Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Excuse Me if I Bow Out of the Twilight Mania"

Not everyone can love the Twilight Saga, right? Right, of course. But a few people give some pretty odd reasons why they are so viciously against Stephenie Meyer's vampire series.
Point and case?
This article right here.
So the author starts by making fun of Bella because she's plain, and yet boys like her. Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot that in today's society, women have to be tanorexic sluts with laced bikinis in order to have any chance at "love".
Then she complains about Stephenie's writing quality. I realize it's not J.R.R Tolkien or Alice Hoffman literature, but that doesn't mean we can't all enjoy an enthralling story when it's told.
Bella: the 'damsel in distress', the 'insult to women everywhere', the 'heroine who can't take a step without falling over and implies sexist views'. Ugh, can we look past the fact that she's clumsy (which is quite a common falt in the human world - my brother is clumsier than she is) and the fact that Edward is ten times stronger and more graceful than she is because he's, um, a vampire? There's a reason Bella is always the damsel in distress - even though that's an overly dramatic way to describe it. Go take a look at Superman for that kind of stuff - and that's because there is a very vivid contrast between her and Edward. She's a human. He's a rock-hard immortal. People enjoy reading from Bella's clumsy perspective because they can easily imagine themselves in her shoes, meeting a charming, mysterious fellow. And that's part of the magic of reading - fantasizing about worlds that have different apsects than our own. If Bella was the president of the United States...er, okay, scratch that. Bad analogy. If she was the Queen of England, so pristine and flawless, we would feel too distant, and we would simply be reading about a mystical and dangerous world instead of living it. And so what if Bella trips over invisible obstacles on the sidewalk, has fears and emotions that sometimes overpower her, and makes slap-worthy decisions on occasion? It's called BEING HUMAN, for crying out loud! Imagine if you were swept up into something that your wildest dreams are made of, with an excrutiatingly beautiful boy in the middle of it all. You wouldn't be all dandy. Bella has many redeeming qualities to her as well that don't shame women whatsoever. She's very intelligent. She's perceptive. She's mature. She's thoughtful. She's witty. She's independent - she goes her own way and doesn't try to fit with the 'in' crowd. And about the whole Bella disregarding college to marry Edward at 18 and begging for sex thing that has some people getting their panties in a knot...well, 1. the fact that they are getting married stresses how old-fashioned Edward is - he did live in the 1900's, after all. It also proves that Bella and Edward's relationship isn't just your every-day high school crush that turns into a bunch of dull drama and other mumbo jumbo. 2. Bella is a human girl who's never felt so strongly about a man in her entire life. What is she supposed to do with those hormones?
The writer of the article also whines about Bella's state in New Moon. I thought it was obvious that Bella's zombie mode was there to show just how much Edward and Bella are entwined in one other. Would you rather she cry for a day and then bounce back up the next morning to cheerfully whistle while she eats her cereal? Like everything is dandy? Edward who? The exaggeration is part of the story - everything is kind of melodramatic to really hammer those feelings home. If Bella was just "whatever" about Edward leaving her forever, as if she didn't care about him anymore, how do you think that would make the readers (who actually care) feel after everything between them in Twilight?
Oh, boy. Now we get into Edward Cullen the abusive boyfriend. I refuse to write off the 'over-protective' and 'because he loves Bella' explanations as bull-crap. They make sense to me. Human couples fight, argue, limit one another's freedoms, act distrustful, and still love one another in the end. Well, Bella and Edward's relationship obviously defies that of humans', so everything is amplified. Edward has lived for 100-something odd years and has never felt so passionately over another. Bella is filling a hole that has been in his heart for centuries, and so all his emotions toward her are naturally going to come off too strong. That, coupled with the fact that he's a superhuman creature. I don't see him as 'abusive' in any sense of the word. He doesn't slap her around, call her names, tie her to telephone polls. He truly believes Bella's werewolf friends are dangerous, and he doesn't want anything to happen to her, hence his over-protectiveness. You say Edward's perfect? No. That is one of his flaws - taking things too far, blowing them way out of proportion. But it's only for the sake of Bella's safety. Remember, she does have a severe case of klutziness.
Of course, with complaints about the first three books in the saga, comes the cries of horror about the fourth and final book. Its the same old, same old. Ew, Bella's pregnant with a mutant thing. She turns into a vampire so now she's all super cool with her new gracefullness and lack of insecurities - and I'm still going to complain about it because I like to be a rebel. Make up your mind, please. Bella as a damsel in distress or Bella as a super hero? Sheesh.
Anyway, there is is a reason why there are masses of Twilight fans out there. Obviously Stephenie Meyer did something right in our heads, and it didn't ever cross our mind while we were losing ourselves in Stephenie's neat little world for hours on end that there were sexist implications, disgraces to teenagers and literature, the promotion of abusive relationships, and creepy things alike. But if some people would like to shun all hope of open mindedness, have an analytical mindset so that enjoying the tale is impossible, and forget that they're reading a fantasy book and not an encyclopedia on the lives of teenagers in the United States, then I'm not stopping them. Some criticts, like the one who wrote this particular article, even bring up some points that get me thinking and actually know how to write. I commend them, but I think life brings more joys to those who dive in without preconcieved notions and simply sit back to enjoy the ride.

Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, Midnight Sun, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, vampire, Edward Cullen, Bella Swan, Twilight Movie, Stephenie Meyer


Heather said...

I like to think of myself as a "Middle of the Road" type of person (maybe I'm giving myself too much credit). I like to find symbolism and meaning in books while also enjoying the story (many may say that finding the deeper intent behind the literature actually makes the book that much more special); I figure if there isn't really a "point" (a lesson to be learned) from the story, then I can save myself four hours and just watch a movie. Reading is an active lesiure activity--you need to read with your mind both open and engaged. Does that make sense (or just make me seem like a puffed-up adult)?

In response to the article, I think many of your criticisms are valid. I do believe that many critics misrepresent Bella as a "damsel in distress," when really she's being written as the "every woman" in comparison to an immortal being--bringing up bigger questions of how normal people relate to immortal issues (spirituality, enduring love, etc.). However, I also think that some characters that we tend to put in a box (i.e., the President of the United States or the Queen of England) are most intriguing because they really are just normal people in abnormal circumstances--that's what made the movie The Queen so great (and earned Hellen Mirrin an Oscar) because she humanized Queen Elizabeth in a way that hadn't previously been done.

I also agree with your sentiment that the relationship between Bella and Edward isn't intended to represent an abusive relationship. However, I think that many critics are reading the story from the perspective of "an adult" who is concerned over children who may read this book (youth who are admittedly younger and less mature than you) who may not be able to tease out some of the finer points that you've noted. I think many criticisms come from a place of genuine concern because they know how much idealized fantasies (including Disney films and the like) can create impossible standards for young, impressionable girls.

That was a really long comment, but your post deserved it--well said.

Twilighter said...

You're absolutely right. There are always hidden symbols and meanings in books that are waiting to be found by the readers. I am also one of those readers who really thinks about a book after I've read it. AFTER. My personal opinion on some of these critics is that they go into the book already bitter (as she said, "trying to figure out what all the hype is about") and already have a sort of mindset as they read that won't let them truly enjoy the book. I'm just saying some, and you can usually tell who they are. A lot of these reviews just don't sound genuine to me - that goes for some of the praising reviews as well.
Heh, the Queen of England and the President were bad examples. I couldn't think of anything else! xD
That's a good you brought up about the authors of these articles being concerned adults...I've never thought of it that way. It makes me sympathize with them a bit more. They don't have anything to worry about, though, because 1. we know it's just fantasy and aren't actually looking for that in the real world and 2. those issues that the author brought up don't actually cross our minds once we're finished. It takes a very analytical mind to dig those up - that of an adult, too.
Long posts call for long responses, I guess. ;D

Heather said...

You're right, many critics don't read with an open mind. I wonder whether that's their nature or a cynicism that's built in by the job?