Thursday, November 8, 2012

How Twilight ruined teenage girls

(Note: Some people are going to complain that I've read all the books and seen all the movies so I must secretly like 'Twilight.' The truth is, I hate being a hypocrite more than I hate 'Twilight.' Bashing the books and movies without seeing them would be hypocritical. Seeing them and then bashing them is just easy)
The final ‘Twilight’ movie hits theaters next week and I couldn’t be more excited.

It’s not that I like the movies, it’s just that I’m glad they will finally be gone from the big screen.

For me, ‘Twilight’ is akin to the ‘Jersey Shore’ – all flash and no substance.

I should point out, it’s not just the movies – the books are just as bad.  In essence, ‘Twilight’ is written in purple prose – meaning it purposely tries to express a point in such an extravagant way as to distract the reader from the fact that this is a poorly written (and plotted) book.

‘Twilight’ is written in a manner where the author tells the readers what is going on – instead of showing the readers what is going on.

For example, take the ‘Harry Potter’ books. Not once in all seven of those books is it stated that Ron and Hermione would die for Harry. That is shown through words and deeds. Readers know that Ron and Hermione would sacrifice themselves to save Harry – and vice versa – but they know this because the story shows it to them.

‘Twilight,’ on the other hand, is all about telling the reader. Edward loves Bella more than anything. Jacob loves Bella more than anything. Bella loves Jacob as a friend and Edward more than anything – including bathing.

When you take the writing style away from the books, though, and look at the actual plot, that’s where things get really insulting.

These are books aimed at teenage girls – and yet the teenage heroine (and I use that term loosely) at the center of them is the weakest character in the story.

Bella Swan is morose and empty. She comes to town as this vacuum of a personality. It’s only after she meets an equally empty (and sparkly) vampire that she realizes the true meaning of life.

Bella essentially has no personality of her own. She lives her life by how Edward defines it.

Bella and Edward are dating a few weeks when Edward decides to “leave town” to protect her from his vampire brethren. Instead of cursing his existence – and maybe executing a little property damage on the family homestead – Bella goes to bed for months and mopes.

Not only does she do this, but her father lets her. I don’t know about anyone else, but my parents would not have let me go to bed for four months because a boy broke up with me. They would have told me to get up, watch some soaps and settle on a new boy in a couple of weeks.

When you actually think about it, the only character points that are established for Bella in the books are that she’s clumsy and beautiful. Aside from that there’s nothing. Beauty in these books is given a premium over every thing else -- including courage and loyalty.

It’s also put forth as a good thing that Edward watches Bella sleep without her knowledge and repeatedly sneaks into her room to check up on her. That’s not romantic. That’s called stalking.

Not only is Bella weak personally, but she also seems to be a sponge as far as Edward’s family is concerned. She seems incapable of maintaining personal relationships with anyone outside of his inner circle – making her completely dependent on him and his family.

Then, when she marries Edward, she’s willing to cut her own parents out of her life – all for him.

In the trailer for this movie, Bella says that she was "born to be a vampire."

I think it's dangerous when we tell teens that they shouldn't be comfortable being who they are -- but instead trying to become something else. It's not that they shouldn't strive to better themselves -- but to try and change the very fiber of their being is ridiculous.
Bella is never comfortable being Bella. She finds her value in being Edward's girlfriend, Jacob's friend, Edward's wife and ultimately Renesmee's mother.

Some people hold this book up as a good message to send to teenage girls for the sole reason that Bella waits until she’s married to have sex. Really? Does abstinence make up for stalking and lack of persona?

My other big problem with 'Twilight' is that no one loses anything. These are supposed to be epic battles -- and yet no one dies. It doesn't have to be a blood bath, but it should have some basis in realism -- at least in emotional realism if nothing else.

Even the awkwardly paced triangle is fixed in about five seconds flat when Jacob "imprints" on Bella and Edward's child. Not only is this icky, but it makes it so that Jacob doesn't lose either. It's also a little convenient that Jacob will only have to wait a couple years for her to be an adult -- and until then he'll be her occasional babysitter?

And, here's an offbeat question, what happens if the worst named child in the world doesn't fall in love with Jacob? Of course, the rights of the female are never really addressed. This is all about making the men happy, but are we just to assume that Renesmee is going to be happy marrying the man she grows up thinking of as an uncle? That's just all kinds of creepy .
When the final ‘Twilight’ installment hits theaters next week – complete with a magical rapidly growing baby (Kenneth Johnson ought to sue) – let’s hope that ‘Twilight’ will quickly fade into memory and the teenage girls that love it grow up and experience some real literature at some point.

Unfortunately, author Stephanie Meyer probably won’t be able to launch another successful series, so I have no doubt we’ll be seeing Edward and Bella again.

What do you think? Are you glad ‘Twilight’ is coming to an end?


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