Twilight: An Ode To Charlie

Twilight Recap: Edward has been ignoring Bella for weeks as she sinks further into depression. Now the dance is coming up and Bella has encouraged Jessica to ask Mike out as her partner. Mike has stopped Bella in Biology class and demanded to know if she intends to ask him to the school dance; Bella has declined.

Twilight, Chapter 4: Invitations

   When I got home, I decided to make chicken enchiladas for dinner. It was a long process, and it would keep me busy. While I was simmering the onions and chilies, the phone rang. I was almost afraid to answer it, but it might be Charlie or my mom.

So let's talk a little about distraction mechanisms. Bella will use a couple of different ones over the course of this book. Tonight we have: cooking!

A major problem here is that, in my experience, cooking is actually a pretty crummy distraction mechanism. It occupies the hands, but not so much the brain -- unless it's a really new or complicated recipe, there's really only so much processing power that has to go into watching the onions turn translucent or the ground beef brown up. In the meantime, while you're stirring or chopping or grinding, there's an awful lot of brain power left over to thinking, and that's precisely what you're trying to avoid. Cooking is, I think, a good calming technique, but not so much a good distraction technique. Then again, maybe the cooking is meant to be a calming technique here and all this is so much moot.

Bella doesn't really seem to have a lot of distractions in her life. I'm saddened by the fact that we never see her reach for something light and fluffy to get away from her dark, depressing life. Her world seems almost deliberately small, and while some of this can be chalked up to poverty, still it seems odd that when she wants to distract herself, she'll either turn to the stove, or grab her headphones to listen to meaningful music, or re-read a piece of classic literature. I understand not wanting to date a novel with references to N'Sync or the Sookie Stackhouse books, but it seems to me that Bella never allows herself to enjoy something fleeting. A piece of music that she knows is fluffy but likes the beat anyway; a trashy novel that she can whip through in a few hours as escapism from the concerns of her life. Something disposable and transient seems needed here, something Bella can instantly sink into without having to appreciate the timelessness of classic prose or the depth of a piece of music.

Bella's entertainment choices seem surprisingly austere and limited to me. Despite having internet and television freely available, she never seems to use either, except for the dutiful emails to her mother and the online vampire research. Perhaps this is simply a failure of imagination on my part -- as much as I adored books as a child, I still liked the odd television show and found plenty of entertaining things to do on my computer, but that doesn't mean that Bella can't be different from me. But it seems to speak to the blandness of Bella's character that she has no real interests outside of a few mentions of classic literature and music.

Of course, the problem with defining your character as a blank is that you have to give them something to do to take up all the free time they will otherwise have on their hands, what with their Not-Reading-Books, Not-Watching-Shows, Not-Playing-Games, Not-Listening-To-Music, and largely Not-Needing-To-Study. And thus we're back to cooking, Bella's raison d'etre in the Swan household. When Bella isn't shopping for food, she's preparing it. What she won't do is tell Charlie to fix dinner for once, or even ask him to pick up some food on the way home because she's had a Rough Day. It's hard to criticize this as sexist when at least a part of me thinks that the only reason Bella was allowed to cook was because otherwise she'd have to sit around and stare at the walls anytime Edward isn't in the scene.

Anyway. The phone rings and Bella doesn't want to answer it, but she does anyway because it might be Charlie or Renee. After the day she's had being ambushed by four different guys and forced into emotionally fraught conversations, I sympathize.

   It was Jessica, and she was jubilant; Mike had caught her after school to accept her invitation. I celebrated with her briefly while I stirred. She had to go, she wanted to call Angela and Lauren to tell them. I suggested -- with casual innocence -- that maybe Angela, the shy girl who had Biology with me, could ask Eric. And Lauren, a standoffish girl who had always ignored me at the lunch table, could ask Tyler; I'd heard he was still available. Jess thought that was a great idea. Now that she was sure of Mike, she actually sounded sincere when she said she wished I would go to the dance. I gave her my Seattle excuse.

I'm ambivalent about this passage for a few reasons.

Here we see the pawning off of the increasingly large stalker club. I kind of respect Bella's initiative to permanently get rid of her fan club as directly as she dares, by hooking them up with more interested partners. It's a passive way to get what Bella wants, but she is taking action and I can kind of respect that. Maybe this is supposed to be where the feminism is inserted (according to the author) because it shows a woman deliberately working to get what she wants. (Or, rather, to get what she doesn't want taken away.) Sure, it's still working within the confines of a sexist society, but maybe it's one of those journey-of-a-thousand-miles-has-a-single-step things.

And yet... it kind of rubs me up the wrong way that Bella is sort of the Golden Girl of Forks after only a few short weeks at the school, particularly considering that she's been excessively dour and scowly to her "friends". I understand Jessica asking Bella first before she asked Mike out: Mike has been making it pretty clear that he wants Bella and Bella only, so it seems reasonable to get Bella on your side before making a move. But now Bella is hooking up her shy and standoffish friends with the available boys, and it just seems a little forced. Why aren't Angela and Lauren capable of deciding who they want to ask without interference from Bella and Jessica? And isn't it just a bit... convenient that these girls will jump at the opportunity? Bella doesn't seem to have noticed any prior attraction on their part to these boys, so she's something of a crackerjack matchmaker to be 2 for 2 at this point.

For that matter, if you're going to claim you have a feminist novel, it probably isn't a hot idea to create two female characters simply so that your protagonist can use them as relationship decoys for her growing unwanted harem. The reader is left with the unfortunate impression that Angela and Lauren had nothing better to do than pop into existence and fling themselves onto Tyler and Eric while Bella sets her sights on Edward in the end zone. At that point, your novel isn't really cheering for the whole team so much as it is for the quarterback. And now my analogy has completely broken down because in football, when the quarterback wins, the whole team wins, but in Twilight when Bella wins, everyone else loses.

   After I hung up, I tried to concentrate on dinner -- dicing the chicken especially; I didn't want to take another trip to the emergency room. But my head was spinning, trying to analyze every word Edward had spoken today. What did he mean, it was better if we weren't friends?

Oh, that's right: Bella is clumsy. I'd almost forgotten.

This is a problem. Why does Bella do all the cooking in her household? She doesn't need to. Charlie has somehow been able to feed himself for the last 15+ years, and it doesn't seem like it would be a gigantic burden to somehow expand his meals to include his newly relocated daughter. If he's cooking, he can cook a little more; if he's buying, he can buy a little more; if his meals are free because he's the Police Chief, then he needs to stop mooching off poor folks in a poor community. I mean, c'mon Charlie, step up to the plate here.

But no, we have Bella Swan who can barely stand straight without falling over chopping vegetables every night in the kitchen. With a very sharp knife, a pot of boiling water, and a burning oven-and-stove setup right there. How has she not seriously injured or burned herself if even the slightest thoughts of Edward cause her to fling herself to the ground in gym class? How are her parents both so callous and cruel that they don't recognize and mitigate this obvious problem by insisting that Bella help out around the house with the less dangerous chores instead? And what, in the name of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, is wrong with Bella? It's not an inner-ear balance problem if a major side effect is slicing oneself open with a paring knife, is it?

   My stomach twisted as I realized what he must have meant. He must see how absorbed I was by him; he must not want to lead me on . . . so we couldn't even be friends . . . because he wasn't interested in me at all.
   Of course he wasn't interested in me, I thought angrily, my eyes stinging -- a delayed reaction to the onions. I wasn't interesting. And he was. Interesting . . . and brilliant . . . and mysterious . . . and perfect . . . and beautiful . . . and possibly able to lift full-sized vans with one hand.

It's interesting that Bella makes Edward's statement all about her here. I can think of a lot of non-vampire reasons why it might be best if Edward wasn't friends with someone. For one thing, he seems to irrationally oscillate between murderous hostility and aggressive shunning for no apparent reason. I mean, Bella hasn't seen him act overtly hostile to anyone else, but she has seen him and his siblings make a concerted effort to shun, ignore, and avoid every person in the school, so it's not surprising that he wouldn't extend her a special friendship invitation.

Then, too, is my theory that the Cullens have their own miniature cult up in the woods in their expensive home. The children don't eat the food at school, are frequently absent on short notice and for long periods of time, and -- oh yeah -- they are all dating each other. I mean, that's the sort of thing that might cause someone to say "it's better if we're not friends" when what they really mean is "I've been brainwashed into believing that only Carlisle can choose the perfect mate for me". It's not a good reason to not be friends, of course, but it's not an indictment against Bella.

Of course, I'm still holding out the theory that the root of this entire mystery is that the Cullens are allergic to something -- peanuts or high fructose corn syrup, perhaps -- that is present in just about everything. They don't eat the school food because they can't eat anything not prepared in their own kitchen, they are absent from school when incidental exposure makes them sick, and Edward's odd behavior towards Bella is rooted in the uncomfortable hives he gets when she is around. Some days are worse than others, so the problem is probably with her clothes or maybe her shampoo, but really it's better if they aren't friends. It's nothing personal, but Edward just doesn't want to deal with the hassle of pinpointing exactly what in Bella's daily routine causes his allergies to flare up, and it's not like they're going to be staying in Forks that much longer anyway. I mean, he's got college and stuff to go to.

Speaking of...

   Well, that was fine. I could leave him alone. I would leave him alone. I would get through my self-imposed sentence here in purgatory, and then hopefully some school in the Southwest, or possibly Hawaii, would offer me a scholarship. I focused my thoughts on sunny beaches and palm trees as I finished the enchiladas and put them in the oven.

...there's this. It's interesting that the first and last time we'll hear about college in this book (if I recall correctly) is as a potential alternative to Edward Cullen. Bella is, after all, in her junior year and it's time for her to start getting those test scores together and the applications processed, but college is mentioned as some vague hope that might or might not make everything magically better. Some school in a nice area might "offer [her]" a scholarship, which is possibly the most passive way to phrase the scholarship process, as though a school official in Hawaii will go down a list of Every High School Student In The Country and pencil a circle around Bella's name. What about her? She sounds nice.

Bella must realize that she can't rest on her laurels on this whole college business. Charlie and Renee don't have the ability or interest to fill out paperwork and mail it on her behalf. Her grades simply aren't good enough to coast on numbers alone. She's going to need to start writing one heck of an inquiry letter and she needs to start pulling together some representative samples of her work instead of cribbing off her sophomore year papers to coast through her junior year at Forks. And it probably wouldn't hurt to think about a part-time job to bank some finances.

Of course, not everyone has to go to college. But... I don't understand why Bella isn't serious about wanting to go to college. She knows that the possibility exists and she seems to sort of view it as an obvious route that she will be taking at some point, but she's taking no steps to make it happen. This would make sense if she had, basically, my childhood where Mommy and Daddy did that sort of stuff and you just signed the bottom line, but Bella hasn't had that childhood. Her childhood was that of an adult-child managing the affairs of her incompetent single mother, a childhood where money has to be carefully budgeted, forms have to be thoroughly read, and no one in authority can be relied upon to take care of you.

Maybe Bella is just so ground down that Edward The White Knight is the only way out that she can see, but it would make more sense to me if she was gung-ho to get out of her family life and recognized that education and a good job were the most sure-fire method to that goal.

   Charlie seemed suspicious when he came home and smelled the green peppers. I couldn't blame him -- the closest edible Mexican food was probably in southern California. But he was a cop, even if just a small-town cop, so he was brave enough to take the first bite. He seemed to like it. It was fun to watch as he slowly began trusting me in the kitchen.

Fun fact: Charlie has been spending a couple weeks every year for the last couple of years in California because Bella refused to visit him in Forks. (I never get tired of that fact.) So it probably shouldn't come as a huge surprise to him that Bella has seen and can reproduce a flour tortilla wrapped around some meat and vegetables.

However, I'm glad that Bella is having fun watching her father bravely eat food, because if it was me regularly spending all evening cooking dinner for Charlie and he kept wrinkling his nose up at it before taking a bite, I'd tell him he could go back to getting his meals from the ether where they used to come from. There's nothing wrong with not liking a meal, but it's just plain rude to go through this nightly routine of Dubious Look, Tentative Taste, Relieved Acceptance while the cook hovers anxiously in the background waiting for approval.

But wait, I'm confused! If Forks doesn't have edible Mexican food, then why does the local Piggly-Wiggly sell tortillas? Surely Bella didn't make the tortillas for her enchiladas from scratch! Hang on, Google will unravel this impossible conundrum for me...

...ah, here we go. Another fun fact: More than 10% of the Washington population identified as Hispanic or Latino in the 2010 census. So I'm pretty sure there's "edible Mexican food" in the Washington state. Some of it is probably even for sale to non-Hispanic and non-Latino peoples! Still, it's impressive to see a white protagonist disappear 10% of the local population in order to gloat about her diverse cooking repertoire.

   "Dad?" I asked when he was almost done.
   "Yeah, Bella?"

The frustrating thing about Twilight -- and this ties into the lack of hobbies above -- is that I never get the sense that things are happening behind the narrative. The first time I read this, I genuinely assumed that these were the first words spoken by Bella and Charlie to each other since he arrived home. I'm still not sure that impression isn't right: we've already been told that, meh, Bells and Chuck are just super-quiet and don't do much talking.

I think one of the hardest things about being an author is creating the implication that your characters do things even when the reader isn't looking. It's not an easy thing to write sometimes, and I really feel like Twilight struggles with it. Instead we're given excuses -- Bella doesn't talk to her father, Bella doesn't have much in the way of hobbies, Bella doesn't have friends outside of school -- to justify why nothing ever seems to happen when the reader isn't looking. This is solving the wrong problem.

This problem isn't limited to Bella. If anything, it's worse when the Cullens enter the picture, because what are these immortal, sleepless vampires doing with all their time? They must have been pretty busy in the past -- forging new identities, making millions on the stock market without tipping off the feds that you're psychic, and earning ten or twenty college degrees apiece must have taken a lot of serious time and effort. But they don't seem to be doing much of anything now, or at least if they are, the reader never gets to see it. I'd much prefer to read about Busy Bee Cullens, but it seems that all we ever get are the frolic-and-....um....make love Cullens. It's no wonder the Cullen women go ga-ga at the thought of planning their annual weddings -- it gives them something to do. It's just a shame that we don't get to see them doing other, less stereotypically feminine things along the way.

   "Um, I just wanted to let you know that I'm going to Seattle for the day a week from Saturday . . . if that's okay?" I didn't want to ask permission -- it set a bad precedent -- but I felt rude, so I tacked it on at the end.
   "Why?" He sounded surprised, as if he were unable to imagine something that Forks couldn't offer.
   "Well, I wanted to get few books -- the library here is pretty limited -- and maybe look at some clothes." I had more money than I was used to having, since, thanks to Charlie, I hadn't had to pay for a car.

Here's a list of the reasons why I would be surprised, were I Charlie:

1. Bella has only recently acquired her car and presumably has not been driving for very long. A road-trip to a large city requires solid handling of a vehicle, as well as careful understanding of the route involved. In this case, Bella has never traveled this particular route, and apparently has neither a cell phone nor a GPS device. Furthermore, Bella's vehicle has just been in a major accident and -- related to this -- seems to have magic repairing powers that have not been properly investigated.

2. Bella has only been in Forks for a few weeks at this point in the story. What could she need in such a short time period that (a) isn't available in Forks and (b) wouldn't have brought with her from Arizona? Does Bella not have knowledge of inter-library loans and book ordering through the local retail stores? For that matter...

3. Bella seems to have no hobbies whatsoever outside of classic literature. Doesn't the local library already have the complete works of Jane Austen and the full repertoire of Brooding Victorian Gentlemen courtesy of the Bronte sisters? Does the local Piggly-Wiggly not carry her preferred brand of laundry detergent? Seriously, what is in Seattle that Forks can't offer? And how do the hard-working Forksians get clothes if the only place to shop for clothes is in Seattle?

4. Bella has been so clearly depressed in the weeks following the collision accident that her absentee mother has been able to diagnose her through emails and -- one hopes -- has communicated her concerns to Charlie. Is a day-trip by herself to a big city Bella has never visited before (or has she? Now that I think on it, it seems awfully convenient that she always lands at the Forks airport. Wouldn't it be more natural for her flights to stop at Seattle and Charlie to pick her up there?) really what she needs after a major car collision has left her noticeably depressed?

But those are just the reasons I would be surprised. I encourage you all to come up with other, better reasons in the comments!

   "Are you going all by yourself?" he asked, and I couldn't tell if he was suspicious I had a secret boyfriend or just worried about car trouble.
   "Yes."
   "Seattle is a big city -- you could get lost," he fretted.
   "Dad, Phoenix is five times the size of Seattle -- and I can read a map, don't worry about it."

And now we come to the hardest part of writing a deconstruction: trying to figure out if the narrative character knows what they are talking about.

On the one hand, I think it's perfectly reasonable for Charlie to be concerned about this plan. Bella is a young adult, and she should be allowed to stretch her wings, and this trip may be very healthy for her, but at the same time, this isn't a quick lark that she's driven a hundred times and back. This is a rather serious trip for a rather serious girl that should probably be taken with a degree of seriousness. Some basic questions would therefore seem in order and -- as such -- Bella comes off as terribly uncharitable for leaping onto the ZOMG SECRET BOYFRIEND train of logic.

On the other hand, I'm not prepared to definitively say that Charlie isn't giving off the ZOMG SECRET BOYFRIEND vibe. He will, in fact, over the course of this novel get very paranoid about Bella's lady parts and protecting them from marauding Forksian boys, and he will take this concern to a level that will actually make me quite uncomfortable, so it's entirely plausible that Charlie's concern here actually is that Bella is trying to sneak out and visit and secret boyfriend.

If this is the case -- if Charlie is going into ZOMG SECRET BOYFRIEND mode -- then I feel comfortable calling Charlie out as unhealthily paranoid. If I'm reading the text correctly, Bella has never before had a boyfriend, let alone a secret one. Indeed, she still hasn't got one. And the idea that she has a secret boyfriend in Seattle -- a city Bella has apparently never visited before -- is patently ridiculous. But, Ana, you might say, perhaps he's concerned that this Seattle trip is a cover so that she can meet a local boy! To which I would reply that such a cover is fairly unnecessary, given all of Charlie's weekend-long trips fishing on the reservation.

Furthermore, the paranoia that Charlie will exhibit over Bella's lady parts doesn't strike me as totally keeping with his character. Charlie shows little-to-no interest in Bella, from the details of her daily life to the long-term stuff of college and hopes and dreams. I suppose you could say that Charlie's paranoia might stem from his history with Renee, but then again we have no real reason to assume that infidelity or secret boyfriends was a cause of breakup in their marriage.

I feel like Charlie is paranoid about Bella's sexuality because That's What Fathers Do in the Twilight-verse, regardless of whether or not their obsession makes sense in light of their character or even that of their daughter's character. Charlie is interested in Bella's lady parts for the same reason that he can't cook: because he's a Man. Men can't cook, even if they've been living by themselves for the better part of twenty years and are tired of take-out. Men obsess compulsively about the virginity of their female progeny, even if said progeny is almost a stranger to them.

   "Do you want me to come with you?"
   I tried to be crafty as I hid my horror.
   "That's all right, Dad, I'll probably just be in dressing rooms all day -- very boring."
   "Oh, okay." The thought of sitting in women's clothing stores for any period of time immediately put him off.

Men don't like helping women shop for clothes.

   "Will you be back in time for the dance?"
   Grrr. Only in a town this small would a father know when the high school dances were.

Men don't keep track of major school events... unless it's a small town or the school event in question represents a threat to the female progeny's virginity.

The worst part about all this is that with just a few tweaks, Charlie could have been a really awesome dad. Maybe he could be a little over-involved in Bella's life in an attempt to make up for the lost years. Maybe he could be a little over-protective because he was hurt so badly by marrying young and he doesn't want Bella to make the same mistakes.

But that's not the Charlie we get. Our Charlie isn't involved in Bella's life except when it involves pushing her towards the Wrong suitors and away from the Right one. Our Charlie isn't interested in Bella's life or her future beyond how her choices affect the state of her hymen. He doesn't care that she's a seriously depressed girl planning a day-trip to a faraway city in order to seek some kind of salve for the life she doesn't want to be living in Forks -- he cares that she might be meeting a boy.

Or, at least, he conveys his concerns so poorly to Bella that that is what she believes.

And that makes me so sad. I would have liked a sensitive Charlie, who remembered when the school dance was and agreed to go help his daughter shop for clothes and books in Seattle on a father-daughter day trip. I would have liked a caring Charlie who -- if he erred on the side of being over-protective -- he did it because he loved his daughter. And not because that's just what Men do.

   "No -- I don't dance, Dad." He, of all people, should understand that -- I didn't get my balance problems from my mother.
   He did understand. "Oh, that's right," he realized.

Wait, Bella gets her balance problems from Charlie? Keeps-a-loaded-gun-hanging-up-in-the-house-and-doesn't-give-the-safety-lecture-to-Bella Charlie? How did I miss this?

145 comments:

Nathaniel said...

"It's hard to criticize this as sexist when at least a part of me thinks that the only reason Bella was allowed to cook was because otherwise she'd have to sit around and stare at the walls anytime Edward isn't in the scene."

One of the reasons these feels like a novel as myopic as the main character. If you aren't invested in the inevitable Bella-Sparklepants Twu love, then this book isn't interested in you.


"Oh, that's right: Bella is clumsy. I'd almost forgotten."

Its easy to forget such things when the narrative only remembers clumsiness so as to provide an excuse for the oh-so hunky male characters can cart her around. After taking off their shirts for totally innocent reasons.

"And not because that's just what Men do. "

And yet more evidence that this novel isn't about having characters as people, but characters as props. Loosely, they can be categorized as Obstacles to Twu love, and Assistants to Twu love. Charlie is an Obstacle to be an Obstacle. Hell, even the vagina panicked stereotype feels like an ad hoc after thought. If he was simply vagina panicked, then why would Charlie so obsessively push Jacob as an awesome match in later books?

"Interesting . . . and brilliant . . . and mysterious . . . and perfect . . . and beautiful . . . and possibly able to lift full-sized vans with one hand."

Okay, I can see the beautiful and mysterious, even the perfect if Bella conflates physical attractiveness with perfection.

But interesting and brilliant? What sort of interesting characteristics has Edward shown? What activities is he involved in? Has he shown any interests other than glowering and smugly grinning at other people? And just where the heck has he shown smarts?

Gah.

depizan said...

Now that I think on it, it seems awfully convenient that she always lands at the Forks airport. Wouldn't it be more natural for her flights to stop at Seattle and Charlie to pick her up there?

I can't believe I didn't notice this. It's not at all clear that her flights can arrive at Forks, unless she came by private charter. If I'm reading this http://www.airnav.com/airport/S18 right, it's a general aviation only airport - no regular service at all (hell, it hasn't got the equipment for instrument landings, which means it's probably unusable at times due to weather).

*more googling*

HA! It's impossible. http://www.forkswa.com/visiting-forks Airlines go to Sea-Tac, there's a local air carrier, Kenmore Air, that goes to Port Angeles, or you've got to charter a plane to go to Forks airport. Research fail strikes again.

And either Bella is full of it (and Charlie somehow fails to notice) or we've got yet another research fail "Phoenix is five times the size of Seattle." Um, no, Bella. Phoenix is the 14th largest US metro area at 4,192,887 people in 2010 and Seattle is...wait for it... the 15th largest US metro area at 3,439,809 people in 2010. In 2000 they were even closer in population, having 3,251,876 and 3,043,878 people respectively. Also, an unfamiliar city will seem bigger, not smaller.

Also, Sensitive!Charlie would have been awesome.

Wait, Bella gets her balance problems from Charlie?

Whaaaaat!?

depizan said...

But interesting and brilliant?

Good point. These aren't at all narratively supported. Unless, following from your explanation for perfect, interesting actually means "sexy" and brilliant means "not stupid like everyone else." Which is a rather depressing explanation.

readerofprey said...

Bella knows that Edward is brilliant because, like Bella, he was able to complete the freshman-level mitosis lab (after having seen the mitosis stages outlined in the science text books every year since fifth grade) with little difficulty while the other juniors struggled all around them. He is interesting because in that one conversation they had, he was primarily interested in Bella's suffering vis a vis her move, and since that is the only thing that interests Bella at all other than Edward's beauty, she sees him as very interesting.

(My biggest minor pet peeve in this book is the curriculum. All the juniors and their teacher make a big fuss about this fairly simple science lab that they ought to have seen in 9th grade, while Bella's English syllabus reads like a college-level intro to Great Books. It's rare nowadays to see Faulkner assigned in high school at all, much less as the only modern author in a given year of study. And you can't even explain it as Bella being in AP English because you know that the school is too small to track or Bella and especially Edward would be in AP science too. The author has high school age children - does she not know what her own kids study?)

Brin Bellway said...

On the one hand, I think it's perfectly reasonable for Charlie to be concerned about this plan. Bella is a young adult, and she should be allowed to stretch her wings, and this trip may be very healthy for her, but at the same time, this isn't a quick lark that she's driven a hundred times and back. This is a rather serious trip for a rather serious girl that should probably be taken with a degree of seriousness.

There are two main problems with me trying to view this from the perspective of Resident Person Bella's Age.

1: Families vary widely in level of restrictions. Mine tend towards the protective side, but:

2: Teenagers also vary widely in how far they want to go. My parents would certainly not allow me to go to Toronto* by myself, but it doesn't matter because I don't want to. I think for the moment I would be quite happy with the next village over (if I ever get a means of transportation**; it's three miles just to get one-way to the outer limits and I haven't gotten around to learning to drive), perhaps select locations in the nearest city (~20 minute drive, 300k people) with well-defined routes.

One of the more minor reasons why Bella doesn't make sense, since I'm told some people really do think like that. Just not me.

(The idea of doing it because of having to escape the people asking to go out with me just makes it seems more alien. Nobody has ever attempted to date (not that I know of, anyway) in the bubble world that is my RL, save one fifty-year-old woman who has now successfully found a second husband.)

*Which, I might add, is half the distance from here that Seattle is from Forks (perhaps Bella!me should be asking to go to Buffalo*** by herself instead, though then there's international factors) and 70% of the size, counting by population.

**I am allowed to wander freely for as far as I can walk, but there's very little within walking distance. I really should get a bike that wasn't sized as a compromise between twelve-year-old me and eight-year-old Brother, but not now. It's nearly hibernation time. (Five months of the year--second week of November through the first week of April--it's too cold and snowy to wander. By the time it ends, I'll be nearly eighteen and a half, and perhaps my parents will have reconsidered their boundaries in light of majority. Who knows how things will be then.)

***There's a strange thought: if I wanted as much freedom as Bella does, I'd be asking to fetch my own Cheez-Its. This may not sound like a lot to you (especially you Americans), but to me it shows the enormity of it. Trips to Buffalo are a huge Event to us.


(I think I just wrote my most tangent-filled complicatedly-laid-out post ever. Yay.)

hapax said...

Umm. Not all high schools have the same curriculum.

My high school did the mitosis lab SENIOR year, and read more Faulkner than we did Shakespeare. Granted, that was decades ago, but my children's current high school has Biology during the sophomore year and daughter read AS I LAY DYING (I think) in American Lit.

Edward is "interesting" because he isn't (apparently) interested in Bella. (I'd say that's why he's "brilliant", too, but that would just be snarky.)

Charlie is an interesting character. He is even more of a sketch than Bella; pretty much all of his character consists of what the reader projects onto him.

I pretty much discounted EVERYTHING Bella said about his motivations as saying more about her than about him, and chalked him up as a guy who felt like he *ought* to be concerned about his daughter and didn't know how. His constant absence I attributed to someone who had spent most of his adult life alone, believing that he was pining for a woman and child that he knew only as photographs and memories, and being absolutely flummoxed when confronted with the necessity of interacting with a real living breathing human being.

In other words, he chickened out and is running away for the most part. But when he HAS to interact, he draws on what he sees fathers saying on television sitcoms, because he hasn't the slightest clue otherwise as to what to say.

But your interpretation is as valid as any; there really isn't anything in the text to really support anything one way or t'other.

Amarie said...

If there’s one recurring aspect that almost all the Twilight characters share (besides being laughably inept at basic communication) it’s the prevailing belief that a Woman’s Virginity Is Controlled By A Man. And for Stephenie Meyer, I think I can say that it doesn’t matter *what* man that is. Meaning, the roles of boyfriends and fathers are one and the same. I say that because people have become absolutely livid over Edward’s dismantling of Bella’s car engine in Eclipse. Of course, they became even more livid when Stephenie Meyer openly defended it.

Yet…
If you go back to the first book, doesn’t Charlie do the *exact same thing, for the exact same reason* when he disconnects Bella’s power cables?

So now you have two instances where a Man disables a woman’s vehicle. And the reason for that is to control her sexuality by keeping her from seeing another boy. Whether it was irrational and wrong or not is completely irrelevant; a woman Doesn’t Know Better, so it’s up to a Man To Protect Her, Even From Herself. And we all know that in [religious] Twilight, a woman is only as good as her vagina is untouched. Therefore, Bella doesn’t need to have any interests, aspirations, hobbies, etc; as long as she’s a virgin, she’s as good as gold to Stephenie Meyer and therefore worthy of Edward Cullen.

I think this also ties into why the books don’t see anything wrong with imprinting: if both a boyfriend and a father can control your sexuality, then what’s the difference between them? Nessie and Jacob won’t need to transition through anything painful or confusing because a father/brother is allowed to do the very same things as a boyfriend/husband is allowed to do. In the meantime, all women/girls are the same in regards to Not Knowing Any Better, and so they all need their sexuality to be controlled to the point that we’re talking about their ‘souls’ and ‘eternal salvation’.

Now, personally…I didn’t hate (read that: H.A.T.E) Charlie until Eclipse. That was when Bella-his daughter and therefore flesh and blood-came in with a broken hand from a sexual assault by Jacob. In reaction, Charlie doesn’t leave his place from the couch and actually verbally pats Jacob on the back for forcing a kiss on Bella. When Edward comes in (and partially does the right thing for once, in my opinion) Charlie then gets off the couch and threatens to get his badge to make his authority more official. Bella asks her father if he has a baseball bad (or crowbar?) to hit Jacob with, and said father responds by saying, “Enough, Bella.”

…And you know what? This Amarie can’t even analyze/comprehend why to *this day* I hate that passage. That page. That entire chapter. I really, really can’t. Because my anger and disgust would take over and I’d rather not troll on Ana’s blog.

*shuts mouth goes over to quietly snuggle with the real Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bennet*

hapax said...

Oh, and I had no problem with Bella's desire to go to Seattle. What she obviously wanted from there was to be Not Here (in Forks). And Ana, you made me laugh when you wondered what on earth Bella could look for in Seattle that she couldn't order online or through ILL in Forks -- you reminded me of my spouse, who expressed the same puzzlement when daughter and I were lingering in a store where he knew that we had no intention of purchasing anything. (I think it was a hat store). We both whirled on him and announced in unison, with visceral scorn, "We're SHOPPING!".

(Of course, we find out later that Bella hates shopping. But we don't know that yet.)

But perceptions of distance change a lot depending on where in the U.S. you live. I'd not be thrown if my kids wanted to drive to, say, Tulsa (the nearest "big city", a little less than a three hour drive) to go "shopping" or whatever, because it's pretty much a straight shot on major highways. I'd insist they take a cell phone and check in with me every now and then, but that's it.

redcrow said...

*I* hate shopping, and I'd spend *hours* in a hat store, if I ever encountered one.


*okay, not really, but buying books, CDs/DVDs or dolls is not generally considered "shopping". When it comes to buying clothes and footwear, though, I don't enjoy it. But hats... *sighs wistfully*

redcrow said...

(I lost an asterisk leading to a footnote. It was supposed to be after "shopping".)

Pthalo said...

"Um, no, Bella. Phoenix is the 14th largest US metro area at 4,192,887 people in 2010 and Seattle is...wait for it... the 15th largest US metro area at 3,439,809 people in 2010."

It's possible that she meant largest by square miles, given that the context is driving around. The phoenix metropolitan area is the 3rd-or-4th-i-dont-remember largest place to drive around in the US. It has the 3rd-4th most square miles to get lost in.

Pthalo said...

Speaking of distances, you can drive north-south across Hungary in about 3 or 4 hours. So, you can get from Slovakia to Serbia in that amount of time.

I live about 20 km from the border to Serbia, and 40km from the first major city in northern Serbia. It costs $4 to get to that city by bus (30 minutes), or $3 by train (2 hours -- lots of waiting at the border, but it's better to go by train because sometimes the bus doesn't come after all. Although I once saw an insect flying along outside that train. It overtook us. No joke. It's called "rail bus" not "train" in both languages, because it can't go faster than 15km an hour and it looks like an old bus from the 1950's. (And was probably built that long ago).

Here's a picture: http://archiv.magyarszo.com/arhiva/2008/03/01/images/55__sinbusz.jpg

Rainicorn said...

You know, I wish Informed lolclumsy wasn't such a trope in romance stories. It reflects badly on those of us who actually are clumsy, even when shirtless boys aren't around. (And, yes, my clumsiness is one of the reasons I avoid cooking whenever possible.) The other day a friend suggested that I should switch my usual cry of "spacial awareness FAIL" to one of "spacial awareness win", because (I quote) "then you wouldn't have to talk so much."

JP said...

The creepy similarity between Father-and-Lover continues throughout (and, weirdly, connects again to automobiles): Charlie buys Bella a car that draws unnecessary attention to her and makes her uncomfortable; later Edward buys Bella a car that, although for different reasons, draws attention to her and makes her so uncomfortable she can barely stand to drive it into town. Plus we're told that Edward deliberately chooses a car for Bella so conspicuous that it defeats its purpose--basic transportation--as a joke to share with his brothers at Bella's expense.

Doesn't that just add to his charm, if by "charm" you mean "sadism of a controlling, manipulative jerk."

redcrow said...

>>>Remember that the werewolves are our friends

Extremely dangerous ones, like guns?

("If in the first act there's a werewolf on your wall...")

depizan said...

Hm, the idea that she means city area makes sense (though I'm not sure area is directly related to how easy or hard it is to get lost in a city). I'd never realized just how abnormally sprawling Phoenix is. It just seemed very open every time I visited there (I used to live in Arizona). Of course, I now live in another abnormally sprawling city, one I visited a lot as a kid, so my sense for city area may be off.

(Doesn't help with the airport wackiness, but at least the city thing isn't a research fail.)

Speaking of distance, though, I'm a little surprised Bella wants to drive 100 miles (3 hours) to Seattle. When you're used to living far from a big city, yeah, that's normal, but she grew up in Phoenix. She's used to having everything right there (for certain values of right there, since one could easily spend 3 hours driving around Phoenix while shopping). But it's still a different experience. I think it would seem less odd if the not having things right there was played up as getting to her and have the desire to go to Seattle be genuine, not a made up excuse. It's not about shopping, it's about needing to be in a city for a few hours.

I guess, once again, it's not what she's doing that seems weird, it's why she's doing it and how she feels about it that feel off somehow.

Ana Mardoll said...

And Ana, you made me laugh when you wondered what on earth Bella could look for in Seattle that she couldn't order online or through ILL in Forks -- you reminded me of my spouse, who expressed the same puzzlement when daughter and I were lingering in a store where he knew that we had no intention of purchasing anything. (I think it was a hat store). We both whirled on him and announced in unison, with visceral scorn, "We're SHOPPING!".

Ahahahahahaha. Good point: my mom is the same way, but I don't enjoy shopping much. Ironically, my aunt and cousin are the same as us, but switched -- daughter likes shopping, mother doesn't. Sometimes on family reunions, the moms would swap daughters. :D

Ana Mardoll said...

I guess, once again, it's not what she's doing that seems weird, it's why she's doing it and how she feels about it that feel off somehow.

This. My own reading of Bella is someone who doesn't like to get out a whole lot. Not based on any in-text statements, I grant, but she bolts straight home from school (with a minor stop at the grocery store) and she hasn't seemed interested in getting out, driving around, visiting the shops, and so forth.

I could be projecting, because that's very much my personality. But 3 hours is a super long trip for me and I'd have to REALLY want to make it.

@Chris, I love your Charlize. She's everything I want Charlie to be, but isn't.

Does the Google book search include the chapter title? That would help narrow it down, maybe. *goes off to look*

Brin Bellway said...

on your end it means that if you look at the link to Stealing Commas here or and Mock Ramblings it will indicate that I haven't posted anything since the borking.

So your RSS feed's stopped working. *adds your blog to list of blogs to check manually* (Otherwise I'll never know.)

Also: {{{chris the cynic}}}

chris the cynic said...

Does the Google book search include the chapter title? That would help narrow it down, maybe. *goes off to look*

Normally it includes page numbers but for Twilight where it would normally say, "Page [number]" it just says, "Page"

Ana Mardoll said...

Rats. :(

chris the cynic said...

So your RSS feed's stopped working.

I was wondering if that could be what it means, but was unsure because ... well because I don't actually know what an RSS feed is. I guess it was a lucky guess.

I assume the problem with that is somehow related to the problem with the stats because it appears to have happened at the same time. There are questions aplenty about the stats problem on the blogger help forum, but as yet no answers.

Also: {{{chris the cynic}}}

Thank you.

Gelliebean said...

Something I just started to wonder about - does Bella get an allowance from Charlie, or does Renee send her money? A pickup, and I would guess especially an older truck, wouldn't be that great on mileage. Depending on how far out in the countryside they live, she might be burning through a tank more a week.... (speaking of which, why do we not at least have some idea where things are in relation to each other? I found a map of Forks that puts the hospital at about 1/2 mile from the high school. In fact, the whole town - residential area, at least - looks to be about 4-ish miles on a diagonal across.)

And since my husband wandered by, I did a little more research and asked him for some of his resident-expert advice - apparently, Bella's truck is a 1953 Chevy in the books, which he says would get about 12 mpg, and a 1963 Chevy in the movie, which would get about 10. Driving distance from Forks to Seattle is 138 miles, so with an 18-gallon tank, she could easily get there without stopping along the way.... Of course, the truck has no MP3 input, no CD player, no cassette player, and in fact from what my husband says, wouldn't have had a sound system of any sort as part of factory specs. So that's a 3.25 hour drive by Google Maps, if there are no construction zones / accident scenes / heavy traffic areas to slow her down, with NO MUSIC. That's about the distance we cover on our annual weekend pilgrimage to Corpus Christi every year, and with two of us in the car and a great CD selection, it's still a long drive. :-/ (On the plus side, we go in two weeks! Yay!)

Yeah. So... where was I going when I started? Oh, right. Spending money. Do we ever know how much Bella has, where it comes from, or how she pays for gas (especially if she has to raid the "Food Money" jar in the pantry just for basic groceries)?

Brin Bellway said...

especially if she has to raid the "Food Money" jar in the pantry just for basic groceries)

Who said anything about "has to"? Why use your own money for food when your dad is perfectly willing to pay for it? Keep your own meager savings for the stuff parents won't pay for. (In my case that's mostly replacing my laptop when the current one breaks, except Bella--as we were just complaining--has no hobbies. What would she want to spend money on, other than perhaps gasoline? Still no point using your own money when parental money will do, just in case you find something to buy.)

Gelliebean said...

I see what you mean.... I had thought "has to" more along the lines of Charlie never gave her a 'grocery allowance' or told her when he planned to go grocery shopping with her, so she had to dig the jar out of the back of a cabinet somewhere to get around him. I hadn't thought about "has to" as the alternative being using her own personal money.

depizan said...

This. My own reading of Bella is someone who doesn't like to get out a whole lot. Not based on any in-text statements, I grant,

It's not stated, but as you point out, it's shown. She hurries home from school, she does things in and around the house, and she mostly does things by herself. When she does go out, it's reluctantly. I don't remember her being enthused about the beach trip or the trip to Port Angeles to help her theoretical friends shop for dresses. (Granted, I've read the book a grand total of once. I could be misremembering.)

chris the cynic said...

A pickup, and I would guess especially an older truck, wouldn't be that great on mileage.

That actually comes up in the part Ana didn't quote. Picking up from where Bella says she has money because she didn't need to pay for a car:

Not that the truck didn't cost me quite a bit in the gas department.

"That truck probably doesn't get very good gas mileage," he said, echoing my thoughts.

"I know, I'll stop in Montesano and Olympia -- and Tacoma if I have to."

Ana Mardoll said...

Something I just started to wonder about - does Bella get an allowance from Charlie, or does Renee send her money?

The in-text, and rather clumsy, explanation is that since Bella didn't have to buy a car, she is now somewhat flush. The problem with this is back during the "how much does the car you found cost, Charlie?" discussion, she narrated that she had very little to work with, cash-wise.

Renee is painted as relatively poor -- she and Bella had to scrape together the money to supplement Bella's wardrobe with coats and winter wear. Presumably Phil isn't or can't help on that front, and I can't see Charlie making much in the way of a salary, although now that he doesn't have to fly out to California for a week, maybe he's got plenty of extra cash on hand...

chris the cynic said...

The California thing really needed to be addressed more. Amoung other things there's a total lack of self awareness on Bella's part. When a fourteen year old demands the extremely implausible bordering on impossible or else they'll never let one of their parents see them again ever it's not putting their foot down, it's pitching a fit. Yet Bella doesn't seem to see that.

I have put some thought into the thought Ben put into the similar episode in his life, and it's something like this:

When I was fourteen I decided that I absolutely knew what was best for me and

When I was fourteen I demanded that things change. I was young, I was stupid, and I was hurtful. I didn't think about the fact that I was telling my mother I cared more about the climate than I did about seeing her. I didn't think about how much it costs to pick up everything and stay for two weeks in Califorina every year. I didn't think about the fact that I had effectively cut the time I spent with my mother in half while increasing her financial burdens by who knows how much.

No. I didn't think about any of that. I thought that I was being an adult. I knew what was best and I was putting my foot down.

And in response my mother did the most amazing thing. She did what I asked, that summer, and the next two summers we spent two weeks together on the California coast.
She taught me how to surf. I still don't fully understand how she was able to pay for it, but she never complained.

Or something like that, it's still a work in progress.

Of course if we assume that Bella's 14 year old rebellion drained Charlie's savings then perhaps he was extra receptive when the Cullens cam by offering to put some cash in his food money jar.

depizan said...

I know, I'll stop in Montesano and Olympia -- and Tacoma if I have to."

Whaaaat? O_o What kind of bizarro route is she taking? Going through Montesano and Olympia, would take her trip form 138 miles to 216 miles and add 46 minutes to the drive, assuming Google maps is taking road speeds into account. Go to google maps and get directions from Forks to Seattle. It will tell you to take 101 through Port Angeles to 3, skirting by Bremerton, to Seattle. Granted, this route involves taking a car ferry, but people do that all the time in the Seattle area. Hell, skipping the car ferry and going through Bremerton and Tacoma would still be faster than Bella's proposed route.

Can a Washingtonian give me any clue as to why one would take Bella's proposed route? I can't think of one from here.

Gelliebean said...

(Disclaimer: I've never been to WA and so this is just a guess, but) in looking at the two routes, it seems that the southern one goes through a greater number of populated areas. Someone concerned about safety issues, especially someone with a very old vehicle, might decide to go further out of their way in hopes that, were anything to happen, there would be better opportunities of having someone stop to help sooner. If Bella were a city girl, accustomed to driving in Phoenix, she might take a chance on navigating a few urban spaghetti bowls rather than getting stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

Of course, this presupposes that Bella has some sense of self-preservation and would actually think of such a thing. Personally, I'm not sure it would be worth driving 100 miles further.

Makabit said...

I just have to share this, which has nothing to do with this particular post, but is my favorite "Twilight" tale: A few years ago, my mother, who works at a Jewish educational agency, mentioned to me that she had received a big promotional packet for "Twilight", with posters and bookmarks and such. They didn't need it, but she wasn't sure she should throw it out.

I asked what seemed to me the reasonable question, "Why the hell did the publishers of "Twilight" send your office this stuff?"

When she answered, I realized that she had no idea what "Twilight" was about, and had, in fact, assumed it was about teenagers during the Holocaust, based on the fact that they'd sent the stuff to her agency, the title, which I think make her think of Eli Weisel's "Night", and the picture of two pale young people apparently hiding in a forest.

When she realized it was a vampire romance, she decided it would be OK to toss the posters.

Nathaniel said...

"When a fourteen year old demands the extremely implausible bordering on impossible or else they'll never let one of their parents see them again ever it's not putting their foot down, it's pitching a fit. Yet Bella doesn't seem to see that."

This ties into how Forks is supposedly hell on Earth, and therefore any expense and any amount of hissy fitting is worth not going there. The dissonance comes from the extreme pettiness of this position, yet the author seems to agree with it, and not see any contradiction with this and declaring Bella "mature."

Sweetcraspy said...

I find that cooking is very fulfilling after a stressful day. You are completely in control of a very discrete process that produces a pleasurable outcome. I don't know if it's distracting, but definitely calming and relaxing. It makes a lot of sense to me that Bella would go to a relatively complicated recipe after a day of unending, unwelcome propositions.

depizan said...

From Port Angeles on, the northern route is fairly populated.* There are some big stretches in the southern route between towns that I think add up to more desolate road than the initial townless stretch of the northern route. Frankly, though, if her car is that questionable, she really shouldn't be going at all - there's a good chance of ending up stuck in the middle of nowhere on either route if she has bad luck.

Given how her trip to Port Angeles later in the book goes, this Seattle trip (though I can't remember if it actually happens) is mind bogglingly bizarre in narrative, too.

And, in response to what Silver Adept shared - Bella might not know those things, but you'd expect Charlie would. I can't help thinking that Meyer would've been better off setting the story in not-quite-as-cloudy Seattle (or some part of the general metro area). She's familiar with city life, the Cullens wouldn't stand out so much, and she could've written more based on what she knows - even if Phoenix isn't Seattle.

*Judging both from the map and my memory of visiting the area with my family when I was 13. We didn't go to Forks, but we did drive from the Seattle area to Port Angeles. Among other places.

Amarie said...

Oh, I agree with Nathaniel completely. Stephenie Meyer either:

1.) Has been so sheltered that she clearly has a different grasp of basic life concepts such as love, maturity, responsibility, social skills, etc.
Or
2.) Wants to have a fantasy where two things that are mutually exclusive can happen.

I’m inclined to go with the first one, of course. But for now, I’m going to go with the second one; she wants situations that are mutually exclusive. More than half the time in the series, Mrs. Meyer strives for both maturity and immaturity. We *see* Bella’s excessive whining and we *hear* that she is mature. And she’s not the only example. When Edward takes out Bella’s car engine, we see how not only immature that is, but abusive and controlling that is, as well. Meanwhile, we’re *told* that he’s mature enough to enter into and dictate a marriage. It’s the same thing with Jacob: he’s immature enough to force a kiss on Bella*, yet he’s mature enough to basically raise her daughter, Nessie.

And I’d argue that Mrs. Meyer truly doesn’t see the lack of correlation; in her mind, these characters are just ‘young’ and ‘human’. And therefore they make mistakes. The part about making mistakes *is* true; no one can create a perfect character and no one should ever try (hah). However, the mistakes in Twilight are so large, inexcusable and most of all *repetitive* that one questions the maturity that Mrs. Meyer sees. Bella continues to be a whiner all the way to the end of the fourth book. Edward continues to be a brooding, narcissist, angry, controlling imbecile no matter what anyone says and/or does. Jacob forces yet *another* kiss on Bella towards the end of Eclipse…with a suicidal threat attached to it.

Yet, I think this is part of the fantasy. You’re not only *allowed* to be immature, but you are *rewarded* for being immature. Time and time again, the characters hurt one another but no one seems to want to punish the perpetrators. There’s never anything to forgive because no one is truly angry for being hurt, abandoned, abused, etc. in the first place. And all in the name of true love. So, if you not only fail to actually *punish* your characters in the narrative for their behavior (via the other characters), then you are ultimately condoning and *rewarding* them for that behavior and mindset. Especially when you have them repeat the behavior again and again and again.

And I think this ties into fetish for youth that the story seems to have. It’s the fantasy that you can be young, stupid, inconsiderate and brash and still get everything and anything that you want. There are no consequences because that youth is there to back you up. You will be an adolescent for all eternity, and therefore the rules don’t apply to you. Only rewards and condoning will come of bad/immature behavior because otherwise, the story would be quite depressing, according to some.

Again, it’s incredibly disconcerting and mutually exclusive. I think as an author, you have to have enough insight to understand when a line or two is crossed and if you’re actually advocating for bad behavior rather than *showing* that you know it’s wrong. Characters cannot be so immature that they’d sexually assault someone, but then be able to look after that person’s child. Nor can they be the ultimate whiners of whiners and still be so mature as to be able to keep a marriage afloat, let alone have the communication skills to do so.

It is mutually exclusive.



*I’m afraid that I have a very, very stupid question to ask. Forcing a kiss on someone *is* sexual assault (or battery?), right? I’m afraid I mix up my terms sometimes. A little help/opinions, please? D:

Nathaniel said...

Yup, sexual assault. But don't worry, Bella ended up liking it.

I wonder if she was wearing a short skirt.

Orion Anderson said...

Some school in a nice area might "offer [her]" a scholarship, which is possibly the most passive way to phrase the scholarship process, as though a school official in Hawaii will go down a list of Every High School Student In The Country and pencil a circle around Bella's name. What about her? She sounds nice.

Schools in Hawaii probably don't do this much, but schools in Nebraska certainly do. Midway through my senior year of high school I did have scholarship offers coming in the mail every couple of weeks from state schools in the rural northwestern states, based on nothing but my PSAT scores. Nebraska stands out in my mind because their letter seemed to be promising to pay me to come study there over and above the full board and scholarship. I didn't take them up on it because I'm a Latte-Sipping East Coast Elitist and because my family was able and willing to send me to a private college, but for someone like Bella who has apparently limitless intellect and independence, and apparently no money or interests, I can see grabbing the first scholarship offer that comes by as being a good move for her.

Amarie said...

@______x

...Now I feel even worse for being a former rabid fan of this...

Grogs said...

That seems rather odd about the scholarships, unless you're a star athlete. I remember getting dozens of letters my senior year in high school that basically said, "Come to Podunk U because we're an awesome school!" I don't remember ever getting one that said "Come to Podunk U and we'll give you a full scholarship" though. Sure, the brochures said scholarships were available, but I don't remember ever seeing anything like a credit card offer, i.e., "Congratulations, you're pre-approved* for a full ride at Podunk U." It's probably a good thing I didn't get letters like that. I was pretty lazy by my senior year, so I may have decided that just signing a scholarship offer and going to a small school was easier than trying to get a full ride at a big name school.

Ana Mardoll said...

Schools in Hawaii probably don't do this much, but schools in Nebraska certainly do. Midway through my senior year of high school I did have scholarship offers coming in the mail every couple of weeks from state schools in the rural northwestern states, based on nothing but my PSAT scores. Nebraska stands out in my mind because their letter seemed to be promising to pay me to come study there over and above the full board and scholarship.

Huh. That surprises me. I did well enough on the PSATs to make National Merit Scholar, but I don't remember any unsolicited scholarship offers -- we had to fill out the paperwork for all my scholarship applications.

Maybe Mom and Dad were hiding the Nebraska offers. We're not good with snow. o.O

graylor said...

Of course Charlie would know about the school dance. He knows about *all* the school dances, Rotary Club dinners, big church meetings, and fishing tournaments: he's the sheriff. Anything that involves inexperienced, tired, or potentially drunk drivers, especially after dark, is going to be on his to do list. Also I'd think small town sheriffs brace themselves for school dances because of the likely phone calls from upset parents--"My little Bobby hasn't come home yet, he's probably dying in a ditch, he's a good boy and would never go out and neck in the woods/drink/smoke..." (Or possibly this is a southern thing, I dunno. I can easily see my mother, and quite a few other mothers, around here making that sort of call.)

I grew up in a small town (one high school for the entire county, graduating class of less than four hundred). The nearest city is almost an hour away and I'm personally unwilling to drive that far even now unless I have no choice. So, why would I go to Asheville? Okay, assume I don't have paypal/credit card/checking account (would Bella have any of these things? I don't understand the economics of her situation.). I would go to Asheville for things related to my hobbies. Bella has no hobbies, not even an interest in buying stationary and good pens for writing old-fashioned letters to her mother/the never-mentioned friends in Phoenix. Well, clothes, then. Bella seems to have no interest in clothes. Fine dining? A cooking supply shop ("Dad, your cruet is older than I am and I want to eat off of matching dishes!")? I don't follow Charlie's logic in assuming a long-distance boyfriend (is Bella spending vast amounts of time chatting on-line? If so, where is the lecture about internet predators?). Honestly, if his mind jumps to sex-related thngs with his daughter (ick) he might be forgiven for thinking her caginess about her trip is because she wants to buy a vibrator or something.

chris the cynic said...

Bella doesn't want to go to Hawaii. Hilo, Hawaii is even rainier than Forks.

(Yes, I'm being silly, although I'm told the thing about rainfall is completely accurate.)

Ben: Well why not Hawaii? I heard that-
Edith: That's why you can't just use the first hit you get on google. Yes, it rains more there. Yes, it has more rainy days there. But, it still averages almost five hours of sunshine a day which is significantly higher than Forks.
Ben: Still, it's Hawaii.
Edith: [Wistfully] Yes, it is.

-

I feel like a Edith would use a lowercase google. (I'm not sure why though.) Does a lowercase google sound different from an uppercase Google? Then again, being Edith, maybe she just says, "googol."

Ana Mardoll said...

Graylor, that is a really good point!

Pthalo said...

Dear Blog Readers, if I have any, which I probably don't.

Today I am writing you from Hawaii. Charlie made me go to the beach. I almost drowned. It was hilarious. After that I stayed in the sand with my book. I'm rereading Romeo and Juliet. It's so sad how they died at the end! I miss Edward yelling at me. :(

Comments [0]

Pthalo said...

Oops, should I have rot13'd that? SPOILERS FOR ROMEO AND JULIET ABOVE!

Ana Mardoll said...

I laughed so hard, Husband had to pop his head in the room and ask if I was okay. :D

chris the cynic said...

That was brilliant.

I'm not entirely sure how I managed to read that without anything going wrong given that I was in the process of drinking when I read it.

Kit Whitfield said...

is it me, or does bella tend to reread rather than read? i guess it'd spare having to write about her impressions as she'd know what to expect...

chris the cynic said...

It also means, from an in universe perspective, that Bella never goes outside of her comfort zone. She's never facing the possibility of reading a book that rubs her the wrong way because she only ever reads things she's already identified as safe.

It seems like the only way she'd read a new book is if it were required of her, and thus far it hasn't been.

Amarie said...

You. Are. Amazing.
Just...amazing. Oh my GOODNESS. I haven't laughed so hard since Ana made me snort my orange juice when she said 'Blessed With Suck'. NYAHAHAHAHA!!!!! :D

Oh, and thank you, Makabit! I was sure there was a term for it... : /

mmy said...

is it me, or does bella tend to reread rather than read?

Not only that she rereads things that most people would have a general idea about even before they read them.

Kit Whitfield said...

v interesting analysis, amarie*. i was wondering, if you don't mind my asking (n if you do, jus say so): as an African American reader (is that right?), but also as a fan, how did the racial implications strike you in the period of fandom? i'd be fascinated to hear if you felt like sharing. :)

*may amuse you to know that i've been recommending this blog a lot, and often add to my 'ana's really intelligent and nice and her commentaries are great' a further, 'an if you read the comments, there's this great young woman called amarie who's always got a fascinating perspective...'

Allie said...

Some school in a nice area might "offer [her]" a scholarship, which is possibly the most passive way to phrase the scholarship process, as though a school official in Hawaii will go down a list of Every High School Student In The Country and pencil a circle around Bella's name.

To be fair, back in the day, when I was awesome and rocked standardized tests and was a National Merit Finalist, I actually got all kinds of mail for institutions I had never expressed an interest in, letters that essentially boiled down to "we need more awesome people from out of state to make our numbers look great, and we will offer you this handsome sum to attend, please, with cherries on top."

Kit Whitfield said...

You don't want this to be a special memory?

from a mother's pov, i think it's about redeeming a bad childbirth. difficult births can really mess you up. having it be a transformative experience where you emerge better than before is a compelling fantasy. i'd speculate the book's appeal is that it pays acknowledgement to how harrowing birth can be but then makes it compensatingly transformative.

kirenos said...

All this shoddy failure in research could have been avoided by not setting the story in a real location.
It worked for Twin Peaks and Cicely, didn't it?

kirenos said...

I don't know of anyone who actually tried to find Cicely, Alaska on a map, but accepted a moose crossing the street readily enough.

My brothers live in Juneau, and were always snickering when imagining lower-48-ers imagining Alaska to be as depicted.

chris the cynic said...

I don't mean that if Twilight had been set in Aqua Pluvit, Washington that everyone would try to look up Aqua Pluvit. What I mean is that there's a world of difference between "one of the superlative" and "The superlative."

If you want to mention, "X was one of the first people to build a successful plane," then you can have X be equal to a fictional character with no problem. If you want to say, "X was the first person to build a successful plane," then, unless it's an important plot point that the history of aviation as we know it is wrong, X had better be equal to one of the Wright brothers because otherwise it comes across as a failure of research. (For certain values of plane and successful, of course.)

Once you're going for the single most [whatever] you've got to deal with the fact that the single most whatever is a known value.

BrokenBell said...

Mm, you're right. There are things about the scene that could be... I hesitate to use the word "appealing", in this context; perhaps "powerful" would be appropriate. And I do have a kind of (conditional) respect for the scene. Its an unrelenting depiction of a difficult and near-fatal childbirth, written for a culture that so often minimises birth scenes by playing them for laughs or glossing over them entirely, rarely making an attempt to acknowledge the parts of childbirth that aren't all sunbeams and roses, often sidelining and objectifying the woman when complications do occur. There are some serious problems - this is Twilight, after all - but I suppose the thing I found strangest of all about it, was how jarring it was to read such harsh and vivid imagery, when the modus operandi of the entire series has been to linger on the dreamy fantasy of the situation, and glaze over its inherent sharp edges. I don't mean it as a criticism, I suppose, I just find it... Curious.

kirenos said...

I see your point, but am not quite sure why "Aqua Pluvit IS the rainiest place" vs. "Forks IS the rainiest place" wouldn't have worked better fo SM - she fails enough as an author without needing to fail as a researcher, too. Also, there is enough to criticize in these books without fixating on the location.

Sidetracking: I remember ads for (my) Oregon (from the Tourism Bureau?) depicting a map of the west coast, with the tourism route going from California, around Oregon, and up to Washington, with the blurb being "People don't tan in Oregon, they rust". So much for rainy weather...

Rikalous said...

You mean Alaska isn't really full of gourmet wildmen and Woody Allen's pen pals and DJs with possibly-supernatural chick magnet powers?

SAY IT AIN'T SO!

Kit Whitfield said...

I hesitate to use the word "appealing"

speaking as one who had a bad birth, i don't. conceptually, anyway; havnt read it. there's a big industry of what we might call 'birth mythology', n the idea that birth shld b miraculously empowering - n that how empowering it is is a reflection of how much of a woman you are - will be familiar to many mothers. birth for women is as loaded as potency is for men, except that men dont die of impotence.

dunno abt you, but there's a difference btween birth scenes look when you have no kids n it's an option, in if you've been through it n it's a questn not of whether but of how. i cant be the only mum who'd give a lot to have a birth do-over.

Amarie said...

At Makabit:

Honestly, you’re right. If I recall [former] Mormon mythology correctly…Native Americans and dark skinned people in general aren’t your friends. So, I suppose the way that I see it is that Jacob (who is literally also an animal, as you pointed out) is to be a *servant* to the Cullen’s. I would argue that his point in the rounding out of the love triangle is more pivotal and useful than Nessie herself. Jacob is first and foremost a built-in future husband; he allows Nessie and her family the comforts of finding her a controlling and warding mate without having to go outside of the general comfort zone. And of course, the imprinting (brainwashing needed for proper child grooming) guarantees that Nessie will not even think about another man or woman. From there, Jacob is not only able to control his imprint’s *body*, but her *mind* as well. What is more is that Jacob helps relieve Edward and Bella from any parenting duties; because fathers and husbands are really no different in the Twilight world, Jacob essentially *becomes* her father. And that’s why I think we see so little of father/daughter interaction between Nessie and Edward. Meanwhile, his status as an alpha werewolf brings more protection (closeting) to the Cullen family.


Ultimately, I think that he’s a *servant* in terms of how he’s assimilated (again, the Native American submits to the white [Christian] heaven) into the traditions (Mormon way of mating, [not] rearing children, etc.) that define and embody the Cullen family. And extending from that, I believe that Nessie is much the same as Bella was while she was human. That is, she is clearly a daughter practicing eternal service to a man for the duration of her childhood.* Like everyone else, so long as they stay in a submissive and conformed role, they’re allowed eternal happiness.


*Maybe Nessie’s servitude is an allusion to the fact that she looks so much like Edward? From there, perhaps it could be an analogy to Bella’s similarity to Charlie in how incredibly inept they both are at communication? I could be stretching…


At Kit:

D’aaawwwwwwwww!!! I am truly *very* touched by your recommendation! I had no idea that you liked me so much!! Thank you and I love you, too! :D

Umm…about how I feel/felt being an African American reading the Twilight books…

First of all, let me say that it’s not that I feel *uncomfortable* or that I *don’t* want to talk about it. Primarily, I’ve never…voiced my true feelings about my skin so openly. Secondly, my perspective entails a rather long story and I’m a little scared that a lot of people on this blog won’t like me very much anymore. (*BLUSH*) Yes, I was young when I…struggled with coming to terms with my skin tone (heck, I’m still young being 20 years old). But, I supposed I’m still a little ashamed, I suppose.

But again, if you *really* want me to talk about it, I will.



At Brokenbell:

Kit has it right! :D

Ultimately, I think the gruesome scenes of Bella’s pregnancy and Nessie’s birth are part of a larger fantasy. And that fantasy is that a woman’s tryst when she’s child bearing is *taken seriously*. There *are* sometimes when I think it’s like the Good Girls lashing out and crying for help/attention; it’s like you *have* to have your spine snapped, bleed excessively, lose a large amount of weight and overall nearly die quite a painful death *just* to get someone to realize and *appreciate* that you’re in constant pain, or at the very least constant discomfort. It’s saddening because such a feeling is understandable; we *do* trivialize and/or mock child bearing and birth world wide.

Grogs said...

"We could probably justify various things we've objected to here by saying that the in story world is different. Say, in story 2006 was a leap year and in story leap years add more than one day, or we could say that in story there's a different number of days in the year. (Or the week.)"

Probably not though. In my experience, one of the things readers are LEAST willing to accept and go along with is a change in the calendar. Sure, Star Trek had "Stardate xxxx" but it was always a throw-away term. At the end of the day, they always just said that it was the 23rd century.

I was writing a sci-fi story once that was set about 700 years in the future. Since Mars was the actual capital of human civilization at that time, I decided my story should use days and years based on Mars rather than the Earth. The days were easy - they're just slightly longer than 24 hours, so that difference could be essentially ignored. The year was a bigger problem since 1 martian year = approx. 1.9 Earth years. The math was no problem - I worked out a nice system to make it work, and even came up with a system of leap years. The problem was that when I put that system in place, the reader loses his familiar sense of time. For example, a character who is just leaving school would be 10 years old and a fairly old man who is nearing the end of his life (assuming no change in life expectancy) would be 41. As an author, I found that I had a choice between crossing my fingers and hoping any potential readers "got it" and realized the characters were 18 and 78, respectively, or else throwing in some clunky reminder that I REALLY mean the character is 78 when I say he's 41 years old. In the end, I decided that the whole Martian calendar just caused too much trouble and abandoned it, despite the fact it would be perfectly reasonable in that setting.

On a totally unrelated note, I actually ended up watching Twilight this weekend. It must be a side effect caused by reading the deconstructions on this blog, because I had pretty much assumed I would go my entire life without ever seeing it. :) I have to admit that, while it WAS bad, it wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting. I suspect that's probably because the producer left out some parts that were just super-creepy, stupid, or didn't make any sense. Still, at the end of the movie I was rooting for James to just snap Bella's neck and put her out of my misery.

Silver Adept said...

@Amarie:

Your memory is excellent, as always. At least one founding Mormon interpreted the "mark of Cain" the The Being Represented By The Tetragrammation inflicted as the sign of his curse was dark skin, and thus the purification of that mark would make them white. Of course, these things are also steeped heavily in a society where subjugation and enslavement of dark-skinned people was commonplace, so there's the possibility of a "six of one, half dozen of the other" routine there.

As for Jacob, well, S. Meyer has show, even this early on, that she doesn't intend for anyone introduced in this story to be single at the end of it. (Bella's already pairing off people she barely knows, after all.) And that apparently includes the infants. If you're not happily married, after all, you've missed the point of the romance (and possibly sinned majorly in the mythology).

Rikalous said...

The mainstream Christian excuse for slavery was that Africans were the descendents of Ham, and destined to be laborers because of it.

Fitcher's Bird said...

The discussion of the birth scene intrigues me, as it helps crystallise some half-formed thoughts. I don't follow Twilight (outside of here and Reading With Vampires) but I do follow fandoms. One of the major reactions of Twilight fandom to Breaking Dawn was one of betrayal. The younger audience did not want to read such a graphic and gruesome birth scene, and it broke them out of the fantasy the novels had provided (generalising wildly here).

This may be because, despite the marketing, Twilight was never really aimed at a teenage audience. A grown woman and mother wrote it, and there are many self-identified "Twilight Moms" out there. The birth scene may appeal to them, and others with experience of painful births. However this would not generally be accessible to a teenage audience, who would have typically bought into the "birth mythology" of which Kit speaks. Particularly as Twilight appears designed for the reader to project themselves into, this sudden influx of reality would have been extremely jarring.

BTW Hi! Another Slactiverse lurker popping up.

And Amarie, if it helps I'm not African-American (or even American) but I am a WOC. I know it can be tough talking about racial issues, particularly to (presumably) mostly white audiences and when you've got internalised racial issues of your own. I'm pretty sure the others won't judge, but I definitely won't and may know where you're coming from - if that's any help at all.

Kit Whitfield said...

amarie: i'm always interested in your perspective, so if you'd be happy talking about it i'll read eagerly. on the other hand if you'd rather not, that's fine - after all, it's not your job to bare your soul just cos i asked. :-)

Kit Whitfield said...

Twilight falls into both categories: it's on the same shelf as the Leatherstocking novels and Gone With The Wind. (I hesitate to class it with Birth of A Nation.)

wld you say boan is worse than gwtw? I've only read gwtw, but it's pretty horrendous. well written, but morally on about the same level as protocols of the orders of zion.

Smilodon said...

I always thought that the place in the world with the least sunlight was on the west coast of Canada. I seem to recall a "Weather Network News" (many years ago, so I could be mistaken) about a family which immigrated there since one of their sons had a sunlight allergy.

Course, maybe the Cullens don't like filling out immigration paperwork.

Brin Bellway said...

Course, maybe the Cullens don't like filling out immigration paperwork.

Would it be that much harder to forge than all the other paperwork? Especially considering the vast quantities of bribe money available.

Smilodon said...

Now that I think of it, if I could have visa documents forged, "Small Town America" is about the last place I'd pick to live. Even if I was limited by "must be very rainy."
I wonder if Twilight is a particularly American fantasy.

bekabot said...

@ Kit Whitfield:

Birth of A Nation (aka The Clansman) is worse than GWTW, b/c GWTW is at least competently written. The Clansman is an American nightmare, directly transcribed, and it's remarkable for the badness of its prose. It isn't the record of a man who's just woken up from a bad dream. It's a record left by a man who was involved in a bad dream lifelong.

I'm not speaking out of political correctness when I say that The Clansman is bad. It's a bad book in every respect. It's badly written and badly constructed, and it espouses ideas which are murderous. If you want to have a crappy reading experience in toto, open up The Clansman and prepare to shudder. Here's where the book is valuable: it's a production, and therefore a description, of the kind of brainfever which fuels terrorism, delivered without a stutter or a blush. Want to know what can drive people to slaughter other people whom they've known all their lives (and do it without a flicker of regret)? Read The Clansman. That'll larn ya.

What I've just said ("The Clansman is a bad book from a technical standpoint") is meant only to apply to the novel (written by Thomas Dixon) and not to the movie (directed by D. W. Griffith). Griffith's movie is excellent from a technical standpoint, and in fact was a cinematic breakthrough. It got the credit for the resurgence of the Klan in early 20th-century middle America. It's a fantastic cinematic epic, but I can understand that there might be lots of people out there who might not want to see it. BTW, anybody reading this who thinks I tend to conflate Dixon's novel and Griffith's movie is right. The way I see it they're both a part of the same popular-culture phenomenon. Twilight books and Twilight movies appeal to the same fandom in much the same way (though I'm not trying to claim that Twilight is vicious the wayThe Clansman is vicious).

True fact: Margaret Mitchell was raised on Dixon's novels, and is known to have turned The Traitor into a dramatic script (which she then staged) while she was still a kid. After Mitchell's the success of Mitchell's novel Mitchell and Dixon corresponded with one another.

Amaryllis said...

There's a tradition of American novels which explicitly explore race, and there's a tradition of American novels which explore race and don't do it well. These two traditions are pretty closely intertwined. Twilight falls into both categories: it's on the same shelf as the Leatherstocking novels and Gone With The Wind.

No, you know what I think? It's Ramona! Uh, Helen Hunt Jackson, not Beverly Cleary. ;)

There's the girl in love with the hero from the Others, he's sure that being with him will kill her, she makes herself into one of his clan, there's the baby daughter in danger, there's the other man who'll be the guardian of her child...it's an inverse Ramona with the status relationships backwards; unlike Ramona, who chooses love over privilege, Bella uses love to move from privilege to greater privilege-- at least, if you don't mind the whole being-dead thing, which apparently she doesn't. Instead of the hero dying tragically, the heroine dies un-tragically. It's Ramona with a happy ending.

depizan said...

I'm sorry. The world should not be that way.

j_bird said...

Amarie-
I second depizan's comment. Your teachers were so cruel when they should have been trying to help you navigate a world that didn't value your beauty. Thanks for sharing the story of your journey. I think it's brilliant that you were able to extract self-help messages from the most messed-up parts of Twilight.

Silver Adept said...

@Amarie

A powerful and moving story. And familiar, in too many ways, for too many of us, I suspect. Whether we've achieved the end result of being comfortable with ourselves...or whether we still believe that voice in the back of our heads telling us that we are not good enough.

Kit Whitfield said...

amarie - wish i cld type enough to pay proper tribute but thank you for sharing your difficult experience n fascinating insights, v v much. dunno how to condole for the sadness without being Patronising White Lady, but i will say your honesty n self-knowlege are inspiring.

side note - i always liked j in movies, partly cos he seems nicer but also cos his poc culture represented an alternative to the limits of the white american dream. i hav white pvilege comin outta ears, but not american, n parents come from different countries. both white, but different enuf that a single cultural perspective feels stifling to me. (interestingly, i married a man with the same background - 2 white parents from different countries. it helps to have that shared experience.) an privilege means you can be ignorant without knowing it; an overly homogenous group feels unhealthy cos people need to be challenged to stay awake.

so to me, j looked like someone who wasn't limited by privilege blinkers n made for a more healthily multiple set of perspectives. i found the 'beautiful' thing a bit uncomfortable cos it felt orientalist - why not just 'handsome' like a normal man? - but i guess e gets called that too...

anyway, thanks. any time you feel like sharing perspective, i'm keen!

Kit Whitfield said...

She asked the substitute teacher, ‘Why do Amarie and I have brown eyes and brown skin?’ And I don’t think I’ll ever forget when the teacher crinkled her nose and tilted her head in a placating manner. She said, ‘That’s because you guys have a lot of oil in your skin that white people don’t. I’m sorry.’

that is just ghastly.

i'm probably going to have to answer the question when my son asks it some day. i'm planning this answer, but if it's full of fail, anyone please point it out:

'well, it's because some people's ancestors come from africa, where it's very hot. the brown stuff in the skin is called melanin, and it protects the skin from absorbing too much sun. if your ancestors come from europe where it's a lot colder, melanin would have stopped their skin from absorbing enough sun, so you'll have pale skin instead. and people whose ancestors come from medium-hot places have medium amounts of melanin and look medium brown. the human body's really clever like that.'

Ana Mardoll said...

Thank you so much, Amarie, for sharing that. I really appreciate everything you post, but this brought tears to my eyes.

Gelliebean said...

Amarie - I read your posts last night and have been trying to think of a way to respond that would include all the respect and admiration I feel for you. You have an amazing strength.

Hapaxnom said...

Amarie -- thank you for sharing such a horrible, but ultimately inspiring and hopeful story. That must have been very hard for you to write.

I don't want to wish for a happy ending to your story -- I want to wish for a happy CONTINUING, and happier and happier and stronger and more beautiful....

hapax said...

Disqus, why do you keep randomly changing my name?

That was me, hapax, expressing my admiration for Amarie up there. I'm sure whoever "Hapaxnom" is, zie feel the same way.

Amarie said...

No, thank *you* all for not judging and/or shunning me. It *was* very, very hard for me to write because I had never really talked about how my race (and gender) affected me, in real life or on the internet. So, vocalizing what I’ve been feeling for so long was a true exercise and I thank you all for listening. ^ ^


It’s still something of an uphill battle for me. On the bad days, I have to remember that I’m the color of chocolate and caramel and syrup…and those things are beautiful, tasty, and most of all warm. And then I’ll remind myself that I look like Princess Tiana and Princess Jasmine. The goal is to try to learn how to consistently associate my skin with things that are good and beautiful and research the things that I once would have forsaken (i.e, rap, BET, the gospel channels, etc.).

Again, thank you all for continuing to accept me and I hope that one day I can say this out loud in real life with no fear.

And no crying!!! Anyone who cries is going to be tickled, no exceptions! I’ll have you know that my mother taught me how to be a master and tickling!!! >:D

*readies fingers with battle cry*

Nathaniel said...

Oh. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing.

I cannot imagine what it must be like to so consistently hate yourself to the point of wishing to self erase. My deepest sympathies for past pain, and fondest hopes that you continue on a route to self acceptance and happiness.

Pthalo said...

Thanks for sharing with us, Amarie. I'm sorry for those teachers did to you, and for all the racism you have been subjected to. They did not deserve the privilege of teaching the next generation.

Your voice is welcome here.

bekabot said...

@Amaryllis:

You know, you're right. The Twilight plot mimics the plot of Ramona more closely than it mimics the plots of any of the other novels I mentioned. Though I still think that the books I was talking about, the Leatherstocking books in particular, have influenced Twilight, if only b/c they certainly influenced Ramona, which was written as a controversion of them. What's different about Ramona, though, is that it's a book which has no problem, and which explicitly has no problem, with race-mixing. Ramona catches a certain amount of hell for being racially mixed, and the marriage of Ramona and Alessandro is difficult b/c the society around them imposes difficulties on them, but within the story it's made clear that the real problem lies with society and not with Ramona or Alessandro. This level of ease with very close race-relations is a level of ease which Twilight never reaches.

Dav said...

Amarie, thank you for sharing. So much fail is kind of hard to respond to adequately; please believe that I am flailing wordless and also trying to pull my hair.

Kit, the only thing I'd say about your planned speech (as, um, a white childless person, so grains of salt for everybody) is that we *all* come from Africa. We all share a common ancestry, and given some of the ugly line drawing (including the concept of "race"), it might be worthwhile to emphasize that. (I dunno where the UK is on the teaching of evolution, but that's another reason to do it in the US; people's ideas of race and the relation of those ideas to actual biology are not good here.)

Dav said...

Er, rereading, it sort of sounds like I'm attributing that fail to you, Amarie, and not the substitute teacher/media/culture/etc. This is what happens when I edit while tired. Sorry.

chris the cynic said...

Amarie I've been trying to find the words. I've been failing. Thank you for sharing.

Anything I say seems like it isn't enough. I wish you had never had to face any of that. I wish no one ever did.

Kit Whitfield said...

On the bad days, I have to remember that I’m the color of chocolate and caramel and syrup…and those things are beautiful, tasty, and most of all warm. And then I’ll remind myself that I look like Princess Tiana and Princess Jasmine.

Purty! :-)

Amaryllis said...

Amarie, thank you for the reminder that we haven't come as far as some of us would like to think. I too am sorry that a person so young and so bright should still have to deal with the same old shit. Or anyone else, of course, but I'm really shocked that those teachers could look at child-Amarie and not see beauty.

Bekabot, I agree with you about HH Jackson's attitude toward race in Ramona. I've never actually read Twilight, but from what I read here, it's got problems.

I never realized, until this blog, that the Twilight werewolves were Native American, let alone part of an actual Native American tribe, and now I can't decide whether it would be worse to appropriate a living culture like that, or to invent a fictional tribe for her fictional werewolves to be from.

Do the Twilight werewolves have anything in common with anything from any actual Northwest Native American cultures, or do they resemble the werewolves of the European legends? Are all the tribe werewolves/skinchangers, or just some of them? What turns someone into a werewolf-- is it a bite or is it a genetic inheritance? Are there any non-Native-American werewolves in the Twilight-verse?

For that matter, how do the vampires decide who to turn? Who their family members will be? Are the Twilight vampires all white because like called to like, so to speak? Can the vampires be said to have a vampire culture, or are they just like every other white American except for the habit of not breathing? Does a Cullen have more in common with a live resident of Forks or a dead resident of Rome?

Am I actually going to have to read these books?
/interrogatory mode

bekabot said...

@Amarie:

Wow, Amarie, that was intense. Sorry you had to go through all that crap, but (having had a difficult growing-up-time myself, though for different reasons) I'm aware that the fact that other people are sorry (years and years later) doesn't change anything that you went through. Still, I'm impressed by your fortitude. I didn't have to weather as much adversity and I didn't do it as well.

I'm interested in your characterization of Edward as a male Alayna. When I was reading Twilight I noticed how much Bella's passion for Edward was like one girl's crush on another. It's been a long time since I went to junior-high or high school but the way I remember it is that the way girl-crushes usually happen is that a girl who is (or thinks she is) one-down attaches herself (or tries to attach herself) to a girl who is (or who gives the impression of being) one-up. Change the gender of the focus of the BetaGirl's attention and you get the relationship of Bella and Edward. The only differences are that Edward sometimes responds positively to Bella's fixation on him and that, as you point out, by launching herself into a girl-crush on a boy Bella has set up a situation which allows her to win the status-battle.

When I was a kid I often wished I had the kind of prettiness I lack, not b/c I actually wanted to look that way but because, duh, that's the physical standard which pulls down the greatest rewards. At the same time I got just a smidgeon of the kind of attention which is directed at the Alaynas of this world and it was enough to creep me all the way out. That kind of approval isn't "free money"; it exacts a price. Girls and women who seem to "demand" too much such approval by meeting too well the criteria upon which it is based run the risk of being punished, not rewarded. (This is one of the things the Rosalie story is about.) I think this is the basis of another aspect of Edward's appeal. Edward embodies the girl's (or woman's fantasy) that she can possess angelic beauty without being endangered by it. By fantasizing about being with Edward a girl or woman can dream about possessing angelic beauty vicariously by possessing a male who possesses such beauty. According to this way of thinking, "perfect" beauty can't endanger a male, so that the beauty is "safe" although the male may not be (Edward often worries about the danger he poses to Bella).

I'm with you in thinking that Jacob is a better man than Edward. (But then Jacob gets to grow up while Edward doesn't, so it's not strictly a fair contest.) Jacob is comfortable with being a werewolf and Edward is always conflicted about being a vampire. But then, again, it's not a fair contest: the story Jacob is in allows him to have flaws, so it's not surprising that Jacob can accept his imperfections. But the story Edward is in does not permit him to have any faults, even though his faults are stark and plain. Edward is supposed not only to look but also to be perfect. Bella needs that and the narrative Bella is enmeshed in needs it too. Edward is supposed to be the ultimate reward. If he were simply an extremely handsome and well-preserved 17-year-old centenarian the fuss which is made over him would start to look silly, and one of the main premises propping the book up would crumble into dust.

Couldn't have that.

Amarie said...

*giggles at seeing Kit use the word ‘purty’ and snuggles with her* :D

Thank you all again *so* much for your support!! And I want to apologize to Ana for derailing the crap out of her blog…wow…@____x

But…I think I’m slightly thankful for all the pain and turmoil that I’ve gone through. I honestly believe that it’s helped to make me strong and intelligent today. Looking back at high school-where I reunited with Alayna after separating for different middle schools-I remembered all of her [verbally abusive] boyfriends. And I think about how grateful I am that my ‘ugliness’ kept such boys away; I wasn’t ‘cursed with beauty’ like she was. Meanwhile, my intelligence kept them away and kept college applications close, haha. For Alayna, it was sadly opposite.

To clarify, though, it’s not that I *wished bad* on Alayna. She wasn’t a terrible person and no one certainly deserved to be abused. It’s more that I’m fascinated to look back on how differently I used to view her and *why*. Once I envied her beauty and ‘power’ and now that I was much, much older in high school, I saw it as something of a curse because she ultimately seemed to *define* herself by it. Yet, I had no such curse because I had worked [too] hard to make sure I was defined by my *mind* and my *heart*. And call me biased, but I felt that was certainly something a little deeper and more to work with than a perfect tan. So, I was kind of content being single while she was getting all the guys because those guys would have put the jerkiness and controlling behavior of Edward Cullen to shame. I do not lie.

It’s just [sadly] fascinating how the tables seemed to be turned. Whenever I have one of my ‘bad’ days, I look back on that time. And I acknowledge that, in some ways, this dark skin saved me from quite a few terrible fates.

chris the cynic said...

I've only glimpsed the Jacob stuff when I was trying to find something else and only have the first book in which, I'm pretty sure, there are no werewolves. Jacob gets werewolfied for the sequel. Don't get me wrong, Jacob coming from a long line of werewolves is mentioned in Twilight but as near as I can tell it's just mentioned as a legend with nothing to back it up there. Of course, as I said, I've only really glimpsed that portion when looking for something else.

I've located it now. It's in the chapter Scary Stories and it's prefaced by Jacob making a show of how little stock he puts in the old stories and rolling his eyes and such. I get the impression Jacob doesn't believe in werewolves yet.

As near as I can tell the actual tribe's legends say that they were created from wolves originally. Not seeing anything about them believing they can turn back into wolves, nor anything about believing that their ancestors could (or anything about Cold Ones [vampires] but you probably could have guessed that.)

From the Twilight wiki I gather that there are two types of werewolves in the Twilight verse. The first are the ones that you see, they're more properly refereed to a shapeshifers but the only shape they can shift into is a wolf. Well, sort of a wolf. If a wolf were the size of a truck. The second may or may not be extinct. They're the werewolves of legend. Vampires do not like them. At all. Hence the fact that they're extinct or nearly so.

Jacob type wolfiness is hereditary only I think. It usually only happens to males (the only female it happened may or may not have been made infertile by the process), it only manifests when vampires come calling.

Rikalous said...

Infodump, ho! Werewolves are genetic, and always male, until a female changes unexpectedly*. They have a psychic connection, which means no secrets between the wolves. Female!werewolf complains to Jacob at one point that she had a dream of kissing Bella because he's crushing on her. Not all the guys, and only the one woman ever, goes wolf. If there are any non-Quileute werewolves, they weren't in books one and three. Meyer created a werewolf origin legend that the Quileutes tell Bella, wherein they were empowered by spirits when the "paleface"** vampires showed up. Becoming a werewolf makes you superbuff, and naturally leads to you not wearing any more clothes than you can easily carry in wolf form (fanservice, ahoy!). The wolf form is huge, and the fur's color supposedly matches your personality. Fur length varies with human hair length, though.

Vampirizing turns your skin pale: Jasper was turned by a Mexican woman who was as pale as a Cullen. Presumably Blade would end up looking like Tombstone from the Spiderman comics under those rules. The only thing I know about vampire culture is that some old, powerful vamps called the Volturi live in Italy and don't like it when living humans find out about vampires. Other than that, I think they're part of the surrounding culture, except for doing everything better and more sparkly.

* She's sterile and not best pleased about it. I expect everyone's going to have a lot to say when she shows up.

** Yes, the book uses that word.

vega said...

Amarie- Thank you so much for sharing. It was very brave of you, and I appreciate the effort it took to tell us your story. You are beautiful!

Amaryllis- You don't have to read the books; I haven't read the books, but I got enough off the interwubs to summarize about how Twi-wolves work.

Ah- trigger warning, infertility.

The Quillute werewolves aren't, strictly speaking, werewolves, but shapeshifters, and I believe this is made explicit in the text. Their changing isn't dependent on the cycles of the moon, but can be instigated at will, and the condition is inherited genetically rather than transmitted through a bite. There was a race of traditionally moon-bound bite-transmitted werewolves in Europe, but they were almost entirely wiped out by the Vampire Mafia (the Volturi.) It is assumed that they would do the same with the Quillute wolves if they found out about them. And the Volturi might feel themselves justified in doing so, since Quillute shapeshifting evolved as a defensive measure against supernatural threats to the tribe, and the wolves have an instinctive loathing for vampires.

The trait can remain dormant in the tribe for generations, but when vampires are present, young people with wolfy-shifting genes will start changing into giant badass wolves. An active wolf has a huge healing factor, is very strong, and is functionally immortal, at least in that they don't age. Someone who has previously been a wolf can cease being one, by refraining from changing for a few weeks or months, after which they go back to being a vanilla mortal, age and die. Here comes the teeth-gritting part, if you're not gritting them already: Females who are active werewolves stop getting periods and become infertile. Males remain fertile. The "imprinting" happens in order to "bring good blood into the pack." And since only male wolves are fertile, naturally only males imprint. The imprint bond is instantaneous and irreversible, and makes no concessions for things like the age of the imprintee.

If I'm missing something, or if I've got any details wrong, feel free to correct me, anyone.

So, what have we learned, class?

1) Powerful supernatural women no can has babies.

2) This is such a huge and horrifying deal that a women should gladly accept her own death rather than suffer such a fate.

3) Eugenics by way of strategic breeding is A-OK.

4) Age of consent laws are for pussies.

That said, um... werewolves, wheeeeee!

vega said...

"That said, um... werewolves, wheeeeee! "

... that is to say, I am hardly immune to the impulse expressed above, and I'm not going to judge anyone harshly for liking/having once liked/still secretly or openly enjoying the books.

Amaryllis said...

Rikalous and Vega, thanks for the crash course in werewolf studies!

* puts daughter's copy of Twilight back on shelf *
* breathes sigh of relief *

So it seems that Meyer's wolves are as idiosyncratic as her vampires, which is of course her prerogative as their author.

Powerful supernatural women no can has babies.
That does seem to be the takeaway message, doesn't it? Also, that powerful supernatural women are few and far between, at least, the ones who are powerful because of what they are themselves (werewolves) rather than the ones who are powerful because of what someone else has done to them (vampires).

the wolves have an instinctive loathing for vampires.
Oh, those aboriginal peoples are just creatures of instinct and emotion, aren't they? As opposed to the coldly rational "palefaces" (ugh) who acted out of sheer self-preservation, nothing personal about it, I suppose. Bah.

The trait can remain dormant in the tribe for generations, but when vampires are present, young people with wolfy-shifting genes will start changing into giant badass wolves.
I'll bet that takes them by surprise!

ome old, powerful vamps called the Volturi live in Italy
So how do they manage under all that bright Italian sunshine? Or have the non-vamp Italians learned to ignore the sparkly people, for their own good?

Oh dear, more questions. We'll get to all that when we get to it, I suppose, but at least it's more interesting than Bella moping around the house all day.

Icecoldblank said...

Hi all, long-time reader here, delurking to say two things: amarie, your story really struck a chord for me (also a WOC) and I thank you for sharing it with all of us. And Ana, I love your blog, I came here from the slactiverse blog (also just a long time lurker) for the Twilight deconstructions, but I actually found and downloaded an RSS thingie* for all the rest of the awesomeness that you post.

*I am VERY computer illiterate, so that really is saying a LOT!

Kit Whitfield said...

Oh, those aboriginal peoples are just creatures of instinct and emotion, aren't they? As opposed to the coldly rational "palefaces" (ugh) who acted out of sheer self-preservation, nothing personal about it, I suppose. Bah.

also struck me as an example of that noughties trope where the cheerleader who used to be the villain became the heroine, or the extrovert who would have been first on the masked killer's hook became the Last Girl. pop culture in the noughties had a tendency to heroise types who were formerly villains - often without actually removing their dislikeable qualities. sarah palin was not an isolated fashion; it was that kind of decade. privilege bit back.

in the twilight scenario, you'd think the werewolves would be the heroes. vampires normally eat people; werewolves protect society from them. pretty cool guys, no? ok, the cullens don't eat people, and that causes some tensions, but on the whole the werewolves are right. but twilight puts its focus on the vampires and casts the werewolves' heroism as a reason why they have to be sidelined: they're opposed to the privileged heroes, and that means they're in the wrong.

racist as well, of course. but also, at least as i read it, part of a fashion where privilege became something to aspire to and idealise rather than rebel against.

chris the cynic said...

The size of a truck? Really? Good lord.

I don't think an exact size is given, but as I said I haven't read that far. I have seen previews for the movies, heard people talk about it and guessed.

The measurement that does seem to be given is that one of them is as tall as a horse (though bigger in other dimensions as he's all muscular and proportionate.) Jacob is bigger.

Obviously horses vary in size, but if we're conservative and say 16 hands tall*, then we're looking at a wolf that's a little over nine and a half feet long, 5 foot four inches tall, and I don't have info on wolf width in relation to height. If we instead assume it's 17 hands then make that 5 foot eight inches tall and ten and a half feet long.

Regardless, whatever value we come up with Jacob is bigger.

As for whether that's really as big as a truck. A very small truck yes, most trucks not so much. If I'm reading things right then Bella's truck would be a good five feet longer than the wolf Jacob is bigger than.

-

*Large riding horses can be as big as 17 hands, draft horses are often around 18, the tallest horse ever was more than 21.

Kit Whitfield said...

We're told that they think that werewolves stink. Really, really stink.

doesn't that have racist overtones too? 'brown people are dirty and stinky' is certainly one myth i've heard before.

bekabot said...

"The trait can remain dormant in the tribe for generations, but when vampires are present, young people with wolfy-shifting genes will start changing into giant badass wolves."

"I'll bet that takes them by surprise!"


It does take Jacob by surprise when he gets "werewolf disease" in the second book and then turns all wolfy. Jacob "falls ill" while attending a movie (there are meaningless complications involved which I won't detail here) with Bella and some of her friends. At that point everyone present, including Bella, assumes that he has contracted a virus. So Jacob goes home to a humidifier and some hot soup (or whatever his preferred method of dealing with a virus is). After which Jacob falls out of sight for some weeks, and also falls out of communication with Bella. The reader infers that this is the time during which Jacob learns both how to handle his Werewolf!Self and how to handle the psychological issues connected with his transformation. (Several other Quileute youths have also gone wolfy, but the reader doesn't learn this for certain until later.) By the time Jacob resurfaces, he's gotten his act ironed out — without having turned into a robot, I mean —and it's hard not to respect him for being able to do in a few weeks what Edward hasn't accomplished in almost 90 years.

"Some old, powerful vamps called the Volturi live in Italy..."

"So how do they manage under all that bright Italian sunshine? Or have the non-vamp Italians learned to ignore the sparkly people, for their own good?"


Judging from what we, as readers, get to witness, the sparkly people have decided to sparkle indoors, and to keep their sparkling to themselves. Edward plans to provoke the Volturi to vengeance by appearing on a clear day as an open, sparkly vampire at a tightly-packed public event. When Bella and Alice arrive to rescue Edward, while they are being conducted through the warren of the Volturi lair, Bella sees a female vampire attired in a short-sleeved dress allowing the sunlight to gleam (in shards) off her smooth arms.

That having been said, your suggestion that the Pathetic Humans have learned to turn a blind eye to sparkling for safety's sake sounds like a good one. (It's the Volturi for whom public sparkling constitutes a "mortal offense".) After Bella and Alice have extricated Edward and are leaving, they cross paths with a hapless tour group which has been led into the Volturi stronghold on the pretext that they're going to do some sightseeing. Of course, they're not going to get to see much, other than what a dinner table looks like to the food. The fact that these people are tourists, and therefore foreigners, and therefore not Italians (sparkly or non-sparkly) is a revealing one. One gathers that the Volterrans have learned what to see and not to see; the true danger, to the Volterrans and the Volturi both, inheres in visitors. Hence visitors are both the group intended to be hoodwinked by the Volturi no-see-um routine and the Volturi's preferred prey supply.

If anyone is interested:

1) The Quileutes are a real tribe.
2) They really do have tribal legends which say they were descended from wolves.
3) They really do mostly live in and around a town named La Push.

Their reservation is a small one and parts of it are threatened by rising water levels, so they are trying to get some of their old lands back. Other than that, I don't know much about them.

Kit Whitfield said...

anyone else tired of the 'villains with social power must come from europe'?

Kit Whitfield said...

here's an article about the effect twilight has had on quileute people:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/08/opinion/08riley.html

chris the cynic said...

As I mentioned before, the actual legend is, as near as I can tell, that they came from wolves.

Genesis says that people came from dust. Other legends say people came from wood or rocks or clay. I'm sure there are many many more.

If in Meyer-world people can, in the presence of vampires, turn back into that which their ancestors came from, does that mean that if the Cullens had settled elsewhere there would be people turning into trees or clouds of dust? Could the dolphins descended from the sailors Dionysus turned into dolphins turn into people when vampires settled nearby?

hapax said...

doesn't that have racist overtones too?

Oh yeah. Like I said, Unfortunate Implications.

But it is notable for being (afaik) one of the few times the Cullens are criticized for *anything*.

Amarie said...

Thank you so much again!. I am *so* glad that there’s something of a term for what I went through with Alayna. Haha…’girl crush’. It’s definitely fitting and I thank you again for understanding. ^ ^

You’re all very, very kind. It may be “only through the internet”, but I’m blessed to have met you all. *hugs everyone*

I’m agreeing with Kit on the racist overtones, here. Now, if I were going to be charitable, I’d say that the only reason the audience hears that the werewolves stink so much is because so much of the story is told through the vampires’ and Bella’s eyes. It could be attributed to a point of view issue, especially considering that the vampires stink to the werewolves, as well.

Yet, the fact that the two species *stink* to each other at all is sort of a problematic metaphor/allegory in and of itself. The problem that I see is that it reinforces the paradigm that whites and blacks (or other different ethnicities, for that matter) can’t peacefully co-exist because they’re just too different. And they’re so different that they smell different due to *biological make ups*. Now, I suppose that I-and a lot of other people-wouldn’t have much problem with the fact that vampires and werewolves simply smell differently, not actually *stink*. In the hands of a capable author, it would be an interesting hunting/evading strategy. You could put an animalistic, instinctual spin on it for B.O.T.H S.I.D.E.S. I think that would add to the overall intrigue and danger of the world.

What’s more is that the vampires and werewolves stink very, very differently to each other. Jacob is (correct if I’m wrong) consistently described as smelling like, well…an overgrown dog that hadn’t had a bath in quite a while. Meanwhile, the vampires are repeatedly noted as to have a sharp, icy clean scent to them. Of course, I see this as a metaphor that blacks are *bad and animalistic* and whites are *good and clean*. I suppose the most depressing part about this is that-like so many other aspects of the Twilight series-Stephenie Meyer doesn’t seem to see what she put on the page… : /

mmy said...

Amarie:

If you are around the slackmods from The Slacktiverse would like to talk to you about the possibility of making your comments into a post.

We can be reached at slackmods at gmail dot com.

Amarie said...

Oh...wow.

Umm...thank you...I'll, err...contact all of you...right away...:O

*speechless*

Kit Whitfield said...

And they’re so different that they smell different due to *biological make ups*.

Exactly. I've heard people say that different nationalities smell different to each other. My best friend is half-Japanese, and says Japanese people think of Westerners as smelling milky; likewise, she finds that Indian people tend to smell spicy. (She doesn't go around sniffing like a dog, just to be clear, but she's a doctor, so physical proximity is part of her job.) But that's about what you eat, and while it might vary according to personal taste how good dairy or spice smell, it's really problematic to make it about biology.

DarcyPennell said...

Hi all, semi-lurker here. My local public library just started lending Kindle books a couple of days ago. Because of this site, the first book I downloaded was Twilight. Just wanted to find out what you all were talking about, rather than following along cluelessly.

OH MY GOD. It's so awful! I thought you all were being hyperbolic, like people do on the internets. But no, it's every bit as bad as you've been saying. Worse!

Anytime I've ever commented to say "oh that doesn't sound so bad, don't be so hard on Bella, I can imagine myself doing or thinking something like that ...." I take it back. Lacking context I was creating in my mind a sympathetic teenager who acts immaturely in a normal teenager way, but is basically a good egg, just stumbling on her way to becoming a mature adult. Too bad no such person exists in the book.

chris the cynic said...

OH MY GOD. It's so awful! I thought you all were being hyperbolic, like people do on the internets. But no, it's every bit as bad as you've been saying. Worse!

I had a similar experience with Left Behind even though I'd read it before. Looked at the text surrounding one of Fred Clark's posts about Tribulation Force (the conclusion of the Buck and Chloe it's not what it looks like and flowers in the trash fiasco) and oh my god was it worse than I ever could have imagined. It wasn't that Fred had done a bad job of highlighting the bad, it was just that it was impossible to communicate how bad it really was without repeating it verbatim.

Thomas Keyton said...

Does this imply that, since vampires in the presence of themselves are made of marble, that they descend from Galatea?

Amarie said...

*stares at Kit wide-eyed as mouth opens and closes mutely*

...Kit, did you and others actually collaborate to say that I need a bigger audience...? @_____@

*intensely nervous and awed*

Kit Whitfield said...

Well, yes. Not my place to tell you what you should be doing, but have you considered a blog of your own? Because you have a real talent for commentary and analysis. Your comments are always incisive, perceptive and eloquent and I always look forward to reading them; I think if you started putting your thoughts out there you might (hopefully) find an appreciative audience. And you certainly wouldn't be the only person to springboard off the Slacktiverse; it's a community blog, and that's one of the things it's for; seeing people swell their audience after publishing on it makes us happy. :-)

Amarie said...

Oh...WOW. Just...wow. Thank you, Kit!!!!

I've certainly thought about it. But I'm afraid that I'm just waaaay too shy/scared of being judged. *BLUSH*

Plus I fear that college (as it gets harder with more work, I'm still a freshman/sophmore) won't let me update as frequently as a good/professional blog writer should. Wouldn't people get annoyed, then...?

...Goodness, I sound more insecure than Bella Swan. @____@

chris the cynic said...

Plus I fear that college (as it gets harder with more work, I'm still a freshman/sophmore) won't let me update as frequently as a good/professional blog writer should. Wouldn't people get annoyed, then...?

When I was considering making a blog I had similar concerns about updating and was told that that wouldn't matter. I think the claim was something along the lines of there are no rules to blogging, you do it however you want to or are able.

Or something like that.

-

Plus you're only a professional if you get paid, and that's probably a while down the line for you I think.

Cupcakedoll said...

+1 love for Amarie. Girl, your brain is beautiful.

...except about getting me into the Black Dagger books, I ran out of the ones my library has. So I am reduced to having to spend money on vampire romances. Oh the shame! Curse you, Amarie! *shakes fist*

Silver Adept said...

@Cupcakedoll - No Inter-Library Loan in your library? Shame.

@Amarie - Real life has interfered with my own blog postings, and I have not lost audience due to posting less, so I think that so long as the quality of the material remains consistently high (if slacktiverse wants you, you've passed the quality test), you'll be fine.

Kit Whitfield said...

yep, what chris said. don't do it if you don't want to, of course, but if you did want to I think you'd be good at it. Maybe you could try writing a few pieces for the Slacktiverse and see how that goes, and move on to a blog of your own if and when you felt ready? Then you wouldn't have to worry about updating regularly and we'd get a cool new contributor... ;-)

Amarie said...

Aww...well, thank you all! I'll definitely start submitting pieces to the Slactiverse and I'm appreciative of all the help! I barely know a thing about blogs/community forums. *BLUSH*

And then in the near future, I suppose a blog won't be too far away. ^ ^

Cupcakedoll, I'm unrepentant!!! Love the Black Dagger Brotherhood!! Love them, I say!!! >:D

Kit Whitfield said...

I barely know a thing about blogs/community forums.

Well, we're happy to provide support/guidance. Nurturing young talent is fun. :-)

Pthalo said...

Amarie, if you want a http://www.dreamwidth.org invite, I could hook you up with one. My e-mail is pthalogreen at livejournal dot com. Dreamwidth is really easy to use. You just go to "create" and then "post an entry" and write your entry. You can post entries public for the whole world to see, private for only you to see, or restricted so that only people you've given permission can read them. You can make a reading list of blogs you like to follow, and there's a page where you can read all the recent updates of these blogs.

It's free to use. You can pay if you want extra features, but the site is completely usable without paying.

Amarie said...

*sniffles* You are all SO kind to little-college-student-me...bless you all!!!

And I'll be sure to look into the link, Platho! Thank you!!!! :D

Ana Mardoll said...

How did I miss this comment the first time? Hello IceColdBlank, and welcome! I'm so glad you posted -- I love to hear from lurkers!! :)

Pthalo said...

Just e-mail me if you want an account and I'll send you an invite code. :)

Amarie said...

Oh, thank you!!! :D

Err...what is your email address, though? Or at least, where can I find it on here...?

*idiot when it comes to navigating blogs* v.v

Pthalo said...

it's pthalogreen@livejournal.com

Amarie said...

Sent! ^ ^

Pthalo said...

Sent :)

Sorry it took a while -- I live in Europe, so I'd gone to bed. But now it's morning.

Silver Adept said...

@InquisitiveRaven

Thanks for the fact-check. Always important when engaging in wild speculation that the actual facts be correct.

Darth Ember said...

Regarding the Quileutes... one of the communities I frequent comments that SMeyer yanked legends from other places to give to them. Taha Aki, for instance... now there's a name that recalls Tahaki. Only... Tahaki is a Polynesian figure. Why do they suspect it especially? Because, with a legend name like How Tahaki Lost His Red Skin, you begin to wonder a bit.
And Stephenie has never even bothered to credit the Quileute people - and nothing in her interviews suggests she ever even asked them if they minded.
Seriously. She couldn't even spare one fucking line in her acknowledgements for the people she decided ought to be exotic werewolves in her book? Not one damn line? Fail.
I'm kind of conscious of these things; where I live, the Indigenous Australian people are recognised in speeches, on plaques near buildings... all those little gestures that serve as some kind of acknowledgement. (Yes, I'm aware of historical mistreatment, but just like how I'm not expecting Meyer to preface her books with an apology for everything that has ever been done to Native Americans, it is the present form of acknowledgement I'm referring to. That sort of little courtesy, you know?) The name's redacted, because I kind of don't want to splash my exact location around the internet, and naming the precise language group would pinpoint me rather exactly, but it's a basic component of just about every community-based speech here:
"We acknowledge the [redacted] people, the traditional owners of this land."

So yeah. I've sort of grown up with this consciousness that you should acknowledge a people; and it really does bother me that Stephenie Meyer has never indicated asking the Quileute people, and puts no acknowledgement whatsoever in her books. Honestly; her interviews tell of how she was looking up Forks, found there was a reservation nearby, and basically went "Ooh, cool, that's convenient!" She explicitly states she needed people with superstitions she could use to have Bella be told about the Cullens. There is not one iota of anything I've found that suggests she ever even bothered to think that it might be offensive to turn a real group of people into Superstitious Native Plot Devices (Now With Added Fur!).

depizan said...

That's good to know. At least she can manage travel arrangements, even if she's hazy on other things.

Ana Mardoll said...

The Quileute stuff is frustrating to me. As an author, I sort of hold it as an author's right to trample on other people's culture and beliefs because it seems to be sort of part-and-parcel with writing at times.

On the other hand, I don't consider it appropriate to make millions of dollars off said culture and beliefs without giving back to that community. Especially a small and specific community like this; it would not be that hard to make a donation to the tribe.

I'm currently reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and it's interesting how that's essentially a parallel situation in many ways. :(

Darth Ember said...

I'd disagree somewhat; I don't think it is part and parcel. Trampling on cultures implies disrespect (like what Meyer has done), which is different from drawing upon a culture for inspiration with some degree of respect.
The lack of acknowledgement especially gets me. And the fact that Twilight merchandise includes things like 'Quileute hoodies' and 'werewolf' temporary tattoos, for which the actual people get no money. Their name is used on things, their culture appropriated for it, and they get no revenue from that.

Meyer states she turned to Google for her research. That's it. She didn't consult anyone from there. One interview has her noting some kind of nervousness about what the people of Forks and La Push would think, after the fact - she did not ask. And that does indicate she became aware it might be problematic... and then threw her hands up and said 'who cares?'.

Just messing up on one of these levels would be one thing; it's when you pile it all together that it gets worrying.

(Great portrayal of the Quileutes, too! /sarcasm
SMeyer Quileutes are A-OK with all kinds of nasty stuff. Quil and Claire for child grooming, Sam and Emily for spousal violence...)

Like I said, it's just the level-upon-level thing. And actually bothering to acknowledge the real people might have helped educate fans, instead of sitting back and leaving them to go get photos in the area without any thought of the real people.

But then, sitting back is kind of a Meyer thing. She gets her brother to read her emails for her, and only pass along the flattering ones. A bunch of actual fans sent in a petition, asking the brother to pass their message along expressing respectful concerns over some of the series content. He proceeded to write back to insult them and condescend to them, and basically indicate that because they were expressing any kind of doubt, they were horrible people trying to damage his poor, brilliant sister's happiness.

icecoldblank said...

Thank you! For some reason I JUST got the notification about your reply, but I'm still figuring out the whole disqus thing... But I love your blog!! :)

idiotglee said...

"Surely Bella didn't make the tortillas for her enchiladas from scratch!" - Um, I know I'm really late here, and I sound like a dick for saying it....especially since I agree with basically all your real points in all of these entries....but as someone who's both pretty fucking poor and enjoys cooking, tortillas are one of the things I really enjoy being able to make. The ingredients? Cheap as shit. Way, way cheaper than buying them (and I can make exactly as many as I need, I don't need to watch them go off!). And they're fresh! Nicer than store-bought! Quick, and actually, really, really, really easy to make.

So, once again, sorry to be a pedant - but this point is just way off.

All meaningful points were spot on though, so yeah, please ignore me and continue.

Kat said...

Why doesn't Bella check the school library?

Kat said...

"it seems awfully convenient that she always lands at the Forks airport."

"It's a four-hour flight from Phoenix to Seattle, another hour in a small plane up to
Port Angeles, and then an hour drive back down to Forks. Flying doesn't bother
me; the hour in the car with Charlie, though, I was a little worried about."

redcrow said...

>>>If she was willing to settle for, "One of the rainiest places in the US," then a fictional town would do just fine, but is she had her heart set on, "The single rainiest place in the US," then not so much because then people will look it up and say, "No, that's Hilo, Hawaii Forks, Washington."

Speaking for myself only, I wouldn't say it because I would accept this premise. If you give me a fictional movie that won more Oscars than any real movie, I won't say: "No, actually, That Real Movie holds the record, not This Fake One". Because it only holds the record in real life, not in-story.

hapax said...

the wolves have an instinctive loathing for vampires.
Oh, those aboriginal peoples are just creatures of instinct and emotion, aren't they? As opposed to the coldly rational "palefaces" (ugh) who acted out of sheer self-preservation, nothing personal about it, I suppose. Bah

Well, in all fairness, the vampires don't come off any better here.

We're told that they think that werewolves stink. Really, really stink.

(Of course, now that I think about it, that comes with its own set of Unfortunate Implications)

Still, all of the Cullens (except Carlisle) are unbelievably rude about Jacob's scent. Even Bella calls them on it.

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