Many Twilight-Bashers Miss The Point

photo of twilight pictures
Look, I hate Twilight as much as the next person. Actually, I probably hate it more than most. Twilight does not do any favors for women—and it also does not do any favors in terms of its portrayal of vampires. And I like women. And I like vampires. Love them, even. Since I was in second or third grade. Vampires, I mean.

I hate self-hating vampire guys who fall in love with local girls who are human but somehow special (Angel, Mick St. John, Stefan Salvatore, Bill Compton), but I can still enjoy the stories in which they are central characters. And I am not a fan of supernatural worlds in which “vampires” are so different from what I imagine that they hardly qualify for the name (Joss Whedon’s Buffyverse vampires and the vampires of Supernatural). And yet these stories can still be incredibly enjoyable.

Twilight takes both of these common flaws in vampire stories to new, upsetting extremes.

Twilight features the Cullen family of “vampires,” who are a small clan of self-hating vampires who live in secret but try to have a semblance of human lives. Not every vampire in the Twilight universe fits this description, but the “good guy” vampires do.

The “vampires” in Twilight better resemble human-shaped, venomous (for some reason) golems made out of sparkly caesarstone than vampires. I mean, really.

Twilight-bashing should never translate to vampire-bashing. Aside from the readers, vampires are the real victims, here. Vampires, from the older stories of magical beings or ravenous dead that feed upon the flesh or blood of the …

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Five Shades of Misogyny in “Fifty Shades of Grey”

photo of 50 shades of grey pictures
As soon as I heard about E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey, I knew I’d probably end up reading it.  I tend to go to the those “bandwagon books” (The Hunger Games, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and so on) kicking and screaming, but I’m somehow always convinced to read them.

I bought Fifty Shades of Grey when I went into the town bookstore to get a book for one of my students.  I’d heard about it, of course, and figured it was as good a time as any to read it.  I read that book with a mixture of fascination and disgust, and I’m pretty sure my family was disgusted with me.  I kept commenting on how skeeved out I was by it, and my mother would say, “Then why the hell are you still reading it?”

And then I lost all credibility when I got the subsequent books (Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed) on my Nook.  Why, you might ask, if I was not exactly enjoying the experience?  Well, I wanted to know what happened.

Which is really stupid if you think about it; after all, I’ve read the Twilight books, and Fifty Shades began life as Twilight fanfiction.  What that means, just so you know, is that you can do this:

Twilight/Fifty Shades of Grey is the story of an innocent young woman named Bella Swann/Anastasia Steele who somehow attracts the attention of a gorgeous, rich young man named Edward Cullen/Christian Grey who lives with his adoptive family.  Edward/Christian is not as perfect as he appears, though; there is something about him that could be potentially fatal to Bella/Ana: he is a vampire/obsessed with S&M.  There are several twists and turns, of course (notably Bella’s/Ana’s longtime friend, Jacob/Jose, who develops romantic feelings for her that lead to awkwardness with Edward/Christian), but they ultimately end up together after Bella/Ana changes herself to become a true part of Edward’s/Christian’s dark world, and they all live happily every after.

But that isn’t really my problem … I mean, to some degree, you can do that with many stories.  As one of my wise English professors once said, “There are only five original stories in the world.  The rest is in the details.”  And, to be fair, this book was never billed as fine literature.

Nope, my beef with Fifty Shades is the misogyny present therein.  A small sampling …

1.  A woman should not have to change herself to fit into the idea of a man’s perfection.

I’m not talking about the S&M so much, either.

Ana is chastised repeatedly for going out with her friends without Christian’s …

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New “Twilight” Movie, New Conversations About Sexuality

Book Cover of "Seduced by Twilight" by Natalie Wilson
Every time a new movie adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s truly dreadful books comes out, conversations about sex and vampires and Bella’s pathetic characterization regarding the portrayal of females in literature and film seem to pop up everywhere.

Consider this a token response to Breaking Dawn (subtitled Breaking Bella).

Natalie Wilson recently wrote a book entitled Seduced by Twilight, which touches on many of the very legitimate concerns the series raises, an excerpt of which was run on Women’s Enews.  Wilson attempts to “explore the contradictory messages of Twilight, a series that presents neither a subversive nor a conservative view of larger social contexts, but is an ambiguous mixture of both.”

Right on, Natalie Wilson!

From Women’s Enews:

Most of the messages in the saga are rather old-fashioned, encouraging the largely female fan base to head back to the kitchen. The series speaks for the likes of Glenn Beck, who told Sarah Palin to “make him some stew.” Yet, some of the textual strands are transgressive, suggesting that religious and cultural mores of sexuality and gender are too strict. Others …

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Vampires in Texas?

Photo of "Vampire" Lyle Bensley

Between Twilight and True Blood, vampires seem to be all the rage these days.  The humanization of a heretofore stereotypically evil creature has been an interest societal twist.

Unless you want to consider that real vampires are running amok out there … and in Texas, of all places.

From WMUR:

Police arrested a man who they say broke into a woman’s apartment and bit her on the neck, claiming to be a vampire.

Investigators said Lyle Bensley used his foot to break the door down and get …

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