The latest installment in the wildly popular Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn, Part 2, hit theaters last week, and, as expected, it was a box office smash.
Bella, the heroine of the story, has a birthmark shaped like a crescent moon, and when she was a baby her parents told her it was a sign she would grow up to be a beautiful woman. Unfortunately, Bella is beginning to realize that her beauty will only bring her so much in this world. She starts to feel a little insecure about her looks, especially since she’s not getting any younger, and now that she has her own baby girl to care for, she doesn’t have the time to focus on her appearance as much. Naturally, this makes her sad.
While Bella’s insecurities are mostly the result of circumstances, they also play a role in her decisions, particularly in the final act of the movie. Once again, the filmmakers for Breaking Dawn, Part 2, play on our insecurities as viewers by showing us Bella’s birthmark and letting us wonder if she’ll ever look the same way again.
The Birthmark That Won’t Go Away
The character of Bella is based on the actress Kristen Stewart, who has been featured in several of the Twilight movies. While Stewart doesn’t have a birthmark shaped like a crescent moon, she does have a more conventional looking one on her left wrist.
In the first Twilight movie, Rob Pattinson plays a character named Brooks, and it’s Brooks’ left wrist that we’re first introduced to. In that scene, we see little Brooks with his arm raised above his head as he sings to impress a girl. It’s a moment that immediately establishes Brooks as someone who is not only cute but musically talented as well. So, it should come as no great surprise that four years later, we’re still confronted with the image of Brooks’ left wrist. This time, though, instead of seeing Brooks’s sweet, innocent side, we see his darker side. He’s come a long way since then, but not nearly far enough. The fact that Stewart doesn’t have a crescent moon birthmark doesn’t make her any less of a Bella. It just means she doesn’t have one quite as unique as Stewart’s.
Degrassi: Next Generation
Though many may think that the Twilight movies are just a passing phase for Pattinson, the actor is actually developing quite the following in the world of television. In addition to starring in the Twilight movies, he has also appeared on a number of TV shows, including Showtime’s Shameless and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and was recently featured in an episode of the Netflix anthology series, Degrassi: Next Generation.
Degrassi: Next Generation is a revival of the original series Degrassi, which originally aired from 1988 to 1999 and was created by Linda Evangelista. In the original series, a group of teens from different economic and social backgrounds migrate to a suburban Toronto school and challenge the ‘masses’ to a struggle for survival. The new version of Degrassi pays homage to that original spirit but transports the action to the modern day and adds a few modern twists of its own. The show centers around the students of DeGrassi College, a prestigious institution that provides an opportunity for socially aware teenagers from different backgrounds to learn and grow. So, in a way, it’s an apostrophe to the ‘80s.
In the new Degrassi, Pattinson plays the role of Damian, the leader of the Dalton Academy boys’ basketball team. When the show premiered, Pattinson was 16 years old and had just completed his first year of college, so it’s clear that his career in show business is just getting started. What’s amazing is that not only does Degrassi hint at Rob’s childhood love of Basketball, but that Damian’s nickname, ‘2K’, is a reference to the player Allen Iverson, who grew up in Dunham, a nearby suburb.
Damian’s entrepreneurial spirit is something that will be familiar to fans of The Twilight Saga, as he is the son of Tobey Maguire, creator of One Pawn Shop and Impulse Rider games. Like his father, Damian is determined to create his own business and be his own boss. He wants to be the best basketball player ever so badly that he’s willing to put his own feelings about his looks on the line. This is made explicit when he tells his teammates that he’s determined to ‘show [them] who [he] really is’ and that he’s ‘not [his] father’s Basketball son’, referring to Tobey Maguire, played by Dermot Mulroney.
In the final scene of the Degrassi premiere, Damian is suspended from school for breaking a bicycle latch and entering a gym that was closed to the general public. The show pauses for a moment as we watch Damian try to figure out how he’s going to get back to school on time for a game. It’s not just the suspension that’s holding him back, as he’s also feeling a little guilty about how far he had to push his team to win. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of feeling confident and secure on the outside but feeling a bit touched and ashamed on the inside. It’s this twisted sense of self-awareness and a genuine childlike innocence that make Degrassi: Next Generation such an important show. It’s a show that celebrates the beauty and the wonders of being a teenager. One can only hope that these movies and shows like it will help to create a more inclusive and more equal society.