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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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Vixie_Chu said...
Dec. 8, 2009 at 1:08 am
Very true.
 
remym This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 15, 2009 at 5:28 pm
Thanks, I'm glad there are people out there who see reason.
 
SkipG replied...
Dec. 15, 2009 at 9:17 pm
Wow, I couldn't have said it better myself! This is simply Brilliant!
 
remym This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 16, 2009 at 1:30 pm
Thank you! I also reviewed New Moon, and you can imagine, I didn't like that any better.
 
Robkingett This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 16, 2010 at 7:57 pm
where is that review?
 
remym This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 2, 2010 at 2:02 am
http://www.teenink.com/reviews/movie_reviews/article/150091/New-Moon/
 
starinsomniac replied...
May 24, 2011 at 11:58 pm
awesome job describing exactly how those books are! that's what i've been trying to say to ppl for a long time! :)
 
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