Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Probably taking things too seriously

Another Twilight entry, but more about the message it sends to young readers. Get ready for your heads to explode with “OMG ASHLEY IT’S JUST A BOOK” (kind of like when I criticize movies because “that wouldn’t happen in real life”).

I added a few people on Goodreads and one commented on the Twilight series – that she liked it but it rankled her feminist self and also concerned her as a domestic violence advocate.

There are definitely some things in the books that bother me, mainly because there are gads of teenage girls reading them. And yes, if your teenager is getting all of their relationship advice and modeling from a book, there’s a problem. But you can’t underestimate the power of fairy tales shaping our expectations. How many young girls have been raised seeing their parents relationships, compared to what they see in movies and books and think “XYZ is how relationships should work”, while XYZ is completely off the mark?

Here are some things I dislike about the series:

• Edward and Bella’s obsessive, all-consuming relationship is shown as the way “real” and “mature” relationships are and should be. The other teen romances are treated trivially. Bella’s parents’ relationships (with each other and new significant others or lack thereof) are shown in an immature light – her Mom rushes in without thinking and her Dad is emotionally stunted. 2 teenagers are seen as having cornered the market on the way REAL love should be.

• The other relationships that are given any credibility are all “soulmate”, “made-for-each-other”, “I have no option other than to love you forever” things, among the vampires and the werewolves. Theirs seems to be an instinctual love and it’s not based on compatability or values. No credence seems to be given to people learning about each other, committing and then choosing to love one another when times are rough and the fireworks have gone out. Sure, their characters love each other through tough times but it’s always because they have no choice in the matter.

• Bella starts off as an independent person who craves time alone. After falling in love with Edward, she can’t bear to be alone. The guy is with her at school. After school. All night long. It’s literally said in the book that the only time they’re apart is the couple of hours when he leaves, before her dad goes to bed. Then he sneaks back in. So they’re together 20-22 hours a day and she can’t handle those 2-4 hours when he’s not with her?

• WHY they actually love each other has nothing to do with their personalities, beliefs, talents, goals . . . it’s just instinctual, physical . . . it’s destiny. Ok, whether you believe in that sort of thing is beside the point – even if destiny is what drew them together, shouldn’t we see WHY destiny drew them together? Shouldn’t it turn out that their personalities complement each other or that they both have a passion for something? We could assume that these things are the case but they’re rarely implied or explicitly said. Even when they talk about loving each other, there is no WHY. It’s just “I could never exist without loving you.” Ok . . . why?

• Edward – and Jacob – and Bella’s Dad . . . all control the CRAP out of her. Especially Edward! Sure, it’s because she’s hunted by everyone and their dog, but still – as long as there’s a good reason, it’s ok to order your girlfriend around, kidnap her, completely defy her parent’s rules and boundaries?

• Bella sees nothing outstanding or special about herself. And no one else tells her otherwise. Sure, people like and love her. But um, what are Bella’s talents? What are her interests? What does she want to be when she grows up? Here’s what we know: Edward thinks she’s beautiful. Bella is clumsy and seems to draw danger. She was kinda sorta into music and literature but gave it up when Edward hurt her/when she’s with Edward (which is all day, every day). She got into extreme sports and stuff but that was just so she could hear Edward’s voice in her head. She thinks college is pointless, she wants to become a vampire so she won’t be physically older than Edward all their lives.

Don’t get me wrong – I still think the books are fun, though I still have my complaint about too much filler, not enough of the fluffy good stuff (I’m doing a lot of skimming). But these are some things I really don’t like about the way relationships are framed in these books.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ash, I don't know if you read Elizabeth Esther or not, but she wrote a great piece about the total breakdown of relationshipdom in the series. I agree, the all consuming unrealistic entirely inappropriate Harlequin of it all peeves.

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