'Breaking Dawn' screenwriter addresses controversy over the film's story
'Breaking Dawn' screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg counters charges that heroine Bella is anti-feminist and that the movie is pro-life.
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“They could have offered me the bank and I still wouldn’t have. In order to embrace it I had to find a way to deal with it. I also had no interest in violating Stephenie’s belief system or anyone on the other side. I feel a great responsibility that everyone should have their point-of-view. And their beliefs respected. So I really was struggling with it until I talked with my sister-in-law who’s actually a former ACLU feminist lawyer and a fan of the books. And she pointed something out to me (which is quite obvious but which I had overlooked) which is that having a child is a choice.Skip to next paragraph
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“It is a choice to have a child. And having not made that choice in my own life, having actually done the opposite, that had not really occurred to me. But when she pointed that out I was like, ‘Okay, I know my way in.’ And so for me, it was that Bella chooses this. Now someone else may not perceive that, and that’s great. They have their own point-of-view which is whatever their own point-of-view is. I didn’t need to make a statement about it, I just needed it to not be a statement on the other side as well. It’s a story about a woman who chooses to have a child. For me. That may or may not be how it is in the book. And some people will have issues with it.”
Many people find Bella to be a decidedly anti-feminist character, they feel that she is (seemingly) unable to function without the benefit of a male counterpart (be it Jacob or Edward) and are taken aback that she is willing to sacrifice her very person-hood in order to take part in the relationship with Edward in particular. “Someone said that to me and I thought, ‘Sacrificing?’ Wow, I never in a million years saw her as someone who sacrifices,” Rosenberg mused.
“I see her as someone very determined. She knows what she wants and she goes for it; whether it be this guy, or that she wants to be a vampire, or that she wants to have this child. She knows exactly what she wants and come hell or high water she’s going to get it. Okay so she might die and ruin Edward’s life (laughing) well, tough beans. You know she says, ‘I want this child.’ So that’s how I approach it, and that’s how I write. I think that other people see it very differently and I can only do what’s right for me. What fits my perspective.”
The screenwriter’s point-of-view raises some salient questions about how we collectively interpret the idea of feminism. It is interesting to note that self-sacrifice has been a theme in the series for nearly all of the characters, and yet it is only Bella’s willingness to surrender one thing (sometimes her life) for the sake of another that is called into question. It is also interesting to note that if Bella is dependent on Edward, then he is equally dependent on (and willing to die for) her, and yet, her character is the one that the vast majority of people choose to scrutinize.
That is not to say that the interpretations of the text are entirely unfounded, it is only to examine the lens with which we all choose to view feminism. Is a woman strong and capable if she chooses to forgo a family in favor of her work, and weak if she chooses the opposite? That seems restrictive, unfair, and the opposite of what is meant by the word — choice.
“I think it’s something that is often lost in the debate,” Rosenberg agreed.
“We are fighting for choice and she makes choices. She makes choices that I wouldn’t have made, and she makes choices that I didn’t make. But she makes choices that are true to her character. I think that’s an important message. But not everyone is going to hear it. They will see it with their personal perspective. Going in, my objective has always been to make Bella a very strong character. Right from the first movie on, and I think that Kristen has played her very strong. But people see what they want to see.”