Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Twilight: A Rant

So today, while bored and uncreative at work, I decided to listen to some classical music, hopefully to spur my unresponsive brain into producing something at least marginally useful. Remembering one of my old favorites, I hopped on YouTube and looked up Debussy's Clair de Lune, a gorgeous piece that I prefer on piano over the full orchestra. I glanced at the comments--always a mistake on YouTube, but I thought I might be safe with classical music--and was horrified to find that Every. Fucking. One. is about Twilight. This one, in particular, made my mind bleed:

" [Debussy, she means] wasnt a made up artist!! what an amazing song, just like anything from the impressionist age. I love you Edward!!!!!!!!"

Despite my desire to crawl through the screen and slap this commenter (which I'm pretty sure you can do, now, through the magic of the Internets) I just sat, speechless, and then kicked the copy of Eclipse I've got stashed under my desk. As I thought about my infuriated response, I realized something.

I like Twilight, and I hate Twilight, and I particularly hate Twilight for making me like it, but more than anything I hate Twilight fans.

I picked up Twilight for a friend's birthday (Jimmy's sister, actually) and thought idly that it might be good to read. Once she finished it, she passed it along to me, saying I wouldn't be able to put it down. I generally assume this is true whenever I start a book, because I'm a huge bookworm and I just love to read. So the fact that she was right--that I read it within a day or so--doesn't necessarily reflect on the book, just on my book-consuming speed. For those of you who have been hiding in a cave or deserted island for the last year or so, Twilight is the tale of an ordinary (read: completely loathsome) girl called Bella who moves to a small town to live with her father. When she moves in, she meets Edward, a mysterious outcast at her high school. He's got yellow (no! Golden! TOPAZ!) eyes and "bronze" hair, and he's kind of pasty. Well, it turns out that Edward is a vampire. They fall in love, and then lots of people start trying to kill her, and then Edward proves what an awesome guy he is by saving her ass over and over again.

This, with a few twists and other characters thrown in there, is the basic idea of the series. People have somehow been comparing it to Harry Potter, and I just want to deck them in the face. There is no comparison there, other than that they both involve mystical creatures. But that's where the similarities end.

This rant is so big it has to be broken into parts.

I. Why I Hate Twilight

Twilight has a lot of problems. First off, its main character, narrator and "heroine," Bella. I fucking hate Bella, and not in a "love to hate them" way like I hate Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I just hate her. She's described as being very average-looking, she gets only decent grades, she's not particularly funny, she's ungodly clumsy (about half the plot points center around this), and she's neither outgoing enough to meet people or shy enough to be mysterious. She has no real talents that I can recall, she just likes to read, sometimes. And yet every fucking male in this series is in love with her. For real: three boys at her school (Mike, Tyler, and Eric), plus her best friend/werewolf Jacob, and of course Edward. Why? Why why why? The only thing she's good at is getting in trouble. And having herself saved. Jesus H, does this girl need a lot of saving. The fact that she was written by a woman makes me want to vomit, because she's just entirely useless. The only useful thing she ever does is manage to save Edward from suicide, but she wouldn't have had to do it in the first place if she hadn't jumped off a cliff in a storm and made him think she was dead via a series of misunderstandings. Yes. My only hope is that she gets better in Breaking Dawn, after she becomes a vampire, but it's not likely.

Second, the plot relies on a tenuous web of increasingly impossible and convoluted twists that could never happen in real life. At the beginning of New Moon, Bella is thrown a birthday party (and is ridiculously ungrateful for it, by the way) by Edward's family. While opening a present, she gets a papercut, which spills a drop of blood and sends Edward's brother Jasper into a frenzy. Edward decides, after this, that it's too dangerous for them to be together, and so he leaves her, convincing her that he doesn't love her (it's a pretty reasonable idea, to me, so I was convinced). The biggest plot point in the book, and it's because she got a papercut from a piece of wrapping paper. And it was deep enough to bleed. After Edward leaves her, she goes into a six-month spiral of depression, where she leans entirely on her friend/slave Jacob, who of course also falls in love with her. Jacob promises to take her cliff-diving, but has to cancel due to family issues. Now, when Bella does something dangerous, she can hear Edward's voice in her head, so she decides to go do it anyway, despite the fact that a storm is coming in. AT THE SAME TIME, her father's friend dies, and he goes to the funeral. Naturally, Jacob saves her from drowning at the last second. While they're at her house recovering, Edward, pretending to be someone else, calls and asks to talk to Bella's father. Jacob answers the phone and says that her dad is "at the funeral." Wasting no time on things such as fact verification or even good-old-fashioned mourning, Edward flies to Italy, where he hopes to convince the oldest family of vampires to kill him, by making a scene in public. Yes, it really is as dumb as it sounds.

Third, the characters just aren't real. Again, Bella's only dimension is that she sucks. Bad. Edward, while he has quite a bit of potential and is infinitely more likable than Bella, can occasionally get near-abusive in his determination to protect her--he takes apart her truck engine to keep her from going to see Jacob, "for her safety." Plus, he's just too damn forgiving. Bella does all kinds of shit to him, and he puts up with it, all the while telling her that she can leave him whenever she gets tired of him. The only character with any depth is Jacob, who both loves Bella and screams at her that she's being stupid. Actually, Jacob's relationship with Bella is similar to mine with these books, except that I occasionally want to punch Stephenie Meyer and Jacob does not.

There are many, many more faults I could describe, but this is long enough already.

II. Why I Like Twilight, Against My Will

I thought after I went away to college I was over teen angst. I thought I had firmly placed all that drama behind me, and now I was interested in good literature, good art, good film, that sort of thing. I thought it was inconceivable that I would ever be drawn to a gothy, whiny, fan-servicing piece of badly-written Mary Sue-ism again.

I was wrong.

It seems that, at heart, I still appreciate things that are just fun to read, regardless of whether they're good or not. Bella sucks, and I'm not interested in her (which is why I sped through New Moon and never touched it again). However, a love story is still a love story, and Edward is lovable. You wish you had someone like him, and I like it when he's happy. For some reason, he's happy with the ridiculous Bella, which is problematic, but whatever. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that no, things like this don't happen in real life. But maybe once in a while, that's OK. This story fulfills my small but real need for fluffy, angsty, pointless love/drama, and I guess if it keeps me from wanting any of that in real life, it's good enough.

But seriously, it's an annoying thing to like. The other day I was wanting to draw FAN ART. I haven't drawn fanart since my anime phase in high school. How embarrassing. I resisted the urge, but who knows if I'll be able to hold out. I'll have to post it under a fake name. Fortunately I have no desire to write fanfiction, which is good. With a few tiny exceptions, fanfiction makes me cry.

III. Why I Hate Twilight Fans

I'm sorry, and I know I'm going to get tons of shit for this, but Twilight fans tend to be the most annoying fans on earth. Like the ones who posted all over Debussy that they were thinking of Edward while they listened. Look, I'm glad you discovered some beautiful classical music, but shit. Just listen to it. You're not going to marry Edward Cullen; he is fictional. So just enjoy the music.

Plus, Twilight fans like to labor under the misapprehension that Twilight is really, really good. They compare it endlessly to Harry Potter, and I've no idea where they're getting this idea. HP is not a love story at all; it's a classic story about a boy who is not perfect, who has no real advantages except the people who love him, who confronts the worst fears anyone could ever have and saves the world. It's fairly simple, actually, despite the rich world and characters drawn around it. The story itself is timeless--it doesn't rely on ridiculous plot twists or excessive angst, except where it's necessary to be realistic, because Harry is a teenage boy. Remember when I kept comparing Megatokyo to Scary Go Round? Well, Megatokyo is to Scary Go Round as Twilight is to Harry Potter. (Almost. Except that her books are done when she says they will be, and she does improve over time--Eclipse was far, far better than Twilight or New Moon.)

Furthermore, if you don't like Twilight, be prepared to submit yourself to an endless deluge of poorly-spelled comments with lots of exclamation points about why you're stupid and a bad person. I've never met such a passionate group of commenters, and I don't understand it. I love Harry Potter and will defend those books until the end, but I won't suggest you're stupid or somehow amoral because you don't like them. I'll just assume we have different taste in books.

So, anyway, that's the end of this rant. There's more to say, but the spout of rage has died down to a trickle now, so it's time for me to get back to work. Let the hate mail begin.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for telling me everything I need to know about that book. I have never read it because, well, I am a guy and I always considered Twilight to be the literary equivalent of a chick flick. Also, the fans annoy me too, and I'm sick of Facebook bumper stickers that say something to the effect of "still waiting for my Edward" in bubbly letters. The fans annoy me to no end and seeing the trailer for the Twilight movie generated no interest at all. So, thanks for informing me about that book.

Kelly said...

I totally agree with you. I am slightly scared by the slavish devotion that droves and droves of teenaged girls seem capable of. And yes, I even went gaga over Edward, but I had the decency to be embarrassed about it afterward, and keep it to myself.I would like to know what you think about Breaking Dawn, actually, although you might not have read it(and I wouldn't blame you). But yes, good thing to know that there are other intelligent level headed people who enjoy a bit of fluff now and again.

Bobbie said...


I am a teenage girl.
I tried to read Twilight, couldn't get into it.
Then I proceeded to get yelled at by my (teenage girl) friends about "omg how could you not like it edward and jacob are so perfeeeect."
A friend of mine said that she was so proud, her boyfriend loves her just like Edward loves Bella.

OK. So, when you had known him for maybe a few weeks, he snuck into your room out of nowhere and watched you sleep because you smelled nice?

That is not how love works.

That is all.

Anonymous said...

Somehow manage to stumble across your blogs, and I agree with you on this whole twilight thing. I hate Bella as well, for most of the same reasons. I think the most annoying thing about her though is that by the end of Twilight she starts becoming overly attached to Edward, to the point where she freaks whenever he leaves a room for 2 seconds.It's clear how obsessed she is with him when he leaves her and she gets so depressed.I kind of just want to punch her in the head.

Anonymous said...

I am a teenage girl who hates Twilight.

I've read each one twice, thinking there was something wrong with me, because everyone seemed to like them. But no, they are still sucky books with sucky plot lines and sucky writing.

I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, I love those books so much and it bothers me that my friends say they are worse than Twilight. I loved reading your rant, thank you.

Igloo McCoy said...

I'm very happy to see that the twilight backlash has picked up some speed. My favorite thing about the series are its unfortunate implications. Bella's a chick and can't do anything and has to rely on men to take care of her, not to mention forgoing higher education to get married. The shiny white vampires are pure, moral beings. Native Americans are wolves. Cullen's basically a pedophile (he hangs around teenagers all day and is like a million years old and practically stalks them) and mentally abuses Bella. Sounds like a '50s movie.

Anonymous said...

I'm not even close to being a teenager, and despite the number of people my age which is, unfortunately, middle aged (not, surprisingly, The Middle Ages, though sometimes it feels like it) who have actually not only read the books but LUUUURRRRVVEEEE the movies (I refuse to call them films), well, I'll admit to something.

I saw the MOVIES when they came on cable FOR FREE.

Seriously, I didn't think I'd seen anything worse in the universe of filmmaking, except, perhaps, "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes," which is INTENTIONALLY bad.

Could I stop with the first movie? I thought I could. But, no, I just HAD to see if it got better, if Edward, Bella and Jacob started LOOKING better, and no, none of that had happened.

Did I stop there? NOOOOO. I just HAD to see the third movie. Since I haven't read the books, I can't say the third movie has improved. Edward still sparkles. Bella looks as if her jaws have been boxed. Repeatedly. And Jacob? He both lost a lot of hair and grew a helluva lot more.

I swear , I will NEVER watch another Twilight movie ever again.

And this time, I'm serious.

Anonymous said...

I think the Twilight movies have sucked my brain.

I am the immediately previous "Anonymous" and I had every intention of saying I had NOT read the books.

It's been less then five minutes since I posted the previous post, so I *still* haven't read the books, and I refuse to ever do that, either.

So there.

Anonymous said...

Okay, obviously Twilight has ****ed with my mind more than even I thought.

In the first paragraph of the post before last, I unintentionally made it sound as if I'd read the books. So, I came back and posted that I hadn't.

Then I just realized further on down in the aforementioned post, I *did* mention that I haven't read them.

Will someone please cue up that Debussy stuff that is Edward's Theme?

Or send me copious amounts of Dilaudid?

Thank you very much.