On Twilight, Teens, and Character vs. Plot

First of all, sorry for not updating for almost a month! I went to a wedding a third of the way across the country and stayed there for a whole week with my fiance, who was the best man and whom I hadn't seen in a month and a half. Which doesn't excuse my lack of posts after the fact, but anyway.

I went to see Eclipse with my mother and sister a couple days ago. We live in a town of a little over 7000 people, and there's actually a cinema, a little one-screen one that they keep open only because it's historically significant in some way. Usually they play family movies, to draw in the maximum amount of revenue, but I guess the Twilight saga is popular enough to make it worth showing.

Although I do not consider a series about an insipid teenage girl dithering back and forth between a vampire and a werewolf to be a "saga" (add some Ragnarok or half-divine warriors and then we'll talk), I do find them to be mildly entertaining fun. The film equivalent, as Cleolinda Jones has said, of a Twinkie. It's not a gourmet meal, but it's enjoyable to indulge in once in a while.

First, the obligatory "Twilight is bad for teenage girls" comments. No, I don't think either the books or the movies are inherently bad for teenage girls, but they are certainly some problematic aspects. I'm mostly bothered by the fact that Bella is so utterly dependent on her vampire boyfriend that when he leaves her (second book/movie) she spends several months in a deep depression, just sitting there or going through the motions of life, having horrible nightmares and not interacting with any of her friends. And it seems to be presented as normal. In this third movie (I haven't read the book yet), Edward seems disturbingly controlling to me. For example, he disables Bella's truck somehow so that she can't visit her friend Jacob, his werewolf rival for Bella's love. Although I love how she ended up showing some spine later on, yelling at Edward and jumping on the back of Jacob's motorcycle despite Edward's orders not to have anything to do with Jacob.

I don't like the Twilight series enough to consider myself to be on Team Edward or Team Jacob (although I was really into various Harry Potter ships), although I definitely lean toward Team Jacob. It just seems so frakking obvious to me that Bella should be with Jacob, a nice, sweet young man who will protect her without trying to control every aspect of her life.

I find Twilight worth watching/reading as a lesson in character and plot development. I think the plots are actually decent, but I must also be honest and say that the books aren't very well written. New Moon in particular wanted to make me bang my head against the wall, although that also had a lot to do with Bella's depression. One of the issues I have is that the characters are pretty flat and one-dimensional. The characters don't keep me reading, the plot does, but the plot is buried under these angsty characters who turn a high school romance into some epic love story. And that just doesn't work for me. I'm a literary fiction girl, for the most part, but I do enjoy fiction that is plot-driven and will frequently read and even write it. What I cannot stand is genre fiction pretending to be literary fiction. And I really get the feeling that that's exactly what the Twilight series is.

2 comments:

  1. I think the analagy of a tweeknie is apt. Not particularly good for you but a nice treat every once in awhile even if its not quite up to compete with say a slice of white chocolate cheesecake for the same calories. And you're right, lack of character is its main downfall. I actually liked the plot of the first book quite a bit (though I have opinions on why the seqquals completely chuck its premise) but the characters are so one deimensional I can't care about them except in a theoretical sense.

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  2. I must say that I agree with you for the most part. While I am ambivalent about this "saga" I can't say that I hate it. I haven't read the books, so I can't really critique the plot as they were originally outlined by the author. My only knowledge comes from the films, which really isn't saying much. And my only qualms lay with the sheer lack of acting talent and the unwarranted reverence people give these terrible actors.

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