Twins in Media: (Round 2) Hallie and Annie vs. Hikaru and Kaoru

Screenshot of Lindsay Lohan as both Hallie and Annie from ‘The Parent Trap’ (1998). Copyright goes to Walt Disney Pictures.

Hi! It’s Annie!

We’re in round two and finally starting to get into the twin representations that are actually pretty good! The first two are pitted together simply because they both fall deep into the mischievous twins trope; but both have been pretty consistently good up until this point. Really, it’s going to be difficult just because neither of these depictions of twins are really too bad at all. I’ve been known to absolutely roast any twin depiction that I don’t like on this blog, but I’m not sure so much of that will happen here (Editor’s Note: I lied). But that doesn’t mean that these depictions are great either. Obviously, the namesake of this blog is presented in this round and I solemnly swear that I will not let bias get in the way. Without further ado, let’s get into round two!

Audience Perspective:

Hallie and Annie: Plot wise, Hallie and Annie have it all. I mean, the movie is about them in the first place. We follow them from when they leave for camp at the beginning of the movie to finding out that they are sisters to them getting their parents back together. There’s no unevenness. We also get a good amount of them both together and separate within their own storylines. They do not have to exist as a single entity for the movie, so that makes each of them more well rounded characters over-all. Their character development is completed both individually and as a built up sisterly relationship. Hallie becomes very attached to her mother and wonders if she would love her if she knew that she wasn’t Annie. Annie must deal with Meredith and the upcoming unwanted marriage of her father. They also work through their differences at the beginning of the film and then come back towards the end of it to learn how to work as a team. This twin representation has also blown up in the media, which has been both a good thing and a bad thing. Many people do think of ‘The Parent Trap’ when you mention twins. Though some assume that twins look exactly the same because of this movie, they also understand that twins have different personalities. I really can’t say if this being a popular representation of twins is a good thing or a bad thing.

Hikaru and Kaoru: These two get a lot less when it comes to plot as they are both side characters. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t get anything whatsoever. Hikaru and Kaoru are mostly seen as a unit and mostly work as a unit throughout the series. Many of their plot lines are together. But there are some exceptions from this, especially when it comes to character development. The pivotal moment of each of their character developments happens in a completely different place in the plot for completely different reasons. Hikaru has to learn to let other people in, something that he learns when he develops a crush on Haruhi. Kaoru, thankfully, does not also have a crush on Haruhi. That would be really weird and kind of disturbing despite what the media would tell you about twins. Kaoru becomes more mature while looking after his brother and realizes that their situation will have to change if either of them want to get anywhere in life. Definitely a more practical approach to the situation. But this does not take away from the fact that they are almost always together in the plot and their individual storylines generally still somehow include each other. Also, can we get twins in media to stop saying things at the same time? Because it is absolutely not realistic. Thanks. Over-all, I hate to say it, but Hikaru and Kaoru have made a pretty bad name for twins in media. So much so that I expected to really dislike them on first watch of ‘Ouran Highschool Host Club’. Twincest is never and never will be ok to depict. I know that this anime acknowledges that it’s all an act, unlike some other media, but they still depict it. Twincest has led to much of the mass fetishization of twins, and I really want to punch in the face whichever writer came up with it. It’s based off the idea that twins have an unnaturally close bond. Give me a second while I go and throw up. This image has only been perpetuated by the fans who ship the brothers in masses. The media image of this portrayal of twins has been overall pretty harmful.

Winner: Definitely Hallie and Annie. They have much more individual storylines that don’t have to do with the other and their media image is much better for twins as a whole. Even though I am neutral about their media image. If I was to look at their separate images as though choosing which one I would be more okay with being compared to, I would NEVER want to be compared to Hikaru and Kaoru. I would probably be really grossed out. Annie and Hallie aren’t perfect, but at least I can see where you’re coming from there. I mean, we even compared ourselves to them for this blog. (As an aside, you don’t always have to compare twins to whatever pair of twins you’ve seen in media. It’s ok sometimes, just don’t do it all the time.) I also cannot express how important it is to show your twin characters apart sometimes. They don’t and shouldn’t always be together. My sister is my best friend so we are together often, but definitely not all of the time.

Twin Perspective:

Hallie and Annie: Hallie and Annie are definitely victims of the separated at birth trope and the mischievous twins trope. I know both my sister and I have talked about this a lot, but your twins don’t have to be separated at birth to have different personalities. Many writers treat twins this way, and I’m really not quite sure why. We’re pretty much regular siblings who are close in age. We aren’t clones. Most twins, obviously, are not separated at birth, so that automatically makes this portrayal of twins less realistic. Twins have also gotten the reputation in media for playing pranks. This is a reputation that has affected my sister and I several times in real life. We’ve never switched places, but we’ve had many people tell us that we should or that we’re missing out if we don’t. Even though my sister and I just wanted people to tell us apart so that they would start viewing us as individuals. We even had a couple occasions in middle school and high school where we were accused by acquaintances of switching places, even though we hadn’t. It’s a real pain trying to convince someone of the truth when they’re dead set on believing that you’ve tricked them. That comes even more into play here because the main mischievous thing that Hallie and Annie do in this movie is switch places. I also have to add here that they are both played by the same actress, which further promotes the idea that we’re basically clones. My sister and I don’t look exactly alike. I will grant you that we are fraternal rather than identical twins, but I have met plenty of identical twins that also do not look completely alike. Hallie and Annie do have separate relationships with other characters, which is great! I’m really peeved that the parents aren’t able to tell them apart, but I blame that on bad parenting. My parents have always been able to tell my sister and I apart. They can even recognize us by our voices. Over-all though, I really like this portrayal of female twins because they aren’t sexualized, they promote understanding of each twin as an individual, and they show twin siblings who are similar enough to be best friends without being exactly the same. Also, thank god that they barely ever speak at the same time or finish each other’s sentences.

Hikaru and Kaoru: They also fall under the mischievous twins trope, which I have covered above so I will not make you read any more on the subject. They fall under the synchronized twins trope too. This means that they are often saying the same things at the same time or finishing each other’s sentences. It’s almost as if they share some sort of weird hive mind. My sister and I will occasionally accidentally say something at the same time. It is generally a word or two and not a full sentence. Finishing each other’s sentences is even less likely to happen. We do not share a brain and we do not have a supernatural connection. None of that exists. With that out of the way, now I’m going to have to bring up the twincest thing again. It’s awful and one of my least favorite tropes for twins ever created. Every time I think that major media has finally stopped using this trope, something will pop back up like an absolutely awful game of Whack-A-Mole. (I’m looking at you Game of Thrones.) I’m absolutely done with seeing it. If you think it’s gross if someone implies that about regular siblings, then guess what? It’s absolutely disgusting for us too! Just stop! Also, Hikaru and Kaoru don’t have many different relationships except for with Haruhi. Hikaru has a crush on her while Kaoru doesn’t. Kaoru also seems to have a more mature mind that gets along better with Kyoya. But that doesn’t come up until the end and is only shown in some scenes. This portrayal of twins is definitely overly sexualized and only sometimes promotes understanding of the twins as individuals, but does still have twin characters who are similar but still different. I also really appreciated the episode where it referenced how wrong it is to have a crush on both twins, especially without bothering to get to know either of them. They portrayed the girls who did that to Hikaru and Kaoru as being mean. I cried while watching that episode because it was something I had gone through so much. People think that they can choose between us without there being a substantial difference instead of viewing us as individuals. I hate it so much.

Winner: I have to barely give this to Hikaru and Kaoru simply for having specific episodes that address twin problems that are generally not addressed in media. Hallie and Annie are pretty good, but I really want everyone to see those episodes before they decide how to start treating twins. It also hurts to watch Hallie and Annie’s parents struggle to tell them apart. At least Chessy and Marvin could tell them apart. They are the true MVP’s of that movie.

Result:

I could have given this to either of them as they both won a round. But I have to give this to the over-all winners, who are Hallie and Annie. Especially for being one of the only actually decent portrayals of female characters who are twins. They, in general, give a more realistic view of how twins are and how we interact with each other in general. Though Hikaru and Kaoru have taught some lessons that are pretty important, those moments were small compared to how the show generally portrayed them as side characters. Which was as a unit and barely anything else. Hallie and Annie are individuals and also best friends, which is the best way I can think of to simply describe my relationship with my sister. Hallie and Annie win the first battle of the second round!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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