I’ve had a few inquiries about Twilight, the book series, now beginning its film life, about vampires and the girls who love them.
I didn’t read the books, but my daughter did, succumbing to peer pressure. She hated them, although I still am not sure how much of the hate was real and how much was stubbornness. Well, I will say that her critiques of the book are consistent with the critiques I’ve heard others make, so perhaps it was real – she said they were repetitious to the extreme, not very-well written and she thought the central female character was a pathetic piece of work.
Despite not being the closest observer of the Twilight phenomenon, I will still say that even from the outside, the whole thing seems disturbing to me, and not because of any occult content, but rather because of the overheated needy romanticism that seems to be at the heart of the hysteria. Blech.
A few links, and add your own thoughts.
Regina Doman reviewed the first book in the series here.
A very critical look at Spes Unica
Jeffrey Overstreet’s review will be up Friday, but he posts today about his reaction to the reaction:
Sure, the basic “Beauty and the Beast” elements are at work here. They will always work. I’m not going to deny that the Power of Myth is at work in this story. What disappoints me is how poorly it is developed, how many opportunities for thoughtful storytelling are bypassed for the sake of including long sequences that amount to “How far can we go without actually fornicating?” If you want a good vampire story involving a fascinating, monstrous vampire and an engaging heroine, check out Robin McKinley’s book Sunshine. Now THAT would make an interesting movie!
But don’t tell me that this is a love story. This is a lust story. You have to get to know someone to really be “in love” with them. Otherwise, it’s just hormones. Good luck with everything after.
Remember the lesson of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? If we make hasty commitments in the rush of infatuation, we’re in trouble. We need to be ready to “carry each other” (as the song says), and to live with and love the brokennes and the rough edges. These two are already saying “You are my life” before they’ve seen past the pretty facade. Bella is pledging herself to a stranger, drawn only by his burdened expression, his high David Lynch forehead, and his gel-sculpted hair. (Sure, he saves her life, but only after she’s already smitten.)
I cannot think of a weaker female “heroine” than Bella. She cannot do anything for herself—anything. She can only surrender to her ill-advised infatuation. She lectures one of her friends on being an empowered, independent woman, but cannot put that into practice herself. I’ve known girls just like her. They did not end up in healthy relationships. They ended up getting hurt again and again by guys who were alluring and exciting, but eventually abusive and selfish.
These days, it seems the every successive generation gets its repackaging of the Vampire Story as Romance. Those who enjoyed the Buffy phenomenon were treated to some remarkable pleasures and some memorable storytelling, not to mention spectacularly creative television. Based on what I’ve seen so far, this new generation’s inspired by the same inspiring material, but their version is sub-standard and misguided.
There’s nothing wrong with a good vampire story, or a story about redeemable monsters. But this film splashes around in the shallowest end of the pool of love stories. Or better, it only dips its toes in, inclining us to follow our emotions. Some may claim it’s about being open-minded toward one another. To me, it looked like Bella’s mind was so open that her brain fell out.