After watching all that Doctor Who, I felt like indulging in some agreeable fluff. So this week I watched the first three Twilight movies again.
YES I KNOW. The Twilight movies are ridiculous, but unlike the books, enjoyably so.
Anyway, after I stopped being distracted by Taylor Lautner’s abs* I was struck by the similarities between the Edward-Bella love story and the Doctor-Rose story arc.
Spoilers for both Doctor Who and Twilight after the jump! Though, if you don’t already know how Twilight ends, I’d like to know what rock you’ve been living under. And join you there.
Anyway. Think about it! Both stories feature:
– an impressionable young girl and a much, much older man with serious issues (Edward: 108-year old vampire who looks 17 and hates himself for the murders he committed before he became a “vegetarian”; Doctor: 900-year-old alien who looks 35 or so, last of his species, lots of guilt and anger over his role in the war that destroyed his homeworld)
– said young girl is drawn by the man into his world, which is dangerous and exciting
– the man repeatedly tells her that she is in danger and while she can choose to stay, she would be better off going back to her normal life and forgetting him
– young girl has to cause her family and friends pain (Bella runs away in both Twilight and New Moon, hurting her father; the Doctor miscalculates and brings Rose back 12 months after she left instead of 12 hours, making her mother and boyfriend think she’s run away or been murdered)
– young girl is repeatedly put in danger by the man’s enemies (Victoria keeps trying to kill Bella to get revenge over James’ death; examples from Doctor Who are too numerous to list)
– at the end, the girl ends up in a completely different world as a different person (Bella becomes a vampire; Rose ends up in a parallel universe with the Doctor’s half-human clone)
And now, the dissimilarities!
The thing that makes them the most unlike – IMO the thing that makes the Doctor-Rose story about a zillion times better – is that Rose does things, while Bella is probably the most infuriatingly passive character in the history of fiction.
For example, when Rose is first separated from the Doctor (at the end of Season 2) it’s because she sacrifices herself to save Earth from the Dalek horde. It’s a mere chance that Pete comes back from the parallel universe just in time to save her from falling into the void. She does what she does fully expecting to die, because she is the only one who can save the world. It’s heroic and sad and awesome. In contrast, Bella and Edward are separated in New Moon because Edward decides he and his family are endangering her (which they are) and leaves town. Bella has no say in the matter and nothing to do except suffer.
Now that we’ve taken them away from their not-quite-human partners, how do our heroines react?
Rose: Joins parallel Earth Torchwood, works to protect the world. Judging from how she’s changed when she comes back in Season 4, she grows up, becomes more confident, educates herself. Builds a goddamn dimension cannon so she can get back to the Doctor. When she does get back, she helps him save the universe. Again.
Bella: Mopes. Has nightmares. Ignores her dad and her friends, who are worried to death about her. Emails Alice about how miserable she is. Of course she doesn’t have Alice’s address, so she just re-reads the returned emails and mopes some more. Takes advantage of Jacob’s crush on her to boost her ego even though she’s still in love with Edward. Starts deliberately endangering herself because it makes her see Edward’s face, eventually triggering Edward’s suicide attempt. True, she does save Edward’s life…by going to Italy and letting him see her. That’s it. That’s all she does. She doesn’t grow up, she doesn’t change, she doesn’t try to find Edward, she doesn’t try to learn from what makes Edward so awesome to her and apply that to the circumstances she finds herself in. She mopes and broods and eventually jumps off a cliff. The end.
Now let’s take a look at how their stories end:
Rose: After saving the universe, the original Doctor persuades her to take the half-human Doctor back to the parallel world. He (the half-human Doctor) can grow old with her and give her a more normal life, which the original Doctor can never do. (It’s really a perfectly-structured sad love story – there is literally no way for there to be a happy ending. Two Doctors, only one Rose! One Doctor is going to have his heart broken, and Rose is going to feel horrible for the loser no matter how happy she is with the other guy. I suppose if they wanted to do something really far out they could have had the three of them stay together, but it’s family programming.) She stays in the parallel world with her true love and they presumably save it from aliens every week or so.
Bella: On her honeymoon, gets impregnated with half-vampire baby that starts slowly killing her. Some tedious anti-abortion propaganda later, dies giving birth and gets turned into a vampire. Forgets whatever half-hearted ambitions she ever had (did she have any? I can’t remember) and lives blissfully with Edward and his perfect family and her creepy psychic baby. Vampire Bella is stronger and more beautiful than human Bella, but still vapid and irritating.
When I think about it, what I like most about Rose’s story in Doctor Who is that it’s about an ordinary person becoming a hero. Rose starts as an normal East London shopgirl, has all these fantastic adventures, goes through hell and loses everything, and emerges strong and compassionate and capable of anything.
What I hate about Bella’s story is that Bella doesn’t change *at all*, other than by becoming a vampire. She doesn’t seem to learn anything or develop or grow in any way. She starts out loving Edward and wanting him to turn her into a vampire. She ends up loving Edward and being a vampire. Yay.**
So why did I watch the movies? Like I said, agreeable fluff. And hot werewolf abs.
*In answer to the question “Team Edward or Team Jacob?”, I am on Team Jacob From New Moon. Throughout the series Edward is stalky, controlling, moody, and just not that attractive. In New Moon Jacob is a sweet guy with great abs who loves Bella and wants her to be happy. Why is this even a discussion? However, I’m assuming that sometime between New Moon and Eclipse he suffers a serious personality-changing head injury, because he suddenly becomes broody and possessive and stalky and kisses Bella against her will because deep down he knows she really loves him. Abs or no abs, that’s sexual assault and almost as creepy as Edward disabling Bella’s car so she can’t go see Jacob. Oh well. Team Alice!
**For an in-depth analysis of how Twilight is an extended Mormon sexual/wish-fullfilment fantasy, see here.