I admit, I’ve read Twilight. I’ve read the shit out of Twilight. Four books, hundreds of pages, and less than a week of my life later, I was in love. A relatively small budget, overnight-success of a film was made, and I loved it, too. I spent a good three months shrieking with delight at any media mention of Stephanie Meyer’s novels and almost considered tattooing Edward Cullen’s name on some unmentionable part of my body. And then one day, maybe some Tuesday in February of this year, I was over it.
Maybe it was being stuck behind an elderly Ford Taurus with an “I drive like a Cullen” bumper sticker, or maybe I just couldn’t stomach pretending a vampire story was really worth so much adoring energy, but suddenly Twilight was laughable. Sickening, really. Sure, Stephanie Meyer has created quite the story–she tapped into a voraciously thirsty population of teens (and I begrudgingly must add, myself) who were no longer happy with the current “bad boy” stereotype and ate up something like loveable vampires and angst-ridden forbidden love. I give her props for threading together vampire lore in a halfway creative way; it’s not easy to do something that’s been done to death. But Twilight pretty much sucks everything cool out of being a vampire in the first place.
I digress. I really don’t care to talk Rice versus Meyer. What I think is so fascinating about the Twilight novels is how many people LOVE every sentence, every syllable of them. Do a google search of Twilight fan fiction and your computer practically crashes with the sheer volume of nerds and nerdesses who have continued the stories way, way, way past the original content of the novels. I mean, it’s a mecca of homoerotic fantasies, sadomasochism, and really, really lame dialogue. It’s hurl-worthy. And they aren’t just a handful of pages. Some “fanfic,” as it’s called, is hundreds of pages long. These people are serious.
I remember overhearing a woman in a Barnes and Noble after the release of the final novel, Breaking Dawn. Her daughter (who couldn’t be more than 14) was pleading with her to get the book–yelping something about neeeeeding to know if Edward finally dismembered the bitchy girl vamp. The mom sighed and added the book to stack in her arms. “Oh, what the hell,” I guess she thought. I wanted to ask her what part of her daughter’s plea made her want to spend the $24. When I was fourteen I probably still read The Babysitter’s Club.
I fail to see what kind of merit the Twilight novels evoke for readers in many ways. Bella sets women’s rights back at least 100 years. Because of her love for Edward she literally wants to die. Excuse me, become undead. No college. No children (even though they do somehow have a half-breed baby…don’t even get me started on how exactly Edward’s century-old sperm was capable of that). Bella, in fact, cannot do anything without Edward. She’s useless, boring, whiny, reclusive–a terrible role-model for all those teen girls who idolize the fact that she won over Edward Cullen’s unbeating heart. Apparently, it says volumes about the teenage girl’s perception and/or fantasy of “true love,” self-image, and individuality.
Then there’s Edward. He crawls in Bella’s window at night to watch her sleep, is insanely over-protective, and constantly has to fight the urge to suck her dry. Sign me up. When the pair finally “do it” (after they’re married of course…vampires have a remarkable moral code), Bella wakes up the next morning to horrible bruises, cuts, and a display of destroyed pillows…Edward, see, is hard as marble (my, how dirty that sounds) and cannot help himself in the throws of passion. He feels bad about it, of course, and refuses to sleep with Bella again, which only makes Bella more horny.
I could deal with the insanity of the above described characteristics of this thing called Twilight, but it crossed a whole other line when a friend of mine told me girls at her little sister’s middle school were actually asking their boyfriends to give them bruises like Edward Cullen. Apparently, the more physical abuse you show, the more your boyfriend loves you. Because Edward loves the hell out of Bella. He just can’t help himself. Those are the wounds of love. Someone should tell Oprah.
Despite the truly bizarre, undoubtedly harmful psychological effects a ravenous love for such a novel could potentially have, Twilight has been devoured by pop culture. Rob Pattinson (movie Edward) can’t wiggle a toe without the paparazzi drooling over their lenses and for some reason even news outlets can’t help themselves from feeding on the frenzy. Twilight has become a household name–even people who haven’t read it know a shockingly lot about it–and with the popularity of the movie (s), it’s become almost inescapable to anyone with a working set of eyes and ears. It’s a cash cow, to be sure, but isn’t it more a testament to the power of popularity rather than deserving quality? I have to ask: have people actually read this thing? Are we that hungry, empty, desperate, or perverse that we actually allow something like Twilight to fill it, regardless of its merit as literature or even moral fiber? Just because our culture is in love with love, and there’s certainly an abundance of it in Meyer’s world, do we really let ourselves be swept away by anyone with half a talent for writing overtures and scarily psychotic romantic advances?
Maybe we’re all secretly looking for that overly-devoted, wounded creep who has a violent love for the weirdest, ugliest parts of ourselves. We can watch each other sleep, bruise each other unconsciously, and slowly suck the life out of each other. We can become blood-thirsty night owls that have hardened like marble against the pains of the world. Oh. Shit.