How a Jacob/Bella Vid Helped Me See Intimate Partner Violence in Twilight

Trigger warning: each of the videos below touches on domestic violence, and the lyrics themselves are violent.

One of the great joys of living in a household of women I respect and with whom I enjoy spending time are the fantastic fights we get into. This weekend, four of us gathered to debate different interpretations of the pop song “Love the Way You Lie” by rapper Eminem and singer Rihanna. The controversy surrounding this song stems from its portrayal of domestic violence and its performershistories with that issue.

We all watched the original video, which probably deals most clearly with the violence inherent in the lyrics of all the videos below:

But once we’d covered the semiotics of Megan Fox’s hands controlling the fire until it consumes her, and how the chorus’s meaning shifts throughout the song, we sought second opinions: from fanvids. Always needling me about my attachement to Twilight, Lilly found this one:

Though most domestic violence analyses of the Twilight books center on Bella and Edward’s abusive relationship, this vid was the first for me to bring up the physical violence in Bella and Jacob’s.

Always on the lookout for a good Dr Who vid, I showed them this one (though it is a Harry Potter cross-over):

Most of the vids we found are like the Who one: they focus on the angst of the chorus and ignore the explicitly abusive content of the verses. These vids turn away from the horror of domestic violence, turning a nuanced and troubling examination of the ugly cycle of intimate partner violence into another dark love song.

Abuse: cycle of violence

At their best, fanvids bring out subtle tones in pop songs which the official videos did not. By taking content out of its original context and commenting upon it with the score, they give me a deeper understanding of the original shows/movies as well. Even at their fluffiest (and the Amy/Draco vid above is definitely not the fluffiest we found) they show how easy it is to bop to a good beat and ignore a song’s message.

Inspirational Quote:

“Most people use music as a couch; they want to be pillowed on it, relaxed and consoled for the stress of daily living.  But serious music was never meant to be soporific.”–Aaron Copland

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