November 26, 2009

(More) racism in Twilight saga

I've already covered many of the racist aspects of Twilight. But in Running With the Wolves--A Racialicious Reading of the Twilight Saga, Latoya Peterson brings a few more to our attention.

Stephenie Meyer's description of women of color (Eclipse):My first impression of Kim was that she was a nice girl, a little shy, and a little plain. She had a wide face, mostly cheekbones, with eyes too small to balance them out. Her nose and mouth were too broad for traditional beauty. Her flat black hair was thin and wispy in the wind that never seemed to let up atop the cliff.Vampires from the Amazon (Breaking Dawn):“Carlisle,” the taller of the two very tall ferine women greeted him when they arrived. Both of them seemed as if they’d been stretched--long arms and legs, long fingers, long black braids, and long faces with long noses. They wore nothing but animal skins--hide vests and tight fitting pants that laced on the sides with leather ties. It wasn’t just their eccentric clothes that made them seem wild, but everything about them, from their restless crimson eyes to their sudden, darting movements. I’d never met any vampires less civilized.Peterson also notes how Bella joins the vampires in insulting Jacob:[T]he imprinting did appear to give the household new license to hate Jacob, call him dog and mongrel to his face, and this time, Bella joins in. Some friend she is. Jacob turned on his Pack, risked his life multiple times, revealed critical weaknesses for his tribe, maintained the flimsy treaty between vampires and werewolves, and went through immeasurable pain in order to make Bella feel like a nice person--if he had asked to eat the damn baby, it would have been a fair request.

But of course, a brown man’s destiny is to suffer to save the white woman her tears.
As I think I said before, "bloodsucker" or "leech" isn't a comparable insult to "dog" or "mongrel." Calling a vampire a bloodsucker is like calling a typical American a meat-eater. It's more or less an accurate description of his eating habits.

In contrast, "dog" and "mongrel" are belittling terms for a 6'7" werewolf. A comparable insult for vampires might be "wormfood" (because of their dead bodies), "soul-stealer," or "murderer." In other words, something that acknowledges how Twilight's vampires are generally evil or inhuman.

For more on the subject, see Quileute Werewolves in Twilight.

1 comment:

m. said...

'Dog' and 'mongrel' remind me of the mixed race Native-specific term/insult 'breed'.

See also: "mutt".