Monday, November 19, 2012

Don't hate on Twilight: A thought experiment

Alright, I'm going to dissent from the common stance of hating on Twilight for one blogpost even though I'm not sure if even I agree with what I say. But I enjoy exploring opposite points of view and this one is particularly interesting to me. This post applies only to the books, because I haven't seen any of the movies and am not as interested in talking about movies and talking about books. Also, this is repost from a comment I made on the feminist mormon housewives page, so there is a slim chance you have seen it before, but if you are so obsessed with us that you read every comment we make on Facebook, you probably wont mind reading anything we write twice.

I think one of the possible interpretations of Twilight might be that even narcissistic, excessively pessimistic people are real people too, with real emotions and feelings, who can do great things if they start believing in themselves. And that sometimes what they need to believe in themselves is another narcissistic, pessimistic person to come along, who, even though they still hate themselves, they believe in the other person.

Don't we all believe that about everyone? That everyone, deep down is a self-obsessed worrier and that one of the keys to joy in this life is to surround yourself with people who love you and see that this self-obsessed worrier isn't the real you, but who sees the potential for greatness within you.

Listen, I hate the characters in Twilight (and yes, I've read all the books). If I met them in real life, I would hate them. But that doesn't mean that there aren't real people like that out there, and that their feelings and experience are just as valid as my own. I also hate all the characters in Wuthering Heights, and yet it is still a great book (a reference that Meyers makes several times throughout the series).

Is it not possible that by showing the most extreme cases of emo self absorption, Meyers is making the argument that even the worst narcissism can be overcome when you stop thinking about yourself and start thinking instead about those you love and seeing yourself through their eyes?

We have this idea that everyone, and especially now, every woman should be fine completely on their own. That they don't need anyone else to be a happy and complete person. But maybe that is false, at least for some people. Yes, you can't be in a whole relationship unless you are a whole person, but Bella's relationship is totally screwed up until she begins to accept that she too is a person of worth, both within and outside of the relationship (which she does by understanding and then rejecting on some level Jacob's love for her.

I think maybe Bella's transformation to a strong, independent {SPOILER} vampire {END SPOILER} marks the true intention of these books. Yes, girls become obsessed with boys and boys, even when they are hundreds of years old become obsessed with girls, for no apparent reason. They become overly obsessed sometimes. We don't fault Romeo and Juliet for this obsession of youth, why should we do it with Twilight. Yes, of course Romeo and Juliet is better writing, but on this point, they seem completely similar. And rather than commit suicide, both of the people in the relationship attempt to meet the other where they are, and find some sort of compromise through a {SPOILER} terribly named baby. {END SPOILER}

Well, anyway, I think that is one interpretation. and once again, I"m not sure if even I believe it. But I challenge you to tell me why Twilight is fundamentally worse than Wuthering Heights (besides the writing, all you English majors, because maybe one definition of "good" writing is what moves people, and I would argue that Twilight has done that more than Wuthering Heights, even if her sentences aren't as beautifully constructed) If you have read this far, pat yourself on the back for considering the alternative viewpoint. I know I am patting myself on the back for writing it.

Or we should all just hate Twilight as much as Robert Pattinson apparently does:

Probably the latter.


  1. I haven't even read the books, so I'm not really qualified to comment at all. That said, I just finished reading Cinderella Ate My Daughter. The author spends three pages on Twilight. She also thinks it's not a total loss (as in, marginally better than, say, Monster High or Disney Princesses). Her main argument is that Bella's complete insipidity and general lack of positive traits (and the simultaneous fact that she's pursued by two handsome, talented and powerful men) gives girls and women a break from always having to "perform." She talks a lot about how girls are taught to look attractive, cute, and sexy for men, but aren't really allowed to feel desire themselves (because hello, by definition there's something slutty about women's sexuality). So much so that when asked how they felt, girls responded "I feel like I look good." In her words, "Twilight may have given girls something they needed: a way to explore their nascent sexuality on their own terms, to feel desire rather than having to perform it."

  2. I can't believe you think that Renesume is a terrible name. It's like Resume with an extra ne in it. Or an extra, en, depending on how you think about it.

  3. My objection to Twilight is mainly the gendered norms it projects, norms I find harmful. That, along with its echoes of abuse. And Wuthering Heights may have many of those characteristics, but since it's not a contemporary novel, it's easier to separate the norms it presents from life today. I wonder how many people (girls) consider Wuthering Heights a role model like they might Twilight.

    But to echo Sarah up above, I did very much appreciate that twist on female sexuality. So it's not all bad.

  4. Great post! I liked reading your opinion.

  5. As an amused fan of Twilight (totally NOT obsessed and completely irate by Bella's lack of self esteem and total dependence on Edward (what are we teaching our daughters!!!)- but yet entertained by the story...) I laughed out loud at this post and at Robert Pattinson's clip. The name is HORRID, the story line in entertaining, but ridiculous. And yet, I have my girls' night all set up to see it on Saturday night.... :)