Twins in Media: Flora and Fauna

Screenshot of Maureen Sue Levin as Flora Amor and Darleen Levin as Fauna Amor in 1991’s ‘The Addams Family’. Copyright goes to Orion Pictures and Paramount Pictures

Hey! Hallie here!

To continue our first group of Halloween twin posts, let’s talk about these conjoined twins from ‘The Addams Family’! These two aren’t in much of the movie, but they become a major focus of the Mamushka that occurs later on in the movie. Conjoined twins are always a difficult subject to tackle and almost never done correctly by writers. They are the types of twins most likely to be written as some sort of circus act or oddity. Given the fact that this is an Addams Family movie, I think you can tell this one might not go so well. We don’t have much screen time to work with when it comes to these two, but there’s plenty to dive into from what we are given. So let’s see how ‘The Addams Family’ fairs when it comes to accuracy.

The Good:

  • Two different actresses. These twins were played by actual twins. Not conjoined twins, but still twins. Maureen Sue Levin and Darleen Levin allow for differences to come through with Flora and Fauna, simply because they’re two different actresses with different skills. It’s also nice to be able to see the differences when you look between them. Twins may look similar, but there are always differences. As a twin who can spot differences between twins pretty easily, it feels much more like I’m being represented when I can tell there are two different people on screen rather than just one. Also, they have my respect for being able to move so well during the dance scene while being stuck in the same dress.

The Bad:

  • The same person. There are so many jokes made about this throughout their small time in the movie, and it kind of sucks. Sure they argue, and yes, they get offended when someone mixes them up. But those events are all used for laughs. The joke that stands out the most is said by Morticia: “You’re twice the woman I am”. This seems like a pretty light joke, but it’s exactly what twins want to stop seeing in media. Most twins you have ever, or will ever, come in contact with, have been told at some point that they’re basically the same person. Comments like these come from people who find it fun to see twins walking around and otherwise have no interest in knowing the large differences between the siblings. Twins are very different people who happen to look alike. There are no exceptions to this rule. Even when twins have similar interests, or are even conjoined, there are still major differences between them. Even if these jokes were only focused on the fact that these two are conjoined, it still isn’t acceptable. All twins deserve to be acknowledged as different people.
  • Circus act. This is the most frequent representation of conjoined twins we see in media. Conjoined twins are even more of a rarity than twins are, so the media has taken to treat them as an oddity. This is exactly what ‘The Addams Family’ does. While they might not be directly connected to a circus, Flora and Fauna are present at the Mamushka because they’re such an oddity, which works well for the Addams. Pointing to any person as an oddity tends to normalize separating them from the rest of society. Conjoined twins should not be treated the same as a man who is basically just a small mass of hair, or an animate hand. While two of those things are completely fictional, conjoined twins do exist and deserve to be treated as human beings. Not as some form of entertainment for others to gawk at.
  • The same lives. Yes, I know they’re conjoined twins. That leaves them with very little options. Still, as everyone does, they have different relationships with the people they come in contact with. Flora and Fauna, subsequently, should be allowed differing opinions on people they encounter and what they want to accomplish in their lives. They aren’t allowed either of these things. Instead, they act the same way around all of the characters and flirt with the same people. Sometimes they’ll get jealous of each other, but in the end their jealousy is brushed off as a joke. After all, both are still interested in Fester and have no problem when he shows affection to both of them. They also both went with Gomez to prom as his date. For regular twins this would lend itself to the fetishization of twins, but here it’s used for more comedy. ‘Why would anyone be interested in these two? They’re conjoined!’ Conjoined twins are no less beautiful or desirable than any other human. Conjoined twins also, as all twins do, have different interests when it comes to romance. It’s not likely at all that two twins, conjoined or not, would be interested in the same men.

So are Flora and Fauna a good example of twin representation? Why am I even asking this question? You know the answer. It’s no. They’re awful. They do more to make twins look like abnormal entertainment than regular people who deserve respect. To be fair, everyone in an Addams Family movie is portrayed as abnormal. But that’s usually because they have an abnormality that helps them fit into the theming. Like a mother who allows her daughter to brutally electrocute her son for fun. Flora and Fauna are only present because they’re conjoined twins. Not for any other reason. The writers needed to come up with something more creative if they wanted to use these two in ‘The Addams Family’, because conjoined twins aren’t abnormalities that exist for fun, gothic, entertainment.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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