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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oh, get over yourself

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I do a good job of blocking painful, unnecessary things from my memory. Bella Swan, Twilight, Chapter 1, p.6
Why is everybody always hating on Twilight?

There seems to be this huge backlash of Twilight haters, but somehow the novels have sold millions and millions of copies. Nobody admits to having read the books or even seen the movies but, again, millions and millions of dollars.

So I'll just step up here and say "Oh, get over yourself!" I've read Twilight and so have all of you.
And let me just also add that it’s a romance novel, it’s supposed to be schmaltzy and sappy. It’s supposed to be full of dreamy, moony images of the perfect boy because the main characters are teenagers

Therefore the target audience is teenagers and more specifically teenage girls. I think that, just like Disney Channel Shows like Hannah Montana, Twilight tapped into exactly what teen-age girls dream about (or preteen in Hannah's case) – the perfect handsome boyfriend that desires you above all others but also makes you feel protected and loved – I only wish I’d thought of it first.

Now before the backlash hits. I’m not saying that The Twilight Saga is great literature (after all, I just compared it to Hannah Montana). But I also don’t think you shouldn’t have to apologize for not always reading great literature. I’m all for Dickens and Hemingway and Austin and Twain…but OY! Once in awhile give me a deck chair, a tall glass of something cold and a completely frivolous paperback with Fabio on the cover (Ok, I may be exaggerating a little bit there). And I’m not saying that every teenage girl dreams about having the perfect boyfriend…except that…yes, I guess I am. They may not admit that they dream about it, they might not dream about it all the time, but even the most motivated, active and well adjusted girl in the world, somewhere in the back of her mind thinks about cute boys and what it would be like to have the perfect boyfriend. And if that boyfriend can be super-cute, have enough money and drive a nice car – all the better.

I’ve heard some folks complain that Bella is boring and doesn’t have a personality. I think she does. I think she’s just quiet and bookish and has had to be the mature and organized one to help out her ditsy mom - not every heroine needs to be Elizabeth Bennett or Kathy in Wuthering Heights. Bella is a girl that thinks and feels that she is ordinary – sub ordinary even, without realizing that she’s actually extraordinary. That’s not so unusual for teenage girls. I’ve hardly met any young women that see themselves clearly enough to realize how extraordinary they really are.

I’ve heard some folks complain about the morality of Twilight that it’s too caught up in the longing and passion Edward and Bella feel for each other. But do we really think that teenagers aren’t aware of longing and passion? I think maybe the shipped sailed on that a few millennia ago. But I also think the whole Twilight Saga is about restraint. Edward wants Bella - he wants her bad in every physical way possible for a boy…and a vampire. Even when he gives up trying to stay away from Bella, Edward’s whole motivation is to protect her. He protects her from the truck that almost slams into her, he saves her just in time from the bad guys in the big city (because of course he followed her and can read their minds), he protects her from tumbling down mountains and falling down stairs, but mostly he protects her from himself and his desires. Edward has these intense desires that even Bella doesn’t always help him restrain. But, after about 100 years of being 17, I guess Edward has more self-control than the average Junior in high school because nothing really happens – even when Bella wants it to. Edward reigns in the passion because he really does love Bella. In most boy/girl scenarios it’s the girls that have to put the brakes on. The fact that the boy applies the brakes in this case makes Edward a pretty rare role model in modern media. The last book in the saga Breaking Dawn does get a little racy by comparison. But it’s nothing too descriptive and it all happens after Bella and Edward are married. And even then, there’s some serious fall-out/consequences that happen from consummating human and vampire love – talk about a cautionary tale.

Anyway, the exquisite angst of it all did get to be a little much for me (that whole period in New Moon when Bella is depressed – Oh BUH-rother!) but then again, I am not the target demographic. So even though I couldn’t fully inhabit the characters, it was just a relaxing read and a pretty good story. And sometimes letting your mind float to a world inhabited by vampires in love is fine - it's just fine. And I boy do I wish I’d thought of it first.


Kalei's Best Friend said...

Personally, I had no desire to read it.. My oldest (29) read about 1/4 of it and said the writing was awful.. I guess it would attract teenagers since the writing is simple.. I would guess its a good escapism reading? Its not like there hasn't been a book written on vampires..

MBGITWWR said...

Well said! I sincerely agree with you. While I'm not some young teenage girl anymore, I did enjoy the series just because it actually kept my attention and it was a fun escape. :)

Bits-n-Pieces said...

good review. I've not read the books, b/c they are not my fave genre (not a love story kinda girl) but have seen the movies with my daughter and you hit the nail on the head..they are for teens! Just like Harry Potter. It's children's literature. It's not suppose to be great writing! They are kid stories and as such are just fine and adults need to get over it. (altho I am one that griped about Bella being boring..but mainly b/c I don't care for the actress that played her!)

Sarah said...

When they first came out, I admit it, I LOVED them. But after the whole idea of a "good" vampire wore off, I realized that it was just a sappy love story.
I know of more than a few parents who are grateful for the books because it got their teenage daughters, who wouldn't even pick up a book before, to actually open one up and read it, and I'm ALL for that.
They are "easy reads", I don't regret reading them, and I liked the idea, but they aren't going to stay on my bookshelf...I need to make room for books I LOVE.

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