Tag Archives: twilight

A Reading Rant: Twilight – this time, it’s personal!

Goodness me, it’s been exactly one month since my last post!  I don’t know where the time goes, honestly!  Mainly it seems I get bitten by carnivorous birds in my current occupation of choice, which perhaps makes the time fly faster – after all I am having fun, various bites and scratches notwithstanding!

But today I wish to talk about what I’m currently reading.  Prepare to gasp in disappointed astonishment, because not only am I reading said books, I’m actually rereading them.  And what are these illustrious tomes?

The Twilight books.

“Aaaagh!” I hear you cry.  Or maybe it’s just my shamed subconscious.  Either way.

You know the big problem I have with these books?  They’re not bad enough.  No, seriously, hear me out.  You start reading them, and they’re actually alright.  You get into them, and suddenly you’ve finished book one.  And it’s sneaky, the way its awfulness seeps into your awareness.  You don’t realise it right away, although granted the prose is fairly juvenile and blah, it’s nothing too different from other generic pick-it-up-in-the-supermarket-read-it-on-an-airplane kinds of books.

But then you think about it.  And really think about it.  And you get mad.  How dare this book be so sneaky!  Here you were, thinking you might be having a reasonably sensible journey through the life of a clumsy teenaged girl with a vampire boyfriend – but wait!

It’s trying to pull one over on you.

This girl Bella is not just clumsy, she’s childishly inept.  We’re told she can’t even walk in a straight line down a level surface without falling over – that’s not endearing, that’s bordering on handicapped.

And her vampire boyfriend?  Well he’s attracted to her – in the sense that she’s his “brand of cocaine” – but he tries to resist her and is generally a bit mean at first.  But then, just gives up and decides “eh, fuck it.”  How romantic!  But oh, wait – in a matter of days he’s declaring his undying love.

Is this supposed to be the ideal romance?  Teenagers making suicide pacts (or rather trying to talk each other out of suicide pacts in what sounds falsely oneupmanshipy to me “No I love you more, because I want to die if you die, but I don’t want you to die if I die!!”), is this what this generation of teens is supposed to idealise?  Romeo and Juliet is frequently mentioned, but is this a model to follow?

Nonsense.

And because Bella is so inept, Edward spends his whole time quite literally lifting her off her dainty little sprained ankles in case she happens to quite literally trip on something and impale herself.  He stops her from driving herself around, because he can do it better.  Ignores her wishes when he believes he knows what’s best for her.  Sleeps with her every night, in the most innocent of ways, so she doesn’t ever have to be weepy and alone.   Oh, and he constantly denys her sexual gratification.

This is something which pisses me off.  Bella is turned into a sex-crazed, uncontrollable she-monster, which Edward has to constantly peel off his angelic body in order to maintain his “control” of himself.  So we end up being a bit embarassed for her, constantly throwing herself at her boyfriend and being held at a distance like some over-enthusiastic groupie.

Bah, I get so irritated – it’s all so wildly imbalanced.  So basically I hate it, but I keep reading these goddamned books.  Something in me masochistically enjoys being irritated, and creating arguments in my head which I then share on the internet for all of you to enjoy.

Or ignore – either way.

In other news, I’ve still been writing!  Not terribly much, and not the Kelpie story I posted a snippet of, but something else I’m waiting to see what happens with.  I find I need to write a little vignette of these new ideas and then let them germinate for a while.  If I start writing too quickly I can find myself too far down a false lead and needing to backpedal in a disheartening fashion.  So both of these ideas are just growing and maturing and eventually I’ll write more of them.

Why I am not writing a vampire novel

No, I’m not writing a vampire novel and it’s not just because it’s been done ad nauseam, which it has.  It’s not even because Twilight happened to us all, from which we are still only just recovering.   My reasons are just a little more personal.

It offends my feminist outrage.

I’m not carried up in the romantic necrophilia that is modern vampirism, nor am I titillated by the victim-predator dynamic which is often its result.  I don’t care if the vampire is woman or man or both; my feminism is not restricted to cheering for Girl Power alone.  My outrage exists when there is any unfair romantic dynamic which is based more on obsession than partnership.

I give you an excerpt from Dark Symphony, by Christine Feehan:

Others fear him, sensing that he is dangerous – a predator – but for Antonietta he is her ultimate fantasy, her dream lover. He woos her with kisses full of erotic allure, whispering that she is his light, his salvation. Byron has waited an eternity for her, and he will let nothing stand between him and the woman born to be his lifemate…

Puh-lease.  If that’s not an unbalanced relationship, a la Edward-Bella, I don’t know what is.

Why do I care?  I’ll tell you why – this shit sells.  I can’t even be glad our teenagers are at least reading, because I know exactly what they’re thinking.  I’d be thinking it, too, reading these novels at age 14-16, a sponge for all the tragic-romantic sigh-worthy crap that’s out there.  The thought is:

I want to be her.

The idea that a whole generation of young people consider this dynamic attractive makes me worry.  To be aroused by fear and obsession, to desire a predator “full of erotic allure” and who will “let nothing stand between him” and the possession of you.  I wonder how many of them will pursue and remain in unhealthy relationships because the partner that scares them and makes them powerless ultimately reminds them of the terror-desire of their teenaged dreams.

Maybe I’m underestimating today’s youth, and I hope I am, but I still feel that writers of novels directed at teenagers should refuse to idealise danger, violence, obsession and fear.  I wholeheartedly applaud using those concepts, and would never advocate censorship or removing difficult ideas from young adult and even children’s literature, but when you do so there needs to be a sensitivity of treatment, a responsibility.  Interacting with danger, fear, obsession and violence can lead to empowerment, but my worry is that the lesson is lost from these particular novels when their authors fail to depict it.

This leads me to also address that what I’m talking about is the modern vampire novel, and that most certainly isn’t the beginning nor end of vampire literature.  However, as I’ve mentioned above, that shit sells.  It’s the hot teen craze right now, so to try and thwart the tide of popularity with something contradictory would be an uphill struggle.  I’m fairly certain people are doing so, because not everyone is a total idiot when it comes to writing vampire fiction, and we have a wealth of amazing novels already in the genre from a time before this craze ever occurred (a blissful time for all).

So, no, I’m not writing a vampire novel.