Some hard truths: Jennifer Lawrence’s fall at the Oscars (1st time) was fake, and Stephenie Meyer’s new gender-swapped version of Twilight is a bullshit waste of paper and you’d be better off just wiping your ass with the $15 she wants for this awful “reimagining.”
Earlier this week, Meyer, an author with more money than god, announced that she’d be releasing Life and Death, a new version of her 10-year-old hit with characters named Edythe and Beaufort (Bella and Edward but with their genders swapped), fewer grammatical errors, and a tighter mythology. We wondered then what the fuck was going on and whether this was a completely new book or just a director’s cut—a question made even more confusing by the fact that Meyer discussed what the writing process for the book was like (quick and easy, by the way) and the fact that the book was touted as being 442 pages long.
Perhaps because Meyer is a bad writer, no one is buying that her hot new take on Twilight is revolutionary, innovative, or even a good idea. And despite the fact that Meyer said that the gender-swapped version of the book was supposed to combat gender stereotypes, she appears to be enforcing them.
Here’s what Meyer claims she set out to do:
“Now, Bella is Beau and Edward is Edyth. I wanted to do something fun for the 10th anniversary,” the author said during a Tuesday appearance on Good Morning America. “It’s just a love story. It doesn’t matter who’s the boy and who’s the girl, it just works.”
And what happened, via The Daily Beast:
Bella wasn’t exactly a guilty pleasure to read about, but that’s because her adolescent mind is pre-guilt, before she understands that self-consciousness is something you can choose not to feel. In other words, Bella is a teen girl who hasn’t realized her own potential yet. The times Bella spent questioning Edward, demanding more from him, indulging that chip on her shoulder—those moments of self-advocacy felt exciting simply because so much of her inner monologue is so self-defeating.
Meyer doesn’t extend Bella’s male version the same narrative courtesy. Beau’s inner monologue is sometimes embarrassed, but he’s not self-critical. He doesn’t cry, he doesn’t stare in the mirror and inspect his perceived flaws, he doesn’t imagine himself inferior to his superhuman lover with the intensity that Bella imagined herself inferior to Edward. Beau is in every way a less specific and less compelling protagonist than Meyer’s original (not particularly specific, not particularly compelling) Bella, and the reasons for the changes to his persona seem to be exactly the gendered assumptions that got her work criticized in the first place.
Here’s another thing: Meyer has just admitted that the book was “bonus material” that “isn’t a real book,” which is fine, whatever—but she knew this all along. Why not say that when the book dropped on Tuesday? And considering that the book is $15 in hardcover (it does include the original Twilight, which is, again, the same story) and $12.99 in its electronic version, the truth that it was just some fun Meyer had with CTRL-F is actually a pretty important distinction.
Even fans are outraged. That’s based on reviews of the new book on Amazon, 48 percent of which are currently at a one star rating:
I thought it would be a gender-swap, which sounded interesting. I enjoyed Twilight when I was a kid. This, though, is the exact same story, word for word, line for line, with pronouns and names switched. That’s it. It’s hard to read, I can barely get through it, because it’s the SAME story, and I keep getting the characters mixed up in my head because, for example, now Beau is saying the EXACT same things that Bella did, and Edythe is saying the same things Edward did, when I read this novel a thousand times ten years ago. I mean, I knew it was the same story, but I’d hoped it wouldn’t be line for line the same. I was hoping it’s be similar lines, at least, or the same storyline but paraphrased. No paraphrasing at all here. Oh well. Disappointing.
Within the first few pages, the sexism flares and drips from the pages. For example, Charlie is buying the famous Chevy from Billy/Bonnie. Bella/Beau doesn’t know who he/she is and Charlie tells her/him that — and I quote:
Twilight: “He used to go fishing with us during the summer.”
Life and Death: “She and her husband used to go fishing with us during the summer”
And then it just keeps going on when Bella/Beau asks about the year on the truck..
Twilight: “Well, Billy’s done a lot of work on the engine....”
Life and Death: “Well, Bonnie’s had a lot of work done on the engine...”
See the difference?
I thought Stephenie Meyer wanted to DISPEL the sexism that people have linked to her characters, but instead she just removed the sexism from one aspect of the story and shoved it into other parts.
I picked up “Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined” out of curiosity. I had no expectations going in. Knowing what I know now, I have only one question to ask. Why did Stephenie Meyer think this book was a good idea?
I’m not going to lie. I spent a great deal of time peeking through my fingers as I read due to second-hand embarrassment. Stephenie Meyer basically wrote a glorified fan-fiction of her own book.
And keep in mind that these readers are already the most rabid fans in the world, willing to defend Meyer’s paranormal romance until the end of time. Can you imagine how they will turn now that they’ve been betrayed like Jacob was when Bella chose Edward and had his stupid vampire baby? And how will they react when they find out that the books they love were actually written by a demon? Or that Meyer’s success actually has to do with her involvement in The Illuminati? This is what happens when you play with fire, Stephenie Meyer! All the truth comes out!
There’s another thing Meyer’s got working against her: Her fans are now older, wiser, and no longer willing to be taken in as much as they were when they were kids. Therefore, while this book may have totally worked if it had been released shortly after the original—although Life and Death features an ending that doesn’t allow for sequels—no one but the most hardcore completionist is going to buy this thing.
Of course, there are plenty of those fans out there, too. The kind who think that Stephenie Meyer is their friend and that they have a personal connection with her. But she doesn’t give a shit about you. If she did, she would have done something better. What Stephenie Meyer cares about, besides a new world order, is shitloads of money. Good for her, and for no one else.
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Image via AP