Monday, November 16, 2009

FandomFluff: The Importance of Being Edward

The Importance of Being Edward

Hoosier Mama

One of my son’s high school classmates is named Gilbert. And he goes by…Gilbert.

I was totally jazzed to hear it.

“Awww that’s so sweet!”

“Why in the world would you think the name ‘Gilbert’ is sweet?”

I explained to my son that his mom probably named him after Gilbert Blythe.

“And who in the world is Gilbert Blythe?” He sounded irritated.

“The guy from Anne of Green Gables,” I replied. “The one Anne falls in love with and marries.”

For some reason my 16-year old son could not wrap his mind around the concept that parents would actually name their child after the love interest of a literary character. I tried to explain.

“Gilbert was a sweetie. And I suppose Gilbert is a better name to call your son than…Darcy.”

“Darcy is a girl’s name, mom.”

“Yeah, I wonder how that happened…”

He rolled his eyes at me. He does that a lot.

“Look, the equivalent today would be naming your son ‘Edward’…you know, the character from...”

“I know, I know.” He shuddered mockingly.
In ten to fifteen years, will high schools be populated with ‘Edward’s and ‘Bella’s? I don’t know but I do know what Shakespeare had to say on the subject…

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.-(Juliet, from Romeo and Juliet)

Yeah, well, clearly Shakespeare never wrote Twilight fan fiction. A name means everything to us. It tells us immediately who will get the girl in the end (or in a slash fic, who gets the guy in the…never mind). The point is, we immediately know who our friends are, who we’re going to despise, and who we want to see roasted for all eternity on a slow spit in the fiery depths of hell.

A beautiful strawberry blonde shows up in a fic named Tanya; what’s our immediate visceral reaction? No, No, No! She wants Edward; stay away from him, Bitch!

A friendly, good-looking guy meets Bella and introduces himself as…James. What do we readers feel? No, No, No! Don’t go out with him! He’s evil!

Angela = good. Lauren=bad.

Then there’s this new guy in the story. He could be anything from an unrepentant serial killer to a priest, but as soon as we read that name… Edward…we don’t care what he is or what he’s done. We simply relax, knowing that on some deeply satisfying level, we’ve found our man.

Just as Gwendolen would never marry a man unless his name was Ernest in Oscar Wilde’s play, we would never fall for a man in a fanfic unless his name was Edward.

(I’m sorry…I’ll never understand you Team Jacob types.)

It seems strange to me that we enjoy (ok, not just enjoy, but drool obsessively over) reading assorted stories that use the same names and descriptive appearances (messy bronze hair; chocolate brown eyes) for characters yet somehow we never grow tired of them. Doesn’t that seem odd? Doesn’t that take something away from the reading experience?

In order to keep some element of surprise, I thought if I ever wrote a multi-chapter fic, I would give Edward a nickname, so readers would be kept in the dark about his identity until the end. Or I would give a couple of guys the name Edward to keep readers in suspense as to which one Bella should actually be falling for. (I know - stupid idea. It would be way too confusing.) Maybe I wouldn’t use any of Stephenie’s names at all…but then it occurred to me that if the story were about Bill and Susan, I wouldn’t be writing Twilight fan fiction; I would be writing a damn Harlequin romance and…Eeew! Where’s the fun in that?

This is when I realized, we fanfic readers like knowing our characters ahead of time. Just like a favorite series of books or TV shows, or movies, it’s comforting knowing these individuals as well as we do and figuring out what the author has in store for them. The suspense comes with not knowing how our well-loved, familiar characters will respond to any certain situation.

Plus not everything in the Twi-dom is a given based on a character’s name.

A character named Jacob gets introduced. Hhmmm, suspicious... He could either be trouble with a capital T or a loyal best friend/big brother type. He’s ambiguous; we have to read more to figure out which incarnation of Jacob the author is using.

Or, my favorite, Jacob could simply be the name of Edward’s or Bella’s pet dog.

This knowing the true character of a character reminds me of an old silent movie that later became a fun play called, “The Perils of Pauline”. The dastardly villain wore a black cape and a fake handlebar mustache and every time he appeared on stage the audience would eagerly hiss and boo. Whenever the handsome good guy would walk on with a wide, toothy smile, the audience would stand, applaud and whistle appreciatively. In the fandom, we relish knowing who we’re rooting for and who we can metaphorically throw rotten tomatoes at in a story…and we can, based on their names.

So, a rose by any other name may in fact, smell as sweet. But in Twi fan fiction, no other name will suffice to describe the perfect tortured soul we all love to love, but Edward.

This has been a Fandom Fluffy Moment brought to you by
Hoosier Mama


  1. My brother named his daughter "Juliette." =D

    But... my other brother named both of his kids after Metallica songs. =/ (Anesthasia [Like Anesthesia] and Justice [Like And Justice for All])

    Fucking weirdos.

  2. You made me giggle aloud. "... or in a slash fic, who gets the guy in the…never mind."

    I love these, and I definitely needed some fandom fluff tonight.

    I'm off to bed still giggling.


  3. I work at a daycare in the summer and one of ladies I work with has a son named Jacob Edward. I couldn't help laughing every time she used his first and middle name when scolding him. He's ten so his name wasn't influenced by Twilight, but still, that's going to be pointed out to him for many years.

  4. So, how did the week of reviews go? I did quite well (only lurked on one fic I was morbidly curious about), but then we had ffn fail so I did slack off a little. But reviewing really wasn't that hard. And although some of my reviews were spectacularly crappy, I still left them :)

    I agree about the name thing. I finished reading Twilight and told the hubs that there will be a gazillion little Edward's running around soon. (And really, AG? Anesthasia? It could be worse. Some of my relatives bestowed whacky names on their young, too. And they were inspired by worse things than Metallica)

    "I’m sorry…I’ll never understand you Team Jacob types." I laughed my arse off.

    And Gilbert *swoon*

  5. i second the 'fucking weirdo' comment:

    my brother did a similar thing, naming his twin daughters: 'Lara' and 'Angelina'

    they were born around the time when the 'Lara Croft' video games and the movies with Angelina Jolie as 'Lara Croft' came out.

    not to mention the fact that my brother is a massive gamer nerd...

  6. Lol AngstGoddess003 those are rather unfortunate names.
    I liked this post though, I never thought about it, but it is nice having the familiarity with the characters

  7. Ha - Yeah, Anesthasia is an interesting one... though the real struggle may be having to correct everyone who calls her Anestasia instead. Hopefully the Metallica love rubs off on her and she thinks its awesome!

    I was thinking about this just last night! I was reading (well, listening to, actually) Twilight for the first time since entering the world of fanfiction, and read it just like a ff reader! It was bizarre, amusing, and a bit annoying. I kept seeing major characters where they arent, before I kick myself. A redhead at the reception desk? VICTORIA, oh no! - Oh, wait, not yet. - Kick - Ms. Cope. A short girl running down the hallway to befriend Bella - ALICE, Yay! - kick - Jessica.

    So apparently its not just names, but bits of descriptions that we've latched onto as well. Perhaps a bit too automatically for our own good!


  8. Thanks Sobriquett7 for your kind words.

    Frenchbeanz my friend...last week went surprisingly well. I'm currently working on the article describing my week spent reading and reviewing. But I think next week's article will be about New Moon. I figured everyone will be anxious to comment on it...

  9. Hmm. Dunno if I ever had a son that I would call them Edward or Jacob (or Jasper, hehe). Edward's a bit old-fashioned and I do like the name, but I'm sure that everyone (including my kid, I presume) would call him Ed or Eddie *shudders* Jacob's all right... I just don't really like the name that much (has nothing to do with the character) and Jasper is okay, but I'm Dutch and in Dutch the name sounds stupid. I prefer it in English, but then I'd have to live somewhere where everyone speaks English (not that I would mind, but still). As for girls; Bella is a nice name, but actually I think I'd like to call my daughter Belle and that would be short for Annabel(le). I love the name Alice, I already loved it before I even read Twilight, but then comes the being Dutch problem again *sighs* I don't even want to know what they'd call my poor kid in Dutch if I named her Alice *shudders* And of course ther're a lot more names, but I don't feel like discussing ALL of them.

    Liked the post though, it was fun to read!

  10. I never thought about what a twilight fanfic would be like without the names. It really would be a bonified Harlequin romance. For some (very obvious) reason that cracks me up. I think that part of the fun with fanfic is actually comparing the canon-story with the new, creative, concepts. If they had other names, it would just be another story, not as fun in my opinion.

  11. First off, Hoosier Mama, I have been meaning to comment for a while now on how much I enjoy your posts, I am always excited to see a new one. They are not only funny but I usually can relate! :)

    I don't plan to have kids but if I did I think I would now seriously consider Isabella/Bella. Not because of the books though, but just because I like the name. And I've always liked names that can be shortened into a good nickname like Bella. (My name was always too short to do that so I've always been jealous of those who had names like that, LOL)

    I have been thinking for a while now that fanfic is in some ways very similar to Harlequin romances. I read the teen versions of Harlequins and Silhouettes when I was a teen but haven't picked them up in years. I have to admit I always thought they weren't "quality fiction" because the stories all invariably follow a similar plot and you always know the two main characters are going to get together in the end. But really that is true of any romantic fiction not just Harlequins...and that is true of romantic movies as well.

    Even though we have certain expectations when we see a character introduced in a fanfic of who that character will be with or what will happen, I still find myself intrigued to see the journey of how an author will choose to get them "there" in the end.

  12. CherBella:
    Amen! You are exactly right! It's the journey; that's the word I was looking for. And that's why we love to read fics.

    Thanks for reading. I'm glad you likey.


Spread The Word