porcelainandporcupines

Archive for November 2011

I have said a lot of negative things about Twilight, and its sequels, over the years and, while I regret none of them, there is one thing, one thing that I never mentioned, one thing that those who are familiar only with the movies will discover this weekend when they see Breaking Dawn, one thing that Stephanie Meyer did spectacularly right. I speak, of course, of the scene in which [major spoiler alert! ] Bella gives birth.

I don’t want to get into all of the pros and cons (mostly cons) of a story in which a vampire can father a child; I will, however, on that subject say that Angel, a form of vampiric entertainment superior to Twilight in every way possible, went down that road as well. Rather, it went down it one better, as both Angel and Darla, mother and father, were vampires. And while I loved Connor dearly, it was not because of any strongly held beliefs that the (un)dead should have the same reproductive capabilities as the living, nor because I was interested in the challenges facing vampire parents.*

(Incidentally, I’m not riding the big old zombie wave that I think has probably crested by now, but just in case it hasn’t – when the zombies start having babies, the time about which Kenny Rogers sang so eloquently – the time to fold ’em – has come.)

Connor’s birth was itself spectacular, as it occasioned the total disintegration of his vampire mother (while it was, obviously, raining; that show was so good), but it has nothing on the birth in Breaking Dawn. In Breaking Dawn. . . man, I don’t even know how to explain this; I could try to give some background, but that wouldn’t actually make anything clearer. So I’m just going to say it:

In Breaking Dawn, Edward chews the baby out of Bella.

Let me repeat that: Edward chews the baby out of Bella.

Understand? The love story that apparently has defined a generation culminates in the undead husband CHEWING HIS BABY OUT OF HIS DYING HUMAN WIFE.

Again, it is beyond my capabilities to describe how incredible this scene is, so you’ll have to take my work for it, but it’s phenomenal. And not just because you briefly have hope that Bella might die, but because, in the 2000+ pages of the entire series, this birth scene is the only one that’s appropriately disgusting. Something which no one will read and think “How dreamy; I hope some day I will meet the man who chews our child out of my uterus. With his teeth.” For one brief moment, the reality (such as it is) of this relationship – that Bella has to die to be with Edward, and that he is literally ripping her apart – shines through the romantic gauze, and it is beautiful.

Also, on a visceral level, it’s just gross. I’ve avoided the Twilight movies up to now, mostly because I was afraid of choking on my own rage and Twizzlers, but also in part because there was nothing any filmmaker could bring to the story that you can’t get from the book itself (maybe some lip biting and b.o.). But this birth? I’ve imagined it so many times, I might have to see if it looks like I pictured. Although, even without seeing it, I am already disappointed that they didn’t shoot it in 3-D.

 

*It was because Connor was delightfully psycho. Seriously – that kid caused some trouble.

 

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Earlier this evening, I was walking slightly ahead of two gentlemen when I overheard one ask the other “So is your wife doing a good job…”

I’m going to hold off on revealing the end of that question for just a moment to point out that this? Is a terrible way to ask anyone anything about their spouse. Certainly, it’s a perfectly valid construction when talking about a beloved family pet –  “So, is Oola doing a good job finding the litter box?” – or for anxious parents discussing with a teacher or principal some previous difficulty their child was having -“So, is Johnny doing a good job sharing with the other kindergartners?”

In short, it’s a fine way to phrase a question about someone who is subordinate, or perhaps junior would be a better word, to the person to whom the question is being posed. However, if the relationship between the subject and responder is one of equals, as one would assume a marriage to be, you might want to consider phrasing the question in such a way that it does not require one party to pass judgment on the other, and especially when the judgment is, as it is in this case, only a pass/fail option.

What I find most interesting about a question like this is how much you learn, regardless of the answer, about the person asking it. While you know that I hate to judge strangers, I’m going to have to say that the guy who asked this question sucks as a person. Their previous conversation – a fascinating discussion of the building temperatures at Yale and Harvard; it seems Yale recently completed renovations of ALL of their buildings, while Harvard has only begun – had ended sufficiently for there to be silence. There was no conversational rush that this guy was trying to keep up with; he had adequate time to form the question in a neutral fashion – “How’s your wife doing with,” for example – and the fact that he failed to do so, that even with time to think about it, he still poses a question where one of only two possible outcomes is for a man to say “No, my wife, who I love and with whom I chose to share the rest of my life, totally sucks at . . .”; that his natural instinct is not to avoid boxing in his friend like that? That’s a personality failure on a pretty basic level.

The full question was “So is your wife doing a good job raising the kids together?” That I was not privy to the response is one of the great regrets of my day; the blended-family situation that the husband sounds to have is just the sort of detail that makes a stranger’s conversation worth overhearing. Plus, the poorly phrased things the friend might have said about the children? Those would have have been priceless.

 

(And, for those of you who are curious – Oola has always done a splendid job of finding the litter box, although she could do better keeping all of the litter inside the box. On the other hand, this morning she woke me up by batting me in the face without using her claws, which is far more valuable progress as far as I’m concerned.)


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