A re-evaluation of Twilight

What is there to say about Twilight?

 

Oh, so much, my darlings! Oh, so much…

 When I first watched this film I loved it, now I’m laughing every few minutes because I can’t believe this was made into a film!

We first meet Bella in the middle of the dessert holding two cacti – why? I’m still not sure.

Bella is clearly an awkward character, sometimes I think about the way she waves her book at her friends and a piece of me dies inside because that made it into the final edit.

I’m actually watching Twilight right now and Bella is currently leaving Forks and breaking her father, Charlie’s (aka the only good character in this film), heart.

Bella – or as Edward affectionately calls her: spider-monkey – spends the first half of the film diagnosing Edward as if she were his therapist, explaining how she can effectively see into his soul and know who he truly is, having said all but two words to him, while Edward tries to push her away telling her he’s dangerous, and then not five seconds later running after her to make a witty comment or discuss Jacksonville. How does this relationship exist?

At first glance (when I was ten) this film was a wonderful romance filled with passion, excitement, and thrill. Now, ten years on, I’ve realised my brother was right all along. This film is insane and is closer to a comedy than a thrilling romance.

Some of its characters are awkward and underdeveloped at best (my theory is that each represents one emotion – which is also the only emotion they feel) while its themes are concerning.

For starters, we have Edward, the lonely 108-year-old vampire whose hobbies include: reading, comparing Bella to a heroine, stalking, and of course glistening like diamonds in the sunlight. I would only describe him as romantic if I was hopelessly in love with him because that is how this the love to crazy scale works. The more we love them, the more we see the crazy as kindness. To be fair, Edward does save her from a possible sexual assault by a group of men, a scene that was meant to show his bravery and kindness, a scene that was meant to make him our hero. However, having just watched that scene I can tell you that the only way he was able to get to her that quickly was because he was stalking her. Following her as her friends tried on dresses and she went to the bookstore, close enough to hear her breath and smell her blood, he followed her around the town and that is how he knew she was in danger. Having described her as “heroine” because of the scent of her blood, I’d guess his stalking was a combination of his attraction and a desire to be near her, combined with hunting her because of his desire to eat her. He lurked in the corner of her bedroom watching her sleep, months before they started dating, months before they became friends. This is called trespassing and is a crime. If Charlie found out, there’s no way Edward wouldn’t be sitting in a jail cell by the end of the film. Edward may be a lot of things, from his torture and conflicted facial expressions to his reckless behaviour towards Bella, not to mention his desire to drink Bella’s blood (which he does briefly towards the end of the film, before he regains his self-control), the one thing I wouldn’t call him is a hero.

Twilight also explores some subtle racism with its portrayal of the Native American character in comparison to their white counterparts. The Cullen clan, no matter how hard Edward explores the teen angst that’s been going on for 100 years, are meant to be seen as the heroes of the film. Whereas the wolf pack displays more aggression and hostility, and while they’re not the villains of the film, they are a threat to Bella and Edward’s relationship. The series paints these characters as animals (not just because they’re wolves) and portrays them as sexual predators. Jacob is constantly trying to pursue Bella even though she’s made it clear that she loves Edward, he tries to force himself onto her multiple times and is highly sexualised in comparison to Edward (the ‘hero’). Meyer also implies that domestic abuse is an inherit trait of Native Americans, Jacob repeatedly states that he can’t control his emotions and could hurt Bella at any moment if he got angry. Furthermore, there is also the character of Emily who was mauled by her fiancé (also a werewolf), which can be seen as normalising domestic abuse in Native communities, which can silence Native American women (who are in the US to be victims of domestic abuse).

But hey, you’re a twihard and you can write off these points as being not that important, incorrect or ‘the film was made over ten years ago! It was a different time!’, and maybe you’re right.

Which brings me onto my final point, who on earth approved the idea of imprinting? Meyers ‘romantic’ idea of imprinting was the final nail in Twilight’s coffin for me. There was a lot I was willing to let slide, but I couldn’t and can’t deal with that idea.

For those of you who may have forgotten, imprinting was the idea proposed in Twilight that the wolves would fall in love at first sight, but it was also so much more than that. Once the characters had become wolves there became a possibility that at any given moment they could lay their eyes on someone and fall in love. There were no restrictions on who they could fall in love with, age was just a number and it meant nothing. So, whether they were looking at a new-born baby or an 80-year-old they could imprint on that person. To be clear, the love wasn’t always immediately romantic, but that was the destination.

If they imprinted on a child they would follow this progression: brother, friend, lover. Becoming what the person needed, their love was endless and passionate and creepy as anything. I don’t care if it’s part of being a wolf, it sounds like grooming a child to me. Jacob imprinted on Bella’s one-day old baby while one of his friends imprinted on a three-year-old. The term ‘I’ll wait for you’ has never sounded creepier. What’s worse is if the person was aware of imprinting, and more specifically, that their child had been imprinted on, then they would become a willing participant in letting this happen.

I just can’t imagine having a child and allowing someone into their life knowing with complete certainty that one day they’d be having kids together even though one of them is 20+ and the other is a baby. The only thing stranger than the idea of imprinting is that it was approved by a publisher and by producers and then sold to young, impressionable teenage girls as ‘romantic’.

The problem with Twilight lies not with the actors (Kristen Stewart can act, Bella’s just a character with one emotion), it’s with the characterisation, the storylines, and the explored themes. After all, no one hates Twilight more than the cast.

 

While Twilight and I are clearly not heading into the sunset together any time soon, I can say that I will watch the series again on those rare occasions where I’m bored enough, it’s easy to access, and I’m emotionally ready for all of the cringe. Alternatively, when I’ve just got back from a night out with some friends and we’re all needing a good laugh.

Parting note: ‘Spider monkey’? Really?