Friday, December 2, 2011

Han Shot First: a self-serving screenwriter strikes again, Breaking Dawn

So I finally got to see Breaking Dawn and have a couple of observations, most of which only use the movie as illustration.  That is, this isn't a movie review.
My long standing annoyance with screenwriters messing with stories got a stir.

I take apart a Rosenberg interview on writing the abortion dilemma below. As mentioned, I didn't find Rosenberg's edit nearly as clear cut after watching. As a practical matter, whether Bella doesn't see a choice or makes a choice, without Bella's inner monologue from the book, the difference is not noticeable. The whole idea in the book was that Bella is in love with her husband and instantly recognizes that the baby is the product of their union and something to be desired. Codon is a man. Rosenburg has no children. Neither recognize that in most circumstances pregnancy is a blessing. And they certainly don't understand that many women's reactions to pregnancy destroy the notion of "choice."

There is a reason, besides allegations of mass cougardom, that women my age love the books. Stephenie Meyer knows what it feels like to be a mother. We read the chapter when Bella learns she is pregnant, and completely understood it. Sometimes the transition to protective momma is that quick, and that soon. Women are often struck by how quickly they become mothers. Guys and single women think it happens when the baby is born, but often it happens the second you learn you are pregnant.

Rosenburg, in her need to serve herself rather than the story, has excised that element of Bella's character and reduced the pregnancy line to mere personal desire on Bella's part. Ironic that the leftist feminist is the one to gut Bella's strength, because of course feminists only see strength in acting for the self, being true to the self. And here is where feminism and so many other Sixties -isms fail. Strength doesn't lie in service of the self.

MR's self serving edits probably explain why the movies aren't nearly as good as the books, either. She's editing concepts that she doesn't understand. Cultivated relativists, Hollywood intelligentsia simply can't write myth. Why is Hollywood reduced to remaking comic books, cartoons, and critically slammed novels?  Becauae those are the last places the chattering classes have looked to spread relativism.  

Joseph Campbell was right about the abiltiy of an archtype to propel a story forward. Deviate too far from the redemed rogue or the self-sacrificing hero and the archetype looses it's power to propel. This is one of the few advantages conservatives have left in pop culture. We can still write archtypes. And that is how Mormon Stephanie Meyer and Anglican JK Rowling fired up the book presses. They wrote the stories that sprang, almost fully formed into their heads. That is why SM can say that she didn't set out to make a political statment. She set out to tell the story in her head.  Rosenburg set out to make the political statement.  

The intelligentsia fancy that that can 'improve' the simpletons and capitalize on the successes. They don't see that they eviscerate the story in the process.  And don't get me started on beautiful writing for beautiful writing's sake.

A final note, it is one thing to see Kristen Stewart mention that their honeymoon scene had to be recut because it earned the film an R rating. It is a bit creepy, however, to see interviews with Melissa Rosenburg and Bill Codon making the same point with a wait for the DVD hint. Its kinda like 'wait for the DVD for a Robsten sex tape.' It creeps me out.

From a screenwriter Rosenburg and director Codon interview, I note: [comments in red mine]

The Movie’s Alleged “Pro-Life” Message 
Rosenberg: I am rabidly pro-choice and very much a feminist, and I would not have taken this book on if it was in some way going to violate my beliefs. No amount of money would have done it. And the book is very much Stephenie’s point of view, so I had to find out how I could tell this story without violating my own beliefs, and without violating Stephenie’s. So simply translating the book to screen isn't an option for her.  She had to bend the story to her beliefs.  Fans find this annoying.  Conservatives find it par for the course.  I really struggled with it. I talked it out with my sister, who is an ACLU feminist lawyer, and she pointed out that having a child is a choice, and that’s something that gets lost very often in the debate. So that was my way in.  Pro choice is their mantra, yet the fact that carrying a pregnancy to term is a choice is often forgotten.  I've been discussing this "choice feminism" over at the Dissenting Justice blog.  Prof. Hutchinson thinks that "choice feminism" is the main feminism.  But here someone like Rosenburg had to be reminded that choice might mean a woman makes a choice that she, herself, would not.  Yes, she came around to that view, but it wasn't her instinct.  
Condon: For both Melissa and me, that’s an area of discomfort. Talking to Stephenie, it was never her intent to make a political statement there. People see it as an abstinence parable, then she has sex, and pregnancy is the punishment for having sex, The complications of the fine distinction between punishment and simple consequences: pregnancy is a common, often sought, outcome of sex, not a punishment.  Conservatives are often dismayed by the pro-choice proponents often reflexive assumption that pregnancy is bad. Sure, in some circumstances it is not desirable, but it isn't punishment.  It is natural consquences.  which I think is reading too much into it. It’s Bella’s stubborn sense throughout the films of always knowing what’s right for her that’s crucial here and not any political position. 
Rosenberg: In the book, Bella doesn’t believe she has a choice; she’s going to have this baby at the expense of her own life. In the movie, that’s not the case. She honestly believes that she is going to survive this. Since I read this interview before watching the movie, I was looking for this distinction.  It isn't really there.  At first Bella thinks she might survive, but later knows she won't likely live, to the point that she tells Edward that he will at least have part of her, the baby, with him.  In fact, book-Bella is far more optimistic about her chances than movie-Bella.  I have friends on the right who have seen it who say, “Oh, this is a very pro-life movie,” and I have friends on the left who have seen it who say, “Oh, you really altered that point of view for the movie.” Bella says aloud, “It’s not your decision. It’s not any of yours.” And Edward says, “You chose this. You decided this without me. I don’t choose this.” It’s very much debated throughout.  As mentioned, I don't think the issue was further debated in the movie than the book.  I did notice something sadly common about this "my choice, not yours" attitude.  In deviation from the book, Bella does tell everyone it is no one eles's choice but hers.  Shortly thereafter, Edward, who has been angry with Bella for choosing to leave him through certain death, apologizes to Bella for leaving her alone in this, for not being there for her.  All too often in modern relationships, men are simply supposed to accept the dictates of women.  Women on the other hand are damn well entitled to Bitch status: a lover, a child, a mother, a sinner, a saint, who does not feel afraid.  We aren't going to change.  We aren't going to do anything for you.  (Continuing with the pop music analogies, we won't even write you a love song.)  You are a pig if you don't accept us just the way we are, but you had still better be there to support us.  A bit of a raw deal, no?  


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