[DWJ] Re: Twilight and New Moon (Was: Discussing now: What?)

deborah.dwj at suberic.net deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Fri Aug 17 15:49:47 EDT 2007


On Fri, 17 Aug 2007, Steffi Koh wrote:
> I'm rather slow at reading this, so I'm replying to just a couple of
> messages after mine. I suppose Twilight would seem like 'entertaining
> fluff', to me, and to a lot of people, it is, well, greater than Harry
> Potter (Even though it has been said that Ms Meyer doesn't like to be
> compared to Ms Rowlings)

We've tried really hard on the list (with success, I think) to
have fruitful, non-derogatory conversations between HP-lovers and
HP-detractors, and I don't see why the same can't apply to
Meyer's books.

I know that as of Eclipse I have rather immense issues with how
the book confronts both race and gender issues.  However, if I'm
going to be honest with myself, almost everything I love has
enormous issues with race and gender.  If I think about other
people who I believe to be completely on the side of the angels
as far as intent goes -- DWJ, say, or Joss Whedon, both of whom
are favorites of mine and both of whom I fundamentally believe
are actively *trying* to subvert broken race and gender paradigms
-- I can point to numerous moments in their works which make me
cringe.  Joss more than DWJ, to be fair.

But because I love their works so much, it's easier for me to get
past these issues with race and gender and point to the things I
love (though always calling back to the parts that need
improvement).  With Meyer, the part of me that loves her books is
more visceral and less intellectual, which makes it harder for me
to get past a squick that is no more extreme.

In Eclipse, for example, I spent the first 50 pages or so getting
angrier and angrier at her treatment of race -- so angry that it
was hard for me to be as absorbed by the story as I was by the
previous two.  And yet by the book's end, the plot had actively
subverted much of the damaging racism or the opening (at least
the parts that, in my opinion, Meyer was likely *aware* of).  The
end result is a work which has, overall, fewer race problems than
does Joss Whedon's "Firefly".  Unfortunately, because I was
already inclined to be slightly annoyed with the book for a
variety of reasons, the early race problems prevented me from
liking the book enough to get past them.  I think I need to
reread now, actually, knowing those problems will be resolved.

...All of which is to say that many of the metrics on which I
want to condemn Eclipse aren't precisely fair, because I could
equally well condemn other works using the same scale.

As an aside, the romance novels I love always have characters who
aren't blanks at all.  Jennifer Crusie's heroines, or Suzanne
Robinson's, for example, are chock full of personality.  But
there are plenty of romances where the heroine is just a
reader-placeholder, aside from an identifying spunky trait: has
glasses; fences; rides; reads a lot.  Or, in Bella's case, is
clumsy. So while Bella is not to my taste in her
placeholder-nature, she's hardly unique among heroines!

Sadly, the place where I find she has the most personality are
the places where I want to smack her in the face: her refusal to
live without Edward; her obsessions with him; her refusal to take
responsibility for her safety; her lack of consideration or the
conflict in being grossed out by marriage but not my the prospect
of vampirism; her lack of regard for herself, her own opinions,
or her own safety.  In other words, everything that was a
hallmark of my own dysfunctional self-image as a teenaged girl --
and since the text is so thoroughly from her point of view, it
sympathises completely with her more irritating blind spots.  So
perhaps that, too, is a hallmark of me as a reader and not of the
text.

-deborah
--
Start a revolution.  Stop hating your body.



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