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July 12, 2010

Comments

Jean

That's pretty much my theory. Romance is out of fashion and girls are discouraged from liking it, but IMO girls are naturally romantic. If they can't have it any other way, they'll take it in the twisted version Twilight offers. Anne Shirley would probably be healthier for them, but she's not in fashion (though all things Jane Austen have been for some time, at least for adults).

Sarah M

Hmm, just for the sake of this post I wish I would have jumped on the Twilight wagon. I've never read/seen them, but I DO like Mary Kassian & her book The Feminine Mistake...
Perhaps I will send this to my Twilight-loving friend to see what she thinks. Interesting post!
Sarah M

Stuart B

Having never read the books, nor seen the movies as of yet...it's rather interesting to me that one of the main critiques of the series is not that Edward is oldfashioned, but that he is a type of "father boyfriend". Bella wants her dad in a hot bod.

Also, all the Mormonism concerns me...but when all the films are done, I'll give them a shot, and then decided if the books are really worth it.

Liz

I would not refer to Twilight as portraying a more fulfilling romance than what we find in other modern romances. I personally find Twilight more problematic than not.

The overall presentation of the stories focuses on sensuality rather than actual love. Sadly, this culture generally views sensuality as being equivalent to love. It appears that Stephanie Meyers has struck a vein among young women longing for something higher than our hookup culture, but she still falls very short of her mark.

It is becoming more and more obvious that Twilight is giving women unrealistic expectations of men, and this is unfair to men. Just as pornography makes men think that women are objects for their physical pleasure, books like Twilight make women think of men as being objects for their emotional pleasure. There is an article from the LA Times, http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-ca-twilight-addiction-20100627,0,1321211.story, that speaks of this breaking up marriages. I think this shows that there is something more to Twilight than we thought when it was first released.

Shanna

If romance involves my significant other watching me while I sleep, discouraging me from keeping certain friends, and otherwise trying to control my life, count me out.

Twilight is smut for teens. It's purple prose without any release. Perhaps more importantly, it's fantasy, and I fear for any teen or other person who reads this and finds it to be an example of a healthy, fulfilling relationship. The idea that certain behaviors of Edward's are okay because he just loves Bella that much, is a common excuse of abusers. I think the majority of teens read it because it's light, fluffy and escapist, but pushing it as a proof that teens fall into gender norms or want more "romance" is brushing away all it's problems, like society already does with domestic abuse.

Shanna

Okay, sorry for two posts. I read Mary Kassians article in full, and I am very glad see recognizes Edward's creepy abusiveness for what it is, creepy abusiveness.

I do not like her assertion that traditional gender roles are the *right* gender roles though. For some people it fits, and they have every right to do what feels right for them, but for others like myself, being told that NOT wanting to be some fairytale princess makes us wrong or not wired correctly is an insult.

Robin Goodfellow

Robert Patterson is to girls as Megan Fox is to guys.

Also, anything that makes crowds of girls shriek in glee is generally found to be the antithesis of credibility.

Twilight is successful because it charges the (young female) brain with artificially cathartic serotonin, which is the obsessive-compulsive chemical in your brain associated with "love". (The one associated with the inability to get someone out of your head).

http://www.youramazingbrain.org/lovesex/sciencelove.htm

(What the characters in that movie feel isn't really that special, but the expected results of their situation, without context to keep them in check.)

So you have people getting off on the release of the sense of emotional addiction. It's why [you'll] ignore the abusive behaviour of Edward-to acknowledge it is to cut off that source of release.

The girls that like Twilight (possibily unknowingly) for what it is, don't care about the old-fashionedness of Edward, or truly understand what it takes for a guy to be old-fashioned (read: chaste) like him. I'm sure you like old-fashioned guys, and like that a popular novel has one for one of its heart-throbs, but to assume the two are necessarily related seems flawed.

Account Deleted

Robin Goodfellow- I didn't make the blanket assertion that the popularity of Twilight is entirely due to Edward's old-fashioned views. Do I think that Mary Kassian's article is in some ways spot on? Yes, I do. That doesn't, however, mean that I deny that there are some more shallow reasons for Twilight's poularity, as well. I think it's dangerous to make the reasons for any cultural phenomenon black and white. Culture is built around people, and people are certainly complex.

jj

I don't quite understand the "protect her" thing. If someone was determined to do harm to her, there's no man on the planet that could stop them.

Robin Goodfellow

Lindsay,

My apologies for presuming your assumptions.

Although...

*searches through wallet, and presents "Fool License"*

I'm certainly tempted to debate whether people are all that complex or not, but this is not the place ;)

Angela

I think there's something in what you're saying. I think, intrinsically, we all seek after someone that will love us completely for who we really are.

There are some days that I look at all the books, and all the movies, and all the music that I have and think, "I want a real love story!!"

I want a story about true commitment, respect, affection, and understanding. I think of my Grandparents, one of the foundational example of my lives, and their marriage of 62 years.

They got married when she was 17 and he was 19. He was a farmer and she was a farmer's wife. They raised their kids, had their arguments, shared their love with everyone, and are still going strong.

My Grandpa told me the other day that my Grandma is the best woman in the world. That, in my mind, is true love. The kind of love that I aspire to. And I really think that's what people are looking for, whether they realize it or not.

I could be completely wrong (I'm quite good at it, in fact), but that's what I think.

Jill

Refering to Angela's post, I am reminded of the "Love Comes Softly" series that celebrates a more realistic view of love. Because it's not an overly dramatic story it was made into a B film. I do think that is a series I will prefer my daughter to read when she's ready for love stories.

If your not familiar with the story, its about a young woman in the 1800's going west and her husband is killed in an accident. A man who has lost his wife and is trying to raise his baby daughter on his own proposes to the young woman that they get married so his daughter will have a mother and the young woman will not have to fend for herself. It's pretty much just a contract. She recently suspected she may be pregnant and though sick with the decision agrees to the marriage. As the story unfolds, you watch "love come softly" into their relationship.

Ranee @ Arabian Knits

I don't quite understand the "protect her" thing. If someone was determined to do harm to her, there's no man on the planet that could stop them.

So, nobody should try to protect anyone at all? We can get rid of police, then, too. After all, people who are determined to break the law will do so and nobody can stop them.

I don't think there is anyone who believes that a single human can infallibly protect another. That doesn't mean that people should try to do so anyway, or that it isn't a desirable trait.

Su

While I haven't read the series or seen the films, I have watched many a teen (and 20something) young lady go ga-ga and berserk over the mention of the series. I think the following repost of a critique of the Twilight series will add some thought to the discussion. (It is taken from a friend's Facebook Note.)

Book Review of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Share, by Laura Schmidt, Tuesday, April 21, 2009

For those who are unfamiliar, this is book one in a current series of four - the first volume recently turned into a movie, that has been very popular and I thought I'd finally turn and give it a look. Since I've been asked what my opinion of the book is, and after reading it feel strongly about that opinion, I thought this review was in order.

The basic core premise is a beauty and the beast tale: Bella the human, and Edward the vampire. Girls, including myself, can be suckers for romance stories of this nature, and the fantasy element makes it all the more transporting for the imagination. Coming to the story I only knew that it was a vampire tale (a genre within the horror category to which I'm wholly new - vampires tend to creep me out), and a romance for teens that maintained abstinence - which according to some was commendable in and of itself.

I read this book, all 498 pages of it, in 2 days - so it is definitely a page turner. Ms. Meyer also knows how to create some nice moments of suspense and came up with some very impressive powers for her vampires (super sight, hearing, agility, mind-reading, and vision-seeing to name a few). Readers of romance always welcome the dark and brooding hero archetype as well who steps in to do chivalrous deeds - what would this world be without Austen’s Mr. Darcy and Bronte’s Edward Rochester, I ask you? So Meyer’s Edward Cullen hits the mark there at least. He is definitely swoon-worthy.

Beyond these observations however, I fear this series may do far more harm than good for teens. Feel free to take a moment to review the plot summaries for the books in the series posted on Wikipedia if you’re not familiar with them already:

Book 1 – Twilight: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twilight_(novel)#Plot_summary
Book 2 – New Moon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Moon_(novel)#Plot_summary
Book 3 – Eclipse: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eclipse_(novel)#Plot_summary
Book 4 – Breaking Dawn: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breaking_Dawn

The main areas of concern I felt when reading Twilight are as follows:

Bella, a teenager with a broken family and low self-esteem, soon latches onto her relationship with Edward as her only reason for happiness and it overwhelms her self-identity. In one scene Bella decides her favorite gemstone is whatever shade Edward’s eyes happen to be, and constantly refers to him as “perfect,” and “my angel”, “body of a god,” etc. While earlier on she realizes her behavior is obsessive and unhealthy, it remains unchecked through the novel and the author seems to condone it by the end of the book. Edward, in turn, tells Bella: “You are the most important thing to me now. The most important thing to me ever.” He always says just the thing any girl would want to hear, even though he constantly warns Bella “I’m dangerous” since his vampire tendencies could easily get the better of him and pose a threat to her life. Not the kind of guy I’d want my teenage daughter hanging out with, to say the least.

Due to the intensity of their relationship, Bella isolates herself from everyone else in her community by lying to her parents, and quickly abandoning the friendships she had begun to make at school. This is all compounded in the honest fascination the reader feels for Edward and his vampire family with their super powers, fast cars, immeasurable wealth, and otherworldly beauty. There are no humans by the end of the book that Bella can depend on for any kind of sage advice (her parents are pushovers), and she longs to become part of the vampire world so she can live eternally with Edward. Becoming a vampire requires her to give up her mortal life – which in other words means committing suicide. This does not happen until the fourth book in the series, but it does happen.

Meyer also does a huge disservice to Bella as her female heroine since she seems to have no interests or talents in anything except having basic cooking knowledge, some academic prowess at school, and, of course, Edward. Bella is consistently bumbling her way through the novel, whining and complaining more than is necessary in my opinion, and then wandering into situations so that Edward must save her life – which he does at least 3 times in the book. She treats some of the humans in the book rather unfairly as well to get her own way, and there are few repercussions for her actions.

And what about the chastity the book is at least supposed to have going for it? Bella and Edward don’t have sex in the first book, but they do quite a few other things with one another. The storyline is guilty of the “plot, what plot?” structure at several points in the novel as Meyer intentionally works the action so that Edward and Bella can be alone to get physical on multiple occasions with no other purpose but to excite the reader’s emotions. It’s a romance novel cliché, and one that should not be confused with fine literature. The only reason they don’t have sex, by the way, is that Edward might accidentally kill Bella in the act since, as a vampire, he is so much stronger than a human. That’s not exactly the moral reasoning I was hoping might be present.

Critics might argue that the book reflects how teenagers in the thrill of first love naturally act, but who can deny that our dating tendencies in this nation are in desperate need of a clean up. Why in the world should we be encouraging teens to read something that only adds fuel to fires already raging out of control? And some teens are being encouraged to read this, by the way, since it’s being assigned in many schools across the nation as required reading.

Meyer had some ideas that could have been executed successfully in my opinion, but the book as it stands is bordering or crossing into incredibly dangerous territory. I encourage you to read the book for yourself so you can be informed, but if you do: get it from the library for free and leave it on the bookstore shelves unbought – where it belongs.

Here’s another review of the book you may wish to read:
http://www.catholic.org/ae/book/review.php?id=30898

And what review would be complete without a suggestion of what other options are out there for teens right now? Hand over Stephenie Meyer and pick up any book written by Joan Bauer. Bauer’s books are about teens with talents and passions finding their place in the world – despite broken homes or hard circumstances. My personal favorites are “Rules of the Road” and “Hope was Here.” I urge you to put books like those in the hands of teenage girls, encouraging them to live out their dreams and talents to the fullest in service to themselves, their loved ones, and their communities. There's a whole lotta life beyond Edward Cullen! ;-)

Su

For those who are interested, the link to Laura's blog containing the review posted above is: http://laurielfrodo.xanga.com/699667601/book-review-of-twilight-by-stephenie-meyer/

Robin Goodfellow

Whoa! Whoa now!

I take strong issue with Mr. Darcy being compared to Edward Cullen.

The reason Darcy's such a jerk is because he can't tolerate anyone acting in a selfish/presuming manner towards him and those he cares about (especially after you find out what happens to his sister). Once he identifies someone who doesn't take others for granted, he (ironically) offers what he has most liberally.

Edward's just plain self-centered. If he actually cared about Bella, he would have cleaned up his situation before even getting involved with her (or not getting involved with her at all).

Serene

Okay, okay... it's way too confusing where this all has lead.

Let me offer you another perspective on the whole Twilight hype. The time the book was first published, let me tell you that I was... yes, rather down and upset about the guys around me. Lacking manners, morality, respect and integrity (in my very own opinion back then), I was losing more and more hope about ever finding "The One" for me - and eventually decided that I'd rather just end up as a lonely virgin than giving up on my expectations just for the sake of getting married. Surprisingly, at the said time, my friends were all swooning over the Twilight Saga and recommended it to me.
Think about it however you want, but... it brought hope back to me, it was almost like a revelation. I'm way too tired right now to discuss about if Edward and Mr. Darcy can be compared to each other (besides, I really don't get how you *can't* compare them), but before rushing into judgment, think about all the teenage girls who were encouraged in their high expectations on men because of this book. Peace.

Boyd

I'm curious Stewart. What Mormon beliefs are in Twilight, and what about them expressed in Twilight concerns you?

I have heard about the author's Mormon faith and am curious as to why that is an issue for people interested in the stories. All the mormons I know are pretty dedicated, nice, and modest if I might add.

R_Alan

Call me cynical, but I have a feeling that most of Twilight's audience does not actually care for its messages about relationships. Girls like Twilight mainly because they think the male leads are hot (have you ever wondered why Twilight werewolves never wear shirts?) and that there is a whole bunch of unresolved sexual tension flying around the series (which is justified in-universe with all that talk about old-fashioned values). Simply put, this franchise will be as ineffective in promoting "no-sex-before-marriage" values as abstinence-only sex ed programs.


PS: I think Twilight is trash, anyway. Authors and filmmakers should be able to depict healthy and functional relationships not revolving around reducing females to helpless damsels in distress.

Robin Goodfellow


Serene,

I say there is little to compare between Darcy and Edward, because I am much like Darcy.

I have very little tolerance for shameless greed and borishness. Were I in Darcy's position, I would act in a very similar manner... including being being humbled for it later (as I have been before lol).

Cullen seems to act in the way young men act when they think they know what they're doing, and act "in charge" to maintain their status... but that only succeeds in that perpetual loop of false emotions, maintaing the "situation" of a relationship.

Although possibly unintended, R_Alan also brings up a MAJOR difference, in regards to the "damsel in distress". Lizzie, Darcy's "damsel" pretty much tears him a new one, right after he proclaims his affections to her, because he's so cold to her family. He only "gets the girl" by effectively empowering her by acknowledging her values.

Melissa

I can only say that Twilight must be popular for its cheap ability to take a young woman out of the hum drum of reality and take her into a world of excitement and romance. I don’t care for the Twilight saga and I don't believe these books will ever be considered fine literature (God help us) but I do appreciate that these books encourage teens to read. For all who are complaining about the negative messages this book is sending I say this to you: these teens are reading! It is far better for them to read than to participate in other mindless activities like getting their nails/ hair done, shopping, hanging out with people of a less than respectable nature and so on. Perhaps the references to Jane Austen and the lovely Mr. Darcy in this discussion will lead to the conversion of other Austen fans? Twilight could very well be the gateway book for real literature.

Emily

In my opinion, Edward treats her like property and Bella is a stupid idjiot who just let's it happen. This isn't TRUE LOVE. It's a horrible romance novel that had too much potential. Twilight is an example that should be read by all on what -NOT- to do. Remember kids: Abusive and controlling boyfriends are -NOT- okay.

Tanya Roberts

Oh for gawds sake! It's just a book ya know! Its ok to lose yourself in a book, get in the story etc
I'm 40 and just recently saw the first Twilight movie with my nearly 11 year old daughter. In the span of two months we've seen all the movies , i've read all the books and my daughter is reading Breaking Dawn for the second time. Should i be shot now?? I'm an avid reader of all genres of books and i enjoyed the Twilight series. If you're raising your kids the right way (even if they're allready teens)then you should'nt have to worry about the far fetched opinions alot of you seem to have on the series! It's just a book , let them have their escape from everyday life and let them enjoy it!It's your faults if they can't take a healthy approach to reading fiction, you worry too much!

Ariya

I read this post in the first place because I wondered how Twilight got so famous. Personally, I have read them all and watched all the movies that came out so far, but, I never truly enjoyed them.
Peer-pressure is what encouraged me to read and watch them.
I do agree that the romance in the saga is cheap. But then i couldn't help but wonder then, what is true love?
And there are much more profound books in the market. They don't attract as much customers as Twilight does. Again, I wondered why we engross in flurry fantasy instead of something solid and true. I mean, at least everyone SAYS they are into the 'deep things'.
So, I need an explanation. Why do plain Twilight stands out more than a better one like the Clockwork Angel series?

Ariya

and, i see that people tend to criticize popular books these days. the more popular they are, the more the criticism; the more average a book is, the more it is ignored. As if people need to be unique, to feel right, to be against the crowd and headstrong, to be the main center spotlight.
what is going on in this world?
I'm so confused.

mano

it is not that all good books are criticized books like this should be criticized because, the modern youth do not know what is the real meaning of relation and this book gives each and every reader a bad idea about life. pls do not think this as an argument

Jonathan

I applaud Stephanie Meyers for her book Twilight offering the views on abstinence before marriage. I am a big believer in courting a woman and keeping ones virginity before marriage, followed by complete faithfulness after marriage. My issues with Twilight are that the books are very poorly written. I feel like I'm reading something a high schooler wrote for creative writing. The storytelling is just absolute atrocious. If the books were written better, had more intriguing stories, and didn't feel so simple, they would be wonderful as I agree with the author's take on sexual purity and waiting until after marriage. I hope to read a book that inspires women and men to court and to have abstinence until after marriage, but that isn't so gosh-awful like Twilight.

Sunnie

This is the best reason I have ever gotten about why Twilight is so popular. Many people sneak in little snide remarks, but you just stated the facts in a logical way. Thank you for this because I needed to find at least one good reason of why Twilight is so popular for a school assignment.

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