Tag Archives: movies

New Moon, Same Old Bella

It’s no secret that I’m a Twilight fan. The books allowed me to joyfully indulge in cheesy, fluffy escapist fantasy. And the movies are no different. The first movie in the Twilight “saga” was enjoyable the same way campy b-movies are enjoyable. The effects were bad, the makeup was bad, the script was REALLY bad (er…. “spider monkey?”). It was low budget, and it showed. I giggled my way through it.

This time around, the producers understood what they had in hand: a money machine. So, they threw a little budget at it, changed the director and… voila! New Moon is a very different kind of movie. The special effects are great, especially when the werewolves come on the scene, and the dialogue is actually funny in parts. I mean, on purpose.

Unfortunately, no amount of budget or talent can change one element about the book/movie, an element that will plague the whole series like an itchy nose on a date. The only thing holding this story back from crossing into awesome territory is this: Bella is a freakin’ annoying character.

The title of the movie refers to a new romantic presence in Bella’s life: her friend Jacob Black, a member of the local Native American tribe who, according to legend, are descendants of werewolves. Well, it turns out that, once again, the legends contain more truth than fiction. Jacob becomes a member of the werewolf pack, a group of young men who have inherited the ability to turn into wolves and hunt – what else? – vampires. With Edward gone – claiming not to love Bella, but really leaving because he thinks that he poses too much of a danger to her –  Bella turns to Jacob for comfort, companionship, and safety. Of course, his feelings develop romantically and she is confused. Should she stay loyal to her one true love, even in his absence? Should she try to love Jake, for all his wonderful abs – er, I mean – qualities?

Kristen Stewart told The New York Times that she plays her role by pretending that Edward has a real human affliction, like a heroine addiction, rather than that he is a vampire. So, if we follow that logic, this is a story about a girl who is in love with a heroine addict. While tortured boys do have a certain appeal, her devotion to him is completely – and dangerously – romanticized. He’s hot, his attentions make her feel special, but he also has a barely contained impulse to kill her to drink her blood. While that adds a certain level of tension to the story, it makes one wonder about the self-worth this girl has when her boyfriend is the dude who, in response to the question “How can you stand to be this close to her?” responds through clenched jaw, “It’s not without difficulty.”

Add to the list of evidence for her lack of self-esteem, the ultimate red flag: she’s suicidal.  She goes for rides with strange, sketchy guys, she dives off cliffs, she crashes her motorcycle, then insists, “I want to go again,” while bleeding from the head. And all because she craves the way Edward somberly appears to her when her life is in danger, wagging a finger in his fatherly way.

Truthfully, there’s no need to wonder about her self-worth. I know it’s zero. Bella tells us in so many words in the climactic scene. After tracking Edward to Italy, she flings herself upon his bare, pale, shimmery chest in order to stop him from exposing himself in a crowded square, then tells him that he can leave her without guilt. She whines, “[Your loving me] didn’t make any sense… I’m nothing.”

When Bella says that there’s nothing left after Edward leaves, she’s kind of right.  But that’s not because that’s how love is.  That’s  because she focused on him to the exclusion of everything else, especially herself.  I shudder to think of the young women who might think that it’s normal – and even a sign of ultimate love – to feel that nothing is left when the guy is gone.

Dear, dear Bella. This story does not have a happy ending for me. This is sad. Ending up in a relationship in which you revere and idolize your boyfriend while telling yourself that you aren’t worthy of his affection is not healthy or romantic. Go be with your friend Jake because, while he is also irrationally obsessed with protecting you from harm while he could be doing something more fun, he at least wants to hear what you have to say and wants you to lead your own life. Or, better yet, develop a hobby OF YOUR OWN. Go out with some of your friends. They are very nice and cute. And, amazingly enough, they will still give you the time of day after you wasted three months of your senior year sitting at a table by yourself and staring into space.

Some would argue that a character from a movie need not be a role model for girls and, to that, I say, “Thank goodness.” But I don’t think anyone can deny that there are many girls out there who think Edward Cullen is just peachy and that a boy who watches you sleep, tells you what to do, and leaves you out of the decisions concerning your own life is the boy of their dreams.  And, to them, I say “That’s gonna get old fast.  ‘Specially when said controlling fella is immortal.”

I leave you with a very funny Twilight-inspired song that I found on Jezebel.com:

I wrote this post for the Girls Leadership Institute’s blog Woosh! Check it out already.

An Early Birthday Present for Moi!

This fall is going to be an exciting time for bookish little me. When I think about it, I get so worked up that I have a hard time typing (or perhaps it’s the sugary chai latte I just drank).

Check it out. Four *highly anticipated* books are being released in September/October. It’s like an early birthday present to me from four talented authors! How did they know what I wanted?!

Two of the books are follow-ups to YA books that I adored, one is the SEVENTH book in a series that I find positively consuming, and the fourth is a graphic novel by a guy I’d never heard of before I read about the book. In order of release date…

Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsFirst of all, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins came out on September 1st. Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy. If you haven’t already read the first book, called The Hunger Games, read it now. But only if you have about twenty-four hours to kill. That’s about how long it will take you, and YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO DO ANYTHING ELSE.

The Hunger Games almost surpasses description – it’s that exciting to read – except that invariably when I describe it to people they tell me it reminds them of various other plots. It’s a science fiction story set in a future in which America is divided into twelve districts, all controlled by a greedy, oppressive government known as the Capital. Every year, the Capital stages an event called the Hunger Games – two teenagers from each district enter an arena filled with video cameras, and stay there until only one person remains. The main character Katniss is a survivor if there ever was one, and she knows she can win. But, as the game goes on, she wonders if there might be a way to survive without playing by the Capital’s rules. I was breathless at the conclusion of this book, and Catching Fire picks up right where the first left off. The only reason I haven’t read it yet is because I know it’s going to be over so fast and then I’ll have to bide my time before the third and final installment!

Stitches by David SmallAnother early September release, Stitches came out on the 5th. Stitches is a memoir by David Small, told in a black and white graphic novel. I first read about the book on the wonderful book blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. The review reminded me of Craig Thompson’s Blankets. I don’t know if they truly are similar, but both books are memoirs about growing up, written for adults rather than children, despite the illustrated format. And both books chronicle the birth, development, and perseverance of the artist. I’m fascinated by the fact that, for some people, making art has nothing to do with their parents signing them up for a local sketching class. Making art can be as necessary to survival as breathing. Both Small and Thompson use their art to survive – and transcend – difficult circumstances.

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
A few years ago, my friend Tara said, “There’s this book called Outlander that you’ve just got to read.” “What’s it about?” I reasonably asked her. When she told me that the main character is a woman who mysteriously travels in time through a ring of ancient stones and lands in 18th Century Scotland, I politely declined. When she repeatedly failed to convince me, Tara simply put a copy of the book in my hands and commanded me to read. Well, after the first fifty pages, I couldn’t have put it down if I wanted to. I would try to put it down at the end of the night, but then lay in bed thinking, “What are Jamie and Claire doing now??” As if they were somehow continuing with their lives while I wasted time sleeping. This book was the first in a long while that I stayed up all night to read (but it’s not the last). I took me two days to devour all 600+ pages. Each subsequent book is even longer, and just as addictive. It’s been about a year and a half since I finished the sixth book, and I was simultaneously thrilled and dismayed when I saw that Diana Gabaldon planned to publish a seventh, called An Echo in the Bone. I couldn’t believe what a long time I had to wait! But, September 22nd is almost here! If you haven’t read Outlander yet, I’m jealous that you have it all ahead of you.

Fire by Kristin Cashore
Kristin Cashore’s first book Graceling received about as much praise and recognition as a first novel can. My wonderful sister and reading partner Parry gave it me last Christmas, and promised that I would not be disappointed. I wasn’t. It’s a fantasy adventure book set in a world in which rare people are born with special abilities called “graces.” Those with graces, especially very useful ones, are forced into service for their kings. The main character Katsa is such a person; her fighting and killing grace makes her an invaluable weapon in her king’s arsenal. Katsa manages to be a warrior while also being a smart and sympathetic character. Cashore manages to write an adventure story while also dealing with issues of friendship and love, asking whether one gives up our self-reliance in order to have them, and whether it is worth it. Fire is not a sequel to Graceling. It takes place in the same fantasy world, but before Katsa’s story. It is not a true prequel either, though – from what I understand, Katsa and Po appear in the book but are not the main characters. I can’t wait to lose myself in Cashore’s exciting and fantastical world again. (But have to wait until October 5th!)

Kristin Cashore also has a wonderful blog – a mix of life, musings, and the writing business. If you’re interested in Young Adult Fiction, it’s a must-read. And, to promote the release of Fire, Cashore is going on a “blog tour!” Every day she’ll be visiting a different literary blog and blogging about the characters from Fire. Each blog she visits will also get a signed copy of the book to give away! Click here for the tour schedule.

Lastly, I found this link to the first chapter of Fire. Happy reading!

P.S. Just when it seems that life can’t get any better, and that I’ll be entertained at least until Thanksgiving by all this wordy picture-y goodness, I remember that two movies for which I have been oh-so-patiently-yet-eagerly waiting will soon open: Whip it! and Where the Wild Things Are. Oh my! An embarrassment of riches! Thank you, universe!