I have a confession to make. I love the Twilight books. I am a hopeless Stephenie Meyers junkie. I’ve read them multiple times, and I reread them when I want an escape. I wouldn’t mind a book tour stop in Forks. I have previously voiced my dilemma – Team Edward or Team Jacob?
All right now, if you’re shaking your head or rolling your eyes, go ahead and step away. Because honestly, making fun of the Twilight saga is as de rigueur as blaming the previous administration for, well, everything. I get it. It doesn’t appeal to everyone. But the nastiness some employ in making fun of those of us who are fans borders on rabid dog territory.
Why? Because the literary elite thinks the writing isn’t up to par? What, are you expecting to get Tolstoy when you pick up a book about teenage vampires? Really? Or is it the fact that it’s another vampire story? Or is it just plain jealousy because Meyers created a world that people want to escape into, and has gotten very, very rich in the process? James Cameron did that with AVATAR and the snickers were at least kept to a minimum. And his people were massive mystical smurfs.
Now that three of the Twilight movies are out, the franchise’s mythology grows even bigger. The young actors are thrust into a limelight that’s nearing epic proportions. The soundtracks are amazing, and have helped bolster the careers of a bunch of great new bands. The movies themselves have improved with each installment – ECLIPSE is by far the best of the three. It has a bit of everything you want in a good film: love, romance, sexual tension, humor and a battle scene. The special effects were cool, and the acting wasn’t half bad. The tent scene, with Jacob and Edward talking, was probably the best moment in the movie for sheer anguish.
That’s what this series is about, truly. Anguish. Some call it teenage angst with a roll of the eyes, but the truth of the matter is, we’ve all been in Bella’s position – in love with someone and wildly attracted to another, feeling unbelievable guilt and confusion. It’s human nature. As we grow older, we learn to recognize the differences between lust ad love, between a true affair of the heart and a passing crush, and most of us act accordingly. You can’t tell me it isn’t fun to revisit those old feelings.
Guys may not have the same reaction to the film as women, for a wide variety of reasons. Randy was so obviously bored and uncomfortable at times that it made me uncomfortable. But that’s par for the course for most men with heavy duty romantic chick flicks. Rom Coms, the bane of every male’s existence. You need to keep your woman happy, so that means sitting through some torturous moments, I know. But we love you when you do it! And aren’t the rewards worth it?
I don’t know what everyone’s problem is with these books and movies. They’re fun. It’s escapism. There are even a couple of good messages for young women if you stop to look at it. Chastity until marriage? Perish the thought! I actually read something today that called that a Mormon ideal – I nearly spit out my tea laughing. Has our society been so seduced by the perceived ideals of Sex and the City that the concept of a teenage girl waiting to have sex is seen as backwards and wrong?
Oh, Lord, don’t get me started… well, now that I’ve opened that can of worms, I’m going to say something. Yes, there’s a vein of morality that runs through these books. They are read by millions of young girls, girls who are finding themselves in love for the first time, or dreaming about what that might be like. And there’s no sex. In a reversal that’s nearly Herculean in its methods, sex isn’t a possibility between the characters. Bella is a virgin, and Edward is bound and determined to keep her that way. A boy who isn’t crazed for sex? More importantly, a boy who isn’t pressuring his girlfriend to put out?
Now think about the message the young girls who are reading this book are getting. Not only is it okay to forgo sex in a teen relationship, the man you respect, love and cherish wants you to remain pure. Maybe, just maybe, these books can have a real cultural impact on our younger generation. Maybe pregnancy rates will drop, STDs will become a thing of the past, and children, because I’m sorry, even if they are burgeoning into adulthood, they’re still children, could focus on their studies instead of their pants.
Can you imagine? I’m probably dreaming, but wow, if these movies had been around when I was growing up? I know I would have appreciated being in a relationship that wasn’t a constant test, how far can I go, how far will she let my hand stray, when is it right to go to first base, second base, third, fourth?
I can’t imagine a better time for girls to be getting the message that it’s cool not to have sex. Meyers has done that, with a female character who’s hopped up on her own hormones and wants things she can’t quite comprehend. Edward keeps telling her how dangerous it is, but she’s willing to throw caution to the wind anyway, just like we all did. But he’s strong, respectful, and understands the consequences, even if she doesn’t. He exercises great restraint, to her benefit. Now that’s romantic.
And poor Jacob, fighting for the girl he loves. His emotional growth, being hurt and overcoming it, is another huge message – you can survive a heartbreak. It will make you stronger, and will help you understand when the real love of your life comes along.
There’s really more to the Twilight books than meets the eye. It’s more than some crazy romantic fantasy of girl meets boy, falls in love, marries him, becomes a vampire and then gets all the benefits therein. But you’ll have to find that for yourself, in the pages of Meyers’s world.
Another quick thought. The actors themselves have been I the news cycle constantly over the past few years. Rob Pattinson and Taylor Lautner are being held to a ridiculous standard, and I really feel for Kristin Stewart. I remember when I was starting out in publishing, and getting interviewed for the first time. I said some pretty stupid things, because I didn’t know any better. I told the truth about what I was thinking and feeling, just like she has. Her misstep about equating fandom to rape (but every single person out there understood exactly what she meant, even if it wasn’t a perfect analogy) really hurt her reputation, and I wish she had a great publicist like I had to tell her what not to say. But it’s overwhelming, going from simply creating your art to being the artist in the limelight. Her latest comment about her fear of the massive crowds is something I can totally relate to. I hope they start listening to her concerns and let all three of them step back from the craziness for a bit.
Whether you like it or not, Twilight is enmeshed in the fabric of our culture just like Harry Potter. And heck, even the Vatican came around on Rowling…
So what say you ‘Rati? Are you a Twilight fan, or a hater? (I’ll check in when I can today, so pleasant self-policing is encouraged.)
Wine of the Week: 2005 Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano