Archive for August, 2008

Why I Hate (and Am Simultaneously Totally Obsessed With) Twilight

I’ve been obsessed with the first book in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight trilogy for the past few days. Which is not uncommon, as I tend to have quick involvement with books. But there I couldn’t help but notice some serious red flags in Twilight

My main problem with Twilight is the idealized relationship between the two protagonists, Bella and Edward. Their relationship is akin to a Romeo and Juliet-type relationship (which Meyers alludes to multiple times), a doomed but passionate eternal love or some shit like that. There is some serious power differences in their relationship. Edward, being the undead, has super-human strength, can read minds and hear a whisper across the room. Bella, on the other hand, is a total klutzy train-wreck. She gets hurt, he swoops in and saves her. Again, and again, and again. Awesome.

But its not just that the heroine is dependent upon her stone god of a boyfriend, but that he is downright creepy and borderline abusive. He gets angry fast, is controlling and manipulative, listens in on her private conversations using his ability to hear peoples’ thoughts (that is, before he took over her life and when she actually had friends that weren’t members of his family). He even watches her sleep. And can anyone say “Quick involvement”?

The entire narrative of their relationship consists of his veiled threats of wanting to physically tear her apart (I guess her blood smells really tasty) and then saying that he would do anything to protect her. Because we see the story through Bella’s first person point of view, Edward is a saint; his actions don’t seem creepy because she is so in love with him that being stalked is somehow seen as romantic. She is constantly being put in mortal peril because of his presence, and then professing that she wants to die for him. And this is the narrative teens are reading. WTF!? I haven’t read the other books yet, so I don’t know if this fucked up dynamic is non-intentional, just a by-product of how we view romantic relationships, or if it is leading somewhere (like maybe to her bitch-slapping him and telling him to start acting like a real man and to stop blaming his abusive behavior on being a vampire).

I don’t really like any of the characters (with the exception of Alice, whose shroud of mystery and ability to see the future is totally intriguing). So why do I like Twilight? Is it just that it’s been so built up for me and that I’m yearning for a series to become obsessed with? I really love becoming entrenched in the culture surrounding a book series, such as Harry Potter or the Golden Compass. The new book just came out, the movie is due in December, and fangirls are going crazy. Am I just a sheep on the bandwagon, or is there really something I truly enjoy about Twilight?

Though the first half of Twilight seemed to go in circles, the last half was super exciting; I really wanted to know where the story was going and what would happen to the vapid characters. I really should have waited to write this, because I really enjoyed the first book and hope my critiquing it won’t make the other novels less exciting for me or sway you all from reading the books. Because they are exciting, and sometimes its totally fun to indulge and become obsessed with something for a while. But maybe we could follow up Twilight events in the libraries by talking about abusive relationships…

Simoun – Pretty Gay

The basic premise for Simoun is not terribly simple. Basically, everyone is born female; once you reach the age of 17, you go to this spring (sort of like your baptism) where you decide whether you want to be male or female. If you are male, your name will be changed and you’ll soon lose your breasts and gain male parts. Normal enough.

So the priestesses in this world are girls are “pure” because they haven’t gone to the spring yet. They fly these machines called Simoun, which are referred to as the “Chariots of the Gods”, because of their fluid movements through the air – they are unlike any other thing in existence. The Simoun are used in ceremonies to pray, and the trails they leave in the air have awesome effects. Because all the surrounding countries are so polluted that people are now dying from horrible diseases, they all begin to attack them in order to get the Simoun and its holy, clean-air technology. The problem is, no one really knows how the Simouns work – they just do. It’s divine.

So basically, these girls are forced to use these crazy-ass things as fighting machines due to the fact that the Simoun can create awesome blasts and kill a ton of people. They’ve been granted the chance to not go to the spring so they can continue to fight, which is really complicated because they are supposed to be innocent priestesses, but now they are pretty much mass murderers (but hey, its war).

So there is this crazy war shit happening, and at the same time all this emotional strife and inter-relational drama going on. In the first episode, one of their comrades dies which leads to a lot of crying and pouting for the first quarter of the show. Because the priestesses are so pure, that also means they’re also supposed to be rich (because obviously, poor girls aren’t pure), but since its war they are letting in the rif-raf. So there is some dialog about classism and how religious leaders let politics fuck shit up and how the government is full of heartless bastards (even though the men in charge used to be girls a long time ago, they take full advantage of the patriarchy).

I’m rewatching the show, and even though I knew what was going to happen, I still cried in episodes 19 and 20. But then again, I have been known to cry during movies like “Baby Mama” (oh man, the court room scene was agonizing!).

Oh, I almost forgot the best part. The girls have to kiss to power up the Simoun. So apparently their god is really gay.

Speaking of gay, when looking up Simoun on YouTube, I came across the official music video of the show’s theme song. Totally lesbionic.