Vampires Aren't Real

Monday, 23 November 2009

It's amazing how the instant communication of the internet can get things stirred up. 

Disclaimer:  I have not read the Twilight series and I have not viewed the movies.

Tonight on KVAL we are running a story by a Portland affiliate reporter Anita Kissee of KATU about Twilight and the message it sends to girls and young woman.  There are two sides:  some support the series for it's moral apptitude and message of chastidy (the author creates the vampire character to be too dangerous for touching) but critics say the main character (Bella) is a bad role model.

What's the big deal?

Women of modern thought take issue with:

1.  Bella's low self-esteem
2.  Bella's need to be saved constantly by Edward
3.  Bella's need to change species to be with Edward
4.  Bella's forced denial of her family/friends to be with Edward
5.  Bella's daily tasks of (seemingly only) cooking and cleaning 
6.  Glorification of teen marriage and pregnancy
7.  Glorification of no "choice" when it comes to carrying a being that is killing Bella from the inside

Stephenie Meyer, the author, defends herself on website when asked if Bella is anti-feminist:

When I hear or read theories about Bella being an anti-feminist character, those theories are usually predicated on her choices. In the beginning, she chooses romantic love over everything else. Eventually, she chooses to marry at an early age and then chooses to keep an unexpected and dangerous baby. I never meant for her fictional choices to be a model for anyone else's real life choices. She is a character in a story, nothing more or less. On top of that, this is not even realistic fiction, it's a fantasy with vampires and werewolves, so no one could ever make her exact choices. Bella chooses things differently than how I would do it if I were in her shoes, because she is a very different type of person than I am. Also, she's in a situation that none of us has ever been in, because she lives in a fantasy world. But do her choices make her a negative example of empowerment? For myself personally, I don't think so.

Another negative take on the series is from a 19 year old blogger.  She says she learned several things from Twilight including: 

Women should want to cook and clean, and stay in the home, forsaking education for family.  Women must expect men to invade their privacy and, what’s more, they must desire this.  Women should accept that they are incapable of making even small decisions in their own lives and they must, instead, submit to the will of a man.  Women must understand they are worthless without a man.  Women must understand they are nothing without a man.   Women must understand they will never with anything without a man.  Women must believe these things are done out of love.

But come on!  Aren't young women smart enough to read a fictional book and just be entertained?  Or should readers know there's a controversy brewing? 

On a commenting forum, here's what some fans are saying:

This is a story. Not an instruction manual to life.

People are over analysing and trying to find ways to get people not into the books!  People need to just settle down.

I think the fact that she's making a choice to be with him sort of goes over their heads and they see it as a way of her being subordinate since she's never really "equal" to him.



Louise Parker said...

I've read the entire Twilight series and enjoyed the story as light entertainment.I do believe that with all the media hype comes a kind-of riot mentality knee jerk reaction.I think people are over analysing a simple entertaining story beyond the point of hysteria,and lets face it people: if we as parents and a society were instilling confidence and an understaning of actual love vs obsessive and unhealthy love,it wouldn't matter what our daughters read because they'd recognise a bad example when they saw it.
I see the story as frivolous entertainment.We all know this isn't a literary masterpiece.Keep things in context! SM wrote the story as a 29 year old, for herself, reminiscing about her first love.That is the context and if you don't like the fact that Bella loses her independence once she falls in love with Edward,PUT THE BOOK DOWN ! I did't like it when the characters got needy and Bella became so reliant on Edward, her dialect became pitiful but when the characters became overbearingly soppy, I just skipped the drivel and go to read an entertaining story.

Tina L. Hook said...

Fantasy romance novels have been around, in very large quantities, for ages now. Fictional female characters have been defying feminism in every plot scenario imaginable - vampires, concubines, you name it.

The thing that strikes me odd about the Twilight Series is that it can be marketed so successfully to both teenage girls and middle aged women. Is it just me or is that weird?

Denae said...

Yes, and let's face it...Cinderella was saved by her prince... Thanks for the excellent comments! Tina - the marketing angle is very interesting. Maybe this is something moms and daughters can "bond" over... ?

Anonymous said...

Hi Denae,

I've read the whole series, and I do agree that Edward's control over Bella seems borderline abusive. If I had a friend in a relationship like that, I'd be begging her to run! I would hate for an impressionable young girl to believe that true, passionate love looks and acts like Edward and Bella's relationship. I think this is one of those cases where it's important for parents to connect with their Twilight-obsessed teens and discuss how love is portrayed in the book vs real life, and to emphasize that it IS just a story.

~ Amber

(I did the copying and pasting for ya. ;)

Teri's Blog said...

Yeah it's fiction people! I've had to remind people that the Da Vinci Code is fiction too.

Desiree said...

I loved all the books. The story is fun and filled with young love and fantasy. In saying that there are about 50 other books currently on the book shelves
that have a similar story. If you like reading fantasy novels like I do, I have read them all……especially Vampire stories.
Titles such as Vampire Diaries, True Blood, Night World, House of Night… the list goes on and on. I read all thes ebefore they became films or TV series. In all these books the story is quite similar, the women or girl portrays a similar character to Bella and has a vampire love interest. Why is Twilight (Bella) getting such a hard time?

I think that if the books weren't made into films, even though most of the above are now. I don’t think we would be having this debate.
See my reasoning is, fans relate to these characters visually now, not to mention it being such a high profile film, of course it is open to all kinds of criticism because now we can actually see a 17 year old girl on screen going through the utter heartbreak, soppy love triangle and all things a teenager go through and in this case marry and have a vampire child at 18. What?? Wake up…..It’s not real and if you kid is obsessed well then I agree with Patty rather Bella and Edward than an air head celeb and remember we have all had crushes on actors, high school hotties etc. and wanted to marry them and have their children, probably younger than 18 and that was without a book or film edging us on. Let’s see what they come up with when Book 4 is released at the box office. If they criticizing it now I cant imagine what they will do to the 4th film.

Twilight mania will pass and your kids will once again find a new crush and move on…......

Denae said...

I've been watching the trailers online and I want to see Twilight AND New Moon. The special effects look amazing.