Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What's Up With the Super Skinny Demonic Pregnancy in "Breaking Dawn"?

If you have been, say, living in outer space, in some kind of a no-media cult, or simply in possession of particularly discriminating taste, and have not seen the Twilight films, or read Stephanie Meyer’s books, then, before you read this post, I respectfully send you to these superlative examples of feline scholarship otherwise known as the LOL cat reviews of the Twilight films.

For the rest of the population, read on.

A gender studies professor and a religious studies scholar went into a darkened movie theater earlier this fall and saw a film about pseudo-Mormon vampire families, oral demonic C-sections, and baby-werewolf imprinting. No, that’s not a joke, although by the time the film ended, my religious studies professor friend and I kind of wished it was, too. (Now, if you know about Twilight but haven’t seen Breaking Dawn (part 1), or have seen it, but blocked it out with a self-inflicted lobotomy – excellent choice btw, I respectfully send you to this naughty but oh-so-clevah summary of the movie at g4tv.)

Now, plenty has been written about the Mormon influences in the Twilight books, including the juxtaposition of the ‘white and delightsome’ sparkly vampire Cullen family with the indigenous “savage werewolves in need of vampire colonization.” (At the very least, that Jacob kid needs someone to buy him a shirt, already.) And there’s been an equal amount written about Bella as swooning anti-feminist heroine, whose ‘choices’ are more often than not the ‘choice’ to be passive and, um, whiney. (As the LOL cats would say, “Uh-oh. my only raison for to lives, gones. *Mope so sad. I jes stare out windo for thfree monz.”)

Now that Breaking Dawn (parte uno) has finally brought the clumsy but deliciously ensangrinated human Bella (that’s like, something European for ‘beautiful’, did you know that?) and breathtakingly glowy vampire dude Edward (a 107-year-old un-dead guy as your high school biology lab partner, no that’s not creepy at all) to the altar, nuptial bed, and super-disturbing at-home baby delivery table, there has been some wonderful feminist analyses of the essentially anti-choice ‘choice’ rhetoric peppered through the film.

After Bella gets pregnant (‘natch) like the second she says, “I do,” she embraces the “choice” to give birth to her demon spawn – despite Edward, Alice, and every other thinking person in the audience’s urgings to have an abortion. In fact, she employs grumpy blonde Cullen sister Rosalie to serve as a sort of anti-abortion protester cum bodyguard – protecting Bella’s rapidly swelling body from the (sensible) pro-choice machinations of, um, everybody else. Despite looking like she’s a hunger striker with a strapped on baby bump that she stole from the dressing room of “A Pea in the Pod,” Bella is determined to play the dutiful mother-to-be who “loves” her fetal monstrosity far more than herself (even when that love involves delicately sipping human blood through a non-environmentally friendly Styrofoam cup + straw).

Now, the grotesque pregnancy and birth scenes in Breaking Dawn are consistent with recent cultural obsessions with horrible images of pregnancy and birth on television.  Bella’s bun is also consistent with historical notions of “monstrous pregnancies” caused by overworkings of the maternal imagination, as well as the “pregnancy/birth pornography” indulged in by many recent dramas about historical figures. In the words of Bitch Magazine blogger Katherine Don:

For the rest of this blog entry, please go to Adios, Barbie!

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