Once again, I have been participating in that favourite November pastime, Nanowrimo, and so have been a little lax in the posting to this blog. It took a call from CBC Daybreak Montreal to wake me up and make me take a minute out of busily writing a crappy first draft to write this.
Because yesterday, I was on the radio! And why, do you think, CBC sought me out, demanded I voice my professional opinion? On what subject did I expound upon? Was it homework hell? Free range parenting? The trials and tribulations of being a working mother? No.
It was on that all-important, life changing issue of whether Buffy is a better role model than Bella Swan. Of course, I was asked to come down on the side of Buffy (because I could not in good conscience defend that suicidal, sulky, simpering, uselessly self-sacrificing little sensation, Bella). How did CBC find me out to ask me this question? Why they googled it and came up with this post I did back in August. They then found me on Twitter, phoned my previous job and finally found me at my desk in my third floor attic library. Cool, hey?
So. How did I do? Did I slay my opponent with the sharp pointy stick of my eloquence?
Umm, not really. I froze. Nancy Wood, the host of Daybreak asked me the pointed question of who was a better role model and I hummed and hawed and then said something really pompous like there were many facets to this question and then I proceeded to NOT say all the things I wanted to say.
In fact, I think you can listen to it here for the next few days. I say think, because I can’t get it to work on my computer and to be honest, I don’t know if I actually want to relive my lukewarm, inarticulate defense of poor Buffy. She deserved better.
In the car on the way to work after the interview, I was avidly listening to the listener comments and texts from the show. Overwhelmingly, the majority thought it was a waste of precious airtime to talk about something trivial (the other texts were people supporting Buffy-no Bella supporters in sight-probably because they are all 16 and NOT listening to CBC radio). Trivial despite, the fact that the movie New Moon made box office history on Friday at midnight and that the Twilight phenomena has arguably influenced a generation of teens. In light of this, it might behoove us to get off our high horses and take a look at it.
So here is what I wanted to say on the radio, but did not have the presence of mind at the time to do so (consider this an add-on to my Buffy Vs. Bella post)
1. Forget about role model- Buffy is just a more interesting character than Bella
I was thinking about this after I got that momentous phone call- the idea of which is a better role model is purely a condescending adult question, one that I am guilty of perpetrating with my own children. Okay, I’ll be honest- saying she is a good role model is a good excuse to get to watch Buffy instead of Hotel for Dogs or High School musical 3 over and over again.
Because we don’t read or watch things because they have a high moral fiber content. We watch them because we crave the story. And what makes for a good story? Moral dilemnas, yes, they have a part in it, but it is really the characters that make us want to continue reading, or watching- their flaws, strengths, the complexities and nuances of how they react.
I would argue that Buffy is fuschia pink in the interesting character department, while Bella is eggshell white. Buffy is always confronted with hard situations and sometimes she doesn’t always do the right things. She makes jokes, falls on her butt, can’t keep a boyfriend, pisses off her friends (who are also a lot more rounded than anybody we see in the Twilight series). Buffy might have super strength, but it is made clear that her real strength is in her power to love and maintain these valuable friendships.
Bella, on the other hand, only wants one thing despite the hurt that it would cause to everyone around her. Nothing changes for an approximate 1200 pages. She does not grow, she does not deviate from her wish to become a vampire and live forever with Edward. And once she does become a vampire (I am sorry- I apparently gave the ending away on air as well, but if you don’t know this by now then you are living in a bubble), she doesn’t change either. And not to mention the fact that she has no problem with Edward always calling the shots- can’t have sex until we’re married. You’re going to prom whether you like it or not. I am going to leave even if I know that you don’t want that. On and on and on and on ad infinitum. Honestly. No growth. Nothing witty to say. Her only agency is her willingness to uselessly leap to her death in a completely melodramatic, 19th century idea of romantic love. Bleh. Interestingly enough, I went to the Montreal salon du livre yesterday and saw a new edition of Wuthering Heights:
2. Secondary Characters: non-existent in Twilight series
And what about the people around them? Buffy the Vampire slayer is also about Xander and Willow, about Giles and Faith and…all these characters have more nuances, more complexities, more meat than the whole town of Forks put together (with the exception of maybe Bella’s dad. I like Bella’s dad.) There are comic relief characters like Cordelia and Anya that experience more growth than Bella. I mean,when an ex-demon turned human with a slight bent towards autistic dissection of social situations and an irrational fear of bunnies is more interesting than the main character of your book, you know whose the better writer.
The Cullens? Uninteresting. too beautiful, too proud, too perfect. Bella’s friends in Forks? What are their names again? Her mother? Absent for the most part. Her father? Interesting and awkward, but that’s about it. The villains? Too easy. There really is only Bella and Edward and all they do for four books is claim their love for each other, try to sacrifice themselves for the other, say how they can’t be apart and then leave each other and then get back together, all without learning a damn thing.
Okay. I am done now. Hopefully this mile long post will make up for the missed weeks. Now back to my Nano novel!