I had a spirited discussion with someone today about the omnipresent Twilight Saga movies, in which my sparring partner said I was basically a traitor to all womankind for being obsessed with the franchise. I could hardly take THAT comment sitting down, and thought that the best way to respond is with a rebuttal blog post.
Now, I am pretty indiscriminate in terms of my love for all things vampirey, sparkly or otherwise. But how anyone could fail to see that the Twilight Saga movies (emphasis on the movies part) are the ultimate feminist vehicles EVER in cinematic history is beyond me.
I know that comment might make some of you feel the sudden desire to find a guillotine, wrench off my head and stuff it on the nearest pike available to parade through your town. Just keep an open mind, because flawless logic is on my side 😉
All picspam from F**k Yeah Jacob Black Tumblr unless otherwise credited.
Twilight movies are like the female empire striking back. They are the ultimate exercise in male objectification or assertion of the female gaze that I have ever seen. What is the female versus male gaze, you ask? Well, look no further than the ultimate fan boy film franchise, Transformers, for an example of the male gaze in action. Megan Fox’s character is a blank void whose sole redeeming feature is that she is a hot trophy the hero can hoist on his shelf as a reward for saving the world.
I’m sure that male fans aren’t exactly interested in Megan Fox’s character’s opinion about quantum physics so much as they are interested in the physics of her draping across Shia’s car.
Now, compare this with the Twilight movies, which basically fetishize the male form in ways heretofore unseen by womankind. Gratuitous shirtlessness is rampant in a series that is essentially female fan service of the highest order to the point of self-parody; one character even asks another “does he even OWN a shirt?”. New Moon in particular takes the female gaze to epic proportions…
Exhibit A: Edward tries to commit sparklecide in one of the climactic scenes
Exhibit B: Jacob using his shirt as a first aid swab
Bella is about as far from a provocateur as you can get. She is rarely seen in less than five layers of (usually plaid) clothes; it is clear she is not the sex object of this franchise. Really, her character is incidental to the main arena of the film, which is Jacob and Edward’s battle for the affections of the female audience. Her choice…
…is really that of the audience.
The hatred many fan bois have for the series borders on the seemingly irrational; the ire the very word “Twilight” inspires in those who haven’t even seen the damn movies is remarkable. Faster pussycat snark snark, I say, when it comes to this series. But hatred? I would argue these fan bois are threatened by the pop culture phenomenon of The Twilight Saga, because it is the first franchise targeted fully at the female demographic that has successfully challenged box office records set by the Transformers type movies of the world.
Bella Swan, Mary Sue or unlikely feminist? OK, I’m veering into dangerous territory with this one, I know. On the one hand, she is willing to sacrifice everything to be with Edward, including her friends, family and humanity. There is also a strong argument for her being a damsel-in-distress cipher who is acted upon by those in her life – loved, protected, fought over – hardly proactive actions on her behalf. On the other hand, there is no denying that from the moment she falls in love with Edward, she knows exactly what she wants – to be with him for eternity. The funny thing about the love triangle is that it is strangely devoid of any suspense. I mean, there is never any doubt that she is going to choose Edward.
Moreover, Bella is definitely in the position of emotional power in her relationships with both Edward and Jacob. Lord knows why they are so whipped by this girl, but she becomes the centre of their universe and they are like hilariously buff satellites that revolve around her orbit, existing solely to fight for her affections. Fellow women can only shake their head in wonder at a girl who can manage to do things like makeout with her sparkly vampire boyfriend in front of the shirtless werewolf who is desperately in love with her, and then get a shirtless hug from said werewolf before driving off with him while said vampire watches.
Let’s also not forget the infamous tent scene AKA the ultimate female fantasy presented in the third movie, Eclipse. Edward, an icy cold vampire, is unable to protect Bella from the bitter cold of a mountaintop, so Jacob, who runs hot, literally, as a werewolf, snuggles up to her shirtless while Edward watches.
This kind of emotionally f**kwittery used to largely be the province of men in movies, but our girl Bella is causing the pendulum to swing in the other direction.
Bella can be considered a powerful woman in another way. Loving someone who craves her blood so intensely and refusing to shrink away from her attraction despite the fact that it puts her in a position of danger is stupid, yes, but also brave. To risk your life to be with your love is certainly not what I would call wallflower behaviour.
My parting gift… the best Twilight GIF in the history of the internet!
*rubs hands together in anticipation of the backlash*