hi (videophone) wrote in ohnotheydidnt,

is twilight bad for you?

If 2007 was the year of the boy wizard -- with the final "Harry Potter" book and a movie coming out in the same month -- 2008 is the year of the vampire.

More specifically, a vampire named Edward, who literally sparkles as the romantic hero of a four-book series that has become the obsession of teen girls (and many of their mothers) nationwide.

Welcome to the "Twilight" zone.

In case you still haven't heard of the series by Stephenie Meyer, you're about to. On Aug. 2, the fourth installment, "Breaking Dawn," hits bookstores. The series tells the story of Bella, a teenage girl living in Forks, Wash., who falls in love with one of the town's resident vampires. Bella would trade her soul to be undead happily ever after; Edward forcefully resists such a thing.

Across the country, 4,000 stores will open at midnight, just so those sweaty, trembling fans can lose a night's sleep finding out whether the vampire finally bites the girl after 1,000-plus pages of extremely chaste necking.

And then, when the movie opens Dec. 12, the whole thing can start over again.

There's no question that the "Twilight" series, which has dominated best-seller lists, is a pop culture phenomenon. Ask a teen girl if she prefers Edward or Jacob, a teen werewolf, and you are likely to get an essay in response.

The question is: Are these books a worthy obsession for our teen girls? And should you let your own daughter read them and see the movie?

To answer this, I turned to Lorie Ann Grover, mother of two teen girls, author of several books, and co-founder of readergirlz, an organization that exists to support teens as they read, reflect on literature, and reach out to their communities in response to what they've learned.

Lorie Ann is a fan of the "Twilight" series. And, even though I know I'm taking my life into my hands by disagreeing, I'm going to say that there are better things for teen girls to be reading and watching.

Lorie Ann Grover Gives the Case for 'Twilight'

I call him the hottest guy in modern literature. The hottest! He's why I read the entire "Twilight" series straight through twice. He's why my fellow author friend Justina Chen Headley and I dissected "Twilight" together, each and every page.

And he's why my husband picked up the work and read it himself. He had to know who his wife and daughters were raving about! The hottest guy in modern lit is Edward Cullen, and he sparkles.

So what truly is Edward's appeal? Why are girls and women worldwide, and Bella, swooning? Because he is our sensitive superhero. First, consider his perfect physical form. Did you hear me say perfect? Basically Michelangelo's David come to life. Add to that physique smoldering eyes and superpowers.

Now, looks aside, consider how appealing it is that Edward is driven to wit's end by the scent of Bella. In a society consumed with smelling good, Edward finds Bella without the aid of any scent but her own.

Note how completely enamored Edward is of Bella. He actually watches her sleep. As an infatuated parent watches over an infant, Edward watches Bella. He sees her weaknesses and finds her humanity endearing. He asks endless questions to know her. What are her likes and dislikes, her past and future hopes? He listens to every single word.

It is easy to see that Edward embodies complete safety. Often he holds Bella and rocks her as a father would. And yet, his kisses stop her breath and heart, and he never pressures her for sex. She pursues him. Edward has raised the standard for all boyfriends.

Into that perfect mix, pour danger, that alluring trademark of any great hero, just enough for tension to vibrate. We worry with Bella over her safety as Edward's lips glide down her neck. We fret as his eyes darken and he lusts for her blood. Finally we cheer as he denies himself because of his passion for her.

So, is Bella worthy of such a love? Is she a good role model for our teen girls? Absolutely! In the midst of her weaknesses she is a strong young woman. Her focus isn't consumed with her external appearance. She's both comfortable with herself and humble. She's a great student and anticipating college following high school.

From the start, Bella sacrifices for others' happiness. She's loving and generous toward family and friends. Frequently she faces her fears bravely, and she usually solves the crisis through her own plotting and action. She is a heroine for our daughters, in the midst of her flaws.

In the end, who will Bella choose? Which superhero, Edward or Jacob the werewolf? My oldest daughter says Edward is the perfect lover, but Jacob is the perfect mate for life.

On Aug. 2, dawn will break with Edward in my hands, and I'll discover Bella's choice. I anticipate bliss either way. I completely trust Stephenie Meyer, the author, to take care of my characters. And then my daughters can have their turn reading "Breaking Dawn." And then, my husband will have his.

Martha Brockenbrough Explains Why 'Twilight' Sucks

My 13-year-old cousin warned me: "The amounts of pain that can be inflicted on those who insult Edward are better left unspoken."

I'm going to brave that pain and say it anyway: Edward is a complete prig.

It's not just that he sneaks into Bella's room to watch her sleep -- that's more stalker than prissy, anyway. It's also not just that he drives a Volvo, the car of choice for priggish drivers who obsess about side airbag safety.

Nor is it that his skin sparkles like gems in the sunlight. However gag-worthy this might be, he can't help it if he has pores that Madonna, Nicole Kidman and other alabaster celebrities would envy.

For me, the last straw really is that he is more obsessed about wedding planning than any groom should be. That makes him a terrible role model for teen girls, who will grow up to face real-life mates who don't know the difference between cummerbunds and canapés, and who will also make rude faces when asked for an opinion on either.

Seriously, though, there's a dark side to priggishness, and that's condescension. Bella and Edward aren't equals. Edward knows it -- he's stronger, his senses are sharper and he's nearly immortal. He constantly has to protect Bella. He even leaves her temporarily to do just that. Bella, meanwhile, settles for a lesser college so she can be with her boyfriend. Augh!

So what does that tell our teen girls to crave? A relationship with someone they worship, rather than someone they can work with through the various challenges of life?

However much I enjoyed the books -- and I read every one, twice -- that's my fundamental concern with them as a parent. Bella constantly needs rescuing and protection. Her vulnerability fuels her desirability, for it's not just a vampire who wants her. A werewolf does, too.

This is where it's worth making a comparison to "Harry Potter." Harry solved his own problems. When he needed rescuing, his friends -- who had complementary talents and courage-quotients -- came to his aid.

Bella doesn't really have friends, at least not among her peers. She hangs out with werewolves and vampires, any one of whom could eat (or drink) her for lunch.

She's as far from being a kick-ass heroine as she can get. She's clumsy and weak. Yes, she has her attractions. She's a devoted daughter who never complains about all the cooking she has to do for her hapless dad.

But girls would be much better off following in Hermione's footsteps. Now there was a girl who could cast a spell, throw a punch, and catch the eye of an international Quidditch star (only to lose interest because he wasn't intellectual enough).

I'm not arguing that every book needs to be the equivalent of a plate of nourishing, raw spinach. I like a cream puff as much as the next person, and possibly even more. We just need to make sure our daughters aren't thinking cream puffs are the best life has to offer. They're the stars of their own life story, and waiting for a handsome guy to bite their necks sounds to me like a tragedy in the making.


lol, I love the "Twilight Sucks" section. My favorite part is:
Nor is it that his skin sparkles like gems in the sunlight. However gag-worthy this might be, he can't help it if he has pores that Madonna, Nicole Kidman and other alabaster celebrities would envy.


is awesome
everyone needs to stfu about it
more annoying than TDK
more exciting than TDK
Tags: twilight

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