I’ll admit it: I enjoy the Twilight series.
I own all the books and have attended midnight showings of all the movies so far. They’re not spectacularly well written, some of the plot devices are stupid, and, frankly, alot of the characters suck. I can’t really logically quantify what’s fun about them for me, but for some reason, it is, and I’m willing to give myself a pass to enjoy them. What can I say, it’s a guilty pleasure.
But I’m a well adjusted, critically-thinking, happily married adult woman who can differentiate between fictional fluff and real life, which is very unlike a large volume of Twilight’s target audience. Would I let my future “tween” daughter devour this series? Eh, I’m not so sure. There are some positive messages in the stories, (sacrificial love, abstinence until marriage, don’t murder people even when you really really want to, etc.), but alot of the messages young women are getting from these stories are just plain jacked up.
1. Your life will be empty and meaningless until you get a boyfriend.
Let’s start with a character I absolutely loath: Bella Swan. Yep, she’s the lead protagonist, and everything about her basically spits in the face of every strong literary female who’s every graced the page. Imagine if Elizabeth Bennett had curled up into a ball of self-loathing after Mr. Darcy called her ugly at the ball and never did anything productive ever again. The end. That’s Bella in a nutshell. The book lets you know right off the bat that Bella is not particularly pretty, not particularly smart, doesn’t have any friends, is painfully shy, has horrible self-esteem, and is so clumsy that she’s practically disabled. She has no apparent plans for the future, no goals, no dreams, and no hobbies. She moves to Forks in an emo state of passive-aggressive self-exile and plans to be miserable and brooding for the foreseeable future. Wow, what a gem. But then she meets a sparkly guy who wants to kill her, and suddenly she’s found the true meaning of her existence. Which brings me to my next point:
2. Even if a guy tells you he wants to kill you, it’s cool to stick with him anyway and just hope for the best.
So Bella meets Edward and she is instantly plagued by an unhealthy level of obsession with this chach. At first, he avoids her like the plague and treats her like crap, which inexplicably only fuels the fires of her passion. Eventually, the truth comes tumbling out and he tells her that he is not only a vampire, but that he particularly wants to murder and eat her more than any other human on earth. He tells her in no uncertain terms to stay away from him, because he could literally kill her at any moment. For some reason, this just makes Bella even more hot and bothered. Someone needs to get this girl some therapy.
3. If my boyfriend is controlling, clingy, and exhibits stalker-like behavior, it just means he loves me.
For those of you who haven’t read the books, here are some things that actually happen in the story: for months before he and Bella even start hanging out, Edward sneaks into her bedroom every night to watch her sleep. In most states, that’s a restraining order and possibly jail time. (Bella just thinks it’s romantic.) He also constantly tells Bella what she can and cannot do, going so far as to grab her and physically force her into and out of various situations and even removing parts of her car’s engine on one occasion to keep her from being able to leave the house. He also frequently has mood swings which cause him to yell at her, boss her around, and generally just be a jerk. If this girl were my client, I would call the police for her.
4. It’s OK to date a guy who’s old enough to be my great grandfather.
Does no one else have a problem with a 109 year old man dating a 17 year old girl?Just because he’s encased in Robert Pattinson’s sparkly, brooding, eternally 17-year-old body does not make this dude any less old or any less creepy. And in what universe does a dreamy, immortal guy with the wisdom of the ages fall for a whiny highschooler with all the charm of a dead carp? “Oh, but Bella is an old soul! Only a guy like Edward could be her true match!” You know who else thinks she’s an “old soul?” This chick:
Now imagine if that guy was twice as old. Would that make it less creepy for you? I think not.
5. When a boy you like dumps you, there is no other option than to plunge headfirst into months of misery and crippling suicidal depression.
In New Moon, Edward dumps Bella for her own good after his family nearly eats her at her own birthday party. And how does Bella respond? With a few days of tearful ice cream eating over Lifetime movies followed by pulling herself up by the bootstraps and getting on with her freakin’ life? Oh no. That’s what a healthy, well-balanced person would do. Immediately after the breakup, she actually goes into some altered mental state, loses the will to go on, and falls to the ground unconscious in the woods, forcing the entire town of Forks (e.i. 13 people) into a search party to track her down. Bella then proceeds to spend the next six months literally in a near-catatonic state. She wakes her father up every single night screaming in her sleep, severs every relationship she had with her friends, and basically just withdraws from life in every imaginable way. She even starts hallucinating – hearing Edward’s voice in her head every time she does something stupid and dangerous – which makes her start purposefully engaging in high-risk behaviors to enter into this hallucinogenic state. (Luckily, the book glossed over the inevitable time spent with tranny hookers and gratuitous heroin use.) Is anyone else seeing how freaking insane this is? Why her clearly negligent father didn’t force her into therapy and psychotropic drugs is absolutely beyond me. And what eventually brought her out of this state of insanity, you ask? Did time and counseling and some well prescribed happy-pills finally heal her broken heart? Nope. She tracked Edward down and latched on to him like a lamprey, never to let go again…
6. If you really, really like someone, you should give up everything for them. (Which includes but is not limited to your friends, your family, your goals, your education, your career, and even your immortal soul.)
Not that Bella had any real goals or dreams to begin with, but after Edward hits the scene, everything else can just go straight to heck for all she cares. All she wants is for Edward to bite her and turn her into a bloodsucking hell-beast. Luckily, Edward shows a little bit of positivity here by constantly refusing to “change” her, hoping that she will instead go to college and pursue some interests and frankly get a freakin’ life. But Bella will have none of that. College? Who needs it? A relationship with my parents? Screw those jerks. Friends? What friends? A career? But I’m not good at anything and my boyfriend is flush with cash! Who needs a rich and fulfilling life filled with positive relationships, new experiences, and meaningful contributions to society when I can just stare at this glittering face for the rest of eternity?