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I first read Twilight years ago and just devoured the books.  The movie hadn’t come out yet and I was swept away by this dramatic love story.  Then the first movie came out.  Then came the “talks” – those endless discussions of why Twilight was the worst story ever written.  I know there were some positive reviews but I’m here to talk the negative aspects of the book and kind of defend them.

As the movies continued so did the negativity.  My cousin summed it up rather well – she said that she loved the first book and then watched the movie.  The movie ruined the books for her.  She refused to read anymore which was sad because the books get better.

There are a few discussions that stand out in my mind when it comes to why Twilight is ruining our young women.  The one I think of most is an article a local domestic abuse organization wrote.  The topic was why Edward was more like a stalker than a lover.  Every point hit home.  It did make you think.

But I think they all missed the point and an opportunity to really open up the dialogue.

Since Edward is picked on often, I’ll start with him.  If you think of Edward as a teenage boy – I think his behavior is not so stalkerish as it is teenage male.  Being a teenager is hard.  And boys have it bad.  They have things going on in their body that no one really talks about.  Girls at least get the talk because their puberty is very obvious but no one talks about boys.  They have hormones and boy do they smell.  They go from these sunshine dirt smelling boys to these beasts that smell like they rolled in the compost bin before hanging out in the barn.  There is nothing like the smell of a teenage boy.  I didn’t even realize that until I started raising my own.

Then add to that the cracking voice, the limbs that don’t quite fit and this obsession with body hair – do I have enough, too much, what if I look like a prepubescent boy my entire life?  And that’s just the physical part.

Suddenly, girls went from just things in the class to objects of obsession.  I remember my son’s first crush.  He was so in love with a girl who barely knew his name.  He was far too young to be in love but it strikes when it strikes.  The whole ordeal was painful on so many accounts.  There was teasing and gossip, pretty soon his little crush had become something the other student’s whisperedabout behind his back.  Sadly, by this time he had actually moved on from his crush but the damage was done.

Stalking behaviors are almost normal teenage behavior, I’m sorry to say.  I remember having a secret crush on a boy for an entire year.  I remember friends having the same thing.  Sometimes we were able to move beyond the secret part and actually go into the dating part but the teen years are not exactly brimming with confidence.  There are so many rules that you just can’t keep up.  These behaviors should end as the teenager becomes an adult.  If they don’t, then you get scared.

I just believe that a boy standing outside the window of the girl he likes night after night means that someone needs to help that boy find his confidence.

However, what most people don’t talk about is what is going on with Bella.  There’s a lot of complaining that Bella was whiny and Kristen Stewart lacked personality (it was an absolute shame that she was cast because Bella had amazing growth).  I’m not going to complain about the movies but I do believe they did not do the books justice.

The story starts off with Bella’s mom getting married and sending Bella to live with her father.  Where’s the discussion about that?  She’s just been abandoned by her mother.  No matter what story anyone tells – those are the feelings.  She’s been dumped on a man who hasn’t known her since she was little.  The man is practically a stranger.

Not only that but she is so far from home.  She might as well been sent to another country.  Not only did she go from Arizona to Washington but she went from city to small town.  That’s enough to break anyone.  I love Washington but it’s a unique culture, I’ve known many a transplant that did not survive.

So here’s Bella in crisis.  Then she meets the boy no one can have and it’s a fair amount of weirdness but in the end it works.  But he dumps her in book two.  Bella is back in crisis.  No one gets her counseling, no one seems to think there’s any need to get her real help.  I don’t understand that except that it wasn’t in the plot.  But from that point she starts to come back to the end of the last book, Bella becomes an amazing character.  I loved her in book 4.  She had become so strong, emotionally.  She had found her place in the world.

Why doesn’t anyone talk about that?  Why doesn’t anyone use these books to help girls in crisis?  Where’s the discussion about learning to come out of depression or crisis?  It’s a little hooky but it’s not unreasonable.  There is some real life going on in these books.  Bella’s behavior in book two is not unreasonable teen behavior, it’s irresponsible but it’s real.  One would think that examining that behavior might actually help a teen who is going through crisis.

I think it’s sad that the movies were so bad.  I think that they completely missed the mark.  But never fear, someone will remake them in ten years and we will all be better for it.  (I hope.)

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