Sunday, July 4, 2010

Okay, here's what I actually like about Twilight

Okay, okay. For all my snarking about Twilight, you probably wonder how it is that I am even a fan in the first place. If all I'm going to do is make fun and criticize, why do I even bother?

The truth is, I am definitely a fan. I was obsessed with the books at the beginning too. I had a major crush on Edward in book 1, until he broke my heart in book 2 and then I had a major crush on Jacob for being such a sweet and caring guy. I definitely had an opinion on which Team, and I collected merchandise and photos from magazine spreads from the movie.

I've stepped back of course, and I've gone back to being a grown-up now. But I still enjoy the stories, as much as I am critical of them, and I thought I would outline here why I still read the books and watch the movies. Basically, here's why I love Twilight:

- Deep down inside, I am still an awkward, insecure teenage girl. I thought my pretentious indie-music-loving, liberal-arts-college-attending years had cured me of that, but now I spend all day with teenage girls for a living, and that part of me has come back. Twilight has managed to tap into the parts of the teen girl experience for me that have never quite gone away: feeling awkward, like I don't belong; wanting a specific guy to notice me; feeling totally unattractive and not worthy of anyone's attention. Though, Bella actually did get a LOT of attention from everyone, so that's where we differ. But then again, isn't that the beauty of the Twilight experience? Bella is also the ho-hum, plain teen girl, just like me, but she gets noticed by EVERYONE and especially the most attractive, most beautiful boy in the whole school, who never batted an eye at ANY girl until he saw her. Through Bella, we get to live that fantasy, when in real life, there was no chance in hell that would ever happen. And she not only gets one hot guy, but two, totally in love with her. In her previous life, she was just some random human being, but in Forks, she gets to start over, and she ends up being so special that even non-humans are fascinated by her. I am not too proud to admit that in my fairy tale dream world, I want to be noticed that way too. I want to be thought of as special too.

- It's a romance novel without all the gross softcore porn. Seriously. There's hot kissing and lots of declarations of love and snuggling and even shirtlessness. But, um, I'm so glad there isn't any actual bodice ripping and detailed descriptions of what they're doing. I'm not a prude, but... what I'm more interested in is the melodrama, the feelings, anguish, the heartbreak, the longing - not so much the sexing. Reading/watching love scenes in a book/movie just makes me feel awkward, like I'm intruding. Especially since they're TEENS, and I'm rounding up to 30. It's just squicky.

- Alice. Alice is just so freaking cool. 1) She has a cool power and she is SO important and necessary to the survival of everyone. 2) She calls Bella out on her behavior ("I've never seen anyone more prone to life-threatening idiocy!"). 3) She is the only girl character who never says anything about having babies. (It's important to have a female figure whose life is not defined by how she fulfills the role of mother!! And Bella's claim on that title was relinquished with Breaking Dawn.) 4) She loves makeup and clothes and planning weddings, but she can also kick ass and steal cars. 5) SHE went and found Jasper, and helped change HIS life for the better. In essence, SHE rescued HIM. Team Alice all the way!

- Very specifically, Jacob in Breaking Dawn. Telling the middle part of the book from Jacob's POV saved me, because if I had to hear about Bella dying and the bloody c-section and everything from either Bella's or Edward's POV, I would've shot myself in the head. But instead, we get Jacob's fabulous chapter titles ("What Do I Look Like? The Wizard Of Oz? You Need A Brain? You Need A Heart? Go Ahead. Take Mine. Take Everything I Have.") and his back-and-forth with Rosalie (and him denting a metal dog bowl by throwing it at her head), and it was just the perfect way to get through what would've otherwise been a very painfully bad thing to read. And Jacob is way more interesting and proactive in BD than Edward was. (Edward, what the hell happened to you? You just kind of faded into the woodwork! Meyer finally got you to have sex with Bella, and then she erased whatever traces of a personality were there. Apparently she was just using you for your body.)

- The literary parallels. I love that Bella has that little discussion of, "What if Juliet had chosen Paris instead?" and Edward's whole "I don't see what's so great about Heathcliff and Catherine" spiel, and in book 1 Bella is frustrated because she's trying to read Sense and Sensibility and there's an Edward Ferrars and of course it makes her think of Edward. (Don't you hate when that happens?) And I swear, that scene in New Moon the movie where Edward recites the end of Romeo's death speech is probably my English nerd dream come true (if only he'd done it with a British accent). Meyer has an English degree, and even though her writing isn't so great, she's no slouch when it comes to her allusions.

- I seriously had to laugh at the ridiculousness of Renesmee and her circumstances of birth and existence. You can absolutely tell how SM is a youngish mother with three little boys to raise, because Renesmee: 1) is a beautiful, beautiful girl. 2) Her gestational period was like, a month? Shortest successful pregnancy ever. I didn't even make it to my 9th month, but I remember how miserable I was. 3) Even though technically Bella was dying as a result of the pregnancy, she freakin' came back more gorgeous and fantastic than ever (albeit, undead). Did you see ME three days after I gave birth? Yeah, I was a wreck. And Bella pretty much feels, uh, sexy right away. Ask a lady dealing with stitches in her birth canal from accidental tearing or hemorrhoids from all the pushing and straining how sexy she feels. IT BURNS WHEN YOU PEE!!! 4) Renesmee is, like, super mature and can communicate with all the adults around her! None of that "ba ba ba da muh muh" crap that my daughter does. (J/K - I love when Jolie babbles! It's so cute!) 5) As Edward says, "We're the only parents in the world who don't need sleep, and our child can already sleep through the night." Buahaha! If you thought the whole popular-guy-loves-plain-girl part was wish fulfillment, that was nothing compared to this! This is oh-my-god-I'm-a-haggard-SAHM-raising-three-young-boys wish fulfillment. So, reading it now as a mother... it's awesome. It makes me laugh. If I had to fictionalize the experience of becoming a mother, I would make it as fantasy-like as possible too.

So... those are just a few things that I do actually like about Twilight. Aside from the fact that there are so many issues to unpack that I could probably write a PhD dissertation on it, there are some things that do make me applaud. Plus, it's just great escapism. It's a world entirely different from my own, and sometimes, you just want to step out of real life into another world to calm your mind down. And Twilight is great for that.

Also, I think Rob Pattinson is kinda cute. Just kinda. ;)

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