Sunday, June 13, 2010

And It's Not a Freaking Saga Already!!!!!

Now this post has been marinating/writing itself in my head for . . . quite some time. So those of you who enjoy my rants - grab some popcorn or something. One could also consider it my extended comment in response to this and this, but it does technically predate them both. It just fits.

You might have noticed that Twilight fever is heating up again. And every time it does my Twilight rage gets more intense.

Don't get me wrong. I like Twilight . . . more or less. Heaven knows the writing is not very good at all, but it's decent enough to be a pleasant guilty pleasure from time to time. (I've mentioned this to a few people but I read enough truly terrible writing in college to be pretty forgiving with writing that actually gets published.) That said, I would not want any daughters of mine reading the series until they're 21 and I can't even pretend to control anything they do.

(Completely unrelated note: these books are definitely a series and soooooooooooooooooo not a saga. I cringe every time I hear it called such.)

So. Today we have, in no particular order, Lacey's Reasons Why the Twilight SERIES are Terrible Books to Put in the YA Section:

1 ~ Ummmmm . . . because they're about vampires . . . and everybody (well, almost everybody) knows that vampires are about the most blatant metaphor for sex in the entire literary world. Flashback: spring-ish 2008. Lacey's in Florida. Twilight is getting really big and Lacey has just discovered them. (random unrelated side note - I always seem to discover a series shortly before book 4 is released. Totally when I discovered Harry Potter too.) There's a bunch of girls chatting in the break room and Twilight comes up, and I ask a girl who's into vampires and vampire novels if she likes them. She says no. And goes on to say that they are clearly written by a very, very repressed woman and as such they are just not as good as other vampire novels and . . . she went on to say a bit more, but I don't really remember. At this point I was still reading the first book, and having read a vampire novel or two before I couldn't help but agree on her main point. A lot of anti-Twilight people online attribute that to Stephenie Meyers' religion . . . but since I'm, you know, the same religion I think I can pretty solidly refute that. At least as the sole reason. (insert your own crack about her collegiate alma mater being the reason she missed the vampire = sex memo here) But the whole thing really does have a slight feeling like I'm reading about someone's highly detailed fantasy. That's a little disturbing. I mean, does anyone actually want to read about a stranger's repressed desires? Well, really super creepy disturbed people maybe. All that tension's gotta come out somewhere, I guess.

2 ~ HOLY CREEPY STALKERIFIC!!!!!! I'll admit that the story is good enough that while I was reading I got sucked in and went a long with everybody in thinking how wonderful and thoughtful and sweet and blah, blah, blah Edward is. Then I finished the books and, unlike a depressingly large chunk of the audience, I came back to reality. And in reality, Edward is not a boyfriend, but an emotionally abusive stalker. I mean, seriously - disabling her car so she can't hang out with her other friends? Sneaking into her house and watching her sleep? Not cool. They say it's not stalking if you like it . . . but just because you like it doesn't make it right . . . or legal. Suffice it to say that this site really disturbs me. Some of it's not too bad, but holy crap. Dumping your boyfriend because he won't bite you? Making your husband sleep on the couch because he doesn't sparkle?! (side note - I find the sparkling thing a little silly, but I don't have as much problem with it as some people. There's only so many reasons one could offer to explain the "no sunlight" thing.) I really, truly fear for these girls who honestly believe that a cardboard cutout of Robert Pattenson is the best prom date one could ever ask for. There is a massive group of girls about to enter adulthood (or just starting it) who are convinced that this is the type of guy they should be looking for - a guy who tells them what to do and who they can and can't associate with and how they should act all the time. And they think the right thing for them to do is nod and look at the ground and race to accommodate his every desire. That is positively medieval! News flash - women aren't property anymore!! They should never have been to begin with . . . but that's a post for another day. Maybe. Get your own life and fit a guy into it girls, don't fit your life around a guy - who could possibly want their daughters learning that?

3 ~ Bella.

She is a terrible role model. She takes absolutely no action herself. Nothing. Everything she does is a reaction to what others are doing around her. Her life revolves around her boyfriend, and when he's gone she just quits living. So, so wrong. Even the Disney princesses rank higher than Bella in this one - none of them went out looking for a guy. The guys just kinda happened along as they were going about their lives. I mean, think about it. Cinderella didn't want to go to the ball in order to marry the prince - she just wanted to get out the house. Jasmine was actively avoiding marriage. Ariel wanted to be human even before she saw Prince Eric.

And then there's Bella Swan. She just sees Edward and before they even speak to each other her entire life revolves around him. And sure, break-ups are rough, but essentially becoming a zombie for, like, six months? Taking ridiculous risks to life and limb in order to imagine you're hearing a voice? That is not healthy. Granted, it is somewhat of a normal thing for teenage girls to be over dramatic and especially since this is a first boyfriend one oughtn't be surprised that her reaction is more extreme than it would be were Edward her fourth or fifth boyfriend. But doing this gets Bella her boyfriend back - essentially glorifying her method. I, for one, do NOT want my hypothetical daughters thinking they're nothing without a man in their lives. Especially after I had a hard time fighting feeling like that all through college. So. Not. Right.

4 ~ I seriously fear the culture . . . or should I say cult? . . . that has developed around the series. You notice Harry Potter fans, while they may be pretty die-hard, typically don't have a problem accepting the fact that it's fiction. On the other hand . . . yeah. Sad. And you know what really scares me? Twilight moms.

So. Freaking. True. You know the worst part about this? Teenage girls are more or less expected to not have a normal grip on reality and be prone to unrealistic fantasies . . . but they're also supposed to outgrow it. Clearly, many do not. Which just perpetuates - and reinforces - the cycle. Seriously. I want to cry for the fate of humanity.

Sometimes I feel like the only female on the planet who realizes that Twilight is just a book. Things have improved though. In our singles' ward in Florida our Relief Society more or less came to a halt when Breaking Dawn and the movie came out because nobody could talk about anything else. Our ward now . . . I haven't heard a word. My guess would have been that moms of little kids don't have time to obsess over fiction. But that kinda doesn't work because only about half the couples have kids, and there's plenty of newlyweds . . . who, presumably, were up until recently in singles' wards obsessing over Twilight themselves with all the other single girls. I mean, really, what are the odds that I'm the only girl in the whole ward who's read them? So not happening. I'm glad I don't have to hear countdowns to the movie at church though. Seriously, don't even get me started on my general opinion of book-to-movie adaptations.

And if you want to read some real vampire books allow me to suggest this. And this. They kinda rock.

Okay, so this didn't end up quite as rant-y as I was thinking it would at the beginning. But Twilight is totally getting censored in our house. Also: this says everything I've been saying, but much more eloquently.

P. ost S. cript
So I thought about posting some Twi-spoof - and believe me, there are plenty of those. Some are even pretty good. But . . . no. Also, one can never get enough pirates. Vampire overload is pretty easy to come by.


  1. 1. Unless one has actually attended her Alma Mater and had the educational experience there, they should not comment on it or the lack thereof, because they cannot speak with any authority regarding it. it is not all scripture reading and there is plenty of literary discussion of the memo type of which you crack wise.

    That said, these were not my favorite books and I have seen none of the movies. (I am, however, participating in my friends countdown extravaganza totally as a marketing experiment)

    2. YES!!! Someone else that Finally agrees with me about Edward!

    3. Ditto #2 but insert Bella's name

    4. I find this totally insane behavior. But it is not only Twilight. I saw Justin Beber on the Today show the other day and the moms were acting this same way. I was disgusted and find it highly disturbing.

    5. Sunshine by Robin McKinley is my favorite vampire book.

  2. 1. I don't doubt the quality of the academics there. My issues with the school are more culture-based. I was going for more of an acknowledgment that some (if not many) people will see that as the explanation for her writing quality/content. Hence the leaving it vague and not naming the school. Everybody can take a moment to be as snarky as they like.

    2/3. Seriously, why do so many adults not see this relationship for what it is?

    4. So icky. Just because the older person is a woman doesn't mean it's not potentially pedophilia, people!

    5. I'll have to check it out!

  3. I WOULD make a Y crack, but it's just way too easy...

    BEST POSTER EVER. I want them business card sized to pass out to a few women I know...

  4. While I agree with you on the insane nature of the Twilight books, I still maintain that there are kids out there who can see through it. And for those who can't, Twilight is sending a powerful message of abstinence before marriage, romanticizing the idea that it's beautiful that Bella and Edward never have sex till they're married. Also, I think the Twilight books are nowhere near as bad as, say, Anne Rice's take on vampirism with her homoeroticism and sexualized murder. Anne also has a cult following and she deliberately writes little asides into her books to blur the line between fact and fiction -- like where Lestat claims to have published her novels under an assumed name and he decries those who "mistake" the books as fiction. Twilight is really just a flash in the pan. Stephanie Meyer is no Jane Austen, and in a few years no will even remember her. She's harmless.

  5. P.S is a marvelous example of human buffoonery and I enjoy laughing at its contributors.

  6. P.P.S I bet all those people on mlit would find another way to humiliate themselves if the books sis not exist.

  7. Let me preface by saying that I haven't read the books. (When hasn't that yielded thoughtful, evocative commentary?)

    Regarding Bella as a poor role model...yes, that all sounds horrible. But she's also a main character, and as our ever-so-helpful degrees have taught us, one of the simplest ways to generate the conflict necessary for a story is to have a main character overcome their flaws.

    And the way you describe Bella, it sounds like she's a passive protagonist, a la Rick from 'Casablanca,' or Ebenezer Scrooge. They fight to maintain a status quo (like keeping her boyfriend), but must learn to forsake their status quoe, and take action.

    Scrooge spends most of the book (1) being a dick, and (2) rationalizing his dick-headedness, but he's still ultimately a role model, because he comes to regret his cruelties, and embraces kindness and philanthropy...but that's a fraction of the book.

    In short: does Bella learn to be independent, and take action, and willfully destroy her status quo? So long as that happens at the end, I'd imagine she could (and, for the sake of proving the significance of independence, SHOULD) sink to the lowest, nastiest depths of dependence for as long as the books will allow.

    ...and now I've pontificated all over your blog. Ew. Sorry.

  8. The simply fact that people find Twilight to be worthy of discussion says something about the book. I agree that it isn't the best writing ever, but the idea is unique, and say about Stephanie Meyer's what you will but she had the idea and executed it and no one else did. Sure Bella shouldn't be as much of a doormat girl as she is, but that's what brings the drama. It's a tragic love story of sorts, Inspired by things like Romeo and Juliet. Sure she tries to kill herself but at least she doesn't succeed.

  9. Ian - Pontificate away. I haven't had such an in-depth literary discussion since college. Definitely miss it.

    Anyway, in answer to your question I would say no, she doesn't become independent. She marries Edward because he won't sleep with her otherwise. Then she pops out a mutant half-vampire baby which causes a bit of a crises because of the whole "no child vampires" rule that seems pretty universal in vampire lit. Then she just watches everyone jump into action to solve the problem. She still doesn't really do much to help, and everything she does is suggested to her by others, not her own idea. At least in my significantly-less-than-humble opinion Bella at the end of Breaking Dawn is essentially the same Bella as at the beginning of Twilight. And as we all know the mark of a god hero is that they do something at the end of the story that they never would have done at the beginning. Doesn't happen here.

    Cyd - Thank freaking heaven she's a flash in the pan. Can you imagine everlasting Twi-mania?!

    Shayne - I'm not arguing that her vampire angle is original. Like I said, I can enjoy them for myself. I just wish they weren't marketed as YA lit.

  10. ...wait...she doesn't all? Does she at least have the opportunity to change, and then fails, thus becoming a tragic figure?

  11. Unless you count aging two years . . . or becoming a vampire . . . not really. I can't see a change, anyway. There's ample opportunity for her to change in at least a million different ways - and therein lies the underlying point to the argument. Bella is quite the tragic character (almost ridiculously so), but much of her audience sees her as the most successful heroine in the history of literature.

  12. Lacey: Please ruin it for me. How do these books end? I get the basic plot without reading them, but I don't want to Google anything along the lines of "how Twilight ends" for fear of what unrelated fanhorrors I'll find. She kills herself because Edward leaves the marriage after killing her half-vampire child?

    Please. I don't want to read the books. And, Ian, I love your literary analysis. Wouldn't it be great if we could have jobs that revolved around pontificating about plots and themes and characters and motivations, like we did in our lit classes?

  13. Ah Kate, it's something else.

    I'm going to assume you more or less know the plot lines of the first three books and just cover the fourth. Let me know if I need to fill in gaps.

    So Edward and Bella get married and go off on their honeymoon to some private island owned by Carlisle. (Do you feel like you're reading about a soap opera yet?) Bella gets pregnant immediately, and since it's a mutant half-vampire baby there's also morning sickness and a noticeable bump immediately. After a crazy pregnancy and excruciatingly graphic and gory delivery scene (especially considering how in-your-face the whole "no sex scenes" thing is) Edward has to turn Bella in order to save her life. The baby is named Renesmee after both their mothers, which, seriously? Why couldn't she just go with Renee Esme? If it was a boy it was going to be Edward Jacob, not Edcob or Jaward. But I digress.

    So the mutant is walking and talking and absolutely darling by about three months old some other vegetarian vampire with a grudge against them (I forget why) is coming down for a visit and sees the mutant from a distance and assumes they've made a four-year-old into a vampire which is kind of taboo so instead she decides to go tell the Vampire mafia, who also already have a grudge against the Cullens. So they put together a vampire army and fight to the death . . . everyone wishes. No, they get all their vampire friends together to spend months in Forks watching the mutant grow and change (because if she was a vampire she wouldn't), which causes the werewolf population to explode. We're talking - ten-year-olds are transforming. Kinda crazy. So the vampire mafia shows up and there's this big standoff in the woods and it's like "she's a vampire baby" "no, she's a mutant baby" "oh. okay then. never mind." Seriously. Most anti-climactic ending EVER.