Friday, July 16, 2010

Twilight and relationships

I took a momentary break from reading my mind-numbing textbook to read something good: the latest post on my friend L's blog. And as much as I hate to do it... I'm going to talk about Twilight for a second. Please bear with me.

Yes, I have read the Twilight series (with the exception of the latest installment... The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. I was shocked to hear that she'd written another one, but my piano teacher was all excited about it when I called her at the end of this past semester. I might read it. But I'm going to wait 'til I have nothing else to do). And I enjoyed them. Do I think they were AMAZING the BEST THING THAT I EVER READ and SO PERFECT and other excessive adjectives? No. I enjoyed reading them. However, I enjoyed reading them in a similar way to the way I enjoy eating a bowl of Crispix and milk in the morning: it tastes good, but not AMAZING. In fact, it's rather bland. And that's okay, because sometimes that's just what I'm looking for. Also, Taylor Lautner's abs are fantastic.

By no means do these books merit the rabid fandom that they have inspired. Comparisons have been made between the Twilight phenomenon and the Harry Potter phenomenon. As someone who has experienced both, I would like to say that they are SO NOT THE SAME. Harry Potter takes place in a richly detailed, complex universe that has many allegorical parallels to our own, a moral lesson throughout the series, not to mention the most RIDICULOUS cliffhangers from book to book. My friends would theorize about what was going to happen in the next one, and would discuss how J. K. Rowling was going to wrap up various loose ends. The characters practically stepped off the page, and the deaths of several characters were deeply moving.

Twilight is a typical teenage angst story about a girl who falls in love with a vampire and a werewolf, and whines about how she can't have her cake and eat it, too... but it's okay, because everything magically turns out okay in the end.

What's that? Me, biased towards Harry Potter? What makes you say that?

Bias or no, I do have a very legitimate problem with the Twilight series. I hear girls talk about how they want to find their 'Edward,' and when I hear them say this, I can't help but wonder... why? Why would you want to find a boyfriend like Edward? Bella is so emotionally dependant on Edward that it physically hurts her to leave his side. He's so 'perfect' (I mean... I can't see it, but whatever) that she suffers from massive self-esteem issues, constantly believing that she's not good enough for him. There's also the minor detail that Edward wants to eat her. And she's TOTALLY okay with that. In other words, she's okay if he hurts her, as long as she gets to stay with him for EVER and EVER and EVER and live happily ever after. For what it's worth, he does a very good job of restraining himself, but her attitude basically says that she's okay with physical abuse. Then there's the whole, "to be with me you have to leave all your friends and family behind" issue... which is super-controlling and also a typical symptom of abusive relationships.

A lot of very impressionable girls read these books, and if their concept of the "ideal" relationships consists of what they read in this series, then that's a problem.


Anonymous said...

harry potter ftw anyways.

Laura said...

Thanks, friend!:)
I will admit that when I initially read Twilight (pre-'tween hype'), I was pretty into it. At that point, it was just book #1, a new kind of fantasy, and fiction. The end.
... THEN it hit. Wow. I honestly never saw it coming.
I agree that one cannot compare HP and Twilight literarily. Rowling is obviously a superior writer/storyteller (although we've joked that if Meyer's goal was to write her novels in the style of a 15 year old's thought processes, she is utterly brilliant). However, you have to admit that HP had a pretty drastic effect on our culture at the time of its conception. The church (referring to the Christian church) exploded with controversy, and teens/children became more interested in the occult. Not to say that HP causes kids to be witches... just that HP had an equal effect as Twilight in America, 5 or so years ago.

I'll be the first to defend Twilight as a story. It's entertaining, somewhat original, and relatable (for women). There are many positive themes throughout, and I was definitely in the crowd that cheered when Bella and Edward FINALLY get married (in book #4). However, its continual, greedy effect on our culture is worrisome. It has certainly muddied the waters between "love" and "unhealthy obsession."