If you have yet to hear of “Twilight“, I am pretty sure I am going to have to check your passport.
The world is obsessed. In the past two weeks alone, the movie franchise has raked in over $589,074,000, worldwide. The books, characters, and actors have taken on their very own niche in the media, it seems. We just can’t get enough.
Sure, there are the ‘haters’, with voices just as loud as the Twihards, and tempers just as flared as the fictional Vampires they oppose.
I, however, feel the problem comes down to one thing: Bella Swan.
This is not an attack on Kristen Stewart, who I believe is a very talented actress (Speak, Runaways – must see), but a concerned braindump of a character who
millions billions of young girls seem to look up to.
Before I had bothered to read Twilight, I was very excited to see that young girls everywhere were once again becoming fanatical about literature in what seemed like a replication of “Harry Potter Sensation“. It was a book about vampires? No big deal. I had spent my youth watching Buffy, The Lost Boys, and reading weeks worth of vampire fiction. I can testify to never wanting someone to suck my blood.
Then – before reading the book – someone took me to see the first film. Without turning this into a movie critique, I will skip that ninety-some minutes of wasted time and simply share my final thought: “Surely, the book is better than this?”
After an open-minded period of time reading the “Twilight” series, I shut the final chapter…infuriated. There is a franchise. A non-ignorable phenomenon. Girls swooning worldwide. Girls wanting to BE Bella Swan.
Girls wanting to be a stereotypical gender role with a complete absence of personality or self-worth. A girl obsessed with her ‘relationship’ which romanticizes the classic hallmarks of an abusive relationship.
For those of you who haven’t suffered through the films or books, let me break it down for you:
Bella Swan loves Edward Cullen. Edward is a vampire; hundreds+ years-of-age, who speaks down to Bella in words often filled with – what I hope is – unintentional pedophiliac undertones. Bella – a teenager written with the personality of old milk – decides to give up her life for ‘true love‘. She becomes a recluse, sacrifices what initially seems to be her priorities, acting selflessly for a love ‘that no-one else seems to understand‘. The issue? This kind of ‘love’ is getting cultural clout with girls who are still continuing to build their ideas and boundaries about sexual and romantic partners.
Amongst this, Bella often says “I don’t care about me, only Edward”; while having her engine removed from her car when Edward doesn’t want her to visit someone, while condoling Edward after he makes no apology for physically hurting her on their honeymoon…the list goes on and on.
With no effort at all, any teenage girl could imagine themselves as the Mormon-inspired Bella Swan – the ‘heroine’ who an overwhelmingly insane Edward Cullen is obsessed with. (Tapping into basic human needs, here).
Bella’s submissive motives – the weakest attributes of a man or woman – are (WRONGLY) viewed as aspirational through the words of Stephenie Meyer.
And that is the problem with Bella Swan.