a person affected with extreme mental retardation
2: a foolish or stupid person
Now that that’s taken care of, let’s move on to the subject at hand. The “Bella is an idiot” argument is a perfect example of the Show, not Tell problem for the Twilight books. Let me explain:
It’s fine for an author to say “[character x] holds a grudge” as part of that character’s development if the author backs up his or her statement with examples in the text of that character holding a grudge, i.e. refusing to forgive a friend for borrowing clothes without asking, etc., etc. That’s the “show” part of it; the author, through his or her use of dialogue or action or theme, allows the reader to infer an understanding of the character themselves rather than being led along by the author like a kindergarten teacher leading a line of children to class. It forces the reader to come to his or her own conclusions, to interact with the story at hand rather than being force fed information.
But it can be tricky, and bad writers will often do one or both of the following:
1. Tell [x], but not show [x].
2. Tell [x], and show [y].
The latter is worse and it’s the sin of which Meyer is guilty [s]several fucking million times[/s]. She constantly contradicts herself, and the “Bella is an idiot” argument is a perfect example.
Imagine if J.K. Rowling had told us that Harry Potter had a savior complex, and then went on to make him say, “Forget Ginny Weasley. I’m not going down to the Chamber of Secrets!” or “Screw you, Gabrielle! It’s Fleur’s job to save you, not mine!” or “Pffft, Voldemort’s there? Sirius can save himself!” (Side-note: *cries*) I, for one, would have had a big problem with that and I’d wager that Harry wouldn’t be near the popular icon he is had Rowling engaged in such shoddy writing.
So let’s look at Bella. What makes Bella smart?
Well, we’re told that she likes to read, and the particular books/plays mentioned are: “Romeo & Juliet”, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and so on.
Do we EVER see her read anything else? Do she ever give cute little literary allusions? I read a lot (I’m an English major, I have to) and the books I’ve read constantly pop up in my conversations, in my analysis of any given situation (when I watch TV, see a movie, read a book, EVERYTHING), and they simply influence my life in general. Apparently not so in Bella’s case; for all her rumored book-lover’s habits, she never makes a single reference to, say, The Picture of Dorian Gray when describing Edward’s beauty or vampirism (which would have been interesting!), nor a “Wow, Jane freaks me out as much as Claudia did in Interview With the Vampire”, nor a “Is Harry Potter real, then?” when she finds out about Edward &co. being vampires. We never see her read a book outside of the ones mentioned (which Meyer includes solely to draw shitty comparisons and introduce awful interpretations), we never see her discuss books with Edward (outside of quoting Shakespeare and trading passages of Wuthering Heights, which again was only for Meyer’s purposes), and aside from “English class will be easy since I read all those books in my other class already”, she never shows any interest in her studies (and in fact doesn't even seem to grasp how college is important).
Okay, so Meyer says she likes to read. Where does she show this? Answer: nowhere.
Perhaps more importantly, several of Bella’s actions indicate that she is, in fact, not the brightest bulb in the box. Let’s list some of her stupid actions:
1. She walks off into a dark alley where she might get raped. WTF.
2. She doesn’t tell Edward or any of the centuries-old, experienced vampires about James’ message, deciding to handle it herself instead (and nearly getting herself killed).
3. She gets lost in the woods (granted, emotional issues aside) within sight of her own home.
4. She repeatedly puts herself (and her life) in danger to hear a voice in her head.
5. Despite writing an essay on Shakespeare being misogynistic, she does not recognize at all the sexist and abusive elements in her own relationships.
So despite Meyer telling us that Bella is a special snowflake in the neurons-and-synapses department, in reality she’s a pretty foolish character, though it’s not just this area in which the author shows and tells something different. In fact, the entire series is contradiction after contradiction after contradiction. Some quick examples:
1. Meyer tells us that Bella “knows herself”, yet it takes Jacob sexually assaulting her for her to realize that she’s love with him (after months of leading him along like a horrible bitch).
2. Meyer tells us that Bella is “independent”, yet she devolves into a zombie for months on end when precious Edward leaves her (and relies on Jacob for any semblance of happiness thereafter).
3. Bella says that she hates all the superficial girls at school, yet her own relationship is based on the fact that Edward is a shiny, marble Adonis rather than, you know, he has a great personality.
So, where does this leave us?
Oh, right. Bella is an idiot (but Meyer more so).
Anti: “Imprinting is sick, sexist, and promotes pedophilia”
Fan: “Imprinting isn’t sexual”, “Imprinting’s not sexist because it’s equally degrading”
At best, imprinting is a second-rate deus ex machina to make coupling easier for Meyer by taking away the necessity for character and relationship development. Basically, love-at-first-sight by any other name still smells not-quite-sweet. Now, had Meyer simply gone ahead with love at first sight rather than the imprinting concept, I doubt we’d be discussing it right now. Rather, I’d be arguing how lame love at first sight is.
But since Meyer chose imprinting and all its dangly bits, let’s take a look at it.
The male werewolves. It isn’t known whether or not Leah can imprint, though she complains in Breaking Dawn that she’s “twenty years old and menopausal”, indicating that she can’t procreate anyway, thus rendering the function of imprinting useless (more on that later).
Quil imprinted on Claire, a two year-old.
Jacob imprinted on Nessie, an infant.
What is the purpose of imprinting?
We learn over the course of the series that the purpose of imprinting and why normal folk don’t do it is to insure that the werewolf gene (or shape-shifting gene) is passed on. Think of it like an evolutionary adaptation to insure the procreation of one’s species—much the same as certain types of frogs modulating the pitch and frequency of their mating calls in order to attract a female of their exact species. Imprinting is not to make sure that the werewolves get true love. It’s not to make sure that the werewolves have a barefoot woman in the kitchen to make them sandwiches. The sole reason is for reproduction. That’s it. No other reason.
“Imprinting is sick, sexist, and promotes pedophilia”
So if imprinting’s sole purpose is for reproduction, then it is inherently sexual. Saying it’s not sexual is like saying a dude putting his penis in a girl’s vag isn’t sexual. Reproduction = sexual.
To get out of the squick factor with Quil imprinting on Claire and Jacob imprinting on Nessie, Meyer quickly defends it by saying that the imprinter will be “whatever is needed, whether that’s a brother or uncle or father.”
And there go my squick alarms, blaring away like the siren of a police cruiser full of pedophiles.
One of the problems is that there is an understood future sexual relationship (by virtue of the imprinting) at stake. So the idea of the werewolf taking a fraternal or paternal role in the life of the child leads directly to the concept of child grooming, defined below:
The deliberate actions taken by an adult to form a trusting relationship with a child, with the intent of later having sexual contact is known as child grooming. The act of grooming a child sexually may include activities that are legal in and of themselves, but later lead to sexual contact. Typically, this is done to gain the child's trust as well as the trust of those responsible for the child's well-being.
Sound familiar? That’s because that describes the exact actions being taken by Quil and, to a lesser extent Jacob (given that Nessie is supposedly super-mature and super in general) in their relationships with Claire and Nessie respectively.
Certainly Quil doesn’t want to hurt Claire, but he’s taking an authoritative role in her life and for her to grow up with Uncle Quil or Brother Quil with the expectation of a sexual relationship completely sabotages her rights and her personal ability to refuse him. That is, both Quil and the rest of the tribe expect her to engage in a relationship with him and she has been brought up with the understanding that Quil will eventually become Lover Quil. How is she supposed to refuse him when he’s not only been an authority figure all her life but it’s expected by him and the rest of her family and friends that they live happily ever after (and make lots of puppies)? That’s inexcusable and sick, and as I already established, there can be no imprinting without reproduction. This means that Quil and Claire’s relationship can never be simply platonic and that’s why it’s pedophilic.
Not to mention that it’s also sexist. It puts all the power of the relationship into Quil’s hands rather than Claire’s. Sure, Quil didn’t choose to imprint—it was forced upon him—but he does have the ability to mold and shape his and Claire’s relationship over a period of at least 16 years while Claire is given no options of her own. This goes for every other female who has been imprinted upon… Where is their right to choose? If they’re a member of the tribe, then they’re expected to just fall in line with whatever boy has designs on them, because, as Meyer says, it’s supposedly “hard to resist that level of devotion.”
Now, a popular argument that the Twilight fans use is this: “Imprinting is degrading to both males and females equally, therefore it’s not sexist.” While they do make a good point about imprinting and the males, their logic is flawed. No, the males don’t have a right to choose either—they become groveling, sniveling love slaves with no options outside of the person they choose, but the difference is that they have feelings for the person. If we take imprinting at face value, then they’ve found their soul-mate and they have no doubts, no concerns, and no regrets about it. The problem is that it’s not reciprocal. The females are not guaranteed feelings equal to the male, yet they’re still expected to hop between the sheets with them. Had Meyer left it as a one-way, unrequited love process, then it wouldn’t have been as sexist (it would have put power in the hands the female and degraded the male… not a good thing, either). But because she insinuates that the females are supposed to love the male back, then it becomes a problem.
Imprinting (and werewolf reproduction) is sexist in another way as well, specifically for Leah. Now, this is either a giant misunderstanding or a blatant contradiction (I’m inclined to think the latter, considering Meyer’s dubious track record), but in Breaking Dawn, Meyer insinuates that Leah is infertile. WTF? Evolutionarily speaking, why on earth would a female werewolf become infertile while the males get to keep their little swimmers? (Same question to the vampires, actually) So if imprinting happens to insure reproduction, why the hell would werewolf-ism ever make the person infertile? There’s zero reason for it evolutionarily (it goes counter to evolution theory, period) and biologically speaking, if the males can keep creating sperm with no problem, then it makes zero—ZERO!—sense for Leah’s eggs (which she was born with) to suddenly lose their viability. After all, if imprinting is there to make sure that werewolf puppies are running around, then it implies that not only are the werewolves capable of reproduction but that it’s preferred.
But no… Meyer decides to take away Leah’s fertility, thus setting her apart from a) the other women on the reservation and b) the other werewolves and c) taking away her opportunity to imprint (if she’s infertile, she won’t imprint because the potential for procreation has been lost). Now, does the male werewolves’ sperm count reduce more quickly than humans’ (thus reducing their viability) because of their werewolfiness? Is that another reason for imprinting, to make sure that they get down-n-dirty quick enough so that they’re not shooting blanks?
The answer to that is no. If Quil can imprint on a two year-old and have to wait a minimum to 16 years before reproduction, then it’s safe to say that he’s not losing any viability any time soon. Likewise, it’s stated that werewolves, as long as they phase regularly, will never age.
So why is Leah aging (going through menopause/losing her fertility)? Why does the woman get the shaft and the males get to prance around happily with no ill effects (rather, they get killer bods and a never-ending supply of viable sperm). Why do the males get their happy ending (by way of imprinting; no pun intended) and Leah is denied hers?
The only possible reason is that she’s a woman and Meyer wanted to give her some extra angst (besides having her heart broken, coincidentally also due to imprinting). By taking away her fertility, Meyer implies that procreation and baby-making are the most important things to her simply by virtue of her having two X chromosomes. Sexist? I should say so.
Imprinting in five words: sick, gross, eww, *shudder*, SEXIST!, and awkward.
Good job, Meyer. Really nice work.
Anti: “The Twilight books send bad messages, e.g. sexism, abuse are ‘okay’”
Fan: “So what?”
- “Other books have sexism too, like Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, the ‘classics’—are you going to ban those as well??”
- “Meyer uses old-fashioned concepts, what’s it to you?”
- “Not every viewpoint needs to be represented, you know [e.g. feminism]”
- “Twilight is based off of older literature, so it’s not Meyer’s responsibility to cater to modern philosophy”
This is a bit of a convoluted argument but I’m going to ask you do to your best to stay with me here. I’ve already discussed at length the abuse, sexism, imprinting, etc. etc. so for the purposes of this argument, we’re going to go with the assumption that the fan has accepted—at least to a degree—the existence, if not the ramifications, of the bad points of the Twilight series. This argument (“Why don’t you ban everything that’s anti-feminist, then?”) is usually a last-ditch, “I really can’t argue with you using the text” point and while it can be cleverly disguised and sometimes even a bit persuasive, its logic is inherently flawed.
Fans love to bring Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice into the mix; usually because Meyer herself introduces those two novels in particular as a kind of warped source material and they think it gives credence to their argument.
It doesn’t (but more on that later).
I mentioned it in the sexism argument, but I’m going to repeat it here. I don’t have an inherent problem with an author portraying abuse or sexism or murder or rape in a novel. What I DO have a problem with is when those issues are not addressed. For example, I wrote that the biggest reason that the books are sexist is because Bella herself (nor any of the other characters, but that’s beside the point given that Bella is the narrator) doesn’t notice. The idea of sexism or abuse never even enters her mind in the slightest.
“So it’s not a big deal, then!” the fans like to cry. “If it were, Bella would be mad!”
No. The fact that Bella doesn’t notice is exactly the problem. It means that a) Meyer doesn’t realize what’s she’s writing and trying to pass off as “perfect” or b) Meyer intends it and actually does hold sexist (etc., etc.) views as “perfect” or “ideal”. Either way, it means that Meyer is calling something “perfect” when it most certainly is not—thus idealizing abusive relationships, rampant sexism, justifying suicide, etc.
I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and say that most likely, Meyer simply doesn’t realize it. If she did, it wouldn’t be nearly as “perfect” as she likes to think it is—where’s the romance in Bella saying, “Screw you, Edward, I’ll do/see/hang out with what-/whoever I want” or “I’m going to call the police if you keep stalking me!”.
Let’s draw a comparison. Hey, look, there’s my copy of Pride and Prejudice. Perfect—written between 1796 and 1797 and published in 1813, it qualifies as one of the “old” books on which the Twilight series is supposedly based. Many fans like to say, “Well, there’s sexism in P&P, do you hate that book too?”
Remember how I said that Meyer doesn’t address the issues of sexism, etc. in the books? Well, yeah, Austen does do that. In fact, Austen skillfully and insightfully expresses the times’ inequality of the sexes and presents a harsh social commentary (through the veneer of witty repartee) using the story of strong-willed Elizabeth Bennet and noble Mr. Darcy. The sexism, classism, etc. are some of the cornerstones of the book in that Austen uses her heroine to combat them.
Or, take Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847) and its titular character. Like Elizabeth, Jane is faced with classism, sexism, lack of opportunity, and, like Bella, is faced with dealing with somewhat of a Byronic hero (brooding, dark, secretive, ‘superior’). Like Elizabeth, Jane basically gives a polite and cultured “fuck you!” to her antagonists, and unlike Bella, Jane doesn’t take any crap from Mr. Rochester. In fact, the feminist theme in Jane Eyre is so firm and pervasive that by the end of the book, Jane has completely turned the traditional gender roles on their asses. Together, she and Elizabeth represent two of the strongest female characters in all of literature. Bella? Bella doesn’t even deserve to be on the same bookshelf as them.
“Twilight is based off of older literature, so it’s not Meyer’s responsibility to cater to modern philosophy.”
Continuing with the P&P and Jane Eyre themes, just because a book is “old” doesn’t prevent it from having visionary and modern themes and considering that P&P is supposed to be one of the books on which Twilight is based, I’d say that Meyer does a horrifically piss-poor job of staying true to the its ideas. Rather, Meyer appears to be basing her series off of old IDEAS and old TRADITIONS, which is entirely different from literature. And if that’s the case, then my giving her the benefit of the doubt was unwarranted and she herself holds sexist and anti-feminist views. At that point, there’s no sense in arguing any further.
“Not every viewpoint needs to be represented all the time, you know! (e.g. feminism)”
First, of course that’s true. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t have a problem with a “viewpoint” presented in a work of literature or cinema or theater or whatever. It’s my prerogative to disagree, just like it is Meyer’s prerogative to express whatever ideas she wants, however obsolete and wrong they may be. :D
Second, let me address the argument more specifically. Feminism, in a word, means equality. The idea that the right to equality for all is a “viewpoint” rather than an accepted natural right (go read some John Locke, please.) almost makes this argument not even worth arguing. Imagine if Meyer had included some blatant racism instead of blatant sexism and misogyny. Would you shrug it off so lightly? I doubt it. So why is sexism taken so lightly when it affects the greatest number of people (around 51% of all Americans, actually, so ~150 million in the USA alone)? To reply “so what?” to criticism of sexism in a book demeans women as a whole and sets back equality and feminism a hundred years. And that IS a big deal, and while Meyer has as much right as the next person to spew forth her unmitigated sexist and misogynistic views, I have just as much right to dislike her for it.
Science, pt. 1
Now, I love fantasy. I am completely willing to suspend disbelief about fantastical elements. For example – in Buffy, the vampires should probably not be able to have sex. But they do, and because the topic is never addressed and because it’s well-written, follows-its-own-logic fantasy, I don’t have a problem with it.
But when an author specifically incorporates science into her fantastical story AND GETS IT WRONG (or at least is monumentally stupid about it), that’s when I have a problem. Stephenie Meyer is WAY guilty of this.
My reasoning was, why should the sun burn them? That seemed like a very mystical kind of thing, and my vampires are more science than magic to me (whereas my werewolves are more magic than science).
There you have it, fangirls. That’s why we’re allowed to criticize Meyer for her bad science.
1. Edward's sperm.... Or, why Edward should be infertile.
There are a variety of problems here, so let's go through each of them.
a. "Edward is frozen! His sperm survived!"
Edward has been a vampire for several, several decades. If unused, sperm survive inside the testes for a few days, let's say between 3-7 days. Outside the body, they survive a few hours. Inside the female, they can survive up to three days. Additionally, sperm require a specific temperature to survive; specifically, around 96 degrees. That is why the testes draw up closer to the abdomen for warmth when males are cold ("shrinkage" when swimming, for example) and why they "drop," or extend away from the abdomen, in a hot shower (as the body heats up).
Remember what happens when humans turn into vampires? Their body dies. Their body stops generating heat. All conventional wisdom, therefore, says that Eddie's sperm ought to have died within a few hours of his human death. And although Meyer describes Edward as "icy" and "frozen in time," he isn't actually frozen. He's a corpse. So, the argument that Edward's vampiness preserves his sperm (which, by the way, he didn't ejaculate that sperm for over 100 years...yeah, okay).
But, for the sake of argument, let's say that Edward did have some viable sperm. The, the question is: why was Nessie half vampire. Since vampires don't age or grow or produce body fluids other than venom (...more on that later), Edward's sperm could only have been human. Why was Nessie not fully human, then?
b. "The chromosomes changed! Like in, um, the rest of us body!"
Ah, Meyer's "chromosome" explanation. Haha, good one. More on that later.
But for now, let's make this explanation a simple one. The difference (and why mammals can maek_babiez) between body ("somatic") cells and gametes (ovum, sperm) is that body cells have 23 pairs of chromosomes (=46) and gametes have only 23 chromosomes, period. Further, the ovum's 23 pairs match up to the sperm's 23 pairs. When they fuse, they create a zygote with--wait for it, now--23 pairs of chromosomes, just like somatic cells! Thus, gametes are called haploid cells because they have half the number of chromosomes as somatic cells (diploid cells).
So what does all that basic biology talk matter? Well, here's the thing, in plain speech. Those gametes went through a delicate and complex process (meiosis) to arrive in their current form. There's no way that a vampiric "virus" or whatever could transform them into a viable vamp_sperm without totally fucking them up because they aren't the same as somatic cells. Even if this vamp_virus could somehow alter the genetic code of somatic cells (thereby turning each of Eddy's cells (and therefore, sets of DNA) into vamp cells, that same process would not work for a haploid cell without irreparably damaging it and rendering it useless in terms of babymakin.'
But, for the sake of argument, let's say that somehow Edward's sperm was viable, with its vampness intact (25 singular chromosomes...>eyeroll<). Meyer says that Nessie was born with 24 chromosomes (presumably 24 chromosome pairs). This does not make sense.
I've seen Twilighters use the mule/ninny defense, saying that horses have 64 chromosomes and donkeys have 62 and since some mules has 63, it "works" for vamp/humans and therefore dhampirs as well. Besides the fact that mules getting 63 is a total crapshoot, here are some reasons it doesn't.
Humans have 23 very specific chromosomes.
Vampires (and for the sake of the discussion, let's assume that this is possible) have 25 very specific chromosomes.
Human 23 match with the vampire's first 23 (assuming they are the vampire's original human chromosomes).
Human gamete has 0 left over, Vampire gamete has 2 left over.
Now, presumably, it's those 2 extra chromosomes which give the vampire its vampire traits.
What are those vampire traits?
Well, vampires are humans' predators. They hunt, kill, and gain sustenance from humans. This is NOT the same as the donkey/horse relationship, two animals which are very, very similar genetically - i.e., four-legged mammals, hoofed, living, herbivores, part of the equidae family and the equus genus.
Saying that a human and vampire can cross-breed is like making the argument that tigers and antelopes can cross-breed. One predates upon the other. They have extreme genetic differences. Humans are living, omnivores, mammals, members of the hominidae family and homo class. Vampires are dead, sanguinivorous, asexual, and since while they're possibly a member of the hominidae family, they sure as hell don't qualify for the homo genus (also, because they're not real and based on fantasy, but then again that's the point of this whole discussion - the absurdity that Meyer tried to explain vampires scientifically). Not only that, but they are humans' natural predator (strength, speed, DaZzLe!).
Long story short? THEY DON'T MATCH UP TO HUMANS.
Besides that, even if those two left over chromosomes somehow joined up with each other, it'd probably result in some really fucked-up congenital defects (...they arguably did, but whatevs). They would not result in a perfect little creature like Nessie.
What about Nessie?
> Unless Edward's sperm doubles as Miracle-Gro, Nessie ought to grow very slowly.
> She should also require a more balanced diet, seeing as blood is actually very poor nutritiously and her body wouldn't get the required nutrients and fuel to sustain her metabolism and SuPEr!growth.
> This is also the reason that Bella's gallon of blood as her tasty pregnancy supplement is completely baseless. Blood has very low nutritional value as well as being bad for humans if they ingest too much of it. If anything, Bella ought to have become very sick and starved to death if all she was doing was drinking blood. There's a reason vampire bats have to ingest ridiculous amounts of blood in order to survive.. It's because blood sucks as a food source.
> If she does grow fast, then chances are her extra chromosome or two would really fuck that process up (...like, say, Down's syndrome, aka trisomy 21 [an extra chromosome! Why does that sound familiar?], which causes developmental problems in the brain as well as some physical oddities, like smaller, almond-shaped eyes, protruding tongue, shorter limbs, etc.).
c. "Yeah, but Edward doesn't have sperm! He has venom!"
Meyer has said (and I'm paraphrasing), "there are a lot of things that venom does."
Well, that's true. One of those things is that it gets into the bloodstream, it starts vamping a person. Given the fact that Edward banged (ha. ha. ironic?) Bella hard enough to leave bruises and the fact that she was a virgin... Chances are good that his venom_sperm should have come into contact with torn hymen or, once ejaculated into her uterus, should have been absorbed into the bloodstream. Meaning, Bella would very quickly have experienced a burning sensation inside her body and I really don't want to imagine Edward sucking that venom out in an effort to de-vampify her.
But, for the sake of argument, let's say that the venom somehow passed through her vagina, uterus, and into her fallopian tube where it reached the mature ovum.
There's this thing about sperm that makes it special. I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty details of it, but there's a complex hormonal response within the egg and within the sperm that make it possible for the sperm (about 0.05 millimeters long) to penetrate and fertilize the egg (visible to the human eye). Not only that, but it's human sperm which are capable of going through this process.
But, let's say that venom could do the job, too. Now, as far as I know, there aren't any human elements to venom (especially as it's apparently lethal to humans). So, if somehow the venom got to the egg, there are a few scenarios that would play out:
> The venom's acidic (or basic, dunno which) nature would go Wicked-Witch-of-the-West style on the egg, destroying it completely (considering the egg is pretty fragile, and if venom can dissolve a contact lens in a few hours, then it would definitely fuck up an egg).
> If the venom didn't destroy the egg, then it would make the egg all vampire (remember, no human element)... and the egg would not mature at all. It would die, and then become a "frozen in time," dead egg.
> It would not turn the egg into a super-special super-speed growth demon spawn.
So. There you have it. Why Edward's sperm should exist, why venom doesn't work, and why Nessie's only possible origin is magic.
"But it's fantasy!"
This is one case where that argument works, kind of. Meyer was an idiot to try an explain her vampires via science. It's a cardinal rule of fantasy that if your explanation won't work, find one that does. You know what explanation works for vampires? Magic. Call them supernatural; that's what they are. Using science as a bizarre crutch for your fantasy only ruins your continuity and your world's logic and it brings down the writing to the level where I have rendered her plot completely unworkable by the application of basic biology. The reason this is a problem is because it is yet another symptom of Meyer's complete fail when it comes to basic writing technique and theory.
1. Diamond-skin & body-heat
Meyer says about the vampires’ sparkle motion power that “their skin hardens into a diamond-like substance (only harder). This material has prism-like qualities. The sun does not damage the skin regardless of the reflecting.”
…The problem with being “harder” than a diamond is that diamonds aren’t, you know, flexible. Now while it’d be an interesting idea (and alternate solution to the vampires-don’t-go-out-in-sunlight aspect of vampire lore) if they suddenly turned to stone in the sunlight, Meyer doesn’t do that. Their skin is just diamond-like. How do they move? It should be impossible.
About body heat: We learn from the approximately 234250907811 times that Bella says it that Edward is cold and hard and pale and icy, even when they’re in bed together. My question is this: how does Edward’s body NOT absorb Bella’s body heat? It’s not as though his body can’t react to other forms of energy, so why does Bella’s delectable 98.6º flesh have no impact on him whatsoever? If you hold a rock in your hand, the rock eventually warms up. If you sleep next to a corpse, you’ll wake up to the fact that the parts of the corpse that your body has touched are in fact warm. It’s not as though Edward’s body is generating ‘cold’, since ‘cold’ doesn’t exist in scientific terms. In theory, since Edward isn’t keeping ice cubes in his pants (we don’t think), he should always be room temperature, which means that to a human’s touch, he should feel slightly cool. In hot weather, he’d feel warmer. But seriously—perpetual iciness makes no sense at all.
2. Beauty (and omg, sparkles!)
I’ve ranted on about this elsewhere, but for the sake of covering my bases I’ll do it again. Why do vampires suddenly become Greek gods/goddesses upon transformation? Fans like to say that their beauty makes them attractive to their prey, making it easier for them to catch wee, sparkle-struck Homo sapiens. There are two problems with this, namely that the text contradicts that theory and that even if it were in the text, it makes no sense scientifically.
What does the text say?
Much fuss is made over the vampires’ inhuman beauty, yet Bella is the only idiot actually ATTRACTED to it. Edward says several times how other humans are instinctively afraid and wary of the vampires ON SIGHT; so how does that make any sense whatsoever with the theory that their beauty is a secondary adaptation for hunting? Answer: it doesn’t.
What does evolutionary theory say?
Refresher course for those of who have forgotten: evolution (and if you don’t believe in the humans-and-apes-have-a-common-ancestor theory, remember that evolution is happening every day in bacterial populations—MRSA is the product of evolution [the bacteria which had mutated to be resistant to penicillin and other antibiotics reproduced to create MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant forms of bacteria] so it’s okay to believe in natural selection) works on the principle of natural selection. Basically, natural selection is the idea that on average, the strongest, most-adapted organism will survive (and therefore procreate) and the weakest, least-adapted organism will not (and therefore its gene set is nullified). Evolution is based on reproduction; a lot of biologists argue that reproduction is the overarching biological need in all organisms and that all behavior works to that end.
What does this have to do with meyerpires and how pretty they are?
1. Vampires are already pretty much indestructible as well as the prefect predator for their prey; they are infinitely stronger, faster, smarter. Thus, the following questions must be asked:
a. How could beauty have evolved as an adaptation when hardly ANY of them die (meaning that even an ugly vampire would be able to feed and survive), and even if they DID…
b. THEY DON’T REPRODUCE. Vampires are not BORN; the only possibility for genetic diversity (reproduction & genetic recombination) is completely NULL thanks to the fact that females are infertile (more on the males later).
“But making a new vampire IS reproduction”
No, it isn’t. In Meyer-land, humans become full vampires rather than half-vampires when turned. This means that there is no sexual reproduction happening because, as we know, sexual reproduction requires two separate sets of DNA (and in the vamping process, the human’s DNA would theoretically combine with the vampire’s to make themselves a half-vampire… this doesn’t happen.). If it was asexual reproduction, like mitosis, then the newly-turned vampire would be an identical copy of its maker, but again this obviously isn’t the case. The only possibility then is that Meyer’s version of vampirism is more like an STD than anything—that is, a virus or bacterial infection that happens to transform its host into a sparkly, scintillating, stunning monster.
So what does this prove, exactly?
Simple: that the vampires’ beauty makes no sense and serves no purpose other than to Mary Sue-ify and Gary Stu-ify the Cullens (and of course Bella).
11. "Choice: What Feminism isn't, and what Bella doesn't have."
"But feminism is about choice, and Bella gets to make her own choices!"
This is an argument that I've heard not just from fangirls but from the Great Smeyer herself, and while it seems compelling at first glance, the fact is that it's just as bad an argument as many of the others I've addressed over this series.
First, let's talk about feminism. What is it exactly? Well, in a word it's equality. If I were to expand that definition, I would say that feminism is about the right be treated and judged the same as those of the XY persuasion, to have the same opportunities, and to have the right of freedom of will the same as any man.
So, it's not so much about choice as it is the equal right to "choose," if choice is the end object. For example, if men can choose to remain a bachelor or to be promiscuous without judgment, so too should women be allowed that choice with the same repercussions (or lack thereof) as in men's case.
So, let's bring this back 'round to Twilight. What choices does Bella make? Let's sample three of her decisions throughout the series.
1. She chooses to follow James' instructions at the end of Twilight
If you're arguing for Bella as a strong female character who is feminist because she is "allowed" to make her own choices, this is one bad example. Why? Because this choice was a bad one. It revealed Bella as stupid and incapable and led to Edward needing to swoop in to save her. Why? Because she, the weak and silly woman, was too dumb to see through James' unoriginal scheme and to her detriment made a bad choice because of that. This doesn't prove that Bella is strong, or that she's a feminist just because she made a choice. In fiction, the existence of the decision is not so important as the results of that decision themselves and how those results affect the perception of the decision-maker. Here, Bella's decision forces her into the weak damsel in distress figure yet again, thus propelling the charges of sexism and anti-feminism even further.
2. She ignores Edward's mandates against visiting Jacob and La Push.
This one is a bit tricky. On the surface, it seems like an empowered decision. If you push deeper, however, more unsettling truths emerge. For example, why does she stay with Edward despite his abusive actions? Why does she submit to his attempts to control her behavior the rest of the time? Then, if you turn to the action itself (and forgive me but I don't have a copy of the book on hand), Bella says something to the effect of 'I know I won't get away with this' or 'I know Edward's not going to be happy' (or something like that), acknowledging his role as an authoritative and dominant partner. She doesn't like his behavior. She doesn't appreciate his attempts to control her, yet she exhibits no sense of strength or empowerment and Meyer treats the event like Bella's "breaking a rule" (Edward's rule) rather than having the right to do as she pleases. Not only that, but when his actions finally do irritate her--after she realizes that he removed her engine--she doesn't dump him or bitch at him or say, "fuck off, I'll do what I want" - instead, she leaves her window open. Even though Edward imposed his will on her and upset her with his abusive and controlling act, she doesn't respond. She doesn't get angry. All in all, she thinks of herself as powerless and acts powerless. The choices of an empowered female? I think not.
3. Her "choice" to become a vampire.
Throughout the series, this was the one thing that simultaneously irked me and made me glad for her character. On the one hand, I was annoyed that she wanted to give up her humanity, her future, and her friends and family. The fact that she had zero ambition other than gluing herself to Edward's side for the rest of eternity bugged me. On the other hand, I was glad that she'd made a choice and stuck by it even in the face of Edward's obvious disapproval and anger over her decision. In books 1-3, Bella did intend to become a vampire. But there are three problems with that. 1) Her becoming a vampire was contingent upon Edward's agreement (Edward's choice), 2) it took the Vulturi's decision and the Vulturi's timeline to make Edward agree, not hers, and 3) becoming a vampire was never within her power to begin with. It was an illusion of choice, not actual choice. However, Breaking Dawn completely destroyed whatever tenuous thread of empowerment existed. She didn't get to choose to become a vampire--she was unconscious. She was dying, a broken and bleeding husk. Edward decided when the time was right. Edward chose to make her a vampire. Bella didn't have any choice in the matter at all, from beginning to end. Becoming a vampire was completely out of her control and even if it weren't, even if Edward was going to abide by her wishes and make her a vampire in some special candlelit room... that was taken away from her. That illusion of her "choice" was irrelevant in the end because it was Edward who made the decision.
So, what "choices" does Bella make?
1. The "choice" to nearly get herself killed due to her monumental stupidity.
2. The "choice" to submit to abuse, even though it's emotionally damaging.
3. The "choice" that didn't actually give her a choice.
Those don't sound much like choices to me.
And there you have it! Yes, the amount of words is intimidating, but it's worth a read! Especially the science part. Anyway, knock yourself out.
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