1. Twilight lovers, just hear me out. I’m not bashing it for the reasons that you THINK I’m bashing it.
2. The thing that inspired me to write this? “Just Dance,” by Lady Gaga. Trust me, there is a correlation.
For those of you who are unaware of the Twilight phenomenon … wait, no. If you are not aware of what Twilight is, you have been living in a cave. Google it, and then come back when you are finished.
All set to go? Okay, then.
Last year, a friend of mine bought me the first book for my birthday. Another friend had been telling me that I “had to read” these books, that they were “better than Harry Potter,” etc. etc. Whatever. The book sat on my shelf for some time. At first, it was because I hadn’t had a chance to read it. Then, however, I became more skeptical. I heard others’ accounts of the book, and wondered, was this REALLY something that I was going to enjoy? The book continued to sit on my shelf.
Months later, I finally decided to “give it a shot.” Granted, at this point, I’m pretty sure my opinion was not unbiased, as I had formulated many judgments about the series by then. Even still, I thought, I’ll try it.
I read 30 painful pages.
I then read the summaries online.
To be fair, what I read was not necessarily terrible writing (my boyfriend, the English professor, might disagree, but I digress). It was a bit overwrought, but not terrible. I’ve read terrible writing that is not nearly as unreadable as Twilight was, for me. No, Twilight is unreadable because Bella is an insufferable, spoiled brat. Now, granted, so is (for example) Daisy Buchanan, but the reader is not supposed to sympathize with, or even like Daisy. However, the reasons I found the book unreadable have little to do with the problems I have with the story. Even if I liked the book(s), I would have this problem, and probably feel much more conflicted and be less preachy about the subject. Fortunately for my own moral standing, I don’t like the books. 🙂
To sum, the books chronicle the romance of Bella and Edward. Bella is a
spoiled rotten brat relatively typical teenage girl, who falls in love with Edward, a vampire. The books tell the story of their romance, and I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read, but it ends predictably. However, the romance itself is not the issue at hand, but rather Stephanie Meyer’s approach to the romance. Throughout the series, Bella indicates a strong desire to become a vampire so that she can be with Edward forever. There is, apparently, a theme in one of the books about how on Bella’s 18th birthday she is particularly upset as now she is officially “older” than Edward (when she met him, she was “younger” than him). Yet, throughout all of this is a not-so-subtle abstinence-only message.
In other words, Ms. Meyer, what you’re trying to tell us, is that an 18-year-old girl quite literally dying for her high school sweetheart is A-OK, but having sex outside of marriage is not. I understand there are varying opinions on sex outside of marriage, however I find it hard to believe that the majority of parents would want their children given glorified suicidal themes, provided those themes included an abstinence-only message.
Aside from the abstinence-only topic, I have a problem with the underlying message this sends young girls: That your life is meaningless and void of happiness because a boy dumps you. Nothing about these books are empowering to young women. Now, as an adult, I can recognize these themes, and therefore I see nothing wrong with them as “guilty pleasures,” but I feel pretty icky that young women are idolizing these books – wanting to be Bella, wanting a boyfriend like Edward. Teenagers have raging hormones, and in women this manifests into simpering, romantic notions about boys and relationships (and we’ve all been there, much as we would like to forget this). While I don’t think most of the young women reading these books are foolish enough act on these particular messages, I still don’t like that they’ve been presented as viable options to begin with.
And, now, I segue into Lady Gaga.
For those of you familiar with the song, Just Dance, it, essentially, glorifies binge drinking. This, I find, to be more troublesome even than Twilight, as young people already think binge drinking is A Good Idea (clue: it’s not), and certainly don’t need any more encouragement in this arena. There’s a part where it alludes that the woman will go home with some stranger she’s dancing with that night. Yes, this is so empowering to young women.
As far as this society has come in regards to how women are treated and perceived, there are still so many uphill battles. Before, the battles were obvious – voting, equal opportunities, women in the workplace, etc. Now, the battles are much, MUCH more subtle. There’s a fine line between female empowerment and female objectification – almost to the point where the line is so blurred that it is almost subjective.