Posts tagged Twilight.

Review of Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2

 Spoilers ahead, you have been warned.

Okay people, don’t ever say that I don’t do anything for you.  Yesterday, I sat through numerous previews of crappy movies I never want to see, as well as an hour and a half of (drum roll please) Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2.  The only good part about this is that the franchise is now at an end and I never have to watch another Twilight movie.

The movie is not significantly different from the book.  We got the scene with Bella hunting for the first time and getting distracted by a human, as well as her taking on Emmet and winning.  Bella has to adjust to her new life as a mother and a vampire.  Things go rather smoothly for her, until Irina comes for a visit and wrongly assumes that Renesmee is a vampire child, rather than a human/vampire hybrid.  Irina runs straight to the Volturi, who use this chance to attempt to shatter the Cullen clan and get their hands on Alice.

Once again a strong theme through this movie was Jacob’s imprinting on Renesmee.  Bella rightfully flipped out and attacked Jacob when she learned about the imprinting, but after being assured that this was unintentional and not sexual, she quickly adapted.  I continue to find this absolutely disgusting because imprinting , is nothing more than grooming a little girl for sex; it’s pedophilia. This scenario is further problematic with Jacob suggesting that his love and obsession with Bella was really about the fact that she would carry his future mate. It doesn’t matter that Alice had a vision of the future with Renesmee looking adoringly up at Jacob and placing her head on his shoulder.  The point is that Renesmee is being raised to accept the fact that Jacob will one day be her sexual partner and this means no autonomy for Renesmee in the future. It is further disturbing that of course the love between the White Bella and Edward is pure, while the relationship between Jacob and Renessme is absolutely tainted with darkness.

I was further unimpressed that several of the vampires of colour showed up in tribal gear to help witness in front of the Volturi, while the White vampires were all dressed.  I know that vampires don’t feel cold but not only was this ridiculous, it was outright racist. Yes, I know that this is true to the books but that doesn’t mean it had to be included. It served to remind us that these vampires of colour are still “other” in comparison to the whitesome and delightsome Cullens.

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Face Off: What Vampire Legend Should Not Be Messed With?

Urban Fantasy Vampires have evolved a lot over the years, as the old horror stories and myths they were based on slowly changed to be the genre we now know and love. But along the way, a lot has changed - that’s not necessarily a bad thing, after all changing them from evil villainous monsters to potential protagonists is a major leap in and of itself.

Still, there are some changes from the roots that we’re not pleased with, which always make us frown whenever they appear. There are some parts of the vampire legend that shouldn’t be messed with: so this week’s Face Off, which change of the supernatural legend bothers you the most?

Vampires in Daylight
I don’t mind how you do it - maybe they have to sleep during the day, maybe they burn during the day, maybe they’re weakened by daylight, maybe their eyes are sensitive to bright lights - whatever the reason, vampires should not be sunbathing. Vampires and sunlight shouldn’t mix, this is one of my inviolate rules. At some point, a vampire should stare up at the day star with fear. Enough of these vampires dancing around at noon!

And, above all, they should not sparkle. No, no they should not.

Vampires Eating Food.
I can’t even say why this bothers me so much, but it does. I can handle a vampire drinking (to a degree) but the idea of a vampire getting a Big Mac and Fries just kind of ruins the whole mystique. Quite apart from the whole issue of what goes in must come out at some point - c’mon, can you maintain the supernatural mystery imagining a vampire buying toilet paper?

Eating is just too human, too mundane, too mortal for my undead lords of the night to be doing

Self Loathing Vampire
The self loathing vampire has become extremely commonplace in urban fantasy.  From Louis de Pointe du Lac, to Edward Cullen, to Bill Compton, they are absolutely everywhere.  They spend their time moping in a constant depressive state while elevating everything human.  The worst part about it is that these vampires are boring and make me want to send them into some sort of group therapy. 

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Face Off: Werewolf vs Werewolf

Werewolves aren’t nearly as popular as vampires in urban fantasy, but they have managed to carve out their own specific niche.  With the exception of Teen Wolf, they are rarely the sole supernatural characters, let alone the protagonist.  I think part of the problem is the way that werewolves are portrayed in media.  To make a good werewolf, CGI is necessary. As much as I may dislike the angst ridden Twilight, I think that it’s impossible to deny that the shifters, (I say shifters because technically speaking, the members of the tribe were not werewolves) were absolutely impressive. 

Seriously, who would ever want to mess with a creature that looked like that?  That is something to be feared.

There is also this entry from The Underworld Series.

This werewolf may not be sexy, but it sure as hell inspires fear.  It is easy to understand how these lycans present an actual threat to vampires.

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Face Off: Kristen Stewart vs Movie Goers

Before the Twilight saga I had never heard of Kristen Stewart.  I went into the movies not expecting much because the text that it was based in constructed Bella - the role Stewart played, as a blank slate. The idea behind Bella is for everyone (by everyone, I of course mean everyone White, straight, cisgender and able-bodied) to be able to imagine themselves as this nondescript protagonist. For much of the three Twilight movies to date, Kristen has spent her time pouting, biting her lip, stuttering and falling.  However, to be fair to Stewart, Bella was written originally as a clutz.

In New Moon she perfected what I like to call the confused running girl. At the end of the movie Edward had decided to reveal himself and she was told by Alice that he would be at the clocktower, which, by the way, was straight ahead. Kristen ran and then she stopped, ran her fingers through her hair, looked behind her and then started running again.  If she has only moments to spare, why is she stopping to make sure the audience catches a glimpse of her oh so angsty zomg, I’m all concerned face? Then she runs again, only to stop again, run her fingers through her hair AGAIN, looking angst-ridden and concerned into the camera, before finally decide that this time it’s for real.

Kristen isn’t the worst actor in the series - I’m looking at you Taylor Lautner (his abs do his acting for him), but I’m not surprised that there weren’t any Oscars handed out. 

Okay, okay, fanpoodles settle down.  I know that Stewart is only 22 and is therefore young and not nearly as experienced as other actresses. Some of the the terrible acting could have been the fault of the director right? I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt until Snow White and the Huntsman.

In Snow White and the Huntsman, she was cast alongside of Oscar winner Charlize Theron.  This should have given her a good model to follow. We should have seen some improvement. Especially given that she was working with a new director and had a character that actually had somewhat of a spine (I can only say somewhat because Snow White is still the essential special snowflake that everyone seems to love) should have lead to an improved Stewart.  Not even an exciting actress like Theron could save her from banality.

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Absent Mothers in Urban Fantasy

This piece was originally posted at BitchFlicks

Urban Fantasy — the bringing of the fantastic (vampires, werewolves, magic, fae and so much more) to a modern, real world setting — has become ever more popular as a mainstream genre. From Twilight to True Blood to The Vampire Diaries, it is now firmly entrenched on our televisions. The books regularly reach the best seller lists - this isn’t a fringe genre. It’s here, it’s huge and it’s here to stay.

This means the portrayals represented matter. Any popular media has the power to shape culture and society; any stories that are consumed by a large number of people are going to draw upon our societal prejudices and, in turn, feed and encourage those prejudices and portrayals.

Urban Fantasy is a genre that seldom gets critical examination. At first blush, the opposite would appear to be true when one considers the social conversation around Twilight or True Blood, but these are only two examples within an extremely large genre. It is interesting to note that much of Urban Fantasy contains female protagonists and is largely produced and consumed by women. Considering the ongoing gender divide, it is hardly surprising that this immensely popular genre is being ignored by critics.

Just because Urban Fantasy is largely produced by women and consumed by women does not mean that it is free of sexism and misogyny. When it comes to motherhood, a role that most women will one day assume, it is hardly surprising that within the genre most examples are highly problematic — when they appear at all.

The lack of representation of motherhood is so extreme that the viewer is forced to ask is, “where are the mothers?”. It seems like such an odd question, because you’d expect most characters, like most people, to have a mother lurking around somewhere; especially since most of the heroines in these stories are young women or even teenagers. Search as we might, the mothers are conspicuous by their absence.

The most common cause of the missing mother seems to be death — indeed, it is almost mandatory for an Urban Fantasy heroine to have a tragically dead mother. In The Vampire Diaries Elena’s mother is dead. True Blood has the orphaned Sookie; Charmed killed the sisters’ mother off before the series even started; Cassie, Diana, Melissa, Jake and Adam all have dead mothers in The Secret Circle. Buffy’s mother died part way through the series. In The Dresden Files, Harry’s mother died before the series began. In Grimm, Nick is yet another protagonist with a dead mother. The whole beginning motivation of Supernatural revolves around their dead mother. In Blood and Chocolate, both mother and father are brutally murdered. In The Craft Sarah Bailey’s mother is dead. In Underworld, Selene’s mother is murdered by Viktor.

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Female Vampires: Children, Villains or Servants

Looking at Urban Fantasy we see a lot of vampires. A lot of vampires.  Sparkly vampires, sexy vampires, daylight walking vampires, sexy vampires, magic vampires, sexy vampires, viking vampires, sex vampires - did we mention sexy vampires? Yes, lots and lots of sexy vampires.

Who are men. Nearly always men - especially when we look at Urban Fantasy on television. Men men and more sexy men wall to wall - and very very few women. Of course, part of this is because most of the human protagonists are women and Urban Fantasy is extremely heteronormative and will only pair them off with a male love interest. But looking at the few female vampires we can dig up and it’s not a great sign - we seem to have 3 models: children, servants and enemies.

Much of the models that we see in vampire stories involve an ancient male vampire and a young, often innocently virginal human female.  You would think that when a relationship forms between a female vampire and a young human male that the pattern would simply repeat, but such is not the case. Female vampires are quite often infantalised, though they are at times well over a thousand years old.  The best example of this is Rebekah from The Vampire Diaries. She is 1000 years old and in comparison to every other vampire on the show, she is absolutely childlike.  Rebekah has thus far concerned herself with proms, dances and even becoming a cheerleader.  Why oh why would a person who has seen so much history be interested in these things, especially after spending so many years trapped in a coffin?

When Bill was forced to turn Jessica into a vampire on True Blood, she was just a young teenage girl who had not seen much of the world.  True to form, she was also a virgin. When she discovered that she had been changed, Jessica delighted in cursing, as this was something that she was not allowed to in her parents home.  It was the act of a child rebelling against that which she had been taught.  Much of Bill and Jessica’s relationship takes the form of father/daughter, based in the fact that Bill is her creator.  He only reluctantly takes responsibility for Jessica, after Eric makes it clear that he will not.  Jessica has matured over the years and has really begun to figure out exactly who she is; however, thanks to being turned into a vampire when she was still a virgin, her hymen reforms after each act of sexual intercourse, thereby constructing her as a perpetual virgin.

In Interview with a Vampire, Lestat turns Claudia into a vampire after finding Louis feeding from her, in the hope of forcing Louis to stay with them.  In the novel, Claudia was only about 6 years old at the time she was turned, though she was portrayed to be between 10-12 in the movie.  Even when Claudia has long past the age where she would find dolls interesting, Lestat continues to gift her with a doll on the anniversary of the day he turned her.  Claudia is desperate to grow up and put away childish things but she cannot because she is trapped in the body of a child, though she has the mind of a grown woman.  Her age means that she is forever dependent upon an adult vampire.  Claudia never does achieve her freedom and dies at the hand of the theater vampires, her very existence seen as a threat.

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When it comes to Fantasy, Movies and TV loses to Books

When reading across the genre we have, obviously, come across many tropes and stereotypes that have raised their ugly heads in books over and over again. We’ve seen a lot of marginalised people reduced to tokens, a lot of offensive portrayals and, above all, a lot of erasure where marginalised people do not appear at all. We’ve also read a lot of books that have failed to address the issues they raised in any real depth - when dealing with marginalisation we’re more likely to see appropriation of real oppressed groups than portrayals of oppression, we’re more likely to see things brushed over than examined.

But while we’ve found this in books, they still stand head and shoulders about the Urban Fantasy series and films we have seen. The books certainly have a better record than anything we have watched - which is very telling, especially when we consider the wider audience that is reached through television.

First and foremost this is shown simply in the series that are chosen to be turned into films and series are ones that do not address issues. And there are Urban Fantasy novels out there that do this marvellously - the Kara Gillian and White Trash Zombie series by Diana Rowland contain awesome analysis on class. The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne has a black Jesus.  The Spiritwalker Trilogy has excellent considerations of sexism and class. Nicole Peeler’s Jane True series is a champion for female agency.

We have others that, while not necessarily covering issues in the book, do at least heavily contain marginalised characters and marginalised protagonists: Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thomas Series, LA Banks’s Vampire Huntress Series, Seressia Glass’s Shadow Chaser series, Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series and Adrian Phoenix’s Hoodoo Series. These series are out there but they are not the ones being transformed for the TV.

Then we look at what did make the cut to television and film.

In many cases this means the more vapid and erased stories are translated into film for e.g. Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, and Secret Circle to name a few. None of these shows offer any depth or analysis or thought to the mythos let alone serve to portray a positive social justice message through real inclusion. Even the Dresden Files - now I love these series both books and TV, but at the same time it’s neither challenging nor inclusive.

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Face Off: Worst Idea Ever.

So, one of the most common things we’ve complained about from Urban Fantasy protagonists is that they don’t always act in an entirely sensible fashion. In fact, sometimes we have run the risk of damaging our e-readers throwing them at the wall in sheer disgust.

After much debate we just can’t decide which protagonist has had the worst possible idea - so we have to face off some of the finalists! Honestly we looked at a list of many many many Spunky protagonists but they just didn’t compare with these 4 - these are the Elite Spunkies


Elena from CW The Vampire Diaries

Elena spent most of the summer searching for Stefan her vampire boyfriend who had gone rogue.  After much hand twisting she learns that he is on top of a mountain where the werewolves have gathered to shift and hunt as a group.  Elena could have waited until after the full moon to go no looking but that would have involved far too much common sense and so she dragged Alaric, and Damon up the mountain.  Would you believe that they were actually attacked by werewolves?

Of course, a particularly bad element of this foolishness is that it drags others along with her - they can’t abandon her and are forced to follow her silly self into ridiculous peril.


Rose from The Vampire Academy Series

Rose is absolutely destroyed after the man that she loves Dimitri  is turned into a strigoi.  She is desperate to free him from his fate and decides to travel to Russia to find him.  She knows that he is from a very small town somewhere in Siberia. She takes off for Russia and somehow despite the size of the country she not only manages to find his family, but Dimitiri himself.  She must have stopped by the Palin house for directions, because with being able to see Russia from her house she must have intimate knowledge of Russian geography.

In fact, this whole situation can be summed up with this wonderful drawing from Chai Latte

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Faceoff: Twilight Versus The Hunger Games

Twilight


Protagonist: Bella Swan is the center of the Twilight universe and a more bland protagonist you could not find in any other series.  It probably does not help that the role is played by Kristen Stewart whose version of acting involves rolling her eyes, stuttering and biting her bottom lip to convey the appropriate amount of angst.  Bella essentially has no personality and all you really need to know about her is that she is desperately in love with Edward.   She is so in love with Edward that when he temporarily ends their relationship she takes to her bed like all good wilting flowers are wont to do in moments of crises.

The only time she acts against Edward’s wishes is when she decides to carry the White saviour baby to term.  She does not even pause to consider what giving up her life at the age of 18 to become a vampire means, but hey when it comes to the child, why have any doubt at all.  This is after all a classic Mormon love story. John Smith would be so proud.

World Setting: The story is set in dreary Forks.  Bella moves there after her mother goes on the road with her baseball boyfriend.  Little does she know that Forks is the ideal location for vampires because even the sun does not like the small town enough to shine on a regular basis. This means that Edward does not have to worry about sparkling in public.  [Note: I still have not forgiven Meyer for creating a sparkling vampire, and I don’t care that she blamed it on his venom]

Main Plot Theme:  The entire saga is essential a love triangle with Edward the stalking, controlling vampire vying against Jacob the werewolf who believes that the word no really means try harder.  

Conflict:  What conflict?  I suppose you could count the overly emo Edward who is convinced that he is evil.  

Inclusion/treatment of marginalised issues:  Twilight does have a disabled character and his name is Billy Black.  He is Charlie’s drinking buddy and instrumental in teaching the young werewolves how to deal with their change.  The werewolves in question are from the The Quileute tribe.  It would seem on the face of it that this is good inclusion; however, the Quileute people have no legends that match the one featured in Meyer’s book and so it amounts to pure fiction and appropriation.  It is further troubling that next to the whitesome and delightsome Cullens, they are poor and often constructed as savage.  

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Face Off: Musty Vampire Edition

This week we were going to use a Face Off to decide who is the Mustiest Vampire of them all. You know, the vampire who is so sad and tortured by his need to drink blood, who just wants to be human and normal and fluffy and find the love of a good woman to settle him down. But, alas, it never works out, his nature/the world/the convoluted plot line/the super specialness of their love interest just forever prevents them from knowing peace - reducing them to practicing their most tortured look in front of the mirror.

Sadly, we couldn’t reduce our options to just 2 - there are a lot of these Musty Vampires crying blood tears into their kleenex out there. With much effort we reduced it to 4, but Aidan from Being Human certainly deserves and honourable mention.

Stefan Salvatore:

Mystic Falls’ original musty vampire, Stefan Salvatore refuses to drink blood from living humans as drinking human blood will quickly send him over the edge to become a murdering ripper. Of course, his primary source of angst is his love for darling Elena who… well, loves him unreservedly but still manages to be a source of constant angst (I think he may also be a little guilty about the enormous number of people he has brutally murdered… but I think his beloved Elena matters more). Unfortunately, since Elena is the Most Special Doppleganger, it’s near impossible that their love would ever run smooth - It doesn’t help that he keeps poking angry ancient vampires to give himself more reason for angst and why he and Elena need to be apart (woe).


Perhaps most remarkably of any of the Musty Vampires, Stefan Salvatore’s mustiness is actually contagious. Yes, he is infecting Damon with his mustiness! He is slowly turning from the sexy villain in season 1, to the ever more Stefany-clone of Season 3.

Edward Cullen

Edward and his family are different from all other vampires because they live off the blood of animals and have declared themselves to be vegetarians. Even though he has chosen to make this sacrifice he is convinced that his soul is damned to hell and that there is something evil about him. This of course leads him to remind Bella of how evil he is constantly, even as he tries to control every facet of his behaviour.

When Bella tries to initiate sex, Edward is forced to stop lest sexual congress without a wedding ring, damn Bella to hell alongside him.  When he first reveals himself to Bella he takes great care to point out that she cannot out run him, that he is stronger than her, and that even his scent is appealing to others.  Everything about him he has determined to be evil, though without becoming a vampire, he would have died 100 years ago.

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