Posts Tagged Twilight
I tried to read Stephanie Meyer’s paean to abstinence, early marriage and female passivity. Oh lord did I try. The Twilight novels are uniformly badly written, the characters bland and the storyline itself cribbed from Buffy the Vampire Slayer without any of the wit, drama or pathos. For some 2000 pages Meyer drags the reader through a leaden storyline with barely passable writing. Frustrated at the cardboard characters and dull as dishwater story telling, I ultimately, tossed the books aside. The popularity of the books and subsequent movies is fascinating. With the newest movie and inescapable part of pop culture right now, it’s time to take a look at the stories.
Many of the adolescent girls and women I know consumed Meyer’s books – several I know attended book release and movie parties at midnight to see the films to buy the books. So why, I wondered, have so many people – most of them female – fallen utterly in love with Meyer’s books? What do these girls and women see in Bella Swann and Edward Cullen that so attracts them?
Bella is the boring version of Buffy Summers. In Buffy, Buffy and Angel have sex in a dramatic and gorgeously shot scene; Angel experiences a moment of true happiness and turns back into Angelus, the heartless, brutal murdering vampire who once tormented all of Europe. Buffy is forced to send Angel to hell in a climactic battle, which she does just as his soul is returned to his body. Angel eventually returns from Hell. Buffy and Angel realize that they cannot be a true couple and part, even though they are soulmates. Buffy moves on to other loves and lovers, including a mutually exploitive and violent relationship with another vampire, Spike, in season six. Buffy eventually realizes the toxic nature of that relationship and breaks it off, while still treating Spike with enough respect to tell him the truth. In the Buffyverse, Angel moves on with his life as well. Joss Whedon who created the series, recognized that he was telling stories on multiple levels; Angel is Buffy’s first real love and as such will always have a special place in her heart, in dating Spike she was trying to recreate that relationship which she couldn’t have; when Buffy and Angel have sex, it makes real every girl’s fear that the nice guy you love will turn into a monster and leave you once you have sex. The first three seasons of Buffy were shrewdly built around the metaphor of High School as Hell filled with monsters. Empowered and well rounded, Buffy faces the traumas and dramas of growing up – including losing a parent – without sacrificing her free agency to act as she sees fit, as she needs. In one particularly poignant scene, Buffy breaks down weeping with relief that the world has been saved and she tells her younger sister “I can’t wait to see the woman you’ll become.” Buffy is engaged with the world around her, loving her friends and suffering with them when they suffer, but also leading her own life. She is a mature character capable of making her own choices and she does and faces the consequences both good and bad.
Bella by contrast simply waffles and worries and ultimately turns herself over the care of a man. Read the rest of this entry »