red-neck werewolves and antediluvian vampires: Eclipse now showing at a theatre near you!

by Jasper on July 13, 2010

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I went to Eclipse for the second time the other day with a great friend, Jocelyn. It was her first time seeing the movie. We met for lunch then smuggled cocktails into the theater for the mid-afternoon showing on a Tuesday. Don’t tell. We both loved it. She wore her homemade “Team Jacob” T-shirt and I wore my “Team Edward” one that she made for me when “New Moon” hit the theatres last year. Except for the names, the shirts are matching. Nice.

Dupont Circle fountain, Washington, D.C.

I like Eclipse best of all the movies. All of that squishy romance between Eddie and Bella really pulls at my heart-strings. Plus the way the movie is filmed seems more interesting and exciting: lots of intensely close close-ups and dramatic wide-angle shots. Wow!

This time through, I was really struck by that small scene when Bells runs away from Eddie and school to hang with Jacob at his garage in La Push. Remember? She climbs onto his motorcycle just before class was to start, leaving Edward behind in the dust. It’s just afterward that shocked me, though I’d already seen it once before and read it several times in the novels. Bella reluctantly tells J. that she intends to become a vampire herself. Jacob’s angry and shouts something like “I’d rather you be dead than become one of them.”

I couldn’t help but remembering hearing that before, in many different ways. This is the cry of someone who cannot come to terms with having a gay/lesbian/trans or otherwise sexually different loved-one. Sure, sure, I know that Bella and Edward are heterosexual. But let’s face facts, he’s a vampire and she’s a human. That’s another kind of sexuality altogether than the “conventional” model: hence, it’s not straight. But really, whose business is that anyway? The couple, that’s who. The others should simply be glad that Bella and Edward found one another, period. So they’re a little different from the ordinary, so what?

The Eclipse film got me so psyched for the wedding scene at the start of Breaking Dawn, that I started re-reading it this week, too. I’d intended only to read the first “Bella” book, but you know how it goes. The story’s so engrossing that I can’t put the thing down. Now in the middle of “Jacob” with Bells just getting better after drinking the O-negative donated blood during her pregnancy, I don’t think that it’s only J. that’s hung up about the famous “differently-sexual” couple.

Initially, Sam is ready to uphold the treaty and even accepts that Bella made an “informed choice” to become a vampire, thus paving the way for an exception to the rule. Jacob can’t handle it and goes off against Sam’s wishes, with a plan to slaughter as many “blood sucker” Cullens as possible. (That “blood sucker” term is pretty loaded, isn’t it? Sounds a lot like that other problem term, “cock sucker,” to me.)

Of course, that whole plan derails when Jacob sees Bells in all her pregnant glory. But Sam and the Pack’s reactions are pretty telling here. Prepared to let Bella go, now they’re convinced that the only solution is to kill “the abomination” to protect themselves, their families and other humans. They recognize that the mother will die, too, but hey, them’s the breaks.

If you ask me, that’s a pretty extreme reaction, based on nothing but fear of difference and the unknown. Putting it more into perspective, this is the same pack of werewolves that successfully destroyed half an army of newborn vampires a mere few months before with only one injury and no casualties. Even had Rensemee turned out to be a ferocious uncontrolled blood-sucking demon child, I think that the wolves probably could have handled it just fine when they were sure about her nature. What’s the rush? There’s no easy way back from murder.

Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, though it permanently severed Jacob from the Pack.

I don’t think that it’s just the hick werewolves that suffer from this myopic vision of permissible sexuality. The Cullens don’t look all that cool here, either. The idea that Edward, the father of the potential monster, immediately assumes that the only option is abortion without even consulting with Bella, and that Carlisle seems to agree speaks volumes. It’s the classic Right-to-Life versus Right-to-Choice debate in reverse: here “Life” becomes “abortion/death” to the fetus. Imagine it! Two guys chat and decide that they’re going to abort some pregnant lady’s kid without her permission. That’s way more than old fashioned; it’s messed up!

It all comes down to issues of choice, but real choices cannot occur without the power necessary to permit them. Should Bella be allowed to choose Edward? Should Edward be allowed to choose Bella? Should Bella be allowed to choose to become a vampire? Should Bella be allowed to choose Renesmee over her health? Turns out these are complex questions that preoccupy much of Breaking Dawn. I’m glad that everything works out in the end (except for poor Leah). But even if it hadn’t, it’s gratifying to believe that groups with power: werewolves, vampires, doctors, sheriffs, mothers and fathers, etc. can find ways of overcoming their personal biases, ignorance and stupidity to let those they care about take meaningful risks in an attempt to find their own paths through life.

Too bad that in the “real world” this doesn’t happen more. But alas, the Twilight Saga, Bella, Edward and Jacob aren’t real. It’s just a fairy tale… or perhaps a guide?

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