Bella Swan sucks. Before I started writing this thing, I considered being impartial, but it’s impossible. Bella Swan sucks balls. Now Buffy Summers, on the hand, rules. I’ve heard some complaints about how this isn’t a fair comparison, since Buffy is a certified super heroine, whereas Bella is just an ordinary girl. But I don’t think the comparison is really out there.
There’s no denial that both characters are relevant, maybe even equally relevant. Now, Buffy fans, wait a second. Before you gather the mobs with torches and pitchforks, look at Twilight’s numbers: 120 million books sold. Over 3 billion dollars grossed in the box office. Those numbers are impressive. But does that make Bella Swan a better character? Not even a little bit.
Here’s something I learned on my first screenwriting class: Flaws add depth and make your characters more relatable. Bella doesn’t have any flaws. Sure, someone’s gonna say: She’s clumsy! But, in my opinion, something that is cute and charming cannot be considered a flaw. It sure as heck isn’t a character flaw. Bella is really smart and cultured, and although she claims to think otherwise, she’s very attractive (I’ve lost count of how many guys fall for Bella throughout the series).
Now, yes, Buffy’s also very attractive, and a few dudes fell for her when she first moved to Sunnydale. However, there’s a difference. Buffy IS supposed to be attractive. Joss Whedon created her to subvert the horror movie trope of the young, attractive blonde who always seemed to get killed by the monsters.
That is not to say that Buffy isn’t without flaws.
She’s stubborn, impulsive and unlike Bella, who at 16 has read all the classics and is a fan of Debussy, Buffy is a C average student (at best). I could go on, but these are just minor flaws.
While Bella is nothing but an idealized version of Stephenie Meyer herself, Buffy is a real person. There’s a great moment on season 01 which shows that. In the episode “Prophecy Girl”, upon hearing a prophecy that says she will face the Master and that he will kill her, Buffy’s reaction isn’t some sort of altruistic act. She doesn’t decide to face her foe, head on, like most super heroes would. Oh, no. Her reaction? In a heartbreaking scene, Buffy quits, because she’s afraid of dying. What’s more human than fear?
I guess, not all characters need to change. Not all characters need flaws. There is something called Catalyst Characters. But Bella doesn’t fall into that category because she doesn’t really change the world around her. Moreover, she is changed by it. As if Stephanie Meyer is telling young women all around the world that they SHOULD change in order to be good enough for their men.
Buffy doesn’t change who she is because of her lovers. Instead, they became better people because of her. Angel goes from being a rat eating bum into a champion who saved the world several times. Spike who was a monster, wins his soul back and becomes a man.
Edward is Bella’s whole world. When he leaves her, Bella basically goes catatonic for a few months, and she only truly ‘heals’ when he decides to take her back.
You could argue that Buffy had a similar reaction when she ran away to Los Angeles in “Becoming” (Part 2). The difference is Buffy killed Angel, to save the world. She was willing to sacrifice her own happiness for the greater good.
I love Buffy because she is a progressive role model who shatters the world’s patriarchal notions of gender roles. And I dislike Bella because she conforms to it and because Twilight sends a dangerous anti-feminist message, and the world doesn’t really need any more of that.
Alright, those were my 2 cents. Don’t spend it all in one place, peeps.
The Fat Man.
PS: Buffy would totally kick Bella’s ass.