Twilight is the unabashedly melodramatic, vampire-meets-girl love story of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan, and despite its clear success it still seems to be strange material for the first huge literary phenomenon of the twenty-first century. The author Stephenie Meyer has a tendency towards the archaic and the conventional in her thick prose; Edward is constantly smoldering and brooding, causing delicate, innocent Bella to swoon into his powerful armsbut, as Edward's attraction to the smell of Bella's blood prevents them (for at least the first book) from consummating their relationship, the couple is forced to communicate their passion through pent-up looks. (Meyer is a devout Mormon, which has at least something to do with the sexy-abstinence current that runs through Twilight.) Edward watches Bella sleep; Bella watches Edward as he takes off his shirt and allows his vampire skin to glitter in the sunlight: the movie is a succession of these gaze-centric scenes.
[...] There is a popular quote floating around the Internet, attributed to a woman named Jennifer Wood, which describes Edward as such: is life and death, sexuality and abstinence, sparkling light and blackest darkness in one being.” There is something about the particular idealization cultivated by Twilight that forces Edward Cullen to contain these absurd contradictions: guilty parties include the female writer, the female director, Bella herself, and the almost-entirely- female audience. This is not to say that there is some innate female instinct here, but instead that something akin to that has been created by the constrictive, confusing, patriarchal rules of cinema. [...]
[...] female—a blogger calling himself “Twilight has made it its goal to understand why “nearly every girl in the world is obsessed with the Twilight books.” And truly, the Edward Cullen mania is taking America by storm. Edward is a carefully crafted character, almost eye-rolling perfect: having lived for over a century, he's had the time to acquire two degrees from Harvard and a passion for the good things in life, including a slightly hilarious virtuosity at classical piano. As a vampire he is inhumanly strong, fast, perceptive, and good-looking. [...]
[...] “Twilight Appeal: The cult of Edward Cullen and vampire love in Stephenie Meyer's novels and the new film.” Decent Films Guide. http://www.decentfilms.com/sections/articles/twilight.html. Hansen, Miriam. “Pleasure, Ambivalence, Identification: Valentino and Female Spectatorship.” In Cinema Journal 25:4 (Summer 1986), p. 6-32. Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight. New York: Little, Brown and Company Miller, Laura. “Touched by a vampire.” Salon 20 July 2008. Mulvey, Laura. Visual and Other Pleasures. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press Nation, Kaleb. [...]
[...] And although Twilight perhaps goes farther than any other mainstream movie in positioning a female as the lustful figure of identification—I seriously doubt that anyone, male or female, has read or watched Twilight and identified with Edward, who is otherworldly in many ways—the story still hinges upon Edward's own gaze as validation. While Bella's desire for Edward does not change him at all, his desire for her is central to her personhood. Bella has everything to gain from being objectified, and indeed has no agency or individual characteristics until he begins to desire her. [...]
[...] In her essay, Hansen cites state of bliss in store for the woman who would be discovered by [Valentino's] magical gaze—in the measure that he himself was becoming an erotic commodity.” And in Twilight, Bella must observe, and make meaningful, Edward's own worthiness as an object of desire before Edward's desire for her can bear any meaning: it is in her perspective alone that the entire story takes root, and this primacy seems to me to be an important step for the idea of female viewership. [...]
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