October 14, 2010

Twilight's Amazon coven

Massive Coven Casting Announcement Made For ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn’Summit Entertainment has made a huge casting announcement regarding the many Covens that will be seen in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.

The two-part movie will be directed by Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Gods and Monsters), and is schedule for release on November 18, 2011 and November 16, 2012.

The Amazon Coven

* The Amazon Coven is comprised of Tracey Heggins as Senna and Judi Shekoni as Zafrina.

* Among the oldest vampires in the world, Senna and Zafrina are descendants of an ancient Amazonian tribe. They have lived outside of civilization for centuries and therefore make no attempt to keep up a human facade. Though they drink human blood, the Amazons have long been allies of Carlisle.

* Hetggins is repped by Framework Entertainment; Shekoni is repped by Visionary Entertainment as well as Venture IAB in the US and International Artistes in the UK.
How uncivilized and savage are the Amazon Indians vampires?

Amazon CovenThe members of the Amazon Coven are described as "wild looking" women, and possibly the cause for the human legend of the Amazon female warriors of great ferocity. They wear "nothing but animal skins--hide vests and tight-fitting pants that laced on the sides with leather ties. The women look as though they'd been stretched--tall with long arms and legs, long fingers, long black braids, and long faces with long noses, dark skin, muscular," and they have "restless crimson eyes" and move in sudden and "darting" ways. Bella claims she has never met any vampires less civilized.Comment:  Hmm. Tall, long black braids, dark skin, muscular...the Amazon Indian vampires sound a lot like the Quileute Indian werewolves. In the old days, I believe Twilight's werewolves wore only animal skins too. I suppose all Indians wore raggeddy old skins because they were too primitive to invent clothes. (For Geno the cowardly commenter, the last sentence is sarcasm.)

So Breaking Dawn confirms Stephenie Meyer's unconscious racism. Indians are savage and beast-like. They're the least civilized people in the world. White Europeans dominate the vampire community; they rule like Renaissance princes in Italy. Brown Indians prowl through the jungles like animals.

Of course, Newspaper Rock readers know the truth: that Amazon Indians weren't savages. That they farmed, traded, lived in cities--i.e., were civilized. But that's not nearly as much fun as imagining lost civilizations with barbaric inhabitants.

Casting choices

The actresses cast as Amazon vampires--Tracey Heggins and Judi Shekoni--look black. Shekoni is described as "an exotic mix of African, Spanish and British descent."

Naturally, the roles should've gone to Natives, not blacks. But it's no surprise that Twilight's producers didn't make the effort to find Native actors. They've made it clear they think all brown-skinned actors look the same.

And I doubt these roles will be anything to write home about. They sound badly stereotypical. It's probably just as well that Natives aren't playing them.

Of course, choosing black actresses to play the Amazon vampires sends a racist message too. First, it confirms that to Twilight, all brown-skinned actors look the same. Second, it suggests that blacks are a fitting choice to play savages. As in the TV show Crusoe, why bother finding Native actors when you can get blacks to play jungle bunnies beasts people.

Where Meyer went wrong

The Breaking Dawn cast includes two brown covens (Egyptian, Amazon), two white covens (Irish, Romanian), and two groups of nomads (European, American). In other words, the vampires are predominantly white.

How should Meyer have set up her fictional world? How about several Asian covens, a Middle Eastern coven, an African coven, a Native American coven, and one white coven? You know, to reflect the actual diversity of the world's population? How about putting the vampires from Asia, the Middle East, or Egypt in charge? You know, because their civilizations came first?

And how about having the oldest vampires, including the Amazon ones, be the smartest and most civilized? You know, because they've had the most time to learn? Meyer's presumption that Amazon vampires would be savage and beast-like tells us what she thinks about Amazon Indians. Like other jungle dwellers, they don't do anything except hunt and kill. They're incapable of learning, building, or growing.

For more on the subject, see The Problem with Quileute Werewolves, Noble Savages in Twilight, and White Vampire Yes, Indian Werewolf No.

Below:  Hollywood's version of Zafrina, an Amazon vampire.


Anonymous said...

She's Mormon, no surprise.

dmarks said...

Don't say I didn't warn you about these characters quite some time ago. And it looks like they are going bad in a big way.

Anonymous said...

SM is a terrible writer. I didn't think about the stereotypical/racist implications when I read the books, but now that you've pointed it out, I definitely agree. I find it appalling that other girls actually think her books are good.

Rob said...

Yes, you warned me, DMarks. But there was no need to cover the issue before. Not when I knew it would pop up eventually. ;-)