Sunday, May 19, 2013
I loved this book, sixteen academic literary essays commenting on everything from Stephenie Meyer's characterization to gender and stereotypes. For example, Bella reflects the 'everygirl' who lives out the fantasy of experiencing romance with a nonthreatening male figure who may or may not be a homosexual. One ex-Mormon mother bashes Bella for not being more Feminist. Vampire's love of consumerism has triggered a new line of fashion and car purchases. Now you know why Volvo will be forever linked in your mind to Edward Cullen. It's like Cliff's Notes for the entire Twilight series (the books not the movies).
So, I'd like to take a shot at my own Twilight perspective essay. I wasn't a young teenager when I read the first book, I was in my early thirties and taking pre-nursing courses at the University. Word of mouth led me to them. I can't remember which year I was introduced to them but I do remember reading Twilight while riding our public transit system to school and getting hooked. When Eclipse was released, I was buying a copy anticipating what would happen next along with all the other fans.
Stephenie Meyer has been quoted as saying she gave Edward Cullen that old fashioned abstinence-before-marriage character trait to show how he clashed with our 21st century thinking. In today's relationships, both gay and straight, the accepted rule of thought is basically "anything goes". This aspect of Edward's character wasn't revealed until Eclipse when he gently rebuffs Bella's first attempt to initiate sex. How radical is that? For the first time in teen literature (which many of my English professors at the U of U have been quick to point out Stephanie Meyer's books are not) the heroine exploring her own sexuality is NOT GETTING ANY! For the first time in a bestselling series, the man is setting the rules for the relationship, not the woman, and to top it all off, he's determined to put a ring on it!
Can you hear the entire female population (well most of them anyway) swooning in ecstasy? Bella gets to experience all the aspects of dating, courtship and marriage that are just not found in today's hook-up culture. Edward is like John Cusack's character from Say Anything. He doesn't want to do anything else with his life but spend time with the police chief's daughter and he's darn good at it too. He's Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, hopelessly infatuated with Bella who does not realize how lucky she is to have someone interested in more than just intercourse. He showers her with romance. They go out on dates. They spend time together. He buys her things on her birthday and helps her with her homework. Because he can't penetrate her mind like all the other mortals he walks among, Edward pesters her with questions, like Christian Slater's character from Bed of Roses. Any normal girl would take out a restraining order on Edward for being so obsessed with her, but as we share Bella's courtship we ourselves long for such a boyfriend and if we're already married, we wish we could go back in time and experience it all over again.
Superhero aspect of Edward's character aside, stuck in the "dating desert" is why I find myself returning to these books again and again where I can experience the yearnings of my heart vicariously through a fictional character. My perfect boyfriend doesn't have to be immortally wealthy, freakishly strong or have the ability to read minds. I've lost count of the many blind dates I've returned from lamenting the young man never asked me lots of deep, probing questions about myself and took no interest in me other than my food order. Not even a good night kiss, as if I'd be begging for one after such a date.
What every girl, young and old maid, needs is a decent young man who is kind, crazy about them and wants nothing more in life than to embark on a journey of exaltation to higher levels of immortality. Being a good kisser doesn't hurt either and if that's one area he's found lacking, we females are prepared to educate him. Character and IQ first, sex later. We all deserve boyfriends (husbands) like Edward Cullen and we shouldn't settle for anything less.
Have a great day and if it's been awhile since you've read the adventures of Bella and her impossibly perfect vampire boyfriend, then get cracking, or, go check out Bringing Light To Twilight by Giselle Liza Anatol and broaden your mind with academic critiques on a pop culture phenomenon.