Tag Archives: twilight

When Flaking Out is Not an Option

The odds are certainly in favour of this film. The best book-to-screen adaptation I’ve seen in a while. Jennifer Lawrence captured Katniss’ independent, resourceful, fierce, tough-as-nails-but-still-vulnerable and occasionally arrogant personality. Yeah, I know. Bella Swan (the eherm..’heroine’ of Twilight) comparisons are raging through the net, from The Guardian to Feministe. They can’t be helped I guess.

I really tried to finish the Twilight books, but my higher brain functions were objecting at the turn of every page! Lol. So I gave it up as a bad job. I did finish Twilight and Eclipse though. Anyway, back to the review. Comparisons to Bella cannot be helped, like I said. After all, there is a ‘triangle’ of sorts in The Hunger Games as well. But that’s where it ends. The similarities and differences have been discussed so much that I won’t go through the details anymore.

But here’s my two cents: Although both Bella and Katniss fell in love, Katniss will always be her own person. She is the Mockingjay, the Girl on Fire and not defined by her relationship with Peeta or Gale. Her primary concern is not whether she should choose between the two, but the survival of those she cares about and yeah, bringing down a corrupt and unjust system.

Whereas Bella was jumping off cliffs when Edward (a complete jerkass worthy of a restraining order) left, Katniss was busy strategizing with the rebels of District 13 when she and Peeta were briefly separated. Of course she felt lousy the whole time, but that’s the point!

There is nothing wrong with being in love. Hey, I’m a bit of a romantic myself. But I prefer couples whose relationship is more on equal footing (ex: Scully, Mulder from XFiles; John, Aeryn from Farscape; Han, Leia from Star Wars; Zoe, Wash from Firefly; Helo, Athena from Galactica). These couples can both kick ass and wipe the floor with the best of the best. They are certainly not perfect, but they do love one another and do not require their partners to be a limp noodle.

Oh and going back (coherence just jumped out of the window), I like Katniss’ attitude. Being the eldest and primary breadwinner of the family requires a ‘we’ll just have to grit our teeth and do it’ philosphy at times. Flaking out and being weepy is not an option to be considered. Katniss is tough but she is not uncaring, in fact she cares a great deal about the people around her. Just not in that ‘merry sunshine’ but in more of a ‘tough love’ way. And hey, she loves a good laugh too!

Why should it matter? Because if ever I’ll have daughters, I’d want them to be Katniss Everdeens or Ellen Ripleys or Hermione Grangers. Not Bella Swans.

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I still don’t see it…

Listening to: “Beyond Me” by After Forever

I’m almost done reading “Twilight” (at last)…. I really wanted to like it,  but  find it very tedious. Bella should see a doctor (she is unbelievably clumsy and dull – she seriously needs a  personality injection). I mean, I’m not expecting an Ellen Ripley or a Clarice Starling here obviously, but Isabella Swan has got to be the most boring protagonist I’ve ever encountered (and the novel is in first person, so I’m literally reading her thoughts). And Edward does not seem to have a personality either (or that might be Bella’s fault, since all she seemed to notice was his “godlike appearance”, “straight teeth”, his muscles or his “smoldering eyes”). If I have to read how he “smoldered” again…

And the “romance” was so artificial, I still could not see why they like each other so much, after 420 pages. That must be what it’s like to have a love affair with my favourite tuna sandwich or something. Or date a rag doll.  Am I missing something here?

And what’s up with the fainting spells everytime Edward is within one meter radius (and her heart literally stopped when he kissed her, the frak??) Someone should smack her in the mouth and tell her to get a grip (oops, I’m channelling Galactica’s Kara Thrace again). I’d prefer Sookie Stackhouse or Buffy Summers any day if I have to name one vampire lit heroine.

I’ll try to read the other 3 books (see if it will get any better). Or go back to watching re-runs of Battlestar Galactica (now that’s a way to write women characters). I grew up watching and reading sci-fi and can’t help but notice that it’s one category where women characters were written well.

New Drawings, the Low-down on Twilight, etc…

Listening to: “The Tudors” Main Theme
Reading: “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
Watching: “The Tudors”
Two new drawings. Well not exactly. I did them 2 months ago, but couldn’t find time to have them scanned. “Real Life TM” keeps getting in the way.
I have “A. Jolie from WANTED” and as you can see (way) below, Padme in refugee disguise.
Angelina Jolie as Fox from the movie WANTED. Pencil on drawing paper. By M.R. Ayo
Angelina Jolie as Fox from the movie WANTED. Pencil on drawing paper. By M.R. Ayo

With that out of the way, let’s move on. I’ve recently seen the teaser poster for the movie “Twilight”. And must admit I was intrigued. The guy was handsome (didn’t realize that it was Robert Pattinson – Cedric Diggory from the fourth Harry Potter movie- until a much closer inspection), definitely caught my eye. So, off I go for some research to find out what “Twilight” was all about (sorry I’ve been living inside a cave, I’ve seen the covers in my local bookshop; but I was too busy with Chuck Palahniuk, Ayn Rand and Neil Gaiman to pay much attention to the crowds swarming around “the hottest thing since Harry Potter”). Turns out this was a YA series about a girl who falls in love with a vampire. Alright, there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not a die-hard fan of vampire romances, but I’ve definitely read my share of Bram Stoker, Anne Rice and watched shows like “Forever Knight”, “Angel”, “Buffy” and “Moonlight” (latest favourite).

There were four books in the series (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn) and it was written by one Stephanie Meyer, according to the what I gathered she’s “a Mormon housewife-turned-novelist”, nothing wrong with that either. I proceeded to find e-book copies of “Twilight” (don’t want to waste money, so I’ll look first if it’s worth reading), and read some reviews.

After some reading, the verdict is, Twilight Series is a bad, bad book. To even put it in the same level as Harry Potter is an insult to Joanne Rowling. I am a Harry Potter fan and an avid reader of fantasy novels, I’ve read and re-read all the seven books numerous times, especially when I’m stressed; although I can’t be bothered with cosplaying, collecting wands and all that. I just stick with the books and occasionally draw the characters. It’s not Ayn Rand or Virginia Woolf, but there was something magical and compelling about the characters and the world J.k. Rowling created, that’s it’s worthy of comparison to Charles Dickens and J.R.R. Tolkien. Even Stephen King loved it (if you’ve read the Dark Tower Series, he incorporated some HP elements in there). Harry Potter is about the importance of friendship, bravery, loyalty, equality, second chances and looking beyond physical appearances, whereas Twilight is all about PHYSICAL BEAUTY.

With Twilight the comparison should not be to J.K. Rowling (the only thing Meyer and Rowling has in common is that they were both mothers) but to Christopher Paulini’s Eragon. But at least Eragon was “readable” – granted, Chris Paulini wrote it when he was 15 years old, and as we say here in the Philippines, “Hello!”, and it got a little better as the author matured. Ms. Meyer came up with Twilight in her thirties, after a degree in English(!) and this “travesty” is the result. I mean I’ve read much, much better fanfiction (I’ve written a couple myself a few years ago and hey..maybe I can get published too! *eye roll*)

Where to start?

The writing itself is a “headache”, so to speak. I keep “stumbling” along paragraphs and thinking, “What the hell was that supposed to mean??”. “Incandescent chest”?? “Scintillating arms??” “the meadow paled??” paled?? really?? Hello! And was it necessary to tell the readers that Bella had a granola bar for breakfast, while being very vague about the entire plot – if there was one? How does that help the story? Please enlighten me. Unnecessary descriptions abound as well.

Next would be “THE Characters (TM)”. Bella Swan (short for Isabella Swan – I mean, do you notice that “subtlety” or lack thereof?) was the worst protagonist I’ve ever encountered (too bad the novel is in first-person) she’s the American version of Miaka Yuuki. She has no ambitions, no beliefs, no backbone (she can’t walk two steps without getting almost raped, kidnapped etc.) and literally no life without Edward around her. She’s “unconditionally and irrevocably in-love” with him after 2 weeks! Wow! All she does is go on and on about how perfect, beautiful, god-like, seraphic, an angel and so on he is -the first 100(!) pages are more or less about her obsession with his supposed perfection. The girl is a flake and a card-board cut-out of a character, she describes herself as “clumsy”, “shy” and “not attractive”, really?? But what about having 5 boys practically following her around after 2 days in a new town, for doing nothing(!) how is that for “not attractive”? Because she’s “special” as the author never fails to remind us (but why was she special?? no “proof” or reason was given, she’s not particularly intelligent – but some people would dare compare her to Elizabeth Bennett or Jane Eyre?? – nor is she genuinely kind, friendly etc., she’s not even an “anti-heroine”, she’s simply a black hole).

What’s more she “loves” Edward because he’s beautiful, and we are not talking about inner beauty here, no sir. Again it’s his perfect teeth, smile, face whatever. And if I have to read more descriptions about how beautiful, perfect and god-like Edward is, I’m going to puke. Oh, before I forget, he “glitters” as well. Isn’t it amazing? And Edward loves her because she smells like gourmet food. If I wanted dysfunctional, twisted vampire-human relationships, I’d settle for “Hellsing”. At least Integral Hellsing is Alucard‘s “equal”, if not in strength then in mind. She can stand up to the force of his personality, whereas Isabella Swan follows Edward Cullen like a puppy, I mean she does almost everything old Eddie tells her to, without much thinking. He tries to control every aspect of her life and behaves like a peeping-tom; a primary candidate for a restraining order in other words.

Edward and Bella’s supposed “love” is not even worth looking into. They have no connection, emotional or intellectual. Their conversations are all about NOTHING. And this is what they want young girls to read?? That it’s ok to be “a woman of no substance”, that they should fall apart and try to jump of a cliff if their boyfriend left them? I’d never let my daughters touch this book. Never. What’s sad about Twilight was that there’s so much wasted potential, in the hands of a capable author, it might have developed into something worth reading.

There are way better titles, there’s “His Dark Materials Trilogy” by Philip Pullman – now, if I’m looking for a worthy heroine, there’s always Lyra Belacqua) or “The Chronicles of Narnia” by CS Lewis. And that really excellent YA book called “Speak” by Laurice Halse Anderson.

Padme in refugee disguise. Pencil on drawing paper. By M. R. Ayo
Padme in refugee disguise. Pencil on drawing paper. By M. R. Ayo