Open Thread: Twilight Thoughts

There will, at some distant point in the future, be a Twilight Themes post on Bella and her falling and the many things wrong with it. So far we have:

1. Appropriation. It's an example of an author writing a disability onto a character for "adorable" points without treating that disability seriously or sensitively.

2. Attractive Weakness. It's an example of how weakness is considered an attractive feature in a woman. See where Bella notes that she's desirable because the men want someone to protect.

3. Informed Flaw. She may conform to every conventional standard of beauty, and she may be crackerjack at school without having to study, but she falls down a lot so she's not a Mary Sue!

Anything else you would like tackled in a Falling Down post about Bella?


Silver Adept said...

Nobody takes the disability seriously who should (Charlie, Renee, Bella, Edward, the teaching staff of Forks High) and people who shouldn't do Up to Eleven (the ostracizing classmates of gym, who must all be Stop Having Fun Guys or something that Bella can't find a casual partner in the same way that Ben does in the rewrite).

Not completely related: should we have a link to TVTropes handy? I find that as I get more versed in trope language, it's a handy shortcut to describe things. It risks alienating the audience, though, if they don't have a handy reference nearby. (Maybe.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Most of them are named well enough that you can figure out the context, I think. If we say, oh, that a movie is a case of Black Guy Dies First, you know what I mean. So use 'em, I say.

RedSonja said...

Good points. Since I haven't read the books, and really have zero desire to, I don't know how Bella reacts to her transition. But I suspect that someone who has had a disability all their life, that has caused them significant pain, harm, and affected their ability to live in an able-bodied world, that the "curing" of the disability wouldn't suddenly erase the impact that disability has had on them.

For example, I've had depression since I was 15 or so. If I woke up tomorrow without it, it would take me a LOOOONG time to stop acting as if I DID have it. I suspect I would feel alien to myself, even; I mean, my jerkbrain has been my constant companion. I think my head would be too quiet if it shut up! I would be interested in knowing if Bella continues to be super careful on the ice, or not dance, or if erasing her disability has also erased her lived experience with it.

JVB said...

If I remember correctly, she starts joyfully leaping about and running and flipping pretty much the instant she wakes up vampirized.

Also, christhecynic, I didn't know Meyer found that to be an actual flaw. That's interesting, because, apart from Edward's melancholy, I don't remember it ever being presented as a drawback in the text. I get the impression that nighttime is vampire lover time, and that is certainly presented as an unequivocally good thing. It certainly is presented that way for Bella at least, spending the daytime with her daughter and her nights with Edward. She doesn't seem to regret the loss of dreams at all, or even think about it passingly that I recall.

chris the cynic said...

Not all of her flaws. Well, all of her flaws but not all flaws. The bruise like ever-present dark shadows under the eyes that totally fail to show up in the movies, those are meant to symbolize a Vampire's lack of ability to sleep. To sleep and perchance to dream. According to Meyer.

Eternal insomnia and an inability to dream is a drawback, even Meyer agrees it's a drawback, which is why she had the otherwise perfect bodies marred by shadows under the eyes so dark they look like they've recently been punched in the face, twice. As a reminder that there is a trade off. Of course, I can see from the publicity photos, trailers, other ads, clips, and wiki that those don't appear in the movies. So maybe in the movies Bella can go to dreamland.

GeniusLemur said...

But when every night is already booked solid having fantastic sex with your eturnul twu wuv, is that a drawback? Do the vampires ever suffer from lack of dreaming? Does this "drawback" even get mentioned in the books? In the deconstructions we've seen so far, have the under-eye shadows even been mentioned since the "introduction to the Cullens" scene? You'd think with Edward as amaingly attractive as he's supposed to be, that one flaw would stick way out and constantly be on Bella's mind.

JVB said...

Well, I suppose in a way she's been cured of her disability. She's a vampire in the latest movie, and in this particular mythos, Vampires Are Perfect. So not only has she been cured of her disability, she's been cured of her pesky humanity and therefore all of her flaws. According to Meyer.

chris the cynic said...

Speaking of avoiding the movies. I based the Edith and Ben scene where Ben reveals his awareness of Edith's vampire nature on seeing the associated clip from the movie on Youtube after someone pointed me to it.

It was clearly completely different in the book than in the movie. I was wondering if anyone with familiarity with both could contrast and, I suppose where possible, compare the two situations. I have the book and can thus look at that myself, but as for the movie, all I've seen is the, "I know what you are" clip, I have no idea of the leadup or whatnot.

Ana Mardoll said...

See the new top thread on the board.

chris the cynic said...

I have.

Bella as someone who has thought out the consequences of her actions and come to a rational conclusion that places her own desires ans aspirations not as something to be tossed aside but as something to be strived for? I like. I like Bella the, "Think of how many Doctorates I could get," more than Bella the, "Edward sparkles," dreamy eyes.

After all, with immortality on her side, why shouldn't she finally achieve her girlhood ambition of being a doctor of everything?


Still going to avoid the movies like the plague though.

Ana Mardoll said...

I have no idea how the movie will be, of course, but I read an interview once by someone on the movie team who definitely thinks that vampirism is the prize, not Edward. I'll try to dig up the quote, because I liked it a lot.

RedSonja said...

I just saw a trailer for Breaking Dawn, and Bella seems to have been "cured" of her disability. I'm tired of that trope, whether it's Beauty and the Beast, or Supernatural, or....

ETA: at least I assume that's why she's able to run full tilt across an icy lake(?) without falling down and is then used as a weapon to deliver a roundhouse kick.

Yamikuronue said...

This might be under appropriation, but it bugs me how it just never seems to touch her. She never worries about it unless the plot demands her to. I mean, maybe it's not meant to be a disability so much as just a slight bit of clumsiness played up, but... Ok, to use something that's not a disability, I'm not a good driver yet. I've not been driving for long. On weekends, I prefer not to drive, since I'm the worst driver in the household; I worry about being too sleepy in the morning and getting into an accident, so I make sure I have some caffeine. It comes up in some way most days. I don't get into a wreck every day, but I do think about the fact that I don't drive well. Bella doesn't fall down every day, but she doesn't even think about falling down or being clumsy unless a boy is involved somehow. I'm not worried about boys finding me less attractive due to my driving skills, I'm worried I'll damage my car again >.>

Hyaroo said...

How about the fact that the clumsiness, when it shows up, tends to turn Bella's already-passive character into one of almost complete immobility? She can't even walk on her own, she has to be carried around like a baby by the hunky Edward -- but what's even worse is that even here this is an "attractive weakness" thing, because I never get the feeling that this is meant to be anything but romantic and desirable. Bella's better off for her clumsiness; she doesn't have to walk or do anything at all for herself, her "perfect boyfriend" will do everything for her, including walking down the street, for ever and ever!

Ugh. I just creeped myself out by typing that.

depizan said...

Related to that, it also seems to come and go as the plot demands. Ir's real enough to use as a cover story at the end, but Charlie doesn't worry about her cooking, for example. And there are times when she literally seems unable to traverse flat ground, and other times when she goes walking by herself without issue.

It's like half the time she has a disabling balance problem and half the time she's just being self conscious about normal clumsiness. It makes for a really weird read.

chris the cynic said...

That said, her, "I was born to be a vampire," line in the trailer does make it seem like she's seeing the story not as "How I met my twue luve," but rather, "I put up with a lot of shit to get here, but I finally have the body I was meant for," which casts the whole story as trans* individual transitioning and takes the focus off violent abusive stalker boyfriend as the perfect end all and be all of everything.

Besides, given that the teen wedding thing is her following in her mother's footsteps*, she's due to leave Edward taking hybrid daughter with her less than two years after the movie ends anyways, so if they don't play up the, "Yay, I'm a vampire now," angle then there's nothing left.

I don't expect the movie to live up to the positive implications from the word choice in the trailer, but I give the trailer makers credit for the word choice.


* What the hell is with the whole ancestry is destiny thing anyway?

And for the bigger question, from a Doyalist perspective, is Bella mirroring Rene Ancestry is Destiny or Descendants are Destiny? It makes more sense for me to see it as the second. Rather than give Rene a story (or even a face) of her own, it's easier to just say, "Well, she was/is just like Bella." Thus, in the example used above, Rene was a teenage bride because she takes after Bella, not Bella being a teenage bride because she takes after Rene. In story it's chronologically impossible, but in writing I'm betting Bella came first and Rene was penciled in as being just like Bella (but of the previous generation and marrying a human) after.

Murfyn said...

Not a bit OT: Dave Barry's "I'll Mature When I'm Dead: Dave Barry's Amazing Tales of Adulthood" has a great Twilight spoof in it (at least I think it's a spoof . . .)
Amazon link:

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