Love or Hate for Twilight?

Simply put, the Twilight franchise sucks all the fun out of vampire lore.

JILLIAN LOVEJOY LOWERY:  Vampires are big again, and, sure, I get it.  Who doesn’t kind of dig the idea of immortality, of retaining one’s beauty, of basically being a species in many ways superior to our own?  Also, vampires are sexy, cunning, smart, strong — things that many people spend most of their lives striving toward.

So, I’m down with vampire mythology.  I love Dracula (the book, most of the film adaptations), went through an Anne Rice phase, etc.  I’m not impervious to the draw of the vampire.

But simply put, the Twilight franchise — those ubiquitous young adult novels that inexplicably also make grown women swoon — really sucks.  Thanks Stephanie Meyer, for completely watering down all the cool stuff abut vampires.

I was coerced into reading Twilight by a friend when it first came out.  And I gave it a shot.  I love the Harry Potter series; I’m not too snobby to admit that enjoying some young adult fiction every now and then.  I read this sucker in about three hours — three hours where I was alternately bored and bemused.  This is, hands down, one of the worst books I’ve ever read.

First of all, Meyer plays fast and loose with the rules.  If you’re going to write vampires, at least get the story straight.  Her creatures of the night won’t burst into flames in sunlight — they just sparkle.  Let me repeat that:  they SPARKLE.  What in the sweet hell is that all about?  There is nothing sillier than an sparkly vampire — except maybe sparkly vampires who attend high school and fall in love with their classmates, despite an intellectual age difference of, oh, a few hundred years.

If I have to read a vampire romance, I want it to to be steamy.  Twilight fails at this too.  Bella and Edward are all in love and stuff, and I think they maybe kiss once.  He jeopardizes his entire family’s safety for some girl he smooched once.  And, though theirs is a chaste love, it’s supposed to be somehow incredibly romantic that he essentially flies into her window and watches her sleep every night.  If some guy I kissed once started letting himself into my place to watch over me while I slept, I’d file paperwork.  But in the world of sparkly vampires, sex is bad and voyeurism is a-ok.

On top of the ludicrousness of the plot, Meyer’s writing is bad.  Seriously bad.  I understand tweens really getting into this story, but grown women?  Women with an education level higher than middle school?  This, to me, is the greatest mystery of all.  What on earth is it about this ridiculously poor story that gets a hold of otherwise rational women and turns them into quivering masses?

My blood boils when I look at best-seller lists and see that this franchise dominates.  Bad writing and dodgy plot points should not be rewarded with record sales.

And the movie?  Wow.  Another time suck.  Fortunately, my friend had the good sense to suggest we turn the DVD off about halfway through.  Slow, dull, unimpressive.  And the actor who plays Edward isn’t even hot.  Vampires are supposed to be irresistible.  Big fail on the casting.

Twilight-mania shows no signs of slowing, though.  Much hype surrounds the second film, which I suppose comes out sometime soon, though I couldn’t care less.  Message boards teem with adolescents and 40-year-olds who are all hot and bothered over the incredibly bland Edward Cullen.  This will be bled dry over the course of the next several years, until the next big thing replaces it — and I cannot wait to embrace it, whatever it is.  Because it can’t possibly be as lousy as Twilight.

Don’t Judge Me.

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: I never intended to read the Twilight series, but a friend of mine sent a copy to me in the mail.  Really.  I’m not making that up to defend myself.  She called and asked if I’d read them yet, and a week after I answered “No, why would I?” an Amazon.com box with the first book landed on my doorstep.  As is the case with many addictive substances, the first one is free because once you’re hooked you’re willing to pay anything.  ANYTHING.  Lucky for me the next two books were already in paperback, but I actually forked over $24.95 for book 4, which at the time was only available in hardcover.  I’m not proud to admit that I elbowed a tween in the face to grab the last copy at my local Borders.

Now, I don’t like to get off my high horse as far as books are concerned.  It’s smug and comfortable up there, and I get to say things like, “This novel is devastatingly honest and luminously haunting”.  Movies are a different story; I love trashy movies and I live for Lifetime movies of the week.  But where books are concerned, aside from the occasional pulpy bestseller, I like reading good books.  So finding myself becoming drawn into the rainy vampire world of Twilight left me feeling conflicted, namely because it invited my long-obscured twelve year old self out of the shadows to frolic.  While reading all four books (in about a month), the war in my head sounded something like this:

28 Year Old Molly:  “I’m extremely skeptical of this series.  It’s a like Sweet Valley High meets Count Chocula cereal.  The main character is a whiny brat and I don’t care if she lives, dies, or gets laid, which she probably won’t, because the author is a Mormon.  Why am I reading this?  It just reminds me of high school, and I don’t need to remember high schoo—“

12 Year Old Molly:  “SQUEEEE!!!  She’s the new girl in town and the hottest boy in school is in loooove with her because even though she seems like an average girl to everyone else he knows she’s SPECIAL and he can TELL.”

28 Y.O.M.:  “Yeah, right, he thinks she’s special.  He thinks she’s a pork tenderloin in converse sneakers.  This girl moves to a new town and the only friend she can make is some creepy loner who becomes fixated by her and watches her sleep at night?  Why are we teaching young girls that it is acceptable for them to date controlling men who isolate them from their friends and family?  Obsession isn’t love!  It’s a warning sign!  And what does he even love about her?  She’s a drip!”

12 Y.O.M.:  “OMG!  Bella is lonely and angsty and feels like she doesn’t belong—kind of like me!  I bet that if Edward went to my school, he’d totally fall in love with me and watch me sleep because deep down he can tell that I’m not like other girls.”

28 Y.O.M.:  “Their relationship is based on nothing!  He’s weirdly dominating and discourages her from hanging out with her best friend!  She gets injured in every other chapter due to hanging out with him and his family and then hides the bruises from her father!  How is this ok?”

12 Y.O.M.:   “He doesn’t want her hanging out with Jacob because he’s a werewolf and they’re natural enemies.  But Jacob is also hot, even though he’s younger than her.  Jacob is in love with her too and she kind of loves him even though he’s not Edward, kind of like how I love Jonathan Taylor Thomas but I also love Zachary Ty Bryant.  And then she has to choose between two guys!  Just like I do!  Sort of!  In my head!  Are you on team Edward or team Jacob?”

28 Y.O.M.:  “Team Jacob all the way.  He has the best one-liners.  Also he treats her like an actual person and not some fragile collector’s item.  But I sort of think Edward is hotter in the movie, but Jacob is hotter in the book—you know what?  We are not talking about this.”

12 Y.O.M.:  “I wonder if that really quiet boy in my physics class secretly realizes how special I am and is in love with me.  I wonder if he can smell me from across the room and it makes him weak and his life didn’t begin until he first saw me.  I wonder if he’ll invite me to prom.”

28 Y.O.M.:  “Remember how she ends up not going to college because she’d rather hang out with her sparkly vampire boyfriend and lie to her parents?  Remember how she feels like her life is empty if she’s not with a boy?”

12 Y.O.M.:  “Boys are yummy.”

28 Y.O.M.:  “I concur.”

So I guess you could say that I can see both sides here.

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