Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I'm baaaack....

I will be the first to admit I have read all of the Twilight books. I enjoyed reading them.  All four of them, as long-winded and overwrought as they are (even the second one, which most people hate). Perhaps because I read them poolside one lazy summer while I was trying to figure out my next career move. Perhaps because they seemed a pure form of escapism. I know it wasn’t because of the emo main character Bella Swan. Sigh.

Teaching Twilight (yes, I taught the book, mainly because it was a cultural phenomenon that I thought worth investigating; I believe, like Stephen King, that Meyer couldn’t write her way out of a paper bag), I was struck by how many of the young females in my classroom identified with this character, a girl, in my mind, better suited to the 1950s world of June Cleaver. Spoiler Alert: Bella Swan gives up her human life, her family, her aspirations (if she had any; it seemed like she wanted to go to college at one point) – everything, all in the name of marriage and motherhood. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with being a wife and mother. I am both. But when your definition on this earth is mate and mother alone, then I have a problem. Especially when you are influencing the lives and aspirations of millions of young girls while you’re at it.

The problem with Bella Swan is that what she wants, all that she wants, is a man (and another baby, ye-ah… - points if you recognize the song).  A really old man, by the way (creepy vampire pedophile, Edward). This is normal when you are a teenager.  I remember those days, when you think you are so in love with someone that the world will end if your relationship does (… and then it ends, and you move on to the next boy).  What would Bella think of Edward’s controlling, overbearing nature if she met him when she was 30? 40? We will never know, because she is now a resident of Neverland. She will never grow up.  She will never have the chance to figure out who she is without Edward. Imagine being married to the first guy you fell in love with for eternity. No thanks.       

I am not one for limiting what my kids want to read (I read mountains of Jackie Collins books in my day; if my mother only knew what was in those books!!). I won’t tell them that they can’t read the Twilight series. But I will want to have a serious conversation with them about Bella’s qualities when they are finished.  I highly doubt they will want to have this conversation with me, however. Sigh.

As for me, give me Katniss Everdeen or Sookie Stackhouse any day.
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