Beau Almost Gets Murdered, So Now We Know How That Part Gets Gender-Swapped: Life and Death Chapter 7 and 8

Life and Death Chapter 7: Nightmare

Beau gets home and has another symbolic dream. I’m starting to notice a pattern.

“Run, Beau, you have to run!” [Jules] whispered, terrified.
“This way, Beau!” It was McKayla’s voice I heard now, calling from the thick of the trees […]
And then Edythe stepped out from the trees.

Jules then turns into a werewolf (uh, spoilers???) and jumps at Edythe. Then Beau wakes up. Also McKayla was in that dream for some reason.

Unable to get back to sleep, Beau decides to do vampire research on the internet. At first I was going to make fun of how an actual plot point in this story was the main character googling what was going on, but I guess there are plenty of stores where someone, like, goes to the library to do research, so it’s probably not as dumb as it sounds. Not that there isn’t an incredibly stupid part of all of this:

Eventually I found a promising site – Vampires A-Z – and waited impatiently for it to load.

Look, I was in high school ten years ago when this story first came out, and even then we only ever went to Wikipedia to do research on anything. This is a story about supernatural creatures and the biggest thing I’m calling bullshit on is that the main character saw a website called “Vampires A-Z” and thought, “Yes, this is the website that is worth spending my time on.”

Beau compares the various vampire myths detailed on the website, but finds that none of the myths match either Jules’s legend or his own observations. One key observation made by Beau (and kazillions of Twilight critics) is that vampires can’t come out in the sunlight.

I felt overwhelming embarrassment. It was so stupid. I was sitting in my room, researching vampires.

well yeah

Beau goes out into the woods to clear his mind and see if he gains any new perspective on the matter.

First, I had to decide if it was possible that what Jules had said about the Cullens could be true.
Immediately, my mind responded with a loud and clear No. It was stupid to even consider the idea.

well yeah doctor who

Beau thinks about it just a liiiiittle bit more. Stephanie Meyer accidentally leaves workshop feedback in the book.

If Edythe was a vampire […] then what should I do?

This is a good question, because… well, it’s not actually clear why this would matter? Like, let’s say Edythe is a vampire. Then what? Where does the narrative go from there? Of course, this is a question that the writer asks themselves when crafting a logical narrative that the reader can begin to infer tension and consequences within. It’s less of a question that it makes sense for the main character to be asking about their own story.

Beau decides that the narrative must go forward, because – by golly – he just likes Edythe too much!

I was already in too deep. Now that I knew— if I knew— what could I do about it? Because when I thought of her, of her voice, her hypnotic eyes, the magnetic way her body pulled mine toward her, all I wanted was to be with her right now.

Fun fact: In the original Twilight, instead of “the magnetic way her body pulled mine”, Bella thinks “the magnetic force of his personality“. Which is hilarious, because 1) there’s TOTALLY NO DIFFERENCE WHEN YOU SWAP THE GENDER except obviously girl-Edythe has to have a totally bangin’ bod instead of, say, a personality, as well as 2) the notion that Edythe/Edward has a personality.

Although to be fair, neither of them are particularly strong in this "personality" department
Although to be fair, neither of them are particularly strong in this “personality” department

The next day, before school starts, McKayla tries to ask Beau out again, which he manages to sidestep by pointing out that Jeremy is really interested in her. Naturally, in a gender-swapped version of this story written for no other reason that to prove that male and female characters aren’t treated differently just because of their gender, there are differences:

  1. Bella says that she’ll “beat you to death” if he tells anyone that she told him this. Beau talks about “man codes”.
  2. Also Bella is writing an English paper on “whether Shakespeare’s treatment of the female characters is misogynistic”, whereas Beau’s paper is obviously not on this, because lol why would a boy care about misogyny? Additionally, Beau doesn’t even say what the topic of his paper is, so I guess he doesn’t even get to have a paper about anything at all.

Chapter 8: Port Angeles

Beau goes on a short trip after school with the other guys in the group to Port Angeles. He casually asks Allen if the Cullens miss school a lot, who tells him that they apparently go backpacking in nature all the time, without embarrassing about his obvious crush.

Allen was probably the nicest kid at Forks High School.

Wow, calm down, Beau. Maybe this is why everyone knows you have a crush on Edythe.

Briefly checking in on the original Twilight, we see that girl-Bella and her girl-friends have a whole conversation about how Bella’s never had a boyfriend, nobody’s ever asked her, and her friends grumpily point out that all their guy friends here have asked her out, and this is somehow ruining all of their lives. None of this is in Life and Death, which I guess we’re supposed to conclude means that the boys don’t give a shit about the girls’ feelings about any of this. Why the fuck not.

They have some time to kill before their movie starts, so the rest of the guys go to a video game store while Beau wanders off in search of a bookstore. He continues to have utterly nonsenical thoughts about Edythe.

I looked up and saw someone’s silver Volvo parked along the street-not a sedan, this was an SUV, but still-and suddenly I was mad. Were all vampires this unreliable?

Beau somehow immediately runs into a street gang apparently hiding some activity so serious that they immediately decide they have to kill him. I would start making fun of how absurd this is right there, but Beau also accidentally escalates the conflict vis a vis his clumsiness, all Jar Jar Binks-style.

My heel caught on something as I backed away, and I started to wobble. I threw my arms out, trying to balance, and the taller man […] reacted. He was pointing a handgun at me.

I can’t.

so maybe
Put your own “gungan-in-distress” joke here.

If it maybe seems weird that Beau somehow ran into a gang apparently doing something so heinous that they’re willing to escalate things to first-degree murder within a page or two, and that this doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense… take note that this is the gender-swapped solution for how this scene in the original Twilight was a gang of men chasing Bella to sexually assault her. So… I guess that this is a reasonable enough way to flip the scene around now that we have boy-Beau, but I think what’s most telling is that the scene looks so absurd now that it kiiiind of points out how arbitrary girl-Bella’s sexual assault scare was in the first place.

Suddenly, Edythe arrives on the scene in her silver Volvo, picks up Beau, and tears away from the scene. In the original Twilight, Bella friggin’ dove in front of the car before she knew it was Edward so it would have to “stop, or have to hit me”. Folks, this is totally the same story when you swap the genders, except girl-Bella will literally jump in front of a car in an attempt to evade sexual predators, but boy-Beau feels no need for any drastic action when he’s about to be murdered. Like we all anticipated, social commentary about gender in Life and Death is bleak as fuck.

Anyway, now it gets even weirder.

As long-time readers of the blog know, we got started reading Fifty Shades of Grey, which is notoriously a blatant Twilight fanfiction. I’ve never read Twilight, seen the movies, anything before, and when we started reading Life or Death, I was all prepared to start talking about how the gender swap treats (eg, utterly bungles) any meaningful discussion on gender. But somehow I TOTALLY didn’t prepare myself for any moments where I would go, “Hang on, this sounds exactly like Fifty Shades of Grey“:

“This may come as a surprise to you, Beau, but I have a little bit of a temper. Sometimes it’s hard for me to forgive easily when someone… offends me.”

Holy shit, Edythe/Edward DOES sound EXACTLY like Christian Grey. And it doesn’t end there. Because then Edythe takes Beau out for a surprise dinner date:

“I’ll fell better when you have some food in you.”

Holy shit, even the fucking food thing is ripped off from Twilight???

“Ugh,” I grumbled as I grabbed a breadstick.
“Good boy,” she laughed.

But it gets weirder: Edward isn’t even this pushy in the orginal Twilight. He just wordlessly pushes the breadsticks toward her. This dialogue was added. Did… did Stephanie Meyer make her rewrite of Twilight sound more like the book that famously ripped off Twilight?

IT'S *THAT* THE SAME?
WHAT BOOK AM I READING?

On their date, they decide to go ahead and just get this vampire business out of the way already and begin to talk somewhat candidly about what that means – without actually saying the word “vampire” at least. Edythe reveals that she can read minds (which is how she found Beau in time to rescue him), but can’t read Beau’s for some reason. Edythe reminds Beau that she’s DANGEROUS, though, and points out that “Your number was up the first day I met you.” Incidentally, this is pretty much exactly how the first date goes in Fifty Shades if you swap out “vampire” with “BDSM”, and “can read minds” with “has so much money he can illegally track people’s cell phones without legal consequence”. So basically the exact same thing.

Even though Edythe doesn’t get herself any food (she’s a VAMPIRE, durrrr), she pays for the whole meal. Beau objects, and Edythe tells him to “Try not to get caught up in antiquated gender roles.” Shut the fuck up, Twilight.

We wouldn't even be here
We wouldn’t even be here right now if this was Twilight‘s genuine attitude towards that.

Anyway, I’ve said a lot of things in this post comparing the gender-swapped Life and Death to the original Twilight, and I’m curious what everyone else made of the changes in this chapter, because they seem very important. What do you think?

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12 comments

  1. Anonymous Reply

    I don’t see why it couldn’t have just been a group of drunk guys who thought Beau looked at them the wrong way and decided to rough him up.

    But it would have been interesting if it was the same scenario except Beau being sexually assaulted by women or even just a group of men. I would be curious how Beau would react to that.

    But oh, my mistake. Men don’t have to deal with sexual assault, right?

    Why is this culturally normal? A girl walking down the street at night is nearly gang raped. Same scenario, it’s a boy stumbling upon criminal activity and needing to be murdered. Why is the girl always the one dealing with sexual assault even in our fiction?

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  2. Benjamin Reply

    What were the guys doing? I think in the book/movie Bella and the girls were looking at dresses for the dance and Bella was completely blowing them off in favor of moping? Does Beau get taken to some sport paraphernalia store and look bored?

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  3. Cara Reply

    I feel like it would have been more interesting — and less absurd — if Beau had been personally targeted, the way Bella was. I understand removing the sexual assault, but there’s still just regular assault. What if Beau was perceived as feminine, or weak? If he looks like Bella, then he’s pale and thin with big eyes, and apparently he wears geeky T-shirts. Some guys on the street could’ve just thought it’d be fun to beat him up.

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  4. Jennifer Layton Reply

    This scene of Beau getting attacked is a perfect example of how SMeyer is failing in her attempt to show how Twilight was not sexist. This scene would have been a perfect opportunity for her to shut her critics up. Men get sexually assaulted too. It may not happen as often as it does to women, but it does happen. Beau should have had to face the exact same danger that Bella was facing in Twilight. By taking that element out of the scene, Bella’s attack scene in Twilight feels particularly gratuitous.

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  5. Pingback: The Lazy Reader’s Guide: November 9 – November 13, 2015 | Bad Books, Good Times

  6. svetasbooks Reply

    I did read Twilight, but it was so bad that my mind wiped it away completely. Now that others are mentioning it, why didn’t SMeyer have a group of gang-girls? Gangs of girls exist in real life as well, check out Deadly Women series if you don’t believe me. And yes, men can get raped or sexually assaulted by women. Its a pity that society makes fun of men victims.

    I do wonder if E.L James will be plagiarize this book just like she plagiarized other books by SMeyer. Might be interesting to read, but considering her position on how her books don’t perpetuate violence and that they’re only about BDSM and anyone who disagrees with her should rot in hell, I somehow doubt she’ll do that, although you never know…

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  7. Pingback: So Many Interrogations, So Little Time: Life and Death Chapters 9 & 10 | Bad Books, Good Times

  8. Skylar Reply

    I read an interview with S. Meyer regarding this book. She actually commented on the sexual assault part. Paraphrasing, she said:

    “Well, I wanted Beau to feel the same sense of immense fear that Bella had, but I struggled with it because I wondered, how could I do that? Men just don’t face the same threat that women do.”

    I got the sense that for some reason she liked how Bella could immediately sense that she was in danger and she wanted that for Beau. But wouldn’t it be better for Beau to think he was safe because he’s a man, and “things like that just don’t really happen”, and then be proved wrong?

    Easily, she could have gender-swapped the entire gang and keep the sexual assault threat. They could be semi-drunk women (who are using their “completely wasted!” condition as an excuse to be awful) who are trying to get him to come home with them. He’s young, looks like an easy target, and don’t all young boys jump at any chance of sex they get with those raging hormones? And then with each time he rejects them, they get increasingly angry because they’re offended that a man would even do that. Situations like these are real, too – generally, a woman will feel scorned far more than a man will if she is rejected after making it open about her wanting sex from a man. A women rejecting sex from a man? Okay. A woman rejecting sex from a woman? Okay. A man rejecting sex from a man? Okay. But a man rejecting sex from a woman… The man is going to get a lot of shit, from both men and women. This would have been a perfect opportunity to criticize that BS to the world.

    I also hate the fact that while Bella’s friends went to look for prom dresses, Beau’s friends go to a video game store. I get that it’s classic, and really, it’s fairly true to many teenagers these days. But the more you show how normal it is for those differences to be there, the more the teenagers reading it will think it’s okay. That’s how it should be. It’s not okay. Why can’t guys have more hobbies than video games and sports? I know a lot of guys, and seriously, their hobbies do not go beyond games and sports, yet the girls I know have an array of hobbies that they work on. It’s really saddening. Freaking show that guys are allowed to do and be other things, Meyer!

    I’m noticing that Edythe seems more talkative than Edward and perhaps more able to control her anger. Which just capitalizes further on the sexism. Edythe can’t be quiet and angsty because she’s a girl. It’s just not attractive. But on Edward? Oh the danger he represents! How sexy!

    I don’t know if I posted this before, but this is a nice place to see exactly how much FSoG took from Twilight:

    http://fiftyshadesofplagiarism.blogspot.com/

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