What Girls Want: Follow Up

No Twilight here!Since first sharing my thoughts on the Twilight books back in December,the initial bruhaha surrounding Twilight has calmed.  But every now and then, to my delight and dismay, Twilight rears its ugly head.

A friend recently sent me an awesome blog post from the ever brilliant Jessa Crispin, over at Bookslut.  Unfortunately I can’t track down the original post and link, but here’s a transcription of the post.  (Jessa, if you’re out there, can you tell me how to find the link — and subscribe to the RSS feed on the Bookslut blog?  Thanks!)

Back to matters at hand.  The Post from Jessa Crispin:

A few days before Valentine’s Day I got a little overly optimistic about my social skills and found myself at a lunch with a group of women I do not know. The conversation mostly revolved around whether or not one girl’s boyfriend was going to propose on the big day. The others were sure he would, despite the woman’s protest that he was resisting moving in together. I sat on my hands and concentrated very hard on not jumping up, saying “Maybe he’s just not that into you!”, cackling madly and fleeing out the door.

But then they asked me for book recommendations for their book group. I asked what they had read recently and liked, and she said, “Twilight.” My one ally at the table tells me I visibly sneered. I think I snapped something about Mormon celibacy and pathetic female roles, until mercifully my phone rang and I had an excuse to leave the table.

Maybe I’ll print out this smart Jenny Turner essay on Twilight, and just hand out a copy when someone asks me what I think of the books. Because it keeps happening, and I have to keep apologizing to my friends for sneering at people they know.

It can be a challenge to feel like the lone voice of dissent over popular fiction.  You become a touchstone to all those around you who want to point out who is not hip, or a stick-in-the-mud.  (I know this well, I was one of those constantly touting Harry Potter to those who ‘just didn’t get it.’)  Well, this unhip, stick-in-the-mud sticks by her opinion that while I wouldn’t outright forbid anyone reading this book, please, for the love of all that is good on this earth, understand that Bella and Edward are the ANTITHESES of a healthy, adult relationship.

Take a moment and read the Jenny Turner article.  It’s spot on with her assessment of the weaknesses of Bella’s character, the cultural issues at stake in the novel, and the obvious (and not so obvious) parallels and comparisons to pop-culture and Brit Lit.

Here’s a little teaser:

Bella’s character, in accordance with the conventions of the most finely mashed romantic fiction, has no features at all, apart from a mild emo-ish dysthymia (‘I didn’t relate well to people my age. Maybe the truth was that I didn’t relate well to people, period’) and an accident-prone streak, causing her to need a lot of rescuing (clumsiness, ‘most characteristically tripping’, is according to Toufic often a sign that a person may be ‘crossing the threshold’ to the ‘altered realm’). As Helen Fielding did with Bridget Jones, Meyer has hitched a ride on the Mr Darcy plotline, but without bothering to give her heroine any of Elizabeth Bennet’s spirit – raising a reprise of the Bridget question, why would a man of any style or substance fall for a lummox like her?  To which Meyer offers two answers, one conventional and one less so: because she’s the avatar of the audience, which has paid its pocket money for the privilege of indulging itself in a bit of the something-for-nothings and a dab of the it-could-be-you’s; and because Edward’s superhuman sensorium is irresistibly attracted – with a carnality both erotic and murderous – to the special ‘smell’ of Bella’s ‘throat’.

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3 responses to “What Girls Want: Follow Up

  1. I remember reading those posts at the time they were written. I must have exclaimed: YES! EXACTLY!!! About a dozen and five million times. I still stand by the opinion that they were a good candy read. But Bella and Edward as models for a relationship? Hello, manipulative mind-fuck! Holy ew. And, no.

    It’s tough being someone who likes the books, really enjoyed them, but having a conversation with someone else who likes the books… for all the wrong reasons. Yikes.

  2. You hit the nail on the head, SparkleJ … it’s a challenge trying to have an intelligent conversation about the good points and bad points of Twilight with a squeeing fan-girl who just won’t hear of anything negative. I used to be one of those people with Harry Potter until someone pointed out how annoying it was. Now, I enjoy the HP books even more because I can recognize what works in the narrative and what doesn’t.

  3. Pingback: Emo-Vamps and Weak Women: How Did We Get Here? « Perusals & Peregrinations

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