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The Case Against Twilight

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I’ll give Stephenie Meyer one thing- she knows her demographic, and she’s not afraid to exploit that. She has managed to create a love story for teenagers to swoon over, and it is completely chaste. In Meyer’s world of vampires, they don’t kill people, they can love, and nobody has premarital sex. Meyer’s sly insertion of her Mormon ideals into the series borders on propaganda. You can actually feel the adolescent yearning, but Meyer lingers on pages upon pages of exchanged looks, declarations of love, and innocent touches, and provides a reason why they can’t be together: Bella might die. The message here? Well, it echoes the famous line from the movie Mean Girls-“Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant, and die!”



Beyond surreptitiously pushing her ideals on her unwitting readers, Meyers tells her story through the lens of Bella Swan, a teenage girl whose behavior towards others borders on the sociopathic. She demonstrates an alarming level of unconcern for the well-being of others, and occasionally herself. Though Edward is constantly marveling at her intelligence, and how interesting she is, the reader can only search in vain for any evidence that she is anything other than a whiny, neurotic, self-involved, co-dependent teenager. Bella is initially attracted to Edward because of his superhuman looks, but ends up needing constant assurance from him that she is worthy of his affection, that she is special. She is the anti-feminist, who cannot survive without Edward, is insecure all the time, and refuses to believe she is worthy of affection. She’s pretty and smart, but without personality or evidence of intelligence, and with a contrived sense of humility. And her flaw is klutziness, rather than a less endearing one, so we can all love her as readers.



Edward is also an unlikeable character to anyone who dares look beyond the “smoldering eyes” (Really? Smoldering?). Why isn’t anyone concerned that he is bossy, arrogant, controlling, and moody. Is the ideal boyfriend one that exhibits classical signs of the typical abusive boyfriend? He has a dangerous mentality of control and dependence. He has no qualms about inflicting his opinion on Bella, who is the perfect patsy, because she lacks the physical (and emotional) ability to resist. He left her in New Moon because he decided it was best for her, despite the fact that she did not agree. She never had a chance at resisting. And Jealousy is not love. Yes, I understand that the Edward-Jacob rivalry is a plot device. But taking steps to prevent Bella from spending time with Jacob Black, whom she loved, is abusive, He not only issued an edict against her doing so, but disabled her car to prevent her from disobeying. He characterizes all her other friends as shallow, and she soon has no contact with anyone but him. This, of course, would explain the pathetic depression she sank into when he left-she had nothing without him. He assumed he had the rights to her thoughts when he left her, forbidding his sister, and Bella’s best friend, Alice from seeing her to ensure “a clean break”. He deprived her of her right to decide when and how to get over him. The abandonment was jarring, and convinced her that her life was less valuable without him. When he didn’t monopolize her time, she was able to form a friendship with Jacob Black (which she abused, but that is beside the point). But when he (inevitably) returns, she clings to him more desperately than before, as her belief that he is her only lifeline was reinforced. Also, threatening suicide is not romantic-it gives our partner the feeling of being responsible for their potential death. Bella even keeps their dates secret, because if Edward loses control and kills her, that way he does not take the fall for it. Time and again, he scares her. That is a very effective method of controlling someone. He makes decisions on her behalf despite her feelings, and keeps her scared and in his control all the time. Is this what we want young girls to think is the ideal relationship? The difference between love and obsession should not be ignored. Having Bella actually beg for sex is also a nice touch.



Nothing I have written has addressed the quality of the writing itself. Stephenie Meyer writes like a third grader with a thesaurus. She has no original thought, clings to a word of the day and uses it two more times beyond a ridiculous amount. Frankly, it’s insulting to open a book that is marked for young adults and find that it is written so poorly. If you find a passage without three modifiers for each noun, then she didn’t write it. If each of the modifiers mean the same thing, (‘chagrin’ works for this) then that’s all the better. She also apparently felt she had no responsibility to accurately portray the people or places she wrote about that were real. She bastardized Native American cultural lore so it would fit in her story, and didn’t bother to make the science she used to explain her fantasy world logically or factually sound. The plot is almost nonexistent, and clearly falls second to the importance of using absurd words to constantly describe Edward’s perfection on every page of every chapter of each installment in the series.



Clearly, this is a fantastic work of literature. Certainly, Stephenie Meyer thinks it is up there with Shakespeare. Angry fans will happily say things to that effect. Am I the only person who noticed how useful a red pen is if you’re going to pick up this series?



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This article has 27 comments. Post your own!

Freckles3 said...
Mar. 19, 2013 at 9:37 pm:
I currently just finished the first three books of Twilight (not allowed to read the fourth). I agree with you more than you can possibly know. I am a huge supporter of Jacob; he is such a good person who deserves way more than Bella. Frankly, I hate Edward so much that I abused the library book. Especially Eclipse... You should check out my article that is soon to be published regarding the series. I'm venting it all out. Great job and keep up the good work!
 
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Sukaina said...
Oct. 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm:
Very well written and I agree with all of the points you brought up. I was once a fan of Twilight but I recently started reading better written books, such as books by Stephen King. Now I look back and wonder what in the world I was thinking!
 
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Phantom_Girl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 25, 2010 at 6:03 pm:
I have always thought that Mean Girls is the most quotable movie of all time, and the quote does fit nicely with the themes of Twilight. You used excellent examples from the text. I also loved the part about drawing a line between love and obsession. Whenever I bring up Bella's dangorous, and quite frankly pathetic, depression, Twilight fans justify it by saying, "That's true love!" That, my friends, is not true love. That is a frightening obsession. If it was true love (doubtful as Bella only s... (more »)
 
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FunXsize3 said...
Mar. 18, 2010 at 7:23 am:
haha look it up shw was sued for stealing someones'else ideas
 
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Lillith said...
Jan. 26, 2010 at 11:30 am:
A college essay I wrote on the sissification of the vampire. http ://www.teenink .com /opinion/pop_culture_trends/article/161576/The-Tragic-Tale-of-How-the-Hideous-Dracula-Became-a-Sissy-Who-Happens-To-Sparkle/
 
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readlikecrazy10 said...
Jan. 23, 2010 at 5:06 pm:
Alright, it was funny and clever. I used to be that person who was always standing up for Twilight, but the writing could have been better. I still adore Stephenie Meyer and her work, but it WAS extremely easy. The plotline was good, and I thought it was vivid and interesting. Still, even though she did use some good words, it was a simple saga. But back to your writing. I like how you compare it to junk food. You can read it and enjoy it, but just go back to something a little closer to your ... (more »)
 
remym This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 26, 2010 at 4:30 pm :
Thanks. I did hope for some improvement, as I liked Harry Potter because J.K. Rowling's writing improved with each book. I just didn't see that happen with Twilight. But thanks for your feedback.
 
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teddybear334 said...
Dec. 31, 2009 at 3:29 pm:
Thank you!! This essay was informative ad entertaining, and I really enjoyed it.
 
remym This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 1, 2010 at 2:00 am :
You're welcome!
 
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AnnonymousFate said...
Dec. 28, 2009 at 9:12 am:
Oh my goodness, I loved this! I couldn't stop laughing! Which is a very good thing so don't take it the wrong way. I thought it absolutely clever of you to quote "Mean Girls". It really added to the text. I loved the Twilight series when I first read them. I was boarder line obsessed. Pathetic, I know. I tried to read them over a second time, but couldn't concentrate on the stories. All I could find were mistakes in the plot, loop holes, and the fact that Bella always t... (more »)
 
remym This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 28, 2009 at 4:29 pm :
Me too, especially how she was so helpless and hyperventilated so much. Sure, I'd be happy to read your stuff. I'm glad you liked this. There were many plot mistakes and things that didn't make sense. (Personally, I want to know what happens at Bella's time of the month. Awkward.)
 
AnnonymousFate replied...
Dec. 29, 2009 at 11:53 am :
hahahah I don't know how anyone would be able to put up with her. She must have a medical thing going on because I don't know anyone who hyperventilates as often as she does. Well, it is a story I suppose.
 
butnothing14 replied...
Dec. 31, 2009 at 1:35 pm :
OMG, i totally also wondered what happened to Bella at her time of the month, i mean really, how did Edward control himself
Also, what ever hapened when Edward spied on her during the early part of their relationship, was he watching her change?
 
remym This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 1, 2010 at 2:02 am :
I know, right? Creepy. And the whole Cullen house would be aware of her cycle. Also, a normal human can donate blood every 56 days. Why didn't Bella just give Edward some?
 
AnnonymousFate replied...
Jan. 9, 2010 at 8:23 am :
It is kinda a pervish thing. I honestly wouldn't want someone watching me 24/7. I don't care how hot he is.
 
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lovehate said...
Dec. 25, 2009 at 6:57 pm:
Okay, i love the twilight saga. But i did not realize the messages you pointed out about it. It is super accurate. I think you did an awesome job with this. Quite frankly, i still love the twilight saga and stephenie meyer.
 
remym This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 26, 2009 at 3:30 pm :
Thank you. Like I said, it isn't that you can't enjoy reading the series like you enjoy junk food. Just realize that those messages are there, because if you are aware of them it isn't a big deal.
 
readlikecrazy10 replied...
Jan. 23, 2010 at 5:08 pm :
great point. I still love the saga, but the whole article is absolutely true. :):):):)
 
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question-authority said...
Dec. 24, 2009 at 11:47 pm:
Holy moly, this was good! I think you did an excellent job explaining your point of view, which by the way I wholeheartedly agree with. I thought I'd thought of every anti-twilight point out there, but you definately introduced some new ones. Great work!
 
remym This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 26, 2009 at 3:30 pm :
Thank you!
 
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