I’m well aware that talking shit on the Twilight SAGa is no longer what the cool kids are doing. Apparently we’ve moved on to trashing stuff like Glee and other less-than-perfect media juggernauts. However, I have not used any of my precious blog space for this particular topic, so I’m going to do it in compare/contrast fashion. Since we all thrive on conflict, I’m pitting Stephenie Meyer’s piss poor excuse for a heroine, Bella Swann-Cullen, against Joss Whedon’s incomparable Slayer: Buffy Summers. A fair fight? Not really, but who gives a fuck?
Round 1: Personality
Buffy: Bubbly, loyal, stubborn, feisty, courageous, flawed, and seriously punny.
Bella: She doesn’t have any. Round one goes to the Buffster.
Round 2: Posse
Buffy: The Slayer’s cohorts are varied and vibrant. They consist of demons, ex-demons, werewolves, and humans alike. Her besties, Xander and Willow, are just as big a part of the story as the main character Also, big brownie points for a positive portrayal of a queer couple via Willow and Tara. The relationship that Buffy has with her Watcher, Giles is unique and genuinely touching. Friendship seems to be one of the strongest themes of the series and not even in a sappy way.
Bella: Yeah, she’s friends with all sorts of beings, but they sure aren’t friends with each other. Bella just happens to get helplessly stuck in the middle of several ancient feuds. While characters like Alice and Jacob are among the more interesting of the series, that isn’t saying much. They can’t make up for the banality of the main couple. Give another point to the Slayer.
Round 3: Villains
Buffy: While often campy, the big and little bads living near the hellmouth have always been pretty diverse and quite a few have been legitimately scary. For example, The Gentelman from the episode “Hush”. They take your fucking voice away so you can’t scream when they CUT OUT YOUR STILL-BEATING HEART!
Not to mention that a lot of times, the biggest Bads are people Buffy used to work with, trust, and fuck. Faith, Dark Willow, and Angelus respectively. Dark Willow always brings up some complexities because part of you feels so satisfied watching her flay Warren for killing Tara. Then there are villains that reform and become a regular edition to the Scoobies like Anya and Spike. More on that peroxide punk later.
Bella: This girl is pretty much always at odds with the same, boring, dusty, old vamps. Not a lot of variety here, folks and they are rarely very intimidating. I mean, Sunnydale is plagued by things like The Gentlemen and the scariest of the Volturi is Dakota Fanning. Honestly. Buffy takes it again.
Round 4: Love Life
Buffy: The bedroom is where things tend to get a bit dicey for our Slayer. This is where my feminist lens gets a bit hyperactive, because as empowering as the series usually is, there are almost always negative consequences when Buffy chooses to have sex. First and foremost, when she loses her virginity to Angel, it literally steals his soul and changes into a completely different and devastatingly evil person. Not a great message. Then there was that random guy Buffy hooked up with when she started at UCSD who was obviously just using her for sex. Oh, and for as lovely as Riley was most of the time, there was an entire episode where evil spirits were feeding off the energy from the couple’s marathon of love-making. See what I mean? I might even venture to say that Spike was the healthiest sexual relationship Buffy ever had (which is a kind of relationship Bella has never and will never have.) Where our girl really gets the edge is how she deals with break-ups. When Angelus emerges, she galvanizes herself and kills him in order to save the world, even after his soul returns. What would you expect from She Who Can’t Stay Dead?
Bella: This girl just gives up her life (literally) to the first guy who gives her an ounce of attention. Turns out Edward is all about that attention seeing as he has a tendency to sneak in her room at night uninvited so he can watch her sleep. *shudder/vomit* He’s not exactly a complex guy, either. You learn pretty much everything you need to know about Edward in the first book. And when he dumps Bella in the second Twilight Tome, she doesn’t take it well. I wouldn’t call the “not speaking to anyone for months and developing an eating disorder because your first boyfriend is a douchebag” approach healthy or heroine material.
Winner: Three guesses and it rhymes with Shmuffy.
Keep in mind that I only started watching the Vampire Slayer series a few months ago. I read my first Twilight book three years ago. Hopefully I’ve illustrated the need for better young female characters in the pop culture world, but for some reason “Damsel in Distress” always sells. Girls can be the ones doing the rescuing and they don’t have to wait to get married to do so.
I leave you with this: