In the Blog
Reasons to bring back Buffy the Vampire Slayer
So, I’m really usually not the type to read young adult romance novels. Don’t get me wrong, if that’s your thing then that’s great, but it’s not generally mine. Also, at 23 I’m slightly stretching the definition of “young adult”. But we all need holiday reading and last weekend when I was readying myself to lie on a beach for a couple of days I picked up Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the series (which hit #1 on the NY Times Bestseller list and is soon to be made into a movie), it’s about a 17 year-old girl who moves to a small town and falls in love with a vampire. Right from the beginning, it began ringing alarm bells in my feminist consciousness.
At first, I thought I was being over-sensitive. It’s really about a woman who’s submissive, and that’s not necessarily disempowering. But my list of complaints with it are stacking up, so it’s time for a rant.
Almost the first thing Edward the vampire boy does is save our protagonist Bella’s life, which would be all well and good except that he then saves her from distress every few pages throughout the first book. For reasons that have yet to be explained, Bella is so clumsy that she goes wide-eyed with fear at the prospect of running, walking or anything that requires basic motor skills. Her car is this bitchin’ pickup truck, which would be totally awesome except that once she and Edward start dating he jumps in the driver’s seat every time they go anywhere together and refuses to let her drive.
In fact, Bella is so helpless she can’t even figure out how to buckle her seatbelt in Edward’s jeep and he has to help her (after he helps her get in by lifting her bodily into her seat), all the while chuckling condescendingly at her.
And so far, everything Edward does to show his love for Bella is completely creepy. After a while, he reveals that he’s been watching her sleep from outside her room every night since they met. Her reaction? Embarassment that she’s been saying his name in her sleep. Not for a second does she chew him out for invading her privacy.
The really supremely icky thing about the book though is the root of Edward’s desire. From the second he first sees her, he’s consumed by lust for her blood. At first he can’t even get close to her because he’s so overcome by fear that he won’t be able to control himself. Instead he finally settles for telling Bella repeatedly, “I’m really dangerous. Really, I could totally kill you and you wouldn’t be able to do a thing about it. You should stay away from me.” Instead of backing the hell off and getting as far away from him as possible, Bella quietly decides that if she dies, she dies - at least she’ll get to be with this boy. Argh.
Give me Buffy the Vampire Slayer with its powerful female characters, sharp dialogue and singing demons any day.