Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Different View of The Twilight Saga

Found this on the internet a few days ago. I think it's worth reading because it poses a very unique view of the Twilight Saga.

I'm posting this not to insult or attack the series, but simply because this is a very novel way of looking at the story that I had never considered. And it's very well done (references are even cited at some points!).
Let's just look at the story and, in particular, the character arc of Bella Swan.

At the beginning of the story, she is moving from Arizona to Washington on her own volition - she has decided to give her mother and her step-father some time and space and to spend some time with her father. At this point in the story, she is, admittedly, a bit of a Mary Sue, but an endearing one. She is sensitive to the needs of others (moves to Alaska for her Mom's sake, helps her Dad around the house, is understanding and tries to give the benefit of the doubt even when the other students are somewhat cruel to her when she first arrives), clumsy, out-of-sorts, and a little insecure. She's not a girly-girl or a cheerleader type, doesn't get caught up in the typical sorts of high school behavior, and in general functions as an independent person.

It's worth noting that if Tyler's van had smashed her, she would have (at that point) died as a fairly well-rounded, empathetic individual. We certainly wouldn't say she died in need of redemption, at any rate.

Instead, Edward 'saves' her - and this supernatural 'salvation' marks the beginning of a journey that ultimately destroys her.

As she gets more entangled with Edward, she becomes less and less independent, more and more selfish. She is accepting of his abusive behavior (stalking her on trips with her friends, removing parts from her car so that she can't go see Jacob, creeping into her window at night, emotional manipulation) to the point that when he completely abandons her (walking out on the trust and commitment they've built together, in spite of having vowed to remain with her no matter what), she is willing to take him back. Edward is clearly entirely morally bankrupt.

Her father, Charlie Swan, is sort of the Jimminy Cricket of the story. His intuition is a proxy for the reader's intuition, and he's generally right. He doesn't like Edward, because he can sense the truth - not that Edward is a vampire, that doesn't matter in particular - but that Edward is devoid of anything approximating a 'soul' (for those strict secularists, you could just say Charlie can see that Edward is a terrible person).

Bella is warned by numerous people and events throughout the course of the story that she is actively pursuing her own destruction - but she's so dependent on Edward and caught up in the idea of the romance that she refuses to see the situation for what it is. Charlie tells her Edward is bad news. Edward tells her that he believes he is damned, and devoid of a soul. He further tells her that making her like him is the most selfish thing he will ever do. Jacob warns her numerous times that Edward is a threat to her life and well-being. She even has examples of other women who have become involved with monsters - Emily Young bears severe and permanent facial disfigurement due to her entanglement with Sam Uley.

Her downward spiral continues when, in New Moon, she turns around and treats her father precisely as Edward has treated her - abandoning him after suffering an obvious and extended severe bout of depression, leaving him to worry that she is dead for several days. She had been emotionally absent for a period of months before that anyhow. Charlie Swan is traumatized by this event, and never quite recovers thereafter. (He is continuously suspicous of nearly everyone Bella interacts with from that point on, worries about her frequently, and seems generally less happy.)

Her refusal to break her codependence with Edward eventually leads them to selfishly endanger Carlisle's entire clan when the Volturi threaten (and then attempt) to wipe them out for their interaction with her - so she is at this point in the story willing to put lives on both sides of the line (her family and the Cullens) at risk in favor of this abusive relationship. Just like in a real abusive relationship, she is isolated or isolates herself from nearly everyone in her life - for their safety, she believes.

Ultimately, she marries Edward, submitting to mundane domesticity and an abusive relationship - voluntarily giving up her independence in favor of fulfilling Edward's idea of her appropriate role. Her pregnancy - which in the real world would bind her to the father of her children irrevocably (if only through the legal system or through having to answer the kid's questions about their paternity) - completely destroys her body. The baby drains her of every resource in her body (she becomes sickly, skeletal, and unhealthy) and ultimately snaps her spine during labor.

Her physical destruction tracks with and mirrors her moral and psychological destruction - both are the product of seeds that she allowed Edward to plant inside her through her failure to be independent.

Ultimately, to 'save' her (there's that salvation again), Edward shoots venom directly into her heart. Let me repeat that for emphasis: The climax of the entire series is when Edward injects venom directly into Bella Swan's heart.
Whatever wakes up in that room, it ain't Bella.

I'll refer to the vampire as Bella Cullen, the human as Bella Swan.
  • Bella Swan was clumsy.

  • Bella Cullen is the most graceful of all the vampires.

  • Bella Swan was physically weak and frequently needed protection.

  • Bella Cullen is among the strongest and most warlike of the vampires, standing essentially on her own against a clan that has ruled the world for centuries.

  • Bella Swan was empathetic to the needs of others before she met Edward.

  • Bella Cullen pursues two innocent human hikers through a forest, intent on ripping them to pieces to satisfy her bloodlust - and stops only because Edward calls out to her. Not because she perceives murder as wrong. (Breaking Dawn, p.417). She also attempts to kill Jacob and breaks Seth's shoulder because she didn't approve of what Jacob nicknamed her daughter (Breaking dawn, p.452). She no longer has morals .

  • Bella Swan was fairly modest and earnest.

  • Bella Cullen uses her sex appeal to manipulate innocent people and extract information from them (pp.638 - 461) - she does so in order to get in touch with J. Jenks.
In short, her entire identity - everything that made her who she was - has been erased.

This is powerfully underscored on p. 506, when Charlie Swan (remember, the conscience of the story) sees his own daughter for the first time after her transformation:
"Charlie's blank expression told me how off my voice was. His eyes zeroed in on me and widened. Shock. Disbelief. Pain. Loss. Fear. Anger. Suspicion. More pain."

He goes through the entire grieving process right there - because at that moment, he recognizes what so many readers don't - Bella Swan is dead.

The most tragic part of the whole story is that this empty shell of a person - which at this point is nothing more than a frozen echo of Bella, twisted and destroyed as she is by her codependence with Edward, fails to see what has happened to her. She ends the story in denial - empty, annihilated, and having learned nothing.

I would say that read in the proper light, it's a powerful cautionary tale about accepting traditional gender roles and conforming to expected societal norms. Particularly with regard to male dominance (rather than partnership) in relationships.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ranting (ignore if you want)

There's a good chance the government will shut down tomorrow (almost today) due to issues of the GOP/Tea Party wanting $40 billion in budget cuts to reduce deficit spending, almost all of which they're taking from places like the EPA, the NIH, and largely Planned Parenthood.

Now, I figure it's only a matter of time before the Tea Party is seen as nothing more than a fringe group like the Green Party or Socialist Party--they'll exist, but won't have any real impact on anything.

Sadly, until then, we get to deal with people who have absolutely no idea how to fix a deficit. $40 billion cut in funding? Sounds like a lot; sounds like a good amount that could reduce that 40% deficit that's going to ruin the lives of us and our children? No, it actually isn't. It's not much of a drop in the bucket thanks to the military defense budget.

Military spending: $895 billion
Non-military spending: $520 billion
Total: $1.415 trillion OR $1415 billion

How much does the $40 billion in spending cuts reduce the deficit by? Well if the deficit is, according to the most reports, 40% of each dollar spent, then that deficit is $566 billion. That $40 billion cut reduces the deficit spending by 7%.

That is, the Tea Party/Republicans are being demanding a 7% reduction in deficit spending, claiming that will stop the problems they're prophesying.

Oh, but no one has dared to touch the military spending, especially not the Tea Party or GOP members, because that's what America is all about! It's those damned immigrants and godless slut single-mothers who are getting abortions that are sucking our money. And public school teachers! Moochers...


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why 24 hour news channels are destroying journalism

Let me start off with a clip from Rachel Maddow. And before you watch, I would like to state that I have not once seen an entire episode of her show because she seems as bad as any news personality on FOX News. This was brought to my attention by a friend, and it highlights what is the biggest flaw in the 24 hour news channel system:

FOX News gave some of the facts, but not all of them. And only providing some of the facts, particularly the facts that are chosen specifically to support a certain point of view, is perhaps the worst thing a news organization can ever do. It allows people to reference real events but with a skewed mind; it makes people believe they know the facts when in reality they don't.

It's the equivalent of telling someone about Newton's Laws of Motion, F = M*A, and then saying, "So obviously you can go faster than light, you just need the right amount of force to keep the acceleration going" -- using that information it seems completely obvious that you can do that. You can't. The information you were given is correct, but you weren't given all of the information and therefore the conclusion, "can go faster than light", seems correct. This is what 24 news media shows and "commentators" do. FOX News personalities like Beck, Hannity, and O'Reilly, and MSNBC's Maddow, Olbermann, and Matthews do it the most.

MSNBC has a strong liberal bias and is known to do the same thing as FOX (though on the other end of the scale). I don't support watching MSNBC anymore than FOX. CNN shows a liberal bias though it's not nearly as extreme as FOX's conservative one; if you watch CNN, take it with a grain of salt. (Although if you're watching Anderson Cooper or Fareed Zakaria, they both do a good job of avoiding bias.) NPR and PBS both do good jobs of keeping the news fairly unbiased because both are publicly supported and thus don't have a parent company to provide profits and advertising revenue for.

Please, everyone, check your sources and then check their sources before believing what you see and hear and read.

And never trust a political commentator. Finds the facts and make up your own mind.

Friday, July 16, 2010

While looking for a profile pic

As any logical person does when they're up later than they should be, I decided to redo my blog a bit. I brought back the Twitter feed on the right and updated the "about me" section. One of these days I'll get around to redoing the whole thing. Maybe even posting regular updates.

Hey, a guy can dream.

Anyways, I came across this picture while looking for a profile pic and thought I'd share it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What, if anything, is Big Bird?

A scientific analysis of Big Bird and an attempt to determine exactly what species of bird he is.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Picture fail

I just noticed that the picture on the last post failed to load properly. I can only imagine this has been there for awhile.

I have to admit, I'm rather sad no one mentioned it. It basically means no one noticed, which in turn probably means no one really reads this. Oh well.

I wonder if the new Futurama season is any good.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dear TechCrunch,

You can't review phones worth crap.

From you're review:
And the battery life isn’t just bad, it’s 90′s laptop bad. You need to be near a power source at all times.

The battery life is abysmal – MobileCrunch calls it a “dealbreaker” and I agree. Yes you can do a few things to get a little extra time out of it, but this device routinely runs out of power while sitting on standby overnight next to my bed. You aren’t just charging this once a day. Or twice a day. You need to be thinking about your next power fix just about any time you are using it. I keep chargers at home, in my office, in my car, and an extra one to suck power from my laptop. That keeps it going, but it isn’t fun.
That is an exact screenshot off my Evo. Notice the awake time since last charged? 38 hours.