For another spooky article this spooky season, I wanted to share some thoughts on one of my favorite horror novels of all time Carrie by Stephen King. She deserved so much more and Carrie is an example of villains who should get more sympathy.
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Her mother was extremely religious, and abusive towards her daughter. She punishes Carrie for getting her period. Her period turned her into a woman which tainted her in some way to her mom. We can look at these points of exaggeration for Catholicism or Christianity as a critique and how it can be damaging to those who follow it and those who are forced to learn it and not being able to discover religion for themselves.
Then at her high school her peers constantly pick on her for different and who her mom is. She has no one in her corner until the gym teacher steps in and tries to help. But by the end the damage is done. The weight of her mother, the laughing prom goers as they stare at her covered in pig blood is too much, so she snaps. Carrie gives into her power and gets revenge.
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What I am very proud of Carrie, as a character is how her powers can be linked to her growth as woman and as her own person. Much like Matilda and Harry Potter, her powers come as an aid to her and make her special. But unlike Matilda and harry she doesn’t get a redemption arch or any type of happy ending and she truly deserves one.
I was a massive fan of Twilight; the books and movies still holds a place in my heart. I thought it be best to talk about this because the very first book was published on October 5, 2005.
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When I was younger I was obsessed with these books and I felt they could do nothing wrong but as I got older, I realized Twilight might not have been as good as I remember. My aunt had all of the books and she let me borrow them to read. I finished them so quickly, it kinda felt like a fever dream. I knew what the story was about, I fell in love (however very misguided) with Edward and liked how different the books felt to me.
From a young age I was into pretty macabre things. Like anything Tim Burton or Tim Burton-esque; basically anything considered to be weird. And that bleed into my reading. Anything that involved, vampires, werewolves, witches, I read and Twilight felt more adult in a sense. I suppose it felt that way because I was entering high school and consumed every piece of Twilight media throughout that time.
As an actual adult now, looking back at it, Twilight is pretty problematic. And a lot of the problems come from the characters themselves.
Edward Cullen, as we all know is Bella’s main love interest. He’s brooding, aloof, a hundred and something year old handsome vampire. So of course, he immediately is interesting to Bella. But he’s so closed off because of what he is and her blood calls to him so they can’t be friends. But he throws that away and wants to be with her because she’s not like other girls and he can’t read her mind.
His “over-protectiveness” comes across as completely controlling. And the excuse that he just wanted to protect her, takes away Bella’s agency as a character. Like she needed to be baby sat just because she was clumsy. Even before they started dating, Edward sneaks into her room and watches her sleep. One, that is very stalkerish behavior and he’s a commenting a crime, breaking into her house every night. How I found that romantic I can’t even tell you.
Jacob Black, the werewolf and her best friend, forcibly kisses her even though she has blatantly said that she wants Edward, NOT him. She punches him and because of his werewolf strength she hurts her hand on his face, which in a way punishes Bella for standing up for herself. And her father who is the chief of the police does nothing when he finds out this situation.
Jake like, Edward is horribly overbearing and tries to tell Bella what she should be doing or who she should be with. It’s extremely childish and again gives Bella, no character of her own.
And speaking of Bella’s character, she is so boring. Yes she was just a human in between vampires and werewolves but she could have had a hobby or something. She has a job which is great but we don’t get to see her do a lot outside of the love triangle. When Edward leaves, Bella is basically a zombie then when Jake rejects her friendship after changing into a full fledged werewolf, again for her own protection, nothing happens.
In a way to give her character what she wants more than anything is to get Edward to change her so she could stay with him forever and then to have their first time together. Okay? There’s nothing wrong with that but those are the biggest wants she has when the story is supposed to be centered around her. Up until she gets pregnant and her husband wants to get rid of their child. There is nothing that she wants for herself.
After she gets out of her depressed state, her goals should shift into figuring out how to navigate the world single again. She shouldn’t rebound with Jacob. She should try her best at school and try to hang out with her human friends. We needed more instances of her trying but instead she throws herself head first into her friendship with Jake which then starts to define her like her relationship with Edward did. It’s like once she learns about vampires and werewolves she becomes above her humanity. Her life isn’t horrible, far from it. And is she really ready to leave behind her family and friends? Because it seemed so easy to do so. She’s always ready to throw her humanity away for him.
Jacob stands as an opposition to that, he wants Bella to live a normal human life but with him, that’s the catch. She can still be human, go to college, live normally but with him. Do you see why picking either Team Edward or Team Jacob is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place? And Jacob is supposed to imprint which was basically him finding his soulmate but Bella isn’t that. So just be together until you eventually break her heart? Great plan.
This has been a sad trend in literature pushed to teens and young adults even to younger girls. The likes of The Kissing Booth and Afterwhich are much more recent, show how the main female character lets their relationship define them. After is a little better, I will admit but it still falls victim. They put up with unexceptable behavior and just because their love interest might be bad but has a heart of gold underneath and only the main characters love can change them, its fine.
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It’s as if all of these stories are trying to recreate Beauty and The Beast but completely misses the point. Belle, doesn’t change the Beast. He grows and changes on his own. When she makes it clear that she isn’t down with his behavior, he has to learn how to be human again. Sure at first it’s just to woo her because she can possibly be the one to break the spell, but he genuinely learns to respect her space, who she is and wants to gain her friendship and eventually doesn’t care of she is romantically interested in him. He enjoys her company and Belle sees all of his progress and falls for him because of it. Not because of PLOT but because you can see them organically develop feelings for each other.
Bella, Elle (The Kissing Booth) and Tessa (After) have magical ‘you’re not like other girls’ powers and put up with Edward, Noah and Hardin respectively even though they aren’t even close to being good boyfriends or husband. Again, Edward is controlling and can be violent. Noah is controlling, a womanizer and literally starts like three fights. Hardin starts dating Tessa because of a bet, lacks any type of emotional control and smooths everything with a dumb class assignment.
Now, I know that all of these characters are teenagers and in Tessa’s case a freshman in college, so they are young women. Not every choice made to stay in a relationship or things they have let slide in said relationship is the smartest choice. Because as young people we are still learning and growing but it inexcusable to keep getting books like this marketed to women. Not men but women. It trains young women into thinking this way, that it’s okay to put up with this behavior and that it is completely on the women to do the emotional work in the relationship while the men can do what ever they want.
And its kind of a shame because all of these books were written by women.
I know this started about Twilight but I got on a roll and had to get this off of my chest. But Happy Birthday, Twilight, you will always be remembered whether for good or bad.
Matilda was written by Roald Dahl and published in 1998, twenty one years ago today. It’s a pretty depressing book with an evil principle and mean parents but it’s very sweet as well and has some great moments. So here are some sweet quotes to help restore your faith in humanity even if it’s for a little while.
Image Via Quentin Blake
“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”
“Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable…”
“All the reading she has done had given her a view of life they had never seen.”
“If you are good, life is good.”
“And don’t worry about the bits you can’t understand. Sit back and allow the words to wash around you, like music.”
“Sometimes Matilda longed for a friend, someone like the kind, courageous people in her books.”
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a horrifying and hilarious masterpiece, and as with it’s author, every single thing about it is iconic. Sure, it might have been heavily redacted and then also banned, but there’s still a lot to unpack, and how better to explore gothic literature than through memes? You already know.
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This is when I admit that I never watched iCarly as a kid. Goodness only knows why, but I can see now that I really missed out. Still, the hilarity of trying to play off an ostrich needs no context, and recast as Dorian and his posse it’s a whole other level. Nothing’s up! Just being super normal over here, not selling my soul even a little. Anyone want a smoothie?
Show Your True Self
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I feel like this is a pretty modern take, actually. We’re the generation that can see a lizard just doing its thing and be like… “same, bro”. If someone had a horrifying portrait of themselves in their living room we’d think it was ironic or avant garde, or at least a big mood. What an eccentric he is! Plus, he might’ve shown a little more self control if he was looking at the consequences, even if he wasn’t wearing them.
Guess How He Looks Now
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I love how this trope started as clickbait and turned into a meme. Who cares about how child actors look now? Not me, and clearly not a lot of people, because it’s been eons since I saw a version of this that wasn’t a joke. Of course, this is a little funnier than the average fare, though. It actually manages to make me feel old, because I’m laughing at a Dorian Gray meme. No judgement. I’m just saying.
No Good Deed
Image via Gramha
You think you know someone. You paint them, you have all this sexual tension, you grant them eternal life, and what do you get as thanks? Nothing good, I’ll tell you that. It’s just like the saying. I don’t really have an excuse for using a meme this out of vogue, except to say that I still think it’s funny. We may all be used to airpods now, but I still accidentally talk to people wearing them. Not usually to warn them of their impending murder, though.
Art is so Powerful
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Basil really does get the treatment usually reserved for women burned as witches. Sure, he can do something supernatural, maybe, but on it’s face, it’s only helping Dorian. Like, no one made him act like a careless lech or drink all that. If I had a portrait that granted me eternal life, I don’t know what I’d do, but not what Dorian did for sure. Basil was just trying to be, you know, a bro.
I’ll be the first to admit that I hated reading the classics in school. John Milton made me mad, Shakespeare was a snore and Robert Frost robbed me of years of my life I’ll never get back. And because I was only exposed to those books, for the longest time I thought that was all that poetry was. But there’s so much more to it than that. Poetry is an ever-expanding, ever-diversifying form that isn’t just limited to stuffy poems ‘comparing thee to a summer’s day.’ But don’t write off poetry just yet. Here’s five books that go above and beyond what you thought poetry could be.
Olio is unlike any book of poetry you’ve read before. Named after the second part of a minstrel-show, Jess allows the title to inform the performance-like presentation of his poems. It’s like a seance, the way he’s able to capture up the very essence of history. The book is comprised of everything from interviews to songs to prose. Larger than the size of your average poetry book, Jess has pages that fold out to read, drawings, and even a cast of characters in this book. But the most unique poems are the ones that can be read in any direction. For these poems, Jess employs a particular style of writing that uses two columns to separate his words. The effect is that there’s a plethora of ways you can read the poem and amazingly whichever way you read it, it still makes sense! It’s an astonishing feat. This book is perfect for anyone looking for a book that expands the realm of what poems can do.
You might be familiar with the publisher of this book, Button Poetry, as they’re known for being the hub of posted slam poetry videos that have probably made their way onto your social media timeline at some point. Abdurraqib is possibly the coolest poet you’ll ever hear of. Not just a poet but also a pop culture critic, he’s written for the likes of MTV News, The Fader, and The New York Times. Abdurraqib uses his interest in pop culture, specifically music, to explore his own personal feelings and experiences through the lens of a Black man in America. What draws you in is the way these poems can be both read and performed. Many take on a certain rhythmic lyricism that those of us who’ve seen slam poetry might be familiar with. It’s both culturally relevant and completely accessible. For any lovers of music, you’ll enjoy trying to catch all the references from this relatable collection of poems.
Just the title lets you know you’re in for some insight. Warsan Shire is a name you’ve likely heard as being the mastermind behind the poems in Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Because of that, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard or read some of her work and it’s definitely worth looking into more of it. Shire manages to be bold and straightforward in her writing while also still giving us deep metaphors and one-liners that make you savor these words with a reverential “mhhh.” And the metaphors never get so wordy or heavy that you get lost in them. This chapbook may be fairly short, but it’s food for the soul. This poetry book was practically hand-picked by Queen Bey herself.
The poems in this collection are short but pack a punch like nothing else. Waheed herself is one of the more famously-known instapoets whose poems often appear as screenshots on social media. Her poems are typically only a sentence or two long. But don’t let the length fool you. These poems still leave you with something to think about. This is another collection of poems that veers away from what the “traditional” style of poetry is. The language itself isn’t terribly fancy or overcomplicated but her writing still holds a complexity to it. And with only a couple lines and a title (usually at the bottom of the poem) that is not something easy to do. These poems are a lovely match for anyone with a short attention span, anyone who is too busy to delve into longer works, or anyone who just enjoys beauty in simplicity.
The first thing that captures you is the stunning book cover. From there, you’re drawn into Faizullah’s world wholeheartedly. She writes with such fantastical flare that the book itself truly feels like a journey. Not only that, but her book has a myriad of different forms of writing that all come together to paint a picture. She has a poem that slinks down the page, another that uses staccato writing to emphasize her words and another that addresses homework from her childhood. Her poems take us all around the world from Texas to Bangladesh to Turkey to Iraq. If you love writing that takes you places, you’re not gonna wanna miss the adventure of this collection of poems.