Like 2005 all over again

I haven’t touched this blog since 2007, so it’s fitting that I write about something else I’m behind the times with. I decided, finally, to read Twilight. It wasn’t because I thought I’d enjoy it; rather it was because I’m constantly slagging it off and felt a bit hypocritical about it. To be fair, I did watch the (crappy) movie but figured it was still wrong of me to denounce the whole franchise without actually reading the source material.

And…yeah, I was completely right. Twilight is pretty bad, though, intriguingly, there are some parts I didn’t absolutely hate. I was expecting the prose to be akin to a Dan Brown abortion; instead, I found that some of it, especially the descriptions of the Pacific Northwest, to be quite beautiful. There are even some characters that are interesting: the Cullens (minus Edward—I’ll get to that in a minute) and the Quileute tribe both hinted at story possibilities that could be both imaginative and interesting.

However I had two major problems with the book. The first is that I hated Edward. While he seems slightly less naval-gazing than RPatz’s movie version, he’s still a control-freaky, passive aggressive stalker.

The second, and probably more damning, problem is that I absolutely hated and despised Bella. Seriously. I just wanted to slug her. This is a girl as an empty vessel—her entire existence is meaningful only because of the others around her. She isn’t a real character in her own story.

After I finished reading I made a tactical error. I thought, well maybe the first book was just an introduction to the characters and background of the story. Maybe as Meyer’s overarching story matured and grew it would become more multidimensional. Maybe the secondary characters would get more time instead of the oh-so-irritating relationship between Bella and Edward. After all, The Sandman didn’t become indisputably brilliant until The Doll’s House. Buffy the Vampire Slayer didn’t really pick up until the second season. I thought, maybe I should give New Moon a chance.

Oh God was I wrong. 576 pages of whinging and whining later, and I can safely say that New Moon vies with The Da Vinci Code as the worst book I’ve ever read.

Bella went from annoying to insufferable. Edward decides to leave for Bella’s own safety (which he makes pretty clear) and she spends about 500 pages moping about why he doesn’t love her anymore. Granted, she’s a teenage girl and obviously immature and unworldly and emotional, but why would anyone want to read what amounts to hundreds of pages out of a teenager’s diary?

To break out of her depression she takes up extreme sports—sort of metaphoric self-mutilation for the adrenaline rush. And the part that appeals to Bella the most, the part that makes her keep nearly killing herself, is the fact that whenever she tries something dangerous she hears Edward’s voice in her head admonishing her behavior. In his absence, Edward has transformed from Bella’s self-appointed and omnipresent protector into literally her own conscience. She actually surrenders part of her own self to become him. If that’s not creepy and scary and absolutely anti-feminist, I don’t know what is.

What I find most interesting, and most frightening, is the popular reaction among women to these books. Girls’ infatuation with them I can understand, if not exactly like, because Twilight is a distillation of messages they are fed from the time they’re little about what a girl should and shouldn’t be and what a girl should hope for in life. But adult women are also obsessed with this story—more than one stranger excitedly asked me which part I was at while I read on the bus. I know it’s fantasy but the metaphors that fascinate our society often give hints to society’s hidden mores. What is it about a story in which the protagonist is so passive as to make her non-existent, whose love interest has complete control over her, in which messages about sexuality and relationships are troubling, to put it mildly—what is it about this book that attracts women so completely? I’ll try to theorize next post, and also try to explain why it scares the hell out of me.

* * * * * *

While looking for a picture for Twilight I came across what may be the best blog ever–link below to my favourite page. Seriously. Visit it.


~ by kellly333 on August 1, 2010.

One Response to “Like 2005 all over again”

  1. Hey-
    I love this guy’s site. Check out his comic on Twilight-

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