Happy 10th anniversary, Twilight! Ten years ago this week – on my birthday no less – the first instalment of the Twilight Saga hit theatres. Adapted from Stephanie Meyer’s four part series of novels, it has been said- although denied by Meyer – to be a religious allegory for a God is my boyfriend, absence only lifestyle. That should have told us all we needed to know about the series’ values, but we were too captivated by the sparkle to listen.
I was riveted by the three films – so much so, I watched all the Harry Potter films to catch a glimpse of RPatz in a school uniform. When New Moon was released in 2009, I waited outside a freezing theatre in Midtown Manhattan just to get a seat on opening night. This week I revisited the series for the first time in years and am now questioning my early 20-something judgement on what a healthy relationship should look like. Incidentally, I’m going to leave the first film alone. Yes, the plot is still quite silly with Bella desiring a boy that treats her like trash for a good portion of the plot, but I suppose he makes up for it by saving her life and all. My real gripe is with New Moon. I’ve broken it down by problematic theme for simplicity:
The age thing
The whole premise of this film revolves around Bella turning 18 and becoming a “year older” than Edward. Well, not really. He’s actually 106 in the body of a 17 year old and making a great case for statutory rape. Ultimately she decides to marry him right after her high school graduation, a month before she turns 19 as to not get a year older. I can’t.
Women already get enough grief about their age. Is it really fair to subject the average 13 year old – the film’s likely TG – to this trope? Also, there’s nothing wrong with dating a younger man. What sort of archaic nonsense is this?
An early scene sees the Cullens hosting Bella’s 18th birthday party at their strange Scandi glass and log cabin in the woods. I wasn’t paying attention, but Bella manages to get a paper cut triggering one of the vampire brothers to attack her. Aside: plot hole alert. If that vampire was too unstable to be around a simple paper cut, perhaps going to school where teenagers bleed in all sorts of gross and natural ways is not the best environment for him. Anyway, poor Bella gets thrown against a mirror or something with glass and gets severely injured, requiring stitches from the father who is coincidentally a physician. Plot hole 2: why would a vampire become a physician? Even if he has done it for a long time as mentioned, a role that involves daily exposure to human blood doesn’t seem like at the wisest of career choices.
So what’s my issue with this situation? Bella was abused. It normalises women’s responses to domestic violence. It wasn’t his fault. It was mine. I shouldn’t have bled. He wouldn’t have become hysterical. She should have been the one to walk. Instead this situation leads Edward to leave her. Say what?
Perhaps I should have read the book. I didn’t fully understand why he and the Cullens “went away” after that incident. Anyway, Bella treats his leaving the way one would treat the death of a child. She sits there in a depression as the months fly by, has night terrors and even attempts suicide. Since when do breakups result in PTSD-esque symptoms? No man should have that sort of power over you, girl. What sort of message are you sending said 13 year old TG? If a boy dumps you its okay to wallow in your own misery until another one comes along? Yep – because that’s exactly what happens.
Team Jacob vs Team Edward. It was a debate so prolific a decade ago, it made its way into every aspect of the social conciousness. Edward leaves Bella. Bella distracts herself building monster death machines (aka dirt bikes) with Jacob who got inexplicably hotter film 1 to film 2. I distinctly recall being on Team Edward when these films came out and I don’t think I fully understood why. He was aloof, would leave her, desperately beg for her back. He was everything my 25 year old self wanted in a man. I’ve since changed my stance. In 2018 I’m Team Jacob all the way. He’s warm (108 degrees!), stable and reliable. Best of all he turns into a wolf. Debate won.
I’ll never forget how angry we were 10 years ago when Jacob picked up Edward’s call an insinuated Bella died in her cliff dive – actually, let’s call a spade a spade. It was a suicide attempt. She was right there and could have told him she was still alive. In finding out his girlfriend of less than a year (of his 106 year long life) had died, Edward decided he no longer wanted to live. So he goes to vampire parliament aka the Volturi in Tuscany to be killed. Plot hole: To begin with, this whole plot line was a bit of an unnecessary departure from the simplicity of Forks as a setting. Also, I’m confused by why Edward has to go all that way to die. The wolves seemed to take out Laurent just fine. Same with the tracker James in the previous film. There’s probably something in the book about that. Anyway, they refuse on the grounds of him having not committed any crime, so he decides to reveal himself to the whole town at high noon. I have so may questions of why here, but I’ll skip them.
Here’s really where I take issue with this situation. When Jacob implies Bella is dead to Edward, he immediately crushes his phone. How rude. She can’t even *69 that ish. Anyway, how convenient because both of them can make it to Tuscany in good time.
The whole journey Bella is freaking out. Losing it at the prospect of missing Edward at high noon while he reveals himself to all those vampire hating humans. As it turns out the town happens to be celebrating some sort of festival marking the drive of vampires out of the town. Irrelevant. She’s blaming herself. She’s losing her shit. Why? Because that selfish fuckboi Edward left her and now he called and MIGHT want her back so she must go to great lengths to make sure he’s safe. ARE YOU KIDDING ME.
This film is the most anti-feminist tripe I’ve ever had the misfortune of binging on. The message it force fed girls a decade ago has now resulted in a generation of codependent women. Thanks Twilight. There didn’t need to be five of you.