This makes the second post I’ve done about Twilight.
I’m thoroughly disgusted with myself but it needs to be done.
I started to read part of a review of the latest film installment. The critic didn’t seem impressed (and rightfully so) but did wax on about how Jacob is a much better match for Bella.
Yeah, I’m totally into those emotionally manipulative guys who try to pounce on a girl while she has severe low self-esteem from a fresh break-up. Those guys are GREAT guys. Quality males. Real romantic, trustworthy types.
I have read all of the Twilight books. Yes, they were entertaining at the time. Yes, I got wrapped up in the idea of Edward. Yes, I got sucked into the rainy, dreary world of Forks. Then I finished the series. Put the books down. Thought about them after the fact.
For the sake of this particular argument, let’s ignore the fact that the books read like the lukewarm fantasies of a repressed, embittered, vaguely imaginative first-time author. Let’s ignore the poor sentence structure, the abysmal editing, and the author’s obvious personal attachment to the characters, so much so that she’d rather see them get everything they want (You know, because that’s more like real life. Especially for teenagers) than do what’s good for the story.
The real heart of the issue is that these books set a terrible example for young women. I have two major complaints:
1.) Bella, our protagonist, is really not much of a protagonist. Her life becomes exciting when she meets a guy. Look at some of the greatest fantasy stories of our time that feature MEN as the protagonists: The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars (Episodes IV-VI). Romance either does not exist or it plays a supporting role. It is NOT the central conflict. Why can men be The Chosen Ones all on their own while women have to fall for some guy in order to have adventures?
2.) This little vampire-mortal-werewolf triangle is setting up teenage girls for dangerous expectations in life. Yes, I know it’s fiction. But while girls are smart enough to realize that supernatural beings are just that, will they understand that Bella, Edward and Jacob are equally as unrealistic?
- Bella: Ok, I already griped about her lack of leading lady gumption. But how about her as a person? She’s not particularly smart, she has no hobbies or interests, she’s utterly dependent on men (except her father, oddly enough), she can’t carry an interesting conversation that doesn’t involve her dramafest love life, she doesn’t seem to be interested in making friends or keeping them once she miraculously finds them. Is this supposed to be an example for girls to aspire to? Be morose, have no life, put in no effort and people will find you dazzling? Sorry, doesn’t work that way. Friendships require work. Relationships require work. So does school, as a matter of fact. Does she EVER do homework? Is she good at anything? Why are men her only passion and drive in life?
- Edward: Ok, I fell for him, too. Guilty. But as charming as he is, he is also quite creepy. He watches her sleep? Seriously? This is supposed to be romantic? It’s called being a stalker and people get restraining orders for that. He is also in complete control of this relationship. He begins it, he ends it, he begins it again, he applies to colleges for her, he uses sex as a bargaining tool, he dismantles her car SO SHE CAN’T GO ANYWHERE. This works out for Bella, since he is generally a benevolent dictator and she generally has a death wish, but this is NOT normal and NOT something young girls should come to expect in life. He is calm and understanding to a fault. I’m sorry, but any normal guy, living or undead, would react SOMEHOW if he witnessed his girlfriend kissing another guy.
- Jacob: Where to begin? First of all, I have a huge problem with guys who have a “So, now that you’re single” attitude. He is preying on Bella’s fragile emotional state. Guys do this, so I guess this is pretty realistic but it’s generally not seen as a favorable character trait. It’s manipulative and cruel. Which is fitting for Jacob who is oh so manipulative. He holds his “kindness” over Bella’s head, as if she in debt to him for leaning on him as a friend during a difficult time in her life. That’s because it wasn’t kindness, it was subtly disguised reciprocity. He expected, nay demanded, romantic affection in return for his friendship. He is petulant and selfish, which are not romantic qualities, but Stephanie Meyer would have us think otherwise. Threatening to put himself in harm’s way unless Bella kisses him? What is THAT all about? Guys in real life who display this high degree of manipulation DO NOT DO IT FOR RIGHTEOUS PURPOSES.
The Twilight series depicts bad relationships and is in itself, a metaphor for a bad relationship. It’s thrilling at the time, but with major red flags telling you to GET THE HELL OUT. When you finally do escape, you realize how unhealthy it was and how relieved you are now that it’s over.
So, note to fiction writers. Let’s empower our girls, shall we? Give them flaws, yes, but also give them strength and redeeming qualities. Let them have their own adventures, independent of their romantic entanglements. Give them quality men. I highly suggest one Fitzwilliam Darcy as a prototype.