Sexualized Saturdays: All Women Want is a Date and Nothing Else

So I don’t know how many of you may have noticed, but most fictional women seem to be motivated by one thing: makeup.

Okay, and men.

Obviously I may very well launch into a post on why that’s not true. But instead, let’s also talk about why it’s a damaging idea. So let me start this off with a quick backstory on myself. I’m a nerd. I’m an asexual nerd who never felt the need to seek out a man. I only got a partner eventually because Lady Geek Girl all but super-glued my current boyfriend and I together. But as you can all imagine, it was quite a rough ride for a while. And though the two of us have been dating for almost six years now, I had never been keen on seeking a partner out beforehand.

I just wasn’t interested in it, but I felt as though I would never be happy without a guy, because according to every movie I’ve watched ever, a guy is what I needed. Lord knows, as a woman, I can’t take care of myself, so I need a man to make me happy and to provide for me.

Furthermore, believing that not wanting a partner made me the odd one out and having a skewed frame of reference from the media, I simply didn’t understand other girls growing up. Sure, I had my geeky friends and they all had the occasional crush, but I honestly believed that every other female our age talked about nothing but boys and makeup, which also made me feel as though being a non-nerd girl was very dull.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Human on Vampire Pairings, or Why Twilight is Just Plain Bad

First, a disclaimer.

When I first read Twilight in 2005, I originally thought it was the heir apparent to Harry Potter. Stephenie Meyer’s story about teenager Bella Swan falling for vampire Edward Cullen had a twinge of excitement to it. To me, I was reading a supernatural version of Romeo and Juliet. I was excited to see how the story would play out, and to see what Bella and Edward would sacrifice to spend eternity together.

Turns out, Bella and Edward sacrificed very little.

Now, in 2012, I find serious anger towards Twilight for a couple of reasons. Ignoring the writing style of Meyer’s (which isn’t bad so much as it’s not good, but neither is Anne Rice’s, so to each his or her own), the Twilight series does not make any serious attempts to bring anything new to the vampire table.

Now, this is not a reason to use a Sexualized Saturday slot to bash Twilight. It’s a waste of space that could be used to discuss alternative sexual preferences.

So I’m going to tackle this from the viewpoint of human/vampire pairings.

I hate human/vampire pairings because I don’t see the logic behind them. Twilight vampires, for the most part, survive on human blood because they don’t have the ability to create either the life-energy in the blood or the literal liquid blood, so they steal it from humans. The Cullens get past that by surviving on animal blood, which I think is stupid, but it’s a plot point, so I let it slide.

This is my argument. Vampires having sex with humans is akin to me having sex with a cow, and while I like steak, I don’t like steak that that much.

“But Blackout,” you may say. “The Cullens don’t drink human blood. They drink animal blood. Humans are something that the Cullens want to coexist with.”

Okay, then it’s akin to sleeping with a dog.

In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a point is made to note that vampires can’t get it on or procreate the way humans do. For the most part, this is the social norm. Twilight throws that out the window. So many people are frustrated about sparkling vampires, and I’m frustrated that Edward can miraculously get it up without having his own blood to pump into his wooden stake.

Vampires procreate by biting people. They don’t create vampire babies by having sex. They create vampire babies by drinking the blood of human babies. Stephenie Meyer tried to create vampires without the implications of being a vampire. Truth is, vampirism is not a good thing. It sucks, literally. And romanticizing the condition is a joke. So is sleeping with a cow.

Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapter One

So I recently started reading Fifty Shades of Grey, and by that I mean that I’ve only read the first chapter. So here are my thoughts thus far: I hate it, but I don’t. I kind of feel the same way about it as I do Inheritance Cycle. It’s bad, it makes no sense, and it’s boring, but I kind of like it so far. And I don’t know why. At least when I read Inheritance Cycle I could name things in the series that I like, and I’m also less embarrassed about being a Christopher Paolini fan. At this point in the story, I can’t be certain whether or not my like for Fifty Shades of Grey will remain. So far, for as much as I enjoy it, it has been far more grating than Inheritance Cycle ever got while being far less compelling.

Regardless of whether or not I’ll still want to continue on with the series by the first book’s end, I couldn’t help but spork chapter one. This will more than likely be the only sporking you will ever see me write, as I’m sure Lady Geek Girl will not appreciate it if I fill up the blog with sporks. That, and I’m not too sure I care to spork the other chapters.

But I’ve been having a bad few weeks, and poking fun at people who are far more successful in life than I will ever be makes me feel better, because I’m that shallow. And for any fans that come across this, I’m going to tell you right now that, yes, I’m jealous of E. L. James. I told Lady Geek Girl a few weeks ago that if I could write the next Fifty Shades of Grey, or even if I could write the next Twilight, I would do it. Because, hey, maybe my story would be a piece of crap, but I’d be rich.

All that said, let’s get right to it.

I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror. Damn my hair—it just won’t behave, and damn Katherine Kavanagh for being ill and subjecting me to this ordeal. I should be studying for my final exams, which are next week, yet here I am trying to brush my hair into submission. I must not sleep with it wet. I must not sleep with it wet. Reciting this mantra several times, I attempt, once more, to bring it under control with the brush. I roll my eyes in exasperation and gaze at the pale, brown-haired girl with blue eyes too big for her face staring back at me, and give up. My only option is to restrain my wayward hair in a ponytail and hope that I look semi-presentable. Page 3

Well, being a grammar-nazi, there are some things in the first paragraph that make my skin crawl, particularly the use of commas, but I digress. Overall this is actually not too bad of an opening. The conflict has already been alluded to, even though we don’t know what it is. And this conflict has come about by another character getting sick, which inconveniences our main character when she has other important things to do, like studying for finals. Naturally, she’s acting inconvenienced, which is a good, relatable quality, and we even see that in her word choice. She’s subjected to this ordeal.

Okay, now that I’m done praising the first paragraph, let me tear it apart. First of all, describing what a main character looks like through use of a mirror is lazy writing. It gets done so often, and it gets old so quickly. Many people constantly think about what they look like, and they don’t need a mirror to do so. This is a bit of a shit introduction. Also, did she sleep with her hair wet? Because if so, I feel the need to tell her that brushing her hair won’t make it dry. She should probably invest in a hairdryer. I am also so sick and tired of female protagonists describing themselves in entirely negative ways. I can do that to myself too, but for as many flaws I can find on my face, being my own worst critic, there are also some things that I like about my face. Not only that, but being pale and having big blue eyes are not bad traits. They don’t make you ugly; they just make you more likely to get skin cancer, which I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that that’s not going to make an appearance in this story.

I also love the reoccurring flaw of bad hair; it just sets this character so far apart from all the other female protagonists with bad hair. *cough* Bella Swan *cough*

Kate is my roommate, and she has chosen today of all days to succumb to the flu. Kate, my roommate, who hates unnecessary passive voice, has chosen today of all days to succumb to the flu. Therefore, she cannot attend the interview she’d arranged to do, with some mega-industrialist tycoon I’ve never heard of, for the student newspaper. Page 3

I feel the need to interject that that last sentence doesn’t need any commas other than the first one.

So I have been volunteered. I have final exams to cram for and one essay to finish, and I’m supposed to be working this afternoon, but no—today I have to drive 165 miles to downtown Seattle in order to meet the enigmatic CEO of Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc. As an exceptional entrepreneur and major benefactor of our university, his time is extraordinary precious—much more precious than mine—but he has granted Kate and interview. A real coup, she tells me. Damn her extracurricular activities. Page 3

I really like that last sentence. I think it gives the main character some personality, as it shows she’s both bitter about what’s happening while also calling attention to the fact that she’s aware Kate has no control over the situation. Well, no control over being sick. I don’t know why she asked the main character to do the interview. I also don’t know why the main character doesn’t just say no. It would solve her problem. Is there no one else willing to interview this guy? He seems like a big deal.

Also, this sentence here:

I have final exams to cram for and one essay to finish, and I’m supposed to be working this afternoon, but no—today I have to drive 165 miles to downtown Seattle in order to meet the enigmatic CEO of Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.

Should read more like:

I have final exams to cram for, one essay to finish, and I’m supposed to be working this afternoon, but no, today I have to drive one hundred and sixty-five miles to downtown Seattle in order to meet the CEO of Grey Enterprises.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I never thought that enterprises took an Inc. At least it sounds weird to me, but I’m not an expert. We know nothing about the CEO other than that she’s never heard of him. Considering that he’s a big name, she probably just doesn’t pay attention to these kinds of things, but if that’s the case, he wouldn’t be enigmatic. Furthermore, numbers should be spelled out.

Anyway, what’s Kate’s reason to get our unnamed protagonist to do the interview for her?

“As the editor, I can’t blow this off.” Page 4

Apparently, our protagonist is called Ana, and if Kate has to reschedule the interview, she won’t get it done until after graduation. But as the editor, unless Ana also works on the paper, Kate probably has more than a few people who would be more capable of doing this interview, and she should probably ask them.

How does she do it? Even ill she looks gamine and gorgeous, strawberry blond hair in place and green eyes bright, although now red rimmed and runny. I ignore my pang of unwanted sympathy. Pages 3-4

Gamine, n.

  1. an often homeless girl who roams about the streets; an urchin
  2. a girl or woman of impish appeal
  3. a slim and boyish girl or young woman; an elfish tomboy

While I like the description of unwanted sympathy, no, Ana’s not ignoring it, because she’s still doing this interview when she shouldn’t be. Also, let’s all appreciate the fact that every girl we meet will probably be prettier than Ana, because she’s just so plain and ordinary.

The two of them then proceed to start a conversation that they should have had earlier, when Kate says this:

“Here are the questions and my digital recorder. Just press record here. Make notes, I’ll transcribe it all.” Page 4

Because that’s all the more effort and preparation that should go into this kind of thing. I’m sure it’s this easy.

“I know nothing about him,” I murmur, trying and failing to suppress my rising panic. Page 4

Then why is she going on this trip? Someone else more qualified should be doing this. I know nothing about Ana other than that she’s bitter and should have said no. What the hell is she majoring in? Is she even a part of the newspaper?

Although, I love this next part.

“Okay, I’m going. Get back to bed. I made you some soup to heat up later.” I stare at her fondly. Only for you, Kate, would I do this. Page 4

This sounds more like love than close friendship. But if there’s actually sweet lesbian sex in this book, it just got a hell of a lot more interesting. I approve, but of course, if that happens, I’d probably be better off finding erotic fanfiction between Bella Swan and Rosalie, which I’m not going to do. This would actually be a neat plot point, if Ana had feelings of Kate while also dealing with her feelings for the CEO guy, especially if Kate didn’t return those feelings. And then when Ana realized she liked Kate in that way and that she couldn’t have her, she may have guilt for being in the other relationship because she might think she’s using the guy as someone to fall back on to make her feel better about Kate.

I’m going to stop this theory there.

Anyway, following that, we get a paragraph with the unnecessary adverb “wryly” and a classic example of telling and not showing.

She’s articulate, strong, persuasive, argumentative, beautiful—and she’s my dearest, dearest friend. Page 4

Yeah, Ana’s in love with Kate.

So Ana leaves and goes to Seattle, where she overuses the words “glass” and “steel” in describing Mr. Grey’s office building, which has “Grey House” written across it, instead of, oh, I don’t know, “Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.”

Behind the solid sandstone desk, a young, very attractive, groomed, blonde, young woman smiles pleasantly at me. She’s wearing the sharpest charcoal suit jacket and white shirt I have ever seen. She looks immaculate. Page 5

First of all, remember this part earlier describing our Rosalie knockoff:

strawberry blond hair

Now, suddenly, blond is being spelled with an E in describing the secretary lady. There is a difference between blond and blonde. No one uses it anymore because very few people know the difference. But because Kate and this lady are both girls, they should both have Es. It wasn’t a problem for Kate’s hair to be blond and not blonde until this paragraph, even though she’s a girl. The difference between blond and blonde has such little bearing on the English language anymore that authors need either to pick one and stick with it or use them properly.

Also yes, the woman’s immaculate appearance is only there to further Ana’s average looks. Her and her too-big blue eyes!

She arches her eyebrow as I stand self-consciously before her. Page 5

We get it! She’s plain and normal, so everyone else is obviously going to act superior!

“Miss Kavanagh is expected. Please sign in here, Miss Steele. You’ll want the last elevator on the right, press for the twentieth floor.” She smiles kindly at me, amused no doubt, as I sign in. Page 5

Instead of bitching about the overabundance of comma splices that have made their way into this story, particularly in dialogue, let me just say that Ana is making a judgment without proof. She doesn’t know that the woman’s amused, when all she’s doing is smiling kindly. It might be sincere for all we know. This kind of self-consciousness that Ana’s displaying isn’t normal. There’s a condition that makes people paranoid in public because they feel as though everyone’s staring at and judging them when they’re not. Ana is modeled after Bella Swan, and I swear that they both have it.

She hands me a security pass that has “visitor” very firmly stamped on the front. I can’t help my smirk. Surely it’s obvious that I’m just visiting. Page 5

Yes, protocols are stupid. That’s why we have them.

Thanking her, I walk over to the bank of elevators and past the two security guards who are both far more smartly dressed than I am in their well-cut black suits. Page 5

Blah, Blah, Blah, I whine as much as Bella.

So she gets to the twentieth floor, where there’s more glass and steel, and we can now add sandstone to the repeated descriptions. Not to mention, more impeccably dressed blonde women.

It’s at about this point that all the redundant words James has jammed into this book start to feel really, well, redundant. There are over one million, thirteen thousand words in the English language. I believe that, on average, we use anywhere between two or three thousand a day. I don’t support purple prose or thesaurus rape, but there’s still no excuse for redundancy. By the way, I just found out on my thesaurus raping binge that redundancy also means joblessness. Just thought I’d share.

It’s also at about this point a reader might realize just how many times Ana does something “inwardly”.

I’ve never been comfortable with one-on-one interviews, preferring the anonymity of a group discussion where I can sit inconspicuously at the back of the room. Page 6

It’s like this girl has no defining traits other than introverted. But even as an introvert I have trouble relating to her. Yeah, I would hide in the back of an open-group class in college, but I’d be uncomfortable in that setting and entirely unable to participate. I would’ve much rather preferred the one-on-one interview, because there were less people. The only reason interviews freaked me out in college was because they were entirely in Japanese and twenty percent of my grade.

Anyway, while Ana is sitting uncomfortably thinking about reading a classic British novel that will probably not be mentioned as a hobby again, she simultaneously thinks that Grey is going to be in his forties, be fit and tanned, and fair-haired, because he only hires blonde people and his building is “too clinical and modern.” Clinical? Really? It’s not a hospital; it’s an office building. If Ana wants to see clinical, she should go spend some time in the ER.

And, wow, I wonder if she’s going to be completely wrong about what Grey looks like. I guess I’ll have to read to find out.

So then, one of the blondes, now called Olivia, gets scolded by another blonde for not offering Ana a drink. And this is probably only an issue because it’s Ana and not some random other visitor.

“My apologies, Miss Steele, Olivia is our new intern.” Page 6

And we’re going to bitch at her for not catering to your Sueness!

Perhaps Mr. Grey insists on all his employees being blonde. I’m wondering idly if that’s legal. Page 7

I’m wondering idly who edited this, because blonde was just used in the same context as blond from earlier. Before, at least “blonde” referred to specific people and not entirely hair color (she calls all the employees Blonde One, Two, and Three), but now it’s back to describing hair specifically. This is a mistake that should have been caught, especially because I hear there are editors whose entire job is to find words that have different spellings and make sure they remain consistent throughout an entire piece.

Then another finely dressed man comes out of Grey’s office and Olivia jumps out of her chair to call the elevator, because, certainly the guy can’t press the button himself. It’d be one thing had she already been standing by the elevator, but is he really so high and mighty that he can’t raise his finger?

She seems to excel at jumping from here seat. She’s more nervous than me! Page 7

Exclamation marks should not be used outside dialogue whenever it’s avoidable. Using an exclamation mark like this is equivalent to laughing at your own joke.

It’s then Ana’s turn to go into the office.

“You don’t need to knock—just go in.” She smiles kindly. Page 7

The judgmental skank!

I push open the door and stumble through, tripping over my own feet and falling headfirst into the office. Page 7

In typical Bella fashion. I am so sick and tired of clumsy female protagonists. And the fact that just about all the main female characters in novels that I can name off the top of my head outside Katniss are all clumsy only furthers to piss me off. Being clumsy isn’t cute, it isn’t endearing, and it certainly isn’t a character flaw that needs to be overcome, though Stephenie Meyer tried really hard to make it one. It honestly cannot be that hard to write a character whose goal in life shouldn’t be focused on learning how to fucking walk.

Ana doesn’t just trip or stumble over her own feet here, which I would take as believable had it not been overdone. She legitimately falls over, and Grey has to help her up. And then we get something that truly proves this story started as a Twilight fanfiction.

I am so embarrassed, damn my clumsiness. I have to steel myself to glance up. Holy cow—he’s so young. Page 7

Holy cow? You know, that phrase Bella used no less than three times in the first book alone? Oh, and by the way, hello again, comma splice.

“Miss Kavanagh.” He extends a long-fingered hand to me once I’m upright. “I’m Christian Grey. Are you all right? Would you like to sit?” Page 7

Of course, she might accidentally break her face on the chair in the process. Also, this first thing out of his mouth to show his being concerned should have been his question into her wellbeing, not an introduction.

And then we get a terrible description of what Grey looks like.

So young—and attractive, very attractive. He’s tall, dressed in a fine gray suit, white shirt, and black tie with unruly dark copper-colored hair and intense, bright eyes that regard me shrewdly. Page 7

His clothes don’t tell us what he looks like, and attractive doesn’t tell us anything. I have no idea what he’s supposed to look like, other than like Edward, which tells me nothing, because SMeyer does the same thing. Not only that, but he shouldn’t be modeled after Edward to begin with. When this fanfic became and an actual story, James should have made them her own characters.

If this guy is over thirty, then I’m a monkey’s uncle. Page 8

Ana needs to do that thing that Bella does. You know, that thing, where she doesn’t think. Or if Ana truly has to think, it needs to be not clichés. And though I didn’t put it in, this isn’t the first time she’s monologued something like this. It would make the story a lot less painful.

I feel an odd exhilarating shiver run through me. Page 8

We call that lust. Being in college and quite possibly homosexual, you’re probably old enough to have experienced it a few times.

“Miss Kavanagh is indisposed, so she sent me. I hope you don’t mind, Mr. Grey.”

“And you are?” His voice is warm, possibly amused, but it’s difficult to tell from his impassive expression. He looks mildly interested, but above all, polite. Page 8

So when a girl’s polite, she’s judging Ana for her inferior clothes and whatnot? But when a hot guy’s polite, he’s being genuine? Got it.

So he offers her a seat again and we get the obligatory description of his office. There are thirty-six “exquisite” paintings—because Ana must have counted—that invoke a conversation but have little to no detail. The room is said to be clinical, again, and then Edward Grey is called Adonis.

I shake my head, disturbed at the direction of my thoughts, and retrieve Kate’s questions from my backpack. Next, I set up the digital recorder and am all fingers and thumbs, dropping it twice on the coffee table in front of me. Mr. Grey says nothing, waiting patiently—I hope—as I become increasingly embarrassed and flustered. When I pluck up the courage to look at him, he’s watching me, one hand relaxed in his lap and the other cupping his chin and trailing his long index finger across his lips. I think he’s trying to suppress a smile. Pages 8-9

Because she is a female protagonist, and therefore, she cannot do anything right. In fact, this trait will be played out so much, it’ll probably become just plain sexist the way Grey is capable and she isn’t. Let’s read on to find out. Oh, and, uh, by the way, his fingers have already been described as long earlier in the chapter, so we don’t need that reiterated.

“Take all the time you need, Miss Steele,” he says. Page 9

It’s not as though he runs a business and is on a very tight schedule after all.

The interview that follows is really boring and tries to shove character traits upon us that we should be shown and not told. It actually reminds me a lot of the dialogue in Twilight, that is questions and answers over and over again and little to no actual conversation. Except that at least here it has a reason, albeit a forced one, as I still don’t know why Ana’s doing this interview.

So Ana finally manages to get everything set up and asks if Grey knows what the interview’s for. He responds:

“Yes. To appear in the graduation issue of the student newspaper as I shall be conferring the degrees at this year’s graduation ceremony.” Page 9

Well, isn’t this going to be a lovely way to throw them together after the interview? However, Ana’s reaction to this completely pisses me off.

Oh! This is news to me, and I’m temporarily preoccupied by the thought that someone not much older than me—okay, maybe six years or so, and okay, mega-successful, but still—is going to present me with my degree. Page 9

I understand that this interview was a last-minute thing for Ana for… some reason, and that she didn’t have a lot of time to look anything up. I would, however, expect Kate to have informed her of the basics for this interview, and I would also expect Ana to at least do a quick Google search on Grey. It is beyond rude to conduct an interview and not know anything at all about whom you’re interviewing or the topic at hand. So clearly, once again, we can see that Ana is the best person Kate could have picked.

So they start the interview. Ana asks him how he got so successful, and he answers by saying that he’s good at reading people, and he only needs an eleven-lined paragraph to do so. We also learn that he has a gray stare. Get it? Grey has gray eyes. Oh, the wit. Of course, this does completely contradict his having “bright eyes”. But I cannot go on without bringing this sentence up:

“My belief is to achieve success in any scheme one has to make oneself master of that scheme, know it inside and out, know every detail.” Page 10

Maybe it’s just my internal grammar-nazi, but I originally had to read this line three times before I figured out what he is saying. You see, the part to achieve success in any scheme is additional information and should be set aside with commas. And commas thus far have proven to be James’s weakness in writing, among other things. And if they’re not hers, they’re most certainly her editor’s.

So after his explanation—which is simply stating facts about his own abilities, which we also know cannot be exaggerated, because he runs his own business—Ana insults him by saying he might just be lucky and thinking he’s arrogant, because he works hard and makes decisions on logic and facts, as he puts it. And because he likes to hire good people. After she calls him lucky, he responds again that he works hard and likes to hire people who work hard.

Her response:

“You sound like a control freak.” Page 10

What the hell?! Ana is about to graduate college, and all I know is that despite her age, she lacks any kind of filter on her mouth. Like, I’m all for superficial judging, and I do it all the time, which is what Ana’s doing, but at least I know it’s superficial. I get the impression that we’re supposed to agree with Ana here, and I can’t. Of course he’s a control freak, as she so elegantly puts it; he runs a business. He wouldn’t have gotten to that point if he had no control. But Kate almost didn’t get this interview, and he has other things to do, so why the hell would she insult him like this?

Naturally, he answers without any sense of humor and stares at her.

Why does he have such an unnerving effect on me? His overwhelming good looks maybe? The way his eyes blaze at me? The way he strokes his index finger against his lower lip? I wish he’d stop doing that. Page 10

Well, maybe he wishes you’d stop wasting his time, but we can’t all get what we want, now can we? And good job at thinking about how hot he is after insulting him and then worrying about your own feelings.

“Do you feel that you have immense power?” Control freak.

“I employ over forty thousand people, Miss Steele. That gives me a certain sense of responsibility—power, if you will. If I were to decide I was no longer interested in the telecommunications business and sell, twenty thousand people would struggle to make their mortgage payments after a month or so.”

My mouth drops open. I am staggered by his lack of humility.

“Don’t you have a board to answer to?” I ask, disgusted.

“I own my company. I don’t have to answer to a board.” He raises an eyebrow at me. Of course, I would know this had I done some research. But holy crap, he’s arrogant. Pages 10-11

I’m surprised she didn’t say “Holy cow” again. But yes, Ana would have known this had she done the research she should have done before coming, and no, his arrogance doesn’t excuse her behavior. She’s still conducting an interview, and she should act like it. Besides, it’s more a statement of fact than arrogance that people would suffer without his company and that he has a lot of responsibility. He’s making a point.

There is a difference between knowing your own strengths and being arrogant. Knowing your strengths and using them properly isn’t arrogance. For example, Lady Geek Girl is really knowledgeable in theology, so she started Oh, My Pop-Culture Jesus to share that knowledge. I daresay that even though both Lady Saika and Lady Bacula help out on the OMPCJs, our Sunday posts would be complete shit without Lady Geek Girl being the backbone behind it, and she probably knows that. It’s a statement of fact that she knows a lot of theology. Hell, this entire blog would suffer if she decided to leave, and she probably knows that too.

As another example, I’m good at drawing. You want proof? Well, how about this picture of Loki?

This is a picture I copied in likeness to a preexisting picture from Marvel comics. So let me make it clear that I don’t own this image, but even though I copied it, I’m pretty sure that this level of sketching makes me a fairly decent artist. I did this for practice, because I like the shading of the original, and I also did it sitting in a pew at church during a lecture about Moroni. Stating that I’m good at art doesn’t make me arrogant, nor does it change the fact that this is my drawing level.

No, what would be arrogant is my saying that I’m better than everyone else, and that no one can do what I just did when I copied this, or even thinking I can’t improve and that I don’t need practice.

The point I’m making is that Grey hasn’t said anything arrogant. At least, not yet. Right now, he’s just answering questions.

So Ana moves onto his hobbies and manufacturing, and actually manages a compliment. Asking him about his hobbies causes him to “shift in his chair.” This is either because it makes him uncomfortable, or because James wanted a random action breaking up the dialogue. I’m thinking it’s the latter. Then we get something that is both cliché, and unfortunately, the only thing that’s given him any kind of characterization thus far, outside of hot and controlling.

Ana says that he answered as though his heart’s talking. He responds that people say he doesn’t have one, and when she asks about that, he says:

“Because they know me well.” His lip curls in a wry smile. Page 11

Blah, blah, blah, the interview continues. He has no friends because he’s a private person. He’s also a benefactor of the university and only agreed to the interview because of Kate’s tenacity that we’ll probably never see. His gaze is penetrating—lol, there’s sex later in this book—and Ana should be studying for finals. It’s all very boring.

Oh, and he’s also into farming technologies. So Ana questions him about feeding the poor.

“It’s shrewd business,” he murmurs, though I think he’s being disingenuous. It doesn’t make sense—feeding the world’s poor? I can’t see the financial benefit of this, only the virtue of the ideal. I glance at the next question, confused by his attitude. Page 12

Maybe he just doesn’t like talking about his good deeds. Maybe he does a lot of bad things, so helping those less fortunate makes him feel better. After all, farming technologies are just completely unnecessary to the economy and a black hole for profit, and as a CEO, it’s not as though he can afford to be a little generous, right?

Also, is it just me, or does James really like using some variation of the word “shrewd”?

So she goes on about him being a control freak and that that clashes with wanting to feed the world. I’m not sure how these two things relate, because control freaks are apparently evil assholes and not just assholes anymore, but it’s probably James’s attempt to make him deep. And her way of telling us he’s deep and not showing us.

Oh, and he’s adopted. It’s kind of like that other character I know of. Who was he, again? Edward Cullen? Yeah, I think that’s right.

And he’s apparently sacrificed family for work, to which he says that he has all the family he needs in his siblings and parents. Then:

“Are you gay, Mr. Grey?” Page 13

To be fair, this is Kate’s question, not Ana’s. But she still reads it out loud. This is also when he realizes that the questions are not her questions, and that she doesn’t even work on the school newspaper. I can at least relate to him on the grounds of wondering why Kate sent her. It’s also one of the more intelligent things in the chapter.

So he asks if she volunteered to do the interview for Kate.

“I was drafted. She’s not well.” My voice is weak and apologetic.

“That explains a great deal.” Page 14

Okay, I admit, I like that response. It was funny. I even laughed when I first read it. Good job, James, I approve of something in this chapter.

It’s at this point one of the blondes comes in and tells him about his upcoming meeting, which he tells her to cancel, because a random college chick is more important. His mouth is distracting and for some unfathomable reason he offers her an internship. I guess because he really likes people who insult him with stupid questions, lack of research, unfounded inquires into his sexual orientation like it’s their business, and all together waste his time.

It’s at this point that I realized that I completely forgot Grey’s first name. Oh, well. What a shame. Oh, it’s Christian.

He offers to give her a tour. She turns him down and gets upset when he holds open the door for her and says:

“Just ensuring you make it through the door, Miss Steele.” Page 15

Following that, we get this:

Obviously, he’s referring to my earlier less-than-elegant entry into his office. Page 15

Yes, obviously, so why are we told this? We don’t need the author to tell us this, because we will all remember her falling on her face. There are so many times in this chapter, so many chances for good, subtle writing, and then the author does something like this that ruins it. He’s telling a joke, and we’re not morons, so we don’t need the author to state that he’s poking fun at her. James did the same thing with the interview, like when she tells us his hobbies clash with his personality. We can figure it out. We can figure that he’s not telling Ana everything, maybe because he doesn’t want to, due to being a private person. But Ana’s monologuing kills the subtlety.

And before I forget, the times when the prose is italicized to show her internal thoughts are not needed. This is told entirely from first person. Her thoughts are the whole damn story. It’s even more grating, because it’s easy to see which kinds of sentences James italicizes, but then she doesn’t do it all the time.

Now, I take this time to embarrass Tsunderin, but let’s keep in mind that I’m embarrassed right along with her. As Tsunderin admitted to me in a very small voice, as though she was shamed by her own words, this is a bit of a guilty pleasure. Or at least chapter one is. I don’t disagree with Tsunderin yet, and as much as I hate this chapter, I don’t hate it. Yeah, the setup’s stupid, the character traits are forced and unoriginal, the grammar is a sure sign that the editor didn’t pay any attention, and though it was boring—though not Twilight-level boring—I found there were some things I liked. It has some good, funny lines, Ana’s monologuing doesn’t make me want to murder kittens yet, and the uncomfortable tone during the interview is passable as a form of conflict. Overall, I like this.

PS: Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Star Wars: the Animated Series… Antagonists or People Who Are Evil For the Sake of Being Evil?

In my introduction Star Wars: the Animated Series… Wait, what? I made it no secret that I love Darth Vader. I kind of feel as though George Lucas works in a very limited spectrum when it comes to Star Wars, or anything, for that matter; he’s either amazing or he fails beyond belief. I didn’t feel this way about his antagonists until Revenge of the Sith. If there is one aspect in his work that he excels at, it would be villains.

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Harry Potter’s Ron & Hermione Are Top-Grossing On-Screen Couple | The Mary Sue

Forbes Magazine has put together a list of the top-earning on-screen couples from the last five years and one adorable pair of wizards has wound up on top. Rupert Grint’s Ron and Emma Watson’s Hermione took the number one spot with those lovesick puppies from Twilight,Robert Pattinson’s Edward and Kristen Stewart’s Bella coming in at a far second. Hit the jump to see who else made the list!” 

Go read at The Mary Sue for more: Harry Potter’s Ron & Hermione Are Top-Grossing On-Screen Couple | The Mary Sue.

The Flimsy Connection between Twilight and Mormonism Part 1

So the lot of us promised that we would also be talking about religion and how it influences geekdom, and as of yet, none of us have held up that promise. I figured I’d start with religion in Twilight to follow up my trailer review of Breaking Dawn. Lady Geek Girl also personally asked me to do this review, since out of all of us I’m the only writer on the site who knows anything about Mormonism, being that I’ve taken all the lessons generally given to new converts and am seriously thinking about getting baptized—something I should never have told my parents about, because they’ve made it their new personal mission in life to keep me Protestant. I’m not an expert on the faith, not by any stretch, but I still know enough to recognize how SMeyer’s personal beliefs have presented themselves in her works.

For those of you who either didn’t know, or couldn’t figure it out from what I just said, Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon. I’m not sure if she grew up in the faith or not, but I wouldn’t doubt it, considering how she’s described herself and her friends from her youth. No matter what a writer’s personal beliefs are, religious or otherwise, they tend to show through. Most people aren’t willing to write a four-hundred page novel and have the message teach the opposite what they believe.

Just to name a few problems I had with the series…

Now, the Twilight series has had a lot of harsh things said about it—a lot of justified harsh things—particularly in places like twilightsucks.com and other hate sites. I admit that I spent a good bit of time on sites like them, but they kind of jumped around from criticizing the books to flat out attacking the author. And Stephenie Meyer is subject to criticism, but only as how she presents herself as an author. I thought that some of the haters took it a bit too far, especially when they starting trying to diagnose her with things like Narcissism, among others. And to put it simply, I have no idea how her weight or what makeup she wears affect her writing. There’s a difference between criticizing and being total douche bags. Her weight, and so forth, has nothing to do with anything. And seriously, it’s not as though Twilight lacks any sort of non-cohesiveness to make fun of without bringing the author’s personal life into it.

I also saw, time and time again, people accusing all the misogyny in the series on SMeyer’s being Mormon. Well, as I said, it’s not much of a stretch to assume that her religious beliefs were presented in her works. SMeyer did, however, say that she didn’t write messages. I think she would have been better off saying that she didn’t intentionally write messages. No matter what, no matter who you are, there will be a message in your work, and dear Stephenie is no exception.

I think it’s also safe to say that if the misogyny in her series comes from Mormonism, then other aspects of the faith will surely present themselves too. SMeyer’s religion is no secret, and people tend to equate it to a lot of the faults Twilight has to offer, particularly concerning gender roles.

This brings back memories…

Now, keeping all that in mind, I don’t know which beliefs, if any, Stephenie has that influenced her work, because the more I come into Mormonism, the more I realize how much this faith did not affect anything she wrote. It’s a little uncanny how against the religion it is, actually. Not even just Mormonism, but against Christianity in general. Especially considering that this was brought to us by a religious person. My main reasons for hating her books are not based on religion; I just find the lack of it interesting. But for the record, yes, while the history of Mormonism has come across as pretty misogynistic—and I’ll get to that in a bit—every Mormon I have spoken to—I’ve spoken to a lot of them—greatly dislikes Twilgiht. They don’t believe these books represent their faith, and I have been told by quite a few of them that the overall message in the series makes it inappropriate for people of all ages. Quite frankly, these people seemed a little disturbed that such a misogynistic story has captured so many hearts.

Here are a few quotes I found regarding Twilight and Mormonism from Religion News Service’s Angela Aleiss that I would like to address before moving onto the misogyny. You can find the original article here.

“Bella describes her vampire boyfriend Edward as an angel whom she can’t imagine ‘any more glorious.’ Edward’s skin sparkles in the sunlight, and he visits Bella’s bedroom at night.”

Mormons do believe that people become angels upon death, and Edward is dead, but he is hardly an angel, and what he does by being around Bella puts her in constant danger rather than guiding her to goodness—unless one wants to argue that Edward represents all things good and holy, but I refuse to say anything along those lines. Edward is meant to be the perfect boyfriend, so it’s natural Stephenie would call him an angel, but this is a stretch. I’m certain this is more a case of Stephenie wanting Edward to appear perfect rather than writing a shout out to the Book of Mormon. Though I didn’t put it in, Angela Aleiss also says that Edward represents angels in another way: he’s described the same way as an angel in Moroni (a book in the Book of Mormon). Because he sparkles. Well, if that’s the case, then I guess Tinker Bell is also representing angels and Never Land represents Heaven. SMeyer clearly made Edward sparkle because of her faith and not because she thought it would make him more special and pretty. Yeah, his scintillating skin and the appearance of angels couldn’t possibly be a coincidence.

“The story’s teenage heroine, Bella, avoids coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco—not unlike the Mormons’ ‘Word of Wisdom’ health code. Bella also advises her father to ‘cut back on steak,’ much like the Mormon teaching to eat meat and poultry ‘sparingly.’”

Maybe SMeyer’s personal life actually did influence the series more than I’m willing to give credit for…

There are a lot of people who don’t do those things for a wide variety of reasons. For example, a cup of coffee used to get me a trip to the hospital and a nasty IV, so even now I’m in the habit of not consuming it. Tea has no place in this argument because Mormons can drink it depending on the type, and no alcohol and tobacco coincides with other Christian faiths, despite the fact that Mormons are harsher about these rules due to the Word of Wisdom. What this comes down to here is Bella being SMeyers self-insert into the series, which is no secret. Just listen to SMeyer’s description of Bella. So it makes sense that Bella’s not going to do things that SMeyer wouldn’t do. The Word of Wisdom exists to further teach people how to respect and care for their own bodies, just as it’s also a means to help others avoid addiction, but taking care of yourself has never been explicitly Mormon, and not all teenagers drink coffee, tea, and alcohol while smoking. SMeyer intended Bella to be a role model, and Bella cannot do that if she’s drinking alcohol. While I do believe that overall this point is indicative of Mormon beliefs, because it does reflect SMeyer’s personal beliefs, I also think it’s a moot point. Something like this is also a lifestyle choice, and maybe she’s following it for reasons other than because the church told her to. For example, I don’t quaff down alcohol because I dislike the lack of control it gives me, and the Word of Wisdom can go screw itself if it thinks it’s the reason why I hate being drunk.

“Bella and Edward’s marriage, and her quick pregnancy, underscore the Mormon emphasis on the family. But Bella’s half human/vampire fetus nearly destroys her, so her distraught husband suggests an abortion and artificial insemination. Mormons permit abortions if the mother’s life is in danger, and artificial insemination is an option for married couples.”

Well, I certainly never heard of this before, regarding the abortion issue, of course. I’ll get to that in a minute. This one here is pretty heavy, so let’s start with the marriage. Yes, Mormon’s have a strong emphasis on marriage. They believe people are married forever, and they’re engagement time is significantly shorter than most.

I thought he sparkled in the sunlight.

Marriage is a goal, because Mormoms believe that couples stay together for eternity and that there is no parting upon death. Now, I suppose we could say the Twilight series does encompass Mormon ideals insofar as marriage goes. But other than that? I cannot think of anything remotely Mormon that Twilight has. And even the marriage thing is a bit of a stretch, because Bella has no other goals in life, and she’s in lust and not love. I have to wonder what her hobbies and interests were before she met Edward. Like, did she just stare at a wall all day every day? Of course, regarding Bella’s and Edward’s relationship, SMeyer at least thinks they’re in love, so I could be wrong. In general, Mormons do have a shorter dating and engagement period. I have two friends who dated quite a bit under half a year, got engaged, and then married less than two and a half months later, but they at least had been friends for a couple years beforehand. Bella and Edward don’t have that, and despite what SMeyer intended, their relationship is based more on superficiality than it is on love. It’s as though they’re both in love with the idea of being in love. In that regard, their marriage isn’t really some sacred sacrament, because their relationship doesn’t mean anything.

Now the abortion thing… I have to wonder where Angela Aleiss is getting her facts from. I have never heard of Mormons allowing for abortions, at least not the ones in the same LDS branch I go to. I suppose I could mention that the books are apparently pro-life, which does seem to be a religious thing, going along the lines of “thou shall not kill,” and pro-lifers do believe that unborn babies are people, so it would make sense that SMeyer would at least view abortion as murder. And maybe keeping the baby in light of her own life could’ve shown Bella as a strong, selfless person if she hadn’t come across completely self-centered about it, because Bella always gets everything Bella wants, and damnit! She wanted a baby. I never knew it was possible to seem like a total bitch while trying to sacrifice your life for someone else’s, but Bella did it. But being pro-life doesn’t have to be because of religion. There are plenty of pro-life atheists, just are there are plenty of pro-choice Christians. I actually used to be pro-choice, and my reasons for becoming pro-life had little initially to do with God. Just saying, religion and abortion don’t go hand in hand.

Moreover, if the pro-life message was brought on by religious ideals, it would make no sense for Edward to attempt to pimp Bella out to Jacob in exchange that Jacob convince her to have an abortion—and Lady Geek Girl, upon reading this paragraph for editing, proclaimed very loudly “what part of any of that made Stephenie Meyer think this would be a good idea?!”

And I should mention that as a pro-lifer, I probably would’ve appreciated the message more had the birthing scene been absent and, most importantly, had it come from someone other than Bella. She’s not exactly the greatest role model, and I’m sick of seeing Facebook flairs proclaiming “Bella’s Pro-Life!” Big fucking deal. At the same time she’s also a weak-willed, manipulative bint, once again enforcing the stereotype that a woman cannot have a strong characterization and not support abortion. But I suppose I should thank SMeyer anyway. God knows, my life wasn’t complete until the image of Edward performing a caesarian section with his fangless teeth while the demon spawn ate its way out of Bella’s uterus was forever burned into my cranium.

Angela Aleiss gives a bunch more of examples for Mormon influences in Twilight, but most of these examples are weak. They’re not things someone would connect to Mormonism if the author’s religion were unknown. Maybe the coffee, tea, alcohol, and tobacco issue, but everything else? Yes, the way SMeyer lives her life is going to show through in Bella; they’re the same person, but these are more indicative of a conservative lifestyle than a great religious influence. A lot of people think angels sparkle, a lot of people want to get married, and a lot of people avoid tobacco and watch their red-meat intake. These could all just as easily be from some other Christian faith, or from someone not religious at all. The Mormon-Twilight connection wouldn’t happen if no one knew what SMeyer believed.

Continued in part 2

Trailer Tuesdays: Breaking Dawn

Okay, I’m now having trouble getting this video to work, so you can all watch it here.

I realize that this trailer has probably been out for a while now, but I don’t really keep up with the hype anymore, or at all, for that matter. Unfortunately, this may not be the only time we’re ever going to see a Breaking Dawn trailer, because it’s quite possible that this is following in Harry Potter’s footsteps, so there may be more down the road. Though, I’m not really sure what Breaking Dawn actually has to offer in order to make two movies.

While I am not a fan of the books or movies, I do admit that I like the trailers for the Twilight universe. My problem with the trailers is that since I’ve read all the books, I know how big of a lie all the epicness in the trailers actually is. The Twilight books don’t offer anything to an audience outside of an escape from reality. Sure, they can be entertaining, but they’re not good. The audience gets sucked into Bella’s life and goes through her everyday house-daughter routine. There are epic battles raging around her, werewolves and vampires, a love triangle, and so on and so forth. But despite all of that, nothing happens. Nothing. The books read more like a Livejournal account than a novel: Bella did this, Bella did that, and Bella just now suffered a heart attack after kissing her cold, abusive, scintillating, incandescent, golden-eyed, stalker boytoy.

There’s nothing there to advertise. I’m of the mindset that the books only sold because they read like fanfiction. But despite the blatant nothing that goes on in the series, a decent trailer has to be made in order to sell the movie, to bring people in, though at this point the only people going to see Breaking Dawn are probably avid fans and opinionated haters—and yes, I’m one of them. But everyone involved in producing this movie is clearly trying to make it more interesting than it really is.

Just watch the trailer. Like the books, nothing’s going on, but there’s an intense dramatic air to it, yet the only thing to be seen for the first half minute or so is a bunch of people reading cards and walking from place to place with such passion, such intent, as though something interesting might be happening in the next room.

The emotion the characters are feeling is just shoved down the audience’s throat. It’s certainly more emotion than anything we’ve seen in the books, but it’s just so forced and contrived. Like wow, Bella and Edward are getting married; let’s waste a couple seconds on her hairclip because that really lets the fans feel the emotion she’s going through. Let’s show Edward gripping his own arm. Let’s show Jacob run and turn into a werewolf like in the New Moon trailer and just add rain. Hey, and the non-sex scenes will really make people flock to the theater, especially the non-sex rape scene when Bella passes out and Edward breaks the bed. Then, Bella and Edward kiss and Random-Chick-No-One-Cares about is awkwardly thrown down a hallway. And showing clips of Edward and Jacob turning their heads back to back is just so gripping.

And let’s not forget Bella figuring out she’s pregnant and for once saying something everyone can agree with: “That’s impossible.”

Throughout all the Twilight books—all of them—nothing ever happens until the very end, and this movie, judging by the trailer, only covers the first half of the last book. What’s going to happen? How is the movie going to filter out the holes in Bella’s boring life in order to make something worth sitting in a theater for two and a half hours? Sadly, the answer is more than likely that it’s not.