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Monday, December 27, 2010

Why Ern Hates Twilight - an old rant, edited/re-worked for this blog

Leeard is out of town and unable to get on the internet today. This leaves Ern full reign to trash one of Leeard's favorite books (Leeard's side note: this is NOT one of my favorite books for any other reason than it's mindless and easy to read. In terms of quality, it's not even on my list) on the blog. (Pause for evil laugh.) You may be thinking, "Twilight has been trashed to we really need another blogger trashing it?" The answer is, of course, yes, because it is Twilight, and it cannot be trashed ENOUGH. Now, Leeard AGREES with Ern on most of these points and is certainly smart enough to notice them herself. (You don’t know this, but Leeard is a bona fide genius. It scares me.) We have argued about Twilight before, and Leeard just says that she is able to enjoy it in spite of these things. But I can’t.

I read the first book and thought it was among the stupidest, most self-indulgent things ever written. Alice was kind of a cool character, but she was hardly in it!!! Toward the end, when I realized that nothing was going to happen except two pretty people making googly eyes at each other, I threw the book across the room. I shipped it off to some unknown purchaser (via Amazon), along with a scathing letter to them for buying it from me. I read it because it was popular. I trust my fellow man and I want to discuss things with people. People keep comparing them to Harry Potter. This isn’t right. Harry Potter was about courage, love, anti-materialism, equality, anti-prejudice, etc. Twilight is just a bunch of gush. Harry Potter appealed to millions of people of all ages and genders, all over the world, of different religions, cultures, intellects, and interests. It was truly special. Let’s face it, Twilight appears to girls, young women, and sad old women in the West. That’s it. After I finished “shitelight,” to see what happens later without wasting hours of my life, I read the summaries of the next three books on Wikipedia. Now, I like vampires most of the time, because I think when you get immortal beings with unlimited power, youth, good looks, and money, an author can show how miserable that is. They can show how what humans think they want is the opposite of what they are made for. I also like books set in high schools, and, sometimes when it’s good, romance. But this…ergh.

Things I didn’t like:
• Edward is borderline abusive. His “best” quality is that he loves Bella obsessively. This shows that many girls don’t care about who a guy is, just how he makes them feel about themselves or how obsessed with them a guy is. His abuse manifests itself in little scenes like when he lies to her, takes the engine from her car so she can’t go visit another man, watches her when she sleeps, says creepy things like, “You are my life now,” and beats her to a pulp the first time they have sex (unintentionally, of course). He apologizes profusely, but she insists it wasn’t that bad and that it was “perfect.” Lots of people are thinking, “No, no! He’s just protective of Bella and concerned for her safety!” Nope. In real life, that’s a red flag.
The Domestic Violence Guide lists characteristics of domestic violence:
1.       constantly criticize you and your abilities as a spouse or partner, parent or employee?
2.       behave in an over-protective manner or become extremely jealous?
3.       threaten to hurt you, your children, pets, family members, friends or himself?
4.       prevent you from seeing family or friends?
5.       get suddenly angry or "lose his temper"?
6.       destroy personal property or throw things around?
7.       deny you access to family assets like bank accounts, credit cards, or the car, or control all finances and force you to account for what you spend?
8.       use intimidation or manipulation to control you or your children? hit, punch, slap, kick, shove, choke or bite you?
9.       prevent you from going where you want to, when you want to, and with whomever you want to?
10.   make you have sex when you don't want to or do things sexually that you don't want to do?
11.   humiliate or embarrass you in front of other people?
Edward qualifies for 7 out of 11
• The author writes most of her guys as controlling like this. The other guy after Bella, a werewolf, forces her to kiss him and talks about suicide if she doesn’t stay with him. Clearly, these guys are both drama queens who need a healthy dose of Xanax.
• Romeo and Juliet style, in the second book when they cannot be together, Bella mopes around, acts depressed, and nearly kills herself by jumping off a bluff (according to Wikipedia). When Edward thinks Bella is dead, he tries to have some super-bad vampires kill him. This is pretty much the plot of that whole book.
• Bella is selfish, psychotic and clearly unable to function without a man.
• He’s 107 and she’s 17. Statutory rape, duh. And why would an adult want to be with a child?
• He’s a 107-year-old virgin. This is probably because the author is a Mormon (which is fine, but doesn't make for realistic non-Mormon character behavior when you project your values on them). 107 and a virgin. How unlikely is that? This is clearly a deep-seated, stupid fantasy for this author. Realistically, as a Godless guy, he would have had sex by now. Mormons can pull that off; vampires usually can’t. Twilight lovers will argue, “He didn’t have sex because he was afraid of killing the human he sexed up.” So in 107 years, he didn’t find another vampire?
• One of the main vampire problems is solved because in this series, vampires can live off animals. This takes the bite completely out of the topic of vampires. It makes it more friendly, but it conveniently robs it of conflict and makes vampirism look attractive. It makes vampirism look attractive a LOT, actually. And usually it isn’t. Usually the lesson is to accept the life you’ve been given. Not in Twilight. In Twilight, the lesson is that living forever is the happy ending and that you should totally leave your family for a guy before you are old enough to drink.
• Half of the first book is just a description of how good-looking the guy is. Take a look at this little gem another blogger pointed out: “He lay perfectly still in the grass, his shirt open over his sculpted, incandescent chest, his scintillating arms bare. His glistening, pale lavender lids were shut, though of course he didn’t sleep. A perfect statue, carved in some unknown stone, smooth like marble, glittering like crystal.” Yes, that’s in the book. That's some of the better writing in that book too.
• The main character’s name is “Bella Swan.” Has anyone thought about this? Also, Bella is one of those flat, weak, passive girls. She falls all the time just to give the main guy character an excuse to pick her up and carry her around. This happens a lot. Bella is not interesting because the author intends for Bella to have no real faults. She describes herself as “plain”, but as soon as she arrives at a new school, every guy is after her. So either she is stupid, afflicted with false modesty, or written so as to not have a fault like pride that freakin’ everybody has.
• Edward is the main male love interest. He is jealous, flat, obsessive, intense, and not nearly mysterious enough. In the first movie that came out this last year, he was played as if he had Aspergers Syndrome. (I saw it with a friend to laugh and then I realized that I was just giving MORE time to Twilight. Yeah, sometimes I make bad decisions. The movie is long, boring, unintentionally funny, and plotless. All that happens is the two fall in love and look at each other for a long time. They don’t even fall in love for any good reason either. Then there is some violence tacked on at the end.) They are going for dark and brooding, but it comes off as creepersville to lots of people.
• Bella gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby, even if it might kill her. Because, to Mormons, there is nothing worse than getting an abortion, except for maybe having sex before marriage. Most rational people, even pro-life people, think it’s ok to have an abortion when the mother’s life and health are at-risk. But the author has her own politics to push. There is a whole gross birthing scene where it’s like half vampire and it shatters her spinal cord or something. She survives (darn). Someone told me that Edward ate the placenta. Actually, that’s kind of awesome/hilarious.
• They go to the prom at the end of the first book. Also, Edward can't go into the sunlight....otherwise he GLITTERS. Gasp! It’s so lame.
• It’s poisoning pre-teen girls’ minds, giving them ridiculous notions about men and love, give up everything (including their souls) for a boyfriend, and teaching them to act pathetically for months after a boyfriend leaves them. Also to cut off family and friends and other interests for the boyfriend.
• It gives girls unrealistic, unhealthy expectations. It’s emotional porn with no other substance. Girls want to be desired and treasured, and that is why these books are so popular. But guys are people too. They are going to have bad days, they are going to dislike things about you sometimes, and they are going to have other interests besides you. Furthermore, they are not going to be obsessed with you right away, to that level, or it’s going to be too weird.
• The books are unoriginal. It’s a complete rip-off of other (better) vampire romance books. Young readers are better off sticking with The Hunger Games, Divergent, Harry Potter, or the Mortal Instruments series.

But this is my main reason---
Even though the main focus of Twilight is that it’s a love story, I would argue that the kind of love Twilight contains isn’t love at all. This quote sums it up. Talking about a song he wrote about struggling to hang onto yourself and your goals while living in a marriage, Switchfoot lead singer Jon Foreman said-- “In our barcode media, love is often portrayed as consumption. As consumers in a commercial driven culture we can begin to view other souls as objects, or potential cures for our deepest fears and insecurities. ‘Perhaps if I found the right lover I would no longer feel this deep existential despair.’ But of course no human soul could be the Constant Other, the face that will never go away. Only the infinite can fill that role. But the silence can be deafening. It's a fearful thing to be alone. Do you love me enough to let me go? ‘I can't live without you’- ‘I would die if you ever left me’- These are not the songs of love, these are the songs of consumption.”

For more Twilight bashing, see these funny videos, where a British recording artist reads the books and adds his commentary. We like his accent:


  1. I have two things to say.

    1) Everything you said in your post is absolutely right. In fact, I'd go even farther in some points.

    2) I own all 4 books, all 3 of the movies so far, and both Scene Its for the movies. And I read/watch/play all of them... a lot.

    All of the main characters are flat and stereotypical, though many of the supporting characters are downright enjoyable. The relationships of everyone in the book are codependent to the point of abuse and even just creepiness. All the vampires mate for their entire existence, and werewolves "imprint" on another woman... even if that woman is actually only a 2yr old child. No, Stephanie Meyer, you will never convince us that this is ok. It's actually pedophilia.

    Though there is very little (if any) redeeming qualities about this series, the worst part is the message it sends to young women (and, I fear, easily impressionable older women as well). It teaches them to ignore the people in their lives, even if EVERYONE says "Hey... there's just not something right with your relationship." It teaches them that giving up education, morals, family, friends, balance, principals is ok as long as you think he loves you enough. It teaches them that jealousy and possessiveness is actually sweet and endearing, instead of frightening, threatening, and dangerous.

    It teaches them that they are not complete without a man. That they cannot possibly function in life without a penis around to hold their hand.

    I enjoy these books for their mindlessness. I enjoy them in the same way that millions of women enjoy Harlequin romances... they are dirty, brainless fun full of impossibilities in which the vampires and werewolves are more believable than the relationships and characters themselves.

    But as someone who works closely with young girls, I would urge every mother/mother figure to actually discuss the books with the girls in their lives. Just as Mrs. Potts said with rap music, a little discussion to reinforce the improbable and unrealistic nature of this series is warranted.

    ...Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to step off my soapbox and go finish watching Eclipse for the 3rd time this week. :)

  2. I too own all the four books and regret every penny I spent on it. The author had no idea where she wanted the story to go. The entire plot was lame and none of the explanations were concrete. The most disturbing thing was the way all the human characters were penned. Like Mike Newton, Jessica, Eric, even Bella's parents! Weak and fragile, and as if totally worthless.

    And I don't even wanna get started on the movies.

  3. I actually kind of like that they mate for life....but other than that, your comments have further disturbed me all over again. haha.

    It's so funny how many intelligent people can still enjoy the books though, even though they recognize that they are twisted. What is it? What's the hook? I feel like I'm missing some Twilight gene.

  4. Here's one of my favorite anti-Twilight articles:

    It's a little overdone, I think, but the author makes lots of good points.

    I'm like Leeard: I agree with every point you made, but I can overlook them all and just enjoy the books for what they are: mindless entertainment, good for killing boredom for a few hours. And when I'm done reading, I put them down and forget about them.

    Unfortunately I have seen women firsthand who have taken their Twilight obsession to unhealthy levels; I even know of a couple whose marriage is suffering because of the wife's Twilight obsession. She spends HOURS a day writing fan fiction and chatting with other women online about Twilight. This absolutely appalls me, but I don't hold Twilight or Stephanie Meyer responsible. That's like suing McDonald's for making people obese. I think these women already had serious problems and Twilight has just brought all those issues to the surface.

    I'll also go ahead and respond to your point about the virgin Edward/Mormon author connection. I don't entirely disagree with you, but Mormons aren't the only ones (at least I hope) who value chastity and appreciate a guy who waits until marriage. 107 and a virgin. How unlikely is that? Well, how many people go their whole lives without sex? More than we'd imagine, I think. Also, since Edward was raised in a different era, it's not entirely ridiculous to think that he would place a greater importance on virtue than most of today's society.

    And I completely agree with CurvyGirl: thoughtful discussion is necessary when young girls are reading these books. I would actually really like to force this post upon a lot of older women, too.

    I don't have a good solid answer for the questions in your last comment. I enjoy the books because even though they're poorly written, they are page turners. She created an interesting world, and it's a good escape from mundane drudgery.

  5. That article is funny. I'm torn on the abstinence thing. I'm a fan, but Twilight just makes it bad. It's a healthy thing that Twilight made unhealthy. While lots of people seem to value waiting to have sex, honestly, my mom and I joke that Mormons are the only ones who seem to be able to pull it off, en masse.

  6. Momma is proud to have not passed the Twilight gene to Ern. I am also thankful that my daughter figured all of this out before I was even tempted to read a Twilight book. (I do however admit to watching the first Twilight movie with Ern for giggles!)

    I absolutley love the quote by Switchfoot's front man...Jon Foreman. Pretty much says it all!