Clare Greenman – Copy Editor
Sparkly vampires have been the butt of jokes for too long. Wake up sheeple, Twilight was the scariest saga of the 2000s and here’s why: what other YA sensation planted messages of racism and the horrors of motherhood into the impressionable minds of its young watchers and readers?
For the sake of accessibility I will treat you, dear reader, as if you were the only magical soul who escaped the Twilight craze of the early 2000’s and its subsequent cultural legacy. It is about a girl named Bella who falls in love with Edward Cullen who belongs to a vampire family. Edward leaves in the second installment of the series and she begins to hang out with Jacob Black, an old family friend who happens to be in love with her. And also happens to be a werewolf. Racism ensues.
Some of you may be surprised to learn that this silly, stupid little YA series actually had some effort put into its premise. But Jacob’s tribe is actually based on a real tribe called the Quileutes located in Forks, Washington. Not only did author of the series, Stephanie Meyer, appropriate their cultural myths and use their likeness, but she never credited them. For years after the series, tourists and media hounds have settled on Quileute land, asking invasive questions and undermining the laws of the sovereign nation. But in addition to that, they have never seen a dime from the series.
She proceeded to use their likeness for: fetizization of native features, the sexualization of young boys, and perpetuating stereotypes about domestic violence and gangs.
So often the people of the Quileute nation are described with “long black hair” “high cheekbones” “wizened faces” and words that narrowly avoid stepping around “red” when referring to their skin tone. Not only are these stereotypical features, but they are completely unnecessary details to be expounded on as much as they are, which is virtually every time a new Native character is introduced.
Not even the young boys who transform into werewolves are free from these descriptions. Jacob, who was 16 when he transformed, is lavished over for his height, face, and body. This objectification isn’t limited to the books as well- Taylor Laughter was around the same age as Jacob when he was being filmed with his shirt off for all of the Twilight moms to lust over.
The idea of violence surrounds the wolf pack. Emily, one of the wolf pack’s partners is mauled when her partner loses his temper. It’s painted as her fault that she made him angry, and despite this, they are just as in love as ever. It’s always a threat to Bella’s safety that by rejecting him, she could cause Jacob to lose control and hurt her. Bella and Jacob make grand assumptions about the actions of the wolf pack prior to Jacob joining, calling them a gang, despite the fact that most gangs don’t actively better their community like the wolf pack.
In addition to this, the Cullens often refer to the wolf pack as dogs, calling them uncontrollable, and even once gathering DNA and doing tests while one of them was passed out- which harkens back to the US doing similar things to native populations less than a century ago.
All of these instances of racism permeate the Twilight saga, teaching young readers that it is okay to describe and treat native people this way and implanting these stereotypes into their minds, lest I forget to mention imprinting.
Sam, Emily’s partner, imprinted on her which works as his guilt against hurting her and also the reason why she has to forgive him, because “he just loves her so much”. Two characters imprint on literal children, which works to groom the children as they cannot tear themselves away and because the imprinting means they “have to be together” in book logic. Rejecting their suitor might cause the kids to get hurt which leaves no choice for the imprintees.
One of the imprintees in question is Bella and Edward’s daughter, Renesme. She is conceived during Edward and Bella’s honeymoon and within a week Bella is already showing. Edward wants her to get an abortion, but Bella is insistent on keeping the baby that could do unmentionable harm to her despite never showing any desire to be a mother before this. She didn’t even want to get married and was ready to leave her human life behind but as soon as she is pregnant, she would suddenly turn her body into a vessel for a vampire/human who devours her from the inside.
Warning for body horror. Yes, I’m serious- I told you this was a horror movie, after all.
We see Bella a couple weeks later, cheeks sunken in, pale as a corpse, body bruised with the baby’s kicks and stomach bulging. She can barely move and later requires blood in order to keep the baby sated. She literally looks to be on the verge of death and as someone who watched this movie as a child, this image still hasn’t left my brain
When the baby comes after about a month, it snaps her back in two trying to come out. Bella does a death drop to the floor and dies in the process of giving birth when they have to cut her open in order to get the baby out.
Bella and Edward, the OTP of many teenage girls, give birth to a monster that turns her corpse-like. And then into a literal corpse. If that doesn’t sell motherhood, I don’t know what does.
Meyer also paints a picture of a baby that raises itself, leaving Edward and Bella to enjoy their new vampire abilities with each other, and leaving their baby with her future husband.
So when you’re looking for a horror movie this season, look no further than the Twilight saga, perpetuating racist sterotypes and depiciting pregnagcy body horror, enough to scar and brainwash an entire generation of impressionable viewers. Now that’s really scary!