Sunday, March 13, 2011
The Twilight Curse. My First Editorial.
Anyone familiar with the young adult fantasy genre knows that Twilight changed everything. For better or for worse, I won't get into here.
I love Twilight. I read the books before the movie, before the craze. Could the writing be improved? Hell yes. But I could say that of a lot of published novels.
Why do I love the series? Because it's original. Plain and simple. Yes, sparkly vampires. Yes, werewolf hunks. But I think it's a fascinating tale about a girl who lives for nothing else but love.
It's twisted and wrong. Bella and Edward are not a representation of a sane, loving couple. They are obsession in its truest form. And Twilight is an exploration of everything that love is, good and bad. All of Bella's relationships in the novels focus around different types of love. What's truly great about Twilight is that it can be viewed differently by women (and men) of all ages based on their own experiences with love.
I think that most people hate Twilight, not because of its content, but because of how it's portrayed in popular culture. Stephenie Meyer, the Mormon mother who dreamed a plot and hit pay-dirt. Robert Pattison, the British ultra-hottie. Kristen Stewart, the awkward indie princess. Catherine Hardwicke, the overly-enthusiastic female director who started work on a small-budget independent fantasy flick that turned into a media sensation.
I see the Edward in the novel as an obsessive-compulsive, controlling, isolated, and egotistical vampire. The media turned him into the man every woman should want simply because he's attractive.
The Bella in the novel is an intelligent yet simple girl, wrapped up in the eighteenth-century concepts of love laid out for her by authors of the age such as Jane Austen. And if you read Twilight carefully, the girl's obsessed with death. There's mention of using her Sheriff father's rifle to kill herself early in the first novel, and then the drug overdose when Bella takes one-too-many pills to fall asleep. Not to mention her near-death jumping off a cliff in New Moon, her self-mutilation at the end of Eclipse, and her insistence on keeping the baby that's killing her just because it's Edward's in Breaking Dawn. She sacrifices her own happiness for that of her mother. She loves Edward because he might kill her, and loves his world for the same reason.
Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is a female heroine that I've never read in the young adult genre. And I love it.
But the media turned Bella into a sex-starved idiot trapped between the affections of two hot men. Simplified much?
That is why Twilight is easy to hate. And I don't blame people. I really don't. This is not the stuff of lasting literature. This is not the be-all end-all of the young adult genre.
But it is interesting. The girl who's obsessed with death chooses immortality.
One solid proof of how media's got it somewhat wrong? The repeated mention of fangs in any critique of Twilight. If many of these reviewers had actually read Twilight, they'd know that the Twi-vamps do not have fangs.
Really. They don't.
The reason I'm writing this post, however, is because of films like Remember Me and Red Riding Hood. I'm fresh off a viewing of Red Riding Hood. Prior to seeing the film, every review I read mentioned Twilight. After seeing it myself, I don't see many similarities other than the fact that Catherine Hardwicke directed it. Yes, there's a werewolf. Yes, there's two hot men vying for the affections of one girl. But is it about a vampire? No. Is it about a death-obsessed high school girl who falls in love? Uh, no.
Red Riding Hood as a film has a lot of issues that I won't get into here. What I wanted to write about is the fact that critics seemed to pan it simply because of it's association with Twilight. Never before have I seen films reviewed and critiqued because of the fact that their director made another film that critics didn't like. Really? Is Twilight so bad that its reputation bleeds into the works of those associated with it?
I'll say the same for Remember Me. There was not a single review that didn't mention the fact that Robert Pattinson played Edward Cullen. His performance in Remember Me was based, in many cases, on the fact that he was the star of Twilight. As though Robert Pattinson is in fact Edward, and deserves a bashing because he's trying to play something other than a sparkly vampire.
Is that fair?
Not in my opinion.
So to bring this all together, the Twilight Curse seems to be that its own popularity and representation in pop culture has perpetually damned its content. Twilight and those associated with it are not seen as what they are, they're seen as the tropes the media has made them out to be.
This is my plea: if you read Twilight, read it as a book named Twilight and judge it as the same. This is a book. The movie is a movie. The actors, the directors, they're people with careers.
You can hate all of them. But if you do, hate them because of your own experience and opinion. And for goodness' sake, don't mention the fangs.