When Vampires Suck…

I think my Post-Potter depression has made me desperate. Last weekend I arranged my whole day around seeing the latest Twilight movie–and actually looked forward to it. The other films were hardly stellar, but they were campy fun. My girlfriends and I had a great time heckling the bad dialogue (“Hold on spider-monkey!”), dorky makeup, bad acting (Jasper anyone?), but we had a blast. Yet why did I think an agonizing book could avoid being a torturous move? I squirmed in my seat during “lovemaking” and rolled my eyes at the birth scene.  And to add insult to injury, our theater didn’t even screen the “Hunger Games” preview.

Let me first admit that I was wholly seduced by the Twilight books. The first three novels had me in what I call “Book Prison,” a state where you are so engrossed in reading that you might as well be behind bars. But Breaking Dawn was book purgatory, where, despite its awfulness, you feel so invested that you keep reading and lie to yourself that if you just keep going it’ll get better. I know they are fluffy fair. Literary Twinkies. My girlfriend Jen sums up the four books as follows: 1) Edward is Beautiful. 2) Bella is sad. 3) Edward and Jacob are jealous. 4) Vampire sex is hot. Pretty accurate.  But still, the last book—and movie, are duds.

As a Mormon Feminist, here are a few of the things that made me nuts about “Breaking Dawn:”

-Getting married at 18 is okay if it means you’ll be a virgin. I know there are those who say that’s not why Bella & Edward tie the knot, that they are soul mates etc. But I am uncomfortable with teen marriage as a means of maintaining the law of chastity.

-Edward refusing to have sex with Bella for fear of “hurting” her. I’m soo tired of Edward refusing to put out.  When they are dating it’s noble and endearing that he wants to wait. But once they are married, can’t the whining and angst over sex just stop?!  And they both looked as uncomfortable as I felt. Go ahead and break a headboard just quite your whining.

-Bella cuddling up with Jacob in the name of “keeping her warm.” They pulled that in the tent scene in “Eclipse,” but this just seemed really over the line. The overt affection between these two made me cringe. If Bella really thinks that Edward is her one true love, then stop the petting Jacob.

-Can we talk about the name Renesmee? I’m going to admit it makes me embarrassed to be a Mormon. It’s a slice of my culture that makes me cringe and for Meyer to flaunt our dorky nomenclature habits to the world, it’d be like Mitt Romney saying he can’t wait to “Hie to Kolob.” Some of our dirty garments need to be kept under wraps. (Apologies to all the Arnolenes, LaDons, and Danelles out there.  It’s not your fault. It’s your parents’.)

-That whole imprinting thing is super creepy and also super convenient way to assuage poor unrequited Jacob. The book goes at great lengths to de-sexualize imprinting, giving us some nonsense about the Wolf being whatever the imprintee needs at the time. From Jacob: “The gravity of the earth no longer tied me to the place where I stood. It was the baby girl in the blond vampire’s arms that held me here now. Renesmee.” But no matter how she dances around it, it still felt like pedophilia to me. I feel like Meyer wants everyone to have a happy ending.  If she’d written Hunger Games, Gail would have suddenly fallen in love with Primrose. Most readers would prefer a lonely Jacob to an icky one.

-Finally, do we really need to be martyrs to the unborn? It disturbed me to see a fetus literally killing its mom and all Bella does is stroke her belly lovingly. In real life, there are indeed times when the mother’s health (not just life) is in danger and we need to say no more babies. We are meant to procreate, babies are good, but women are more than human incubators. Just sayin’.

My list is by no means exhaustive (I didn’t even touch on the bizarrely disjointed background music) but I had to limit myself as I have my own little Renesmees to take care of.

If you are a Twilight fan and saw the movie, what did you think? Am I being too harsh? Too kind? What worked and didn’t work for you?

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21 Responses

  1. Starfoxy says:

    Um, hunger games spoiler! I’ve only read the first book.

    I’ve read a critique of Breaking Dawn that said “Thank heavens the baby was a girl, otherwise she would have named it Edwob Charlisle.”

  2. LK says:

    I haven’t seen the movie, but I read (and very much disliked) the last book. Here’s what bothered me the most: If you are having sex with your boyfriend/husband/whomever, and your body is covered with black and blue welts afterwards, that is not romantic…it’s abuse. I realize that it’s just “a book”, but it sends a terrible message to young girls that it’s somehow “romantic” if your partner can hardly control himself from seriously injuring or killing you. If you are black and blue after sex (or after anything you do with your partner) run away…fast.

  3. anon says:

    I was honestly considering going to see the movie today since I finished a final and wanted a break, but you’ve talked me out of it. Thanks for saving me a couple hours and dollars 🙂

  4. Macha says:

    I cannot begin to explain how horrible the entire storyline is. It’s not just a Twinkie; it’s a Twinkie with arsenic inside. Your bullets bring up some of the main problems, but there are just so many more! Edward and Jacob are both manipulative and abusive, with a penchant for breaking & entering, as well as sexual assault (in Jacob’s case). Also, Bella is bland, and a bad person.

    Read the posts tagged, “We’re deep into the realm of psychological f***ery.”, “inappropriate responses to social cues,” “Isabummer,” and “om nom nom danger” on this site: http://reasoningwithvampires.tumblr.com/

  5. April says:

    Haven’t seen the movie but I did read the books. The dangerous sex thing didn’t bother me–I took that as an indicator that it is dangerous to have sex with vampires. I will keep that in mind if I ever meet a vampire, but I did not see it as at all relevant to human sex or reflective of human abusive relationships.

    What bothered me most about the books is that Edward is a stalking, domineering, possessive boyfriend, and Bella has no life outside her relationship with her boyfriend and turns into a depressed, useless, pathetic, needy whiner without him. I find these attributes more reflective of real life than the vampire sex stuff and therefore more disturbing. I think it is important for art to document these kinds of dysfunctional relationships sometimes, but I would have preferred for the author to have made the characters grow and get over these problems, rather than romanticize them as if they were a necessary part of the whole soulmate thingy.

    The pedophilia in the books was disturbing to me, too. Not just Jacob–isn’t Edward 100 and something years old and pursuing a teenager? Yuck.

    • kmillecam says:

      I see the problems with the books very similarly to what you said here, April. But I think I went a little further in my vampire umbrella for how the characters were acting. When Jacob imprinted I just thought “okay, so they’re soul mates, whatever” until the whole thing where he takes care of her all the time and she’s a baby. Pretty weird, even if you’re telling yourself that he’s a werewolf and she’s a half human half vampire, etc.

  6. HokieKate says:

    Yup, lots of issues that I completely agree with. And I’ve read all of the books multiple times. I rent the books and movies from the library, so I’ll see the newest movie some time late next year. At least I feel a little better for not spending money.

  7. Mindi says:

    To paraphrase what I said on the fMh Facebook group:

    Twilight = a dead horse. Please quit beating it.

    With respect to your questions – I am a Twilight fan but haven’t read the books since I finished the 4th one several years ago. I love the movies because there is so much intentional and unintentional humor in them. The only issue I had with the latest one was that when the wolves were talking to each other – in wolf form – there was so much growling & snarling overlaying the actors’ dialogue that I couldn’t hear the dialogue.

  8. EmilyCC says:

    Does Jacob have his shirt off in this one? Because those scenes are my favorite 🙂

  9. Maryly says:

    No plans to see the movie until my Twilight-obsessed niece visits with the DVD. The books are lousy, especially book #4, which is middle school porn. Stalkers, abusive males, females who have no identity without the abusive males, sex, sex and more sex, and a birth scene obviously crafted to keep fearful girls away from sex – how does the author show her face outside her house? The movies are funny because they’re bad, but I’m sure I can find more amusing fare that is both better written and more palatably wholesome. Sorry, but Meyer makes me embarrassed to admit to a BYU education.

  10. Starfoxy says:

    Before I go to bed I’m going to put in a plug for Rifftrax. It’s the guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000 (the one with the silhouettes who’d make fun of old movies ), but now they sell audio tracks that you synch with the movie, and they’ve done just about every popular movie, including all the Twilights.
    I get them to play with movies that I don’t anticipate liking, but still want or need to see for some reason.

  11. Jessica says:

    I think that bearing children without regard to a woman’s wellbeing as a whole person is just another form of sexualization in a patriarchal society. It might not be as blatant as selling sex for money. But its subtleness is alarming.

  12. Jonette Cahoon Vaughan says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this Heather! Cracked me up….

  13. Caroline says:

    Yes, Heather, this is terrific. Loved your points about the shortcomings of the movie/books.

  14. Katie says:

    I don’t necessarily disagree with anyone’s statements, but I also want to put a different perspective out there on the Twilight series. As an adult, I politicize Edward and Bella’s relationship and see the “real world” flaws. At the same time, I spend a great deal of my waking life with teenagers who politicize nothing and consume popular media through how it makes them feel and what their friends think. They begin to experiment sexually at around twelve with males much older than they are and many have an abortion by 15 because that is their personal “right” as individuals. With this in mind, isn’t it possible that Stephenie Meyers work symbolizes, in all of its sappy ways, the relationship that all of us want? The relationship that is not going to end? The relationship where someone understands and wants to be with you despite whatever flaws or shortcomings you might have? When you begin to watch the Twilight films in the 5th grade and center the Edward/Bella relationship through the initial turbulence of adolscent years, that means something. Stephenie Meyers work is among the only literary examples for this age group that celebrates marriage, has a male asking a female to “wait” to consumate a relationship because he cares about her, and shows a couple devoted to each other through just about everything–real life or not. And, in an age when most teenagers see their first pornography through the internet beginning in the post elementary years, Edward and Bella’s consumation of their love is beautiful and sweet. My thought for the younger set is that every non-assuming pre-political 5th through 8th grade girl is going to want a wedding like Bella’s. And for kids watching every other love-making scene out there, isn’t there something special about what Edward and Bella have? Aren’t they going to compare this experience to everything else they see? Maybe Stephenie Meyers isn’t so far off.

  15. Mikayla says:

    I like reading vampires series where people have taken the original vampire and have twisted the myths–but not where they eliminate them completely (except for the whole flying bat thing). I like vampires that are nice and can get along in society. It makes sense that they would be developed and advanced in the way that they blend instead of sticking out–unless it was a story over vampires where people KNEW the vampires existed, a good book idea.

  16. Annie B. says:

    I’m not a twilight fan, haven’t read any of the books, and didn’t see any of the movies until my sister invited me to go see “breaking dawn” with her. I was desperate for some adult girl time, so I went, not really expecting much. I felt awkward during the wedding sequence, like a stranger at a wedding, because basically that’s what I was. I thought the love scenes were cute (made me want to snuggle my husband) the relationship between Bella/Jacob inappropriate, and the pregnancy and birth creepy. Me and my sister whispered jokes back and forth about the pregnancy scenes. She remarked “I feel as horrible as she looks when I’m pregnant” because she gets really sick for like 6 months to the point of needing anti-nasea drugs and IVs when she’s pregnant. It was fun to try to piece together the dynamic between the werewolves and vampires, and I think I would not mind being a vampire if it meant I got to be young for long enough to earn several degrees and pursue innumerable endeavors and look airbrushed and beautiful all the time. So that part was fun to daydream about. Probably because I don’t know the rest of the story though, and don’t know what the down-sides to being a vampire are. I think it’s sad that there’s so much emphasis put on the romance, as though there’s not really anything else to life, but it is a romance novel, so there you go.

  1. December 5, 2011

    […] “When Vampires Suck . . .”, by Heather at The Exponent. Soon after the conservative men at The Millennial Star take a swing at Breaking Dawn, feminists at The Exponent log their own digs at the book/movie. “The first three novels had me in what I call “Book Prison,” a state where you are so engrossed in reading that you might as well be behind bars. But Breaking Dawn was book purgatory, where, despite its awfulness, you feel so invested that you keep reading and lie to yourself that if you just keep going it’ll get better.” […]

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