An Open Letter to Stephenie Meyer
Oh Stephenie Meyer. Before this past week, I didn’t really think about you all that much. Yeah, I’ll admit, if any of the Twilight movies were on ABC Family, I’d watch for 15 minutes and laugh. Sometimes I’d get sucked in. And on Tumblr, if one of those gifs was floating around showing how much Robert Pattison hated Twilight at the end, or that one with the Twilight dialogue in Harry Potter scenes, I’d giggle. But that’s it. That’s the end of my involvement. You were sort of like a cousin who would show up at family events who I didn’t particularly like, but found vaguely amusing.
Then, Life and Death happened. For those who don’t know, Life and Death is a gender-swapped version of Twilight, which Stephenie Meyer wrote in honor of the 10th Anniversary of Twilight. Instead of Bella and Edward, we have Beaufort and Edythe (not the worst part, trust me). Normally, genderswapping is something I’m 100% here for, but then this article came out, and well, you’ll see.
Stephenie Meyer was super excited to write Life and Death. Why? Well for one thing, gender equality…
Meyer explains in her foreword to the anniversary edition of the novel that she decided to go with the gender bending to underscore her position that Bella isn’t a “damsel in distress” as certain critics have charged. Rather, the author insists, the character is a “human in distress,” or as Meyer calls her, “a normal human being surrounded on all sides by people who are basically superheroes and supervillains.” Meyer also takes issue with the criticism that Bella was “too consumed with her love interest, as if that’s somehow just a girl thing.” The author mentions, too, that Beau is “more OCD” than Bella was and that he’s “totally missing the chip Bella carries around on her shoulder all the time.”
Thank GOD, sexism is OVER. We can all go home. Listen Stephanie Meyer, if you take your weak female character and just swap out the pronouns, you’re not proving that the character is a “human in distress” you’re proving that you’re character is equally shitty as a man. And if your female character is so forgettable that changing her gender has little to no impact on the rest of the story, your character was fundamentally lacking in agency and flawed from the beginning. The gender-bend just highlights those issues.
Why else is Stephene Meyer excited about Life and Death? A way to fix things from the original of course…
According to the foreword, the rewrite allowed her to correct some errors that always bothered her and to re-edit the piece for grammar and word choice issues. She also altered some elements of the mythology for consistency.
Oh yeah, consistency. And grammar. THOSE were the big issues in the original. Hey Stephenie Meyer, I have an idea. You want to be really radical, really forward-thinking? How about the “safe, sane, and consensual” rewrite. How about, the character who’s name begins with a ‘B’ - man, woman, animal, cactus, whatever - says to the character whose name begins with ‘E,’ “Hey I think our relationship is really unhealthy! You don’t get to control what I do! I don’t have to report to you when I want to go somewhere or see someone! I think we need some space!” Now, I haven’t read it, but I’m willing to bet those aren’t changes that were made in the big switcheroo.
Why am I this touchy about this? Because I was 14 years old when I first read Twilight, and hadn’t had a significant other yet, and thank god it was before all the hype of the movies, and thank god I had people who cared about me enough to teach me how relationships were supposed to work. Who taught me that I am worth someone who respects me and treats me like a person, and not an object. It terrifies me that there is a whole generation of teenagers and young adults who grew up reading and watching Twilight without that positive influence. And (to my knowledge) nothing has been said by you, Stephenie Meyer, about the unhealthy aspects of their relationship, and here you have the chance to fix it and you go with Beaufort instead.
But hey, at least the memes will be funny.