Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bella vs. Buffy

I've admonished my partner for talking down about the Twilight movies when she hasn't actually seen them--hence Twilight is now sitting shamefully at the top of our Netflix queue--which is why I haven't yet posted any sort of take down (or praise???) of the series on this blog. I haven't read the books. I haven't seen the movies. A good friend of mine with preteen daughters described the books, and not favorably, as "Harlequin romance for prepubescent girls," and I'm just too busy to waste my time on a whole series of books I won't even enjoy. It's not even worth the pleasure of being able to critique them. On the other hand, I think I can probably sit through the movies and maybe even be able to enjoy them, so count on my Twilight-related commentary (better late than never) sometime in the next month or so.

That said, just because I don't feel qualified to talk about the series, doesn't mean I can't engage with other people's critiques -- for example, this one from Fannie's Room, in which she compares Twilight's Bella to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is great. And, as a companion piece, there's a video version of this epic comparison (although the video is more of a "if Buffy met Edward..." mash-up):



I know critiques of New Moon and the Twilight series have been floating across my RSS feed over the past month, and I'd be eager to read more of them. So, if you've seen a good post about the films/books or written one, please feel free to comment with a link below.

7 comments:

Dr. Jay SW said...

A friend told me off for not disliking Twilight enough, since, she said, it's so disturbingly sexist. More recently, I've seen that some feminist bloggers have argued that critics don't like Twilight because they're sexist. I'm officially not saying anything more on the subject.

Buffy rules!

Aviva said...

Jay, did you see either of the films? I'd be curious to hear your opinion (and won't accuse you of anything!). Since I don't want to be a hypocrite in the same vein as conservatives who criticize books they haven't even read yet, I'm withholding judgment until I've actually seen the movies. What I will say is this: from the previews, Twilight and New Moon look stupid, if not also sexist (just because there's a female protagonist, doesn't mean the films can't be sexist -- after all, the trailers make it look like all Bella does is sit around and mope about her life-or-death decision re: which boy she should date). However, I suppose I can understand the sentiment--seen on other feminist blogs--that New Moon is a good thing because it's showing Hollywood execs that women do have buying power at the box office. Still, not sure if this is kind of film I want to be associated as the cinematic standard if you want to draw in women viewers.

But, withholding final judgment...

Dr. Jay SW said...

Yeah, I saw the first one (by accident, actually, since I was confused between it and True Blood), though it really didn't have much of an impact on me, so I scarcely remember it (unlike you serious film and TV critic types, I tend to surf the web and read magazines while watching movies on dvd, unless they're really good...which this one clearly wasn't). Mostly, I think I was irritated by the way it pretty much took Buffy's metaphors and reversed them--i.e.the popular kids are the good guys, and the weird kids are outsiders for a reason...essentially subverting subversion and reifying everything Buffy mocked, kinda like a Vampire equivalent of Christian rock (which, from what I've been told about the author, may be exactly what it is).

As for the box-office argument, I guess that works...in the same sense that Leni Riefenstahl, Eva Peron, and...yes, I'm gonna say it...Sarah Palin are important feminists...

An "Other" Mother said...

The Twilight books and movies are drastically different.
The movies are absolutely horrible. I did enjoy the books but I consider them an unfeminist guilty pleasure. Bella was portrayed as a pushover and completely subjugated and objectified. There is a sliver of redemption in the last book but it in now way reverses the ridiculously sexist relationship she has with Edward in the first 3 books.

Aviva said...

@Jay: I'm probably not as "serious" as you imagine, since most of my tv and movie watching transpires in much the same way you describe: distracted. And point taken re: the box office sales. I hadn't thought of it that way and now I'm very disturbed...

@An "Other" Mother: I'm certain you're right. Hollywood often has a way of dumbing down narratives and catering to the lowest common denominator. So if there's some sexism in the books, there's probably gobs of it in the movies.

Carrie said...

@Aviva I know I'm very late to this conversation, but re: box office numbers and women viewers...

I think the best thing that can be said about Twilight (and I have next to nothing good to say about it except it's a really fun movie to make fun of with your friends) is that it demonstrates that there are things women are interested in other than romance in their movies. The Twilight movies are primarily teenage harlequin romances (as your friend so perfectly described it), but they have some pretty okay fighting scenes (I can't imagine the amount of times a friend has talked me into seeing some crappy romcom with her and I spent the whole movie wishing that suddenly everyone had to fight off zombies or Godzilla or something).

In general I'd put Twilight into the "mind-blowingly sexist" category, but I DO think it may result in some interesting (possibly positive) changes in films marketed towards young women.

Aviva said...

@Carrie: I hope you're right that content doesn't matter so much as the mere fact that films like New Moon are drawing women to the box office. I hope Hollywood's paying attention.

In a completely unrelated matter, I couldn't help but laugh at your comment: "I can't imagine the amount of times a friend has talked me into seeing some crappy romcom with her and I spent the whole movie wishing that suddenly everyone had to fight off zombies or Godzilla or something)." Perhaps they need to make a movie version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!