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Twilight >a rebuddle to a friend<

I am Maciena.

I am a fan.

And I have extreme opinions and here they are.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Okay, this is dedicated to my asian friend.  and all the italics writing is in fact his words, everything else will be my comments…..and remember folks, I’m a twilight fan.  Not to be confused with a TwiHard. I just am a fan. 
Since I am posting directly from his blog here is the link to it, read his blog, he does have lots of great thoughts. 

http://shortfold.wordpress.com/

 

It might be a sign of laziness, but I’ve decided to hijack a long Twilight-related post from my Facebook account and re-post it here.  LAZY! It expresses my feelings towards the Twilight franchise and the first book in the series.  In addition, I feel slightly obligated to post something extra, just because I neglected to post anything over the past weekend.  Enjoy and feel free to leave insightful comments!

At my request, a female friend lent me Twilight over the Thanksgiving break. While it is untrue that I had little else to do, it is true that I felt compelled to do less than I did. Make sense? Regardless, in between Modern Warfare 2 sessions, I ended up reading Twilight over the course of a day and a half, which, given the length and relative simplicity of the writing style, is par for the course in relation to my reading habits. Having read Stephenie Meyer’s book about teenage vampire romance, I have to say that I was shocked to find that the book was not as bad as I was lead to believe.  Phil also found it not as bad as he thought it would be.  He said “more people needed to die.”

Now, before an angry mob of my male friends (and random internet trolls) comes busting down my door demanding my Man Card, I’m still demanding your man card. allow me to structure my argument, then see if you disagree. First off – very few men I know have the testicular fortitude to actually sit down and read Meyer’s works. AGREED. IF MORE MEN WERE COMFORTABLE WITH THEIR MASCULINITY THIS WOULDNT BE NEARLY ANY PROBLEM AT ALL.  In light of the series’ explosive growth in popularity in recent years, I found myself compelled to ask whether or not Meyer’s work was truly deserving of the praise it has been receiving. Unwilling to base my opinion off of the mindless internet flamewars regarding the book, I actually thought to read it. Shocking, right?  Good for you. 

I’m not going to go into a story synopsis – if you want that, you can see my previous post on the topic, in fact, I highly recommend it, as it more fully explains my interest in the novel. Instead, I want to point out a few things that both sexes seem to focus on or forget entirely in relation to the novel.

My first point, and I argue it is an extremely important point, is that Stephenie Meyer wrote the book for teenage girls. Based on the style of writing, the setting, and the issues the characters deal with, all signs point that Meyer had teenage girls as her original target. Even though, I do tend agree with you. She has stated that she was simply writing for herself.  That when she started writing out this Saga, that it was just to see what in her mind eye what would happen next, because the original idea, was a dream that she woke up from and was so involved with these people, that she had to put it down.  With that being said I think that this story is just something that a person (ok primary woman) can relate to.  That’s right, all you full grown women out there who are captivated by this novel – you’re ultimately reducing your standards to the same sub-standard young-adult section drivel young teenage girls read. You should be picking up Wuthering Heights, not Twilight. Hell, “Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret” has more valuable life lessons in its first chapters than this entire book.*really? why compare books. some books just shouldn’t be compared. who cares about the life lessons.  why can’t you just be swallowed by a story that just makes you realize things about yourself or even love.*  Arguably, Meyer is ecstatic that Twilight has reached audiences beyond the teenage range. Any writer would want their work to be so ridiculously popular. Were I a publishable author, I’d like for my own works to achieve such lucrative fame, thus I find it foolish that anyone should begrudge Meyer her popularity.

Twilight is as popular as it is supposed to be. The issue I have is that Twilight is popular because it lacks competition. *I can agree, there is no other story of this type.  Were Twilight written in a more mature manner, it would alienate its target audience, therefore putting it in an older reading bracket. Had Twilight been marketed towards older women, (that is, women older than their teenage counterparts), I argue that Twilight would have achieved only middling success. Instead, Meyer’s work hit the frenzied market of hormonal teenage girls, inciting all the repressed (or not) feelings of taboo lust and longing that is a hallmark of vampire novels. The result is that more mature women, who should know better, found that part of the female market was swept up in a new novel and did not want to be left out.

I know I’m probably treading thin ice when I state this, but I believe that many American women don’t like the idea that they have left behind their formative teenage years without dating that REALLY bad boy.    You know, the kind who drove fast cars (or a motorcycle), wore leather jackets, and didn’t care what anybody else thought. He might have been older, too, you little rebels. Anyway, whatever the ideal bad boy is, he’s the type that a woman wouldn’t want to take home to mom. *Cough*, and how do you know so much about the female psyche? Also…It can be argued that this story isn’t about dating “that” boy, its more about finding your place in the world.  Even though Bella finds herself in the world of the supernatural, she finds her place. She finds a love that is an adventure and isn’t that the most important thing.  Finding a love that makes you life an adventure.  Seriously I feel and belive that to most degrees that is the root of the story.

Edward Cullen is that bad boy, multiplied by a ludicrous factor. And, ultimately, he’s a nice guy. He listens, he has well timed compliments, and he’s handsome to boot. (Meyer uses the words “perfect” and “flawless” in the double digits each when describing Edward). Put simply, Edward has all that sexy teenage angst that females seem to respond so strongly to. The resultant hysteria revolving around the character lends credit to these suggestions.  *Men have their dream girls, can’t a lady have hers?

Okay, so I’m being so bold as to suggest that I, a man outside of the formidable female psyche, has some insight into what women like. Perhaps that is overstepping my bounds. I don’t think I am, but I’ll state it for credibility’s sake. In the name of fairness, allow me pick on the guys for a moment.  *Your right Mr, you and most men have some ideal of the woman psyche, just as we have some ideal of the man’s but it is unfair of you to think that we are all reduced down to some hormonal need of satisfying a youthful folly.

Guys, have you read this book? Why not? If there is one predominant and incredibly logical defense for males not reading Twilight, it is that it is gay. Please note the sarcasm here, otherwise you might as well stop reading, as the entire point of this post is probably lost to you. Apparently, this book has subversive homosexual undertones that will immediately corrupt an American male’s masculinity from simply looking at the cover too long. Heaven forbid that a dude should pick up the book, let alone actually sit down and read it. He might as well take a cleaver to his man-pride and limit his clothing selections to stuff from Banana Republic and Armani Exchange. The question I raise is, why? Is the American male sexual psyche so fragile that it is threatened by a novel directed at girls? If so, I fear that the un-fairer sex has some serious growing up to do themselves. **Amen.**

Take away the vampire storyline and Edward Cullen is still the ultimate boyfriend. He’s charming, strong, and compassionate. He dresses in a stylish but understated fashion and is wealthy to boot. In the story, Edward has a role that is something akin to a mix between Superman and Jesus, with a touch of the lead singer from an emo band, take your pick. I’m looking down at my gut as I write this and I have to wonder – Is this what women want from us men? *Every girl has that fancy, everyone wants the perfect person, but each and every individual has to decided for themself when they find the person that they love, despite their flaws, because even Edward Cullen has his flaws….He is overbearing, and tries to control Bella because he wants the best for her, noble as it may seem, he demands things from her, and decides things for her, and that isn’t right.    Unlike the immortal undead, dudes have to work pretty damn hard to keep up a chiseled physique. And, unlike ol’ Edward, we’re gonna get at least a little flabby at some point, regardless of our best efforts. The advantages of being a vampire is that everything seems to come to them fairly effortlessly. This gives them plenty of time to do anything they want with their immortality. Like stalking teenage girls. (cough cough) Gag me….

Since I made the point of Meyer’s obsession with male physical perfection, I suppose I should defend the statement by noting that there are “perfect” females in her novel as well. Several of the female vampires in Twilight exhibit the popularly held conceptions of physical perfection. The interesting double standard here is that in Meyer’s work, this is seen as something as a liability rather than a boon. I don’t have the book in front of me as I write this and I’m not going to bother looking it up, but I believe one of Edward’s clan is named Rosalie. According to Isabella/the narrator’s perspective, Rosalie is a gloriously perfect swimsuit model of a goddess. And ultimately that makes her too boring to actually get to know. Maybe Rosalie’s character is better depicted in future novels. I don’t know, as I haven’t read them. There’s certainly promise there, but for right now, I get the impression that Rosalie is really good looking and hates Isabella because she’s not perfect, and that puts Rosalie in the wrong. The moral of the story is: perfect girls are bitches and need a good staking. No double entendre intended there.  *Ok, since you haven’t read the rest of the books, and you admit, I won’t be too hard on you, but there is a background to Rosalie’s story and she is a much deeper character than her description in Twilight.  There are reasons for her “moodiness”  and you have to understand, that in Twilight you only see Rose from Bella’s eyes.  Which are limited.  If we had a third person view-point we could see from the get go all about Rose and more about her, but because we are limited to what Bella knows it takes a while for all things to come to light.  Also you need to that in my opinion the reason Meyer plays up the “perfection” and “flawless” up so much, is to convey the way Bella sees herself.  Bella believes and feels and sees this plain, boring girl when she looks in the mirror, and therefore everyone else especially these “perfect” vampires in this tainted light of look how amazing they are compared to me.  

I would also be remiss in not mentioning that men have objectified women since time immemorial. Every form of popular media contains some form of objectified women, and I feel I can safely state this without the risk of hyperbole. The reason for this is that white men own the media. There are certainly exceptions to this but to maintain some degree of credibility women media moguls usually have to make certain concessions to please the masses. I have long argued and will continue to argue that Lifetime and Oxygen are some of the worst things to come along for women since lead based makeup and breast implants. The truth of the matter is, people have lived so long with these raging double standards and female objectification that they’re – that is, we’re – used to it.  *which in my opinion is stupid*

I believe that a great deal of Meyer’s success is due to the fact that there is a relative dearth of strong female lead to perfect male counterpart stories in the market. Sure, there’s a battery of romance novels of every wanton flavor you could ask for, from rugged space cowboys, to old-fashioned cowboys, to hairless European sex-gods who want little more than to please hapless young (or not) women in whatever wonderfully debauched way they can imagine. I’ll add the comment here – no, I don’t read romance novels but I do occasionally read the backs of the covers. It’s kind of liking reading the description of a skin flick.  *wow, that’s funny…sorry but i think it is.

Anyway, my point is that Meyer captures the emotional turbulence of adolescent teen-hood even if some of her characters feel a little one dimensional. *BAH* And it is this ability to capture emotion that has garnered Meyer such popularity. It is not that her writing is superb, it is not that her take on the vampire mythos is unique, and it is not that her characters are particularly compelling. Instead, Meyer’s popularity is largely based on the fact that she is among the first to plant her flag in the fertile ground of the relatively untapped female audience. Consider her the Cortes of the female market. Due to its comparative lack of development, many women likely feel starved for something, anything that caters to their demands for male objectification, and have eagerly scooped up Meyer’s work. Once again, this is not a rag on Meyer or women, it merely an observation on the sources of her popularity.  *In my opinion I think thats a harsh statement, no matter how much you aren’t being mean, it seems mean, because I think that this story and the reason so many women can love it so much is because it captures a part of girl heart that no one has.  Which yes feeds into your untapped theory, but seriously why do you have to reduced it to that. 

As stated before, I find that Stephenie Meyer’s book breaks very little creative ground, and the mythos she follows in regards to vampires is somewhat of a taboo in and of itself. Sparkling vampires are pretty much unheard of. I can understand the need to allow the Cullen clan the ability to day walk, they’re trying to fit in with humans after all. I also understand that having Edward going all toasty in the sunlight would mar his incessantly commented on perfect features, which is also a strike. But, sparkling skin? Meyer might as well have written that sunlight transforms Edward into a young version of David Bowie.  *I’ll agree that the sparkling is cheesy, and not needed but it adds some flair.

There is one part of the book that I liked. At this point I don’t fear spoilers, considering most if not all the women reading this have already read the book and most if not all the men reading this really don’t care to. But the part in question has Isabella wandering into the woods outside her home, trying to get a grip on her feelings about life in Forks, her life at school, and her relationship with Edward. She gets a bit turned around, fears she’s taken a wrong turn but ultimately finds her way clear of the woods and back home, feeling relief as she does so. It’s an interesting allegory to her emotional development and it might have been a complete accident on Meyer’s part, but I thought it was one of the more poignant parts of the book. And the bad thing is, it doesn’t involve Edward directly. *I like that part too.

Edward is undoubtedly the best depicted character from the book. His looks, his attitude, his mood swings are all carefully, you could even say fanatically depicted by the narrator. Having a personal insight into the narrator’s mind should give the reader a better impression of who she is. Instead, I got the feeling that Isabella was an empty shell, a generalized feminine mask that any other female reader could wear in a macabre self-insertion kind of fantasy. * I am going to have to disagree with you.  She is very defined….maybe you can’t see that in the first book it has been a while since I’ve read it…but throughout the series Bella has a definite personality and desires and fears and hopes and everything that makes a person a person….in Twilight it’s all about the love story and her love for him, so you might not be able to see past that but it’s there .  And while we’re on the subject of Isabella, why is she so freaking helpless?  Do women actually think this is a helpful portrayal of femininity? A developing young woman could easily read Twilight and take away from it that all she needs to do is find a perfect young man with chiseled abs who can make all of her decisions for her and fix her mistakes. *I can’t argue this point until you read Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, because some things do change. But I do have  a argument.  I am not suggesting that women are that open to suggestion, that would be sexist and pig-headed of me. Yes, that would be. What I am suggesting is that everyone is that open to suggestion, which I feel is a far more equal attitude towards my fellow species.

One might wonder, why am I making such a big deal over one little book? If I didn’t like it, why don’t I just move on? My answer is this: Twilight represents the unthinking devolution of America. A bold statement? Sure. Am I wrong? I certainly do not think so. I believe you are wrong.  Yes its a culture thing, but so were bell bottoms, the 60’s the big hair of the 80’s and various  other bad things…I think Twilight is the least of this societies problems… As I mentioned before, Twilight was written with a specific target audience in mind, the teen girl demographic. And congratulations to Meyer, it was amazingly well received. I understand, Twilight is a book written for entertainment value, it’s not supposed to be Wuthering Heights with vampires, and on this account it also succeeds – it is most certainly not Wuthering Heights with vampires. I might have been able to appreciate that, had it been. The issue lies in the fact that the work spread beyond the teen demographic with such astounding fervor. T-shirts, posters, soundtracks, movies, I wouldn’t doubt there are Edward vibrators and Isabella plushies out there. Sorry, that was graphic, but it does help that I am certain you could find all of the aforementioned items. I’m very disturbed by this image. Also grossed out….All of this merchandising to tap into the popularity of a mediocre set of teen novels. I wouldn’t be nearly as vociferous if I thought Twilight had a strong moral point, or admirable characters that help developing teens question their motives and make intelligent decisions. >>My opposition lies in the fact that at almost every turn, Twilight’s protagonist makes poor decisions or represents the fragile, hapless damsel that, having twisted her ankle after losing a glass slipper, looks pleadingly to her prince to carry her from her troubles.<< GAG ME! Woman stand on their own two feet every single day.  I won’t speak for all women, but I enjoy the Prince story, and this Twilight story isn’t the first of these, it won’t be the last of these.  Cinderella had her prince, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, three examples.  Does those stories represent all women. No. Twilight is a story. A story that is popular, who cares. Some people like it others don’t, big harry deal.  Isabella Swan is not a character that represent all women.  She was the creation of a dream. There is a line between real world and fantasy, and unless you are some mental idiot, you know that Twilight is just a fantasy that doesn’t exist.  Men like that aren’t real. Men just like women are human and humans fail.  Humans disappoint. Humans die.

As a parting shot; guys, you have to stop being intimidated by female culture. Understanding is not the same as blind acceptance, a fact that I fear a majority of my fellow men could learn. It was interesting, playing Modern Warfare 2 in between chapters of Twilight. After the ump-teenth intolerant comment of, “You ain’t nuthin but a nigger,” or hearing some mouth-breathing twit shouting expletives at a video game intended for recreational purposes, I had the brief consideration that, “If Edward played Modern Warfare 2, he would compliment opponents and teammates alike on good shots, assist when he could, and do his best to absolutely kick his opponents’ faces in. If Isabella played Modern Warfare 2, she would inevitably die a lot, or at least have to have Edward follow her around to save her and make sure she didn’t accidentally shoot herself.” Gag me!Perhaps that’s a sign that I shouldn’t read a book I intend to criticize while playing with cretins who exhibit tendencies worse than those I am reading about in the book.

To summarize. Twilight, not so bad. What it represents in American culture, bad. Modern Warfare 2, very good. What a lot of its gaming community represents, very bad. Hooray for American culture. If we could get over our own ignorance, we would be capable of great deeds.  Yes because a culture that promotes the violent killing in video games is good….Just sayin.

 

 

In my own closing. .. . . . . .I find it unfair that so many people judge Twilight or categorize its readers in these lumps.  Who cares if Edward is a vampire, or Bella plays a damsel in the first book.  It’s a story and come on people we need a story in our lives every once and a while.  Why do we need to pick it apart and put cultural labels on it.  Seriously.

Ok, that is all.

Happy Reading, hope you comment.

 

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About hurleysview

stuff, blahs, yadadas...

6 responses »

  1. I personally love the phrase “big harry deal” and will now use it to the point of annoyance 🙂

    Reply
  2. Dear Justice View,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment on my admittedly far too long review on the Twilight book. The fact that you took the time to read the entire thing shows an open mindedness that the more zealous, what is it the term, Twihards I believe, seem to lack. As you noted, you’re simply a fan, and that is admirable. There is no shame in enjoying something. In addition,I feel that defending one’s convictions is a sign of personal fortitude, rather than being an example of a negative trait. People who flip their arguments and beliefs every time someone makes a witty but invalidated comment are less than useless to me.

    That is mostly the reason why I hold dear that you are such an exceptional friend. You are firm in your beliefs, you defend what you believe in and what you love. Even if we might differ on certain opinions or literary preferences, it’s your strength of conviction that I admire, even if the first book of the Twilight series made me go ‘meh’. >:3

    Always with respect,
    Shortfold

    Reply
    • I respect you too, AND thank you for the comment……and I’m just saying Phil read all four books, granted his opinion is very simular of yours , he read them all…hehe…..

      Reply
  3. ‘Meyer’s popularity is largely based on the fact that she is among the first to plant her flag in the fertile ground of the relatively untapped female audience.’

    to me this statement overlooks all the book series that I grew up reading which were all geared toward pre-teen and teenage girls that are no longer widely available such as the many Sweet Valley series and the Babysitter’s Club books. I fell the whole phenomenon of the Twilight series as well as the Harry Potter series should be viewed from the bigger picture of America’s youth are actually reading and not depending on movies wholly for their entertainment. And yes, both series have been made into widely successful movie series, but this only happened because the books were such successes. How many other books to movies can say the same thing? The answer is very few.

    Reply

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