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…

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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.

Marimite + Bleak House = Good Shit

My computer broke last week and I’m still waiting for the new one to show up. Incidentally, I feel pretty out of the loop lately – I miss my RSS feeds, which are pretty much how I keep on top of all the breaking news in feminist / librarian blogsphere. So today I’m just going to plug some shows that have been on my mind.

It was recently announced that one of my favorite shows, Maria-Sama ga Miteru (or Mary Watches Over Us), has been licensed for release in the US as well as being OK-ed for a fourth season. In anticipation, I’ve been re-watching the series and I got to say, Marimite is one of the most beautiful shows I’ve ever seen on multiple levels. Visually, its stunning. The animators were obviously bringing their A-game with this one. The music is hauntingly Catholic – beautiful, but a little overbearing at the same time. I am not Catholic or religious in any sense, but I do have a fascination with the physical beauty of Catholic churches and iconography.

But the real reason I think this show is amazing to me is that it is not about ridiculous and twisted plots involving aliens or ghosts or medical rooms, but about girls loving one another. Not in a sexual way, although there are plenty of yuri moments and a lesbian main character, but mostly these ladies just care so much for each other. There are no evil villians; characters who seem antagonistic at first are then revealed to be complex, caring individuals. This is a show about relationships that are complicated and sometimes heartbreaking. I think sometimes I’m a little ADD – I’ll watch tv and surf the internet at the same time. Which is why it is so impressive that this is one of the few shows that completely captures my attention.

I’ve been on a Charles Dickens kick lately. I am pretty close to finishing A Tale of Two Cities, and am also in the process of watching the BBC’s Bleak House (not the old one, but the new one with Gillian Anderson). Although I am enjoying it, I really get the impression that I should have read Bleak House before watching the movie. Sort of like how Fingersmith was a pretty good movie, but it doesn’t really have anything on the book. One thing: Can we talk about that dude’s hair and moustache? You know which guy I’m talking about…

Craziest womyn cat-loving dream. ever.

I text messaged a bunch of people this morning about my dream last night, so sorry if you’ve already heard this. So basically, last night I dreamt that I was holding a cat who I just adored. I’m not sure how I knew this cat, but I did and we were soul mates. I was cradling it like a baby on my chest. Then it sat on my head for a minute, which I thought was really cute and funny ’cause, like, when does a cat ever sit on someone’s head? Pretty soon after the cat’s departure, I discovered that my shirt was covered in blood. No, the cat did not claw the shit out of me – it was cat menstrual blood! That damned cat had menstruated all over my shirt and even a little bit on my favorite hat! I was totally pissed and gave the cat bitch eye, hoping that it would know how disappointed I was in its behavior. Then I proceeded to Oxyclean my hat and find a new outfit to wear, which was pretty difficult as my closet was filled only with old clothes from high school. WTF!?!

Orson Scott Card: The quotable ALA-honored Homophobe

Orson Scott card was recently awarded the Margaret A. Edwards award for “lifetime achievement in writing for young adults”, and I am sort of torn on the issue. It is really hard for me to justify the ALA’s stance in looking at books for the merit of the writing, and to ignore the personal politics of the author. I completely stand behind the idea that it is important that we do not ban books or writers. But then again, I also wonder if Card were writing racist propaganda if he would have even been nominated. I am in no way saying that racism doesn’t exist in the ALA; on the contrary, I believe that it is so embedded in our culture that we often don’t even notice it. No one wants to be called out as a racist, so white people will do all kinds of stupid things, like naming their friends who are persons of color and attempting to be an ally while still not acknowledging the fact that all white people in the US are racist. It is so completely part of our American culture that there is no way we cannot be not racist. POC are targeted by police and incarcerated and basically still enslaved in this country, but it is totally cool to pretend that racism doesn’t exist.

But for some reason, homophobia continues to stand as one of the remaining acceptable -isms. Which is why we are even having these stupid marriage debates, or why I feel like I have to keep calling out dumbasses for saying horrible shit. Because there are no real repercussions for being homophobic (or racist, for that matter).

I don’t think we should ban Orson Scott Card whatsoever, but do I think there could’ve probably been another writer, possibly not a homophobic white male, that was worthy of receiving such a prestigious award? Of course.

Brian Kenney wrote an editorial in the School Library Journal about this conflict of interest, which is worth checking out. Also, here are links to some of Card’s homophobic articles, if you’re in the mood for fighting:

The Hypocrites of Homosexuality Really, there are so many good quotes here. He says gays are mentally ill hypocrites for not changing their behavior, but wanting to change the laws, and thus destroying the church (because obviously you can’t be religious and gay). Some favorite quotes:

“The Church has no room for those who, instead of repenting of homosexuality, wish it to become an acceptable behavior in the society of the Saints. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, preaching meekness while attempting to devour the flock.” Again with the accusations of gay recruiters. I really need to get on this gay army thing…

and

“The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity’s ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.”

Homosexual “Marriage” and Civilization in which he discusses that gay people already have marriage rights because they can get married to people of the opposite sex. Um…yeah.