Why I Hate (and Am Simultaneously Totally Obsessed With) Twilight

I’ve been obsessed with the first book in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight trilogy for the past few days. Which is not uncommon, as I tend to have quick involvement with books. But there I couldn’t help but notice some serious red flags in Twilight

My main problem with Twilight is the idealized relationship between the two protagonists, Bella and Edward. Their relationship is akin to a Romeo and Juliet-type relationship (which Meyers alludes to multiple times), a doomed but passionate eternal love or some shit like that. There is some serious power differences in their relationship. Edward, being the undead, has super-human strength, can read minds and hear a whisper across the room. Bella, on the other hand, is a total klutzy train-wreck. She gets hurt, he swoops in and saves her. Again, and again, and again. Awesome.

But its not just that the heroine is dependent upon her stone god of a boyfriend, but that he is downright creepy and borderline abusive. He gets angry fast, is controlling and manipulative, listens in on her private conversations using his ability to hear peoples’ thoughts (that is, before he took over her life and when she actually had friends that weren’t members of his family). He even watches her sleep. And can anyone say “Quick involvement”?

The entire narrative of their relationship consists of his veiled threats of wanting to physically tear her apart (I guess her blood smells really tasty) and then saying that he would do anything to protect her. Because we see the story through Bella’s first person point of view, Edward is a saint; his actions don’t seem creepy because she is so in love with him that being stalked is somehow seen as romantic. She is constantly being put in mortal peril because of his presence, and then professing that she wants to die for him. And this is the narrative teens are reading. WTF!? I haven’t read the other books yet, so I don’t know if this fucked up dynamic is non-intentional, just a by-product of how we view romantic relationships, or if it is leading somewhere (like maybe to her bitch-slapping him and telling him to start acting like a real man and to stop blaming his abusive behavior on being a vampire).

I don’t really like any of the characters (with the exception of Alice, whose shroud of mystery and ability to see the future is totally intriguing). So why do I like Twilight? Is it just that it’s been so built up for me and that I’m yearning for a series to become obsessed with? I really love becoming entrenched in the culture surrounding a book series, such as Harry Potter or the Golden Compass. The new book just came out, the movie is due in December, and fangirls are going crazy. Am I just a sheep on the bandwagon, or is there really something I truly enjoy about Twilight?

Though the first half of Twilight seemed to go in circles, the last half was super exciting; I really wanted to know where the story was going and what would happen to the vapid characters. I really should have waited to write this, because I really enjoyed the first book and hope my critiquing it won’t make the other novels less exciting for me or sway you all from reading the books. Because they are exciting, and sometimes its totally fun to indulge and become obsessed with something for a while. But maybe we could follow up Twilight events in the libraries by talking about abusive relationships…

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    • hermionedanger
    • August 18th, 2008

    Okay, I read just finished the second book last night. And yeah, I feel the same. I feel like I’m the one in an abusive relationship. I still hate many of the characters and their fucked up relationships. I really have no defense, except that I really like an exciting young adult series…

    • Cait
    • October 8th, 2008

    Dawn convinced me to read the first one, and granted, I’m only about 70 pages in. But, seriously? THESE are the books that teens (and Dawn) are losing their minds over?? Doesn’t it make you feel somewhat hopeful that WE could actually write a best-selling teen novel? That might be a good project for feminist club, actually… although now that I think about it, maybe my bafflement just means that I’m totally out of touch with teens (and Dawn) are into these days.

    • candise
    • October 8th, 2008

    I know, right? I think we should re-write Twilight, only make it not so sucky. First, it won’t be from Bella’s point of view (she is so milk-toast), but from Alice’s. Oh, and Alice and Jasper will both be gay – maybe Jasper could be an effeminate butch? God, this sounds so much better already… Ok, and Bella and Edward can still be all lovey-dovey, just not in an obsessive, unhealthy-relationship style. Actually, what if we turn this into a rock opera, too?

    • candise
    • October 8th, 2008

    Oh, and I’m not being sarcastic. I’m serious about the rock opera idea.

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