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November 28 2009

The Screenwriter Of The Twilight Saga Films Is A Big Buffyverse Fan. The Twilight/New Moon/Eclipse screenwriter and writer/producer of Dexter tried to get hired by Joss for Buffy and Angel.

" Iím a huge fan of the Buffy series; I tried to get Joss Whedon to hire me early on, on that or Angel, but that didnít happen."

Didn't learn anything from being a fan of a strong well writen female character then. Harsh?
Since her Dexter episodes are all made of awesome, if the Twilight movies suck (don't know about that, never watched any) I suspect the source material (which I must admit I haven't read either) is to blame.

Edited to add an I.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2009-11-28 19:13 ]
I agree with the Groosalugg. I've read them, and I'm SURE it's the source material. Sparkly? Ugh. JMO
Yeah, she was pretty much the best writer on Dexter, a very good show. I don't pin the suckiness of the movies on her. It seems like her hands are pretty tied by the awful source material.
On the other hand... she seems to praise the source material sometimes in that interview...
Having literally JUST seen New Moon (it was free, aside from the 2 hours of my life i'll never get back) i'm gonna go ahead and venture a "thank god" that it never happened. I do watch Dexter, and i'm not sure which episodes were penned, but this movie was hands down one of the worst i've seen, writing included. And that list of movies includes the spirit and battlefield earth. It's like a pox on their record for me.

still, I suppose everyone's gotta get paid.
Yeah, don't hold the Twilight films against her. I can't imagine she has much control over what she writes for them, and her Dexter episodes are brilliant. I for one would love to see her writing in the Whedonverse.
xMaliciousMal wrote:
I do watch Dexter, and i'm not sure which episodes were penned


According to this Wikipedia page she wrote a lot of my favourite "Dexter" episodes.

Just to give an indication:

(The next bit is in inviso text, because of Dexter spoilers)


[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2009-11-28 19:48 ]
Interestingly, I disliked "Father Knows Best" and felt kind of down on "An Inconevnient Lie," although I did very much like the S1 and S2 finales, especially "Born Free." Oh well.
Could be worse: she could have written Alien Resurrection or Titan AE.

Perspective. Just saying!
Hey, I actually liked Titan AE.
Dunno if i'd say "liked" but i've seen far worse films than "Titan A.E." (though the point stands - no writer hits every ball out of the park and in a collaborative medium there's many a slip between pen and screen). As to the interviewee, her stuff on 'Dexter' was good to great which is enough for me - I don't intend to judge her harshly on hearsay about films i'll likely never watch myself.
I'm still sticking with it's ok to like both, which I do. Twilight is simple, but so what. Sometimes it's fine just to enjoy it for what it is and not over complicate it. The first Twilight movie sucked because of the directing, not because of the source material or the screenplay adaptation. I actually enjoyed New Moon quite a bit. Is any of it as good as Buffy? No, but there is still room for me to enjoy both.
I listened to Kevin Smith's rant on this and quite frankly I agree with it. It is rather ridiculous for fandom's to get arrogant about anything since what we're all fans of tend to be far-fetched to begin with. And Twilight is meant to be simple. Let it be.

Regarding the writer, it's not her source material so I'm not sure blaming her for Twilight is really a good idea any more than it's a good idea to blame Orci and Kurtzman for the over the top twins in Transformers 2. They're just doing a job for someone else.
It is rather ridiculous for fandom's to get arrogant about anything since what we're all fans of tend to be far-fetched to begin with.


I do on occassion wonder what it's like to be a fan of something that's hugely successful.
You didn't read Potter, Simon?
I like Harry Potter but I wouldn't consider myself part of the fandom.
Probably every fandom feels persecuted in some way or another. Even if it's commercially successful, it might not be critically so. If it is both, there are always people who will dislike it just to claim being a non-conformist.
I think it's funny that anybody would feel 'persecuted' because something they liked wasn't critically successful.
Agreed, Simon, with both of those comments. It sounds kinda weird to me. I mean, I'm a fan of alot of popular things, but not part of the fandom in any way... It seems weird.
Probably every fandom feels persecuted in some way or another.

And even if they're not actually being persecuted I reckon "us-ness" is part of fandom (as opposed to just being a fan of something) and an unfortunate part of "us-ness" is "them-ness" i.e. part of being in any group often involves actively affirming you're NOT in another group in various ways.

(watched Buffy from the start but I avoided the fandom for years partly because everyone seemed so vehement about everything, "hating" this or "despising" that. And there's me thinking that, brilliant though it was, it was still, y'know a TV show at the end of the day. Not really worth being nasty to people over)

I think it's funny that anybody would feel 'persecuted' because something they liked wasn't critically successful.

The tenor of a lot of criticism of e.g. the Twilight books/films is that they're so bad that anyone that likes them must be deficient in some way (mainly mentally). Doesn't seem strange to feel persecuted if you're basically being told you're an idiot for enjoying something IMO.
Well, I don't know about "persecuted," but it'd be nice to be in a fandom where the things of which we are fans don't keep getting cancelled!
In fairness, the things we're fans of usually only get cancelled once. It just happens a lot of times ;).
I got through the first two books of Twilight (since I never want to judge something before I try it), and too will say it's the source material. Hopefully. I've enjoyed some episodes of Dexter. But I will also say that Joss seems to have a knack for choosing writers that fit in, and perhaps there were other reasons she was never hired :p
C'mon, we haven't had it that bad as Whedon fans, re: cancelations, WilliamTheB. Buffy got seven seasons, Angel got five (but was by no means unjustly given the axe), so we only saw two Joss projects get canned early in Firefly (and even that got a bonus unexpected film wrap-up) and Dollhouse. His comics series have never been axed mid-way through either.

Bryan Fuller's fans have had it worse. Tim Minear's too (talking about his Joss-less projects, or for extra-depressing combo cancelation options, his collaborating on Wonderfalls with Fuller).
I was mostly joking, but yeah, Whedon has had some luck. Just making 7+5 years of Buffyverse, getting a second season of DH and making the BDH are pretty huge, I agree. I was just mentioning the only problem of being part of an "unpopular" fandom.

Fuller & Minear have had worse luck.
Wow the producer of Dexter a buffy and angel fan. lmagine that.
yeah, Tim's had it really harsh. I find it incredible that somebody can make such consistantly amazing tv and then have each show be cancelled quicker than the last (almost :P). Oh well, lets hope he keeps at it and we get some more 3 episode marvels in the years to come
Not just all their cancelled ones but all the ones that never made it to series too. Could you imagine what a Whedon/Minear/Fuller collaboration would be like? Probably too awesome for this universe.
Which would be why it would probably be canceled... oh, about seventeen minutes before they even invented it.
Didn't learn anything from being a fan of a strong well writen female character then. Harsh?
eth3er | November 28, 18:15 CET

No, just true.

Twilight is simple, but so what.
Out of Objects | November 28, 22:32 CET

Simple, fine. My problem is that the series is deeply, profoundly sexist. (No, I haven't read every word - but more than enough.)
hm, I read the book and saw the film, and as far as I can judge she tried her best to come in close to the books.

Well, personally I don't like it that much (a little to emotional, a little to girly), but than that seems to move the masses. So professionally speaking, great work.
I'd have said Buffy was hugely successful... but whatever...
I thought she did fine with twilight. She had no choice but to stick to the books and it's story, so with what she was given she made it work. Seeing her work on Dexter, I think she is a very talented writer and if you dislike Twilight, you should not hold it against her. How is she supposed to turn Bella into a "strong female character"? If she did that, it would be the opposite from the book and she would have her head hanged by a bunch of fangirls.
This is coming from someone who's a fan of the Twilight series (so take it for what it's worth), but given my opinion of how Melissa Rosenberg has adapted the first two novels (staying VERY close to the source material while simultaneously deviating when necessary to serve the particulars of filmic storytelling), I think she definitely could've given us some outstanding eps of both BtVS and ANGEL had she been successful in getting Joss to hire her.

I'm not getting the whole 'Twilight is sexist' and 'Bella isn't a strong female character' complaints, though. Yes, Bella is portrayed as quite vulnerable (and quite attached to Edward in a very somewhat cliched fashion), but that doesn't make her a weak character. Her behavior and portrayal also doesn't, IMO, make Twilight 'sexist', any moreso than some of Buffy's behavior in the later part of Season 2 and the early part of Season 3 (all of which is centered around her attachment to Angel and the emotional turmoil that resulted from him turning on her and her friends and her having to finally kill him when she had no other choice) makes her weak, or makes parts of BtVS 'sexist'.

[ edited by DigificWriter on 2009-11-30 00:59 ]
She can't function and is downright suicidal simply because she doesn't have a man in her life. That's why it's sexist.
The Dark Shade: Not sure if you've read the books or not, but I have, and I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that Bella's not suicidal; she's depressed and emotionally distraught by Edward leaving, but those feelings manifest themselves in recklessness, not thoughts of suicide. Her jumping off that cliff is a reckless act, not a suicidal one (even though Edward's sister Alice certainly sees it as such).

Even IF Bella's behavior in jumping off that cliff had been suicidal, that in and of itself doesn't make the books sexist, because I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that men get just as depressed as Bella, and for the same types of reasons.

[ edited by DigificWriter on 2009-11-30 04:56 ]
Well, Buffy did put up with a lot of crap from Angel, but it was recognized as such in a more objective fashion, both by her and the viewer.

Twilight offers no objectivity at all, partly by the design of its first person narrative and partly from Bellaís complete aversion to evaluating anything that happens to her. She is fully reduced to a function of the love narrative, built from the outset to be an empty vessel, and, I guess, a hyper-simulator of a young girl madly in love.

If the books are sexist or not will depend, I think, on reading it as pure fantasy as opposed to trying to relate it to something real. I canít help using the latter method and one passage in the first book that stopped me cold (Melissa wisely got rid of it for the film) is where Edward, frustrated as he is by his inability to read Bellaís mind, informs her that heíll spy on her via her friendsí minds. This is, as far as I can remember, the only time Bella reacts negatively to Edwardís creepy behaviour. Her objections are soon crushed with some deep and loving locking of the eyes, or some such, and sheís thereafter happy with his spying. Only when I concentrate hard can I faintly see the attractiveness of such a fantasy. Translated into reality it becomes downright horrific.

Melissa did a fine job of avoiding, or toning down, many similar instances from the books.
There is a slight 'creep factor' to the way that Edward and Bella behave towards each other in the books, particularly the first one, but the series is certainly not the first (nor will it probably be the last) work of mainstream fiction (literature, film, whatever) to portray a character (be they male or female) in a fashion that would be frowned upon in real life (The second Pirates film is a good example, as I had it pointed out to me by a very good friend of mine just how unhealthy Elizabeth's behavior with regards to Jack Sparrow was, AND how closely it mirrored the behavior of a very close female friend of ours).
I agree, but creepy is absolutely fine in entertainment/literature. Reality is not devoid of creep after all, nothing wrong with exploring that. What makes Twilight sexist in my view is portraying a girl/woman having been robbed of humanity. She has to be, because the love fantasy hinges, deep down, on her being reduced to a perfectly passive object with Edward her all controlling master. The first book comes across as oblivious to this layout. It tries to have Bella simultaneously in charge while being controlled (it goes way beyond ďprotectedĒ). And the only way to manage this without serious conflict is taking away her and the storyís humanity.
I read that sentence a couple of times Kris, and I assume you meant that Angel *was* unjustly given the axe? Or is that just how I feel? (I mean, second highest rated show on the network if I remember correctly! ...Wait, that does sound a bit high but at least I recall it getting even better ratings than the season before?)

As for Twilight... I am inclined to suspect that any qualms people have about the agency of the female lead is rooted in the source material moreso than the screenwriting. I actually read this article on io9 that put up a convincing sounding argument that the writer is slightly self-aware about the whole thing and put in some clever self-referential snark that didn't exist in the source material?
She can't function and is downright suicidal simply because she doesn't have a man in her life. That's why it's sexist.


Come on now, that makes no sense. Any teenager in love is like that, male or female. I'm not defending Twilight-- I've never seen it, or read it, and never plan to-- just young love.
the love fantasy hinges, deep down, on her being reduced to a perfectly passive object with Edward her all controlling master.
hence | November 30, 07:00 CET


That says it about as succinctly as possible. I couldn't agree more.
orangewaxlion, nah, I meant that Angel was canceled with justification (from a business point of view--still sucks that it didn't receive a sixth season from a fan perspective, not getting to see where certain arcs were headed). It may've been the 2nd highest rated show on The WB that year, can't recall, but I do remember that it mostly came down to 20th Century Fox setting the renewal of the licensing fee too high for The WB to be willing or able to pony up the cash for it.
I believe Angel S5 indeed placed 2nd for the network. If I understood it correctly the mayor factors for Angel's cancellation were (1) that the WB preferred acquiring Warner Brothers shows over Fox ones and (2) that Joss pressured for an early pick-up.
Interesting. I would've liked to see Rosenberg (hey, she shares Willow's last name!) write an episode or two of Buffy and Angel, even though I'm not a fan of the Twilight series. Well, she did get her dreams fulfilled -- in a way, she got to write for a series with an enthusiastic fanbase that involves vampires and werewolves.
Come on now, that makes no sense. Any teenager in love is like that, male or female. I'm not defending Twilight-- I've never seen it, or read it, and never plan to-- just young love.


Forgive me, but I don't recall ever having extreme nightmares because of a relationship burning out. Or sitting and doing nothing for months and months because the other person's not there. And I'm not all that far removed from "first love."

Also? They dated for a couple of months. That's it.
Forgive me, but I don't recall ever having extreme nightmares because of a relationship burning out. Or sitting and doing nothing for months and months because the other person's not there. And I'm not all that far removed from "first love."

Also? They dated for a couple of months. That's it.


I don't know about nightmares, but pining for months? Sure. A couple of months of relationship is a lifetime at that age.

Again, I haven't seen the movie and don't care to, but calling sexist on the love-and-pining aspect of it seems to be missing the point. Call sexist on the female glass ceiling in the workplace, or the military. But call it on a person's emotions and you've traveled to another ballpark. Her feelings are sexist against herself? They're wrong somehow? Nevermind that it was written by a woman and has a massively female audience. That's one of the central contradictions of feminism, when it decides to travel to that ballpark.
Yeah, I actually agree with dispatch on that. You cannot judge fantasies, and even feminists should be allowed to have them :) You can judge literature, however, and entertainment purely based on fantasy, lacking any attempt to examine or say something interesting, is almost completely without value.
Well, except entertainment value ;). Agreed, fantasies that stay fantasy shouldn't be judged and I personally believe that teenagers are, on average, pretty savvy about what's real and what's not and the line between. And also agreed, emotions run high at that age and we've all felt that the world's ending because he/she doesn't love me any more - I guess the point there is whether fiction should be aspirational first (i.e. set a good example) or whether it should be entertaining first and aspirational second (or not necessarily at all).

In some ways this kind of reminds me of "The Da Vinci Code", another book many people enjoyed but which many people consider to be very poor quality (i've only read the first few pages myself but they were pretty terrible) and some even consider to be quite sexist (apparently his female characters are all badly written, one dimensional "beautiful geek" clichťs, again I can't vouch for it). It also promotes frauds and hoaxes as fact and encourages credulity. But if people enjoy it they enjoy it, pointing out its flaws isn't going to change that (though it can be fun on occasion ;).
Thatís why I said ďalmost no valueĒ ;)

I partly blame Joss for this, but heís managed to spoil me with entertainment that encourages interpretation, and it has added to how analytical I am with popular culture. The few Dan Brown novels Iíve read I remember as being ... actually, I canít seem to remember them at all. But it wouldnít surprise me that if I reread them now Iíd find several things to be irritated with.

Twilight is perhaps worse than merely worthless. Itís not meant to be interpreted (but howíre you supposed to know beforehand?) and if you do itís a bit like getting punched in the gut with the horrible implications of its core surrender fantasy. And instead of me yammering about it here the author could have supplied the therapy of addressing some problems within the novel.
Thatís why I said ďalmost no valueĒ ;)

Fair enough ;).

I partly blame Joss for this, but heís managed to spoil me with entertainment that encourages interpretation, and it has added to how analytical I am with popular culture.

Damn you Joss ! *shakes fist* ;-). I guess I always saw books that way (and films) but Joss certainly made me think that way about television when I hadn't before. I still enjoy all kinds of TV though, the question I ask myself being "What is this trying to do and does it do it ?" - Stargate: SG1 is great fluff TV but it's still (mostly) great TV (IMO), being "fluffy" doesn't disqualify it from being great because it knows it's "fluffy". Buffy is great but not fluff TV. Is that a greater great ? That depends what I want when I sit down to watch the box. I like "active viewing" but sometimes I also like "inactive viewing" (or "less active" is maybe more accurate, you always get more from any TV show by paying attention). The two can co-exist quite happily in the same person, I know this cos I am the same person as me ;).

Seems similar with 'Twilight' (except it's possibly not even well made for what it is, not read 'em, can't comment). For most fans I doubt it's all they read. And it's a surrender fantasy ? OK, some women have those (so do some men), why shouldn't they be allowed to indulge in them if they choose ? It's only really assuming that it'll go from "surrender fantasy" to "surrender reality" that causes it to be considered as anything more than entertainment. Most fantasies have horrible implications in reality (of one sort or another - Buffy was a strong empowered woman. But she also had the weight of the world on her shoulders constantly and died - twice - before she reached her 21st birthday), that's why they should stay fantasies.
I wonít pretend to have a unified theory on how to evaluate entertainment. I just know that some things may affect your mood momentarily, and some things can be powerful enough to change a small part of you forever. I donít wish to overstate things, but I think itís true (except the forever part, that was a lie). How affecting something will be is predicated on how true it is, and this goes beyond intellectual truth.

Iím arguing that Twilight is untrue. Itís pure fantasy because it does away with negative consequence and inconvenient conflict, and itís not really about human beings; Bella may be madly in love and that can involve a fair amount of self-abandonment, but sheís been completely emptied. And whilst lies can be immensely powerful, they are kind of worthless by definition. I wish there were some interpretation of these things that didnít run headlong into anti-feminism (though itís more like anti-humanism, with a decent portion of, frankly disgusting, religious nonsense) because that might otherwise have added some value to it.

And it's a surrender fantasy ? OK, some women have those (so do some men), why shouldn't they be allowed to indulge in them if they choose ?

Indulge away, Iíd say :) I never considered my argument to have anything to say except for what constitutes good writing. If my criticism seems tortuous itís because of my dislike of dictating what is acceptable to write about coupled with the notion that there really is such a thing as a bad book.
I donít wish to overstate things, but I think itís true (except the forever part, that was a lie). How affecting something will be is predicated on how true it is, and this goes beyond intellectual truth.

Totally agree (given the same disclaimer to keep entropy happy ;), fiction can touch us and change us for life (though not all fiction does and which does is an individual matter). What I have real trouble with (in the context of 'Twilight' in this instance but any book or film's the same) is that it can take e.g. a normal (or average, however you want to put it) girl/woman and turn her into a simpering idjet thinking "Hmm, this autonomy lark is totally overrated, I need a man to tell me what to do". Fictional truth can provide a "tipping point" after many other influences have amassed or it can give you a slight initial nudge in a particular direction but it can't achieve a complete turnaround in character IMO (especially when it's competing with so many other influences nudging in the opposite direction).

If my criticism seems tortuous itís because of my dislike of dictating what is acceptable to write about coupled with the notion that there really is such a thing as a bad book.

I appreciate the line walking ;). Bad books exist by consensus IMO (i.e. what we mostly/all agree is bad technique is bad technique) but I don't think there're a set of rules of writing "out there" that are intrinsic and determine whether something's good or bad, there's no objective metric of badness (although we can arguably be objective about the consensus opinion *nods to GVH* ;) and very badly written books can still be very widely enjoyed and can still provide those changes/insights you mention above, depending on the individual. The closest we might come to intrinsic IMO is some "sense" within us based on how we understand language which could have a genetic component - some linguistic or narrative constructions may be more in keeping with that sense and therefore more appealing (the same may be true of some shapes/patterns/visuo-spatial relationships etc. and so results our "sense of beauty") but given the huge variety of languages around the world i'd say that intrinsic sense would have to be very generalised, almost more on the level of a physiological aversion/attraction (sort of like a pleasant smell).

All other criteria for judging art are born of culture IMO which doesn't necessarily make them any less "real" BTW (laws are partly cultural, you could even make a case that mathematics is partly cultural, they're still very real and very important to us) but it does make them (at least partly) arbitrary.
"Hmm, this autonomy lark is totally overrated, I need a man to tell me what to do"

Hehe, and yeah, these things do happen. Iíve witnessed it myself, and itís one of the few honest things that can be found in the first book. I think youíre absolute right when you say that it has to be part of the character before it can be ďtickledĒ by any fiction. Art in any form is not about moulding individuality; it is an instrument for introspection which in turn triggers change, at least ideally. In any case, something other than a book might trigger the same thought processe, so I donít think it would be helpful to avoid fiction simply because it can have an effect. Where Twilight truly renders a disservice to its affected reader is in its ignorance of the consequences of its premise. Introspection for that part will have to come from other quarters.

It really isnít helpful to label things as bad, you're right, because the concept is extremely fuzzy and relative, and it makes me sleepy when I think about it. On some basic level there is something like human truth, though. It may change, but we have time to talk about it because it moves on an evolutionary timescale :)

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