Welcome to the segment where Lindsay tells the world humiliating information about herself. Generally relating to her likes and dislikes, and sometimes other things.
I have a confession to make: I’ve read every Twilight book and seen all the movies.
It started out innocently enough. It was the summer that Breaking Dawn came out and I was floating around Columbus procrastinating the packing that I knew I was supposed to be doing for the impending move I was about to make back home to Cleveland. I’d never heard of Twilight. Which isn’t really all that surprising considering the movies had not been released and I had moved past my addiction to reading teen fiction. But then I kept hearing about it. People kept bringing it up on television and on my constant friend, the internet. It became clear quickly that this thing was some sort of cultural phenomenon. And I’ve never been one to let a cultural phenomenon pass me by. I realized that this was something I was going to have to read. So I drove to Wal-Mart and found a copy for somewhere around eight dollars, which was all I really wanted to pay for this, went home, and started reading.
Now, do not mistake me, I am not some sort of Twihard. In fact, the first book took me months to read because I was constantly being ladled down by constant over the top melodrama and more angst than if someone threw The Cure and The Smiths into a blender and pressed mix. I recall trying to finish it one day at the beach with K and finally she had to ask me what was wrong because I kept groaning in annoyance. See, the problem is this: there’s no comic relief. Take for example the similarly themed second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The titular character has been ensconced in a romance with a vampire, Angel, who’s been cursed with a soul. He remembers everyone he’s killed and his soul makes him feel bad about it. So, he helps out the slayer trying to make amends, and in the process they fall for each other. No one happened to mention that if he had a moment of true happiness, which is obviously sex with Buffy, then the curse would be lifted and he’d go back to his wicked ways. In the, very dramatic, season finale Angel’s soul is restored, but it’s too late; Angelus (his evil alter ego) has already opened a portal that is planning on sucking the entire world into hell and only his blood will close it. Buffy’s forced to send Angel to hell. It’s all very emotional and could be the stuff of Twilight, but the main difference is this; Buffy’s friends. She’s surrounded by a group of really sort of amusing people who are always on her side making jokes and witty quips and manage to keep the angst levels at bay. It’s a good mix. It’s a necessary mix, I’ve found, because if angst is not mixed with humor then you might as well be listening to Elliot Smith on repeat. Or reading Twilight, which is pretty much the same thing.
Now I am sure that you’re wondering, if I disliked it so well why on earth would I continue reading the rest of the series. Well, the answer is twofold. The first reason being; once I start something I am very hard pressed to give it up. I’ve got a real dedication to finishing what I’ve started, even if I’m not particularly enjoying what I’ve started. This can best be exemplified by Hidden Palms, a Kevin Williamson show, staring a few of the cast off guys from The OC, that aired in 2007 for eight episodes before it was put out of it’s misery. It was probably the most frustratingly annoying television shows I’ve ever subjected myself to. There was a mystery, but it was tepid at best, and none of the characters were relatable. But I just couldn’t stop watching it. I took pauses, I took week long breaks, I did other things while watching but I just couldn’t stop all together. I needed to finish. And so it was with the Twilight series (I find it near impossible to call it a saga, as sagas are meant to be sweeping Germanic stories about Vikings), I just somehow needed to finish it. The second reason is that it suffers from something I like to call Heroes syndrome; the story meanders all over the place, slowly and seemingly without much direction. The majority of it’s exposition with a sharp climax and not much of a denouement. But when that climax arrives and then drops off you find yourself wanting more. Something happens within the last hundred pages of each of those books; they get a little exciting. Perhaps it’s the joy that something, anything, is finally happening but at the end of each book I found myself gripping it’s glossy black surface actually anticipating what would happen next.
Of course, like the show the syndrome was named after when the next installment began we were back to absolutely nothing happening for however many hundred pages until the big showdown in the end. New Moon was, in my opinion, the biggest perpetrator of this. Not only did it move at the pace of a canal horse pulling a barge, but it also consisted of the lead character sitting around her house too depressed to move for at least a hundred of the pages. Not the mention the chapters that consisted of nothing but blank pages to signify that Bella couldn’t even get out of bed.
Breaking Dawn, however, may be be my favorite story (joke, Eclipse and it’s pseudo violence is clearly my favorite) simply for the fact that it’s so completely ridiculous. It took me a year to read this book because I honestly couldn’t stand it. I put it down, picked it up, put it down again, and then eventually buckled down to get it done. I mean… there’s a vampire baby, that has to be chewed from Bella’s stomach. Not to mention the seventy-five or so pages of her being pregnant and ill, then drinking blood (gross) to keep the baby healthy. There’s one surefire way to ruin a sci-fi or fantasy story and that’s a baby (take note Being Human and Torchwood). It turns things domestic and thus boring. But this is the final book so I suppose domesticity couldn’t last long before there’s some sort of upset, which involves building a sort of army to fight in a battle against the ruling vampire Volturi that never really happens. Seriously, they arrive, get a talking to, and then peace out. Sorry if I just spoiled anything, but I really didn’t. Oh, and then domesticity is returned. Joy.
And perhaps Twilight is harmless, but it’s also teaching girls today that they need to experience this sort of love that shouldn’t exist. The kind where they’re completely dependent on a man and can’t live without him. Where love is the only thing that matters in life and you can’t be happy without a dramatic, dangerous love. In Buffy, for example, when Buffy finally had to say goodbye to Angel for good she manged to continue on her life, after her period of mourning, with other loves. When Edward Cullen leaves Bella, for her own good of course, we’re treated to pretty much a whole book of how miserable her life is without him. Jacob Black says, in Eclipse, that Edward didn’t stay gone long enough, that eventually Bella would have moved on. And perhaps that’s true, but every piece of evidence we’re given in New Moon leads the reader to believe the contrary. She might have started seeing Jacob and been happy enough with him, but it never would have been her ideal. After all, she does spend the whole story doing dangerous things so that she can see some sort of… I don’t even know, visceral projection of Edward telling her to stop it and keep herself safe. This is why I find the Team Edward and Team Jacob thing to be completely absurd, and I suppose my having a side does nothing for me but this is a confessional after all; Edward and Bella are pretty right for each other. They’re both bleak and depressive and so wrapped up in each other that should Bella go with someone as reasonable, albeit sad sack-ish, as Jacob it wouldn’t have worked out. They both need someone to be obsessed with so they deserve each other, they’d just ruin other people. This is not a great love story, it’s a good example of mutual obsession. And that’s not a healthy example for real life.
The worst part of these novels, however, is not the plot. I mentioned I have seen all the films, and to a reasonable degree I enjoyed them. I must admit I actually have an amount of respect for Robert Pattinson, even though he’s apparently dating a piece of cardboard, and think he’s a pretty good actor. And I couldn’t really begrudge him taking this role. He was hardly a household name beforehand and being plastered on every tabloid from here to the backwoods of the Amazon has given him a reasonable amount of clout. Plus he makes fun of Edward Cullen about as much as I do, which is a good amount of hilarious. But more relevantly, he’s good at playing Edward. He has a remarkable pinched expression that he administers liberally but isn’t afraid to actually smile, which cuts the brooding to a modicum. And while I think Kristen Stewart is a really terrible actress she’s probably the perfect Bella, who’s personality is almost non-existent and exists almost solely for the reader to be able to insert herself into the story. He main personality trait is that she’s clumsy. But because they’re films and not books, and thus a visual experience; they’re more fast paced you can see things instead of imagine them, and the dialogue is not written by Stephenie Meyer. The films are way better than the books, because the fact is that Meyer’s a terrible writer. She came up with a decent idea that appeals to a large group of people, but the actual prose is over descriptive, sloppy, and indisputably purple. So also makes up words. Now, I made up words, but I am not writing a novel here. The quality of a blog post isn’t supposed to be all that great compared to a novel. I feel like I can use descriptive words, such as studenty, because I write as if I am speaking. I know this words don’t exist. But when Meyer uses some of them it comes with a vague sense that she thinks they make sense. I really can’t put it any better than this quote from fictionwriting.com; “As a reader named Jane points out, Meyer’s writing also offers lessons in what not to do. “Stephenie over-describes everything,” she writes. “She uses purple prose, she uses the same words multiple times, and her writing sags and gets dull at times.” All of these things are true at times. Her books depend on suspense and romantic tension to keep readers engaged. It’s not highly literary prose, and nor is it supposed to be.” And it’s true, Meyer’s writing popular fiction, not literary fiction. But sometimes it still makes my head ache.
In the end I suppose I have complicated feelings about Twilight because I do genuinely think there are things to love about it. Like Harry Potter before it, it made people read which is really sort of an accomplishment in this day and age when eight thousand forms of media are available at our fingertips. The plot, in moderation, is sort of compelling. And it managed to capture the imaginations of thousands of, mostly annoying, people. But the main reason I continued reading these books and watched all the films was that I’m a firm believer that you can’t make fun of what you don’t know, and the opportunity to make fun of Twilight is far to prevalent to forgo it by not knowing the source material. Yes, I know people try and make fun of it when they haven’t read, but it always comes off, to me, as false, naïve, and immature.