My dear friend Jeanne already posted an excellent, thought-provoking blog about Twilight, the book and movie series that has dominated my time as of late. I have never had my opinion of something shift so dramatically in such a short amount of time. I went from literally being in love with Edward Cullen on Tuesday night to being completely disgusted with the entire series on this past Wednesday morning.
Reluctantly, I went with my friend Leslie and my sister to go see the movie Twilight over Thanksgiving break. I literally knew nothing about the series, only that it was some teen fantasy movie about a high school girl falling in love with a vampire. I had heard nothing but rave reviews about the series, even from women my own age whom I respect intellectually and spiritually. Still, I was skeptical because it seemed to be so trendy. Not to mention cheesy. I watched the movie with my arms crossed, fully expecting to hate it.
I was surprised at how much I got caught up in the story, and despite a cheesy line here or there, I found myself actually liking the protagonist Bella–she seemed to take cheesy dialogue and at least breathe some life into them–and I fell head over heels in love with Edward Cullen, the vampire. I walked out of that movie, strangely surprised at how much I enjoyed the film.
Leslie bought the first book of the series and began reading, although I initially had no interest in reading it. A few of us got free AMC movie tickets, so we decided to use them on a second Twilight showing, since Jeanne hadn’t seen it. I discovered that I liked the movie even more the second time and actually wanted to read the books now. So I began to read Book 1.
I have to say the book itself is far more seductive than the movie. In the film, I admired Edward because he became so protective of Bella. The book explores their connection a lot more and you begin to realize that Edward’s sole concern is protecting Bella and being with her and finding out what’s on her mind. There’s something so incredibly alluring in that kind of single-minded devotion and this (plus the fact that he’s perfect physically, wealthy and drives fast cars) that millions of teen girls, 20somethings and middle-aged moms are totally obsessed with the series.
The second book is honestly what dramatically changed my opinion of the series. I didn’t find it to be that interesting or compelling, at least from a written and technical standpoint. The last 200 pages are exciting plot-wise, but the reappearance of Edward which I had been anticipating the entire book almost seemed anticlimactic. Mostly because I began to realize how unhealthy the relationship between Bella and Edward really is.
And this is the danger, I think, in these books. They portray Bella and Edward’s relationship as ideal, and it FEELS ideal if you allow yourself to be emotionally caught up in it. However, the obsessive, all-consuming, jealous relationship, not to mention poor communication (Bella and Edward could’ve seriously avoided this whole drama of Book One if they had just communicated clearly:P) IS unhealthy, despite its initial appeal.
One article phrased the series’ appeal quite well:
“She [Bella] is purposely made as featureless and ordinary as possible in order to render her a vacant, flexible skin into which the reader can insert herself and thereby vicariously enjoy Edward’s chilly charms.”
Jeanne recently joked that she knew the best way to make a million dollars: Create a bland, female protagonist and then create an impossibly perfect man so that all women can live vicariously through aforementioned female protag. That’s basically what these romance novels are.
I probably could do that, although I feel as though I would lose my soul in the process.
My friends Dan and Serenity have created a wonderful, humorous little website called Stuff That’s Better Than Twilight. It has a few more article links posted on there for more insight as to why this series–while entertaining and good for a little romantic escapism–can also be incredibly damaging and give distorted views on what real love is like.
I think this series–and other romantic books and chick flicks that are similar–are truly emotional porn. They do for women exactly what pornography does for men: setting up unrealistic expectations and ideas about love.
I love how Jeanne stated it in her blog:
It really IS porn for women. It sells the lie that this is what love really is, when it’s in no way representative of LOVE. The gaudy replica of the truth. It always sells SO well, and we sometimes forget the why: It plays so well on our heartstrings that can be tuned only to Christ.
To readers of the series, particularly women (because I honestly can’t imagine a guy willingly reading these books anyway): Please, PLEASE. If you read these books, read them with discernment and full awareness that the deep longing in your soul can only be fulfilled by God and Him alone.
And so ends my roller-coaster emotional Twilight saga.
And yes, I’m going back to Karamazov:D