Twilight Versus Star Wars, Feminist Style

I’ll admit, I saw “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”. Mainly it was so I could laugh at how campy it was, but I think years of watching “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” have given me a soft spot for vampire tales as a whole. And yes, I’m 99% sure my women’s studies degree dug itself out of the box in my parents’ basement and ran in circles screaming in horror that I paid to watch a movie that revolves around a love triangle between a boy-crazy girl and two controlling, super-strong men. But New York Magazine has written an article that (slightly) alleviates my guilt.

They bring up an excellent point:

You can analyze why women respond to Twilight all you want — is it the vampire thing, or is it Taylor Lautner’s abs? — but one irrefutable reason why they go to these movies should be obvious: Women like to watch other women onscreen, and Twilight has lots of them. Compare that franchise to the Holy Grail of fantasy/sci-fi, the original Star Wars trilogy. You’ve got a saga that spans the entire universe, and yet Princess Leia is the only woman in sight for parsecs? In The Empire Strikes Back, there are 37 credited roles in the cast, and only two of them are played by actresses (and aside from Carrie Fisher, the other is Brigitte Kahn, listed second-to-last in the nameless role of “Other Rebel Officer”).

When it comes to the Bechdel Test — which movies only pass if they have two or more female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man — the original trilogy fails miserably, and though two of the prequels rated all right, by the time Revenge of the Sith rolled around, Natalie Portman was the only actress in the film who actually got to say anything. None of the three movies in the Lord of the Rings trilogy pass the Bechdel test, either. There are three female characters of note, but none of them ever meet each other, let alone get to talking. What kind of message does that send? If turnabout was fair play and you stripped Star Wars or Lord of the Rings of any interaction between men, there’d be nothing left.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the Bechdel test, here is the comic that inspired it:

If you really want to get into the Bedchel Test and the Twilight debate, be sure to check out the site Beware, though, once you get the three rules in your head, it’s hard to watch movies without noticing them! There’s heated discussion there on whether the Twilight series should count, since the overarching storyline is…er…problematic. And that’s without discussing “imprinting”.

And for what it’s worth, the “Breaking Dawn” trailer fails the Bedchel Test:

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