A Rant on Twilight and the bad messages it can send

Right. You should all probably know that I am an ex-fan of Twilight. Note the ex part. It was when I was 10. I wasn’t one of those ‘Twi-hards’ that got totally obsessed with Edward/Jacob/whoever else, I was just a fan. I remember when I read the books that Bella seemed to be living the perfect life, and I’ve been feeling blah lately, so I thought I would revisit the Twilight fandom and see what I thought of it after a few years. What I found really disappointed me.  Edward is a misogynistic control freak, and Bella has absolutely no backbone, no sense of self-respect, and no self-esteem, a very weak female character. And Jacob seemed like an afterthought of Meyer’s. There’s also the fact that Bella’s totally a Mary Sue minus the fashion sense, but that aside, I have issues.

Let’s reiterate here. Bella makes it very clear that she doesn’t enjoy dances, doesn’t like that sort of social activity, and holds absolutely zero interest in attending prom. Instead of talking to her about it like an adult, saying, “hey, you know, it’s fun, it’s the only prom that you’re going to get to attend as a human, why don’t we give it a shot?” and respecting her decision if she said no, Edward has his sisters kidnap her and dress her up like their personal Barbie doll, refuses to tell her what’s going on, and, when she finally figures it out, he acts as if she’s being silly and childish when she’s angry about it. As if he’s the one that is perfectly reasonable, and Bella’s just being ridiculous and pouting because she didn’t get her way. Of course, Bella fails to grasp the bigger picture here too: it isn’t about prom, it’s about the fact that he shows no respect for her opinion or her ability to make decisions for herself.

We see the same thing, over and over again. Edward thinks he’s no good for her. He leaves. We’ve seen this before: Buffy and Angel, anyone? But with Buffy and Angel, Angel doesn’t lie to her. He tells her point blank that they can never be together. They talk about it. Eventually, they even agree on it, even though they both know that they still love each other. Instead of handling the situation like this (read–sensibly), Edward lies to her about not loving her, utterly destroying her already not so great self-esteem, and wanders into the woods, and fails to notice that she’s following him. She nearly gets herself killed and does get lost in the forest because Edward failed to even take her home afterwards, the jerkwad. He takes her stuff, hides her pictures of him, and takes away the choice that she deserved to have about continuing to associate with his family. In short, in his effort to force her to forget about him, he takes away every bit of evidence that she may have had to convince herself that it all happened. So, on top of everything else that she was dealing with, she also has to wonder if she’s sane at all, and maybe it was all some sort of dream or hallucination, further destroying her belief in herself. After all, it’s pretty hard to believe that you’re right about something if that something has no evidence to prove it, right?

Then we see all of the many incidents in New Moon where Bella does increasingly dangerous and ridiculous stunts so that she can hear his voice in her head. Example: She jumps off a cliff. Into cold, rough, probably rocky water. What message do you think this sends to young people? That it is totally OK to get obsessed with a guy and basically self-harm just to hear him? And get this: Every time that she hears his voice, it is lecturing her for choosing to do something reckless. This means that this is the most realistic situation that she can picture him in. GAH.

Moving on to Eclipse: Despite the fact that Bella has a very valid reason for not wanting to get married that young, Edward basically emotionally blackmails her into agreeing to do it. Instead of saying, “you know, I was raised to believe that marriage is very important, and it’s an important step in our lives together, I’d like us to get married before you turn into a vampire or we have sex,” Edward again just acts like she’s being silly and ridiculous, and proceeds to inform her that he won’t turn her unless she marries him.

Then you have Jacob, the werewolf. This is the twenty-first century. I was under the impression that you are allowed to see your friends whenever you want to, unless you are underage and your parents have forbidden you from having contact (it’s likely that there’s a good reason for this). If your partner or spouse starts trying to control who you’re friends with… well, that’s generally a HUGE warning sign of an abusive relationship. Okay… so, keeping this in mind. Bella decides to go hang with Jacob. Edward blocks her every attempt. And when she decides that she’s going to see him anyway, Edward has his psychic sister basically stalking her, and then proceeds to disable her car so that she can’t go to him. Why does he have any right to an opinion over where she goes and what she does? Why should she have to escape from her boyfriend to go and see a friend? Does anyone else see how seriously wrong this is?

There’s more in Eclipse, I’m not going to get into it right now, but there is more. Breaking Dawn: The big one in Breaking Dawn is about Renesmee. Why would Bella have to call Rosalie to protect her from having her kid forcibly aborted? There is some risk to labour. Sometimes, women are told “if you have this baby, you will die.” It is still left entirely up to them to decide whether or not they’re going to carry the baby to term. Edward had no right to try to force her. None. It was her body, and it isn’t up to him to dictate whether or not she’s willing to take the risk. Some women are, whether because they care more about the baby than themselves, or because they personally believe that abortion is wrong, whatever. It remains that woman’s choice to make. Because Edward was the baby’s father, it leaves him with the right to an opinion, and he does have the right to have a discussion with her about it. But the fact remains that the final decision was hers.

Then you look at the other side. In every single one of the incidents listed above, excepting the last, Bella folded like a wet tissue as soon as confronted with Edward’s precious, “dazzling” eyes. That, in effect, makes me dislike the whole thing even more. It would be one thing, Edward behaving unreasonably. He was born and raised in 1901. He can be excused a certain amount of chauvinism. Women were most definitely not treated like equals at that point in time. A certain amount of culture clash in this sort of story is to be expected. But there wasn’t any clash at all. For there to be a clash, it would require Bella to grow a backbone and stand up to him. Instead, she just eventually agreed. To everything. And, she usually forgave him entirely. For instance, with the Jacob incident, Bella was first so mad at him that she shut her window and wasn’t going to let him in. I cheered at that part. But then, she just opened it again, and all was forgiven. It only reinforces the image of Bella throwing a hissy fit and acting like your typical ridiculous, hysterical woman and going on about things that don’t concern her weak and feeble mind.

All in all, the very best that I can say about this fandom is that the characters are consistent in their behaviour, though if you hate their behaviour, that isn’t saying much…

Okay, I am now done with my rant. There are more examples throughout the books, but I got the big ones that bugged me. So, that’s my argument, and the real reason that I don’t like it anymore. I used to love the stupid story (since Edward really isn’t around in New Moon, and there are less examples in Twilight), until Eclipse arrived at my library and I started to think and rethink the words “uhhh, did that really just happen? Really?”

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7 Responses to A Rant on Twilight and the bad messages it can send

  1. Love this post. I’m an ex-fan of Twilight too. I used to love it until I realized how ridiculous it was. I hate that Bella is portrayed as a weak character who always needs Edward to make decisions for her.
    Also, I don’t get the whole Jacob-imprinting-on-Renesmee thing. It’s like Stephenie Meyer sort of felt sad for Jacob because he was alone so she decided to pair him with Renesmee. I think its sort of gross. Renesmee is a BABY. Come on.
    Okay, now I’m gonna stop this mini rant. Great post :)

  2. Yes!! Finally someone else who feels exactly like I do about Bella. She is a very negative lead character for all those reasons. I hate younger girls looking up to her, and her relationship with Edward. I’m happy the series is over X(

    • Thanks for your comment! I don’t get why some people think that Bella is a strong female character just because she’d give everything up for Eddie-kins here. I feel like they’re skipping everything else that weakens her character. Are you an ex-fan, too? Or did you hate it from the start?

      • An exfan. I read Twilight, and liked it. But once I got to New Moon and noticed how crazy she started acting over Edward I stopped. I hate how she completely depends on him as her only happiness, rejects her friends except Jacob, and cant be strong enough to try to move on, she even risks her life just to see glimpses of him. Its a really bad example for young girls to think love is meant to have someone control you or your boyfriend is all you need in life. She has no independece, no personal goals….ugh she just annoys me! X[

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