I got some beading elastic, fake fur and pompoms last night. New developments in decora include elastic bracelets made of small glass beads and FURRY LEGWARMERS WITH POMPOMS!!!! The more that I photograph Frank in this style, the more I see how its loud, bright flourishes of pattern and color are perfect for his flamboyant, cheerful personality. I fear it will be difficult to pry the clothes away from him when Zinnia Pascale arrives….Continue reading Decora V: Am I tacky yet?
Following Andrea’s advice to eschew unpatterned solids, I removed the white arm sleeves, pink stockings and red pleather vest. Now the stockings are multi-colored stripes. The vest is purple with silver glittery spots. I subbed the origami choker for a ruby/diamond ring and a lock pendant with rhinestones. Still to do: Make hair doo-dads. Make eyepatch [as Zinnia Pascale is missing an eye]. Make one earring [or two, depending on how many ears she has].
Continue reading Decora four-a: more stripes! More glitter!
Medicom is releasing a 1:6 version of River Phoenix as Young Indiana Jones. He looks like Will, but I’m not sure how much because, the last time I thought a doll looked like Will, its head ended up being too fat [HT Leon S. Kennedy].
My fantastically fascinating essay about zombies in modern pop culture continues, trying to find out why we think zombies are so rockin’ awesome. Parts I and II looked at political parallels between us and zombies, while part III looked at the links between the administrative industry and zombiehood. None of these aforementioned theories about the prevalence of zombies are my original ideas, but I do have some speculation of my own about the origins of our collective zombiephilia.
This is my interpretation: Part of the reason we like zombies so much is that, as portrayed in modern pop media, they are extreme vampires. They are perfectly modern monsters in that they threaten humans at the essential seat of their humanity — the brain — thus updating the cannibalistic implications of the vampire for our current scientific state of knowledge.
Continue reading “Things are okay, except that I’m a zombie now”: the ubiquity of zombies IV
Yay! I love centaurs. They are one of my favorite therianthropic creatures. Here’s one shilling for Old Spice Double Impact body wash. Watch the commercial on YouTube, and see a screencap below.
Continue reading Old Spice ad: centaur shills body wash
I don’t think so. I think I need ribbon and seed beads for hair doo-dads. Made some more origami bracelets and sewed the flowers onto the vest and the belt. They remind me of squirty flowers for clowns.Continue reading Decora III: are there enough patterns at work in this outfit?
In the past two sections, I’ve been answering the question: Why are zombies so popular here and now?? Section 1 proposed that they are a good metaphor for biological terrorism, while section 2 noted that zombies are perfect metaphors for the American climate of fear and recent governmental hawkishness. Section 3 looks at zombies as embodiments of the white-collar workplace.
I’m exploring the current trendiness of zombies. In a previous section of this essay, I proposed one reason for their current prevalence: They are great metaphors for biological warfare, about which the American populace has been pretty freaked ever since 2001. There are more interesting thematic currents in the zombie bloodstream, though…
Related to my first reason, zombies may also be so popular because people perceive them as an accurate metaphor for the general mental state of the populace: one of loose-brained anxiety. Continue reading “I’ll report back to my colleagues who are chewing on the door”: why zombies are so awesome part II
I’ve been singing Jonathan Coulton’s "Re: Your Brains" for the past few days as I wait for Zinnia Pascale [who shipped today!] and contemplate the intriguing question: Why are zombies so prevalent in pop culture right now?
Zombies are everywhere these days, especially as of the last decade and a half. The Resident Evil video game debuted in 1996, soon spawning a series of both games and films [2002, 2004, 2007] in which impossibly sexy people fight zombies. Combining both the contemporary vogue for cannibalistic undead and how-to manuals, Max Brook’s Zombie Survival Guide appeared in 2003. In 2004, there was a remake of the classic zombie flick Dawn of the Dead, as well as an homage ["hommidge"], Shaun of the Dead. In 2005, as this blog entry notes, flash mobs with people dressed up as zombies were all the rage, a statement supported by San Francisco Zombie Mob, a similar performance project that began in the same year. The aforementioned song by Jonathan Coulton linking brain-sucking cubicle hell and zombiehood, "Re: Your Brains," was composed in 2006 and quickly gained massive Internet popularity. In 2007, Sideshow Toy, a company that produces fantasy/sci-fi movie and TV collectibles, even started its own original line of 12" figures, The Dead [whence Zinnia Pascale]. The stereotypical zombie cry of "Braaaaaaaains!" has now so saturated the general consciousness that it’s even been parodied with this 2008 T-shirt design by Dennis Culver, in which a "vegan zombie" is saying, "Graaaaaains." I’m not going to even touch on the limitless Web presence of the brains-hungry undead in many Web comics, sites, YouTube videos, etc. They’re ubiquitous.
"Vegan Zombie" by Dennis Culver
…But why? There are many possible reasons:
1. With biological war on the minds of the U.S. citizenry ever since 2001 and the anthrax scare, zombies are an appropriate metaphor for this biologically based contagion. Like biological weapons, zombies deal death in a manner that could easily be attributed to other causes. ["Why did all the cows die?" / "Oh, maybe they’re just sick, or they drank from that nasty creek down the road."] Because the effects of zombies can be mistakenly assigned to other causes, zombies, like biological weapons, may easily catch targets by surprise, spreading their damage much further than the targets suspect.
EDIT: Section 2 is here.
A post at Sociological Images about the gendering of sperm and egg in popular media got me thinking. I just saw the “brave little sperm” trope on an episode of Family Guy this Monday. Stewie, the hyper-intelligent, destructive, child genius, was celebrating his first birthday. He reminisced about his life in the womb and before, when he was apparently a tiny pilot in a sperm-shaped aircraft [see YouTube clip].
Stewie’s flashback showed him piloting his sperm ship toward the egg and firing at it in a scene reminiscent of the scene in Star Wars where Luke tries to explode the Death Star. He think thinks about being sucked in and “trapped” inside the egg. The relationship between sperm and egg is shown as adversarial, the egg evil, hungry and encompassing, not unlike a vagina dentata.
Of course, this flashback occurs in the context of a cartoon in which everything is supposed to be exaggerated and humorous. However, the fact remains that the humorous exaggeration is presented with gratuitous violence and misogyny. You might argue that violence and misogyny are part of Stewie’s character, which they are, but the flashback does not develop Stewie’s violence and misogyny in a way peculiar to his personality. Instead it just recycles wholesale a tired, sexist cliche about human reproduction.
And this is just one of many reasons that I hate Family Guy.
Frank models the latest in 1:6 decora duds in the absence of their true owner, Zinnia Pascale, who is in the mail [woohoo!]. Changes include a new skirt, bracelets and choker out of origami paper and the felt zinnia belt buckle that I was talking about [currently attached with a pin because I don’t want to sew it just yet]. I still need some more hair doodads [to be made when I actually get Zinnia Pascale] and some decoration for the backpack. Maybe something cute and dead…
Thanks to humorist Dave Barry, we are all aware that the Hillman Minx is one of the silliest cars in existence. The hilarity ratchets up a notch when you look back on this ad from a time not so long ago  when the first meaning of “gay” was NOT “homosexual.”
1. “Definitely” is frequently misspelled “definately.” Yeah, that’s how people pronounce it, but it’s wrong.
2. “Who’s” != “Whose.” “Who’s” = “Who is” or “Who has.” “Whose” is the possessive form, meaning “belonging to whom.”
Whose bringing the cupcakes? WRONG.
Whose turn is it to bring cupcakes? RIGHT.
Who’s bringing the cupcakes? RIGHT.
Who’s turn is it to bring cupcakes? WRONG AAAAAAARRRRRRRRGH.
After my decora zombie told me yesterday that her name was Zinnia Pascale, I went to see what zinnias actually look like. Some of them have very bold, rich colors. I think I’m going to reproduce this one, for example, on Zinnia’s belt buckle. Zinnia turned out to be a much more appropriate name than I expected!
EDIT: I’m going to make her belt buckle out of felt, I think, and her bracelets out of some origami paper. The origami paper has different complicated patterns on each side that will contribute to the cacophony of Zinnia Pascale’s outfit.
I am pleased to note that the headsculpt that comes with Triad’s Lola also appears in the much cheaper Caucasian Otaku fig. Since the Otaku is $30 without shipping, I’ll be picking up her, rather than Lola. As much as I like short skirts, all I really want is that headsculpt.
Frank shows everyone what a Fruit[s] he is by helpfully wearing my decora outfit while I go get a zombie to put in it. Please note that the outfit is a work in progress; I still have to add a belt [craft foam?], various felt or craft foam hair decorations [hearts, teddy bears, kitties, smiley faces, etc.], a purse in the form of a stuffed animal and FUZZY LEGWARMERS!!! That said, I think it looks pretty damn good for having been scrounged entirely from my drawers of spare clothes.
1. “Homage” is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable [“hommidge” or “ommidge”], not the second [“home aaaazh” or “ome aaaazh”]. I don’t care how it’s pronounced in French; now that it’s Anglicized, its pronunciation is too.
2. “Unique” does not mean “unusual,” “really cool” or “rare.” “Unique” means “one of a kind.” Its Latin root, “uni-,” means “one,” for God’s sake! While unique things may be unusual, really cool and/or rare, things that are rare, unusual and/or really cool are not necessarily unique…only if one of them exists in the whole universe.
A Fruits zombie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
EDIT: Technically, a decora zombie.
Fuzzy legwarmers, patterned skirts in layers, stripey socks, hair full of barettes and clips, T-shirts with cartoon characters, purses and backpacks with cartoon animals and Very! Bright! Pink!
I’m usually not much for the kawaii aesthetic, but I must admit that this heart pendant filled with rainbow sprinkles is incredibly cool. I would get it and wear it forever and ever, but I’m already wearing a heart pendant from my wife. <3
Up in Vermont, Anneka, Will, Anneka’s parents and Anneka’s sort-of grandmother visit her dying grandma, Minerva, in the nursing home. http://oddpla.net/lhf/?p=45
La La A Go Go has a whole Flickr set of beautiful repros of 1960s Barbie ads! More later after I flick through them…
This weekend, I returned to one of my guilty pleasures, the glamorous, cliched, convoluted and opaque BBC series Hex [2005-2007]. This gorgeous trash heap of magic + soft-core porn features fallen angels, lesbian ghosts, witch burning, time traveling, demons in the guise of priests, kinky nurse fairies, blah blah blah, all taking place on the isolated grounds of Medenham Hall, a boarding school populated by 6 sexy students, 2 or 3 teachers and gallons of moody mist.
Anyway, one of the tired plot devices trotted out by Hex is that of the fast-forward Jesus baby. As the result of a Divine Screw between a supernatural male and an ordinary female, the fast-forward Jesus baby develops alarmingly fast from conception to birth. Continue reading Enough with the fast-forward Jesus babies!!
I’ve been fascinated by the Salem witchcraft trials for decades. It’s one of the few widely recognized events of American history in which girls and young women were pivotal actors. It’s also one of the few places in early American history where we can hear the voices of girls and women, in their accusations, depositions, confessions, wills and apologies. When I was the age of the afflicted girls, I read with fascination about the mysterious and destructive behavior exhibited by girls who were my age 300 years ago. The primary source documents gave me a vivid sample of their speech and thoughts, while still leaving me with the major question of WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?
Besides the girls, one of the most interesting people involved with the trials was, in my mind, Tituba Indian. A slave of Samuel Parris, father to one of the afflicted girls, Betty Parris, Tituba was one of the first people accused of witchcraft. [Her husband, John Indian, was also eventually accused.] Tituba eventually confessed, and her confession contributed to the widening of the witch hunt. Though very little is known about her, 19th-century historiography made her out to be a black slave whose weird foreign magic of fortune-telling corrupted the afflicted girls and contributed to their weak minds. However, the 19th-century historiography is tinged with racist bullshit, so there hasn’t been much serious investigation of Tituba’s history outside of the trails…
…Until recently. Elaine Breslaw’s Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem Village, shows the author’s fascinating historical archeology and reconstruction of Tituba’s life. Breslaw makes a pretty convincing case that Tituba grew up on a Barbadian sugar plantation surrounded by a cultural melange of African [slave], Native Caribbean [also slave] and English [colonial] perspectives. This cultural mixture influenced the images she used in her confession. Breslaw’s book, full of historical context, argues that Tituba evinced savvy self-preservation skills in her legal statements. And, awesomely enough, the book is HERE on Google books for me to poke through and reread.
For some reason, worthy of another entry, my interest in the Salem witch trials dovetails with my interest in vampires. Even in the earliest days of LHF, I always imagined that there were vampires running around up in Salem who had been witness to, if not participants in, the witch trials. In fact, the leader of one of Salem’s clans, Ethan Stuart [entirely fictional], will play a central role in an upcoming season. Ethan was only a witness to the trials, not a participant.
I think I’m gonna make Tituba a vampire and a character in LHF. 😀 😀 In fact, I’m working on it now.
Well, Sabik’s pending. The buyer is paying for him in money and commissioned clothes for 1:6 dolls. I’m currently brainstorming a list of horrors in which to clothe Anneka, Will and their groupies.
We frequent several grocery stores within walking distance of our apartment: a Whole Foods [for produce], a Trader Joe’s [for frozen food], a local co-op [for milk and quick trips and a Shaw’s/Star Market [for prepared foods and to recycle bottles and plastic bags]. All of these stores sell reusable cloth shopping bags, which we use about 75% of the time. But only Whole Foods sells the reusable bags that piss me off.
As shown in this online store, the annoying reusable bags are bright yellow with the following message on them: I’M SAVING THE PLANET. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
This conspicuous, confrontational environmentalism pisses me off because its point is not just to “save a tree,” but also to “look fashionable while doing it” [quote from organize.com]. I have a problem with pro forma environmentalism where the appearance of environmentalism matters more than actual actions, as is the case with this bag. The text on the bag equates “saving the planet” with using this particular bag or, by extension, making a show of one’s environmentalism.
Furthermore and much more problematically, the implied contrast between the owner who is “saving the planet” and the audience who is being interrogated suggests that the audience is not doing anything to save the planet. The audience may be doing environmentally conscious activities in other areas of life; or the audience may have mitigating factors that prevent them from spending extra money in order to flaunt their environmentalism like white urban bourgeois hipsters. The bag will not admit of these possibilities. In the limited calculus of the bag, bag = saving the planet = cool. No bag = harming Mother Earth = evil. At first this bag seems like a minor irritant, but it’s actually an explosive mess of classist [and possibly racist] assumptions.
From Duke University’s Ad*Access, a digital collection of many ads from the 20th century, comes a 1950 ad for Zonite vaginal douche. Playing directly on fears of ostracism, the ad warns that dire consequences will befall those women who do not douche: “homes broken up, few social invitations, the feeling of being shunned without knowing WHY!” Beware, ladies — heterosexual HELL will be yours unless you harass your vaginal canals with a liquid that removes the self-cleaning mucous secretions of the canal walls themselves and leaves you susceptible to infections. Your husband won’t want to have sex with you; no one will even want to talk to you; society will collapse, and it will all be YOUR FAULT.
The entire back catalog of Jump Cut, an analysis mag of pop culture, is online. Ooooooh.
Leonard Sax argues that the great popularity of the Twilight series among hetero women <25 constitutes proof that we should abandon the ridiculous feminist ideal that men and women should be treated equally. He says:
The fascination that romance holds for many girls is not a mere social construct; it derives from something deeper.
And what is this “deeper” something? It’s an essentialized gender binary in which women are passive, cuddly and nurturing and men are aggressive, violent and death-dealing.
So basically his argument is that girls still like Twilight because they are biologically programmed to like it; ergo, feminism has failed.
The huge amount of interest in the Twilight books demonstrates only that romance is popular; it does not demonstrate the reasons behind the popularity. Sax’ conclusions of romance as biologically innate and feminism as a stupid failure represent unwarranted leaps of logic. In fact, I could just as easily argue that the popularity of the Twilight series rests on the culturally constructed assumptions that the target readers — hetero girls — are expected and environmentally conditioned to like romance.
Some people should actually learn how to formulate coherent thoughts before they’re allowed to write for public consumption. :p
In another one of his flashbacks triggered by being around Anneka’s dying grandmother, Will remembers the time over 100 years ago when his old girlfriend, Absinthe, tried to vamp him. http://oddpla.net/lhf/?p=44
Rori spreads gossip about the vamp vs. robot fight. http://oddpla.net/lhf/?p=43
I was reviewing LHF 1.0 and recent eps of LHF done with my crappy digicam. I realized that, while the stories and lay-out hold up well over time, the poor quality of the photos is glaringly obvious. Therefore, I need a new camera. I am now considering the following:
Canon Power Shot S series
Kodak Easy Share Z series
Basically I’m looking for a camera that takes good pictures in a variety of lights, has stupendous zoom powers, runs on non-proprietary batteries, has image stabilization and costs <$200.
EDIT: Kodak Z712 is looking attractive right now.
Will discovers how hard it is to meet Anneka’s family. Eeeeee! http://oddpla.net/lhf/?p=37
Tonner’s Alice in Wonderland doll runs 11″, and she has some perfect choices for 1:6 Little Will’s clothes. Classic Alice is always an option, but I’m particularly keen on Victorian Stripes. I wonder if Tonner’s clothes for their 12″ dolls [Marley, Alice, etc.] would fit 1:6ers?
NOTE: The always awesome Agnes Dreary line has 2 dolls of ~12″: Agnes and Victor. Grargh I wish I knew if their clothes fit 1:6ers!
Disastrous photos of houses for sale now have their own blog, a la Cake Wrecks. “Run bathtub RUN!” I’m snickering out loud at work.
“I didn’t dream that you would construe the way I feel about what I did to you to mean that last night wasn’t…well, the best night of my existence.”
1. Absolutely nobody talks like this. There are way, way too many dependent clauses there. A much more likely way of phrasing the same sentiment is this: “I didn’t think you’d assume that my guilt about last night meant that I didn’t have fun.”
2. Not only is this sentence unrealistic, it’s also way too verbose. Sentences like this appear on every page, which is why the book is ~730 pages, instead of ~300.
3. Edward is an idiot for even thinking this way. To put it simply, after nookie, he is angry with himself, guilty and angry at Bella. Such negative feelings would make any onlooker think that he did not enjoy himself. Edward cannot apparently see how the world at large might interpret his actions. He has a frightening lack of empathy, which may explain why he does such violent and objectifying things to Bella.
In a 2007 Q&A in Alpharetta, GA, Stephenie Meyer addressed the possibility of Edward being
a grade A douchenozzle an abuser. Meyer’s response, transcribed below, illuminates her deluded perceptions of her characters and her dysfunctional relationship toward her fictional products. My comments are in regular face type.
Question 12: There’s been some speculation on the internet….. about Edward being an abusive boyfriend….. ?
Because he IS!
Meyer: Yeah, yeah, OK. There’s a lot of stuff online that has, honestly, broken my heart recently. It is difficult to read things that take such a negative spin on something that is very personal and also makes a lot of sense inside your head.
Translation: “Cogent analyses hurt my feewings. I also don’t care if the readers think that Edward makes no sense because…well, he makes sense in my head, and that’s all that matters. I spit upon readers and their demands for narrative coherency!”
I think it’s, I have a hard time with that one because to me you have this kid, sure, he’s a hundred and something, but at the same time he’s also seventeen and it’s the first time he’s been in love. And he fully recognizes that he does things wrong, he’s very aware of that.
A repentant dude who confiscates your keys because he doesn’t want you going anywhere is still a dude who confiscates your keys. Just because a jealous, possessive emotional wreck recognizes his mistakes does not absolve him of his past stupidity.
Edward at the beginning of Eclipse goes too far one direction. In the middle he’s like, I’m screwing this up, I’m doing this wrong, I’m not being fair. He goes too far in the other direction. He never quite finds the balance because he’s so black or white about everything. But he has only the best of intentions pretty much at all times, and to think of him as either mean or controlling or having any kind of neg- wanting to impact Bella’s life in a negative way is really not how his character is.
Good intentions do not justify jealous, possessive, irrational, controlling behaviors.
On the other hand I get the same thing about Jacob, where he’s too pushy and he’s too physical and he’s causing all these problems.
“Too pushy” and “too physical” are the most pathetic euphemisms for “sexual assault.” Remember — this character kisses Bella against her will. That’s sexual assault, dudes.
And I don’t think people realize quite the layer, the level of desperation that he’s at. He’s not desperate to make Bella fall in love with him, I mean, that would be an excellent perk. He is desperate to save her life, and if you saw your best friend teetering on the edge of the fifth story of the building, playing with the balcony, you would reach up and yank their arm, even if it would hurt them, because you were trying to save them. And Jacob really is kind of past rationality at that point.
Translation: “Give Jacob a break. He is so worried about Bella that he can’t think straight. He practically forces himself on her precisely because he is so concerned about her.”
This weak justification reminds me of a common “reason” rapists give for assaulting their victims: “Oh, it was for his/her own good. I was doing him/her a favor because he/she is never going to get any otherwise.”
So I think that people sometimes will go out looking for the negative when really if they gave them the right intentions, I think they are understanding characters better.
I don’t care what the characters’ intentions were; both Edward’s and Jacob’s behaviors indicate abusive personalities. Their intent and their creator’s intent does not sway my interpretation of their actions.
Amanda Bussell nails the silliness of Twilight. Please note Edward’s completely angular and impenetrable constipation and Bella’s googly brainlessness.
Jesus, there’s an entire Twilight Sucks Web site.
For more mordant humor, look into her Headtrip manga-style cartoon about teenaged girls with sarcastic senses of humor. I enjoy the one-off jokes with recurring characters.
It came from the thrift store. This LJ comm of user contributions perennially provides laughs and gasps.
Messy purple buns in hair, gloriously mismatching and patterned clothes, inset eyes and highly articulated body = pretty cool. Available [currently as preorder] at Valley of the Dolls. Must…resist…temptation to get dolls that I do not have designated personalities for…Continue reading Another doll I have a crush on: J-Doll Picasso Street East!
She reminds me of Velvette. I think they share the same VitC sculpt.
EDIT: As Andrea says, Velvette [Mbili Barbie] and Kwanzaa Barbie share the same headsculpt, which is named after its first appearance, Mbili. As far as I know, only 3 Barbies have been produced with the Mbili sculpt: Mbili, Princess of South Africa and Kwanzaa. Too bad, as she is my favorite.
Here’s Cory. She’s my cute manananggal with no fashion sense whatsoever, just like most of my characters. I want a 1:6 doll of her. Does anyone have any suggestions for what head I could use? Restrictions: I’d like something easily obtainable, preferably something that is currently being sold and not too expensive [<$100 for an entire doll]. Because she’s so stylized [long pointy face, full lips, tilted eyes], I think an anime doll might be the best bet.
otahyoni has a biting [hah!] parody here. It’s gloriously silly if you haven’t read the book and even better if you have. Thanks to roxyk630 for pointing it out.
Warning: Not for insecure Twilight twits. [And by “twits” I mean those unreasonable fans who think that critical reviews of Breaking Dawn are a betrayal to Stephenie, or that people shouldn’t take the Twilight Saga seriously as an object of literary analysis.]
After viewing these lusciously detailed 1:6 [and other small-scale] sets by Mick Balte, I realize that I need a better camera with super-zoom capabilities to truly do justice to all the dramatic shots I wish to put in my comics.
Involving Mark Twain, Satan, mini version of creation and the Angel of Death. Endearing models of characters, very creepy storyline.
Four-panel gag strips often imagine futures or alternate jobs for well-known fictional characters. Obviously drawn by a heterosexual white male obsessed with sex. Other than that, amusing. I’d link to the one about “Why There Are No Child News Anchors,” but the %&@#% site won’t let me link to specific comics.
Pippilotta reads bad vampire fiction! Anneka gets naked! Good times for all! [This is one with the dolls in it!]
All right, I've fired my first salvo: to wit, Breaking Dawn breaks rules of good fiction by being inconsistent with the logic established in earlier books. Now my second reason for despising Breaking Dawn shall be detailed here. As I mentioned earlier, I find Breaking Dawn "philosophically objectionable."
Part I is here.
Okay, I’ve argued that Breaking Dawn is structurally flawed, for which I loathe it deeply. More serious, however, is its thematic bankruptcy, for which I find it philosophically objectionable. To all those twits who read this review and criticize me for taking a mere teen romance too seriously, let me tell you something:
You may perceive the mass media that you consume as trivial and insubstantial. However, encoded into every song you play, every TV show you watch, every video game you play, every book you read, every toy you play with and even every article of clothing you wear are the maker’s assumptions about what kind of person you are, what kind of person you want to be and what kind of person you should be. If you buy certain products, you buy certain assumptions.
If you want a quick example of these assumptions, take a look in a toy store. You will immediately see two sections, segregated by color. The blue section is for boys, while the pink section is for girls. The blue section contains cars, trucks, airplanes, tanks and war machines because the manufacturers assume that obviously boys will like mechanical things that go fast and crush other mechanical things. The blue section also contains action figures of muscular wrestlers, deformed monsters and superheroes because the manufacturers assume that boys like strong characters who are powerful.
By contrast, the pink section contains many stuffed animals, usually of baby animals, usually in pastel colors. The manufacturers assume that girls like to nurture soft cuddly things. The pink section also contains dolls of scantily clad, glitter-covered female figures with proportions that no actual person has. The manufacturers assume that girls like to play with clothes and make-up. See the contrasting assumptions about boys and girls in action with these photos of gendered T-shirts at a Disney theme park.
But boys don’t always like what’s in the blue section, just as girls don’t always like what’s in the pink section. The manufacturers’ assumptions that segregate girls and boys into blue and pink aren’t universally true. But the assumptions themselves are universal; you will see the pink vs. blue toy aisles everywhere around the world. Everywhere around the world, boys and girls look at the toy aisles and learn that boys must be strong, aggressive, muscular, warlike and interested in mechanical things. Meanwhile, girls must be soft, delicate, cuddly and interested in fashion.
These are not trivial or insubstantial assumptions. These assumptions contribute to inequality between men and women on many different levels. For example, because women are widely believed to be smaller, weaker and less aggressive than men, they aren’t allowed into direct combat in many nations’ armed services. Because men are widely believed to be more aggressive, ambitious and higher-achieving than women, women only earn about 75c for every dollar that men earn [at least in the U.S. workforce].
I could go on, but then I would be diverging from my point, which is this: If you think Breaking Dawn is a book that does not deserve serious analytical attention, you are wrong. Even pop cultural phenomena are worthy of criticism because, just like every other product of modern media, contain assumptions about who its consumers should be. A close examination of these assumptions is necessary, especially for girls and women, so that we can be intelligent and observant members of a society that frequently discriminates against us.
Part III is in the works. EDIT: Part III is here.
So, just in case you couldn’t tell from my capsule reaction last night, I deem Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer the worst book in a horrible series. I have two major reasons for calling Breaking Dawn the turd of the series.
First, Meyer disregards the structure and rules of her fictional universe in the service of a “happy ending.” Second and much more disturbing to me, Meyer uses the device of Bella’s pregnancy to evacuate Bella of all personality and subjectivity, thus making the misogynist, anti-feminist project of the Twilight Saga clear.
So one of the reasons Breaking Dawn breaks down is that Bella and Edward’s baby-making explodes the rules of the fictional universe constructed in the first three books. In Twilight, Eclipse and New Moon, vampiric characters are not fertile because Meyer is very clear that they possess no bodily secretions. No sweat, no tears, no snot — do I need to go on? In case you need quotes to back me up, the authors of fan site the Twilight Lexicon have apparently corresponded personally with Meyer on this subject, and she explicitly says, “Most human fluids are absent…”
Yes, but she doesn’t explicitly say that Twilight vampires are sterile, you point out. Actually, she does when she says that a female vampire lacks “any kind of ovulation cycle.” Yes, but she never actually says that male Twilight vamps DON’T have functioning sperm, you say. It is true that Meyer does not ever state that Twilight vamps LACK functioning sperm. However, the statement that “most human fluids are absent” in Twilight vamps strongly suggests that they have no functioning reproductive systems. Furthermore, the specific information about the sterility of female Twilight vamps makes it clear that they LACK functioning eggs, from which it is very easy to conclude that male Twilight vamps lack functioning sperm. Therefore, the argument that Meyer left open the possibility of thriving male vampire sperm is an extremely weak and untenable one. [I can’t believe I’m writing this absurd line of argument.]
But don’t believe the author’s explanations in this matter of vampire fertility. Look at how the characters themselves behave: as if they are infertile. In fact, Edward, who doesn’t want to vamp Bella lest he deprive her of the opportunity of having babies, believes both male and female vamps are sterile. No one, not even his learned doctor “daddy” Carlisle, disagrees. That is, all the Cullen vamps believe that Twilight vamps are sterile because, as Meyer clearly shows throughout the series and in ancillary clarification, THEY ARE.
Meyer’s logical consistency and world-building go out the window, then, when Bella and Edward go against everything we’ve been taught about Twilight vamp fertility and HAVE A BABY. I wouldn’t mind them having a baby so much if Meyer could do some creative retconning that would successfully explain the Cullen kid in the context of the Twilight world. However, Meyer obviously prevented human/vampire babies from ever believably occurring in her fictional universe. Therefore, the only way that she could introduce one was through hand-waving, or an unexplained plot hole. It’s frustrating enough that Meyer destroys her fictional world’s consistency by tossing some vampire spawn into the mix. It’s beyond frustrating and, indeed, rather insulting, when she doesn’t even try to explain the existence of said spawn. Instead, she seems to think that readers will be so enraptured at the prospect of a precocious, darling, irresistible love child between Bella and Edward that they will not notice that the love child is an offense to the rules of successful fiction.
…and I would just like to say that it didn’t just jump the shark. Instead, it jumped an entire fleet of sharks, while shooting fireworks and kazoos out its ass. Then it pulverized the sharks, crashed into an oil tanker and set the resultant spill ablaze, choking the world’s entire population of seagulls to death with its smoke. Immediately afterward, it reached land, where it pulverized and shat out Gozilla AND Mecha-Godzilla. At last sight, it was lurching toward the New England Aquarium, intent on fusing together a tankful of innocent sand sharks into one unholy cartilaginous sea monster, with which it was somehow hoping to scale the exosphere, hop over the Oort Cloud and land in the vicinity of Antares.
…that the Loch Ness Monster is involved in Breaking Dawn. Wow. If that’s the case, I might need to actually purchase a copy of this train wreck for my very own, instead of just signing it out from the library.
Last time I wrote about the Twilight series, I elaborated about two types of fictional universes. In the multiplicative type, the inventiveness moves outward from its source, creating more characters, more locales, more magical powers, more spells, more generations. Multiplicative universes are immersive by virtue of their breadth; the sheer variety of their many elements makes them seem like small parts of the actual, teeming world.
The other type of fictional universe is the reductive. The inventiveness here moves inward from its source or focus. There are few characters, few locales. In fact, there are usually only 2 or 3 characters and 2 settings at the most. Reductive universes are immersive by virtue of their depth. They go deeper and deeper into the psychological twists of the small cast until readers feel as if they really know the cast members.
Anyway, those media outlets that compare Twilight with Harry Potter miss key differences between the franchises.
1. Twilight is infinitely worse in quality compared to Harry Potter, although Harry Potter itself is merely good. It is not GREAT.
2. The Harry Potter series transcends age, class, sex and race in its appeal. The Twilight saga appeals 95% to white bourgeois females between the ages of 9-29.
3. The Harry Potter series has a multiplicative universe. The Twilight series has a reductive universe. It’s also a poorly done reductive universe in which the exclusive focus on Bella and Edward does not reward such scrutiny. Reductive universes work best when they have something interesting at their heart, say, a pair of characters that it’s worth staring at for 200 pages. Vera Nazarian’s Duke in His Castle provides a strong example. Tragically, Edward and Bella are not worth staring at for 200 pages, much less 2. All the reader sees when he/she stares at them for 2 or 20 or 200 or even 2000 pages is an endless cycle of mood swings.
To write in the overwrought style of my 11-year-old self, here is the experience of reading the Twilight Saga:
love! hatred! turmoil! bad hair days!
ambivalence! pathetically repressed sexual tension! pain!
the moods of the
kind of like that “chewable” calcium pill i tried to swallow
2 days ago
but i didn’t chew it
so it went
d k UP!
n and then b
until my gag reflex finally !!!!WON!!!!
and i projectile vomited pppp–ttt–oooooo–eeeeeee–yyyyyyyyyy across the bathroom
& hurked it on to the bath mat
& it was STILL INTACT.
i am never EVEREVER eating those calcium chews again.