Thursday, July 23, 2009

Against Twilight

Finally, and not a minute too soon, I found an article online that perfectly illustrates my opinions about Twilight, this tween generation's equivalent of the Harry Potter franchise. Except for one thing: Harry Potter is good. Although against the Kantian assumption that all art exists on a moral spectrum, whose goal is at least partially pedagogical, Harry Potter is nonetheless a good moral message. It utilizes tropes common to much good literature of the Western canon: although it might seem another "good triumphs over evil once again" cliche, the books really teach that nobody is inherently perfect, that "good" natures can be easily corrupted by circumstance, that the world simply isn't fair at times, and that our relationships with others-- friends, family, mentors-- are of vital importance.

The Twilight series, however, has none of this. It teaches to teeny-boppers exactly what I have spent all of my adolescence UN-learning-- absurd "Disneyfied" myths such as:

There is only one man out there for me.
I must do absolutely anything to hold on to the man I love.
The only thing of importance in the life of a woman is to be loved by a man.
I am plain and uninteresting unless I am loved by a man.
Sex is the most frightening and terrible thing in the universe, and should be reserved for only very special occassions, such as marriage.
Sex should be reserved for "the One".
If "the One" does not want you, you must be resilient until "the One" responds to your wishes.
Believe everything that comes out of the mouth of "the One" for He is a perfect being.

Among other myths, of course. Myths that ruin any woman's chances of happiness by adhering to their consciousness and refusing to let go.

This article by Jessica Ferri of Bookslut.com rails against these theories. Here is my favorite line of the article:

But as a child of the nineties, and quite possibly the biggest fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I have to ask: what the hell happened to us?

Indeed. What happened to the '90s? What happened to "you GO, girl" and "Si se puede!" and "Independent Woman" (that Destiny's Child song)?

As Ferri writes, What I wonder is, would I be voraciously reading these books if I were thirteen? Doesn't it say something about women's lib if the dice has rolled from Buffy, who slayed vamps without even breaking a nail, to Bella, who does nothing the entire book but whine to be deflowered by one?

Then again, I was never a Fantasy person. I liked Sci-Fi to an extent, but I had a huge distaste for C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. I thought it was all cliche, that I have heard it all before. Reality had more things to teach me. If anything I loved magic realism. The closest thing to this was Lois Lowry's The Giver, which I read so often that the pages fell out of their binding.

But Twilight is more Teen Romance than Fantasy, which makes it even more frightening and sexist, even more "behind the times" than a Jane Austen novel (after all, Twilight was written by a Mormon).

Which is why I will refuse to read it.

Which is why I could only laugh when I saw the movie, which was highly entertaining (how could two human beings be so terribly awkward? And how did Cedric Diggory get so hot?).

Which is why, for Kant's sake, and for de Beauvoir's, don't let your 12-year old cousins read this trash.

1 comment:

Snobber said...

So glad you enjoyed the Twilight piece. I think there will be more to come on this debate! Thanks so much.