Stephenie Meyer swapped the genders of Twilight (sigh) in some attempt to change our view of Bella's character as a damsel in distress. I did read the first Twilight (and subsequently subjected my roommates to many a dramatic reading of particularly potent passages) but personally, I have no interest in reading this retelling. My issue with Twilight is not that Bella pined for Edward and needed him to feel validation. Whatever. Meyer is hardly the first to write a passive character. My issue is that Bella did make active decisions in the first half of the novel by rebuffing Edward's advances, but then when she stops resisting him, all of her power is gone. The problem is that the book gets boring when Bella becomes passive, which is why switching the genders won't make a difference to me. That book has been written. (I assume. I only saw the movie:) It's called Beautiful Creatures and once again, one character has all of the power.
Which is why I found it fascinating when the film version of Ender's Game (2013) had this moment that didn't appear with such stark vision in the book. Near the end of the film, Ender leads his team to a victory in battle over the Formics. He's so exhausted, though, that he has to be carried out because he can't support himself. That moment was so cool to me. Even though this kid is supposed to be the hope and future of his society, his own power makes him vulnerable and in need of protection. The people responsible for him recognize that and rally around him.
I found a similar concept in the (painfully ill-advised) movie version of Vampire Academy (2014). The movie itself didn't have much to offer, but the same idea struck me: In their universe the vampires have magical superpowers, but they are completely vulnerable to attack. Their power makes them weak, which requires each one to have a personal bodyguard who can give them physical protection from other vampires and such. While Lissa can bring a person/animal/creature back from the brink of death, she can't stop someone from killing her and needs Rose to do that for her.
Maybe I enjoyed this concept because it balances out the power. Gives the character weakness etc. that makes the narrative more believable. If Edward had a weakness in Twilight that wasn't an actual person – like he's some hitman who's spent years crafting a rough exterior but still has a heart made of flesh and blood that can be pierced with just the right amount of sappy exploitation – maybe we wouldn't take so much issue with Meyer's portrayal of said person AKA Bella. Likewise, I don't think bringing to our attention that the narrative is what needs work, rather than the stereotypes engendered in the characters, is a move that will change our minds.
Thoughts with Alisa
Current writing on pop culture. Also known as my post-graduate school writing motivation.