Is the Twilight saga racist? Explore race and Mormonism in the series
“The Twilight Saga” has enjoyed a rebirth on Netflix over the past couple of months, much to our 2010s delight.
But in the years since the first film’s release in 2008 – and the book’s publication in 2005 – analyzes and revelations about the making of the hit series have tarnished his sympathy.
Among Generation Z, some accused “Twilight” to contain “Mormon propaganda,” which has been explored in this TikTok.
For the purposes of this article, it should be distinguished that Meyers’ more racial influences stem from Mormonism as it existed in the 1800s and 1900s, before the Church of Latter-day Saints rejected the term.
Although some black people say that racial discrimination still exists in the Church, Meyers’ books and their influences should by no means be a reflection of the attitudes of the entire Church.
Is “The Twilight Saga” racist?
From Stephanie Meyer’s alleged resistance to the selection of people of color to her racial biases more implicit in the books, there are plenty of racist moments in “The Twilight Saga”.
Stephanie Meyers is said to have resisted the casting of people of color.
Let’s start with the assertions of Catherine Hardwicke – the director of the first installment of the film series – in 2018 on Meyer’s influence on casting choices.
“I wanted the cast to be a lot more diverse,” says Hardwicke, adding that Meyer, who was raised in the Latter-day Saint Church, was resilient because of the way she envisioned her characters.
“Alice, I wanted her to be Japanese! I had all these ideas. And she just couldn’t accept that the Cullens were more diverse.
Hardwicke says the author gave up, refusing to let people of color play the Cullens.
“She said, I wrote that they had that pale, shiny skin!” Hardwicke alleged. Meyers eventually conceded that a black Kenyan actor plays Laurent – a terrifying villain.
She also allowed Hispanic and Asian actors to play Bella’s high school friends who are supporting characters at best.
Hardwick was a famous director before she was kicked out of the franchise and called difficult.
One could argue that his criticisms of Meyers are unwarranted. In the “Breaking Dawn” films, several people of color are housed by the Cullens as part of their international vampire army.
She also shows diversity in her inclusion of Jacob Black’s Native American Quileute community throughout the series – we’ll get to that later.
But Hardwicke didn’t even need to accuse Meyers of playing racial favorites when it comes to her characters – Meyers did it on her own.
Meyers vampires can be influenced by ancient Mormom teachings.
Meyers recognized that her faith as a Latter-day Saint – often referred to as a Mormon, though the Church discourages the word – influences her work.
It seems that some of the Church’s oldest racist teachings may have found their way into Meyers’ writing.
Meyers published “The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide” in 2015 as a manual detailing the world of vampires. In it, she doesn’t mince words when it comes to her character’s racial appearance.
She writes that vampire venom “whitens all pigments in the skin as it transforms human skin into a more indestructible vampire form.” White = indestructible. Alright, Meyers.
“No matter what a vampire’s ethnicity, a vampire’s skin will be exceptionally pale,” she continues, adding that darker skin tones may turn olive but will not be dark.
The skin tone approach evokes early Mormon teachings, often espoused by founder Joseph Smith. Smith reportedly believed in the idea of ”racial redemption” for people of color by converting to the Mormon faith.
Later, Brigham Young would teach Mormons the popular racist belief that blacks are descended from Cain, a biblical figure cursed for the murder of his brother.
When read alongside these teachings, Meyers’ pigmented skin whitening to create a pale, heavenly vampire figure takes on a whole new meaning.
The issues of racial discrimination that existed in Mormonism at the time Meyers draws its influence must be recognized in their historical context.
Racism was prolific in society at this time and was by no means exclusive to the Mormon Church.
‘Twilight’ can be an allegory of Mormonism.
It should also be borne in mind that, in the series of books, Carlisle Cullen was born in the 1660s. He formed his vision of saving human lives rather than taking them in a time when historic Mormonism was spreading in Europe.
Carlisle began practicing medicine in the 1840s, at the same time as Joseph Smith’s “Restoration” of the gospel in America.
His enlightened vision is a challenge to the original order of ancient Italian vampires, the Volturi, who are barely disguised as symbols of the Catholic Church in the book.
That Meyers is basing his book on some of the racism in Mormon history should come as no surprise given the Church’s obvious influence on his plot.
Native American characters are associated with racist tropes in “Twilight”.
The Cullens, so often portrayed with celestial imagery, capitalize on the well-established association between white and good.
So, in Meyers’ world, it seems entirely appropriate that the Cullens find deadly enemies in some of the film’s few people of color – the Quileute werewolf pack.
The “Twilight” films were once praised for choosing native actors to play these Native American characters and for not overusing harmful tropes.
But even these allowances barely veil Meyers’ discriminatory portrayal of the Indigenous community.
Edward symbolizes whiteness and Jacob, by juxtaposition, is anything but. He has black hair, brassy skin, brown eyes. Even his last name – Black – distances him from any association with lightness.
Jacob is the antagonist in Edward’s life and while he’s not necessarily bad, he’s certainly there to disrupt Edward and Bella’s love affair.
Then there’s the fact that Meyers makes Black and his colored companions a community descended from human-animal hybrids who morph into werewolves.
Jacob, with all of his dark associations, is a character whose sole purpose is to prevent Bella from obtaining the redemption from the vampires she so craves.
However, he ultimately fails and Edward gives Bella the ultimate gift – immortality as a pale, celestial vampire. Just like Meyers wanted.
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Alice Kelly is the news and entertainment editor for YourTango. Based in Brooklyn, New York, her work spans everything related to social justice, pop culture, and the human interest. To follow his Twitter for more.