Twilight: Sitting at Desks with Boys

Twilight Recap: Bella and Edward have finished their Biology lab and Bella has confessed her motivation for coming to Forks while Edward has marveled at how much suffering she has undergone in the past few weeks.

Twilight, Chapter 2: Open Book

   His gaze became appraising. “You put on a good show,” he said slowly. “But I’d be willing to bet that you’re suffering more than you let anyone see.”
   I grimaced at him, resisting the impulse to stick out my tongue like a five-year-old, and looked away.

I don't understand this impulse, or rather I should say that I have this impulse all the time, but I don't understand why Bella has it right now.

We've talked in the past about Bella as a reader insert character, and it's possible that this is another one of these moments; for myself, I frequently do or say something silly when casual conversations turn serious all of the sudden. Sticking out a tongue and making a silly face is a common go-to expression of mine in real life -- it has the immediate effect of making yourself look very silly and almost always downgrades the conversation from Serious Stuff to something more casual and jokey. 

What's interesting to me as a reader is that this tactic actually is used when someone is trying to "put on a good show" and hide how much they are suffering -- there's nothing quite like a silly face to signal "hey, enough about me and my drama, how about some safer territory now?" I like to believe that this non-verbal communication is fairly common in our culture; at the very least, everyone at my workplace seems to have picked up that occasionally Ana makes faces and it's nothing to be alarmed about.

So I actually fully understand the impulse to stick out my tongue like a 5-year-old, but I'm not sure I understand why Bella has this impulse, because so far in Twilight she doesn't seem to have the necessary sense of humor and self-parody that this sort of action implies. The gesture -- as I use it -- means, Oh, look at Ana and her precious little problems!, but I'm not certain that Bella thinks about her own self and her own problems facetiously enough to laugh at them.

Maybe I'm not giving Bella enough credit. But then again, there's nothing in this passage that indicates that lightening the mood is Bella's goal with this impulse. Is there some other reason to stick out one's tongue at one's conversation partner?

   “Am I wrong?”
   I tried to ignore him.
   “I didn’t think so,” he murmured smugly.

And now I have to wonder: how much of the motivations that Bella ascribes to others in the narrative are we meant to take as fact? It seems odd for Edward to "smugly" confirm that, yes, the person sitting next to him is suffering badly, or rather it seems odd that Bella doesn't find it odd.

For Edward to be smug about his correct guess that Bella is depressed seems quite in character for a 100+ year old sociopathic vampire who sees the humans around himself as less than equals and more as transient blips on his life's radar. It strikes me as apropos that Edward would in this exchange be more interested in error-testing his suddenly-failed powers of telepathy rather than caring about Bella's actual feelings of the moment.

However, in as much as I find Edward's behavior appropriate to his nature, it seems odd that Bella doesn't recognize his smug rejoinder as particularly nasty behavior -- it's not usually considered polite conversation to grill someone about highly personal aspects of their life and end with a triumphant Haha! I KNEW you were hurting! I sort of expect Edward to do a little victory dance on the lab table here, actually, and I wonder why Bella doesn't see his behavior as extremely... well, smug.

Now, I get that S. Meyer wants to do a "Pride and Prejudice" romance between Bella and Edward, and I imagine that if anyone can give Edward a run for his money in the smug department, it would be Mr. Darcy. But as much as I dislike Darcy, I can also admit that his rude behavior is justified within the text as half privilege of birth and half extremely poor social skills and -- more importantly -- his behavior is presented as something undesirable. Yes, Lizzy's escalation of the tension causes problems in the short term, but her response is understandable because Darcy is in fact quite rude to her and the text makes this clear: until Darcy apologizes and mends his behavior, he is not acceptable to Austen, Lizzy, or the reader as a worthwhile suitor. In this case, however, I'm not holding my breath for an apology from Edward any time soon.

   I sighed, scowling at the blackboard.
   “Am I annoying you?” he asked. He sounded amused.
   I glanced at him without thinking . . . and told the truth again. “Not exactly. I’m more annoyed at myself. My face is so easy to read — my mother always calls me her open book.” I frowned.
   “On the contrary, I find you very difficult to read.” Despite everything that I’d said and he’d guessed, he sounded like he meant it.
   “You must be a good reader then,” I replied.
   “Usually.” He smiled widely, flashing a set of perfect, ultrawhite teeth.

Can someone please explain this exchange to me, because I don't understand it. Here's what it looks like to me:
  1. Bella tells Edward that she is easy to read and that her emotions are obvious to those around her.
  2. Edward counters that he doesn't find her easy to read at all. 
  3. Bella counters that therefore... he must be a good reader?
I don't understand Step 3 in this exchange. Wouldn't the logical statement here be "You must be a bad reader then," with the implication that if Edward finds Open-Book-Bella hard to read then he must be awful at reading people? Edward is a good "reader", of course, because he has the telepathic ability to read the minds of everyone Not-Bella in the vicinity, so his rejoinder is meant to be ironic, but the setup that Bella has provided for him here doesn't make sense to me at all. Help!

Incidentally, after our fun conversation last week about the "harder living" conditions of Edward's childhood, should Edward's teeth be so straight and perfect and white and toothpaste-commercial-worthy? I somewhat suspect -- possibly incorrectly -- that Edward's childhood of 100+ years ago should have resulted in a few chipped, skewed, or stained teeth in that mouth of his. And while I imagine the vampire transformation would leave the victim with a good set of incisors, I can't think of any reason why the transformation would straighten out your overbite or clean up any rotten molars.

   Mr. Banner called the class to order then, and I turned with relief to listen. I was in disbelief that I’d just explained my dreary life to this bizarre, beautiful boy who may or may not despise me. He’d seemed engrossed in our conversation, but now I could see, from the corner of my eye, that he was leaning away from me again, his hands gripping the edge of the table with unmistakable tension.

And now Edward is doing the Oh my gosh, I can barely stop myself from killing Bella pose, despite seemingly having no trouble whatsoever controlling himself during their conversation. I find Edward's hunger swings particularly interesting, given that they seem to be triggered at least as much by Mr. Banner's lectures as by Bella's presence. Could it be that Edward just gets the munchies in class?

   When the bell finally rang, Edward rushed as swiftly and as gracefully from the room as he had last Monday. And, like last Monday, I stared after him in amazement.
   Mike skipped quickly to my side and picked up my books for me. I imagined him with a wagging tail.

We need to talk about the problem with Mike.

Now, I know that Mike has a strong underground following: I remember first going through Mark's deconstruction and Mark was particularly fond of Mike and felt very bad for all the abuse that Bella heaps mentally upon him. And it's true: Bella is rarely anything but cruel to Mike in her thoughts; I'm not going to argue that anyone deserves to have a wagging tail mentally appended to them merely for the crime of being romantically interested in someone.

Having said that, I don't like Mike. I'm sure that he's one of the most well-adjusted characters in this novel, but I don't feel like he's dealing straight here. It's very clear that he's interested in a romantic relationship with Bella, but I feel like he's trying to insinuate into a romantic relationship with her without actually clearing it with her first, if that makes sense. It seems like he's trying to take on a boyfriend role -- by carrying her books, walking her to class, and acting proprietary around her at lunchtimes -- without having to actually do the hard stuff like establish a relationship with Bella first by asking her out or talking to her about anything meaningful. (Since apparently this heart-to-heart with Edward was the first deep conversation she's had in Forks.)

Of course, Bella could and possibly should be more assertive in rebuffing Mike's unwanted attentions -- it is usually possible to take one's books back and clarify that attention is unwanted with a firm No, thank you, I prefer to carry my own books. But it's not a stretch to say that American girls are generally socialized to avoid such direct behavior, and as such I can't blame Bella for not turning and telling Mike to please stop following her to each class, thank you very much.

I want to be clear: Bella is rude, cutting, passive-aggressive, and cruel in her mental narrative. I don't like these aspects of her personality and I don't condone them as appropriate or healthy. However, I find it hard to believe that Open-Book-Bella's disinterest in Mike is so carefully hidden that this cutest-boy-in-school 17-year-old young man simply can't pick up on a single signal that he's not wanted. So as a reader I end up disliking both characters immensely: even though I understand that it can be dangerous for a girl to be clearly disinterested in someone romantically, I still wish Bella would put a little more thought and effort into being honest with Mike; and even though I understand that it can be unfair for a boy to be expected to be an expert at non-verbal communication, I still wish Mike would stop trying to end up as "boyfriend by default" and start paying attention to the fact that he's making Bella profoundly uncomfortable.

A pox on both their houses, I suppose.

   “That was awful,” he groaned. “They all looked exactly the same. You’re lucky you had Cullen for a partner.”
   “I didn’t have any trouble with it,” I said, stung by his assumption. I regretted the snub instantly. “I’ve done the lab before, though,” I added before he could get his feelings hurt.

While this passage makes me want to half-shake, half-hug Bella and explain to her that she doesn't need to reassure the boys that she's dumb so that they won't get their feelings hurt because it's not her problem if someone can't deal with her being smarter than them, I also find this passage to be oddly endearing. Bella has her feelings hurt; Bella corrects the wrong assumption about her; Bella feels conflicted about the other person's feelings; Bella corrects herself.

This one exchange signifies more thought on Bella's part for someone else's feelings than possibly the entire rest of the book so far -- and it's on behalf of a character she doesn't like. I'd stand up and cheer and offer this as evidence that Bella isn't a complete narcissist except for the tiny fact that the whole thing reads like terrible advice on how to be dumb so that the boys won't dislike you. Argh!

   “Cullen seemed friendly enough today,” he commented as we shrugged into our raincoats. He didn’t seem pleased about it.
   I tried to sound indifferent. “I wonder what was with him last Monday.”
   I couldn’t concentrate on Mike’s chatter as we walked to Gym, and P.E. didn’t do much to hold my attention, either. Mike was on my team today. He chivalrously covered my position as well as his own, so my woolgathering was only interrupted when it was my turn to serve; my team ducked warily out of the way every time I was up.

Does it strike anyone else as odd that Edward's appearances are so carefully confined to the lunchroom and Biology class period? I suppose too much mystery and Bella attraction-slash-revulsion would ruin the suspense that S. Meyer is trying to build, but Fork high school has 358 students total. Assuming that Forks is a four-year school (9th grade through 12th grade) and assuming an equal distribution of students per grade, that's 90 students in Bella's grade. Two of those students are, of course, Bella and Edward.

Ninety students for a grade is really not all that many -- I would have expected the whole class to be lumped together for a single gym class, to be honest. (That's certainly how my small private schools handled gym, anyway.) Do the Cullens have a health exception from gym class? It would seem reasonable, since that seems like the period where blood is most likely to be spilled. 

Even if Edward and Bella don't share gym, it seems strange to me that they don't have any other classes. Assuming 8 class slots a day (8 am to 4 pm with an hour for lunch), and 30 students to a class (yielding 3 simultaneous classes at all times to contain the 90 students), and a random distribution of students, what are the odds that Edward and Bella would share only one class in eight? I'm not skilled enough in maths to work out the answer, but it just seems strange to me.

   The rain was just a mist as I walked to the parking lot, but I was happier when I was in the dry cab. I got the heater running, for once not caring about the mind-numbing roar of the engine. I unzipped my jacket, put the hood down, and fluffed my damp hair out so the heater could dry it on the way home.
   I looked around me to make sure it was clear. That’s when I noticed the still, white figure. Edward Cullen was leaning against the front door of the Volvo, three cars down from me, and staring intently in my direction. I swiftly looked away and threw the truck into reverse, almost hitting a rusty Toyota Corolla in my haste. Lucky for the Toyota, I stomped on the brake in time. It was just the sort of car that my truck would make scrap metal of. I took a deep breath, still looking out the other side of my car, and cautiously pulled out again, with greater success. I stared straight ahead as I passed the Volvo, but from a peripheral peek, I would swear I saw him laughing.

Nice to see that smug Edward isn't toning it down at all.

And oh-my-gosh people, look at that. We just finished Chapter Two. That only took, what? Eight months or so? We're just zipping along. *sticks tongue out*

104 comments:

MJSS said...

I don't think we have enough information to do that math. If there are eight periods but only three classes occur in each period, that means there's some unknown constraint on the schedules -- not every class takes place in every period. The odds of Edward and Bella intersecting as little as they do are going to depend on the details of that constraint.


If they just had independent 1/3 chances of encountering each other in every class, they'd have about a 20% chance of encountering each other in one or no classes, but I don't think that's a very realistic way of modeling it (e.g., if they shared seven classes, they'd be guaranteed to share the eighth unless they were taking different electives or something, so the 1/3 chances aren't actually independent of each other).

Maartje said...

Rotten morals. *giggle*

Personally, I think Edward missed THAT clean-up.

Ana Mardoll said...

LOL. M-O-L-A-R-S.

Typo fixed. I take comfort int he fact that my dyslexia means I've got a Greek God for a parent and the rest of you don't. *ppphhhhhbbbbbttt* :P

depizan said...

I think the high school I went to was approximately the same size as the one Bella is going to, and, despite having mixed-grade classes* (Which Forks apparently does not...or do they?  I've lost track of whether Edward is in her grade.), I saw a lot of the same people in my classes, and, really, with both Bella and Edward supposedly being smart, they should be in many of the same classes.  At least assuming Forks, like most high schools, divvies people up according to perceived intelligence.

But here's another question: do high school boys really act like Mike?  I don't remember guys carrying girls' books when I was in high school.  I know I've seen it in teen movies, but I really don't remember seeing it in real life.  For one thing, people generally hit their lockers to change books between classes, which would make carrying your girlfriend's books a problem unless you had lockers right next to each other. Was my school odd, or is Meyer mixing up movie-high school and real life-high school?



*For example, I took Biology as a freshman, but there were also sophomores in the class.  It saved on how many periods of Biology there needed to be.

Emmers said...

If there are ninety kids in the grade, and thirty kids fit in a classroom, you can assume that there are three iterations of each class type.  It'd be reasonable to assume that the kids were "tracked" into low, medium and high level classes .  Bella's supposedly generally pretty mediocre as a student, despite being such a hard worker, so is in the middle level classes.  But for some reason both she and Mike Newton are in the high level science.  Edward is likely in high level everything.  So it's the one class she has with him.  It makes more sense than a lot of the other stuff in the book.  I went to a high school of roughly that size, and there were some kids in my grade with whom I never had a class, others with whom I shared one or two, and some kids I saw every period. 

depizan said...

Are there really high schools where biology is the high level science for... what is Bella, anyway?  A junior?  A senior?  It was freshman/sophomore level science at my high school (which, granted, only required two years of science).  If it's supposed to be the high level class, shouldn't they be in  physics or at least chemistry?

Emmers said...

Depizan, that's an excellent point.  So maybe the major error is in having juniors in bio, rather than having Bella and Edward share only one class?  

Mime_Paradox said...

Y'know, from what I read of the first book, Mike didn't actually struck me as well-adjusted at all.  The impression I got was that he was one case of vampirism away from becoming Franklin from True Blood  and interpreting  Bella's lack of interest in him as confusion on her part.  Unfortunately, Mike Newton is no James Frain.  *sigh*. 

brjun said...

So maybe the major error is in having juniors in bio, rather than having Bella and Edward share only one class?

Well, that depends on the High School. In mine, the honors-track program was Honors Bio, Honors Chem, AP Chem or Honors Physics, AP Physics or AP Bio (side note: I don't think there was a lot of logic to it). So, AP Bio was a 12th grade class -- building, ostensibly, on chemistry and maybe physics? So, it is possible that the Forks program is Physics -Chem - Bio - elective, in which case juniors could end up up in biology.

Does Bella have the same schedule daily? My High School had a weird rotating thing, where you had the same seven classes or so, but the bottom 5 would rotate, Monday-Friday, so your 'fifth' class on Monday was your first class on Friday, etc. My middle school though, was able to deal with having different classes daily, which means that theoretically, the Forks program could be some comprehensive science thing where people take physics/chemistry/biology/etc roughly simultaneously. I think other countries to do that sometimes? Although I don't think the US does, so maybe that comment is irrelevant.

I guess what I mean to say is that schools are weird, especially small schools in isolated towns.

Cupcakedoll said...

Smugly diagnosing her distress, followed by unexplained intense staring, followed by laughing at a minor driving mistake?  Yeah, that's attractive. -_-

I backed into a customer's car on the way out of work last month.  The most I got was a few glances to make sure the noise wasn't a disaster.  I was all adrenelined with terror that I'd crunched someone's car (I hadn't, no damage!) and I imagine Bella would've felt the same after her near miss.  Laughing at someone right then would be pretty darn rude I'd say.  I guess Ms. Meyer means to make Edward laughing in a "That's so you." affectionate way... maybe? but it's way too early in their relationship for that kind of laughter so it comes over really creepy.  

Adding my vote to Dezipan's as someone who never saw book-carrying in high school.  It feels like an image from another era to me too, and imagining in it in a modern school I can only read it as Ana did, as an attempt to seem boyfriendish, maybe by making a cute old-timey gesture.  Not a normal thing for a new acquaintance to at all.  Unless!  It could be Mike has been watching Bella trip, crash into things, and almost-injure herself since she arrived, and decided she's handicapped and he'd like to help her out the same way he'd carry books for someone with an arm in a sling or other physical reason to not carry her own stuff.  Which is an attempt to be nice, but he still should've asked.

Amaryllis said...

I was going to say that my high school was pretty small, at least until it took in a huge freshman class in my senior year, almost doubled in size in that one year. Anyway, small as it was, it separated boys and girls for P.E., so maybe that's what was going on here. Then I got to the bit about Mike being on Bella's team, and as Emily Litella used to say, "Never mind."

Of course, I went to a Catholic school way back in the Dark Ages; are co-ed gym classes the norm now?

Depizan, I know a high school science teacher who says that the standard science sequence is all wrong. To really understand biology, it helps to have some knowledge of chemistry, so chemistry, and maybe even physics, ought to be taught first, and then teach them biology. And as I recall my daughter's HS biology text, it was pretty heavy with the biochemistry.

Maybe Forks  is just ahead of its time with its science curriculum.

Baeraad said...

Hello, here via Slacktivist.

You're right about Mike. He looks nice and well-balanced when standing next to Edward, but ultimately, *all* boys in Twilight seem to have that same creepy disrespect for personal boundaries as Edward has. They all completely ignore the girl's wishes in favour of treating her with this kind of pushy chivalry.

I really have no idea what to make of that. Is that how Meyers thinks that boys behave? Is it how she thinks they should behave? Is it just how she likes to fantasise about them behaving, as evidenced by Edward being her dream man, so the other boys acting like it - although in a more awkward, bumbling fashion than Edward does - is her way of making them at least somewhat desirable, and their attention therefore flattering and wish-fulfillment-y?

That's always something that bugs me with Meyers. It's not just that her books have horrible morals, it's that I don't even understand why those morals seem good to her.

Ana Mardoll said...

Chris, I am so glad you stayed up to type all that because I loved every word. I agree it's too meta and theoretical to shake out a number -- at least until we can get Stephen Hawking in here, maybe? -- but I still loved walking through the logic there.

Baeraad, that's a really good point that the pushy-chivalrous behavior we see from Mike is going to be repeated later in spades with Edward. I hadn't put that thought together yet, and now I'm horrified. As you say, this is not a good trend.

Gelliebean said...

First, Chris, I love your breakdown of the different possibilities and send cookies your way.  :-D

Second, I wonder if Bella might be caught in the same kind of weirdness I was in dealing with varying school requirements and bureaucracy.  I started high school in MI with a schedule of 6 classes each day, lasting the whole school year.  We moved to TX during winter break of my sophomore year, to a school where the schedule was 4 classes a day, lasting one semester - 8 credits each year, as opposed to 6.  So not only was I officially 3 credits behind the rest of my grade (which led to concern as to whether I'd even be allowed to graduate on time), the classes were organized differently as to which grades took which subjects.  I ended up having to repeat US Literature and US History and missed English Lit completely. 

I'm thinking Bella could be dealing with a similar situation, where coming in at an odd point in the school year had them fitting her in wherever there was room, and because she'd also have to make up particular requirements in Washington that would be different from Arizona (state history, or geography, or a mandatory "life skills" class, etc.) it might not be so far-fetched that she'd only have one class with Sparkleboi.  If he's been at Forks High since freshman year, he's moving right on track, whereas Bella as a transplant might have 3 classes at her actual grade level, 2 at a sophomore level, and 1 random elective just because they didn't know where else to fit her in.

Dezster said...

To confound the maths even more, Edward is supposedly in an advanced Spanish class.  I can't remember where this is revealed, but he's actually in a senior Spanish class, so I guess that would help with the "having only one class together" issue.

Kit Whitfield said...

 I guess Ms. Meyer means to make Edward laughing in a "That's so you." affectionate way... maybe? but it's way too early in their relationship for that kind of laughter so it comes over really creepy.  

That seems likely. The other explanation I'd suggest is that it's simply a type: some women find arrogance attractive - presumably because it's associated with confidence, high status and virility. 

The women I know who've said they're attracted to arrogance tend to have low self-esteem themselves. Which Bella sort of does and doesn't; she considers herself superior to most people while constantly criticising herself. I guess you could interpret her cattiness as a form of low self-esteem: she despises weakness in others because it reminds her of the weakness she wishes she could purge from herself. But I think that's a stretch. 

In any event, Edward's smugness and arrogance could simply be a neg-hit: a sign that he's desirable because he doesn't struggle for her approval. 

Nathaniel said...

Uggh. At one point, I started to count how many times Edward was smug or said something smugly. I gave up after it hit over 30. If I met him in real life, I would want to punch him in the teeth. Anything to crater that shield of smug ego he constantly projects.

JohnK said...

Careful -- that would shatter your finger bones.

bekabot said...

Sorry about the mangled posts; tried to clean 'em up but was not entirely successful.  That's what you get when you're wrestling with an old Mac.

Nina said...

My high school was several times larger than the Forks high school, but I still had classes with a lot of the same people year after year because of two things: electives and tracking.  I took French and Band, so I was almost never in classes with the kids who took, for example, Spanish and Orchestra.  When your electives fill several slots, that shunts you into certain time slots for other classes because electives tend to be offered in fewer time slots.  Also, as someone else mentioned, my high school had honors and AP classes, different levels of language classes based on what you took in middle school, and several different tracks for math classes based on how you were placed in elementary school.

Now Forks is pretty small, so they might not have as many different difficulty levels to offer, but presumably they do offer at least some electives.  Furthermore, my high school had a certain order in which students were supposed to take Science, English, and History classes, but it wasn't necessarily the same as the order in which other schools offered those classes.  So a good friend who moved in at the beginning of junior year ended up taking a senior history class because he had already taken the junior history class at his old school, where it was taught to sophomores.  Add that to coming in mid-year and Bella could have a very weird schedule compared to students who have been there since freshman year.

Silver Adept said...

From my experience in small-town high school somewhere in the Midwest, Bella and Edward are more likely to run into each other in elective classes rather than core classes, because the core classes tend to have sections scattered across the school year to ensure that nobody can sneak out of their requirements.

If Bella arrives in time to be able to set her own schedule, she's going to find herself straitjacketed by her core requirements eating most of her elective time and preventing her from taking that class that is only offered on odd years during one class period. Especially since she's arriving later in the sequence - unless her Arizona school sent up her transcript and it happens to correspond with all the requirements needed up to this point.

Biology was also a sophomore class in my school, and the lab requirements were basically finagled around by all our science courses taking two class period units. One period was lecture, the other lab.

Unless we get an idea of Bella's electives (and PE is a requirement, not an elective), then Biology could very well be her only cross point with Edward Cullen, because Bella is playing catch-up.

-----------------------

As for who reads whom, Bella's complaining that her mother, who has had many years of experience, can read her like an open book. The fact that Edward can read her in a similar manner indicates his skill, in her mind, because he's just so darn right, unlike all the other clowns trying to get close to her and figure her out.

Like Mike, whose behavior should be setting off Bella's stalker alarms (ones that should have already been primed by Edward. She should be saying "Is every guy here in Forks a stalker (or that starved for a new female face in town that they might have a chance with)?" That she sees him as with puppy infatuation seems remarkably naive of her...but then again, this is supposed to be a tale of True Love (although no High Adventure.)

--------------

Amarie, you make perfect sense about how Edward and Bella are the very model of a relationship that will self-destruct immediately and then last for many years as co-dependence and abuse are mistaken for care and affection. I think that goes Darker than even my attempts at Dark Sketching, so I tip my hat to you.

Cupcakedoll said...

I'm going to sing the praises of this blog a bit:  I read Twilight some months ago, heard that it was great/terrible from various people and hey, I like a good vampire romance, so I borrowed a copy.  And immediately found myself thinking, "this is terrible!" and "this scene doesn't work!" and "They're not acting like real people!"  But that was as far as I could articulate it.  Now thanks to Ana and the wonderful commenters, I can tune in every week and after reading I can now say, "This scene doesn't work and now I know EXACTLY why!"  It's a marvelous feeling.  Actually I think it's smugness.  But still marvelous.  So thank you everybody for enlightening me.

I kind of wish we had a Twilight fan on here to give the "view from inside" along with the deconstructing view.  I know people who love Twilight see something different than us commenters do, and I'm curious what it is they see.  It'd be interesting.  Anybody know any Twilight fans with a thick skin and sense of humor about their fandom who might like to join us?  Or ex-Twilight fans?

Also, love bekabot's thoughts on Edward as a man of his time.  That had not occurred to me.  It does explain some of his superficiality, and also makes me realize anyone writing a vampire should have an etiquette manual from the appropriate time available to learn good behavioral details that "leaked through despite his study of modern customs."  

Basil said...

I think it's interesting that the Biology teacher's last name is BANNER. I'm now going to assume that he is actually  Bruce Banner, hiding out from the military as a high school teacher in a small town while he desperately looks for a cure. Meyer has said that her vampires are basically unkillable by any human, but I don't think Edward would stand up to a Hulk Smash.

Ana Mardoll said...

Will, why do you want to subject us to descriptions of Edward's "perfect white legs" and "dazzling thighs"? :P

Will Wildman said...

Welp, that does it.  Edward shall henceforth be Dazzlethighs.

depizan said...

I'm fairly certain it was supposed to be volleyball.  And there's nothing weird about her team ducking out of the way when she serves - you serve in volleyball from the back (behind your own team).  If you are bad at it, you're likely to hit a teammate in the back of the head with the volleyball.  As for covering two positions, all he has to do is be next to her and hit the ball if it comes her way as well as his.  Volleyball (at least in high school) doesn't have positions in the sense that, say, baseball does, it has positions in the sense of locations.  Though your suggestion that all of her classmates would cover for her still makes more sense.  "Oh god, the ball's going toward Bella!  Quick, get it!"

21stCenturyBird said...

Just to make the mathematics even worse: Starting with Ana's basic assumptions (students take exactly the same courses, all courses relating to a subject take place at the same time, there are exactly three courses per subject), we get a 1/3 chance of Bella and Edward ending up in the same course for a given subject. (Well, 3 in 9.) With 40 class slots per week (8 * 5), it would be vanishingly unlikely that they'd share only one course or less; the odds would be around 0.0002% , according to the invaluable WolframAlpha. ( http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=n%3D40%2C+p%3D0.33 )

However, as Chris explained, the assumptions aren't neccessarily realistic. As luck would have it, an old friend of mine has been contracted by a local school to do some long-overdue work on their timetable planning software (evidently, it can't currently handle more than 150 students per grade) and I can vouch for the problem being ridiculously complicated; he gets very creative with his swears sometimes. Fascinating problem, but the mathematics are a nightmare.

So let me just throw some more anecdotal evidence onto the pile: The school I went to was vaguely similar to Forks High in terms of size (just a bit larger), and I seem to recall that sharing only one or no courses with a given person was the exception rather than the rule.

Kit Whitfield said...

Gym shorts would surely cover most of the thighs, wouldn't they? Or are styles different over there? 

Kit Whitfield said...

I'm not sure being a man of his time would necessarily explain Edward - or at least, if I were writing a man of his time, I wouldn't write him smug. Unless Edward was previously an aristocrat, which is extremely unlikely, or a criminal, which doesn't seem to be the case, he'd be from a time where he would have been expected to be respectful and respectable, to keep the swagger down. 

I think part of Bella's description of him as 'smug' is supposed to come across as loverly exasperation; many people in affectionate relationships do say 'All right, you can stop looking so smug!' when forced to acknowledge that their beloved is right and they're wrong. And, like I say, I think it's partly the arrogance-is-attractive attitude which drives a lot of romantic fiction. Added to that, I think it's a sign that Edward is not to be put off - and for what's basically a shy girl's fantasy, that's an important one.

Bella tries to hold everybody at arm's length, ostensibly because she fears they'll judge or pressure her. At the same time, she's isolated and presumably lonely. A girl who's worried people won't like her will often put on an 'I don't need you anyway' front, and may do it even more with a boy she finds attractive, because she wants to avoid the humiliation of being seen to want a friendship or romance with someone who rejects her. Someone doing that is likely to drive people away, and have to entrench in I-don't-need-you; it's a vicious circle. And if a person's caught in that, quite often what they want is someone unsnubbable to step in and say, 'I know these rejections of yours are a front and you're unhappy underneath, so here I am, not to be chased away by your defensive reflexes.' 

And that's pretty much what Edward does. He explicitly points out that Bella's putting on a front, he refuses to be put off by her reflexive snappishness, he's amused by all her unattractive behaviour and he won't be driven away. This can come across as abusive and stalkerish if we assume women mean what they say - but in a fantasy, the fantasy of a girl who wants companionship but has no idea how to get it and fears to try and fail, it's the answer to an unspoken prayer. She can even call this behaviour smug, keeping up the don't-need-you front to herself and the reader, and it doesn't deter him. 

Edward ostensibly saves Bella from a lot of things, but I think the real fantasy is that he saves her from her own lack of social skills. 

Ana Mardoll said...

I kind of wish we had a Twilight fan on here to give the "view from
inside" along with the deconstructing view.  I know people who love
Twilight see something different than us commenters do, and I'm curious
what it is they see.  It'd be interesting.  Anybody know any Twilight
fans with a thick skin and sense of humor about their fandom who might
like to join us?  Or ex-Twilight fans?


Cupcakedoll, I agree it would be wonderful if we had more Twilight fans here, as long as they didn't feel threatened or mocked (and if they did, I'd want to know about it and fix my posts to prevent that!).

Kit is doing a bang-up job (did I use that term right, Kit?) of explaining why the series works as a fantasy perspective, and I love it, but it shouldn't have to fall entirely on her shoulders. I do think Kit's latest explanation -- that Edward is attractive *because* he can't be put off by overwhelming shyness -- is a very interesting one.

Emmers00 said...

Do slightly embarrassed Twilight fans count?  Because I'd have to say I'm a fan - I bought all four books, then bought the box set.  I've watched all three movies.  I love picking the books apart - it's just such delightfully bad writing - but that hasn't kept me from reading them over and over again.  There's just _something_ about them, which is why this deconstruction exercise is so much fun.  I found this blog due to its Twilight content.  I don't have a bumper sticker on my car or attend conventions, so I fall short of Twihard status, but I'm certainly a fan.  

I think Kit's point about part of the fantasy of Edward being his willingness to look past Bella's weak social skills is a very good one.  Bella is apparently decent-looking but not gorgeous (and in fact seems to share every single feature with SMeyer, so I generally picture a young, skinny SMeyer rather than K. Stewart), has a pretty cranky internal monologue, and adds very little to conversations (even conversations with Edward, when she's supposedly paying attention).  And Edward finds her faaaaascinating.  Wouldn't that be the bestest?  You act like a total dipshit (for whatever reason - shyness, awkwardness, actual meanness) to someone you have the secret hots for, and instead of leaving you to your own crabby devices, your crush keeps asking you questions, trying to figure out who you are? 

Ana Mardoll said...

Emmers00, welcome!! Handshakes all around. :D

I don't think there's any shame in liking Twilight. I watched the movie first before I read the books, turned to Husband, and said, "I can see why someone might like this." There are parts that *I* like, just because it's really easy to immerse myself in the gray, depressing Forks and then have a nice boy come and take me away into shiny immortality so that I can have all the time in the world to read.

It's just everything around the plot that makes me go, "Wait, what??" (This is one reason why I love the fanfiction "corrections" the comments keep spawning!)

And, yes, there is something intoxicating about a fictional (i.e., safe) character finding every little thing about oneself fascinating. But then I try to imagine Husband that way and it's just creepy. :P So I think the "escapist fantasy" argument is a very good one. :)

Kit Whitfield said...

This is oddly reminiscent of rape fantasy

Well, rape fantasies have a long-established and controversial place in the history of romance literature. Mills and Boon, after all, requires an alpha male hero as the essential component. I saw a documentary once in which the novelist Stella Duffy decided to try writing one, acknowledging that it really isn't as easy as people think, and talked to the publishers, some writers and quite a few fans. They all agreed that having an attractive hero was the most important draw - and the hero had to be dynamic, powerful, successful ... all the things Edward is described as being. And that has on overlap with the rape fantasy: some romance writers write consensual sex with the forceful hero, some write debatable consent. It's a mildly sadomasochistic vibe, where sometimes the consent is worked into the writing and sometimes it's the reader's consent and not the heroine's that matters. 

Which becomes more complicated when you film it, because it's harder to repurpose it in your own head, I'd say. I enjoy the films, but I can't like Edward or Bella; I tend to end up shouting at the screen, 'I don't care if you love each other, I hate you both!' But then I get curious to see the next one. So they're definitely appealing in one way or another. 

But if we're talking about the issue of consent, Twilight also plays around the edges of male consent. Edward, after all, keeps saying no until he says yes, and a lot of the sexual tension rests on the idea that he doesn't really mean it when he says he can't be with her. And that's compelling as well, in its way, especially to an inexperienced girl. I remember seeing a bit of an interview with Robert Pattinson in which he said he identified a bit with Edward, where if someone liked him he'd think, 'Don't like me! I'm a dick.' And I remember thinking, you know, if I were a teenager and a man I found attractive said that, I'd probably think, 'Oh, he just doesn't have any confidence. That's kind of touching. I bet I could make him feel better.' As an adult who'd been in relationships, though, my reaction was, 'Well, he knows a lot more about himself than me, and if he says he's no good in relationships, he probably has a reason.' (Which isn't to say I think Robert Pattinson is a dick; I don't know the gentleman. For all I know he could be a paragon.) But it was interesting: I think the idea of 'fixing' a man who thinks he can't be in a relationship is something that appeals a lot to inexperienced girls, because it gives them a sense of power and virtue. But it does involve doing what Edward does, which is deciding that you know better than he does what he feels and needs. 

Donalbain said...

Are there really high schools where biology is the high level
science for... what is Bella, anyway?  A junior?  A senior?  It was
freshman/sophomore level science at my high school (which, granted, only
required two years of science).  If it's supposed to be the high level
class, shouldn't they be in  physics or at least chemistry?


Guh? Buh?

What do you mean by "high level science"? What does it mean for something to be a "sophomore level science"?

Donalbain said...

So maybe the major error is in having juniors in bio

Why wouldn't you have juniors in bio?

Donalbain said...

I think they are different here. When I were at school, the girls shorts were at most mid-thigh long. And that was before the school switched to netball skirts and pants.

Ana Mardoll said...

And I remember thinking, you know, if I were a teenager and a man I found
attractive said that, I'd probably think, 'Oh, he just doesn't have any
confidence. That's kind of touching. I bet I could make him feel better.' As an
adult who'd been in relationships, though, my reaction was, 'Well, he knows a
lot more about himself than me, and if he says he's no good in relationships, he
probably has a reason.'


I was nodding so hard through this, Kit.

When I was younger and a guy said he was a jerk or bad at a relationship or something similar, it was easy to ascribe it to modesty or low self-esteem something. I mean, if you KNOW you're a jerk, you work on it and stop being one, right? Knowing is half the battle after all.

After some experience, I now recognize that some people who say they're jerks actually ARE jerks and are largely okay with that and not actively working on it. And it's really tricky to suss out the actual jerks from the trying jerks. o.O

The other confusing aspect is that a lot of us ARE socialized to put ourselves down -- look at how often Bella insists to the reader that she's not pretty, really, even though according to Edward EVERY guy at school is lusting after her. (Question: Is Edward's interest in Bella telepathically influenced by the other men around her? Discuss. :P)

Emmers00 said...

Did you go to an American high school?  Many schools "track" students into classes of differing difficulty.  The "high level" class would be the most difficult (i.e., more in depth, faster, covering more material).  American students tend to take biology before physics and chemistry.  Since there are only four years of high school, and each course takes one year, that means biology must be taken in the freshman or sophomore year if you are going to take both physics and chemistry (which a "high level", college-bound student would likely do).  

Donalbain said...

Oh.. that is utterly baffling... in the UK, everyone does all the sciences in every year that they are at school.

Emmers00 said...

Thanks!  

I actually find the "immersion" aspect of the books to be the most compelling part (followed by the fantasy part of getting to become an uberperson spending eternity with a guy I love (and I ignore the fact that I'm not particularly interested in spending eternity with Edward himself)).  I first read the books while I was staying home with infant twins.  My days were this neverending slog of trying to breastfeed, comfort and clean two tiny, screaming babies, and I also had this horribly itchy rash (some sort of weird reaction to pregnancy) that would NOT go away.  And it was the middle of winter.  So I was tired, and I hurt, and I was itchy, and I couldn't leave the house.   All I wanted was to escape.  And these books provided that.  I'd read them as I tried to nurse.  Somehow, despite being a generally awful writer, and never having been there, SMeyer managed to describe the pacific northwest in a way that made me feel like I was THERE, in that green, rainy place, not cooped up in my apartment with the boob-chewing brigade.  

Ana Mardoll said...

I agree that the weather descriptions are extremely immersive. I spent a year or two in Louisville, Kentucky where it drizzled EVERY DAY and I always think of that year when I read Meyer's weather descriptions. If Bella doesn't have seasonal affective disorder, I'll eat my hat, and it's something that a lot of people suffer from, so immersing the reader in dreariness in order to then save them from it is very clever, from a writing standpoint. :)

depizan said...

You get four (or more) years of Biology, chemistry, and physics? (If not geology or others as well.). No wonder US high school students are so far behind other country's kids. Though, with three class periods taken up by science alone, what aren't you guys getting? Or do you do each science for a third of the year each year?

*fascinated by schooling differences*

Here, only the high schoolers planning on going to college ( and not even all of them) take chemistry and physics. A not insignificant portion of high schoolers never even take biology, just "life science" and "earth science" which... are kind of hard to explain to non-US people. Think of them as easy or dumbed down versions of biology and geology.

Ana Mardoll said...

Ooh! I had life science and earth science in grades 6 and 7 respectively.

We don't get four years of Bio, Chem, and Physics, usually. At least, when I was a kid, you'd have, like, Freshman year Bio, Sophomore year Chem, Junior year Physics, Senior year Calculus. Or something.

What I don't understand is that when *I* was a kid, you went to school 8 hours a day (or whatever) for all those four years. I know several seniors now who have maybe a couple of hours a day because they only needed a few more credits to graduate. When did high school become college and... why... is all that time wasted? Some of them have jobs, but most of them don't... maybe it's time allocated for applying to college?

Kit Whitfield said...

After some experience, I now recognize that some people who say they're jerks actually ARE jerks and are largely okay with that and not actively working on it. 

Or, indeed, they genuinely do have self-esteem problems. But self-esteem problems can cause relationship problems, and the love of a good woman doesn't magically fix them; they have to be fixed from the inside. A man who gets better because of the love of a good woman, as far as I've seen, tend to get better because the woman threatened to leave him if he didn't, not because she loved him unconditionally. A messed-up man with the love of a good woman isn't a cured man; he's just a messed-up man in a relationship. 

Will Wildman said...

The discussions of the multi-layered fantasy of the man who gives a woman what they really want when they say they don't are... confusing to me, but still intriguing.  Particularly since it seems like this is not at all an uncommon concept among women, whereas I'd have guessed, before I had ever heard actual women speak on the subject, that it's more commonly a fantasy among guys who want to think they are that man.  The difference seems to be that women are more likely to realise that the fantasy only functions as a fantasy and is actually really disturbing in reality.  Which is part of why it's strange to me - if I knew a fantasy wouldn't work at all in reality, it'd be a lot less compelling.  So clearly there's more stuff here that I don't yet comprehend.

However, I was trying to think of the gender-flipped version of this story, in which human-Edward reluctantly moves to an unfamiliar dreary town and meets sparkling vampire-Isabella, and it's enormously unfamiliar.  (Incidentally, I originally tried to gender-flip the names, but couldn't find any plausible male equivalent to Isabella, and didn't even try for Edward.  Intentional?)  I nearly said 'it couldn't be done that way', but it obviously could, it just wouldn't fit any standard paradigm.  It's far more likely that V-Bella would be H-Edward's manic pixie dream girl, the well-worn template in which an active female love interest appears to exist solely to make an introverted/depressed/shy male protagonist's life more interesting by being quirky.  V-Bella could still be nosy and pushy about learning the details of the boring H-Edward's life, but I'm pretty sure she would be mandated to laugh and/or giggle in all the situations where V-Edward smugs.  (Incidentally, this would help make it more acceptable later when V-Bella laughs at H-Edward almost getting in a car accident in the parking lot, because she would be established as the kind of person who takes nothing seriously.)

I'm trying to think more about how I would react to a straight-up genderflip of Twilight that didn't alter the characters in any other ways, and it's fascinating to me.  I may impose further ramblings on the subject later.  (It's quite different from the gender-flipped version of Doctor Who, for which I have nothing but positive thoughts.  Especially Nine.)

Ana Mardoll said...

The discussions of the multi-layered fantasy of the man who gives a
woman what they really want when they say they don't are... confusing to
me, but still intriguing.  Particularly since it seems like this is not
at all an uncommon concept among women


I suspect it's largely a question of social conditioning. If, for example, a girl grows up in an environment where female sexuality is not considered real or valid (i.e., non-sinful), then after awhile it can be difficult to express interest or arousal because the conditioning has said that it doesn't or shouldn't exist. Aggression fantasies can cut through all that by providing what is wanting without having to acknowledge or admit that the want exists.

I firmly remember a youth leader at one of my churches explaining the "natural" cycle of sex: a man he brings his wife flowers, helps around the house, takes her out to dinner, and when enough points are logged on his behalf, the sex occurs. It was like a video game, though he didn't use that terminology. I was a teenager at the time with a very strong libido (even though I barely understood the concept of a libido) and was horrified that this was the life I was expected to follow. Aggression fantasies can provide an outlet for women who just want to have sex and don't want "romance" at that moment. (Women who want sex without commitment are, of course, non-existent, right?? /sarcasm)

However, I was trying to think of the gender-flipped version of this
story, in which human-Edward reluctantly moves to an unfamiliar dreary
town and meets sparkling vampire-Isabella, and it's enormously
unfamiliar.


Interesting. I *do* think most writers would go the Manic Pixie Dream Girl route, but I sort of think I'd be interested in reading/writing a true gender-flip. I'd see a female Edward as a sort of Rosalie -- beautiful, aloof, and proud -- and a male Bella as a sort of Mike -- pretty for a human, so to speak, and very eager to get with the gorgeous girl. Not eager enough to TALK to her, of course, but willing to follow her around and carry her books. And Rosalie is fascinated by Mike because he's the first boy whose thoughts she can't hear, but she still sees him as an inferior creature... I'm not sure...

Ana Mardoll said...

I hadn't noticed the similarities to Nice Guy mentality, but that's a very good point.

Although it's kind of interesting that even people who realise this is
what they were taught (and disagree with) don't necessarily find it
uncomfortable to slip into a similar mindset for fantasy purposes.


Oh, I wouldn't assume that. :)   I think that a lot of women with aggression fantasies are uncomfortable with the fantasy itself -- if only because it feels a little... strange... to be anti-rape but to have rape-fantasies. I would even imagine that some women with rape fantasies would prefer NOT to have them.

Sexuality is complicated and we really can only control so much of ours. I don't think many people consciously think "I can't express arousal, so instead I'll fantasize about my socially-mandated responses being overridden by a lover who knows what I really want even if I can't express that want to either him or myself". I think the brain just does the best it can to reconcile social conditioning with sexual desire and we get left thinking "Why does XYZ get me off??"

Donalbain said...

In England there is a National Curriculum which outlines the compulsory parts of all education. The science section of that curriculum at the secondary level is split into four strands which are essentially Biology, Chemistry, Physics and  Geology with Astronomy. (They are not called those names, but that is what they are) All of those strands are taught to all students aged 11-16. At the age of 14, students can choose to do more science than is legally required, and that can come in two forms: Either they can take a Double Award GCSE in science in which they will continue to learn all four strands of the science curriculum, but in more depth and be given a single GCSE award at the end which is worth 2 ordinary GCSE or they can take a triple award program which will lead to them getting three seperate GCSEs, one in Biology, one in Chemistry and one in Physics. In the triple award system, you can get a D in Physics, but an A in biology, while in the double award, you only get a single letter grade (even though it is worth two GCSEs)

Kit Whitfield said...

Incidentally, I originally tried to gender-flip the names, but couldn't find any plausible male equivalent to Isabella, and didn't even try for Edward.  Intentional?

Benny and Esther? Isaac (his friends call him Zack) and Edie? Kester and Eleanor? 

Redwood Rhiadra said...

Umm, *I* went to an American high school, two of them. And it's not universally true that students take biology before physics and chemistry.

My first high school scheduled them as Physics/Geology, Bio, Chem, with an optional Advanced Placement (i.e. college-level) course in the senior year. Note that as the AP course was optional, you could start with Physics/Geology in your sophomore year. This was for the college-bound track, of course.

The second high school (same state), had Physics, Chem, Bio, optional AP. 

Lots of schools don't offer AP courses (they're expensive and tend to have few students). And most colleges from what I recall only require Biology and Chemistry - Physics doesn't count at all when applying to college (unless it's the AP course).

Actually, the Physics/Chem/Bio track makes the most sense to me - chemistry builds on physics and biology builds on chemistry. The Biology-first track at my original high school had to waste four weeks teaching the students some basic chemistry (reading the periodic table and chemical equations).

Emmers00 said...

Redwood, I didn't mean offense to people that took things out of the "bio-chem/physics" order, but you did understand where I was coming from when I talked about tracking and the order that most Americans take the three classes in, right?  Donalbain had no idea what I was talking about ("Guh? Buh?"), so I that's why I assumed he/she was not an American.  I was not saying that anyone who did not take the classes in that order was not American.  I attended three different high schools in four years (rural public, suburban Catholic and boarding) in different states on the east coast, and the bio-chem/physics thing was the same in all three, so it was my impression that it was pretty standard for a U.S. high school curriculum, though not universal.  And of course, what makes sense and what actually happens are frequently not the same thing in U.S. education!  

Redwood Rhiadra said...

What I'm saying is that there *is* no standard in American education. NONE. There are 50 different states each of which writes their own fairly broad requirements for curricula, and many of which largely leave implementation up to the individual districts, of which there are thousands, and that's just counting the public system. Private systems (like your Catholic and boarding schools) are completely independent.

Seriously - you shouldn't ever make any assumptions about something being "standard" for American schools.

Ana Mardoll said...

There also may be a time difference at work here, too. Some standards have come and gone with time -- for instance, this new "high school = college" thing didn't seem to be the case when I was in school, at least not in my districts. So not only are we dealing with locational differences, there are time differences as well. :)

I think Emmers said "many" schools do things that way, and that part may well be true. I suppose many don't, too. ;)

Donalbain said...

I was confused about having one science before another, no matter the actual order.

Will Wildman said...

So I finally thought of something that could try to pass for a similar-but-genderflipped romantic dynamic: Hatley High.  Chances are good that no one here has scene this movie, which is sad, because it is brilliant, but it does try a variant: boy and father move to a small town (in New England?) for some reason, boy is not happy about the move, meets metaphorically-sparkly girl who is great at everything and takes an enormous interest in him and does most of the work of trying to form a relationship with him. 

It doesn't quite dodge the MPDG template, but it does at least try to justify it, as the girl is shown to be like this for everyone: her standard mode of operation is to pick guys out of the crowd and quirkily assimilate them into her group of friends.  The only difference is that she finds the male lead more attractive than the rest of them, and that in turn is initially very shallow (his late mother used to live in the same town and was famous).

Then, of course, it goes and has character development that kind of deconstructs the MPDG: she's aware that she does the I'm So Quirky thing because it's a comfy stereotype, and causes her to fumble in situations that the MPDG was not designed for.  There's a running theme about stereotypes being restrictive and being willing to be who you like without worrying about whether this brings you closer to/farther from your template.

Of course, it's also set in a world where chess is the most important sport ever (the chess club are the school's favoured athletes, yakuza run underground chess parlours, and there's a big showdown with a Russian chess team) and there's a priest who might be receiving advanced quantum mechanical theories directly from his God, so... yeah.  The whole thing has a certain flavour of magic realism.

It also occurs to me that there are remarkably few female characters, which is particularly weird since the female lead is clearly the leader of the main cast.  I'm not sure if her apparent lack of close female friends is intentional or what.  Presented as the end result of long-term MPDGism?

Amarie said...

I have to admit…
I was a Twilight fan, myself. I was very, very, very obsessed with the books; like a teddy bear, I would literally carry a copy everywhere with me. Of course, I thought Edward was the ideal man and Bella was someone that was strong, intelligent, and loving…a woman that I should aspire to be.
Before you kill me, I was fourteen when I started reading. Please…have mercy on me, I beg. v.v
Now, my transition-if I’m honest with myself-started in Eclipse. Edward took out Bella’s car engine, and I *knew* that she would instantly forgive him. I expected that 100%. And, for the sake of the ‘romance’ and ‘love’, I didn’t question it, nor did I think it needed justification. I thought, ‘Edward just wants to protect Bella. So, you see? He’s not perfect!”
But…at the same time, I was SCREAMING that if my boyfriend/husband EVER did that? I’d personally buy him a one-way ticket to Volterra. And I would make sure it was a sunny day. We could rewrite New Moon all over again, and give Shakespeare a run for his money.
Hands. Down.
Then, I read Breaking Dawn. More and more, it felt like I was reading Mrs. Meyer’s ideal and/or current life. Overall, I was just wincing the whole time and thinking, “Stephenie, could you get out of your own head? Is this the first time that I noticed that *none* of your female characters have careers outside the home…?” o__O
Of course, I had a lot more problems with the last book-and later, with the entire series-but I’m shortening things here. ; )
So, I went on the internet and searched and searched for people who would at least see where I was coming from…if not agree with me. Like Cupcakedoll, I wanted someone who *felt* the same way, and could *articulate* it. It took a pretty long time because most of the Twilight haters wrote ‘I h8t fuckin’ Bella-Mary Sue’, or ‘Yuh, Twilight sux balls!’.
I wanted something *much* better than that. And so, that’s how I can across Ana and Mark. :D

Ana Mardoll said...

Amarie,

*internet hugs* and I'm so glad you told that story. I'm thrilled that you're here! I do think that Meyer does a lot right -- the books wouldn't be so popular if there wasn't *something* there and I have mentioned that I like "The Host" (which we should probably do after the Twilight series, I suppose) -- and that the wrong wronginess bits are... well, cultural/philosophical/socializing things that we all have to examine. No writer writes in a culture vacuum, I suppose. :)

Amarie said...

*Internet hugs back to Ana*
 
Oh, you’re more than welcome!
Thank YOU for providing an oasis where we Twilight, err…tolerators…can convene. It *is* sad that Twilight has such potential. It always seems that Mrs. Meyer has *half* of the formula. But, the rest is…lost. And so, you get this dark, self destructive, and dysfunctional story rather than a love story. It's a series that just backfires on itself time and time again. It’s just…sad.
And, Ana? I love you. But I don’t know if my sanity is worth it to read the Host. I don’t know if I can do it. I barely got through the second chapter of “The Second Life of Bree Tanner”. X.x
Forgive me?
 
Oh! And thank you to Silver Adept for the compliment! If you’re a guy, then I’m blushing with your hat tipping. If you’re a girl, then I’m hugging you! :D

Loquat said...

Will,

Do Manic Pixie Dream Girls even have female friends? Or, more precisely, do they have any friends who were *not*  originally mopey uptight people in need of the MPDG treatment?

I can totally see a teenage girl deciding to become an MPDG and focusing all her efforts on boys after having no luck making close female friends.

Emmers00 said...

Amarie, I think the books are deeply flawed, both in terms of writing and social/psychological issues, but I still _like_ them (well, to be honest, I don't really like the middle two, because I thought they were boring, but I like the series overall).  Do you still like them as books to read?  Or did the realization that they're messed up sour them too much?

Amarie said...

You know what, Emmers? That’s a really, really good question…
 
In all honesty, I haven’t picked up the books again since I forsook Breaking Dawn. There are a lot of reasons for that.
One reason is that-in order to understand what was setting off my alarms in the series-I felt that I needed to get away from them. So, for a long time, I didn’t pick up the books and tried to understand what I didn’t like on my own. But, no matter what, I would think that I was being mean and being like all those other Twilight traitors, haha. I *wanted* to like the overly-cheesy-sugar-plum-drop-rainbows happy ending. I *wanted* to understand that Edward asked Jacob to lie with Bella (D.I.S.G.U.S.T.I.N.G) out of his love and pain for her. I *wanted* to see Nessie as a miracle baby and a valid plot device. I wanted to continue being one of Mrs. Meyer’s loyal fans SO BAD. I wanted and needed for that cloud of ignorance to come over my head (as I needed it to several times in Eclipse). But…I just couldn’t and that cloud never came; logic ruled. And from there, the series just…lost interest to me. Breaking Dawn just killed everything that I had ever loved in the series. I just couldn’t understand *why*, and for that reason, I stayed away from the book.
My second reason is that I felt…betrayed. Stupidly, yes. But betrayed nonetheless. I had a lot of emotional investment in those books. I L.O.V.ED Edward and truly envied Bella as a person. I saw the Cullen’s as the epitome of beauty and idealism; I wanted sisters and brothers and parents like that.. I even imagined curling up with my own, imprinted werewolf. My life hadn’t been very easy, and the Twilight series was literally my own pillow (I mean that I LITERALLY put it under my pillow so that osmosis would occur and dreams of Edward’s luff talk would get into my brain and help me to stop crying…I’m not kidding). That being said, Stephenie Meyer had created the most perfect, self-insert haven for me. So, I was just…devastated when I felt that the world she had created wasn’t a world that I wanted to be a part of. I was truly and honestly devastated. I would look at Mrs. Meyer’s interviews and all but claw at the screen for her to say something that made sense, or went deeper than what was beyond the page. Foolishly, I looked to Twilight for an owner’s manual on how to love romantically, if nothing else. And, when I began to half doubts…all of those fantasies (that I hoped would be realities someday) just came crumbling down faster than anything else. From there, I was confused. I asked myself, “If Twilight isn’t right about love…then how do I know what love is?”
My third reason kind of ties into the second. Even today, I’m still…scared of reading the books. Mostly, it’s because I’m afraid of what it says about *me* as a person that I had *ever* considered these books to be God’s Greatest Gift. I know that I was young (I started reading them when I was fourteen) and I’ve since grown up BIG TIME, haha. But…I still worry that Edward will still charm me, and Bella will amaze and empower me with her toughness. Yet, now...all I see is that incredible disturbances in the stories, through blog posts, excerpts, etc. And, I know that if I open up those books, that will be *all* that I'm going to see. Plus…I admit that I now see the book’s idiocy and mediocre writing. So, from a technical standpoint, I don’t think I could get through it. As evidence of that, even when I was a Twilight fan, I *still* couldn’t get through that rough draft of Midnight Sun. I was like, “Edward!! Come on! Be interesting!!”
But, I’ve researched and thought and I’m glad that I’ve been liberated from the ‘spell’, so to speak.
I hope that made sense! :D

bekabot said...

"I'm not sure being a man of his time would necessarily explain Edward - or at least, if I were writing a man of his time, I wouldn't write him smug. Unless Edward was previously an aristocrat, which is extremely unlikely, or a criminal, which doesn't seem to be the case, he'd be from a time where he would have been expected to be respectful and respectable, to keep the swagger down."
He would have been expected to lose the swagger as an adult man, b/c his world would have taught him his place in it.*  But this never gets a chance to happen in the Twilight universe, because Edward dies on the threshold of adulthood, and is then vampified posthaste by Carlyle Cullen.  Participation in the adult world would have forced Edward's thoughts away from The Rover Boys or Tom Brown's School Days or whatever he would have been reading; but, again, in the Twilight universe this never gets a chance to transpire because Edward catches the flu (then dies, then is made into a vampire, which abruptly precipitates him into the world of...a pulp novel) first.  After that he can never be allowed to truly enter the world, because of the chance that he might do harm in it.  Of course, Edward's problem is not that he's too weak but that he's too strong: he can't be allowed to contend against the world because the world wouldn't stand much of a chance.  But the end results are the same: Edward can't play a part in Life's Grand Pageant, all he can do is hang around on the fringes (perpetual High School) and moon; and his moonings are bound to be the same kind of moonings the 17-year-old boy he once was would have been subject to, enriched by experience and heightened by time.  Remember, Edward is undead; his development has been forestopped.

Edward doesn't have to be the revenant of an aristocrat to be the kind of person he is.  He just has to be woolgathery and somewhat self-engrossed...like Bella.  And he has to be like that eternally, but then, as a vampire, Edward doesn't change.

*Up till then he might have been allowed to be a little Tom-Sawyerish, as long as he didn't start imitating Huck Finn.  It's always hazardous to make guesses about people's real characters based on the kind of literature they read but the boys' adventure fiction of Edward's mortal day was, first, abounding in quantity and, second, filled with young male characters who swaggered and were smug, especially around the young female characters who showed up in the same books.

Silver Adept said...

@f1043c4bb11c714c8533ef3880d6d9f2:disqus ,

I like to believe we're friendly folk here, and that we wouldn't take a hug, especially if accompanied by a bit of a squee, as I imagine yours would be, as strictly Platonic. No need to be blushing about anything.

And especially not about things that you liked when you were younger. All of us have those things that we loved as children, and then realized how...awful or stupid they are when we came back to them with adult lenses. (Anyone who says otherwise is lying.) There's no need for apologies.

Twilight has a lot of things going against it, but with the deconstruction's help, I'm beginning to see what makes it so popular and why there are so many devoted fans for the series, despite what I see as faults that should have stopped it from publication.  I need that perspective, even if my bones itch to warp into something more properly dark and morbid. (My work requires that I understand what people like to read, so that I may recommend them other things they will like to read)

---------------------------------

@55230220304cae6fb842dea8e5e1274d:disqus  and @Loquat:disqus , MPDG usually lacks female friends because being both Manic and Pixie means she has no off switch, and most Other Females stereotypically want someone they can spend downtime with talking about boys and magazines, rather than Going and Doing and being all Manic/Pixie themselves. So, eventually, MPDG burns through all her female friends and gathers a reputation as Hermione Granger, brilliant and committed to every cause she can be. Since Stereotypical Males, and definitely Stereotypical Jocks, are sufficiently lunkish to be able to absorb all of that Manic Pixie Energy (witness, one Ronald Weasley) without being burnt out by it, they make appropriate companions and convenient energy sinks for MPDG, allowing all of her female friends to come back because the grand majority of the energy is now directed at changing someone who won't change except in the most superficial ways, instead of at them.

So mind-reading Vampire Pixie-Bella feels like High School Is Hell, because high schoolers can't do aaaaanything and they all hate her and ooo, cute boy, but ewww, he only wants sex and *siiiiiigh* until "Wait, this one I can't read. This. One. I. Can't. Read! EeeeEEEEEeeeeEEEEEEeeee! I finally have someone I can talk to for hours on end without being bombarded by how much he wants me undressed! (Even if he does.) This is going to be sooooooo fun!

At least, that's how I imagine it.

Kit Whitfield said...

Amarie - that's fascinating; thanks for your perspective. And seconding the others: no need to apologise or feel bad about it. I'm just sorry you were so unhappy, and I hope you're less unhappy nowadays. For what it's worth, you're clearly smart, honest and insightful, and those are the best things to build happiness out of. :-)

I wonder if you could satisfy my curiosity: what exactly was it that made you see Edward as ideal and Bella as admirable? Because I know a lot of people do, and I've always wondered what in the books they're basing it on. 

Emmers00 said...

Wow!  That's really interesting.  It does seem like your hook-line-and-sinker fandom was due to being young and in a tough place - you certainly don't have to beat yourself up for it now!  It's amazing - I think what we enjoyed/disliked about the books are almost completely opposite.   I think it's probably due to the ages/life stage at which we read the books.  Maybe, if you have your own kids, the fantasy of having a child who communicates her needs perfectly, with a ton of family members who will step in at a moment's notice to care for her, will have more appeal (not to mention having a post-pregnancy body that's MORE perfect than the one you had before.  Oh, and not needing sleep!  What I wouldn't give for that).  

Manda said...

Just to add my two cents to the whole high school science thing:

My classes are pretty much structured as noted by some of the other posters. At my HS all four years of science is required. Biology is for Freshman, Chemistry for Sophomores, and Physics for Juniors. for any of those three you can take either regular or Pre-AP, and just because you take one regular class doesn't mean you can't take PAP the next year. Then Senior year you have the option of AP Bio, Chem, or Physics, or a non AP class such as pathophysiology and medical microbiology together, Anatomy and Physiology, Aquatic Science,  Environmental Systems (or the advanced version, AP Environmental Science) or, new this year, Forensic Science.  You can also take any of those Senior classes other than Bio/Chem/Physics as electives Junior and Senior year if you want, so long as you have all the prereqs.

Then again, I hardly think its standard to have that many options. We're a  pretty huge school, right at the edge of 4A. (our sister school across the tracks hit 5A.)

Ame1994 said...

Whoops. Just realized/remembered not all schools would use the same sizing system. Basically it's a size ranking by number of students, with 1A being the absolute smallest and 5A being the absolute largest.

Kit Whitfield said...

disqus? Did you eat my post?

Kit Whitfield said...

Agh, nuts. Short version:

Amarie - very interesting. Can I ask another question? Did you see Bella as strong because she endured the things she was complaining about, or because she was strong enough to express displeasure at all? And if it wouldn't be too embarrassing, what were your favourite passages?


Regarding the child fantasy: I also think there's a birth fantasy. A pregnancy that's over with quickly is appealing if you've had nine months of someone sitting on your bladder. A baby delivered by teeth-section is gruesome, but it at least puts the birth under the control of someone who loves the mother rather than medical professionals who see it as just routine - because having the most extreme day of your life treated as nothing special is very humiliating. The birth at least recognises it as special, which is something women don't get enough of. 

Lia said...

I have seen the original post. Can't it really be lost?

Kit Whitfield said...

Beats me. I don't understand this new-fangled computer business. 

Lia said...

I don't think that a lot of husbands would be able to chew their child out of the mother. After the birth Bella changes into a vampire because of Edwards toxic teeth. This transformation lasts longer and hurts more than a normal birth. Bella saw her child not after the birth, but some days later after the transformation. I think, I would prefer a normal pregnancy (whatever normal means) and a normal birth. The best moment after this long, painful and humilating process was seeing the eyes of my son with this amazing gaze. This was worth everything.

Lia said...

Please don't kill me for grammar and other errors. My school-english isn't the best after all the years.

Kit Whitfield said...

This transformation lasts longer and hurts more than a normal birth.

That's part of the fantasy, I think: having your suffering recognised as exceptional rather than shrugged off as routine. 

I don't think there's any such thing as a 'normal birth'. Experiences are so different it's impossible to generalise. Everyone told me that my son was lovely and that was what mattered, as if the loveliness of the baby was somehow conditional on the difficulty of the birth. But the fact was, my son is himself and would be no matter how he got out; he wouldn't have been any less perfect if I'd had better care. I can't stomach people telling me he was 'worth it'; it's not an exchange. My son is wonderful, birth was terrible, and neither cancels out the other. 

Ana Mardoll said...

I came here before Slacktivist ... I'm not sure how best to phrase it, but I'm fairly sure that fact should somehow be worked into a massive compliment to Ana.

This is most definitely a compliment, thank you. I'm perversely glad to be disrupting your sleep schedule with this blog. :D

Kit, that was a beautiful post, thank you! For reasons known only to the Disqus trickster gods, it ended up in the "possible spam" filter -- I approved it when you pointed out that it was missing and now it's in place. The good news is that apparently when Disqus eats posts, I can pull them out of the digestive system pretty easily. (There's even a phone app!)

On to the meat of the post, I would NEVER have thought of the Nessie birth that way on my own, so I'm so glad you shared that because... it makes sense. It makes it a lot more reasonable as a fantasy. I do agree with you on the concept of Exceptional Pain -- people tend to pay attention more to unusual, exceptional, obvious pain rather than mundane, normal, everyone-goes-through-this-why-are-you-making-a-big-deal-about-it pain.

Gelliebean said...

Kit - I think that was a wonderful explanation, and I'm very glad it wasn't lost! I don't have kids yet, so the fantasy-fulfillment aspects of the progression of the pregnancy itself hadn't even occurred to me. It makes perfect sense, though!

Amarie - shout-out from one Sailor Moon (and Sailor Mercury!) fan to another, and I have to say that I love the series almost more for what it *didn't* include than what it did. There were so many possibilities and unanswered questions that it really left the door open for fanfic writers to run rampant. I don't write for well-established series, because the authors usually include everything needed for the universe to be complete; for example, I don't have any compulsion to write Harry Potter fic - everything essential is already there. On the other hand, I've definitely been pondering writing some extended Twilight fic (a la the Right Behind site) just because the series is already so screwed up that I'd have plenty of room to play! :-D

One last thing, going back to this part:

His gaze became appraising. “You put on a good show,” he said slowly. “But I’d be willing to bet that you’re suffering more than you let anyone see.”
I grimaced at him, resisting the impulse to stick out my tongue like a five-year-old, and looked away.


I don't understand this impulse, or rather I should say that I have this impulse all the time, but I don't understand why Bella has it right now.

It makes sense that she wants to know that someone cares enough to see beneath the surface - evidently, Bella isn't getting a lot of reassurance or assistance in the transition period from her dad. In addition, she's supposed to be the 'good girl', which means being the very PA, oh don't worry about me, no, I'm suffering in silence for the sake of everyone around me; like the mother from the Screwtape Letters who points up how delicate and precious she is by insisting she doesn't want to put anyone to any trouble. The ultimate fantasy of someone like this is to have another person bully their way past the facade - that way, Bella gets Empathy Points both for the incredibly hard time she's having, and for the attempt not to 'bother' anyone else with it, and she also still gets the satisfaction of having someone feel sorry for her and recognize what a martyr she is. It's "Prove how much you really love me by knowing me well enough to tell something's wrong, and caring enough to push me until I finally tell you what it is." It's "Convince me that you want me to do what I really want to do anyway so I have the excuse that I'm doing it to satisfy you." That way, she isn't in the very unladylike position of actively seeking to talk about herself - how very gauche!

On the other hand, part of me really wants to say that this is an example of MetaBella showing her true colors - the impulse to stick her tongue out is in satisfaction that she's successfully manipulated Sparkleboi into seeing exactly what she wants him to see.

Amarie said...

GAAAAH! Why Kit?! Why?! Don’t you love me?! D:

Haha, just joking. *winks*
Honestly, in regards to what I saw in Bella’s complaints, it’s both ways. I saw her being strong because she didn’t want to suffer, and because she was asserting herself. In my foolish eyes, I envied that ‘assertiveness’ beautifully coupled with ‘selfishness’.
Hmmm…it *probably* wasn’t until a certain chapter in Eclipse that Bella really, really made me cringe. It’s a relatively small part, but Edward finds the stereo that Emmett gave to Bella in her closet. The stereo is broken beyond repair…and Bella is completely nonchalant about breaking her birthday gift. I think she even shrugs her shoulders. And that was what first got me scratching my head about her. I was thinking, “Huh…you’re supposed to be ‘humble’ and ‘low-maintenance’, and that’s why you don’t want gifts and/or attention. But, this just comes off as really, really ungrateful and passive aggressive…” : (
And, what baffled me even more was that *no one* called Bella out on things like that. They teased her…but I always wondered what she would do if someone *really* called her out on it. Like, in genuine offense for the way Bella treats their gifts/efforts. Then, at the graduation party, Jacob gave her that wolf charm bracelet. And she *actually* thanked him…upfront, and even had the gall to say that she ‘liked the homemade kind’ of gifts. I was literally blinking and/or frowning…because you don’t get to mandate what kind of gifts people give you. Period. End of story. And anyone that thinks they *do* have that insane entitlement is so far removed from humility and low-maintenance that I don’t know what to say.
About her complaining…it took me a while, but I realized something: Bella Swan will stomp her foot and complain about everything and anything under the sun because she is Bella Swan. Now, I think that I told everyone here that I’m a terribly nice person (I was literally voted ‘Friendliest’ in my Senior Class). That being said, I’ve always known *how* to be assertive…I’ve just chosen *not* to. So…I suppose you could say that I’ve always had a slightly warped view of assertion, and liking Bella Swan hadn’t helped that, haha. But, it was until about the end of Breaking Dawn that I noticed something about every single thing she complained about: in the end, she almost always 1.) enjoyed herself, or 2.) didn’t really care in the first place. For example, she cried when Edward took her to prom…and found herself enjoying dancing with him. Or, she nearly ripped Jacob’s throat out for nicknaming her daughter Nessie…and actually cooed the nickname once the Volturi left.
After that realization, I just lost all respect and (briefly) understanding of her…and that’s how I came here.
As for my favorite passages…*definitely* the meadow scene. I also loved when James and Edward were facing off in the baseball field. I would memorize the entire Compromise chapter in Eclipse. Hmmm…I pretty much loved everything that had Edward in it, haha.
Gellibean…Sailor Moon FOREVER!! You can’t top that Feminist show, Twilight! Hah! Darien and Serena forever!!! Plus, it’s so wonderful to find a fellow Sailor Mercury fan! I agree with you, about leaving things out. With Twilight, it’s just bad writing, planning, editing, etc. With Sailor Moon…you kind of get a sense that there was just *so* much storyline that could have been done; you’d have a series longer than Bleach on your hands. Plus, this was a children’s show…some material probably just wouldn’t be appropriate, is my guess.

Silver Adept said...

@Amarie , I think we'll get along fine. I keep my Power Rangers self happy by watching the source shows for Power Rangers (and the associated Kamen Rider series) - with Sailor Moon, if you watch the source material, you find in the later series some very adult material indeed (stuff that was altered or stripped to be Saturday morning suitable.)

"Cousins", indeed.

------------------------

@Gelliebean : Screwtape Letters reference! Niiiice. (Of course, the reason I read those was because of Calvin and Hobbes...) The highbrow literary tastes of our audience.

And as for the idea of the later books being a perfect pregnancy fantasy...well, perhaps this is how we shift from being a book that captures teen audiences and will be forgotten, into a book that has "TwiMoms" just as screamingly obsessive about it...

Samf said...

My understanding of what Bella was talking about when she said that Edward "must be a very good reader" was something like this; Edward just spent a while seemingly effortlessly probing her and figuring out her intimate thoughts and feelings. If that was what he considered "difficult," then surely it must usually be even easier for him.
That's what I think Smeyer was trying to get across, but the conversation is so clumsily written that I had to do a little double take like "wait, what? Wait wait... what?"

j_bird said...

I firmly remember a youth leader at one of my churches explaining the "natural" cycle of sex: a man brings his wife flowers, helps around the house, takes her out to dinner, and when enough points are logged on his behalf, the sex occurs.

Yikes! I was raised without religion, but I definitely learned, quite young, that same "romantic narrative", where sex is something that the man bargains and pushes for and the woman slowly gives in to. I'm pretty sure I gleaned it from pop culture, but I can never put my finger on exactly which movies or books it was that gave me the idea. I was mainly exposed to supposedly "kid-friendly" media, too: Disney, public television, YA literature. I keep wanting to go back and watch some of the programs and see to what extent these narratives are promoted.

It's very interesting to hear about the concept being taught so plainly and directly. Also, it's nice to hear from other people who were subjected to it.

Ana Mardoll said...

Samf,

It's like one of those Magic Eye pictures: when you say it that way, it makes sense but then I back up a bit and I lose the picture.

By which I mean, it does make sense (as you explain) that Edward is a good reader if he's the only one to realize Bella's SUFFERING.

But... It doesn't make sense for HER to acknowledge that, unless she doesn't believe what she just said, i.e. that she's an Open Book.

Is this another instance of Bella lying? I'm not sure.

chris the cynic said...

Well it's also weird because he doesn't read her right. He jumps to the wrong conclusions and this is when faced with Bella who is supposedly easy to read. God knows what will happen if he finds himself faced with someone who is like a closed book, or a Sanskrit scroll. If this is his attempt to read an open book, imagine when he tries to read someone who is more akin to an interpretive dance.

sarah said...

Hmm. Two things.

My high school had sciences like this: Freshman year was general physical science; sophomore year was bio; junior year was chem; senior year was a variety--you could take AP bio or chem or anatomy and physiology or honors physics.
Now, if you did well enough in 8th grade science (which, surprisingly, I did), you'd skip the 9th grade general science class and go right to bio, then chem your sophomore year. I ended up taking AP bio my junior year and then not taking science my senior year (made my teacher furious, but I wanted to take a journalism class instead).

I read Twilight when I was in grad school. I needed a break from all the theorists I was reading, and lo and behold, it was sitting in the YA section of the bookstore. So I read all 4. I've described them as...sort of like crack? Bad for you, but addictive?

JohnK said...

Well, he can simply read the minds of everyone else in the world. You don't need to be good at interpreting body language or emotions when people pretty much just "tell" you what they're thinking / feeling.

Redwood Rhiadra said...

Darien and Serena? You only watched the American dub? Fool! Go out and get yourself the *real* series (Pioneer produced the latest uncut subtitled version, I believe, although for season five you'll still have to get a bootleg from BitTorrent or somewhere).

Seriously, remember Zoicite? He's *not* a girl (though he does cross-dress occasionally), and yes, he's Kunzite's (Malachite in the dub) lover. Uranus and Neptune? *Not* cousins. Fish-Eye? *Also* not a girl. And fifth season of course has the gender-bending Starlights (which is why it was never dubbed for North American television)

And the real series deals with other mature themes as well. Remember the end of season one? The girls *die* there in the real version (which is two episodes rather than one - DiC *really* butchered the ending).

Seriously, any Sailor Moon fan who hasn't watched the original *owes* it to themselves to do so. It's even better.

Admittedly, the dub has some lovely songs - "My Only Love" is one of my favorites.

(Me, I'm an Ami/Mako-chan and Usagi/Rei fan, even if they aren't canonical :-)

Anna said...

UK person here, so forgive my imperfect understanding of American schooling, but am I right in thinking that although SOME schools have only one-science-per-year, in other schools you can do each science through the whole 4 years (albeit with less of each science per year)? So Senior Chem would build on Junior Chem, which would build on Sophomore Chem, which would build on Freshman Chem... and likewise for the other sciences?

If this is possible, I propose this as a logical explanation for why Bella and Edward only share one class together: Edward, being 100+ years old and having done high school many times before, wants to be in the most advanced classes possible as they've got the best chance of remaining interesting to him. So he's in senior classes, and thus not with Bella, for most of his subjects. However, Senior Biology features a lot of dissection. Now if Edward starts sinking his teeth into the heart that he and his lab partner are meant to be cutting up, he'll blow his cover as a vampire - and he doesn't trust his self-control in a room with so much raw, bloody meat. Either he keeps purposefully failing-and-resitting Junior Biology, or else the Cullens' arrangement with the school involves a "don't put the kids in Senior Bio" clause. Whatever the case, it means that Biology is the only class he shares with Juniors, therefore the only class he shares with Bella.

(Bella is a Junior, right?)

Ana Mardoll said...

Anna, that would actually make a *lot* of sense. I have no idea if that's how American school currently works, but it makes sense nonetheless.

I love the idea of Edward going full blood lust in the middle of biology dissection day...

chris the cynic said...

If Edward is on such a hair trigger bloodlust shouldn't he go into full blown murder mode in the hospital? For that matter, if this is what it's like to be a vampire, how can one be a doctor?

Brin Bellway said...

For that matter, if this is what it's like to be a vampire, how can one be a doctor?

I thought extremely good self-control was Carlisle's superpower.

(Hey look, I'm the hundredth comment! Have we had a thread that long here before?)

chris the cynic said...

I thought extremely good self-control was Carlisle's superpower.

See, that's what I get for not reading these books. I do not know these things.

Hey look, I'm the hundredth comment!

I noticed that as well, I'm ruining the nice round number by kicking us up to 101. (Prime number! Palindrome!)

Brin Bellway said...

See, that's what I get for not reading these books.

Neither have I. I just have a fair bit of osmosis.

Ana Mardoll said...

Hey look, I'm the hundredth comment! Have we had a thread that long here before?

I don't think we have! I'm super-psyched.

I was so disappointed when I found out that Carlisle is a doctor for altruistic reasons only, and not to steal blood bags (which I've heard compared to Capri Sun for vampires) from the hospital. Hollywood has ruined me for these books, I swear, because I would have liked that so much better.

chris the cynic said...

"Oh my God! You're a vampire!"
"Yes, yes. I'm a vampire. Now open your mouth and say 'Ahh'"
"Are you going to kill me?"
"Now why on earth would I do that? Let's have a look in your ears."
"So you can suck my blood."
Completely ignores that, "Right ear looks fine, let's see the other one," Checks. "That one's good too." He holds the stethoscope near some warm piece of equipment, I'm thinking a computer, to warm it up because he has no warmth in his breath. "Ok, now take a deep breath." Pause. "Why are you holding your breath?"
"I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die."
"The physical isn't over yet, but so far you don't look like you're going to die any time soon."
"You're going to kill me for my blood."
"Ok, seriously calm down, take a deep breath, and hold it for a three count. I need to get a listen and this is taking way to long. The only way I'm going to kill you is if you keep wasting my time."
"You don't want my blood?"
"I work in a hospital. I have access blood in all flavors, no murder necessary. Now take a deep breath."

plotnothot said...

Delurking to tell you that some schools (mine included) use the physics first method.

Kat said...

Bella claims to not know anything about cars, but she recognizes so many different models...

chris the cynic said...

I have returned to the internet after being away a few days and ... apparently it's after midnight already.  I came here before Slacktivist ... I'm not sure how best to phrase it, but I'm fairly sure that fact should somehow be worked into a massive compliment to Ana.  Fred's blog will have to wait until after I've slept.

On sciences, my school went biology --> chemistry --> physics.  (Fourth year was an AP class or two.)  If I remember correctly.  Obviously all of the classes addressed things at varying scales and at various levels of complexity, but looking at the progression it feels to me like it went from the big squishy bits to the fundamentals underlying it all.

I certainly understand not doing it that way, but I don't think doing it that way is all that strange.  Biology can be seen as applied chemistry, chemistry is absolutely applied physics, and physics is obviously applied math, but we don't necessarily throw children into a differential equations classes before we teach them about heart valves, I thing the repeated bio-->chem-->physics order might be for much the same reason.  Sometimes for some people applications are easier than foundations.

On the other hand, I went through science classes strangely* anyway and my memory is hazy at best.

-

On the fantasy of a pushy person.  I've definitely been in a situation where I wanted most everyone to leave me alone, but I was so lonely that I wanted someone to come and rescue me.  Female-Edward would have been a dream come true.  A beautiful girl who's interested in me who I can't alienate?  There are not words to describe how much I would have wanted her to save me.

But given that I wouldn't recognize her at first, she'd have to be pushy because I'd never open up to someone.  Left on my own I'd never speak to her, and if she spoke to me I'd try to keep interaction to a minimum.  I might also be a jerk, not so much because of the previously mentioned fear of a screwed up relationship, but because a stranger was bothering me and I'd be sure nothing good would come of it.

If she made it through that, I would have jumped at the possibility to spend the rest of my life in a dysfunctional relationship with her.  Not that I would have realized it was dysfunctional.

Gender flipped Twilight it almost certainly something that would have resonated with me if I read it (standard disclaimer: based on what I know about Twilight having not read the books.)  Pretty sure you could keep things pretty much the same.  If Female-Edward were smug, so what?  I'd be busy fantasizing about being saved by her and would have no time to distinguish between confidence and arrogance.  Have her smug constantly, I seriously doubt that I would have minded.  Have Female-Edward be the strong protective one, have me Male-Bella be fragile.  It wouldn't have bothered me in the least.  Probably would have made it easier to identify with.

Have her be stalkerish, no problem.  It just means she loves me Male-Bella.

I could be wrong, of course.  I can't say for sure how my teenage self would have reacted to a hypothetical series of books, but I know that the concept would have resonated.  It would have resonated very, very strongly.

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*I had a breakdown the year before highschool, confined largely to my science class, and got put into a low level science class as a result.  I think it might have been earth science of some form.  It bored me into apathy.  The next year I had to take two science classes to catch up (the bio I should have taken my first year, and chemistry which was standard) after that was physics, and then I think I took AP physics.

Will Wildman said...

Highschoolsciencewise, we had generic Science in grades 9 and I think 10, and then in 11 and 12 you were required to take a minimum number of science courses, but there were separate biology, chemistry, and physics classes for both years, and probably others.  I took chemistry in 11, and then realised I needed physics to get into engineering, so in grade 12 I think I took chemistry 12, physics 11, and physics 12.  (It's worth noting that these were probably all half-year courses.)

I'm also not sure what all the spare time was for by grade 12; I certainly liked it at the time, but I don't think it had much impact on results.  In university, spare time was vital for studying or working - neither of which was especially popular in high school.
 
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A man who gets better because of the love of a good woman, as far as I've seen, tend to get better because the woman threatened to leave him if he didn't, not because she loved him unconditionally.
Or because she did leave him and he realised that he would need to shape up if he didn't want that to happen again.  (Being around her again can actually cause backsliding due to familiarity with circumstances.)

Will Wildman said...

I firmly remember a youth leader at one of my churches explaining the "natural" cycle of sex: a man brings his wife flowers, helps around the house, takes her out to dinner, and when enough points are logged on his behalf, the sex occurs. It was like a video game, though he didn't use that terminology.
I don't think it's particularly coincidental that this is the textbook definition of Nice Guy operational procedures, either.  (Replace 'wife' with 'any woman'.)  I wonder what the Venn diagram looks like of Nice Guys and Guys Who Think Women Do Not Have An Independent Libido.

Aggression fantasies can provide an outlet for women who just want to have sex and don't want "romance" at that moment. (Women who want sex without commitment are, of course, non-existent, right?? /sarcasm)I knew that social conditioning was the key (when is it not) but somehow I always forget to account for the magnitude of screwiness that people are subjected to.  Women being expected to hide their desires from themselves is a big layer cake of WTF.  Although it's kind of interesting that even people who realise this is what they were taught (and disagree with) don't necessarily find it uncomfortable to slip into a similar mindset for fantasy purposes.

Will Wildman said...

Thanks to being played by Welch, I'm automatically transposing Mike Newton out of my mental images and replacing him with Luke Girardi, who would have horrendous difficulty trying to take the I'm-not-interested hint but might be somewhat more endearing while he was at it.  (And he would offer to carry her books, and it would be so awkward that bards would sing tales of it for years after, but he would not be pushy.)

Personally, I'm confused by the idea that the sciences would get ranked by branch - at my high school, there were independent biology, chemistry, and physics classes straight to the end.  I don't recall anyone suggesting that physics was harder than biology.  But maybe that school just put an exceptional quantity of resources into sciences?  (We also had a partly-rotating schedule in which morning classes were the same every day, but afternoon classes would change in order and sometimes content so that no one class/teacher always got stuck with the kids who were counting down the minutes to the final bell.  I'm not sure what that would do to probabilities.)

Mike was on my team today. He chivalrously covered my position as well as his own, so my woolgathering was only interrupted when it was my turn to serve; my team ducked warily out of the way every time I was up.

Do we know what they're playing?  I had to reread this a couple of times before I settled on volleyball, but that seems very weird when combined with the team ducking out of the way.  (Originally I missed the word 'serve' and I was thinking baseball, but that didn't make sense with Mike being able to cover two positions at once.  Also, is Mike just awesome at volleyball, or shouldn't it be kind of ridiculous for him to be acting as two people at once?  Surely the rest of the team has noticed that Bella is a mayhem singularity and they're all covering for her?)

I'm really quite sad that the Cullens are apparently not in phys ed with everyone else.  It would be truly wonderful to watch them lazily, poutily slouch their way through badminton and volleyball with perfect grace and utter disdain.  Plus, you know: Cullens in gym shorts.  Bwahah.

bekabot said...

"Does Bella have the same schedule daily?"
I think so, because she has to struggle with the same conundrums daily:

1)  "Will Edward Cullen be in Biology class?"
2)  "Is this a day when he'll act like Ted Bundy, or is this a day when he'll be Mr. Darcy?"
3)  "Maybe I should just skip the whole thing and play sick?"

"Several times, it feels as if he works very, very hard to transcend all others that inhabit planet Earth with him."

I don't like Edward, but this is a point on which I feel an impulse to cut him some slack.  He died when he was only 17, and he was (apparently) born in 1901.  He grew up white and male at a time when those characteristics counted for more than they do now.  In addition, he grew up physically beautiful well beyond the norm and (probably) intelligent somewhat beyond the norm, although (and I think this is important) there is no hint that he would have grown up to be an extraordinary man in his own right, the kind of man Carlyle Cullen would have developed into had he not been changed into a vampire.  In other words, Edward Cullen is a typical (not an exceptional) young man of his own time, not ours.  The fact that he's remarkable for nothing more than his good looks*, and the corresponding fact that those good looks have been amped up by his vampire transformation, mean when taken together that his consciousness, telepathy aside, is going to be focussed on the surfaces of things, and that it's going to remain focussed on those surfaces permanently.  So that when people notice, as who could manage not to, that he is an entitled fauxdo treat each other like accessories...this is made overtly apparent in Bella's case when Edward slings her over his back and carries her off, and he does this a lot, especially in the first book.  He literally totes her around like a backpack.

*Bella reports that Edward shows talent as a composer of music, but the question remains as to whether this is gifted-amateur talent or something more.  As readers, we can't tell; first, b/c the strictures under which Edward operates as a vampire are pretty radical: he can't carry his talent out into the world and compare it with the abilities of other people, due to the ever-present danger that he'll eat the other people.  Bella is deeply impressed with Edward's musical gifts, but then her verdict can't be trusted because she's prejudiced in his favor; she loves him.

bekabot said...

"Does Bella have the same schedule daily?"
I think so, because she has to struggle with the same conundrums daily:

1)  "Will Edward Cullen be in Biology class?"
2)  "Is this a day when he'll act like Ted Bundy, or is this a day when he'll be Mr. Darcy?"
3)  "Maybe I should just skip the whole thing and play sick?"

"Several times, it feels as if he works very, very hard to transcend all others that inhabit planet Earth with him."

I don't like Edward, but this is a point on which I feel an impulse to cut him some slack.  He died when he was only 17, and he was (apparently) born in 1901.  He grew up white and male at a time when those characteristics counted for more than they do now.  In addition, he grew up physically beautiful well beyond the norm and (probably) intelligent somewhat beyond the norm, although (and I think this is important) there is no hint that he would have grown up to be an extraordinary man in his own right, the kind of man Carlyle Cullen would have developed into had he not been changed into a vampire.  In other words, Edward Cullen is a typical (not an exceptional) young man of his own time, not ours.  The fact that he's remarkable for nothing more than his good looks*, and the corresponding fact that those good looks have been amped up by his vampire transformation, mean when taken together that his consciousness, telepathy aside, is going to be focussed on the surfaces of things, and that it's going to remain focussed on those surfaces permanently.  So that when people notice, as who could manage not to, that he is an entitled faux-Byronic asshat, something in me retorts: "Absolutely true, but how could it not be?  Look at the poor guy's background; he never had a chance.  The boi can't help it."

Edward and Bella do treat each other like accessories...this is made overtly apparent in Bella's case when Edward slings her over his back and carries her off, and he does this a lot, especially in the first book.  He literally totes her around like a backpack.

*Bella reports that Edward shows talent as a composer of music, but the question remains as to whether this is gifted-amateur talent or something more.  As readers, we can't tell; first, b/c the strictures under which Edward operates as a vampire are pretty radical: he can't carry his talent out into the world and compare it with the abilities of other people, due to the ever-present danger that he'll eat the other people.  Bella is deeply impressed with Edward's musical gifts, but then her verdict can't be trusted because she's prejudiced in his favor; she loves him.

Loquat said...

 [Edward] won't be driven away. This can come across as abusive and stalkerish if we assume women mean what they say...

This is oddly reminiscent of rape fantasy - woman wants (sex|companionship), doesn't feel like just going out and getting some is an option - in fact, has reasons to maintain an external appearance of not wanting any, and reject men who offer - and so invents a fantasy man who ignores her rejection and insists on giving her exactly what she secretly wants. 

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