Twilight: A Healthy Dose Of Fear

Content Note: Abusive Relationships, Rape, Examples of Misogynist/Ableist/Harmful Language

Twilight Summary: In Chapter 10, Edward will take Bella to school, Jessica will question Bella closely about their relationship, and Edward will eat lunch with Bella and discuss vampire eating habits.

Twilight, Chapter 10: Interrogations

When we last left our heroes, Bella and Jessica had headed towards the lunchroom only to be interrupted by the appearance of Edward, which was most likely conveyed in slow-motion and possibly with a hazy filtered lens. Jessica correctly deduced that the two love-birds wanted to eat alone and removed herself hastily from the scene.

   “Hello.” His voice was amused and irritated at the same time. He had been listening, it was obvious.

And isn't is darling that Edward's defining two emotions are being irritated with Bella and deeply amused at the perceived absurdity of either Jessica or Bella or both? Isn't that just precisely what you want in a boyfriend, someone who will rifle through the mind of your best friend and then alternately smirk and scowl over what he finds there? ROMANCE!

Anyway.

Edward leads Bella through the cafeteria. Bella walks quietly beside/behind him, and allows him to lead her through the line, at which point he collects a little bit of everything on the menu (without asking her what she wants, prefers, or potentially can't have), pays for them both, and guides her over to an empty table. I think this is supposed to read as "nervous and anxious" in a romantic way and not in a cowed-and-frightened way, but it's a fine line in Twilight. (And sometimes I almost wish the narrative did make Edward more clearly Scary Dangerous Vampire. When I can't decide if this supposed to read as Perfect Boyfriend or Terrible Abuser, I start getting worried.)

   “Jessica’s analyzing everything I do — she’ll break it down for you later.” He pushed the rest of the pizza toward me. The mention of Jessica brought a hint of his former irritation back to his features.
   I put down the apple and took a bite of the pizza, looking away, knowing he was about to start.
   “So the waitress was pretty, was she?” he asked casually.
   “You really didn’t notice?”
   “No. I wasn’t paying attention. I had a lot on my mind.”
   “Poor girl.” I could afford to be generous now.
   “Something you said to Jessica . . . well, it bothers me.” He refused to be distracted. His voice was husky, and he glanced up from under his lashes with troubled eyes.
   “I’m not surprised you heard something you didn’t like. You know what they say about eavesdroppers,” I reminded him.
   “I warned you I would be listening.”
   “And I warned you that you didn’t want to know everything I was thinking.”
   “You did,” he agreed, but his voice was still rough. “You aren’t precisely right, though. I do want to know what you’re thinking — everything. I just wish . . . that you wouldn’t be thinking some things.”

Where do I start here? I particularly flinch at how the irritation is "brought back to his features" (Edward Cullen: Not one to give up a grudge!) but even knowing that he's building up to a berating session at Bella, he starts out "casually" as if to take her off balance. Is this creepy? To me, it is.

Then there's the fact that Edward is auditing Bella's thoughts again. Earlier he audited her by accusing her of accepting things too easily, which is a really awful thing to audit someone for, by the way. People can't often control their initial reactions to disturbing or distressing information, and it's just as likely and possible that Bella is accepting disclosures like Vampire and Immortal and so forth from a place of quiet shock as from a place of open acceptance. And this doesn't even get into the issues that Bella, as a women living in North America, has been conditioned her entire life to react with little emotion to upsetting things. From that post:

If women are raised being told by parents, teachers, media, peers, and all surrounding social strata that:
  • it is not okay to set solid and distinct boundaries and reinforce them immediately and dramatically when crossed (“mean bitch”)
  • it is not okay to appear distraught or emotional (“crazy bitch”)
  • it is not okay to make personal decisions that the adults or other peers in your life do not agree with, and it is not okay to refuse to explain those decisions to others (“stuck-up bitch”)
  • it is not okay to refuse to agree with somebody, over and over and over again (“angry bitch”)
  • it is not okay to have (or express) conflicted, fluid, or experimental feelings about yourself, your body, your sexuality, your desires, and your needs (“bitch got daddy issues”)
  • it is not okay to use your physical strength (if you have it) to set physical boundaries (“dyke bitch”)
  • it is not okay to raise your voice (“shrill bitch”)
  • it is not okay to completely and utterly shut down somebody who obviously likes you (“mean dyke/frigid bitch”)
If we teach women that there are only certain ways they may acceptably behave, we should not be surprised when they behave in those ways.

So you have this frustrating cycle where Edward tells Bella things about himself, a little at a time so that he can really string out this process, Bella reacts in ways that she thinks will minimize harm (be calm, don't react negatively) and then Edward angrily audits her reactions and claims that her reactions are wrong and inappropriate. Stellar.

   “Are you going to answer the question?”
   I looked down. “Yes.”
   “Yes, you are going to answer, or yes, you really think that?” He was irritated again.

Eventually we're going to get to a point where all the Twilight posts are just going to be me writing profanity in all caps. CAPSRAGE, we will call it. Because that is what these sentences make me want to do, when they are paired together in the way they are here. 

   “Well, aside from the obvious, sometimes . . .” I hesitated. “I can’t be sure — I don’t know how to read minds — but sometimes it seems like you’re trying to say goodbye when you’re saying something else.” That was the best I could sum up the sensation of anguish that his words triggered in me at times.
   “Perceptive,” he whispered. And there was the anguish again, surfacing as he confirmed my fear. “That’s exactly why you’re wrong, though,” he began to explain, [...]
   I quickly reminded him of my original argument.
   “But I’m not saying goodbye,” I pointed out.
   “Don’t you see? That’s what proves me right. I care the most, because if I can do it” — he shook his head, seeming to struggle with the thought — “if leaving is the right thing to do, then I’ll hurt myself to keep from hurting you, to keep you safe.”

Oh joy. We get to have a Who Loves Whom The Most competition. The game where there are no losers, except the readers who have to plow through this. But pushing my cynicism aside for a moment and accepting that some people genuinely and validly enjoy exploring deep questions like this -- i.e., what is the more loving act, to stay with someone because they want you to even though your presence puts them in danger, or to leave them so that they may be safe-if-heartbroken -- I'd like to gripe some more about Edward's chosen methods of auditing Bella's thoughts.

If Bella really is thinking things that Edward doesn't want her to think, there are ways to go about that. If she's thinking that Edward doesn't love her as much as she loves him, there are things he can do and say in response. He can talk to her openly about his feelings. He can describe how he feels about her, and the ways in which she dazzles him. He can lead her through his own thoughts and feelings (the way he desperately wants to be led through hers) and show her why she's so important to him.

We don't get that. Instead we get Edward flat-out telling Bella that she's so hot that every Human Male in the school wants to bone her. And we get him trying to out-logic her in an argument that will Totes Prove that Edward has Infinity Plus One Love, and Bella's own love measures short indeed against that metric, bam! And we get a lot of aggressive auditing about how now that Bella KNOWS she's hot (because telepathy) and KNOWS that Edward loves her more (because logic), she needs to stop feeling unloved and insecure now, mmkay?

And that does not read as anything close to love to me. To me, love is accepting and caring and kind. Love accepts that people are sometimes insecure, and love endeavors to reassure those insecurities. "Proving" that someone is loved on the grounds of their Objective Hotness and Objective I-Will-Leave-You-Soon-But-It-Hurts-Me-Therefore-Love is not something that is going to reassure me, unless my insecurities are "am I hot enough to replace this guy with someone better" and "will he leave soon so I can get on with that". Those are not Bella's insecurities. Bella's insecurities are "am I loved" and "will he stay". Edward hasn't addressed those things, not really. I'm not sure he ever will, and shutting down Bella and telling her she shouldn't even think those things is drastically unhelpful.

   Abruptly, his unpredictable mood shifted again; a mischievous, devastating smile rearranged his features. “Of course, keeping you safe is beginning to feel like a full-time occupation that requires my constant presence.”
   “No one has tried to do away with me today,” I reminded him, grateful for the lighter subject. I didn’t want him to talk about goodbyes anymore. If I had to, I supposed I could purposefully put myself in danger to keep him close. . . . I banished that thought before his quick eyes read it on my face. That idea would definitely get me in trouble.
   “Yet,” he added.
   “Yet,” I agreed; I would have argued, but now I wanted him to be expecting disasters.

Hey! Remember how New Moon is basically about Bella getting herself into deadly situations so that she can "see" Edward in her mind as he chews her out for being reckless? This is worse; here in Twilight, she's contemplating getting into deadly situations in order to force Edward to stay with her. And, yes, that is a slice of pie on the Domestic Violence wheel.

   “Do you really need to go to Seattle this Saturday, or was that just an excuse to get out of saying no to all your admirers?”
   I made a face at the memory. “You know, I haven’t forgiven you for the Tyler thing yet,” I warned him. “It’s your fault that he’s deluded himself into thinking I’m going to prom with him.”
   “Oh, he would have found a chance to ask you without me — I just really wanted to watch your face,” he chuckled. I would have been angrier if his laughter wasn’t so fascinating. “If I’d asked you, would you have turned me down?” he asked, still laughing to himself.
   “Probably not,” I admitted. “But I would have canceled later — faked an illness or a sprained ankle.”
   He was puzzled. “Why would you do that?”
   I shook my head sadly. “You’ve never seen me in Gym, I guess, but I would have thought you would understand.”
   “Are you referring to the fact that you can’t walk across a flat, stable surface without finding something to trip over?”
   “Obviously.”
   “That wouldn’t be a problem.” He was very confident. “It’s all in the leading.” He could see that I was about to protest, and he cut me off.

You know it's been a long year when I can't get worked up over ableism in Twilight anymore.

And I don't mean that in a "I'm tired of Twilight" kind of way. I mean that in an "I'm flabbergasted by this" kind of way. I'm serious. The first time I read Twilight, I was blown away by the ableism on display in this novel, and subsequent readings have not deadened me to it. But it's so flagrant I don't know what to say about it. It's rendered me speechless.

Here is a list of my admittedly subjective opinions regarding this passage.

1. It is cruel for Edward to continually refer to Mike/Eric/Tyler as "admirers" when all of them have crossed over the line of appropriate behavior towards Bella. Edward is perpetuating Rape Culture by pretending that bad behavior is a compliment.

2. It is cruel for Edward to consider Bella's reaction in the face of unwanted sexual advances to be a source of entertainment, particularly when he still knows so little about her. What if she did (and still does) find Tyler's behavior triggering? Edward is perpetuating Rape Culture by framing Bella herself (her facial expressions and reactions) as a source of public entertainment.

3. It is cruel for Edward to continue taunting Bella -- who he knows is attracted to him -- with the suggestion of a date with him to the dance (now the second time he's insinuated that he could ask if he wanted to). Edward is engaging in bullying behavior by offering something that he knows she can't have.

4. It is cruel of Edward to repeatedly forget that Bella has a disability. Bella has explicitly revealed to Charlie (and, I think, Jessica, but I'm not going to look for it now) why she's not interested in going to the dance. I refuse to believe that Edward hasn't gone digging around in Charlie's brain for information about Bella, not with him jonesing so badly for information that he's lashing out verbally at Bella and going through Jessica's head faster than she can register new thoughts. By refusing to remember what (I believe) he already knows, Edward is forcing Bella to reiterate her disability repeatedly to him, which can be deeply distressing.

5. It is cruel of Edward to frame Bella's disability in the terms he uses here. Not only is he belittling her by making it sound like she can't accomplish simple tasks, but he is additionally faulting her by saying that she "finds" (active, deliberate) something to trip over. Essentially, Edward is a jackass.

Okay? Just my opinions.

   “I’m open to alternatives,” I allowed. “But I do have a favor to ask.”   He looked wary, as he always did when I asked an open-ended question. “What?”
   “Can I drive?”
   He frowned. “Why?”
   “Well, mostly because when I told Charlie I was going to Seattle, he specifically asked if I was going alone and, at the time, I was. If he asked again, I probably wouldn’t lie, but I don’t think he will ask again, and leaving my truck at home would just bring up the subject unnecessarily. And also, because your driving frightens me.”
   He rolled his eyes. “Of all the things about me that could frighten you, you worry about my driving.” He shook his head in disgust, but then his eyes were serious again. 

Edward has issues with trust. He wants unfettered access to Bella's thoughts, but is wary if she so much as mentions a favor. This despite the fact that he's asked her for open-ended promises before -- not favors, but promises -- and she's agreed to his needs whole-heartedly without immediate reservation.

Edward has issues with respect. He expects Bella to take his needs and thoughts and feelings seriously. She must respect that he could end their relationship at any time, supposedly for her own good, because what worries him is paramount, even if those things don't worry her. Yet he scoffs and ridicules her own fears, in this case his driving, even though he has admitted that his driving could potentially kill her

   “Won’t you want to tell your father that you’re spending the day with me?” There was an undercurrent to his question that I didn’t understand. [...]
   “Why in the world would I do that?”   His eyes were suddenly fierce. “To give me some small incentive to bring you back.”
   I gulped. But, after a moment of thought, I was sure. “I think I’ll take my chances.”
   He exhaled angrily, and looked away.
   “Let’s talk about something else,” I suggested.
   “What do you want to talk about?” he asked. He was still annoyed.

Edward has issues with anger.

But it's more complicated than that. Edward has issues with anger and ableism and trust and intimacy and everything else with Bella because, fundamentally, he does not respect Bella. He claims to love her, and the narrative says I'm supposed to believe him, but he doesn't respect her even a bit. He audits her thoughts, criticizes her choices, argues against her needs. He is suspicious of her, refusing to trust that she will work with him for their mutual happiness rather than against him for her own gratification. He treats her disability as amusing at best, deliberate at worst, and unimportant and entirely forgettable for the most part. And every time Bella continues to be a person instead of a blood-scented porcelain doll, Edward gets annoyed and angered and outraged.

There are people like that in real life. But we usually call them abusers. 

Finishing off the chapter, Edward tells Bella about their hunting trip and how Emmett both prefers-to-eat and resembles-at-hunt a bear.

   “Are you like a bear, too?” I asked in a low voice.
   “More like the lion, or so they tell me,” he said lightly. “Perhaps our preferences are indicative.”
   I tried to smile. “Perhaps,” I repeated. But my mind was filled with opposing images that I couldn’t merge together. “Is that something I might get to see?”
   “Absolutely not!” His face turned even whiter than usual, and his eyes were suddenly furious. I leaned back, stunned and — though I’d never admit it to him — frightened by his reaction. He leaned back as well, folding his arms across his chest.
   “Too scary for me?” I asked when I could control my voice again.
   “If that were it, I would take you out tonight,” he said, his voice cutting. “You need a healthy dose of fear. Nothing could be more beneficial for you.”
   “Then why?” I pressed, trying to ignore his angry expression.
   He glared at me for a long minute.
   “Later,” he finally said. He was on his feet in one lithe movement. “We’re going to be late.”

Edward's latest (and last, for this chapter) outburst literally frightens Bella. He's been on a low simmer of irritation for the entire afternoon and now he's boiled over into furious anger.

His reason for being so upset, if I understand correctly from the little bits of Breaking Dawn I read once when I was fact-checking something, is that he's horrified by the suggestion since Bella's presence in the midst of feeding could push him over the edge into attacking her. Fine.

But this reaction is not horror. It's fury, or at least Bella labels it such. As the point-of-view character, I'm willing to give her the benefit of being able to tell horror from anger. And Edward is angry at her for this suggestion because it's a suggestion that could put her life at risk. But Bella doesn't know that. And Edward has to realize that. So essentially he's furious with her for making a mistake, after he himself has spent the entire afternoon deliberately insulting and belittling her.

Edward Cullen. Definitely not better than chocolate.

But what's really horrifying here is when Bella tries to recover the situation and ventures a suggestion for Edward's unexplained violent outburst: Too scary for me? And Edward tells her that if it were only a matter of scaring her, he would do it as soon as possible, because she "needs" to be scared. She needs to be frightened of him. She needs to be, essentially, punished for accepting him with love and kindness rather than hating and fearing him for being different. And, yes, we can construe this as Edward's self-hatred speaking, but it's self-hatred that is currently being directed against Bella. And that is all kinds of wrong.

As is avoiding her perfectly legitimate what-did-I-do-wrong-so-you-won't-react-like-that-again question in favor of a withering glare.

59 comments:

Susan Beckhardt said...

"Oh joy. We get to have a Who Loves Whom The Most competition. "

This immediately put the image in my head of Edward and Bella singing "There Once Was a Man", something that fills me with delight.

Danel said...

Their relationship is so very bad for the both of them in so many ways. I mean, I almost want to laugh and joke that they deserve each other with their various abuses, but it's too troubling for that.

JP said...

Oh, Squee! It's another Twilight Decon Saturday!

That's said, there is not enough Ewwwww for how I feel about the way Edward takes pleasure in mocking, belittling, humiliating, and irritating Bella. And Myers thinks this is Teh Greatest Romance EVAH. Just...ewwwww.

Reading your analysis (because I tried to read the actual prose, and I'm just going to have to let Mark, Ana, and Dana over @ Reasoning W/Vampires do it for me) I am struck by how all of the gender dynamics are deeply imbrued w/Myers religious fundamentalism. When Edward is bossing Bella around, or getting angry at her for having thoughts or feelings he hasn't approved or authorized, when she submits meekly by his side while he commands her lunch tray (and by the way, does THAT scenario seem remotely romantic to any sane person? I think it's supposed to be the teen-rom-com version of the movie-scene where Worldly, Sophisticated Dude in fancy restaurant orders for Dazzled Ingenue, which is still patriarchal but at least classy)--when I see all this, I think of what Ana said a few weeks back, that Bella responds obediently to Edward's commands because Myers can't imagine that a girl/woman would do anything else. Men command, and women hop to it: this is the order of things, the spiritual "headship" and "covering" that rule gender relations in many fundamentalist communities.

I'm also developing a theory that the fundie (and specifically Mormon) background also explains another aspect of these books that flabbergasts me continually: the violation of boundaries, privacy, and personal space (both physical and mental). Not only can no one in these books mind their own damn business, the spying and surveillance and controlling behavior, and especially the mind-reading, is all so clearly stamped by Myer's Smirk of Approval. Not to make this post a complete blog-pimp, but I've been reading a lot of the survival stories from the brave women at No Longer Qivering, and seeing some truly creepy parallels.

chris the cynic said...

That he reacts with fury means that the possibility of Bella dying isn't about Bella as far as Edward is concerned. it's about Edward. Bella's suggestion might make her die and that would make Edward SAD, Bella bringing up a possibility that might make him sad makes him furious. Because its all about him and his feelings, not about whether Bella lives or dies.

That may be the most disturbing bit of this for me.

JonathanPelikan said...

Content Note: Descriptions of personal problems and memories relating to school and emotional bullying.

"When we last left our heroes,"

Quoting from the SpoonyOne, who originally said this of Final Fantasy X, I believe. "Is there a... form we can fill out to change protagonists? Was he randomly assigned?"

[here's the stuff about bullying and emotions and smirking]

I am amazed at how angry I get whenever I see 'Edward smirked'. He's seriously keying a lot of negative-feels I've had since high school, which was only like two years ago; specifically, that kind of smarmy, smiling, smirking asshole who considers you, your faults, your mistakes, your efforts, and your very existence as one big fucking joke. (Yeah, I spent a portion of my school life being laughed at; either as the 'class clown' or as the subject of derision, and often both. Later on It Got Better, though. High School was actually the best of that for me; by that time old memories had faded and everybody had grown up a tad, or at least gotten less interested in that stuff. Also, school bus memories; a group of girls who would bully me every time I made eye contact, thus very effectively training me to avoid eye contact with almost everybody to this day.)

Well, and a lot of the 'jock' guys seemed like this but it was hard to tell when somebody was trying to be nice or just mocking you, and thus- paranoia and humiliation. Those are things I want out of any good relationship! Also the loss of my human soul and ability to enjoy food. That sort of smirking condescension is a great way to insult somebody but have it be a little less direct and confrontational, and you can deny it or mask it, and so when the subject lashes out, they're the bad guy for escalating it. "I was just asking how his day was!" I remember another guy from the school who ended up wired on a hair-trigger because he figured everybody talking to him was probably laughing at him behind his back and making fun of him- mostly because that's what had happened for like -ten years-. And yeah, I participated in that from time to time, and now I understand why doing so was really bad.

So seriously. Laughter can hurt as much or more than it can heal, and I understand that on a visceral level.

Seriously, there's subjectivity and there's relativity and I know this guy is some people's Perfect Boyfriend Material and more power to them but go to Hell if it exists, Edward. I hate you. There's a variety of reasons but a lot of them for me are quite personal, so I mean it; I hate this fictional character.

And we're on chapter -ten- of a -four book 'saga'-.

[that part is over now]

Okay. We're walking, we're walking...

"When I can't decide if this supposed to read as Perfect Boyfriend or Terrible Abuser, I start getting worried.)"

SMeyers: Both!

"And we get him trying to out-logic her in an argument that will Totes Prove that Edward has Infinity Plus One Love, and Bella's own love measures short indeed against that metric, bam!"

I play a variant of this game with my fiance sometimes. We'll get into 'no, love YOU more' wars and argue about it for many sickening diabeetus-inducing minutes and it all sort of ends up resembling 'no, YOU hang up'. Except when we do it we're not actually trying to prove a point, we're just frakking about and expressing legitimate and genuine love.

"Eventually we're going to get to a point where all the Twilight posts are just going to be me writing profanity in all caps. CAPSRAGE, we will call it. Because that is what these sentences make me want to do, when they are paired together in the way they are here. "

The fact that we aren't there already says volumes about your strength of character and kindness, Ana.

GeniusLemur said...

This dialogue is awful. “Of course, keeping you safe is beginning to feel like a full-time occupation that requires my constant presence.” I might be able to make that more stilted, but it would be a lot of work. And there are so many others from this post. I don't remember it being this bad in earlier chapters.

JonathanPelikan said...

SMeyers' tin ear for writing and dialogue is almost Jenkensian at times, like that one quote from a bit back that would have been great on the book jacket about three things Bella was entirely sure of.

Sherry Hintze said...

Well, I think I know why Edward likes hanging out at high school. Emotionally, I'd say he's on the level of a *very spoiled* teenage boy - or maybe even a pre-teen.

He should have what he wants, because he wants it. Other people should feel the way he wants them to feel, and if they don't, or if they're unhappy, it's their fault, because they're not following the script. He doesn't trust Bella (or any human, I'm thinking) to take care of herself, yet he isn't sure he can protect her - so he becomes more and more controlling, trying to avoid dangers and pitfalls that may or may not lie ahead.

I can see the abusiveness, but I think a lot of it comes from never growing up, from being afraid Bad Things will happen if he lets up for a moment, but not having anyone teach him healthy ways to cope with that. And I hadn't thought of it, but it clicked when I read JP's post - there does seem to be a lot of internalized patriarchy and behavioral monitoring, consistent with the LDS and other fundamentalist churches, on the author's part.

And now I'm kind of angry. Because, this? This is the "romance of the century"? This is "how it should be"? How can people be so... blinkered? shuttered? lacking in or deliberately avoiding analysis? Sorry, I'd better go pet a cat or something before I, too, devolve into CAPSRAGE.

But thank you for the deconstruction and the things to think about.

Mr. Son said...

“Are you referring to the fact that you can’t walk across a flat, stable surface without finding something to trip over?”
“Obviously.”
“That wouldn’t be a problem.” He was very confident. “It’s all in the leading.” He could see that I was about to protest, and he cut me off.


So, "I'm worried about my safety if I try to do something physical like dancing" merits a "That doesn't matter, I'm too awesome for you to hurt yourself if I'm there" and not letting her express any further reservations. Classy, Edward.

Thomas Keyton said...

“More like the lion, or so they tell me,” he said lightly.

He sits back while Rosalie, Alice, and Esme scavenge the kills of whichever Cullen is a hyena?

Ana Mardoll said...

Klassy Edward, Not Better Than Chocolate!

Majromax said...

This dialogue is awful. “Of course, keeping you safe is beginning to feel like a full-time occupation that requires my constant presence.” I might be able to make that more stilted, but it would be a lot of work.

How about "The task of keeping you safe is occupying enough of my time that I should be able to qualify for a tax deduction on some of my expenses"?

Silver Adept said...

This passage induces not just capslock rage, but keyboard gibberish as arghblarglefffwhaaaaaargh! It's the closest I can come to the combination of wtf and there's so much wrong here. Perhaps when I have more coherence I can say how much I like the linked piece and all the reasons why Edward Cullen is so wrong.

Steve Morrison said...

No, no! He means "More like the Lion", i.e. Aslan. He plays mind games with his most devoted follower(s), who can't always even see him, as when he moves very fast to save them from a van/appears to them to show them the One True Way across a gorge. And Bad Boy that he is, he certainly isn't a tame sparklepire.

Makabit said...

"This dialogue is awful. “Of course, keeping you safe is beginning to feel like a full-time occupation that requires my constant presence.” I might be able to make that more stilted, but it would be a lot of work."

You know, it made me flash on some of the things that Ranger says to Stephanie Plum.

But that FEELS very different to me.

Partly, I think, because Ranger really does value Stephanie's skills, and hires her for jobs repeatedly, clearly when he needs her, and not just because he thinks she's hot/knows the guys like her.

Partly because Ranger respects the limits Stephanie puts on their relationship.

Partly because there is a rotating cast of people who save Stephanie when she gets into trouble, including people who by rights shouldn't be able to rescue a cat from a tree.

Partly because Stephanie is obviously the hero of the series.

But maybe it just seems different to me because I relate to Stephanie, and live out fantasies through her, while Bella does not appeal to me. And neither does Edward.

Makabit said...

"This immediately put the image in my head of Edward and Bella singing "There Once Was a Man", something that fills me with delight."

I only wish. That would involve Bella being able to accept love as her due.

Anton_Mates said...

“You aren’t precisely right, though. I do want to know what you’re thinking — everything. I just wish . . . that you wouldn’t be thinking some things.”

Jesus Christ, at least a third of Edward's dialogue should cause high-pitched, discordant string music to come into existence ex nihilo. It's like Stephenie Meyer grew up next to a Blockbuster where Twilight Zone episodes were misfiled in the romantic comedy section.

Gelliebean said...

“Is that something I might get to see?”
“Absolutely not!” His face turned even whiter than usual, and his eyes were suddenly furious. I leaned back, stunned and — though I’d never admit it to him — frightened by his reaction. He leaned back as well, folding his arms across his chest.
“Too scary for me?” I asked when I could control my voice again.
“If that were it, I would take you out tonight,” he said, his voice cutting. “You need a healthy dose of fear. Nothing could be more beneficial for you.”
“Then why?” I pressed, trying to ignore his angry expression.
He glared at me for a long minute.
“Later,” he finally said.


This bothers me on another level too.... Bella is trying to learn something about this new beau of hers, anything, just so they can relate to each other, and he shuts her down completely. If I were seeing someone who had some pastime I wasn't familiar with (fishing, tennis, whatever) I would expect him to invite me along so we could spend time together, and so I could see him doing something he took pride in.

Now, I don't think Bella has fully grokked the nature of this activity, or what she would actually be watching - she just knows that Sparkleboi is going to be bouncing off trees at full speed (a chance to show off) and that he's proud of his hunting abilities (the self-comparison to a lion). The fact remains that she's trying to connect with him, and every. single. time. he shuts her down completely.

"No, you can't come because it's not safe, and I lose some self control when hunting."

Is that so hard to say? Really?

Amaryllis said...

“Won’t you want to tell your father that you’re spending the day with me?”

Is there an actual, in-text answer to this? I know we've speculated about Charlie and the Cullens and the food-money jar. And I gather that Charlie's going to go all lock-up-your-daughter a little later in the book. But as of now, does Bella have any reason to hide the fact that she's out with Edward? Doe she have any reason to think he'll care? Or is she just being secretive on general teenage principles?

chris the cynic said...

Is there an actual, in-text answer to this?

"With Charlie, less is always more."

And that's it.

Ana Mardoll said...

Charlie polices her sexuality heavily enough (including sabotaging her car for no reason), that I honestly don't blame Bella.

However, I think the in-text reason is that she thinks she's "protecting" Edward -- if he loses control and kills her, he won't be a suspect (because Charlie won't know they were out together), and therefore Edward won't have to leave town.

The fact that Edward is essentially asking Bella to tell Charlie as a safeguard FOR EDWARD (he needs a reason not to kill her) and she decides that she knows what's best for him better than HE does just perpetuates the abusive "I know best for you" fail in this relationship.

bekabot said...

@ Thomas Keyton & Steve Morrison

I think that what S. Meyer means when she has Edward say he's "more like a lion" (or words to that effect) isn't that he's like and African lion or a Narnian Lion, but that he's like a cougar or a puma. There are lots of these in Washington State and there are also plenty of them around Phoenix (they've even been sighted on the golf courses) so this is an animal that S. Meyer might have grown up having a certain amount of familiarity with or maybe seen in action once or twice. Most people call cougars/pumas "mountain lions", though the technical name for the WA State native species is Puma Concolor. Cougars are mean, secretive, sly, sneaky, and gorgeous. They like to remain concealed while hunting and aren't happy when the prey has a chance to see them coming. Sometimes they can be frightened/beaten off (if they attack) by a human who is willing to make a fuss, because while they're physically very powerful they're not particularly brave. One of their big things is to kill deer: the first Twilight movie opens with a sequence in which Edward kills a fawn; another of their big things is to hang out in trees: Edward does a lot of tree-climbing in that movie. Their leaping and jumping abilities are astounding: again, you can see the similarity to Edward (or to be fair, any of the Sparklepires, but then one of the Twilight running conceits, in both the movies and the books, is that vampires are like cats whereas werewolves are like dogs).

At any rate, this would explain why when Edward says he's "more like a lion" he doesn't mean that he sends the female sparklepires off to hunt and then devours part of what they catch. Male cougars hunt for themselves (insert joke). Plus, cougars are the only variety of big cat Edward would have a chance of hunting on a basis regular enough that he might develop a taste for them. Edward can't eat Serengeti lions unless his range is really really big.

chris the cynic said...

Edward is angry regardless. He's angry that Bella edits, he's angry when she doesn't edit because she was right. She was right that he didn't want to know those parts.

The only possible way he'll be not-angry, based on those two facts alone, is for Bella to only ever think things he approves of. It's not enough to act exactly how he wants, and say exactly what he wants to hear. No, she has to control her very thoughts or else Edward will be angry with her.

And if she did somehow transform her mind into something that only thinks Edward approved thoughts... First off, would she sill be herself? Second, what's to say Edward wouldn't find something else to be angry about?

Amarie said...

Chris, it's alright! I know my Walls of Text can be kind of...monologuing. I try to tone it down, but I just have so many thoughts and ideas in my head and you all are so friendly that no one has given me spoons or flames yet...

Sorry...*hides in the over-talkative corner* v.v

chris the cynic said...

No, no, your walls of text tend to be brilliant.

Don't tone it down on my account.

Plus, I've made longer far less coherent walls of text back in my days when I had more energy. If I ever get the energy back I probably will again in the future.

Amaryllis said...

Charlie polices her sexuality heavily enough (including sabotaging her car for no reason), that I honestly don't blame Bella.

Has he done that yet? I thought that came later, when Charlie started to worry about Edward? The last I remember of Charlie, he was being non-intrusive about her day out with Jessica and the girls, and he voiced no objections to Bella driving to Seattle by herself. He has started with the policing yet, or is this another example of Bella Is Right about the way things will be?

GeniusLemur said...

Let me assure you, we won't run you off. This is an honest discussion: we wouldn't run off an actual fan who had real points to make. In fact, I would be interested to see an actual fan's counterarguments to Ana's deconstruction.

bekabot said...

That Edward and Bella communicate by means of sniping and sulking* is a variation on the yawny old romcom rule which says that whenever two good-looking young/prime-of-life people (usually but not always of the opposite sex) automatically hate each other they have to be in love. (Or mutually lustful, whatever.) This trope works okay most of the time (which I suppose is how it got to be a trope) but it fails when the tension between the two people gets too palpable and real. There's a point, IOW, at which Basic Instinct quits being Basic Instinct and turns into Fatal Attaction. But that's not always a bad thing; Fatal Attraction is a fun movie to watch in its own right. Just as the trope itself is not without its uses, its weariness aside, so the failure of the trope is also not without its uses, and in the right hands it can be cleverly exploited.

This is not what happens in Twilight. One of the more unnerving things about the Twilight books is the degree of real rage that the two protagonists display when dealing with one another. The rage is barely sublimated in Edward's case and carefully muffled in Bella's; so that we end up with a situation in which Edward directs snarly remarks at Bella and Bella forgets what she's thinking because she can't afford to face up to the fact that what she's thinking isn't polite. The Twilight books start out past the point at which Basic Instinct has slipped over into Fatal Attraction, but they never seem to acknowledge that, any more than they acknowledge that the level of hostility between the two main characters is from the outset intense enough that it can't really be described as cute. (Major Spoilier: Bella Dies At The End. How's that for a happy ending?) Apparently we're supposed to experience Edward's and Bella's verbal liebestodic duels as playful banter; that's what the text seems to instruct us to do. I have a hard time with that; as reader it places me under strain.

There's one way in which Edward's and Bella's malcommunication somewhat works, which is: it demonstrates that they are both mightily emotionally deaf and that each is, to some extent, speaking to a shadow manufactured by him-or-herself. One of the things I like about the Ben/Edith snippets is that chris the cynic fixes this in a way which remains true to the original. Edith and Ben are both slightly (as opposed to monumentally) emotionally deaf, but each of them recognizes this characteristic in the other and it's something which brings them together, something they have in common. (As opposed to being something which drives them apart and keeps them at a distance.)

*Edward snipes while Bella sulks

Ana Mardoll said...

He hasn't done that yet, but I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt that she's picked up on Creepy Sex Policing vibes. A lot of women do, and it's standard Patriarchy narrative to gaslight them about it.

But that's me being pretty meta. It's just as possible that she doesn't know how Charlie is, but she's seen other dads flip out, or that she's just a very private person when it comes to her first crush, or....

Ana Mardoll said...

Let me assure you, we won't run you off. This is an honest discussion: we wouldn't run off an actual fan who had real points to make. In fact, I would be interested to see an actual fan's counterarguments to Ana's deconstruction.

Yep! Ditto. :)

Amaryllis said...

That could be-- about the vibes, I mean-- I haven't read the books, so I defer to your sense of what's going on.

I also remember, quite well, that teenage feeling of "Mom and Dad don't have to know everything I'm doing; I don't know if they'd object, but I'm not going to give them the chance."

I guess Bella just seemed so definite about not letting Charlie know anything about this innocuous plan, that it surprised me, so early in the book.

Brin Bellway said...

I also remember, quite well, that teenage feeling of "Mom and Dad don't have to know everything I'm doing; I don't know if they'd object, but I'm not going to give them the chance."

Teenage? Just about everything I've ever done on the Internet (except getting my first email account) I made at least some attempt to hide from my parents, so it would have started about age eight.

Ana Mardoll said...

Yeah, I didn't advertise my library books, either. What they didn't know, they couldn't ban.

Twilight-wise, Bella is used to being an independent entity because Renee, and she's been established as unwilling to let Charlie into a parenting role, so I think it's relatively consistent.

....if massively unfair to Edward's stated wishes. :(

Amarie said...

*sneaking on between final exams* >.>

D'aaww! Thanks, guys! I love you all, too! Wish me luck; I have two more exams and then summer is done! :D :D :D

...But Fall Semester starts on the 20th. x.X

Ana Mardoll said...

Chris, thank you for this. It was so beautiful, and just... I love what you've done with Alice/Alex. There's so much warmth and support and... A/A seems like a REAL PERSON there with the bit about being a zombie, and not just like a MPDG character who only exists when the protagonist needs them to.

Really, this was beyond perfect and into something that requires new English words. Blub-tastic, maybe.

Silver Adept said...

@Amarie - Wait, we're supposed to mistake anger for passion here, and that the reason Edward its so angry with Bella its because he loves her so much he won't let her go? Um, how do fans get around the fact that this sounds exactly like the plot of many "abusive man" plots, but without the female lead learning how to defend herself?

@chris - I like Alex a lot. If for no other reason than being willing to make fun of himself with zombie analogies. And Charlize sounds like the wonderful parent that Ben deserves - awkward conversations and all.

JonathanPelikan said...

I love your walls of text :D Please don't be sorry and please don't tone it down or anything, you contribute a ton to this community and are part of the reason it's so awesome.

depizan said...

Yes! All insight into what the people who like (or have liked) it saw in it is great. But I generally like hearing what people see in things that I, personally, don't get. It's the only way I'll ever understand the appeal. And there's clearly a lot of appeal to Twilight, at least for some people. Therefor, they are seeing something different from what I see or interpreting it in ways that I don't. And I'm not a sparklepire, so mind reading's right out.

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