So I was originally going to publish this article in the Books to Read spot, but then found this place, and I think it fits in here much better :) Anywho, this is an opinion article I originally wrote for my school newspaper. Yes, it's a bit of a rant, but I don't mean to be offensive, so please don't take it that way. Enjoy :)
There’s no way you haven’t heard of it. From the first publishing of that first book to the most recent perfume-bottle scandal, Twilight has permeated the very core of pop culture, not to mention high school conversation. No matter whether you’ve read the books, seen the movie, or were just forced to listen to millions of girls babble about its “just amazing!”-ness, you’ve been exposed to that teen phenomenon: Twilight.
But is it really that great? I say not. And no, it’s not because I “just don’t get it,” as so many people have told me. I do get it – everyone wants to be that perfect girl who finds that perfect guy in that perfect whirlwind of a romance. But are the characters of Twilight really all that perfect? And what is it, exactly, that makes me hate the books so very much? Is it the awful writing style? The horrid characters? The subliminal messaging? It’s all that, and more.
Little Miss Popularity
Let’s start off with Bella. She’s introduced as an average girl – average looks, average grades, average life. There’s nothing special about her. She’s just the girl next door. At least, that’s what you’re supposed to believe. Except that as the novel goes on, it becomes more and more apparent that Bella is actually perfect (and not in a good sense of the word) in every single way.
“That’s not true,” you say. “Bella’s not perfect at all! She’s just a normal girl!” Really? Then name just one character flaw. You can’t, can you? Oh, and clumsiness? Yeah, not a character flaw. Without flaws, there’s just seeming perfection, right? Poor Jane Austen’s been rolling in her grave since the moment Meyer first decided to base her ridiculously perfect character on Elizabeth Bennet.
No good character is flawless; Bella, however, is just that. She claims to be generous and kind, always thinking of others before herself. She’s supposedly hardworking, caring, uncomplaining. For no apparent reason, everybody adores her. She makes friends instantly, through no effort of her own – other people just walk up to her and instantly become her best friend. Every guy within a 5-mile radius is completely besotted with her, despite her (constantly) claimed ordinariness. She seems to be the It Girl of Forks, Washington.
But really, she makes a pretty crappy friend. She doesn’t actually seem to like anybody in her life (except for Edward, of course). She can barely tolerate her high school friends, she thinks her parents are pathetic, and she treats Jacob like dirt. Superiority complex, much? She barely speaks to anybody, except to use them – especially her supposed best friend, Jacob. From flirting with him to get the werewolf vs. vampire story from him in the first book and exploiting his naiveté to “hear” Edward yell at her in the second one (and what was that about, anyways? A short bout of schizophrenia?), all the way to splitting up his wolf pack and then (justifiably) freaking out over his disturbing wolf-crush on her newborn daughter in Breaking Dawn, Bella basically walks all over the poor kid. Funny how the only time she ever displays any gumption at all, it’s only to use and manipulate everyone around her. That’s real swell, Bella. And don’t even get me started on that pathetic “But I love JACOB, too!” attempt at a plot twist in the third book. If you’re going to suddenly fall in love with a second character, at least have the courtesy not to go on about how much you absolutely, always-and-forever, over-the-moon luurve
the first guy for over 1000 pages. Make up your mind, for heaven’s sakes.
But besides her (definitely not purposeful on Meyer’s part) evilness, isn’t Bella just bland and boring? She does nothing exciting for the first 500 pages of any of the books, and then, in sudden, 20-page action sequences right at the end, she faces an ominous death threat from which she is, of course, rescued by one of her male minions. But in those first 500 pages, she does absolutely nothing but gripe to the reader about how much her life totally sucks. Each and every little thought that ever flitted through her mind-numbingly boring brain is written down in meticulous detail, no matter how insignificant or irrelevant that thought was. Not only that, but she finds some sadistic pleasure in repeating herself over and over and over, changing up the adjective order every once in a while. I mean, I get it. She’s in love. But really, spare me the details about how “unworthy” she thinks she is of her little boy toy. Because to me, she makes herself sound like she should have LOW SELF ESTEEM – HANDLE WITH CAUTION stamped across her forehead in bright red caps.
Come on. He even looks abusive.
Bella’s co-star in the series, Edward, is a hundred-plus-year-old vampire stuck in a seventeen-year-old’s body. The supposed epitome of male beauty, he proves himself to be an abusive jerk. “Not Edward!” you say. Well, let’s look at the evidence. Below are a few points from an link
dealing with how to spot a potential abuser (the quotes from the article are bolded):
1) Admits to hitting women in the past.
Hitting? Try ripping them to shreds and setting them on fire. While Bella’s watching. If that doesn’t sound any warning bells, then I don’t know what would.
2) Shows up unannounced at your job, home, or places you visit.
Oh, you mean like her bedroom? In the middle of the night? To watch her sleep? Creep.
3) May offer to take you to any of these places on a daily basis so that you may grow dependent on him.
Kind of like how he insists on driving her to school, back home, to work, to Jacob’s – that is, before he flatly refuses to let her leave the house, which takes us to numbers 4, 5 and 6:
4) When you want to visit with a friend, go out to the movies or some other past time, he oftentimes vehemently objects or he uses tactics to make you feel guilty so that you will stay home.
Need I remind you how many times he didn’t let Bella go wherever she wanted, including her best friend’s house, because it was “dangerous”?
5) When he is angry with you he keeps you in a room with no access to a phone. He may lock you in the room.
Like the numerous times that he claimed he was “protecting” her, by not letting her visit her friends, call her family, etc. Which is especially obvious in the fourth book, when he takes her to a desert island and doesn’t let her have any contact with any of her friends or family, all to “protect” them.
6) He threatens to commit suicide when you try to break up with him.
I really don’t think that I need to explain this one. Stephanie Meyer did an excellent job drilling it into our heads.
7) He doesn't like who he is and makes regular references about himself as being "stupid," "ugly," "dumb," and asks you, "Why do you want to be with me?"
Again, self-explanatory. Just substitute the word “monster,” “killer,” and “murderer” for “stupid,” “ugly,” and “dumb.”
8) He expects you to call him wherever you go and will become angry if you don't.
Again, this is only to protect her, of course. Because poor, defenseless Bella can’t even be trusted to spend some quality time with her friends without somehow almost getting herself killed.
And that’s only a few of the points mentioned in the article. Clearly, Edward is one messed up guy. The fact that he displays so many “potential abuser” warning signs should scare Bella silly. But since it’s Edward, it’s all okay. After all, he only does it because he loves her.
Even if you can somehow manage to get past Bella’s pathetic excuse for a personality and Edward’s dictatorial behaviour (and kudos to you if you can), then you’re left to deal with the writing. I honestly have no idea how or why Brigham Young University, Stephanie Meyer’s alma mater, gave her a B.A. in English. I’m going to blame it on large class sizes or something, and pretend Meyer managed to somehow sneak past the professors on her way to the commencement stage. Still, no editor worth his/her salt should have ever considered publishing the novel, at least not without major revisions. Because there’s no two ways about it – Meyer simply cannot write. Even people who adore the Twilight series agree with me here. Pretty much any author on the face of this planet could do a better job with the story. People claim that Twilight is the best romance since Romeo and Juliet, since Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, since Harry met Sally. But would someone care to point out where, exactly, the romance is?
The story begins with poor little Bella, unwanted by her own mother – who’d rather spend time with her shiny-new hubby (and really, who can blame her?) – moving in with her dad in the hole that is Forks, Washington. Since she’s underage, she must continue with her education, the poor thing, and so it’s off to high school she goes. There, she’s instantly mega-popular, adored by all – except the hottest boy in school, who seems to hate her for no reason she can fathom. Oh, no! Whatever will she do? Well, nothing, really, except complain. At least until super-hot-boy comes back to school a few days later. Very, very few things happen and are described in intimate detail, and then Bella decides that since super-hot-boy doesn’t like her, he must be either blind or one of the undead. So she Googles vampires, and lo and behold – super-hot-but-strangely-uninterested-boy fits tons of the descriptions provided. Bella confronts him, and he confesses to being a vampire. And now that the “uninterested” part is conveniently taken care of – boom, Bella and super-hot-boy are both madly in love.
Where is the romance? There’s no love story there. Not even a love-at-first-sight story. Just an easy method for Stephanie Meyer to spread her extremist right-wing propaganda under the façade of a fantasy love story. Now, I know that most of you won’t agree with me here, but just hear me out.
Yes, I realize this woman's from the '50s. I just couldn't find a picture of a 1900's housewife in the kitchen
To begin with, Stephanie Meyer seems determined to set the feminist movement back a good 50 to 100 years. She makes Bella into a submissive, I’ll-do-whatever-my-male-counterpart-tells-me-to-do, early-20th-century housewife-like creature. She has no will of her own, no mind to do anything even remotely interesting. Everything she does, it seems, is done to benefit some male character in the story. Be it Edward, Jacob, or her father, she always seems to be serving and obeying some guy. Let’s look at her average day, shall we? She gets up, and dresses nicely to look good for her boyfriend. She goes to school and gets decent grades so as not to worry her father. She comes home, where she proceeds to cook and clean for her dad. Sometimes she visits her friend Jacob, so that he doesn’t feel left out; sometimes she goes out with her friends, so that her dad doesn’t think she’s some psycho freak with no friends. Then she goes to her room, and talks (or not, if you know what I mean) with her boyfriend. Then she goes to sleep.
Not at any point in her day does she ever do anything for herself. Her life revolves around the men in her life, pleasing them, being subservient to them. If she, by some complete fluke, manages to get herself in trouble, she’s pathetically useless. Forget about trying to do anything remotely useful to save herself – she always counts on some man to save her while she stands in a corner and screams prettily. Bella’s a pitiable, pathetic damsel-in-distress, completely useless to have around in tough situations. What happened to the independent woman? Girl power, and all that? Meyer seems determined to destroy her readers’ notions of a woman’s ability to do anything for herself. What kind of a model is Bella for third-wave feminists everywhere?
Bella’s greatest ambition in life seems to be to please Edward. And isn’t that reminiscent of the early 1900s? Think about it – by the age of nineteen, Bella’s a married teenage mother with no prospect of a future. She’s completely dependent on her husband’s money; she plans on living her life for him and their child. She doesn’t want an education or a job. What Meyer seems to be saying is, screw feminism and everything women have accomplished – what really matters is having a man to serve.
Edward’s extreme abstinence-until-marriage ideals are paraded through the books until the couple does get married – and that’s when the no-birth-control issue comes in. Of course, since they didn’t use any birth control, Bella gets pregnant – and she becomes determined to give up her life for no reason whatsoever. She succeeds in dying pointlessly during childbirth – really, the only time she’s ever been successful at anything. And why does she die in such a brutal way? Because she idiotically refuses to allow Carlisle, an experienced doctor, to deliver her baby through a C-section. Why would she do that? The baby was pretty much fully developed; the procedure would have been safe for both her and the baby. But instead, she waits until the pregnancy goes horrible wrong, and then proceeds to kick the bucket in the most painful way Meyer could imagine. The birth is gruesome: the baby breaks her spine and rips her insides to shreds before it’s delivered, then bites her the first chance it gets. Once she’s pretty much taking her last breath, Edward finally decides to turn her into a vampire. What a shining example for girls everywhere to emulate.
Now, what I’m about to say may seem completely contradictory to the rest of this article. But I truly think that the storyline, if given to an author who had any actual talent, might make an amazing novel. Hey, even Stephen King agrees with me: the background story’s good. Just change everything else, and you’ve got yourself a hit.