December 14, 2010

Eight WaysTwilight is Better Than Real Life

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What is the issue?

The Twilight series of books/films is widely perceived to be bad, sexist and potentially in possession of a ‘Mormon agenda,’ even by people who have not consumed any of the books or films nor are able to articulate what a ‘Mormon agenda’ is besides ‘having a ton of wives’ or ‘not having sex’ or ‘having a ton of babies while being really nice to people.’

The rationale for the determination of the series as ‘sexist’ [bluntly put by the UK independent as ‘sick-makingly sexist’] is that heroine Bella Swan is fundamentally incapable of doing anything on her own besides getting into situations that require her rescue. She spends most of the story flinching, falling down, whining/crying, cleaning and obeying dudes.

When Bella meets sparkling vampire Edward he pretty much becomes her whole life, to where she disconnects from her old friends; platonic males become contentious for Edward while Bella abruptly loses interest in her ‘galpals.’ She starts lying to her long-suffering single father because Edward is the only thing she cares about. Then when Edward leaves due to a melodramatic misunderstanding Bella is totally inconsolable and engages in high-risk behavior until she meets Jacob, some other dude who likes her, and only under his attention does she begin to act somewhat emotionally stable again.

From there, the entire storyline revolves around saving Bella from evils including her own desire to become a vampire, a goal to which everyone who cares about her is firmly opposed. Edward is basically like ‘you think you know what’s good for you but I do and you don’t,’ and his attitude pervades all of Bella’s decisions from wanting to still hang out with Jacob to whether or not she should visit her mom or marry Edward or have sex with him [he holds the latter over her head to get her to do the former, essentially].

So there is much logical ‘public backlash’ about how Bella is a bad heroine, a ‘negative female stereotype’ and how despite theoretically ‘promoting a message of chastity,’ the Twilight franchise is a ‘bad influence’ on young girls or something. However, the brand remains explosively popular not only among young girls but among actual adult women of all ages.

To understand why, the fantasies presented in the story bear further examination.  The following examples present ‘what happens to in Twilight’ versus ‘what happens in a woman’s real life’ in a fashion that will hopefully prove illuminating to readers of all kinds.

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