I’m not going to belabor this discussion; this topic is being debated all over social media and blogs today and I have just a few simple points I’m going to target and then call it good.
If you haven’t heard, Author of the Twilight Saga, Stephanie Meyer, has released (or will be releasing? I’m not sure) her rewrite of the books with genders swapped: Edward is now Edythe and Bella is now Beau.
Heads are rolling, to say the least.
From what I understand, Meyer’s rewrite was inspired by criticisms that Bella is an insecure, submissive character – she wants to prove that wrong. I actually find that fascinating because I think we sometimes unknowingly project our perceptions of gender roles onto characters based on the exact biases we’re trying to fight; it will be interesting to see if Meyer can bring this to light.
Now I’m not going to debate her motivation for this rewrite, except to say that if you think she’s completely money-focused you’ve never actually watched an interview with her; and if you think she doesn’t care about money you’re probably a tad idealistic. Yes, it’s about the money, and yes it’s about the writing, the art, and the curiosity.
The big question for me is this: is this a brilliant artistic and gender-identity literary exploration or is it a stupid attempt at sucking as much life as possible out of a successful franchise?
My background: I loved the Twilight books and saw all the movies, but I’ve never been a major Stephanie Meyer fan. I’m a bit critical of her writing ability, TBH, and I tend to like more deep and gritty explorations of characters. That said, the storyline of Twilight, I believe, VERY intriguing. I’m a bigger fan of the Fifty Shades of Grey version of the “I want to kill someone I love” concept simply because I think it’s far more layered and nuanced and dives deep into trauma psychology which I find fascinating, but Stephanie Meyer gets a lot of credit for building the first widely-appealing and jaw-dropping iteration of this storyline.
And now, she’s taking it to a new level. And I’ve officially become a fan.
I think her rewrite is huge. If you think it’s stupid and money-mongerong, consider this: it can be difficult to tell a story from the viewpoint of your opposite gender (think Grey by E.L. James). Consider now, telling the exact same story, but rather than just telling Edward’s side, tell Edward’s side as if he were a female and Bella were a male. This is not fucking easy, folks!!!
But that’s not the only reason I’m supportive of this idea – there’s lots of literary exercises that are difficult. I’m supportive simply because this approach is COMPLETELY FUCKING NEW. I know, you can complain all day that it’s the same goddamn story, but tell me, what author has ever done this before? Who has ever rewritten their story (the exact same story) with the genders switched? What are the implications on our perception of gender and gender stereotypes? This could be huge! Now, it could suck too. It could completely reinforce everything society already believes and be a complete failure. But until I read it, I’m willing to give Meyer my applause for at least taking on such a formidable task. Because who does this?? No one does, that’s who. And that’s how history is made.
And if you don’t find that convincing, let’s just consider the reaction she’s getting from her rewrite. The first three posts I saw on the subject were raving mad people who think this is the stupidest thing they’ve ever heard of. I still have yet to see someone say something positive about it.
And that’s when I knew: this might be the move that turns me into a fan.