Sunday, August 10, 2008

In Which Someone Calls Twilight Racist

Alisa Valdes Rodriguez, author of Haters, is raising some sizzlin' heat over on her blog about the supposed underlying racist messages in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. The offending claims can be found by clicking here.

I suppose her post is trying to convince people of this, but having read it, the only thing I'm convinced of is that Ms Rodriguez might benefit from checking her chess facts and using a more abstract approach to her reasoning.

#1: Is Stephenie Meyer A Racist? kicks off with a picture of Breaking Dawn captioned by:

(A white King, and a red pawn, on the cover of Meyer's latest book)

And so my skepticism commences. Anyone with minimal chess knowledge, even a mediocre player like myself who gets vanquished under the comparably-superior skills of seven-year-olds (true story), knows the white piece on Meyer's cover is that of a QUEEN.

I mean, really. There's a wiki article on this and everything.

#2: I must question Ms Rodriguez's readership of this series.

Of primary concern for me is the treatment of Meyer’s main Native American character, Jacob Black. He is presented initially as a sweet, normal teen boy from the Paiute Reservation,

The Paiutes are located in Utah. Jacob's in La Push, Washington. Unless Utah and Washington decided to get married and relocate nearer each other, the distance between the two is significant enough to discredit this.

Also of significance: In the movie, as with the book, the most evil of the vampires (the ones who are enemies to the white Edward) is dark Laurent.

I could mention at least five vampires more formidable than Laurent. Victoria, James, Aro, Caius, Marcus. There, I did it. Laurent is definitely not the most evil. Further in the text she says:

Unlike Edward and the white vampires, he is unable to resist hunting and draining humans.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this lead you to believe that her usage of "dark" in the first sentence is referring to more than a figure of speech - to metaphorical, moral darkness - and straying into physical darkness, like African American? In the movie, yes, the actor is black. (I'm not PC, sorry.) In the book? ... I don't think so. (Again, correct me if I'm wrong.) Meyer has nothing to do with castings, as far as I know.


#3: I have even stopped to gasp at Meyer’s excellent plotting and storytelling, her wonderful use of cliffhangers, and her perfection in word choice.

I won't even touch upon how much I disagree with this, because it's a matter of opinion and I did admitted enjoy Twilight (though not so much with each book that followed), and shoot straight to the point:

Meyer didn't even check her facts to see how implausible and WTF-esque the pregnancy/Jacob imprinting on the alien spawn were, respectively. (I'll probably explain this in a later post because many people have asked why.) It occurs to me that an author with such plotting expertise and other rainbows-and-unicorns qualities to their writing would have entertained the many scenarios in which both plot twists are unfounded, to say the least, before publishing them. In light of this, I must ask, you really expect me to believe Mike Newton = allegory for science? Couldn't it have just been a coincidence, a name she chose randomly while writing a book based on her dream?



You know, maybe Stephenie Meyer is a racist. I really have no idea, nor do I care. I just don't understand how this is present in her writing. Or, again, maybe it is - just not the way that author sheds light on it.

And once again: All in my opinion. Night night everybody!


Amee said...

Wow, I can't believe she wrote about Stephenie Meyer being racist. Talk about reading between the lines.

This author writes about Latinas? I'm sure I could read one of her books and turn it into a racist statement against white people or something.

Seriously, you can manipulate anything to be what you want. Take a few tiny details and boom you can make anyone seem racist/sexist/whateverist.

Chelsea said...

*rolls eyes*

WannabeWriter said...


That's disappointing.

It's a little petty, also. I mean, it takes someone with either a very critical eye or a set, determined mission to find racism in a romance between supernatural creatures. If you go looking for racism, you'll find it -- as one of the commenters on that post pointed out. But, man, if you want to twist something up, at least get the facts straight. The whole deal is a little bit -- no, VERY -- ridiculous. Calling the race card when it comes down to vampires and werewolves.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to see someone else saw the same inconsistencies I saw in her post. Especially knowing you're not that enthralled in Stephenie's writing. I mean even though SM is not a fave with you, you could still see Alissa was making some outrageous remarks. If actually she had shown some proof that SM had put in racist actions in her book, I would have no problem saying 'yes, SM shouldn't have done that, we shouldn't promote something that encourages racism'. But Alissa's notes were just unbiased and if you read in her comments she just starts calling SM a racist and stating that her religious beliefs are wrong, without any thought at all. Calling someone a racist is a big deal and you should have some proof before you start throwing it around. Also, I feel like she most be lying about reading the books cuz come on, how could you not know that Laurant isn't the worst, that Jacob is Quilute (SP?)(not a Paiute) and that the cover right in front of your face has a queen on it not a king and that both the pawns represent Bella. Anyways, thanks for bringing this up Reviewer X, I love getting heated. =P
B~A - A SM Fan

Anonymous said...

Somewhat. Describing Edward with smooth white skin, and then saying a sentence later, he's perfect. NO ONE IS PERFECT! ESPECIALLY NOT CAUCASIAN VAMPIRE PEDOPHILES!!!
Also, Jacob's last name. BLACK. Jacob Black. And if he was in a Paiute Reservation, he WOULD BE IN ARIZONA OR NEVADA. Plus, reservations are almost empty nowadays, with an average population of 170.

Anonymous said...

Your looking way too deeply into things, its obviously not racist. Firstly, Laurent is not the worst one. Secondly, if there were no dark charactors, someone would call that racist, and thirdly, its a CHESS PIECE, and the rest of the cover is black, anyway! Don't get me wrong, I am totally against racism, but this is not it. Its someone looking for something to complain about.
Twilight Saga = Amazing :)

Anonymous said...

Twilight is totally racist, dude. --But before you tune me out...

I read the twilight series in one week. I couldn't put it down. My boyfiend missed me-- And, I missed my home work. I really liked reading Twilight. But that doesnt mean that Twilight isn't a smidge racist. Can we at least agree that some of the descriptions are if not blatantly stereotypical than atleast horribly contrive?

Example: The Amazonian women, "wild" in animal skins "less civilized" pg613, Amun the machismo Egyptian male and his submissive wife, and the eastern european romanians, so thirsty to start a revolution-- she named one Vladimir... I mean COME ON! All this made my eyes roll, because I can tell that Meyer just simply didn't know better or couldnt write better.

But isnt that racism?? Not having to worry if your a little on the sterotrypical side, not worry how it might objectify, because hey, its just fiction. vampires and werewolves. The privilege of not knowing better...

Isn't Racism a description of a power dynamic? A dual relationship (either/or, normal/other), where one end of the relationship expresses privilege or power over the other? If this is the case then the racism in Twilight is deeper than the seterotypes and deeper than Meyers. The step to understanding racism is understanding that it does't ask you to be colorblind, it asks you to be color aware. To be aware of the power dynamic. The normal/other dichotomy.

Maybe its so easy for Meyer's and her defenders of fiction to say, "hey lay off, its just a story about vampires and werewolves"...because, perhaps, they are enjoying the privlieges of not understanding what it feels like to be on the OTHER side of privilege?

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