Part Five: Bella Swan

You don’t know this about me, but I tend to not like the main female character in like, anything. It’s a joke that Angela and I have. She is well aware of my general dislike of main female characters.

(Not just the women, though. If there’s a protag, Keely goes “grr.”)  

It seems like no matter what I read or watch, they just. . .can’t get female characters right. LIke sometimes they almost got it but then they don’t? Or like it’s inconsistent and it bothers me. (Read: Arrow. Hello. But that’s another blog post for another day. Seriously, it’d be all about the female characters.) 

Now of course there are exceptions to this rule. Like Max from Maximum Ride, Jessica Jones from Netflix’s Jessica Jones and well, any female main character other than Elena in The Vampire Diaries and The Originals (Caroline is awesome. Bonnie is the bomb. Hayley is a badass. And Rebekah is a delight. But in general The Vampire Diaries and The Originals have some great characters, female and male). Of course, I love Wonder Woman and Black Widow. That’s all I can think of right now. 

All this to say that Bella I can’t even dislike as a character because there really isn’t anything to dislike.

Bella Swan

(*eyebrow raise*)

Okay, so . . . .I dislike her. I do. There are teeny, tiny moments where I like her. Mind you, teeny tiny. Miniscule.

In a paper that I once wrote for my class (and that was then published in my university’s nonfiction journal Quills & Pixels) I said that Bella was Mary Sue. But like, the worst kind of Mary Sue. 

Now let me explain something. 

I write like a shit ton of fanfiction. Most of the time, there is a Mary Sue. However, I develop those characters and make them you know, a character. When I create an OC (original character) I make it where that if I was to take this character out of this fandom and put them in an original idea of mine, that character could stand alone. In fact, one of the OCs I created, Hunter Glass, originally was apart of a Batman fanfiction I was writing. I liked her so much, that I decided she was going to be the main character in my original superhero-verse. If the OC or ‘Mary Sue’ has no place in the story, then what’s the point? What do they bring? And that’s how I feel about Bella.

What does she bring to Twilight? What exactly is her purpose?

Bella (and I’m stealing this from another blog post) is a cardboard cut out. She has no personality. At times, you kind of think she does. Her sarcastic quips, though she doesn’t say them outloud, are almost funny. You kind of want more of that. Meyer should’ve drawn on that sarcasm. (Come on, how funny would that be? Eddie would have no idea what to do with a strong, sarcastic independent woman. He’d tuck his tail and be like ‘Omg feminism. What? You’re not a doormat? I can’t allow that.’

Instead, Meyer did not. Bella is bland. She’s like oatmeal. You know, the really shitty, thick, goopy kind that sticks to your spoon and you can’t get off, and no matter how much sugar or butter or whatever you put it in, it still tastes the exact same. Bland and boring. (Wow. Okay, so that was not nice at all. I”d apologize but like, I’m not sorry?)

What if secretly, oatmeal was Edward’s favorite meal as a human and THAT’S why he’s so drawn to her?

I just died. Omg. Seriously. Dying right now. Also snorted. (Angela cackled at my snort.) 

Reading from her POV is terrible

Here’s the thing (again, my catch phrase) Bella is all mopey about moving to Forks with Charlie (who is wonderful and honestly, he deserves better).

(CHARLIE IS THE BEST!) 

He really is. I get through the movies because of Charlie and Jessica.

Anna Kendrick for the win!

She’s a goddess. I love her. Will talk more about her in part six.

Moving to Forks was HER idea. She didn’t have to move to Forks. She could’ve stayed in Arizona (which reminds me of a Tumblr post that said what if Bella never showed up and Twilight is about Charlie who finds out the town doctor is a vampire and his BFF is a shapeshifter. Then it’s about Charlie defending the town with his besties when he’s a human but he’s got a shotgun and all is like ‘I got you, bro.’ I’d read the fuck out of that. 

Back on track). 

The whole moving thing, HER. IDEA. Why are you bitching about it? It was YOUR choice? LIke what the fuck. 

And even if it wasn’t her choice to move, like make the most of it? Moving sucks. I get it. As someone who has moved 17 (18?: 19? Fuck, I don’t know) times in her life, I get it. Being the new girl fucking sucks ass. I was the new girl in sixth grade. Then the new girl again in ninth grade. Then the new girl again junior year. It sucks. AND I went to huge schools. I can’t imagine going to a high school in a small town where everybody knows everybody. 

But you make the most of it. Bella does not. She doesn’t even try to make an effort. She makes decisions based on everyone’s expectations. She agrees with whoever to avoid conflict. When she and Edward start dating, she ignores her friends and is all about Edward. When he comes back after you know, leaving her in the woods, she clings to him and panics when he leaves because he’s become her whole world. Which is a problem. Sure, she at first tries to fight him on the whole seeing Jacob but then she folds. Just like she does when it comes to the whole marriage thing and she becoming a vampire thing.

Now, there are moments, like I said, where she’s not a doormat. LIke when she punches Jake in the face after he kisses her without her consent. That was good. Go you, Bella. 

Now according to Meyer, she wrote Bella in a way that the readers can put themselves in her shoes.

(Oh, I forgot that. Oh, that’s horrifying. I’m gonna try to cut her a little slack in my piece, but I really don’t want to be Bella.)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to put myself in her shoes. Even when I read Twilight as a teenager, I couldn’t relate to her. Reading her angst was painful (and I didn’t think anything could be more painful than that but BOY was I wrong. Bella’s angst has nothing on Edward’s in Midnight Sun. Holy shit.)

(Oh dear lord.)

You have no idea, Angela. Seriously.

(I mean, I did read some of it. Very quickly. More on that later.)

And I feel so bad for Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson because they are not actually bad actors but they got a shit script based on a shit book and like, they had to do what they could with what they were given. . . .which was like nothing, basically.

You can’t play a character when there is no character. You just gotta do what you can with what you have. But we’ll talk more about the movies in part six.

OH. Vampire Bella. 

What a fucking cop-out to have her being like instantly all I have control as a newborn yay me! BITCH NO. That is so lame.

(Suuuuuch a letdown.)

I wanted Bella to struggle as a newborn. I wanted her to kill people and work her ass off to fight her hunger. Instead, we got her being “Oh, I can do this!” And poor Jasper is in the background having a crisis thinking that he’s a freak because he’s struggled with his hunger for a century or so (I think, check me).

(Poor guy.)

No, Jasper, you are not a freak. Bella is. She didn’t struggle at all it seems as a newborn. And I hated it. Especially since they stressed so much that as a newborn vampire, the hunger for blood is overwhelming and everyone slips up. (Except Carlisle? Like what but that’s for part eight on the Cullens.)

(The bloodthirst was literally the entire reason Bella insisted they fuck before she changes. Because she didn’t want to be more overwhelmed by blood than she was by Edward. So she puts her life in danger for sexytime – I’m feeling generous, I’m gonna let her have that one even though I probably shouldn’t lol – and then gets pregnant which nearly gets them all killed. And she barely notices that she’s thirsty? Really?)

OH. And that made me think. . .Did Bella not think about the whole sexy times and how hard

(Heh heh

FTT. I seriously almost said “HA. PUN INTENDED.”)

it would be for Edward? Her being human? Like her blood is supposed to be like crack, right? Sex is all fun and hormones and excitement and junk. Was Bella not at all worried that he’d get lost in the moment and uh, rip out her throat? Just saying. (I mean the guy broke the headboard and ripped several pillows with his teeth. AND she woke up covered in bruises. Like, there was a chance he could’ve ripped out her throat in the heat of the moment.)

Bella had all the potential to be a good, interesting character. . . .if Meyer hadn’t had written her. So here’s to Bella, the girl that could’ve been something. 

My turn.

And, uh. I don’t really have much to say about Bella.

She feels like a missed opportunity. Maybe that’s why we’re so disappointed in her? She could have been anything: witty, brave, headstrong, funny, kind, scathing. Anything. But if she was given any character traits, she couldn’t be a blank slate for reader self-insertion; so she’s none of those things, at least not consistently. The only thing she does consistently is badly misjudge the situation she’s in. And that’s not super fun. (I feel like she never reacts normally to any situation.)

I think one thing Meyer importantly missed in this “anyone can be Bella” is that, if that’s the case, then we want to see Bella/us win or grow or something. Bella doesn’t have an arc because she’s supposed to represent everyone and therefore represents no one. And since Bella is a stand-in for us, that means we don’t have an arc and that’s just so incredibly frustrating.

As far as the writing for Bella goes, not much was done to give her much of a personality, as we’ve said. But as for how we as fans (or anti-fans) viewed her, I don’t think she was given an entirely fair shake.

Twilight was published at a time when it was important to be “one of the guys” or “not like other girls.” Because there was this pervasive but unspoken attitude that girls were not as of much value as boys. And we all want to have value. A lot of girls and young women internalized that and took that to mean that they had to distinguish themselves by hating and shitting on “girly” things – basically anything that a lot of girls liked. “Chick flicks” and YA romance novels very much included in (probably topping) that list. 

This isn’t a judgment on the girls and young women who took on that attitude, on purpose or unconsciously. I was one of those young women. It was a core part of my personality for a while to hate anything seen as feminine. (I had a vendetta against the color pink, y’all.) But looking back it does make me sad. And that attitude is more than a little gross. So I’m glad that it seems to be starting to change. (This next generation, I swear. Y’all are doing good. Things are looking up. Thanks.)

Anyway. Twilight was a YA romance novel and the POV character was a bland teenage girl. Cue the intense hatred. From boys who haven’t read, won’t read, and don’t care about the book. From girls who haven’t read, won’t read, and don’t care about the book. And from girls who read it, too. 

Poor Bella.

Edward doesn’t have a personality, either. He wasn’t universally hated. (Not until the Twilight renaissance when we all started to take a step back and actually think, “Hey, is this okay? Ya know what, I think this isn’t okay.”)

Katniss from The Hunger Games also is written blandly and makes poor life choices. (From what I can remember. Twilight did burn me out on young adult novels for a hot stretch of time, so I sped through The Hunger Games series pretty quick.)

From what I remember, Katniss isn’t so much as bland as more. . . .abrasive? Book wise, she’s not a likeable character. She’s written as intentionally not a likeable character, which is funny since she becomes this symbol. But really, once you think about it, her reasons are pretty selfish. She only cared about herself and her family. Or at least that’s how I remember her in the books. In the movies she’s a bit different.)

But Katniss is lifted up as a paragon of strength. (Which opens a whole new can of worms that we don’t necessarily have to get into right now.)

Bella’s not the best character. There are more well-written, more engaging characters out there. But she didn’t deserve all the hate she got.

Thank you listening! Er, we mean reading. Stay tuned for part six! Yes, part six. There is still plenty more to talk about in this special blog series about Twilight. Until next time!

-A&K

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