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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

watch it: “7 Lessons Guys Can Learn From Edward Cullen (Part 1 of 2)”

This is not embeddable, but I couldn’t not feature it, so please go check it out at YouTube, and then come back.

Okay, you watched it? Did you watch Part 2? You’re back?


Now, I was so excited to come across these videos, because I was all ready to rip them to shreds. And I was astonished to find that I couldn’t do that.
Because guess what? Everything YouTuber aileensantos says — in Part 2 as well — is absolutely spot on.

I wish Twilight actually reflected what she’s talking about, instead of making Edward look like such a humongous drip that any real woman would run away screaming.

I’m off right now to see New Moon — we’ll see whether this sequel does the job any better of presenting an Edward that looks like the way aileensantos presents him.

Maybe I need to read these damn books…

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  • Alli

    Rule 1) Don’t be shallow.

    HE LIKES HER FOR HER DELICIOUS SMELL! How is that NOT shallow? Isn’t that a symbol for his strong SEXUAL desire? Is that any different from the guys who want to bang the big breasted blonds?

    Rule 5) Treat her like an equal.

    Umm, where does that happen in the book? He doesn’t listen to a thing she says.

    I’m going to go jump off a cliff on a werewolf motorcycle now.

  • sarah

    In fairness, I haven’t done more than skim the first book, but This strikes me more as a “how to be a decent guy” guide plastered on top of dreeeeamy pics of Robert Pattinson (who I will admit, I would have been all over in my emo teen phase), rather than anything actually based on the source material (again, based on my admittedly shallow knowledge of the Canon). However, I suppose I could/should give twilight another skim at some point. *shrug*.

  • Bluejay

    Where can I find the companion video telling women that they should bring the exact same qualities to the relationship? And is it a bit of a double standard when the video says that women dream of being the most important thing in a man’s life? If you flipped it around–a man should be the most important thing in a woman’s life–it would be sexist. The only way it would work is if the feeling is mutual. (Which Lesson 7 does say, at the end.)

    Alli: are you sure you aren’t making Edward out to be worse than he is? Sure it starts out as sexual attraction, as do many fictional and real relationships; but it winds up being deeper than that.

    In defense of Edward as not-a-total-creep, here are just a few points, just from my memory of the books: 1) He badly wants her, but refuses to have sex with her until they’re married. A bit old-fashioned, but I wouldn’t mind if my daughter eventually found someone who thought the same way. 2) She wants him to turn her into a vampire, but he insists that she keep on having human experiences; and he’s willing to be with her as she grows old, presumably losing her looks. 3) Early in Book 2, he realizes he’s a danger to her, and so he breaks off the relationship to keep her safe, and is prepared never to see her again. Do the stalkerish things in Book 1 bother me? Sure, but the points I mention above redeem him a little in my eyes.

  • Alli

    Bluejay, I’m only criticising this woman’s god-like image of a fictional character. She says that he doesn’t see Bella as an object like some men do to other women, but as you said, Edward does see her like that at first. So even Adonis Edward Cullen isn’t perfect. As for it being deeper than that, well that’s your opinion. To me, the first book really just felt like two kids really, really wanting to sleep with each other.

  • Kate

    I admittedly haven’t read the books nor seen the movie(s), but isn’t Edward technically a 108 year-old man in a teenager’s body, desperately wanting to have sex with 17 year-old Bella? Yeah, that’s not creepy at all…

  • maureen

    I have a very good reason not to see New Moon: I havn’t seen Twilight.

  • Mimi

    Re Kate’s comment — If you haven’t read the books or seen the movies, you haven’t gotten into the “universe” the way you need to to understand any sci fi / fantasy story — so it may sound creepy that a technically 108-year-old guy is into a 17-year-old girl. But the way the books are written, vampires don’t age the same way humans age. Edward’s old in some ways, but definitely frozen at 17 (the age he was turned into a vampire) in others.

    Just throwing that out there, because I see that comment a lot, and I find May-December romances as creepy as the next gal — but come on, this is a book about VAMPIRES. And WEREWOLVES. You have to suspend your disbelief a little and realize that normal human rules don’t apply when we’re talking about a fictional novel about imaginary beings.

    The books themselves — well, they’re not great literature. I had issues with some gender role stuff, the sexual abstinence metaphors, some repetitive themes, some occasionally wince-worthy prose… But I still found them engrossing and yeah, I did some swooning. Okay — a lot of swooning. They were fun! (First movie, on the other hand, not great… even by the standards of the book… I assume that’s why they canned the director and went with a new one for #2. Wonder if it will be any better.)

  • Muzz

    Guys can do all these things as much as they like, and even better. But that still won’t give them the Eyebrows of Power to knock ’em dead in the first place.

  • dafydd

    Sorry, but it’s exactly the same thing. If you don’t look like Rob, then you’re just some creepy intense weird guy.

  • dafydd
  • Accounting Ninja

    I had some issues with this. Be “in charge”, but treat her as an equal? A lot of it was mired in weird “real man” stuff that I, frankly, think is mostly cultural hoo-ha. And that part about “they have to return your feelings” needs to be in the beginning, not the end. We don’t need any more stalkers-in-training.
    aside to Bluejay: I think in most relationships, each person wants to feel like the most important person in the other’s life. But that’s different than a person BEING your life. My husband and I are happily married, and I have many parts of my life that are separate from him. But I still recognize that he needs to FEEL important to me, and vice versa, and that doesn’t require the smothering that culture teaches us is “romantic”.
    The problem is a lot of girls are encouraged to make the boy her LIFE, instead of a very important part of her life but still retaining healthy boundaries. That’s why a woman like me would bristle at any advice to girls to make the boy the most important thing in her life. A lot of times, they are talking about supressing your true self to get a boy to like you. It’s what I was told (and what I did) as a girl. And it worked, but left me pretty unhappy. Boys are rarely told that (and I don’t think she meant it that way), so this video didn’t make me bristle that way.

    Here’s my biggest problem with it: as a super geeky lady, I have had many many MANY fictional crushes over the years. As I drift in and out of fandoms, my crushes change. It’s a source of humor to me and my husband and I don’t ever take it seriously. This whole “wishing my boyfriend/husband WAS Edward so I’ll be discontented because he isn’t” just strikes me as a bit pathetic. I would never compare my flesh-and-blood husband with a written, constructed fictional character. Crushes and fan obsession is fine (draw fan art! write fan fiction! Go on, do it:)), but when you let it actually effect your relationships with real people? Uhh, no. Recipe for failure. A real boy will never be Edward. Edward is a carefully contructed illusion. So is Bella. We don’t have to live with these “people” and be privy to all their faults and annoyances. Real boys and girls are only human. They don’t have writers to help them say the perfect thing at the right time or artists to render them as impossibly beautiful.

    And trust me, I speak from experience.

  • amanohyo

    dafydd, I thought that all women were superficial too when I was younger, and my wife thought I was a little too intense when we first met. At some point, I learned that:

    1) Guys are encouraged and even expected to be superficial, so it shouldn’t be surprising that some women are too.
    2) Women are much less superficial on average than men.
    3) No human is required to go out with another, period, no matter how “nice” either of them thinks they are. If they aren’t interested, it’s time to move on as Rule 7 states.

    My wife wasn’t interested. I moved on and dated other people. We happened to meet again years later and hit it off. Don’t fall into the “hot women are so mean because they won’t have sex with me even though I’m super nice to them, all they care about are good looks and money” trap, and your chances will be a lot better. The rules in these videos are a little broad, but they’re a reasonable foundation for a successful relationship.

    I agree with Alli about the book not demonstrating rule 1 though. Almost every other page in the includes some description of how statuesque and attractive one of the male characters is. Instead of “Don’t be superficial,” it would be more accurate to say “Don’t be afraid to have unconventional tastes.” *chuckle*

  • Bluejay

    Agree with everything you said, Ms. Ninja. But I *do* feel that the video meant it in the way that made me bristle; after all, the overriding message of the video is “Be like Edward,” and Edward does make Bella his sole reason for living.

    Yay for healthy boundaries, non-smothering, discerning real relationships from fantasy crushes, and all that.

  • Accounting Ninja

    right on, amanohyo. I mean, how fair would it be for me to say, “ALL guys only want stupid, blonde, big chested bimbos. They are super shallow and they never notice the nice girls. Oh, and guys will ALWAYS cheat on you and lie, because they are so shallow and looks-obsessed and immature.”

    Believe it or not, I thought a lot of the above when I was younger. But after I got over myself and my insecurities, I was able to see that the problem was with ME, not “men”.

    BTW, I take GREAT exception to the whole “if he’s hot, he’s not a stalker” mentality some of you dudes like to have. My SIL is currently being stalked by a man who is very handsome with a ripped body. But he’s still a violent fucking psycho! It doesn’t matter if he looks good, a violent stalker is still undesirable.

  • MaSch

    Ninja: Maybe boys don’t get the message “make your beloved (three syllables) the one and only thing in your life”, but I think the message “expect the boy to make you the one and only thing in his life” gets thrown at girls almost always at the same time the message “make your beloved (three syllables) the one and only thing in your life” is thrown at them.

  • amanohyo

    Hah! Even Mr. Pattinson comes close to saying that the Twilight books are so silly that they are unreadable in this interview. MaSch, I think the message girls get might be closer to, “expect to be the most important thing in your man’s life,” or even just, “expect your man to listen to you and show that he considers your thoughts and feelings when making important decisions.” Women are told they should be thinking about the man they have or are hoping to have all the time, 24/7/365.25, awake or asleep, all the time.

    The “self-help” advice I see for women is usually along the lines of: “Of course your man isn’t going to pay attention to you, here are some tips to make him listen…tip the first, ask him nicely to turn off the television, etc.” Most of those “how-to” relationship articles in magazines (women’s and men’s) make me want to vomit.

  • JoshB

    Be “in charge”, but treat her as an equal?

    I think what this means is: “Be in charge when it’s what I wanted you to do anyway, cuz a man in charge is hawt. If it’s not what I wanted, then treat me as an equal and compromise.”

    If the advice to men for attracting women is “Be like Edward” then the advice for women to attract ‘Edwards’ must surely be “DON’T be like Bella.” Even the SATC women were passionate about fashion. Bella has nothing to say for herself beyond her Undying Love for Edward. She’s the most boring girl on the planet.

    That’s what makes Edward so absurd, even beyond his celebrated stalker tendencies. He loves her because she smells good, and he can’t read her mind. WTF does that mean, can’t read her mind? That she has hidden soulful depths that he’s interested in exploring? Uhm, if she does then they certainly are very hidden. He gushes laughable praise and affection toward this total blank slate of a human being. He’s not the Perfect Boyfriend, who having a mind of his own would want someone who actually is an equal. He’s the Perfect Boyfriendbot, now with over ten thousand preprogrammed romantic phrases, all with intonation and facial expression carefully designed by Stephanie Meyers Laboratories.

    The Edward Cullen 9550: he’ll never tell you to get a damned hobby already!

  • Accounting Ninja

    Yup, me too. Women’s “advice” is just that, like all the fault and responsibility is ours. Because, ladies, men CAN’T be expected to care enough, ya know? But men’s “advice” seems to go: “Hey, bra, I feel ya. Bitches be crazy. BUT, if you put on This Act, it’ll get you more sex! So go make her swoon and she’ll give you the sex.”
    um, ew. And this, folks, is why I don’t read women’s or men’s magazines.

    I was thinking, too: “Making” someone be something they aren’t, or expecting them to change themselves for you, is an exercise in immaturity. For example: my husband is quiet, very shy and an introvert. He is pretty stoic, emotionally. He is not one to shout and get worked up over much. He is also reserved in his affection, and not one to publicly display it. When we were teenagers, I was always on his case to be more outgoing and shower me with affection. I wanted the “Edward”, someone who could just barely contain his unbridled passion! But this is not who he has ever been. (I giggle just thinking about him acting this way.) It was wrong of me to expect that from him. If I couldn’t be happy with him, I needed to cut him loose and find someone else. I didn’t do that, of course. :) I grew up and realized that although he’ll never be like that, he’s got lots of other wonderful qualities and we match very well.
    Also, I realized as I got older that *I* really didn’t want a demonstrative, touchy guy…because I am also reserved that way, and I’m independent and like my space. Edward would drive me absolutely batty. But when society is telling you that This Is The Ultimate In Romance!! it’s hard to sort through that and figure out what you’d really be happy with.

  • MaryAnn

    Where can I find the companion video telling women that they should bring the exact same qualities to the relationship?

    You know, I realized a little while after I posted this that I should have added to my post that this is excellent advice for women, too.

    And now that I’ve seen *New Moon* and been reminded how much I hate these movies, I can add that while the advice in the video may be good, no guy should implement it in any way anything like how Edward does.

  • Bluejay

    Just watched the interview, amanohyo. (How do you get the text to be the link itself, by the way?) Pattinson’s not bad. I liked his attitude towards the books and his ultrafame. And he visited Powell’s? And read Virgil? Nice.

  • bats :[

    THREE FREAKING MINUTES for freakin’ disclaimers! In a girlie-girlie ya know I luv MTV an’ Stephanie Meyer an’ the whole world voice.
    No way am I watching this. Gimme more kitty videos, MaryAnn, please.

  • @Bluejay: “He badly wants her, but refuses to have sex with her until they’re married. A bit old-fashioned, but I wouldn’t mind if my daughter eventually found someone who thought the same way.”

    really? why is that? did you wait? did you want to? did your wife want to? i don’t get this whole “saving yourself until married” thing… waiting until you’re ready — whether a male or female — makes some sense in the grand “being in control of your life” sense. and of course, we’re still suffering under the double standard here — edward has had 108 years of experience, but bella is supposed to wait? i haven’t read the books, but since i’m opposed to the whole “abstinence only” stance, it sounds like i would be just as repelled by them as maryann is by the films. and there’s no way i’m seeing the movies. i’m just praying none of my nieces do.

  • Mimi

    and of course, we’re still suffering under the double standard here — edward has had 108 years of experience, but bella is supposed to wait?

    Again, sheepish to be the one providing Twilight factoids here, but for what it’s worth, Edward’s a virgin too.

    And what we learn in book 4 is that (1) married sex is hot but (2) married sex when you’re both vampires is HOTTT. Possibly with 14 or more T’s. Maybe because you’re both sparkling… rainbows and whatnot…

  • Bluejay

    @bronxbee: Hmmm. Good catch. That’s my residual Catholicism rearing its head, I think.

    For the record, I don’t support “abstinence only,” I encourage sex education, I have nothing against consensual premarital sex between folks of legal age.

    My daughter is eight and I still feel very protective of her. I suppose I projected my feelings forward in time, and thought that if her boyfriend (assuming she’s straight) held himself back instead of taking advantage of her hormones, I wouldn’t think badly of him. Again, an emotional reaction from a protective dad. I’m fully aware that she’s a smart, responsible girl and I intend to respect the choices she makes when she’s older.

    Thanks for making me think about this.

    About Twilight: You seem to have awfully strong opinions about something you’ve neither seen nor read. Might that be a kind of prejudice? If you check out some of the books or movies, you might confirm your opinions (or not), but at least you’d have a better basis for them.

    @Mimi: I for one appreciate the factoids. If we’re gonna argue, let’s argue about what’s actually there rather than what we think is there.

  • JoshB

    Again, sheepish to be the one providing Twilight factoids here

    No! Thou shalt not be intimidated. If you like Twilight then continue to stand up for it and yourself.

  • Mimi

    Aw, shucks. Well, I’ll just keep on being your vampire romance novel fact-checker, then.

    Yes, my husband noted I was even on the front page of the Washington Post this morning: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/18/AR2009111804145.html

    I couldn’t stop laughing when I read this. I should clip and save it, paragraphs 3-6 in particular.

  • Muzz

    I think having the twin faves of Burgess’s and Rand’s world views battling it out in my head would drive me to exquisitely chiseled sparkly vampire nonsense as well.

  • @Blujay: “My daughter is eight and I still feel very protective of her. I suppose I projected my feelings forward in time, and thought that if her boyfriend (assuming she’s straight) held himself back instead of taking advantage of her hormones, I wouldn’t think badly of him.”

    again, i have to wonder: why is having sex something for girls to be “protected” from? forced sex, for sure, but just good old, hormone inspired, feels good rubbing parts sex? why? would you say the same if you had an 8 year old son? and what makes you think girls/women don’t initiate sexual activity?

    i have my own battles with my catholic upbringing — mostly with standing firmly against it.

    as for the Twilight hating… it’s mostly from what i’ve read of reviews of the series, and the films, and from the people around me who are huge fans of it. it’s the whole idea of the passive girl, the waiting to be rescued thing… bothers me intensely. i wouldn’t say i “hate” it… i haven’t had that much interaction with it … but i don’t have time to do so either. i’m not 15, and i can’t go back to that kind of dumb innocence. believe me, i fell in love with many a fictional character as a youth. to each her own.

  • Accounting Ninja

    I once had a smarmy guy “friend” talk about his daughter and that when she’s a teen, he’s gonna kick all the boys’ asses, protect her, blah blah. He has two sons and would never think anything of it if they had sex. But his daughter! He claimed that I, a woman, had no idea what boys really thought, and that he did. And they were dangerously predatory and his daughter a witless victim? That’s how he was putting it. I thought it spoke more of his own projection issues than anything else, if he was the sort of guy who had predatory thoughts…

    But bronxbee you hit it on the head: the assumed lack of female agency always bothers me, but also this dumbass assumption that girls don’t have sex drives at all! It’s like teen girls are some neuter being with no desire at all. That those “hormones” were chiefly the domain of boys (the sexy ones, not the pissy ones. The pissy ones are all ours, ladies, according to common wisdom;)). The reality of my own existence (and sexual thoughts) as a teen flew in the face of what I was told, even by my elders, about what girls really were. But instead of thinking they were wrong, I felt defective and like it was something girls should keep secret. And I always felt angry and defensive if a male relative, even in jest, talked about kicking a crush’s ass. I felt like saying, “Maybe *I* want to fuck *him*! Ever think of that? Maybe you should protect him from me!” >:) )

  • Paul

    Edward is a 100 year old virgin? No wonder he’s a little bonkers.

    @Accounting Ninja: I think you meant “Hey bro.” Reading it the way you spelled it led me down the wrong path of metaphor.

    As for the girl dating, sex thing, I guess the only thing I can do is stick her in a judo club when she’s ten and by the time she’s 16 I can probably relax. I’ll probably do the same for a son if he comes home and complains about being bullied.

  • Bluejay

    what makes you think girls/women don’t initiate sexual activity?

    What makes you think I think that? (And boy, if you knew my wife, you’d never think I thought that.) Did you not read the part where I acknowledged my daughter’s hormones? Did you miss the part where I said I would respect her choices (implying, I hoped, that I know she has agency)? I acknowledged my Catholic upbringing and my protective-dad emotions, but did I not make it clear that I also resist that upbringing, and that I would try to do better than my kneejerk reactions? Well, let me make it clear now.

    would you say the same if you had an 8 year old son?

    If I had a son, I would hope that he treated women with respect. That he saw them as people first rather than possible fucks. That he viewed sex as something enjoyable to share with someone he considered special, and that he wouldn’t just go around sticking his dick into every willing body. (That part may seem old-fashioned to you, but it still seems right to me.) I would also hope that my son and his partner use protection so that they don’t make a baby if they don’t want to. And, as difficult as I know it is to do, I would hope that he keeps those things in mind even as he’s swept up by his hormones, and that he tries to be in charge of his hormones rather than let them take charge of him.

    Pretty much the same things I hope for my daughter.

  • Knightgee

    But bronxbee you hit it on the head: the assumed lack of female agency always bothers me, but also this dumbass assumption that girls don’t have sex drives at all! It’s like teen girls are some neuter being with no desire at all.

    This is actually one of the few things I liked about Twilight as a book. In the book, Bella is very sexual. She initiates most of their physical contact and is always eager to take it further. One of the things I disliked about it however was that it was always up to Edward to reel her back in and keep her fires quenched, so to speak. What could have come off as a nice role reversal of a sexually adventurous girl dating a virginal boy apprehensive about the idea of sex came off as yet another instance of female passion needing to be reined in by a man’s strong control. It was just yet another way he could keep her in line. It’s a shame too, because I think a dynamic where her sexuality actually makes him stumble and trip over himself, for once demonstrating something less than absolute control and perfection could have actually granted some personality to both him and their relationship.

  • Paul

    @Knightgee: Yeah, that sounds like a great story idea, if Edward was a human, 17-year old virgin. Unfortunately, he’s a vampire, and a loss of control means turning Bella into a fine, very full bodied wine. Yet another reason for me to not like paranormal romances.

  • Knightgee

    @Paul: That actually brings up another complication though, because I never, as a reader, got the impression that Edward would lose control and munch on Bella as easily as he claimed. He swore up and down that he couldn’t resist her, but aside from the small part at the end of the first movie/book, he does little to show he really isn’t in complete control around her and anyone whose seen new moon or read it’s opening chapters knows he is given the perfect opportunity to munch her and doesn’t seem at all interested. In fact, we find out in the third book that he has all but gotten over it(I’m hesitant to call this a spoiler because it’s treated so matter-of-fact in the book that it hardly counts as a revelation so much as a minor plot hole being closed up finally).

    Alas, since vampire bites are often a metaphor for sex and Edward can’t let himself be out of control with Bella for even a second, well, I’ll leave you all to reach conclusions about what it means that he must keep complete control over both his passions and hers.

  • Muzz

    That’s a friggen exhausting video. Can I get the click through powerpoint presentation please? Yeesh (yeah, men have no patience for listening, I know).

    This video does, in part, tell the story of what’s going on here. Much is made, in the fascination (and the fascination with the fascination) for this series about the message that might be there, the subtext of obsessive undead virgins and chastity panic etc. But I reckon it’s hard to tell if any of that sticks, and so hard to tell if its as bad an influence as it can seem.
    It’s all really about a certain kind of talking and, as the video is really saying, talking-as-doing. Some beautiful boy’s endlessly whispered breathy obsessions are the bedrock of this stuff, the rest is take-or-leave fluff (and if you’ve got fluff on fluff then you need Fluffaway™). In this way all of us wishing for some more literary integrity, character, a better message (better acting, dialogue… oh my) etc are missing the point.

    On that level it’s no so bad, I guess. I’ve complained long enough about the dumbification of males in the last ten years or so. But there really didn’t seem to be a downside as far as popularity with young women went; plenty of girls do seem to love a barely restrained, self important goof. The popularity of rambunctious boy-will-be-boys energy seemed to be the way of things. But maybe not. Perhaps Twilight is the backlash that’s been brewing all this time.

    So I can talk myself out of a desire to protect people from bad pulp and it’s message, or lack there of. One thing still does bug me though; even at the level of love talk there were quite a few guys I knew when I was growing up talked all that stuff, complete with longing gazes and everything. Truth was it was still all about them. If it didn’t work on you, they’d just move on to the next target (or two). Mostly, the only way to find this out (if you aren’t a close male friend of one of these guys) is the hard way.

    There should be some culture jamming fan fic that tells the untold story: Eddy really went off the grid so he could go on a Total-Byron bender across the whole country.

  • MaSch

    If it didn’t work on you, they’d just move on to the next target (or two).

    As an ex-teenager who really could carry a hopeless, unrequited love in his heart for years, I wonder if “just moving on” wouldn’t have been the more sensible and less stalkerish thing to do. What’s the point in not accepting a “no”?

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