An Open Letter To Males Coming Of Age In The Time Of Twilight

Dear Nascent Gentlemen,

You are doomed. You have my sympathies.

I thought we had it bad coming of age back in the 20th Century. See, back then we had moving picture shows directed by fellows like John Hughes and Cameron Crowe. These “movies” featured somewhat awkward, yet cool male leads. They did things like wear trenchcoats, hit lockers with their fists, sport skinny ties, and dance in small towns where the prevailing wisdom had it that dancing was Satan’s work.

In one iconic scene, one of these romantic heroes held a boombox (like an iPod, but bigger and without earphones) above his head. As it blasted the tuneful sounds of “In Your Eyes,” he wooed his lady-love with a mixture of sweetness and intensity that no girl could resist. That kind of rocked.

Anyway, girls would watch these movies and the characters would serve as the template for What They Wanted in a Boyfriend. So, like any male doing a ritual mating dance when under the influence of hormonal swells, we rushed to comply. We bought skinny ties, we wore trenchcoats, we danced like the devil had taken up residence in our heels.

Disclaimer: Maybe “we” didn’t do these things. Maybe it was just “me.”

The point here is that we actually could emulate these men that the girls wanted. It was not outside the realm of possibility that I could be a somewhat angsty, yet ultimately sweet, guy with questionable fashion sense and a yen for kickboxing. And that possibility gave me something to strive for, gave me hope as the Dating Years commenced.

You, my acne stricken friends, have it much, much worse. Because you have to live up to Edward Cullen. You have to live up to the impossible task of filling a vampire’s shoes. And you are doomed.

Edward swoons with lust (sure, it’s blood lust… but lust is lust) at the faintest whiff of his beloved’s hair.

Edward doesn’t just hold a radio over his head to woo, he scoops up his girl and flies (FLIES!) through the treetops.

His skin turns into diamonds in the sun. He runs, like, realllllly fast. He plays baseball. He can stop trucks with his hand.

Edward has limitless self-control—he can kiss his half-naked girlfriend in bed, get all riled up, and then hurl himself back against the wall to flagellate himself for almost losing control.

Oh, and that flagellation: Edward. Is. So. Tortured. Just to speak takes a heroic effort of will. His face contorts and words issue forth slowly. Haltingly. With infinite pain.

Then, of course, he can totally kick butt when his lady is in danger.

So you put all of those elements together and you have an unattainable ideal that has been indelibly imprinted on the brain of every pre-adolescent and adolescent girl out there. It’s the zeitgeist. And it has doomed you. No matter how good you are, you will never be a 200-year-old adolescent pretty boy.

(Sidebar — has anyone considered the pedophilic implications of a 200 year old man wooing a 16/17 year old girl? I mean…ick.)

Here’s my suggestion: Don’t even try. Be a throwback. Retro is in. Go on eBay and search for a “boombox.” Do some research — watch coming of age stories from the 20th Century. Emulate the heroes from that time. A time when men were actually human and women loved them anyway.

Good luck and Godspeed, my friends.

Humbly,

Wannabe Lloyd Dobler TC mark

image – Say Anything

More From Thought Catalog

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612928768 Samie Rose

    This was cute, cuteness.

  • http://www.justabeer.blogspot.com A.

    It’s okay, all the girls worth having dont want you to emulate dear Eddy.
    In fact, if anything, you should be expressing a keen disgust for the entire franchise that is Twilight.
    I’d take a Llyod Dobbler in a heartbeat!

  • Julia

    Hahaha..so true.

  • anon

    haha i like this.

  • https://twitter.com/iamthepuddles Jordana Bevan

    okay i fucking love twilight and edward is my OnE aNd OnLy FoReVeR <3333…. but do girls really, like.. want their boyfriends to be like him? Do grlfrenz really say to boifrenz, "hey baby, why can't you be more like edward?" does that really happen? i won't even watch the movies with boys lest they be made aware of my obsession/think they should emulate edward – his awesomeness translated into real life = whiny, clingy manchild. do girls not realize that?

    also he's 117, NOT 200, MICHAEL KASS. IF YOU'RE GOING TO WRITE AN ARTICLE MAKING FUN OF TWILIGHT/WARNING MEN ABOUT THEIR IMPERFECTIONS AT LEAST GET THE FACTS RIGHT.

    • A-W

      Regardless, its statutory rape. 

      Loving the use of  awesomeness, manchild, and lest in the same sentence though. 

      <3 u grlfrend.

      • https://twitter.com/iamthepuddles Jordana Bevan

        HA but they don’t make the sexy times until after she’s 18. statutory rape charge averted!

      • A-W

        Oh no. You got me.

  • http://twitter.com/kaimcn Kai

    Dudes: Just be yourselves! I don’t want a sparkly vampire and I don’t want some loser with no redeemable qualities and a boombox (seriously, why does that girl choose John Cusack? I’ve never understood it). 
    I’m not going to speak for all the male-seeking ladies of the world, but I’ll speak loudly for myself: I WANT SOMEONE REAL! Not a compilation of references (that’s MY schtick!) and not some idealized person but a real, live, awesome flawed human being who will rock my socks.

    Bring it!

    • https://twitter.com/iamthepuddles Jordana Bevan

      ^^running with the JC-kinda-sucks thing, he totally is just the 80s (and not vampiric) version of Edward. Brooding, hawt, ONLY LOVES ONE GIRL and creeps on her (boombox scene) to woo her. Come one, Twilight is nothing new.

      • http://twitter.com/kaimcn Kai

        I love John Cusack in so many films but never understood why guys and gals alike get a hard on for Lloyd Dobler. THANK YOU for breaking it down, I feel like less of an asshole now.

    • femmenist

      YES, thank you!!!

  • Guest

    ^^running with the JC-kinda-sucks thing, he totally is just the 80s (and not vampiric) version of Edward. Brooding, hawt, ONLY LOVES ONE GIRL and creeps on her (boombox scene) to woo her. Come one, Twilight is nothing new.

    • https://twitter.com/iamthepuddles Jordana Bevan

      dammit disqus

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamaicamalangmojica Jamaica Malang

    OR… You can be Taylor Lautner. Tanned, ripped and sexy

  • Brandon h

    Addendum to your article: You are also doomed because you will never have a body like Jacob.

    • Leigh

      to my above point, i think it’s perversely a good thing, or at the very least, an interesting thing, if for the first time a generation of men learns what it’s like to feel physically unacceptable constantly 

      • http://twitter.com/muraii muraii

        I can’t claim to understand the pressure women feel in Western culture. Seems, though, that Bella’s little different in her awkwardness from Sam Witwicky. I’d be surprised if male culture hasn’t included this tension, this anxiety, for centuries, and not in an isolated fashion. But without a proper scouring of resources, the best I can get on short notice is the ’40s. Charlie Atlas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Atlas) is the 20th century’s prototype of ugly/skinny-come-brawny/manly. I saw him or a simulacrum thereof in comic-book ads as a kid, getting sand kicked in his face. Sam and Charlie work as caricatures because, I hypothesize (and anecdotally support) that many men feel inferior to the expectations society has of them. This isn’t a novel observation, and I’m sure it’s not new to you, so I won’t blather on about it.

        I will tell you that I can’t recall having felt physically acceptable, and I’ve seen enough references to similar feelings through the pop culture of my 40 years that I’d be surprised if I were in the minority. I’ve never been categorically overweight, have no significant disfigurements, and can get along reasonably with people. However I’ve never felt up to snuff, always felt unbecoming. I’m married to a wonderful woman, and we share in our insecurities even toward each other.

        Is it the same pressure? Probably not precisely. Does it affect me the same it might’ve affected you? I suppose, without a lot more discussion, neither of us can say. Does this invalidate your feeling (and perhaps the generalized feeling you mention, of women)? Not in the least. I don’t at all take issue with outrage or exception taken to fetishizing Megan Fox, for instance.

        The only thing I take issue with is what I perceive is your point in saying “i think it’s perversely a good thing, or at the very least, an
        interesting thing, if for the first time a generation of men learns what it’s like to feel physically unacceptable constantly.” Assuming this generation feels that (per the post), it certainly is not the first. Like math aptitude, I think less separates men and women on this than is apparent.

      • guest

        Two wrongs don’t make it right. Making men feel bad about their bodies is only going to make our society even more body negative.

  • Leigh

    the reason the edward cullen fantasy is appealing to girls doesn’t really have to do with the supernatural stuff. 

    the appeal of edward cullen is the fantasy for girls that out there somewhere is a man who will fall in love with them even if they are immature, unremarkable and unaccomplished; that he will do this without being afraid of any social conflict that it causes, and most of all,  that he won’t do it for sex, that sex can be totally off the table because it’s dangerous and scary.

    like, in this girl-fantasy, even if you wanted to have sex, he understands better than you do how important emotional readiness and genuine commitment theoretically is. if you have ever been a teenage girl — or even a twenty-something girl — you can understand how a man with that reverent view of sex is actually the real unattainable fantasy here. 

    edward’s unnatural qualities are emphasized to represent some kind of escapism for bella; while she is basically a very conventional girl due I think to a lack of imagination on the author’s part, the theme is that bella has felt the typical teenage sense of ‘not belonging’ her entire life, and yet in the vampire she learns to see different as beautiful and find some kind of place her self-assessed “weirdness” belongs. 

    it’s actually not that hard to understand, i don’t think.  i think twilight offers girls and women an escape from the constant pressure to be empowered, self-owning feminists in arguably the first era where men are progressively less committed (both to relationships and to successful career arcs) than women, and thus are progressively more resentful.

    twilight allows many women to admit they fear male sexuality, that they long for old-fashioned gender roles in an era where the expectations of women are changing in what feels like demanding ways (note how edward generally makes all the decisions and carries bella around everywhere, since she is so incompetent she’s prone to hurting herself just by walking around).

    also, if look at the character of Jacob. While Edward might kill Bella if he were to indulge his lust, Jacob will kill her (by transforming into a werewolf) if he can’t control his anger. There’s an implicit threat to her safety in Bella’s continued indecision about Jacob and preference for Edward — yet even though she rejects him, Jacob continues to love Bella enough that he can master his animal urge to retaliate. 

    That, too, is a fantasy for girls who probably often feel pressured by male expectations and afraid of their anger. Girls also suffer social backlash for being a “cocktease” — that is, daring to seek closeness with a man without intending it sexually or romantically or while being uncertain of her feelings,  which is Bella’s condition. The Jacob conflict in the story speaks to that fear and provides a resolution for it that is favorable to Bella. 

    Anyway yeah. It isn’t that girls expect men to be glittering superpowered heroes. The new fantasy women have of men is a new combination of traditional power and protection with respect, responsibility and restraint. Twilight tells us today’s girls want men to be strong enough to protect them when they can’t protect themselves, but self aware enough not to force or harm them. The man should be a good provider, but he should also allow the woman the opportunity to protect and provide when it’s time.  Most of all, she should be allowed to be fragile, plain, indecisive, weak and insecure and still be loved by someone wonderful. 

    When you realize we live in an time of very confusing double standards — women are supposed to be accomplished, ambitious and empowered, but also skinny, beautiful and ready to bang at all times — the fact they are asking for a complete fantasy man in return is not that surprising. 

    • cb

      I’ve not read the movies or seen the books.

      But it sounds like, if the fantasy is that it’s okay – perhaps even good – to be immature, unremarkable and unaccomplished while living in a world where women at large expect to be treated as all of those things, well that’s something that is easy to wonder about.

      I mean, it’s not that it isn’t understandable for anyone to want to step back from the expectations society has for us. The lamentable manchildren have gotten this down to a science over the years.

      But the problem (I guess, if you call it that) is that this is a fantasy that does not bear out in reality. Maybe it’s just  the message that is presented everywhere else, but it seems like a pretty prevalent school of thought that today’s women are not, and don’t care to be treated like they are fragile little flowers that would be smashed to bits by our hulking masculinity and our clearly uncontrollable guyparts, but in fact are strong and powerful beings in their own right who do what they will, take what they want, and make use of their ladyparts when they damn well choose, and not when it’s “okay” or “proper.”

      And this could just be something I’m not hearing. DO today’s women honestly long for more traditional gender roles? DO they really fear male sexuality? (Or perhaps, do they fear what it means to embrace their own?) This is something that’s news to me.

      • guest

        I think it’s a grass is greener on the other side mentality and for some reason we romanticize traditional gender roles without acknowledging the abuse, constraints, lack of autonomy, and not to mention rampant homophobia traditional, narrow gender roles create. This is my favorite argument against gender roles for both men and women:

        Then, again, I’m an idealist. 

    • Mila Jaroniec

      Go Leigh :)

    • ariel

      I think you definitely bring up some good points as to why “Twilight” would be appealing. But, while Edward isn’t pressuring Bella into sex he is clearly emotionally abusive and therefore a horrible example of the type of person that should be appealing to women. He’s not at all wonderful. In fact, it’s quite disturbing because Bella is an insecure and unremarkable character. She’s immature and lands herself in an abusive relationship because the guy is handsome and must love her oh so much since he doesn’t bring up sex. Which is just as bad. I’m also going to point out that the book’s author is Mormon, was married at 21,  and therefore probably doesn’t believe in premarital sex. So I would imagine that’s why she took sex off the table until the two were married.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.n.knutson Sarah N. Knutson

      Oh. Mi. Gawd. That was incredible! WELL SAID!!!!

    • rooar

      Well said, whilst I agree that twilight is appealing, I don’t understand how it would benefit girls who read it. It’s like telling twelve year olds ” yea sure, you’re strange and clumsy but hey, some perfect guy is gonna come and love all your flaws and complete your life (also, do note that you have to be incredibly attractive for this to happen)”

      Don’t you see a problem with that? Instead of helping women cope with the complexities “appropriate” behavior, it’s indulging in their fantasies, telling them everything’s gonna be ok once the perfect man comes along.

      We all know he won’t, but I doubt the screaming teenage girls know that. 

  • Anonymous

    “Because you have to live up to Edward Cullen” – purchase some comedy eyebrows and you’re half way there.

  • http://www.aquaticcousins.blogspot.com/ SparkerPants

    Personally I’m not into abusive, controlling relationships where my significant other withholds sex as a punishment, isolates me from friends and family– and REMOVES THE ENGINE BLOCK from my car because I want to go see a friend he doesn’t “approve” of. 

    There’s also the blatant violation of privacy- watching her sleep for months, inside of her bedroom without her permission- in addition to other instances of stalking. 

    Yes, that Edward Cullen. He’s a real catch. If you want to be caught on a list of a serial killer’s victims. Also the pedophilia: ew. Somehow I don’t think this series would fly had Edward actually looked like a 100+ year old man. But you know: fantasy! That makes abuse romantic! 

    • https://twitter.com/iamthepuddles Jordana Bevan

      wait just a darn minute. there are plenty of things you can criticize Twilight for, but um… none of these points are them.
      1. there is nothing abusive about their relationship (except that one time he almost didn’t stop eating her)
      2. if anything, i think their relationship is exemplary of feminine empowerment in relationships (at least relative to the “empowerment” shown in other movies). yes, initially edward is very controlling and is constantly trying to protect bella.. but throughout the story, bella asserts herself and edward learns he doesn’t have control over her and they learn to share major decisions in their relationship (insert climactic fight in Eclipse, marriage, pregnancy). given that edward is meant to be from the early 1900s when men were entirely in control, i think the book does a pretty good job of overturning that gender role. which leads us to…
      3. he (nor she) withholds sex as punishment. being unwilling to have sex with someone because you hold the belief that sex comes after marriage isn’t a punishment. again, he was raised in the 1900s and still holds those archaic (as bella points out) beliefs.
      4. HE doesn’t isolate her from her friends and family, she voluntarily chooses to isolate herself – which ultimately doesn’t end up happening because she does’t do the blood-thirsty part of being a vampire. also the only friend she really likes is Jacob. and her mom lives in Florida anyway. and she stays in Forks with her dad.
      5. he removes the engine block ONCE because it was hella dangerous for her to go see Jacob during that time because of the treaty laws and shit

      like, dammit, I don’t want to defend this stupid fucking franchise because it sucks (even though I love it), but come ON people, you can’t just flit around spewing the same arguments as everyone else that has never read/seen Twilight. there are SO MANY valid reasons to hate it, why do you pick reasons that just aren’t real?

      • Darkona

        Please remove yourself from the genetic pool. Thank you.

      • https://twitter.com/iamthepuddles Jordana Bevan

        god forbid i prefer someone use facts while they justify themselves!

      • http://www.aquaticcousins.blogspot.com/ SparkerPants

        Ah. It’s okay if a guy removes the engine block from your car only the one time. Noted. 

        If Bella Swan is your example of feminine empowerment in relationships, I really don’t know what to tell you. 

      • https://twitter.com/iamthepuddles Jordana Bevan

        sigh you don’t have to tell me anything; i said it’s a good example of female empowerment (not even empowerment, just female equality) relative to other pop films – not that she is THE example of feminine relationship empowerment. not my fault ‘the media’ is all “you aren’t complete until you have a man.” at least with this one, bella’s like “whatevskis, i’m still gonna do what i want.” like nbd we can disagree (nbvs) and i’m not trying to defend the bull shit that is the twilight franchse, i’m just saying let’s work with facts (ish)

      • Rachel Butters Scotch

        The main argument I see against female empowerment is that ALL of Bella’s happiness comes from Edward. Her life is empty, except for the presence of Edward. 

      • https://twitter.com/iamthepuddles Jordana Bevan

        which (i think) would absolutely be an argument against it if he didn’t reciprocate those feelings exactly.. but he does, which i think at least makes their relationship – if not ’empowering’ – at least equally un..empowering… meh

      • rooar

        so……. she’s not empowered then? Considering they are both -ahem- “equal”

        Wow, you could have saved those two minutes of your time pushing forth an argument that you now see is flawed. -__- 

      • https://twitter.com/iamthepuddles Jordana Bevan

        when an item (ie females) is traditionally submissive to another item (ie males) and then is depicted as being equally dominant, is that not empowering for the submissive item? i didn’t realize the act of empowerment requires that one item surpass another and demote it in the chain of power

      • Catt

        But Bella isn’t “equally dominant”, she’s a pathetic excuse for a person who wants to throw herself off a cliff because “omg she has nothing without edward</333". Dependence is not dominant. Desperation to be one half of a whole is not empowering. And the fact that she can't find something besides Edward to interest her (hello? School, anyone? Maybe spend time with other people?) creates a character that is uninteresting and, no, not a defiance of traditional gender roles as you seem to be trying to argue.

      • rose georgia

        was this honestly worth your time?

      • https://twitter.com/iamthepuddles Jordana Bevan

        2 minutes of typing?

      • Clare Ramon

        1. there is nothing abusive about their relationship (except that one
        time he almost didn’t stop eating her)…this made me laugh and laugh. 

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4T27JL52BMUIB55WOG3BZDTTBU Mercedes

        I’ve read all the books when I was younger and still into that garbage and I can tell you for sure that what @SPARKERPANTS said is true. Maybe you didn’t read them properly?

    • guest

      Fact. I’m not really into emotionally controlling and abusive men.

  • Emil

    Before Say Anything there was Disney movies though. Back then guys had to live up the princes and kings featured in those movies. White horses and stuff. 

    Rough times.

  • Edward

    Wow, this thread is sad.

  • http://twitter.com/tannnyaya Tanya Salyers

    I cannot believe that this article is garnering multiple paragraph comments and responses.  Twilight fans are nutso.

    p.s. Lloyd Dobler is perfect.

    • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

      Lloyd Dobler was horribly flawed–but that was the point: he was supposed to be human and in high school.

      • http://twitter.com/tannnyaya Tanya Salyers

        Which makes him perfect in my eyes. 

      • Kathyhoman79

        Probably helped him that all his friends were female!

  • sorry i'm not sorry

    um … i just found Edward way charming 

    • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

blog comments powered by Disqus