Kristen Stewart Bella Swan in Twilight not a 'feminist' move heroine: Should that be a problem?
When Gary Ross' The Hunger Games opened last March, some film commentators, usually women, declared it the first real major female movie franchise – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens next year. But what about the Twilight movies, which focus on the Kristen Stewart character, Bella Swan?
Well, the Twilight movies and Kristen Stewart's Bella Swan don't really count because Bella is a passive weakling whose life revolves around men, whereas The Hunger Games' Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is a kick-ass chick whose men – Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth – aren't the end-all of her existence.
Bella Swan attacks: Absurd and hypocritical
I find those anti-Bella arguments both absurd and downright hypocritical. But I should first explain that I'm not a feminist – not because I don't believe women shouldn't have the same rights as men, but for a couple of radically different reasons, namely:
a) Any ideology, whether secular or religious, both distorts and dumbs down reality, which is much too complex and multifaceted to be encompassed by any human-made “ism.”
b) If we're to demand equal rights for the sexes, that goes both ways, i.e., if you're a “feminist” then you must also be a “masculinist.” For instance, men and women should be allowed to hold the same positions of power and receive equal pay for the same jobs; by the same token, men and women should have equal access to a lifeboat if a ship is sinking, and no commentator should ever use the outraged phrase “not even women and children were spared!” as if adult male suffering is to be both expected and implicitly accepted. All things being equal – i.e., same jobs, same human lives – equality between the sexes should apply in every situation.
Kristen Stewart's Bella Swan: From determined 17-year-old to indecisive 18-year-old
Back to Bella Swan: I've read all four Twilight novels; despite several flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed the first one, but had strongly mixed feelings about the three sequels. One of the key reasons I enjoyed the first Twilight book is that Bella Swan is portrayed as a mature teenager who knows exactly what she wants – the 109-year-old vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) – and is out to get him. Talk about a subversive narrative and characters.
In the ensuing books, I felt author Stephenie Meyer did a major disservice to her lead female character, making (the now officially adult) Bella's romantic feelings much too wishy-washy: Edward or Jacob (Taylor Lautner)? Jacob or Edward? And then back to Edward or Jacob?
That approach, I assume, was supposed to add drama to the proceedings, soap-opera style. But as far as I'm concerned, all it did was add irritation and frustration, especially considering the initially determined Bella Swan both in the original novel and as played by Kristen Stewart in Catherine Hardwicke's Twilight.
Having said that, I'm also fully aware that there's a huge difference between not knowing which of the two men you love would be best for you (and you for him) and acting like a submissive wimp. Those commentators who accuse Bella of being “weak” and/or “passive,” clearly weren't paying attention while watching the Twilight movies. [See also: “Kristen Stewart & Rupert Sanders Cheating Scandal Nonsense.”]
Bella Swan Twilight: Risking her own life to save others
In the original Twilight nothing can keep Kristen Stewart's Bella Swan away from Robert Pattinson's Edward Cullen; never mind the fact that Edward is a vampire who may chop off Bella's head at any moment, or that he's old enough to be her great-great-great-grandfather. Later on, when Bella believes her mother's life is in danger, she sets out to sacrifice herself to save her mother (Sarah Clarke) from the vicious vampire James (Cam Gigandet). [Photo: Kristen Stewart Bella Swan Twilight.]
In The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Bella comes to Edward's rescue as he is about to commit vampire suicide and saves his life a second time, offering her own in its place, when he's about to be torn to pieces by the Volturi. In Eclipse, once again to save Edward's life, she cuts her own arm, risking a horrible death at the hands – or fangs – of the evil vampire Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard). In Breaking Dawn - Part 1, Bella creates misery all around her by risking life and limb to become the mother of hybrid baby Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy). (Even if you find Bella's decision to proceed with her life-threatening pregnancy reckless, selfish, and stupid, that's still her decision, and all others must abide by it.)
And in the soon-to-be-released Breaking Dawn - Part 2, Bella Swan, now a newborn vampire, takes charge, using her special vampire powers to protect her daughter and the rest of her family (an “ethnically” diverse entity that includes vampires, werewolves, humans, in addition to the hybrid child). How could a character who chooses to perform all those nearly superhuman feats, and one who is constantly badgering the (annoyingly reticent) Edward to both have sex with her and turn her into a vampire, be considered “weak” or “passive”?
Dismissing Kristen Stewart's Bella Swan: Ideological hypocrisy
And that brings me to the hypocritical side of those accusing Kristen Stewart's Bella Swan – the central character in one of the most financially successful movie franchises in history – of not being a “true female movie heroine.” For ideologues of any stripe, what's right is what's found in the narrow (and invariably narrow-minded) dogma of their particular ideology. Twice Bella risks her life to save the man she loves, but that isn't taken into account because, well, she's doing it for a man and truly independent, liberated women don't revolve their lives around men; they have other interests. As for Bella risking her life and suffering interminable horrors so as to have a baby, that's once again Twilight's Bella Swan stuck in a traditional female role: the self-sacrificing mother (or mother-to-be).
Why do I find that hypocritical? For two chief reasons:
a) A truly independent woman – a truly independent human being – will choose what s/he wants to do with their life, not giving a damn about what some purportedly liberating ideology has to say about appropriate female/male conduct. Whether a woman's goal in life is to become a wife and mother or a successful entrepreneur or a porn star – or all three – that's her choice. You don't approve? Then mind your own business and find yourself your own path and let others follow theirs.
Kristen Stewart Bella Swan: Twilight's central character not a good 'female role model'?
b) Generally speaking, feminists in the media embrace for themselves and for other women what our culture perceive as “masculine” qualities. In other words, a woman who cries, who's afraid, who is devoted to a man (or men, as the case may be) is an undesirable model of womanhood – much like men who cry, who display fear, whose lives revolve around the women they love are undesirable models of manhood. (That's a key reason Robert Pattinson's Edward Cullen, utterly devoted to Kristen Stewart's Bella Swan and hardly a cardboard action figure à la Arnold Schwarzenegger, has precious few male fans.) Thus, Real Women, like Real Men, must kick ass, hold or strive for positions of power, and have goals and aspirations that don't involve the opposite sex or family life. (Two women devoted to one another would be acceptable, as that would be perceived as a defense against and a subversive attack on our male-centered society.) [Photo: Kristen Stewart as the vampire Bella Swan The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2.]
Kristen Stewart Bella Swan: Not John Wayne or Clint Eastwood in drag
Regardless of gender, I couldn't disagree more with those who find ass-kicking skills (in and of themselves) both desirable and admirable, and I find the longing for and devotion to family life – however one chooses to define the word “family” – perfectly fine, whether that longing and/or devotion comes from a man or a woman. In fact, in my view the qualities usually associated with human “weakness” – i.e., tenderness, gentleness, tears, fear, lust, loneliness, vulnerability, the need to be loved, the need for companionship – are often the very qualities that make human beings human. Ultimately, a female John Wayne or Clint Eastwood is just that, John Wayne or Clint Eastwood in drag. Despite her insufferable Edward vs. Jacob dilemma, I'd take Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan over any such macho movie heroine anytime.
Wrapping this up, I should add that in Breaking Dawn – at least in Stephenie Meyer's book – it's once again Bella Swan who saves both the day and the lives of all those around her. All that without having to resort to any ass kicking. (My understanding is that things will turn out quite a bit differently at the climax of Bill Condon's Breaking Dawn - Part 2, though Kristen Stewart's Bella will play an active role as well.)
Breaking Dawn - Part 2: Last time for Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan
Kristen Stewart will be seen as Bella Swan for the last time in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, which opens next Friday, November 16, in the United States, Canada, and a number of other countries. Directed by Bill Condon from a screenplay by Twilight movie franchise screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, Breaking Dawn - Part 2 is the last installment in the Twilight movie franchise. Based on the second half of Stephenie Meyer's novel Breaking Dawn, the film features Kristen Stewart's Bella, Robert Pattinson's Edward Cullen, and Taylor Lautner's Jacob Black facing off against the implacable Volturi.
Also in the extensive Breaking Dawn - Part 2 cast are the following performers, the vast majority of them playing either vampires or werewolves: Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Mackenzie Foy, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Daniel Cudmore, Cameron Bright, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Mia Maestro, Rami Malek, Kellan Lutz, Billy Burke (as Bella Swan's father Charlie), Christopher Heyerdahl, Ashley Greene, MyAnna Buring, Maggie Grace, Booboo Stewart, Jamie Campbell Bower, Charlie Bewley, Julia Jones, and Christian Camargo.
Note: This three-part “Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan” post was revised and reformatted on November 15. [See also: “Kristen Stewart and the 'obvious' 'Breaking Dawn' split point.”]
Kristen Stewart Bella Swan Breaking Dawn - Part 2 photo: Andrew Cooper / Summit Entertainment.
Breaking Dawn - Part 2 MTV interview: Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner
Nov. 1: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2's Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner together again – for another MTV interview with Josh Horowitz. It's a typical MTV interview, with questions such as, “Which one of you is most likely to Google yourselves”? (Robert Pattinson hasn't heard of Google, as can be attested by the above image. Kristen Stewart is sitting next to him. Please scroll down to check out the MTV interview.)
Kristen Stewart, who doesn't seem to enjoy going down memory lane, has just said that her favorite scene in Breaking Dawn - Part 2 is the moment when Taylor Lautner's Jacob Black takes his clothes off in front of Bella Swan's cop father, played by Billy Burke. Robert Pattinson, for his part, says he hasn't seen Breaking Dawn - Part 2's vampire-on-vampire sex scene (though there have been stories about Pattinson recently calling the sex scenes in Twilight “ridiculous”). He then proceeds to compare it to the pottery scene (Demi Moore working with her hands) in Ghost.
Keeping 'scandal talk' at bay
Needless to say, Horowitz steered clear of anything that could be potentially uncomfortable, though a few of his questions about the actors' future – together or apart – hit close to the Kristen Stewart-Rupert Sanders “scandal” that became world news about three months ago, thus making Breaking Dawn - Part 2 even more “eagerly anticipated” than before. (Notice Kristen Stewart's remark that it's silly Summit Entertainment has been sending only one actor at a time to promote the film at various locales; e.g., Stewart in Japan, Pattinson in Australia.)
Best line: Robert Pattinson remarking, “You can say whatever you want in interviews.” Yes, you can. Just ask any politician in action. The scary part is that people will quite likely believe it, too.
Breaking Dawn - Part 2 release date
Directed by Bill Condon from a screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg, itself based on Stephenie Meyer's bestseller – Meyer, by the way, makes a guest appearance in the interview – Breaking Dawn - Part 2 opens November 16. In addition to Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner, the final installment in the Twilight movie franchise features Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Booboo Stewart, and dozens of others.
Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart screen shot via MTV.
Michael Welch Twitter account: Open letter to Twilight fans
Michael Welch, Mike Newton in the Twilight movies, has written (via Twitter) an open letter to fans of the blockbuster movie franchise. The letter isn't addressed to me, as I'm not a Twilight fan (or hater, for that matter), but it's a good read all the same chiefly – in my view – for what Welch has to say about the casting process for the first Twilight movie, sometime in 2007. (Image: Michael Welch.)
For instance, Welch explains that he had been initially tested for the role of Edward Cullen, which eventually went to Robert Pattinson. He later tried out the role of Eric Yorkie, but that went instead to Justin Chon. Finally, he auditioned to play Mike Newton, the somewhat goofy high-school dude who has a crush on Kristen Stewart's Bella Swan.
Here's a snippet from Michael Welch's letter, referring to his first Mike Newton audition for Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke:
That's when I met Kristen, Justin, Christian [Serratos], and Anna [Kendrick]. I just had fun with it. I knew what I had to offer that role. They were either going to connect with my take on it, my flavor, or the other actor auditioning for Mike, a great young talent named Hunter Parish [sic]. Hunter and I were actually big fans of each other and talked in the waiting room for a long time before going in. I even expressed my admiration for Hunter to Catherine after my audition and told her I would have no problem losing out to him.
Now, had Weeds' Hunter Parrish been cast as Mike Newton, Bella would have had a radically different human suitor than the one Michael Welch brought to life in the first four Twilight movies.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 release date and cast
Directed by Bill Condon from a screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg, based on the second half of Stephenie Meyer's fourth and final Twilight book, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, opens on November 16. Besides Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, the extensive Breaking Dawn - Part 2 cast includes Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Mackenzie Foy, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Peter Facinelli, Nikki Reed, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz, and Jackson Rathbone. [See Kristen Stewart Bella Swan Breaking Dawn - Part 2 poster.]
Also: MyAnna Buring, Billy Burke, Maggie Grace, Booboo Stewart, Ty Olsson, Kiowa Gordon, Omar Metwally, Lee Pace, Guri Weinberg, Cameron Bright, Rami Malek, Lisa Howard, and Erik Odom.
If Breaking Dawn - Part 2 cast listings are correct, Bella Swan's high-school friends Michael Welch, Anna Kendrick, Justin Chon, and Christian Serratos are absent from the final installment in the Twilight movie series.
Michael Welch has the last word
Back to Michael Welch and his Twitter account, here are two recent Welch tweets that I'm (sort of) retweeting here:
“Just watched a half an hour of Al Jazeera news and it brought me to the conclusion it usually does… This world is f**ked up.”
“Gay marriage, legalized pot, 20 women Senators?! What happened to the good ol' Norman Rockwell America that never actually existed?”
Also, Michael Welch is a supporter of The Thirst Project, described as “a movement of High School & College Students raising awareness of & bringing solutions to the global water crisis.” Because of their association with Drake Bell, who tweeted that Justin Bieber didn't merit a biodoc such as Justin Bieber: Never Say Never because he's too young, The Thirst Project has been in the news lately as a result of continuous harassment from wacko Bieber fans.
Further confirmation that this world is indeed f**ked up.
Michael Welch photo via michaelwelchonline.com.
Bill Condon's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 opens November 16 in North America and several other countries, but the World Premiere of the last installment in the Twilight movie series is taking place right now in Los Angeles. Please scroll down to check out the Breaking Dawn - Part 2 premiere live streaming online via Yahoo Movies. (Image: Rami Malek, Benjamin in Breaking Dawn - Part 2)
On the Breaking Dawn - Part 2 red carpet (or somewhere nearby), Elizabeth Reaser called the final Twilight movie “epic,” adding that she usually doesn't steal things from the sets on which she has worked, but she did take home Esme Cullen's socks, which she may or may not auction off one of these days. Not an “epic” bit of news, but at least that's something for future chroniclers of the Twilight Saga phenomenon to use in their all-inclusive tomes. Also, a journalist just whispered that “I hear Robert Pattinson doesn't wash his hair.” That's another one for future Twi-chroniclers to dissect.
Breaking Dawn - Part 2 cast
Melissa Rosenberg, who was just now briefly interviewed, adapted Stephenie Meyer's novel. The Breaking Dawn - Part 2 cast includes Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Mackenzie Foy, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, and Jackson Rathbone.
Also: Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Maggie Grace, Billy Burke, Christian Camargo, Mia Maestro, Jamie Campbell Bower, Christopher Heyerdahl, Julia Jones, and Booboo Stewart. Here are a few more: Erik Odom, Noel Fisher, Lee Pace, Alex Meraz, Bronson Pelletier, Casey LaBow, Cameron Bright, MyAnna Buring, Rami Malek, Angela Sarafyan, Daniel Cudmore. And finally: Charlie Bewley, Guri Weinberg, Kiowa Gordon, Chaske Spencer, and Masami Kosaka.
Photo: Rami Malek at the Breaking Dawn - Part 2 Word Premiere.
Robert Pattinson Madame Tussauds' Wax Statue: Is that Val Kilmer?
Robert Pattinson is now a permanent guest at Madame Tussauds' abode. Well, following a reported international tour, that is. And no, this has nothing to do with Pattinson's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 promo tour, though the timing for the unveiling of his wax statue is probably connected to the upcoming Breaking Dawn - Part 2 release.
According to examiner.com, this particular Robert Pattinson, straight out of Vincent Price's House of Wax, took four months to make at a cost of $240,000. Clearly, the powers-that-be at Madame Tussauds are expecting a lot of visitors in the coming months to justify the expense. (By the way, this is not Madame Tussauds' first Robert Pattinson wax statute.)
But does Tussauds' Robert Pattinson look like the man who became a worldwide star after playing Edward Cullen in the Twilight movies? Well, the hair is surely Pattinson's. But the statue also bears some similarity to both Val Kilmer and Colin Farrell. Maybe with a touch of Shia LaBeouf and Charles Bronson.
The Robert Pattinson wax statue was unveiled at the U.K. resort town of Blackpool. The waxy Pattinson will spend the rest of November there, before traveling the world.
Robert Pattinson movies
Directed by Bill Condon, Breaking Dawn - Part 2 opens November 16. Pattinson's co-stars are Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, and the (mostly) usual Twi-crowd, including Kellan Lutz, Elizabeth Reaser, Peter Facinelli, Nikki Reed, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Dakota Fanning, Michael Sheen, Maggie Grace, and Jackson Rathbone.
Also worth mentioning are Pattinson's recent non-Twilight movies, Nick Ormerod and Declan Donnellan's Bel Ami and David Cronenberg's Cannes Film Festival entry Cosmopolis. Upcoming projects include Mission: Blacklist and The Rover.
Madame Tussauds' Robert Pattinson wax statue image via examiner.com.
Kristen Stewart will be returning as Snow White in the Snow White and the Huntsman sequel planned by Universal, reports the online gossip rag Radar Online. Director Rupert Sanders, however, won't be coming back. (Image: Kristen Stewart Snow White and the Huntsman.)
It's a problem having to rely on a trashy tabloid as a source of news. It's even worse when said tabloid's sources are just that, “a source.” Unidentified. Unnamed. Unknown. Yet, those are sources who know all there is to know about behind-the-scenes goings-on at Universal, and with direct access to the minds of both Rupert Sanders (“Rupert didn't want to be a part of it to begin with because he is desperately still trying to save his marriage…”) and Kristen Stewart (“Kristen is extremely concerned about her acting career…”).
But that hasn't stopped dozens (maybe by now thousands) of online publications from passing on that bit of SWATH-related information as fact.
Of course, it could all (or at least a fraction of it) be true. And in fact, one has to admit that in regard to the Snow White and the Huntsman announcement, the tabloid's report does make sense.
Rupert Sanders movie projects
From the beginning, despite stories to the contrary it seemed absurd that Universal would proceed with a Snow White and the Huntsman sequel minus Snow White. And not that long ago, it was announced that Rupert Sanders might direct a Van Helsing reboot for Universal, starring Tom Cruise in the (not that) old Hugh Jackman role. And not long after that, it was reported that Sanders had signed on to direct the sci-fier The Juliet for Sony Pictures.
Rupert Sanders has only one body. He can't handle pre-production arrangements for and/or be on the set directing three movies at the same time. For Sanders, the Snow White and the Huntsman sequel seemed the most obvious project to get discarded. That way, the director (and Universal) could avoid more tabloid attention to the (apparent) fact that the married Sanders (to model/actress and Snow White mother Liberty Ross) would be reunited with his fellow “cheating scandal” companion Kristen Stewart, who's supposed to be Robert Pattinson's off-screen companion. You get the picture.
Kristen Stewart movie projects
Also regarding Snow White and the Huntsman 2, Kristen Stewart told The Hollywood Reporter: “No one's positive or anything, but I think there's a strong possibility.” We should get some kind of confirmation (or denial) soon.
By the way, Stewart's Breaking Dawn - Part 2 opened this past weekend in more than 60 countries, collecting an astonishing $340.6 million worldwide. Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner co-star. Stewart's next North American release is Walter Salles' On the Road, based on Jack Kerouac's novel, and which opens Dec. 21 – in time for Academy Award consideration. Stewart, who is a potential Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee, co-stars with Garrett Hedlund and Sam Riley.
Kristen Stewart Snow White and the Huntsman photo: Universal Pictures.