Thursday, November 20, 2008

On Twilight

Short answer: Painful to read, but I'm surprisingly meh over the social aspects. (For Baby-Boomers: "Meh" means "Apathetic", or possibly "Indifferent.")


Longer answer: I couldn't even finish the first one, it was so bad. I actually enjoyed Bella until she met Edward, so don't assume I'm hating on Bella. But the two of them together are insufferable. Not only is the writing bad, but the anti-feminist applications are appalling. Bella is a very normal girl with divorced parents who suddenly, for no reason at all, attracts the eye of Edward, one of the most beautiful men in the world, who just happens to go to her high school. The problem: Edward is a vampire. Why does she attract his attention? Certainly not by being special—the only thing special about Bella is her overwhelming talent for clumsiness and her ability to attract trouble. (I'm not being catty—both concepts are explored constantly in the book.) In spite of this, for some reason the scent of her blood is intoxicating to him. He can't get enough, he'll never leave her side, he tells her, and Bella responds by listing all the reasons she'll never be good enough for him, and he reassures her again he'll never leave her, and she protests he'll get bored, and…you get the picture. For five-hundred PAGES.  


It's every girl's dream, really, to think yourself ordinary your whole life and be resigned to a crushingly normal existence when all of a sudden Mr. Rochester—sorry, Edward—comes swooping down out of heaven to lift you up above all others, to proclaim your specialness before the world, to throw himself in harm's way for your precious skin at every opportunity. In fact, while writing this post about Twilight I kept humming the theme song to Cinderella, so intertwined in my head are these two stories. Although this fantasy is obviously terrible, insidious, and likely to make children out of grown women, it's certainly unfair to place the blame for the creation of this fantasy solely on Twilight. I mean, sure, it's a terrible example, but so what—Bella does have a few good qualities and there certainly could be worse role models. What scares me is the obsession that fully-grown women with husbands and children have apparently fallen prey to a kind of obsession with Edward and the rapture that Bella feels being loved by him. "I have no desires to be part of the real world right now," posted one woman in a fan forum. "Nothing I was doing before holds any interest to me. I do what I have to do, what I need to do to get by and that's it. Someone please tell me it will ease up, even if just a little? My entire world is consumed and in a tailspin." 


Uh, really? Wow.


However, other series and fictional universes have definitely created a similar kind of creepy obsession—Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings are great examples. So I find myself relatively compassionate toward Stephanie Meyer. She's a bad writer who's written a very bad, very anti-feminist series, but the obsession of grown women with the Cinderella fantasy is certainly not her fault. She's certainly accomplished more, writing-wise, than I have, and is probably a better writer after all that, anyway. 


A good write up on Salon.com is here. Be sure and read all the comments.



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5 comments:

alex said...

meh is now a real word:
meh

Wide Lawns said...

I could not possibly agree more.

C said...

I am SO glad I haven't read those books. Meh indeed.

Calsee said...

Thank You! I just fininshed book #2 and I was actually feeling guilty for not gushing. I couldn't help but make parasitic comparisons to the relationships... but I think that may be my own cynicism.

Anonymous said...

It was even worse as the series continues.

Yes, folks, this means spoilers.

She can't be friends with any other people anymore, only his friends. And her potential real relationship that she could have had, where the guy liked her for her own qualities? Not good enough. The poor dude was a werewolf, granted, and they never win in these things. But only likeable character then gets so obsessed with her that...?

I can't even write it, it's so damned stupid. Wikipedia gives it up, though.