What Stace had to say on Thursday, July 1st, 2010
Twilight and cynicism

No, really, hear me out here. This isn’t a “Twilight is great” or a “Twilight sucks” post. I’m not defending it, but I’m not raging against it either. I’ve just had a few thoughts abut it recently, and I thought they were interesting, and I thought my smart and wonderful blog readers might have some thoughts about my thoughts. So here we are.

I’ve read the Twilight books. Well, okay, I read the first three. The second, if memory serves, was the one I liked best out of those, but I simply could not force myself to get through the last one. I was dreadfully bored, so I skimmed it, and got the gist, and that was more than enough. And again, I didn’t hate them. I didn’t love them, by any stretch. I didn’t particularly like them. But I didn’t loathe them. I even thought–and it’s not an uncommon thought, I don’t think–that there were some good ideas buried in there, some really cool shit. And I admit as well that one scene in the first book, the one at the lake when Jacob tells Bella the legend of the vampires, was pretty nifty. I dug that scene.

But yes, I also see the problems. I see the essentially abusive relationship, the completely ridiculous parents, the ha-ha-semi-rape-is-okay bits, the oh-sure-it’s-totally-cool-for-adults-to-fall-in-love-with-infants bits, the female-sexual-desire-is-gross-and-must-be-suppressed bits, the creepy-religion-y stuff…you name it. I know it’s there.

Am I happy that teenage girls all over the world wish a man would stalk them, scare them, destroy their possessions in order to get them to obey, patronize them, treat them like morons? No. Of course not.

But here’s the thing. What exactly are the other relationship alternatives we as a society are offering teenage girls?

How many stories do we see about teen pregnancy rates going up? How many of the fathers of those babies stick around? How many women and girls do you know who’ve slept with a man who said he loved them or cared about them, and then dumped them shortly after they had sex? How many times does our society tell young women that for them to expect to be loved and taken care of by a man is ridiculous, a silly fairy-tale dream, and that they better get used to relying only on themselves because men won’t stick around? How many girls out there are led to believe that their only value is as a sex object? That being a sex object is the most important thing there is? How many of these girls have fathers in their homes? How many see men as people who drift in and out of your life, treating you sort of okay sometimes?

It’s not just about sex. I don’t mean to sound like I’m on some chastity crusade. But what I do think is that girls today are being raised to believe that they shouldn’t expect respect, love, responsibility, or anything else from men. That being cheated on is just the way it goes. That the only way to get and keep a boyfriend is to not mind when he treats you badly, to give him things, to not act like you really care that much, to place no expectations on him.

I realize I’m exaggerating a bit. I realize there are still plenty of decent people out there. I realize that things can be just as tough for teenage boys.

But my point is, our society seems to be moving further and further away from the idea that love is a valuable and good thing, that people belong together, that girls have the right to expect to be treated with respect and kindness, and that boys have the right to expect the same.

And that, my friends, is one reason I believe the Twilight books are so popular. Yes, Edward is a controlling jerk. But Edward isn’t embarrassed to care (he even says the L word!), and he doesn’t leave Bella at home alone while he goes out with his friends picking up girls. He doesn’t refer to her as his “bitch.” Once he admits he cares, he is committed. Twilight offers girls a view of a relationship that, if it’s not a great alternative, at least seems more secure than a casual hook-up. It’s a world where girls don’t have to be embarrassed to want a solid relationship, with a man who will care for and about them, and wants to make a serious commitment to them. It’s a world where, for all that the sexual attitudes in the book are troublesome to say the least, Bella’s sexuality and willingness to sexually perform is the least important aspect of the relationship.

And in this world it’s okay, even right, if the desire to love and be loved is the most important thing in your life. That desire isn’t pooh-poohed or put down in those books. It’s not treated as frivolity. It’s not spoken about or represented as if it’s a shameful thing to want to be loved or to be in love, and that any girl who thinks about relationships and romance instead of college and their investment portfolios are obviously ridiculous, irresponsible creatures.

Twilight offers a skewed view of relationship, yes. Twilight does not contain what I would say is a truly healthy relationship.

But Twilight is about a relationship, and Twilight takes that relationship seriously and treats it as an important thing, a worthwhile thing, a thing of respect. Something fulfilling. Twilight doesn’t put down young girls for wanting a boyfriend, or for wanting that more than anything else. It doesn’t make them feel as if they’re not good enough if they don’t know what they want to be when they grow up, or aren’t spending their every waking minute working hard and collecting references for college applications.

I don’t think this is the only reason; it’s just the only one I can fathom, to be honest. And I’m not saying any of this is a good thing, or that I approve. And I’m not saying Twilight doesn’t deserve the criticism it’s gotten; it absolutely does.

But I also think that in relentlessly attacking Twilight, we’re once again attacking these girls, too. We’re telling them, once again, that they’re stupid and silly for believing in love and for wanting it. They’re ridiculous for wanting a man to truly love them and to see something special in them. We’re telling them that the desires of their heart and soul are unimportant, and foolish, and that if they aren’t focusing their entire selves on future earning power and getting ahead they’re wasting everyone’s time.

And to be honest, I don’t know which of those messages is worse.

33 comments to “Twilight and cynicism”

  1. Lia Habel
    · July 1st, 2010 at 1:17 pm · Link

    I think this is an interesting take on the whole Twilight argument, and you bring up some points I hadn’t considered before. I’m going to have to chew them over.

    However, I’m inclined to respectfully disagree with your last point – I don’t believe that the vast majority of those attacking Twilight intend to attack its readers. I find that a bit of a stretch. I agree that some anti-Twilight stuff can get pretty nasty, and that Twilight fans are often the direct object of attacks and mockery, certainly. (I mean, just look at the Encyclopedia Dramatica page. It’s awful.)

    I don’t know. I’m still conflicted. I mean, I fully admit that as a young girl, I was all about The Phantom of the Opera – hell, it deeply imprinted my psyche, to the point where I still find that type of power imbalance to be kind of hot. I understand the allure of the seductive, enthralling, dominating man – boy, do I. But I’m older now, and able to see past the “mask,” as it were.

    I’m really interested in the different types of relationships that feature in YA literature, though. I know that when I created my hero and my main relationship, I actively kept in mind the sort of brooding characters and imbalanced, dark relationships that seem to be all too prevalent in YA lit nowadays – precisely because I wanted to oppose them and offer something different. I wanted to create a noble young guy who trusts the girl he loves. I wanted to create a girl who falls for the (rotting, obviously dead) guy because he IS so noble, and she deeply respects that.

    Anyway. Ramble, ramble.

  2. Gem
    · July 1st, 2010 at 1:21 pm · Link

    I get where you are coming from with this. I’m not a fan of twilight for a lot of reasons, and the relationship between Bella and Edward has always bugged me. in fact, Bella bugged me, because she could have been so much more, and possibly because she reminded me of a younger self, stuck in a semi-abusive relationship, but we were “in love” so it was ok.

    Yet I also agree with your point that it shouldn’t be wrong for a girl to want to believe in true love, and that having a partner that is faithful, supportive and kind is achievable. And yes, I agree that it is nice to see a book where the relationship was the most important part.

    And yet, that leads me back to my original issue with Twilight; a relationship is not worth having if it is skewed, and to me Twilight glamourises the type of relationship that I can say from experience is far more damaging that any one night stand is going to be.

    I’m not saying I’m right, just that it worries me, but my objections are coloured by experiences that would probably never enter the minds of the girls who adore these books. I just think they could have been so much better.

  3. Cameron
    · July 1st, 2010 at 1:23 pm · Link

    I completely agree with this article and if people follow what the Bible says about relationships then they’ll find themselves much happier and not wasting too much time on the wrong person. Also teens should listen to their parents more and not thinking that they’re only attentions are to make their life boring. People need to stop listening to the media so much and spend more time finding themselves.

    • Stace
      · July 1st, 2010 at 2:27 pm · Link

      Well, Cameron, I certainly agree that if we all paid less attention to the media and media-driven culture, we’d be a lot happier and better off in general.

  4. Tyhitia
    · July 1st, 2010 at 1:50 pm · Link

    Stacia, I agree with you. This is my take on it. I haven’t read the books, but I enjoyed the movies. The books could be giving a negative impression, but they’re just books.

    Parents need to be responsible for raising their kids and instilling values and teach them to love themselves. The media in one form or another always cast negative depictions and it’s up to the parents and us as a society to dispel these awful images.

    Since I was a child, I have seen nothing but negative images of Black folks everywhere. I never knew the negative people that were potrayed and didn’t want to. I especially didn’t want to know the people who thought it was cool to put those images in the media. Thank God that my parents were there to tell me that that ish was not accurate or fair. :roll:

    And I also agree with your last statement that the young fans do feel attacked. I’ve seen these girls apologize to bashers for liking Twilight or being afraid to admit they do. WTF. **sigh** I’d bash these baby pageants before I’d bash Twilight.

    Sorry for the long comment. ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. Jan Elkins
    · July 1st, 2010 at 2:11 pm · Link

    What relationship? When do they ever talk about anything of substance. If the basis of a good relationship is that you smell like really good food, then I would rather never have a relationship. Edward is a 90 something year old man in a teenagers body. He is a stalker who goes into Bella’s bedroom at night. Bella is a terrible role model. She loves Edward so much that she would literally DIE to be with him. So basically we have a dirty old man stalker and a suicidal teen. Frankly, teen prenancy is looking pretty good.

    • Stace
      · July 1st, 2010 at 2:24 pm · Link

      Hi Jan, thanks for commenting!

      I admit I’m a little confused, though. Did I say somewhere that I thought the relationship in Twilight was a good one, or one to emulate in any way, or that I approved of it? Because I kind of thought I went out of my way to emphasize that I don’t feel that way at all, and state emphatically several times that I think it’s an abusive relationship, not a positive one, and that there are many problems with it.

      My point is whether or not we’re giving girls better and more positive alternatives to that relationship.

      • Jan Elkins
        · July 1st, 2010 at 11:01 pm · Link

        Sorry, I did misunderstand. My Bad! I am relieved, I was like, what! how can she think that is good relationship. Whew.

  6. The Mighty Buzzard
    · July 1st, 2010 at 2:18 pm · Link

    Weโ€™re telling them that the desires of their heart and soul are unimportant, and foolish, and that if they arenโ€™t focusing their entire selves on future earning power and getting ahead theyโ€™re wasting everyoneโ€™s time.

    Kind of ironic that the modern feminist establishment is as much about telling women what they should think/feel/do as the previous male power structure ever was, yeah?

    And then there’s this…

    What exactly are the other relationship alternatives we as a society are offering teenage girls?

    Which implies that they can only have what society decides to offer them. It’s so screwed up that I hardly know where to start.

    Let’s go with that is not how you create “strong women”. The combination of the two is how you create bitter, frustrated women who then propagate the bitch stereotype.

    Here’s how you create strong women.

    A) Teach them to ignore both what passes for feminists today and misogynists. Their happiness is what matters and to hell with what anyone else thinks they should want or be.

    B) Teach them that when it seems like the world is a cold, indifferent, sometimes cruel place that doesn’t give a damn about them or their happiness, that’s only because it is. If they want more out of life than an average job or an average Joe, they’re going to have to work hard to get into a position where they can demand it for themselves. TANSTAAFL. If they want a good job, acquire valuable job skills. If they want an amazing man, become an amazing woman.

    Of course all that would lead to a generation of women who weren’t angry at The Establishment and wouldn’t donate money to The Feminist Cause, so it’ll never be taught. Cynical? Me?

  7. valerie63
    · July 1st, 2010 at 3:12 pm · Link

    I think that the Twilight series is nothing more than brooding teenage obsessive “love” while promoting chastity crack for tweens and teenage girls. And because of its success, many ya writers have felt compelled to follow suite to try to attain publishing contracts and bestseller success.

    I have never read any of the books. I tried to read the first one, but couldn’t get past the first 30 pages, because it was so badly written. I didn’t even know about the other more disturbing tropes. What about the responsibility of the writers and publishers? They are the cultural works in this particular “drug trade?” What is the responsibility of the writers?

    Society both shapes and is shaped by media- music, tv, movies, books, blogs, tweets, etc. Yes, it starts with the parents. But they can’t keep their children, especially their daughters in cultural burquas.

    I want to know where the great narratives are that don’t involve vampires, zombies, werewolves and witches– not that there is anything wrong with it. It would just be nice if some it it was used as a device to critique some of the really destructive things in our society.

  8. Allie
    · July 1st, 2010 at 3:44 pm · Link

    You raise a lot of really good points, and to be honest its uncomfortable reading because it hits close to home.

    I agree with what you say about expectations. I was 18 when I unexpectedly became pregnant with my son and as soon as I found out I was convinced my then boyfriend would not hang around. Never did I, for one moment, EXPECT him to. I had a long line of family and friends who couldn’t wait to re-inforce this belief and I told him I expected nothing and that I could cope on my own, blah, blah, blah. Then after a while, to no-one’s surprise, he didn’t stick around and I was left with a chorus of ‘I told you so’ and ‘they’re all the same’ from (and I hate to say it) mostly women.

    It was years later that I realised it was in all likelihood a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don’t get me wrong, he was no angel, but the EXPECTATION was for him to go and he knew it. In all honesty I can’t even say there was a role there for him – he would have been fighting the tide to stay.

    My second epiphany came a couple of weeks ago. I turned down a box of second hand ‘ordinary’ romance books. I don’t read them – can’t bring myself to pick one up.

    Then I realised that since discovering urban fantasy and paranormal romance a couple of years ago I have read those genres almost exclusively. So I started wondering why that was – why can I read paranormal romance and not romance?

    I realised that a large part of it was the ‘alpha male’ role in these books. I would simply not accept my own attraction to that type of behaviour in a ‘human’ I can only rationalise liking it in my own head if there is a paranormal aspect to it, e.g. he’s protective/ loyal / dominant because he is a werewolf / vampire / angel. The stories obviously scratch an itch, but my brain wont let me consciously acknowledge it because that would be…weak???

    Ugh, I feel so guilty for typing the above, that I have an overwhelming urge to head out into the back garden with a bra and a lighter.

    I am so screwed :roll:

    • The Mighty Buzzard
      · July 1st, 2010 at 4:39 pm · Link

      A strong woman should want a strong man, yeah? Why would you possibly want to get mixed up with someone who’s beneath you?

      • Allie
        · July 2nd, 2010 at 2:43 pm · Link

        Um. Well, if you’re going to make sense… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. DawnMarie
    · July 1st, 2010 at 4:40 pm · Link

    Stacia…If I’m following your thought processes correctly, I have to say I agree with much of what I think you were getting at.

    Let me say, I have read all of the Twilight series…so has my husband. In fact, he was *constantly* laughing through the books. Why? Because of Edward’s, um, protective (read; controlling) nature. He kept saying, “Damn. How does he get away with that? I can’t get away with that.” -grin

    The point is, I recognize the unhealthy aspect of the relationship. Hell, I even lived it in my teenage years before becoming older, smarter, and-dare I say it-more comfortable with who I was. But I also get why there’s a part of many women that falls in love with Edward. He loves Bella. He tells her over and over. He puts himself in danger to protect her. He treats her as if his only reason to exist is for her. Come on…how many of us have fantasized about that once or twice? Not saying we’d really want it if we got it–that whole monkey’s paw thing, ya know–but hey. It’s kind of heady to think someone could love us that much.

    And to kids today? Yeah, that might seem like the ultimate relationship. But is it really any different from the fairy tales we grew up on? Snow White, who was too foolish to recognize her stepmother over and over again, then fell in love with the first man who kissed her? Ditto that first kiss-love part with Sleeping Beauty. And who didn’t dream of being Cinderella with the dashing Prince Charming come to take her away from it all…after her step sisters cut off various parts of their feet trying to win him for themselves. Those stories didn’t have such great romance models to follow, either. Not to mention some pretty milk-soppy heroins. Why were they so popular, then? Because young girls dream of love. And Stacia, you are so right…today romance is both trivialized and laughed at. Maybe we as society don’t mean to do it, but we do. Maybe if we believed–truly believed–that love and romance was the norm rather than the exception, it would actually become the norm. It’s not just the girls looking for love, you know. The boys are too…it’s just not cool for them to say it. Or do it. How sad is that? The girls are told not to expect it, and the boys are told they’re lame (or whipped) if they give it. Any wonder why we’re all so screwed up? ๐Ÿ˜ฅ


    PS–sorry for ranting! -grin

  10. Moonsanity (Brenda)
    · July 1st, 2010 at 8:48 pm · Link

    I think Stacia is right, and I think girls love the books because they want to be treated like they are special and loved– we won’t get into the moms who stalk Edward/Rob cause that’s just damn creepy. My sons are 16 and 17–we talk A LOT about girls. Without leaving a huge comment I can’t go into it too much, but it pretty much involves low self esteem and the idea that sex is the way to get approval. I taught my boys differently and to say they are confused is an understatement. Then we have the girls who are religious and won’t look at a boy unless he goes to their church. It’s one extreme to the other and it’s scares the shit out of me. My oldest read Twilight with me last year and he thought Edward was controlling and HATED when Bella broke down and didn’t function when he left. I think that part of the series disturbed me the most too.

    • Marie
      · July 11th, 2010 at 6:57 am · Link

      I actually really loved that part of New Moon. I absolutely get what you’re saying about how it’s a bad message to send to young girls about breaking down when a boyfriend leaves, if you want to look at it as a message being sent. However, when I read New Moon it really got to me because I (and I know I’m not alone in this) could somewhat relate to Bella. It wasn’t because of a boyfriend but I went through a similar period in my early twenties, where I was just going through the motions, really hiding from the world. Friends have told me more recently that they were worried about me but I had no idea at the time. So for me it was actually a bit therapeutic to read about Bella in New Moon because I could see myself in her.

  11. aj chase
    · July 2nd, 2010 at 2:09 pm · Link

    I really think that you have an excellent point here. I don’t like Twilight at all and I can still see exactly where you’re coming from. There are lots of YA romances out there though, that are slightly healthier. It’s really too bad we can’t separate criticism of a poorly written book from criticism of a child’s hopes and dreams for a happy future. It is a good thing that sex falls by the wayside to the other aspects of the relationship, in that that particular perspective isn’t always available. But nevertheless, the lack of power balance strongly bothers me.

  12. Inez Kelley
    · July 2nd, 2010 at 2:22 pm · Link

    My Daughter is 12, so a bit on the young side, but she is very mature and reads at a near adult level. She started nosing through my romance books for something to read after exhausting her own bookshelves. She is growing, becoming sexually aware and having those urges for romance, a boyfriend and all those things. I recognize and understand this.

    I went to eBay and bought her a bunch of the old Silhouette teen romance. Once she read those, she asked to read the Twilight series on my shelf and I let her. Halfway through the first one, she pops her head in my office and says “I’d kick him in the balls if he stalked me like that”. It lead to a great discussion on what is good and what is bad in a teen relationship.

    She did read the other books in the series and enjoyed them with a side bit of irony. We had many talks with eye-rolling on how she would have handled the situations better (she is a Jacob fan).

    I think these were good for her, and us, not because they are what’s proper in a relationship, but because it opened a dialogue on expectations and limits. She now reads some of the sweeter romances on my shelf and I am okay with that. Fade to black or glossed sex scenes are okay at this age and maturity level(Which I realize are not the level of every 12 yr old).

    I want her to feel informed and confident about herself and her place in ANY relationship she enters, not just a romantic one. We teach our daughters to stand up for them selves in all areas EXCEPT romantic relationship. Most women learn by making mistakes and growing through that. That is not good enough for me when I have the materials to help empower her on my bookshelf, or to at least give her an example that she DOESN’T have to behave like to have a boyfriend.

    • Moonsanity (Brenda)
      · July 4th, 2010 at 1:53 pm · Link

      I love that you guys discussed it. That’s what my teens, and my daughter and I do with books. Same with movies and television. When we read/watch things and talk about them it makes all the difference to our kids and I think it does help shape their values and their self esteem. :mrgreen:

  13. Jane Holland
    · July 2nd, 2010 at 5:51 pm · Link

    Entertaining to see so many people here commenting on what the Twilight series is or isn’t, who cheerfully admit at the same time to not having read the books, for whatever reason. How can anyone pass judgement or comment on a series without having first hand knowledge of it?

    I thought the last book was the best, actually. The first half is very poor and boring to read. But – without wishing to run a spoiler here – it absolutely takes off when Bella, you know, finally ‘gets her wish’. Her sense of power and wonder is transformative, literally, and suddenly she genuinely is a strong woman, a woman in charge of her own destiny and able to protect and advise those around her instead of constantly looking to Edward for guidance or to perform the male role of protector. Worth re-reading if you skipped that excellent middle part first time round. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    The vast majority of people are far stupider and more narrow-minded than even they realise themselves; the world is crammed with people who will disagree with what you consider a liberal and rational viewpoint, or who will be more than happy to tell you why you’re wrong, even though their own opinions are ill-informed and based on nothing but hearsay.

    Too many young women at the moment believe – largely because they have been fed this crock by the media and their peers as a reality – that feminism is obsolete, a dinosaur, no longer necessary and, frankly, a bit of an embarrassment.

    The big breakthrough for most young women is that big shock moment when they finally realise what feminism is about, and what it’s for, and why it’s still – STILL!! – as necessary for us as oxygen. It might be when they have their third baby by a different (absent) man, or when they see their male colleague paid considerably more than they are for the same job and yet are unable to do anything about it, or maybe when they grow older and discover how utterly invisible a middle-aged or older woman is in our society, compared to men of the same age.

    Bella’s final transformation transcends all that nonsense. And that’s why I love the Twilight books – for their promise of strength and independence for the heroine, not simply because Edward is so dreamy. Though of course he is! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Good luck with all that.

  14. Maddy
    · July 2nd, 2010 at 8:04 pm · Link

    I can totally see where you’re coming from when you say that the value of love and commitment seem to be glossed over today. (paraphrased. If I’m off track on what you wanted to say let me know) I don’t want to sound like I’m hideously old fashioned or preachy, but I speculate that this attitude is a result of many marriages breaking up because husbands and wives don’t respect each other. If love and commitment were valued, more marriages would survive. Our daughters see that and internalize it. There are a lot of marriages where everyone is better off if it ends. There’s no question about that. But it’s truly a pity that more marriages aren’t seen as worth saving. When a girl sees the adults around her giving each other respect and working though problems she will grow up expecting that from the people in her own life.

    Okay, sermon over. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. Carly Carson
    · July 3rd, 2010 at 10:08 am · Link

    Interesting topic. I’m not going to comment directly on Twilight since I couldn’t make it past the 50 page mark. But I have teenaged dds. I was amazed a few years back when I was at a Women’s Issues meeting with one of them at their school. A woman spoke about how she wanted the girls to know that a good relationship with a man was a special thing. She talked about how she still got goose bumps when her husband (of at least 25 years) walked in the room. It was such a thoughtful talk, and your post reminds me of that. Feminist issues like equal pay are very important. But there is also more to life, and girls need to know that. There are some excellent YA novels (which I have read) which depict male and female protags in healthy ways. But these books are rarely (never?) big hits. And that’s a problem with our culture.

  16. BernardL
    · July 3rd, 2010 at 10:35 am · Link

    Very perceptive look at the undercurrent in Twilight. Male predators with only one thought in their tiny heads have been around forever. What’s changed today is the number of young men who have embraced conquest as love. Lying, cheating, and hedonism have become a creed for them to follow. Having two parents to offset the inner predator with honor, faith, and a long term look at why love means more than meaningless trysts is a key ingredient to changing this new down turn in society. I believe you’re right about Twilight getting a lot more criticism than it deserves. It also made me think about how deep we have to look these days to find positive aspects in behavior.

  17. krupke
    · July 3rd, 2010 at 11:13 am · Link

    First, I really enjoy your books. Am loving the Downside series and looking forward to more Chessie goodness(and badness). Btw, while I ADORE Terrible, I also really like Lex, so please don’t make him go kaput.

    I agree in part with your comments. While I really liked the Twilight books(they got me back into reading again), by the end of the series, I didn’t care much for bella. I could identify to some extent with her lack of confidence, but her complete lack of self esteem, insistence on giving up everything (including education, personal identity, etc) for edward was irritating to put it mildly. I didn’t hate edward, but I wasn’t particularly interested in him by the end either. I preferred jacob, though I didn’t agree with all his actions. Bella wanting to love and be loved wasn’t the problem for me. That was one of the attractive elements of the books. Bella’s complete lack of a sense of self was the problem.

    I also agree that there were some really interesting concepts in the series. I liked the take on vampires, particularly their physical description. They seemed like statues almost (hard skin, etc). Also liked the origin story for the Lapush wolfpack.

    • krupke
      · July 4th, 2010 at 8:36 pm · Link

      btw. I went to see Eclipse today with some friends and it sort of confirmed my overall feelings. The romantic elements didn’t translate well to screen for me. However, some of the worldbuilding elements, i.e., the vampires’ physiology (e.g. granite- like skin) and the origin story for the quileutes, were very interesting.

  18. Jane Holland
    · July 4th, 2010 at 11:41 am · Link

    Sorry, Carly, there’s ‘more to life’ than being treated equally to a man?

    Okay, whatever. But I’ll carry on raising my three daughters to get their priorities straight, and my two sons to respect women and work alongside them as equals, and hope that whatever else there is to ‘life’ will come to them somehow as they muddle through on those values. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  19. Marie
    · July 4th, 2010 at 3:26 pm · Link

    It was very interesting to read your post, and also to read everyone’s comments on it.

    I think you have a point in that one of the things that make people love Twilight is the fact that both Edward and Jacob are very sincere about their wanting to be with Bella. She doesn’t have to question whether they love her. (But of course she does, because she’s Bella and her self esteem is painfully low.)

    At the same time, I think that’s true for a lot of books I’ve read. What makes the male protagonist attractive, is often the fact that he isn’t afraid of showing his emotions or persuing the girl he wants.

    These are a few of my thoughts on why Twilight is so popular:

    First I should start by saying that “Yes, I’m one of those people”, i.e. one of the people who were absolutely spellbound by Twilight when I first read it.

    I’m a grown woman. Whether I’m an adult or mature is up for debate, though. :-) However, since I read Twilight, I’ve found myself spending a lot of time with people half my age. The reason for this is partly because where I live, while there are older Twilight fans, very few of them are “brave” enough to go to meet-ups or that kind of thing, because they’re afraid they’ll be the oldest person there. In my view, life is too short to think like that. If you don’t do things because you’re afraid you’ll be embarrassed, then you’ll miss out on a lot of things.

    So I’ve spent a lot of time talking about Twilight (and The Hunger Games, Vampire Academy, Shiver, Hush Hush etc) with girls around the age of 15, and I’ve found that there isn’t that much of a difference between me and them. Maybe this is a sign that I’m extremely immature, or maybe that they’re very mature, I don’t know. (The two major differences I’d say are that they are 1. louder (Read: OMG, OMG, OMG *falsetto screams*) and 2. more enthusiastic (see first point).

    When I discuss the relationships in Twilight with the girls, most of them see the problems. Many of them still love Edward of course, but they also know that Twilight is more of a fairytale, not really something to compare your own life to (even though they maybe sometimes wish that world could be real so that they could live in it, but I think many of us have felt that from time to time about books or movies).

    I’ve never been an Edward fan. I always found him too overprotective and self hating. (A friend of mine gave me a great visual of Edward as Dobby in HP – “Bad Edward, bad, bad Edward” *hitting himself over the head*). I do agree, though, with the poster above who wrote about Bella and Edward’s relationship in Breaking Dawn. That’s when they finally get to be equal. To me it was about the journey to that moment when Bella comes into her own, when I myself felt that it could be a good relationship.
    (Okay, the discussion about how the unhealthy relationships are portrayed could get really long, and that wasn’t actually the focus of your post, so I’m stopping there. :-)

    The thing is, Twilight was never really about Edward and Bella for me. Part of it was about the story, the characters, the world, the words and the humor.

    One of the main things, though, and what I’ve found I have in common with many of the people I’ve met that also love Twilight, is simply the feelings. The books are full of emotions. You’re in Bella’s head, and you feel everything she’s feeling. I never wanted Edward, but I still loved reading about how Bella felt about him.

    For some reason it took me over thirty years to discover that not everyone feels things when they read or watch something. Not everyone can get lost in a book. Somehow I assumed that everyone was capable of that if they just took the time to actually read a book. I don’t think it was until I told my stepmother that I cried all the way through Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at the movies, and she stared at me like I was something you’d study under a microscope, that I realized that she’d never felt that way about a book or a movie, and probably never will. And that made me realize that that is what many of the Twilight fans have in common. We are capable of being completely absorbed by a book, crying over, laughing with, dreaming about the characters. And the intense feelings that I felt when I first read Twilight, I think is one of reasons why so many people love the books.

    • Moonsanity (Brenda)
      · July 4th, 2010 at 5:11 pm · Link

      No way Marie! Are you saying some people aren’t emotional over movies. My God, the horror. :mrgreen: I’m like you, and books and movies really get to me. I think to me, despite Edward, the books are great for what they call reluctant readers- Kind of like the Captain Underpants for teen girls. ๐Ÿ˜† (Hopefully you all know that is a elementary age book series, and don’t think I’m a pervert.)

      • Marie
        · July 11th, 2010 at 7:20 am · Link

        Hahaha I don’t know if I’ve ever heard about those books so it’s probably good that you explained. Not that I would’ve judged you if you hadn’t. ๐Ÿ˜€

        About reluctant readers, I’ve noticed exactly that – how the Twilight books got them into reading. I’ve talked to girls who say they actually hated reading before, but after reading Twilight, are now voracious readers.

        And it’s aways good to hear that there are others like me out there so I can feel less weird about crying my eyes out over a book. To me it is a great gift of empathy. ๐Ÿ˜€

  20. writtenwyrdd
    · July 5th, 2010 at 9:52 am · Link

    Excellent thoughst, Stacia. I thought the books were okay, and, like you, deserving of the criticisms. But the desire for a relationship by Bella is the best part of the book, and the most ‘logical’ thing in the book by far. I am also afraid that love is underplayed in our culture and that a lot of the criticism focuses on the “Oh, Edward, my One True Love!” aspect of the books– when what really should be noted is that Bella’s relationship is one where she 1) is helpless and needs to be taken care of because, apparently, being a girl still means she’s not supposed to be self-actuated; and 2) it’s okay to have a relationship with a young-looking daddy / older man. THOSE things bother me. A lot!

  21. WatchingPreacher
    · July 5th, 2010 at 6:29 pm · Link

    “But my point is, our society seems to be moving further and further away from the idea that love is a valuable and good thing […]”

    I think I had a thought like this last week and it served as inspiration to the screenplay I am writing (entitled LOVE – A Science Story). It (eventually) explores a world where love does not exist anymore, as two scientist removed it from our feelings because it led to more grief and sadness than joy and happiness. The movie will focus first on these two scientists and their (pretty unhealthy) relationships, then skip to a hundred years later to see the long-term consequences of their actions.

    It’s a little scary that we live in a world where we can think these kind of thoughts.

  22. Karen
    · July 5th, 2010 at 9:42 pm · Link

    I enjoyed reading everyone’s viewpoints on the Twilight series. I actually read the whole series out of curiosity to see what all the ridiculousness was about. I have to admit, I actually liked them, tho I had issues with all the characters.

    The reason I liked them? I loved books like Rebecca and Jane Eyre growing up. Beaten down by life heroine arrives in isolated place & has to deal with troubled brooding man with secrets – tragic and yet somehow they fall in love …. there was something dark about those books that appealed to me. (I also love Edgar Allen Poe! Read Annabelle Lee…its so awesomely dark.) For some reason, this series reminded me of those old books, even in the writing style. Very old fashioned in a way, but with a supernatural creature twist.

    And actually, the books got me reading again (and devouring UF like a fiend). It was something that I’d had to put aside to raise my kid, and until I picked these up I didn’t realize how much I missed it.

    The thing that stood out to me – as creepy stalker as Edward was, both he and Jacob (and the Cullens in general) were ‘monsters’ trying to fit in as humans – Bella, on the other hand, was human but was striving to be a monster. To me, she was the monster in these books because she forced the monsters to make choices that took them away from ‘being human’ by her childish actions & she didn’t care. I thought the last book was ridiculous (fast growing vampy baby? and that’s how she turns? come on) but Bella being a perfect vampire from the minute she turned to me was absolutely fitting.

    Did I like Edward? No. But I didn’t like Jacob either. I didn’t think there was a really likeable character in the entire story … I agree it certainly doesn’t give teen girls a good relationship role model in any way. And I honestly don’t understand all the hype or fandom. But, I did enjoy the books.

  23. writtenwyrdd
    · July 9th, 2010 at 10:39 am · Link

    Hey, I ran across an old post of mine that has some relevant stuff in it. http://writtenwyrdd.typepad.com/writtenwyrdd/2009/10/the-bad-boy.html


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