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My encounters with Twilight
Back in 2008, I was sitting around with a group of friends, all mothers of daughters, and we were discussing stocking fillers for Xmas. I wanted books for my daughter and their suggestion was to try out Twilight. The movie had just been released but it really was pre-hype days. However, all four of the books were on the market and reasonable prices so they seemed like a sensible idea.
I am not sure why I trusted the recommendation of the mother’s in question. We’d been drinking. We drank a lot. And ate. And crafted. Sometimes all at the same time. I think it is important to note that sequins, hot glue guns and alcohol don’t always mix. However, we did sometimes give each other good advice and they were right about the books.
My, then 12 year old, daughter devoured them. The first two in two days, the third a week later and I made her wait for the fourth for a month. When I read them she returned the favor by lending the fourth book to a friend. I thought I was going to die until that book arrived back in our house. I devoured them a further 4 or 5 times and spent at least six months pretending my car was an Audi while I drove around with the Twilight soundtrack blaring. Side note: Slug Boy’s ring tone is SuperMassive Black Hole. Think about it.
According to popular mythology Stephenie had the story come to her in a dream. I wanted to drink what she was drinking. For the next couple of years I toyed with some paranormal ideas and read some other paranormal romances – that was how I discovered Felicity Heaton and Cynthia Eden. Those angels, demons and other-worldly beings made me want to walk on the wild side. I’ve never really been a bad boy biker girl but they took me there.
Why people don’t like Twilight
Edward, the hero, was criticized because he was the boyfriend that no parent wanted for their daughter. However, for all his failings, Edward, stayed true to his core values. Values that would have been significant to the era in which he had been born. So, even though he was a stalker, he would protect Bella‘s life and innocence for as long as he could. The old-fashioned other-worldliness of Edward enabled me to forgive Stephenie for making him sparkly. Oh, hell who am I kidding? I would have happily given him a liberal sprinkling of glitter myself (see previous note about crafting, sequins and hot glue guns).
And Bella was seen as … well …
For some reason Bella was seen as being incredibly weak and one dimensional. She apparently let Eward make all the decisions and control the relationship. But I would argue that there are a lot of teenage girls who are exactly like Bella, even when they don’t want to admit it. Socially awkward, slightly isolated for no reason other than their lack of self-confidence, perhaps making not great choices in boyfriends. And there are a lot of teen boys who are slightly obsessed with their first loves to the point of some slightly unreasonable behaviors. I’m not sure that the people who criticized the relationship really read or understood it.
If they had read all of the books thoroughly – and let’s face it even if they had looked at the things Bella did to protect and save Edward in the first story – then they would have seen her as a young girl on the cusp of adulthood, working out how to be both true to herself and her relationship. And Bella pretty much kicked ass all the way through the stories. She just developed and evolved as time went on and her confidence grew. Something that a Mary Sue character doesn’t get to do very much.
I’m pretty sure that those who have attacked the stories the most have been women who grew up in the age of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the ultimate Mary Sue. The relationship was termed as being abusive and controlling.
I think they missed the point that she was a human dealing with a vampire, not a vampire slayer with superhuman powers. She was right to be scared, he was right to set the boundaries until they could work out how they could be together. She did, however, step into the vampire world, took on a few that seriously wanted to kill her, dealt with a gang of werewolves, rode motorbikes, cliff dived, fought to keep a fetus that was killing her and saved her family from being killed. I’m fairly sure that is pretty damn proactive on the kickass heroine front.
There were also people who just hated Twilight because it was chick-lit or gay. There were going to be haters no matter what.
Influence on the cultural landscape
Twilight spawned an entire fan fiction stream that seemed to have a life beyond anything anyone could possibly conceive. While there have always been fan fictions that have made it to publication, the sheer number and breadth of what came out of and continues to emerge from the fanfiction.net and twcs Twilight communities was/is like none other. Pulled to Publish seems to be a term that has been attributed to this fanfic community. Some paranormal authors (Anne Rice, JR Ward) have resisted fan fiction. Stephenie has celebrated it.
Twilight has brought us such books as Fifty Shades of Grey, Wallbanger, Poughkeepsie, Beautiful Bastard and Gabriel’s Inferno among many others. And of course, the movie brought us…
If you are here on my blog because of a love all things FSOG and you have never read Twilight then you really should check the books out. I recognised Twilight in FSOG before I knew it was fan fiction or even what fan fiction was.
Stephenie has often courted controversy as an author, but love her or hate her, she has made an extraordinary contribution to the cultural landscape. Find out more about her at her website.