Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why Twilight?

Can anyone tell me what makes Twilight so darn popular? Because I'm rather clueless. The characters feel one-dimensional and riddled with teenage angst to me. But there has to be something there that draws people. Or people wouldn't read the books or watch the movies.

What is it about Edward that has millions of women salivating? Why? He's permanently 17. He's got more emotional issues than Angel. Well, all right, maybe he doesn't have that many issues. But still, Edward runs a close second. I guess I just see him as the product of a writer whose original intent was something along the lines of fanfiction. Edward really isn't a vampire. He doesn't have vamp teeth, staking him only splinters the wood, and he sparkles instead of burns in the sun. How do any of these things make him a vamp?

I've read Twilight.

And the first time I read it, I found it entertaining. About a year later I wanted to read New Moon so decided to refresh my memory by reading Twilight again. Huge mistake on my part. I don't know if my perception of vampires changed or simply my perception of heroes altered in that year, but what a difference. I've heard all of the arguments for Twilight and I've heard all the arguments against it. I can't make decisions for other people about this series. But I can speak my mind.

Edward is a devoted lover who refuses to sleep with Bella before their marriage. Every girl wants a guy like that; someone who'll respect her. But doesn't Edward's watching Bella sleep concern anyone? Doesn't his inability to stay away from her disturb you? Because it sure disturbs me. I mean, I remember Angel and Buffy's passionate love affair. Those two were completely gaga for each other. But Angel left. And he stayed gone. Because he knew that he wasn't right for Buffy and that it just wouldn't work. Turning her wasn't an option and there was no other way for him to be with her. Is it really just the simple fact that Edward feels like the perfect boyfriend and so many women don't have that perfect boyfriend? Because if that's the only reason why Edward is such a hit with women twice his age then there really needs to be some reevaluating going on in their lives. Seriously, ladies. Men aren't perfect. My gosh, just look around you. But expecting them to be Edward is expecting the sun to rise at night and the moon in the morning. It's not gonna happen.

I think this is what disturbs me the most about Twilight. This particular series of books has made women unhappy with their lives. I've read rants from girls who literally fell into a panic attack when a friend hated the series. There are incredible lists of married women who now look with dissatisfaction at their spouse. Twilight consumes their very existence! Everything is wrapped up in those books. I've even heard women talk about being afraid to read anything else because they don't want to like any other series as much as or even more than Twilight. That thought terrifies me! If I stayed locked in one fandom for the rest of my life, I would be ready for the sanitarium in a matter of years.

This doesn't even begin to cover Bella's unhealthy self-esteem issues. Does Edward help with her self-esteem? No. What about college, a career, making something of her life, accomplishing something important? Bella doesn't want any of that. When Edward left her in New Moon, which was the right decision if he could have stuck with it, Bella was a mess. She did nothing but sit and mope and brood for months. Then when she finally started snapping out of it, it was only to commit dangerous acts that gave her a chance to catch a quick glimpse of Edward through a vision. Does that strike anyone as healthy behavior? Relationships end, sometimes for the better. But we can't just give in to the pain and agony of loss by not living our lives. I pray to God I never make the same decision as Bella. I never want to stop finding and loving new experiences. I never want to just let my soul die because one relationship didn't work out.

How is it that two characters, Edward and Mick St. John, can be so similar and yet so completely different? Edward expresses distinct stalker-like qualities. He can't stay away from Bella, his every waking thought is consumed by Bella. Mick saved Beth's life when she was a child. He was always near to make sure she was safe, but he never, not once interfered with her life. It was accidental that Beth met him at all. His intention was never to fall in love with her. His intention was only to make sure she was protected. Mick let Beth make all the moves in their relationship. He never pushed for anything, never anticipated anything. He just waited, grateful for the chance to be a part of her life.

And Beth? She's a successful young woman! She pulls down a great salary, has a dream job, pays her own bills. She's made something of herself and she's confident in her success. Mick doesn't take her away from any of her accomplishments. He doesn't make her feel pathetic and lacking in self-esteem. He makes her feel safe, but not coddled, loved, but not smothered. Mick would rather cut off his right arm than make Beth feel as if she needed to change her goals to suit him. I only wish that Edward was the same. Bella's only goal in life, her single ultimate purpose, is to marry Edward. There needs to be more. So very much more.

I admit it, Twilight worries me. I've seen the effect it has on women of all ages. I don't want to read a book series that makes me unhappy with my life. Who of a sane mind would? For people who can read the books and enjoy them but have other interests, I say bravo! It's the women who've made Twilight their religion and Edward their God that have me running for the hills. If I'm gonna pick a vampire to love, Mick tops that list every time.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have an episode of Moonlight to watch.

2 comments:

  1. This is really excellent. I run a certain facebook page you're a member of, and I'm glad you shared these thoughts. The issues you mention are valid, and you express your concerns without sounding rabid or cross (I would know, I specialize in being snarky and cross). Brava, bravissima!
    -Miss Impertinence

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  2. You pretty much expressed everything I feel about "Twilight." I honestly do not know what makes it so popular -- especially with married women over 35. There are an astounding number of women in their 40's and 50's that adore this series... and that unnerves me, because when it boils right down to it, they are lusting after (and I do mean lusting after) young men who are depicting seventeen year old boys.

    If you have read the rest of the series, including and especially "Breaking Dawn," you will see an alarming trend of obsessive stalker tendencies in Edward -- that range into physical abuse. The honeymoon morning after scene in which Bella is tremendously happy that she finally got to have sex with Edward gave me chills... and not in a good way. Because she insisted on remaining human, she wakes up covered from head to toe in massive bruises -- but that doesn't matter to her, because she is so happy.

    Furthermore, the fans take it to the extreme. They don't want to hear differing opinions. They don't want to engage in conversation about it, unless it's positive. They don't want to think about the underlining ramifications. One woman, a pastor's wife, told me, "I just like happy endings," as if that undermines the books' inability to establish that doing the right thing can often mean sacrifices must be made. Bella gets everything she wants in the end -- she doesn't have to give up anything. That's neither good writing nor practical, and teaches a new generation of girls that pursuing the "bad boy" is worth it in the end, because you will live happily ever after... forever.

    Part of me, the tiny shallow part of me, wants to like "Twilight," but the overwhelmingly practical, feminist side of me is offended at its implications. Bella is nothing without Edward. Bah, I say to that. And Edward is no catch.

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