Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Thoughts on the Twilight Saga

Okay, this is something that a lot of people have asked me to do, so I guess I'm just going to get this out of the way. Over the years, the Twilight saga has become a staple for pop culture (unfortunately), and has been both praised and ridiculed by critics and readers alike. When I was considering doing this particular piece, one of my friends noted that a riff on Twilight has already been done multiple times. A lot of people make jokes about these books and movies, but when you think about it, nobody actually goes into why they are so bad.  Sure, they say that there are a few too many shirtless guys in it, and make jokes about how gay Edward really is, but nobody actually goes into the actual story or the plot or characters. Well, I guess that duty has been left to me... God help me. And I would also like to make this perfectly clear: I am only speaking for myself. I am conveying MY opinions, and nobody else's. My aim is also not to sway anybody or convince people to think a certain way, if you agree with me, fine, if you enjoy these books, then good for you. If you continue to enjoy these books after reading this, then great. I must confess that this will also end up being a little long, but since literature and writing is something that I have been studying, I can't help but be analytical and even a little nitpicky. With that said, let's proceed.

Alright, I'm going to be brutally honest in this review, and to start out, I'm going to say that at the start, I actually didn't have that big of a problem with these books. At the start, these were books that girls loved and guys made fun of. I pretty much put it in the same league as Titanic, The Notebook and Jane Austin, girls love them, guys are just "meh". And then I kind of saw it as every teenage girls' fantasy put into a book, which is again, why I just kind of let it go. Sure, I made fun of it as much as the next guy, but ultimately, I had no real hatred for it. That all changed when the fourth book came out.

The fourth book/movie is really when this franchise began to think it was more than it really was. Like I said, I thought it was just something entertaining for teenage girls to read, it didn't talk about life issues, it wasn't philosophical, it wasn't preachy, it was just some teenage girl going through some shit. Even after I was forced to sit through the second movie at gunpoint, I didn't have THAT big of a problem with it. Sure, I thought the writing and acting was horrible, but I had a gun to my head when I was watching this, so circumstance dictated that I let it go. Don't worry, the parties responsible have paid... with their lives (like I would accept anything else?). But I digress. The fourth book began to touch on subjects that were a little too touchy for a book like this. This was also when the characters started to get ungodly stupid. Let's start with the subject matter.
Marriage: We've got two teenagers setting to get married. If I showed you the previous sentence without any context, you would definitely be saying "Whoa! Time out here!" Yet because this is in a book, it's okay? I don't care if you're marrying one of hell's minions, you need to think this through kid! At the beginning of the first book, she is in her junior year, which places her age at roughly 16 or 17. And by the time she is 18, she has decided that she wants to marry Edward, even though a good portion of that year (maybe it was two), was spent hitting on this other guy, Jacob. I'm sorry, but this just doesn't seem right, especially considering that, from what I could see, Jacob was the better choice. He was nicer, more outgoing, less creepy, and was a lot more supportive. I actually feel kind of bad for this guy. My point is, I don't care how much money your life story has made, 18 is still too young to make that kind of commitment. Even in the Harry Potter series, they at least waited a few years to get married. And those kids had all been through stuff together. They all faced death numerous times together. These kids haven't been through that kind of shit. Sure, she gets bitten at the end of the first book and nearly becomes a vampire, but we're soon going to find out that maybe this would have been for the better.
Sex and Pregnancy: This is where I think the characters are just getting to be unbelievably dumb. So they get married, they go on their honeymoon and have sex (which is what you do on honeymoons). Side note: Apparently, they break the bed? And in this universe, vampires are made of stone or something? I don't remember that detail from Dracula, but then again, I may have missed that. Moving on. So they have sex, without any sort of protection, mind you, and they are surprised when Bella gets pregnant... I'm going to repeat that. They have sex without any means of preventing pregnancy, and yet they are surprised when Bella ends up pregnant. Is that a surprise to anybody else? Because it shouldn't be. Typically what happens is that when you have sex without any kind of birth control, chances are, you are going to get pregnant. And on top of that, they don't know what to do when the baby turns out to be eating her from the inside out. Here'e my question: In all of the years, actually centuries, that vampires have been in existence and living amongst humans, how is it that THIS is the first time something like this has happened? And how is it that they don't know what to do? I heard at some point, they bring in a witch doctor to take a look at her, and she does the whole whispering "DEATH" routine, yaddah yaddah. Another question: How is it that there are no vampire doctors in this universe that know how to deal with this? Isn't Edward's brother or father a doctor? Why not ask him? Is it supposed to be that this has never happened before because vampires are way too careful to let something like this happen? Well, then I guess that doesn't make our main characters look that good, in fact, it makes them look really stupid. I'm guessing the idea is that a human body is not strong enough to carry a vampire child? Again, this is another hit to the lead characters because that means that they should have waited until SHE BECAME A VAMPIRE to get married. Wasn't that the whole idea? Make her a vampire and get married? Why did they wait so long to change her into a vampire? Does someone care to explain? Was it that she wanted to get married but wasn't ready to change? Well, then you should have waited until she was ready to change and get married. Why not do it all on the same day? You could have "Before and After" photos at the wedding of her when she becomes a vampire. That would be kind of cool! Again, I would really like to know what was going on when these decisions were made.
Abortion: This was the point where I thought this series was getting to be too full of itself. There is a point in the book where they consider aborting the child inside Bella. Now look, I don't care what your stance on the issue is, I think we can all agree that abortion is not something you talk about lightly, especially in a book intended for teenagers. If this was supposed to be a typical teenage girl's fantasy, then why are they throwing heavy subjects like abortion into the mix? This is also the part where I think the character of Edward has lost all credibility. Correct me if I'm wrong, but does he go so far as to call the fetus "an abomination"? He says something to the affect of "We are going to get that abomination out or you!"? Sir, you do realize you are talking about an unborn child, let alone YOUR unborn child, right? A child that you created out of sheer stupidity? Maybe this was the point where Edward realized that he screwed up big time, and like most responsible teenagers, he avoids all responsibility. Bella, sweetheart, you haven't been married a year, and already this guy is bad news. Would you care to explain to me why you chose him over Jacob? And don't tell me it's because he sparkles. Now look, I'm not saying that abortion is something that shouldn't be discussed and talked about, because it should, it's something that doesn't have a clear answer, and it may never have a clear answer, but it has no place in a novel that is aimed at entertaining teenage girls. Do Harry Potter or The Hunger Games try to take a look at this type of thing? NO, because the people writing them know who their audience is, they know they are writing primarily to teens.
Pedophilia: You read that right, this book has a pedophile in it. After "the abomination" is born, Jacob sees it and apparently feels some sort of bond with the baby... Seconds after he sees it. Apparently, he does this thing called 'imprinting' which is where werewolves mark who their soulmate is going to be... and he imprints on the vampire baby. I know that I said I actually kind of like the character Jacob, but by now, even he is walking on thin ice. I know that he is technically 16 or 17 in these books, which means that he is not technically a pedophile yet, but come back to me in a year, when he has turned 18 and the baby is 1. Is it creepy yet? To be honest, I feel offended by these characters. Both of these guys are supposed to represent the dream guys that every girl wants to be with, and yet they have both proven to be total whack jobs.
Bella: Okay, this is the part where I am going to be completely, utterly, brutally, unchristianly, unnaturally honest with you people: I did in fact, attempt to read these books. About a year ago, I wanted to convince people that I do in fact have a sensitive side that goes beyond being in love with Taylor Swift. So, naturally, I attempted to sit down and read these books, this was a while before I learned what the fourth book was all about. My thinking was that while I did riff them like a lot of other guys, I would eventually find something to like about these books after giving them a chance. But I didn't. So there. Can you give a guy credit for trying? The biggest problem that I found with the first book, or at least what I had read, was oddly enough, the protagonist herself. I found nothing worth liking about this girl. In the first few chapters alone, she complains about every single little thing that there is to complain about. She even complains that it starts to snow. It starts to snow, and she says "There goes my good day". What the hell? Is there a single thing on this Earth that doesn't depress the hell out of you? Besides demonic beings staring at you? I've been described as emotionally fragile, and not even I complain as much as you! I've met girls like Bella, who complain about everything even though things are pretty dandy, and I don't hang around with them. I think they are kind of despicable. The other thing that really baffles me about this character is that girls really look up to her... and she is a sick person! She constantly plays the two boys against each other, acts tortured even though there is nothing all that wrong with her, and just stands idly by as people start a war and kill each other because of things that she has done, all while acting like she is worth it. The pretense of this girl is just astounding. It would be one thing if she was written as a villain, who was doing this on purpose to get something she wants, maybe she has a complex revenge scheme going on or something. But this girl is supposed to be the everyday teenage girl that the reader is supposed to identify with. I'm sorry, but this is just a sick person. I guarantee you she would have made a better villain. Ladies, if you want a female character to be your pop culture spokesperson, don't look at this girl. Look at people like The Bride, Ripley, Princess Leia, Marion Ravenwood, or shit, I would say take a look at Lisbeth Salander. Sure, she was crazy, but she was written that way on purpose! All of these people got into trouble from time to time, but they didn't need men to keep on bailing them out! Leia, once or twice, but she kicked ass as time went on.
Stephenie Meyer's ego: The thing that bugs me the most about these books overall is the author's ego. When you see her in interviews, she talks about her characters like they are better written than Wesley and Buttercup, the couple from Pride and Prejudice, and even Romeo and Juliet. And the way she talks about these stories really makes me wonder if she has even read them, or researched them, or knows anything about them. The way she talks about Wesley and Buttercup has convinced me that she has never read the book, and I would be willing to bet that she skimmed the movie. In one interview, she said that the couple in Pride and Prejudice is not well written because you know that one could carry on with life if the other dies... Just like couples in real life? And then she hit my hot button when she brought up Romeo and Juliet. She goes on about how stupid the characters are and how they rushed into life altering decisions despite the fact that they are teenagers... Just like the characters in your books, Miss Meyer? But with all that aside, Romeo and Juliet were written as dumb horny teenagers on purpose, because their story was meant to be a SATIRE on relationships that people get into at that age. People talk all the time about marrying their high school sweetheart when they are still in high school, and the play is sort of a "what if" if every teenager "followed their heart" and did make those kinds of decisions. Romeo and Juliet's story is essentially Shakespeare taking a dump on all of those dumb love stories. If anything else, it serves as a cautionary tale to people of this age group. And besides, both people end up dead as a consequence of the decisions that they made. In Twilight, everything ends okay despite the fact that they have done everything WRONG. If this were a love story that was meant to be taken seriously, then there would at least be some damage, I'm not necessarily saying that every character should die, since this is supposedly meant to be for teenagers, but there should be some damage, maybe a few relationships are permanently damaged because of the decisions that the characters made. Maybe a few characters' fates are left uncertain at the end, and maybe just one person dies.

Okay, so all in all, I guess you could say that I don't really care for these books, or the movies that are based on them. I treated them fairly when I thought they were just something entertaining for teenage girls, but since they have started taking themselves so seriously, it has all gone down hill. But again, the thing that bugs me is that this crowd of characters are supposed to be people that we identify with and aspire to be, and yet they are just despicable. The main character is annoying from the get-go, and the rest just get worse over time. I guess it isn't all bad as long as the people reading these books don't take them seriously and know that they are fiction.

I think I deserve some points here, I wrote this whole thing and I never once mentioned my issues with the fact that they butchered the rules of being a vampire.