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By Garon Cockrell
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Sept. 23, 2013 5:20 p.m.

Part One: Hermioneís Shadow
By Kari Tervo
I just started watching the Twilight saga, five years after the first movie came out. I had known the basics of the plot forever, because the franchise is larger than life. I think Twilight has had more covers of Entertainment Weekly than the Entertainment Weekly logo. I decided to give it a sit-down and see what Iíd been missing.
Iím on the third movie now, Eclipse, and Iím enjoying the series. Itís a timeless story with modern (and monster) flourishes. The special effects are cool, and the cinematography is magical (thatís the kind of stuff we say out here in Hollywood). I admit Iím having a little trouble even looking at creepy, pasty-faced Edward (I do not see what that girl sees in him). Thatís the primary reason Iím leaning Team Jacob, but Iím hoping that kid can learn to control his aggro a little. Maybe put him on a light dose of anti-psychotic. But another thing keeps creeping into my mind, like Edward stalking Bella in her room while sheís sleeping: All the feminist critiques Iíve seen floating around about Twilight.
A lot of feminists hate Twilight. If you Google ďTwilightĒ and ďanti-feminist,Ē you get around 30,000 results. I started watching the series fully expecting to cringe frequently from a feminist perspective. Instead, Iím left scratching my head. I just donít see how Twilight is so anti-feminist. Iím here to defend Twilight from a feminist perspective. Over a few posts, Iíll cover just a few areas of criticism and explain why I think they have it wrong. Hereís the first one:
Take, for instance, this pop-feminist Buzzfeed list, summing up all that is supposedly great about Hermione and awful about Bella. But itís not even a good comparison.
You canít compare Twilight and Harry Potter from a feminist perspective, nor can you compare Bella and Hermione on that level. Theyíre apples and oranges. Letís start with the story: Yes, theyíre both paranormal stories about teenagers. But that similarity is irrelevant for this discussion. Look at what the stories are really about: Harry Potter is a story about friendship. Twilight is a story about a young woman madly in love. Do you really expect characters to behave the same in these different contexts? You drop Hermione into a mad love at that age, and I guarantee you sheís going to lose it at some point. Sheís a teenage girl, not Anna Wintour. Remember how she got all giggly around Viktor Krum? Harry Potter and Twilight are different kinds of stories, and it doesnít make sense to expect their characters to have the same kinds of goals and behaviors.
Also, look at their support systems. Hogwarts is a highly-structured environment, run by the wizarding worldís best and brightest, where excellence is expected and misbehavior is punished. Itís like Exeter Academy. Bella is being raised by a well-meaning but distant father, who she calls by his first name because he hasnít been present in her life for most of it. Her town is middle-class to poor. Youíre going to compare a boarding school kid to a one in a rural, single-parent home? Ten points from feminists!
Bella and Hermione are different kinds of characters, so you canít really compare them just because theyíre both female. Bella is a human in a magical world. Hermione is a witch in a magical world (okay, sheís half-muggle, but her human side doesnít weaken her witch side). Hermione is able to use her special powers and magical objects to protect herself and others, but Bella doesnít have special powers or magical objects. I mean, she had to try to fight a vampire with pepper spray (which worked until it didnít). She requires protection. So do all of the other humans in the story. Humansómuggles--also require special protection in Harry Potter. Bella is a muggle in a world of monsters. In this story, humans require protection. Donít forget, Bellaís dad, Charlie, is the town sheriff. Thatís a symbol of male strength if Iíve ever seen one. But one of the tensions of the story is that Charlie is also vulnerable prey. This is a theme of human weakness, not female weakness.
Plus, Hermione is not all that. Everyone likes to tout Hermioneís positive characteristics as a female role model. But letís examine her from another perspective: The girlís not immune to acting like an idiot around boys. We saw how she acted around Viktor Krum. She even swooned at that cad Gilderoy Lockhart! She ultimately married a man who is un-intellectual and often fearful. Would she feel challenged by him? Probably not, but heíd been around forever, and they had a trauma bond.
Hermione settled for Ron, yo. You know she should have been jetting around the world with Viktor, raising funds for her stigma-reduction foundation, Half-Muggle Magic. Hermione is never going to self-actualize with Ron around bumping his nose into things all the time like a drunk Neville Longbottom and screeching at spiders. But she did what she didófor love! How feminist a character is that? Sounds like Bella Swan or something. Well, I guess weíll just have to evaluate that part of Hermioneís story within the context of romantic love.
People say Bella is passive (sheís notómore on that in another post), but look at Hermione. Iíd rather hang out with brooding Bella than know-it-all Hermione any day (until Bella started ditching our walking dates for Edward). Hermione just never stops letting everyone know how smart she is, or sending withering glares at someone for comically cracking their wand while theyíre trying to levitate a feather. Genius opprobrium! Remember when Snape called her an ďinsufferable know-it-allĒ? In general, when are you on the side of Snape? Girlfriendís got some issues.
Hermioneís a powerful witch, sure, but she also was kind of a neurotic messóIím surprised there was never an incident in which she took too many Bernie Bottsí All-Flavor Dopamine-Tastic Caffeine Pills. Alertimus Spano! Hermioneís pressured and crazed studying, with no insight into its dysfunction or her motivations, ultimately saved the day (thatís how she got the magical timepiece). Why is there no feminist criticism that Hermione represents the false ideal of the woman who has it all? Or any criticism that paternalistic Dumbledore was sadistic? He encouraged her manic striving by giving her the timepiece. Iím not going to make that criticism, because I think itís about as baseless as the idea that Twilight is anti-feminist.
I know I havenít seen the whole thing yet. I heard thereís something symbolizing abortion, but I think Iím just going to enjoy the movies. If Stephanie Myers is anti-abortion, there are ways she could have said it a lot louder than with symbols in a story. There are more pressing threats to reproductive rights than subtext. Iím just hoping the birthing scene involves sunlight and sparkles. And I hope none of you who have seen it are laughing at that.
Hermione vs. Bella, Harry Potter vs. Twilight. Many comparisons can be made between the two: Who has better monsters? How do wardrobe changes signify Bellaís and Hermioneís place on their journey? Are there any conflicting rules between their magical worlds? But on the level of whether Twilight is ďfeminist enough,Ē there is no comparison. Bella and Hermione are different kinds of women in different situations.
Okay, kids, like I said, Iím still in the middle of Eclipse, the third movie in the saga. As I watch more, Iíll write a couple more posts on this issue. Til then, you do you: chick, dude, or emu. Take care of yourselves, magical creatures.

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