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July 31, 2008

’Twilight’: The old bait-and-switch

Twilight_poster I've mentioned briefly, here and also here, that I'm working on a freelance article about Stephenie Meyer's hugely popular Twilight series, the fourth book of which comes out at midnight on Saturday. Reading the first three of Meyer's vampire romances (soon to be made into movies), I found a lot to be concerned about. Which is why I was a little nonplussed by this Newsweek article that Catherine recently found about mothers and daughters enjoying the books together:

The young adult series by Stephenie Meyer chronicles the seductive relationship between mousy Bella Swan and dangerously dashing Edward Cullen, who just happens to be a vampire. But Meyer's books have proved seductive in another way, and we don't mean as publishing's 7.5 million-copy selling Next Big Thing. The "Twilight" books—[including] "Breaking Dawn," the fourth and final volume in the series, which is due out on Aug. 2—have also turned into a remarkable mother-daughter bonding exercise.

One reason for that is the way they deal with sexual issues. Meyer, who is Mormon, has said that she doesn't want Bella and Edward to have sex before marriage. For most romance novels, the "no sex, please," notion would be blasphemous. But Meyer's fans have embraced it like a couple of teenagers just cuddling on the couch. Many mothers say they've used the books as a way to begin that awkward birds-and-bees talk with their teenage daughters. "I can discuss sex without being preachy because, well, we're just talking about Twilight," says Mary Ann Hill, mother to Tara, 13. "It's non-threatening and I see the book as extra support for what I want to teach anyway."

Okay, great. But what about "dashing" Edward's manipulative and controlling side? What about Bella's alarming lack of self-worth, her near-worship of her boyfriend as "perfect" and "godlike," and her self-destructive habits whenever he's away from her -- not to mention the way she constantly deceives her parents about him (for instance, having him stay in her room every night without her father's knowledge)? What about her desire to become a vampire like him, despite knowing that the process will involve days of torture, take away her humanity, and stop her heart, and that afterward she might not be able to control her thirst for human blood? (And what about the fact that millions of teenage girls are now eagerly hoping that she makes that very choice?)

What about quotes like "I wanted his venom to poison my system. It would make me belong to him in a tangible, quantifiable way"? Not ringing any alarm bells?

I'm not trying to be a killjoy. I know most girls adore a good love story, and most moms love to see their daughters enjoying a fun book. But parents who aren't yet familiar with these books, or who have overlooked certain elements in them, need to be aware of this: The "pro-abstinence" message is only the tip of the iceberg here. Underneath it are some dark and ugly ideas about men, women, and relationships, not to mention the value of human life. Parents that are gravitating to the books because they're clean are essentially getting the old bait-and-switch; they're not getting premarital sex, but they're getting a lot of other stuff -- stuff that can be every bit as dangerous -- that they hadn't bargained for.

I think the LiveJournal blogger Cleolinda put it best (profanity alert):

"I know that parents seem to dig these books because of the abstinence message . . . but... does the teen death theme not bother them at all?"

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Comments

Diane Singer

I've read the books as well, and find the "abstinence" message something of a fraud. Bella and Edward are not having sex simply because his vampire strength could crush, possibly kill, Bella. His restraint is for purely physical reasons. I guess we could allegorize the situation to derive a moral lesson about the harmful effects of premarital sex, but I doubt that the average teen reader is going to do that.

What struck me is how remarkably sensual these books are, which I'm sure is a huge part of their appeal. However, if I had a teenage daughter, I'd worry about letting her read books that are, frankly, just stirring up intense sexual lust while hiding behind unrealistic romanticism. I'd worry that she would be looking for romantic love from her boyfriend, who (if he's a typical teenage boy) isn't likely to have fictional Edward's physical restraints.

I'm like you Gina: I think the books are far more dangerous than the average reader realizes.

Paul

---
What about quotes like "I wanted his venom to poison my system. It would make me belong to him in a tangible, quantifiable way"? Not ringing any alarm bells?
---

Yeah it does. I haven't heard of them till now. (I was behind the curve on the Potter series as well.) But it doesn't sound like it has a pro-abstinence message at all. In fact, this quote sounds a little euphemistically like a pre-martital message.

Allow me to rephrase slightly: "I wanted his baby to grow in my body. It would make me belong to him in a tangible, quantifiable way"

So, not only are you dealing with death, and the demonic realm, AND getting the nasty messages about men, women and appropriate relationships to each other, but a subtle message of pre-marital sex is mixed in for good measure.

Paul

Chris Clukey

This series was on the cover of Enetertainment Weekly recently. After just looking at it for a minute wondering what the heck "Twilight" was, I had to read an issue of Field & Stream just just to feel like an adult male again.

sophia

i do agree that the books are a little sensual for say, a 13 year old.( i'm 22)i think they would be great for someone who is more high school age. As for edward only restraining because of his physical strength, that's not the case at all. he tells her, very specifically, that he is trying to preserve her virtue. that is why he insisted on marying her before they had sex, since they did eventually, while she was still human.

sophia

also, someone said something about human life not meaning anything in this book. what!? the vampire she falls in love with is what they jokingly call a vegitarian because he and his family never drink human blood. and they all vowed to protect her from harming any humans during her difficult trasnsitional phase. turns out, she doesn't need to be restrained because her love of humans overpowers her own physical desires.

Gina Dalfonzo

With regards to preserving her virtue, yes, Edward does say that once -- and Bella laughs at him. (Almost the only time she ever does laugh at him, I think; usually he's too wonderful, beautiful, perfect, glorious, godlike, etc., for that.) So he drops that and goes on to speculate that if he has premarital sex with her he might not get into heaven, IF there's a heaven and IF vampires could go there IF by some off chance they ever die. Not a terribly convincing conversation, in other words. And the subject of virtue only comes up once that I recall, whereas his qualms about physically hurting her -- which he does anyway in "Breaking Dawn"; so much for his principles -- come up all the time.

Also, let's not forget that before marriage, none of Edward's qualms are enough to keep Bella from trying to -- pardon the vulgarity -- jump him every chance she gets. It would be a good idea to keep in mind here the biblical principle about sinning in one's heart.

As for the point about human life, I'll be going into that much more thoroughly in my review. Let's just say that Meyer's case for it is even less convincing.

sophia

True, Edward only MENTIONS it once. But it was a personal issue with him the entire time. He never doubts that there is a heaven, he only doubts that HE, being a vampire, will be allowed in. As a christian, i do not support the idea that good deeds can earn you a place in heaven. However, we ARE supposed to try and sin as little as possible. Edward says that he doesn't want to add to the long list of his sins by taking her virginity outside of marriage.
I think it's interesting that the possibly souless Edward was the one that had a conscience and a sense of honor. maybe there's a message there. Yes, Bella was trying to jump his bones every chance she got, but she wasn't the one that was supposed to be "perfect" either, was she? She was clarly imperfect, her trajic flaw.

I think the only reason he mentions the physical dangers so much is because he knows that is the only thing Bella can relate to. He knows she won't care about his other reasons. Again, she is not the honorable one. But when they do have that conversation, she realizes that her virtue, and his, is the real reason he won't sleep with her. THAT is way he conceedes on their wedding night; because the main problem has been taken care of.

Sophia

And as far as Her belonging to him in a "tangible, quantifiable way"; i think that was taken out of context. In the vampire rhelm, a new vampire's creator is supposed to be a menotor, father figure, and protector. It would apply to any gender combination. That is why Carlisle calls himslef their father, he created them all. That is also why the vampires that create out of hand "newborns" are held responsible.

Sophia

i also disagree with your issue about Bella's self worth. Most girls about her age feel awkward and ugly. Bella is relateable. we know by the other character's reactions that she is not ugly, though maybe not "traditionally pretty (blond hair, tanned skin). she thinks that she needs is to become a vampire to feel beautiful and strong, but in the end it turns out that her strength, and what saves them all, is something she had all along, her unique mind. the whole, "it's not what's on the outside that counts" bit.

Elizabeth

I love the Twilight series! My mom is reading them & she doesn't find anything wrong with them. I think that the message of the book is very good. No-sex before marriage is a very good idea. & who wouldn't be absolutly in love with Edward? It is perfectly acceptable for Bella to be in love with her first boyfriend. I support the Twilight series and if I had a daughter, I would definatelly let her read hem because of their great message. Stephenie Meyer is an amazing author.

Gina Dalfonzo

Elizabeth, you're right that no sex before marriage is a very good idea. I would never say anything against that. My problem is with Edward's treatment of Bella in general. No guy has the right to force a girl to do things his way.

I'll give you just one example: Remember the part in "Eclipse" where Edward had his sister Alice hold Bella hostage at their house, and Bella literally had to run away from her at school to get free? Do you think that's the way a good man treats a woman? I know he went on and on about how it wasn't safe for her to see Jacob, but Jacob wasn't any more dangerous than Edward himself -- as Edward admitted -- and I didn't see him sequestering HIMSELF from Bella to keep her safe.

And in any event, it was not his decision to make.

LeeQuod

Uh, Elizabeth, Gina wrote an online review of the series. ( http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MTE4OTNmNzcxNDAzMTI3MTk5MWFkZTllNDQzZmZlNDA= ) Gina said this: "... Edward, who drinks animal blood to keep from killing humans."

All I can think is "DUDE!! Tic Tac!!!"

Not to mention that I wonder how he got the blood from the animals; hopefully he didn't kill them himself but got roadkill instead. (Bleah.) Otherwise, he's as disturbed as any serial killer (because most of them start by torturing and killing small animals, then move up to killing people - typically young women, ahem).

Besides, do you really want to French-kiss a guy who just drank blood from Fluffy? Gross, at least - if not way upsetting when your kitty never comes home.

Gina's right - these books ask you to accept something pretty bizarre, and call it (as you did) a "great message". Seems to me that Bella, and you, have a bit more thinking to do.

Roadkill breath - blurgh.

calynnea

Hmm, well, while I'm not saying the series is perfect by any means, I would like to clear up a couple of things.

First, Bella's lack of self-confidence isn't at all displayed as an example for others. It is simply what makes her a character people can relate to. As the series progresses, Bella's confidence grows. Her self-endangering behavior in Edward's absense is portrayed more as a lapse from sanity than anything glamorous, or to be emulated. Edward is furious when he hears about it, and it is generally agreed by the characters that she was being stupid.

Second, Edward's controlling side is obviously one of his flaws. But again, as the series progresses, he learns from his mistakes. After the time in New Moon, for example, where he has Alice hold Bella hostage, he realizes that this only makes him come across as the bad guy, and slowly he backs off, trying to let Bella have the choice between him and Jacob. He realizes that, in a way, Jacob might be better for her than him, and thus tries to let her make the decision for herself. (Pretty selfless, if you ask me.) No character should ever be perfect; the most we can ask is for a character to improve and learn from his mistakes.

Third, I must also disagree with your comment that Edward's abstinence is based only on Bella's physical safety. He would never have agreed to sex after their marriage if that had been the only issue. While Edward is certainly imperfect, he does do his best to follow traditional morals, and his motives, if not his actions, are usually in the right place.

I will repeat again, I'm not saying these books are perfect. I just don't think some of these things are an issue.

Gina Dalfonzo

Calynnea, I would feel a lot better about the books if it were possible to truthfully say the following:

" . . . he realizes that this only makes him the bad guy -- a criminal, in fact -- and immediately he backs off, acknowledging that Bella's choice between him and Jacob is entirely her own, and there's no 'letting' about it on his part, because he is not in an authority over her in any way, and has no power to 'let' her or 'not let' her do anything."

Unfortunately, it's not possible. And I have to tell you, it alarms me to see the large numbers of fans, including and especially young girls, defending Edward with the words "he lets her" do this and "he lets her" do that.

Your kidding me right?

Gina: I have to dissagree with you, your taking everything about the book out of context to make a juicy story out of it. youve got to understand that this was not written with christians in mind. and anything you read if you look specifically FOR problems your gonna find them. no book character is going to be perfect it would make them unrealistic and boring. I listened to Mike Early's brodcast about the series and I've gotta say I don't believe hes ever read those books! he shouldn't talk publicly about his 'opinion' on the subject if its someone elses! but thats beside the point and in your response above to Elisabeth you said and i quote "Do you think that's the way a good man treats a woman? I know he went on and on about how it wasn't safe for her to see Jacob, but Jacob wasn't any more dangerous than Edward himself -- as Edward admitted -- and I didn't see him sequestering HIMSELF from Bella to keep her safe." did you even READ new moon? that was the whole reason he left her! because it wasn't safe for him to be around her. he only came back after Bella saved him because if he left again it would kill them both (emotionlly). this is a FICTIONAL book so its possible for there to be Vampires and Werewolves ect.Bella and Edwards love is epic not a highschool drama. for the people who commented above who didn't read the book and then stated they're quote on quote opinion about it. DON'T SPEAK ABOUT SOMETHING YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT. read the subject, form an opinion, and THEN you have the right to discuss it.

Annie Gibson

( To LeeQuod, this is a VAMPIRE BOOK. Vampires drink blood to live. usually it is human blood ( like you find with dracula or lestat), but sometimes with these kindof stories (like the tv show angel) the vampire drinks animal blood so no humans would have to die. Vampires don't have any other choice other than that, or else they would wither up and die. i don't think that what the cullens do in order to live (not have to kill humans), is very much like hunting. i know of alot of people who go out and hunt for deer, duck, or any other kind of game for food so they don't have to go to a store and buy food that is mostly not good for them. is that really any diffrent? they both have to eat (or in the cullens case drink) in order for them to survive. now, really... road kill??? i don't know what you eat, but that just seems unreasonable to me. )
i would just like to say this.
Hi, i'm Annie and i am a church of christ christan. i recently turned 18, and i am a fan of the twilight books. my mom has read them, my sisters have read them, and most of my female friends have either read them or are in the process of finishing them as well. I really enjoyed the books. i thought she did a good job telling a story. i think she made bella to be the every-girl and she made Edward to be the boy-that-every-girl-wants. I think it was a good idea to make bella not have a real personality, so the reader can fit into the character and feel like part of the story. it was a very smart selling idea. Anyway, i would like to talk alittle bit about the no sex before marriage thing you seem to be stuck on. in this world it is rare to find someone young to really stand up for No Sex Before Marriage and to really mean it. If i heard some guy say that sadly, i would probably think 'oh yeah, right, your just sayin that'. I would not believe it, is what i'm tryin to say. I am not the sort of girl to, as you said, 'jump on someones bones' (weird quote btw..) but i know of some sad girls that are. so i think what Edward was tryin to do was to make it clear that it would be in her best interest to wait, by useing other reasons than his real reason, the one she wouldn't accept. i understand this, and i'm only newly 18.
also i just wanted to point out this fun fact. most of the guys i know have also read the twilight books. you know why? because they want to know what all these girls are talking about all the time. haha. And the guys end up being fans of the book too and most of them have very strong opinions about the Edward and Bella relationship. So, you keep talking about 'i would want my daughters to read this' or 'I don't like the thought of young girls reading this' but your leaving out the guys. the guys who are reading this and learning that girls want to feel protected and that 'No Sex Before Marriage' is a really special thing. people keep forgetting to tell the young people WHY waiting to have sex till marriage is so important (besides the whole surprise pregnancy/disease thing). when you meet that someone, you want to give him everything you believe he deserves and more. do you think your soul mate deserves something broken or used. i know of people who make the decision early to even save their first kiss for their husband or wife. Being pure is not stupid or anything to be ashamed about. it's something great and wonderful that i can't put into the right words. and you older folk are letting us down in todays culture for not explaining to us the whole idea. (we get the right vs. wrong thing here. lets see some shades of gray.)
ok, moving on. About this value of human life you speak of. ok, the story is Bella wants to be with Edward forever. Humans don't live forever. Edward is a vampire, and vampires live forever. So she wants to be a vampire, against his wishes. I don't see the diffrence between this and a woman moving to a new city with her husband so they can live together. you see how i can take this concept into such simple words and ideas. it's because ITS A VAMPIRE STORY. A FICTIONAL VAMPIRE STORY. if it was a book about aliens then the girl would have to go with the alien into outerspace to be with him. if it was a mermaid story the girl would have to turn in to a mermaid to be with him. OR the man would have to turn into a merman to be with her. So.... do you see what i see?? the only reason your turning this into a life or death situation is because the story involves the un-dead idea. the point isn't on the life or death of Bella, it's about the powerful love between them and what each will do for the other. like when Edward left in New Moon, it was for Bella. Oh wait, Remember the part (for those who have read the books before giving their opinions) where Edward thought Bella had died so he decided he should die too? what about that? That was a very human way for Edward to think and act. it kind of sounds familiar, kind of romeo and juliet flavored or something like that. ;-)
well thats enough for now but don't you worry,
i'll be back.....

JerryH

I first must apologize for not having read the books. But, as a parent of a teenage girl, I have a responsibly to protect her, not only from the real predators in the world around us, but also from the predators in sheep's clothing, in this case, literature which presents something evil as good.

The fantastic stories of vampires have probably grown beyond the original idea of someone who has totally sold themselves to Satan to live forever in the physical world; the price of this ‘immortality’ is their soul and their endless desire for blood. The current trend seems to make these creatures heroes, that something in their lifestyle should be desired. This is ridiculous. While I am not demanding the world to write Christian literature, I would hope that Christian’s (especially mothers and daughters) would read fantasies that point back to a world that is based in the reality of God’s presence.

It seems to me that “mousy Bella” who finds that “what saves them all is something she had all along, her unique mind,” should, instead, find a God who sees so much worth in her that he would send his Son to die for her.

All fantasy, that is worthwhile, should in someway, point back to the ultimate fantasy story that became reality. As Tolkien said in his essay “On Fairy Stories”; “The Gospel contains a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy stories … But this story has entered history and the primary world”. This type of story which tells us something about who we really are and what we can really be is the type of fantasy stories I would like my daughter to read.

JoyL

I have not read these books either, however, my daughter came home with one about a week ago and from reading the back cover, I knew this was not something I wanted her to read - she borrowed it from a friend because "it is what everybody is reading!" I asked her if she wanted to read it, her immediate reaction was I have no interest in vampires, etc. She was simply reading it because everyone else was. Now, I had the opportunity to speak to her about following the crowd and being her own person. I am somewhat frightened by the fact that she was willing to read something because everyone else was doing it - thinking what else will she do or try because everyone else is trying it.

LeeQuod

Annie Gibson wrote: "To LeeQuod, this is a VAMPIRE BOOK."

I know, Annie - I read Bram Stoker's original book "Dracula" when I was about your age, and I've seen almost every vampire movie ever made. What I didn't know until about ten years ago - and apparently you still don't know - is that Stoker wrote his book as a story where "vampirism" actually stands for giving someone an STD. In Stoker's day it was syphilis; today you could imagine it would be herpes or AIDS. The idea is that once you've got it, you're "undead" because anytime you have sex with anyone else, you give them your disease - and they become "undead" (infected) too.

That's why a crucifix keeps vampires away - it means that religious girls, those with strong morals, are less likely to have sex with a non-virgin. So, they're less likely to get an STD. And the sunlight thing - would *you* sleep with someone if you knew in advance they had HIV?

Put that way, you can see that Bella wants so badly to sleep with Edward that she's willing to become diseased for the rest of her life just for a few times of pleasure. Have sex now, get sick, and die while you're young - versus get married and have sex plus be healthy into old age.

Seems to me Bella is leading girls into lives of misery. But then, I'm old, happily married and not infected with an STD, so what do I know?

Gina Dalfonzo

LeeQuod, it's interesting that you bring that up. I was telling someone just the other day that the way Stephenie Meyer ties images of sexual desire to descriptions of vampires' corpse-like state disturbs the heck out of me. Take these two quotes from Bella after she turns into a vampire:

"Desire raced through my dried-out veins, singing from my scalp to my toes."

"He smiled the kind of smile that would have stopped my heart if it were still beating."

And of course there's the quote I already mentioned about wanting Edward's venom to poison her.

Of all the things that creep me out about these books, this sort of thing is among the creepiest.

LeeQuod

Well, they're not *horror* novels for no reason, G. What creeps *me* out is that Bram Stoker himself may have died from syphilis. If true, that would mean he was romanticizing the disease that both drove him insane and also killed him. Worse, he definitely romanticized it for generations to come - like our poor dear Annie.

Katrina Gibson

Annie is my sister and thats not what she was talking about! leequod,she was only saying that your idea of the Cullens drinking roadkill is ridiculous and I agree with her.ppl kill deer and the like to eat. is that wrong? if it isnt wrong for them to do that then it isnt wrong for the Cullens to drink from animals either. its a fictional book, only ment for you to read and enjoy,youre not supposed to make it your life-guide or anything. Yall r just making a buch of ruckus about it!

I mean its all about imagination and escaping to a differnt world for awhile.
and leequod have you personally read these books? if you haven't then don't just take Gina's word for weather or not they're bad! read them yourself and make your own desision! Thats whats wrong with ppl nowadays they just take what everybody says at face value... really I could walk up to a teenager and say 'I have 12 toes' and the majority of them would believe me! kids nowadays are smart theyre IQs skyroceting but they lack commen sense. its just sad.

Steve (SBK)

Dear Gibsonians,
Relaaaax. LeeQuod has a witty mind and was just playing around with the concept of animal-only vampires. (Since we're in fiction land, what's ridiculous about eating roadkill? First there were vegans, then freegans, and now LeeQuod is promoting killgans (they only eat roadkill). Oh right, this is high-art-vampiric-fiction. Please stick to realism!) To be honest, girls, I think roadkill is the least of these books' concerns.

LeeQuod, Andy could teach you a little about humour/how to laugh (http://thepoint.breakpoint.org/2008/10/battle-of-the-b.html#comment-133641785 ), you big-ol'-frowny *wink*.

LeeQuod

Andy will have to get in line, SBK: http://thepoint.breakpoint.org/2008/10/my-pet-penguin.html#comment-133655617
But thanks for watching my back, my friend; you're a great comfort.

To the Gibson sisters (I almost wrote "Girls", but... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibson_Girl ):
First, when you dont use punctuation and spellcheck its rilly hard to read. I think yall should send Gina a pack of gum so she doesn't hurt her teeth gritting them while reading your comments.

Second, I don't have to read the books since I'm very familiar with the vampire genre. (Those with high IQs will know that word.) The only thing really new about the Twilight series is that it's written from the girl's point of view of desiring a guy who's infected, not from the point of view of a guy who's infected and still wants sex. That doesn't matter to me because no matter what, somebody gets infected and dies from it.

Third, you are completely missing the point about my "roadkill" comment, so I'll spell it out (thereby giving Andy more proof that conservative thinkers are sullen, serious, sour, dour, and dull). You're seeing Edward's willingness to drink animal blood as compassionate toward Bella. I see it as gross and disgusting, both in the fictional sense that Bella is locking lips with a guy who does what the Maasai tribe do in real life (see http://www.shoortravel.com/maratribe.html ) so I think his breath would be a horrible turn-off, and also in the sense that if this is really all about STDs and "vampirism" is merely a covering, then it's saying bestiality is an OK way for a guy to overcome his urges for a girl. You both probably know that syphilis makes people insane. I was in fact joking about roadkill, but even the original "Dracula" book and the old Bela Lugosi movie had themes where animals were tortured or killed. And it's one thing to kill a wild animal via hunting it (though many would disagree), and another to injure or kill livestock - or someone's pet. So I was thinking that a really compassionate guy wouldn't injure or kill an animal at all, but would only feed on the dead (adding necrophilia to bestiality, I suppose - there simply isn't a good way to put lipstick on this...).

Finally, I wouldn't be a good literary critic-wannabe if I didn't note that the whole point of fiction (or as Katrina put it, "its all about imagination and escaping to a differnt world for awhile") is to identify with a character and sympathize with them. I don't believe these books would be nearly so popular if they portrayed Bella as a girl who's drooling over a guy with AIDS, but that's really what's going on behind the scenes. But in fact that's really what it's all about, and has been from the beginning - Dracula had "slept with" lots of women, and was always looking for the newest one, while his "brides" went looking for new men. If the Twilight series says vampires can be completely monogamous, it's like saying babies born HIV-positive should be able to get married and have sex. And that's just dumb; ask some of the bloggers at The Point who've seen AIDS up close and personal in Africa.

Annie Gibson (Gibson Girl 1.0)

haha, well i see this is turning into something stupid. it's just a book. your not gonna change the world by complaining about it. I have found that among people my age, if you complain about something (i really really really reallly don't want ya'll to read this) then we'll want to read it even more to find out what all the fuss is over. i remember something like this happening over the harry potter books, and look how that ended up.
ok, true, i didn't know about the Bram Stoker - STD connection but that isn't widely known. so i don't think it really applies with todays ledgends on vampires. i read about the origns on wikipedia and bram stoker did not create the 'vampire' in the first place so your argument doesn't do anything for me. the STD idea is not apply to all vampires, its just a what if. you can believe what you want but it really doesn't change anything for me.
here's another thing. why are we even argueing about this? why, by talking about this, am i allowing you guys to ruin the story for me? this is something i hope to never do when i get old. Ruin neat stuff for young people. that's soooo not acceptable. What are you trying to do by lectureing me about this? i've already read the books. I've already decided that i like them. What else do ya want from me? besides the whole making me feel stupid for being my own person with my own opinons thing.

Katrina Gibson (Gibson 2.0)

(My sister and I would not like to be compared. We are different people after all.)

A. Dracula wasn't the first vampire myth,just the most popular.

B. The slight to my intelligence was uncalled for. Putting people down just because you can is very childish of you.

C. The correlation you've made between vampirism and stds is just irrelevant. That is not at all what Twilight is about.Stephenie Meyer didn't write the books with that in mind. Its just a love story with an interesting twist.

Draven Levi

Wow, you people make me laugh. I wonder what you old people would think if I asked your opinions on the da vinci code or the beatles or harry potter. I think I can guess what you'd say but I would still laugh at you. You Gibson Gals are fun though. Your young, I'm guessing since Annie said 18 and Katrina just sounds much younger than Annie. Its really funny the relationship between you 2. One is calm and the other loves confrontations. I say keep fighting for what you believe in.
*peace*

Gina Dalfonzo

Annie, Katrina, and Draven, here's something you need to understand if you want to participate in the conversation here.

This site allows people to express their thoughts and opinions freely, as long as they abide by our rules, which you can see at the Comment Policy link above. That goes for both us doddering old folks and for any teenagers who want to join in. If someone here wants to explain why they think the Twilight books are not good books -- or, on the other hand, if they want to argue the opposing view -- that's allowed.

Those of us who have a problem with the books are not expressing our opinion to insult you, hurt you, or ruin your fun. Or even to show how old and out-of-touch we are. On sites for responsible and mature people, people make responsible and mature judgments and share them in a respectful way.

If you can deal with that, and if you can argue your opinions thoughtfully and courteously, then you will always be welcome here. If you want a website where no one is allowed to say anything bad about "Twilight," there are other sites for that. (As I always say, you can find anything you want on the Internet. :-) ) In fact, I believe that's what the Twilight Lexicon site is for, with their manifesto that no one is allowed to say anything about "Twilight" that goes against the administrators' point of view. But this is not a fan site, and you won't find that mentality here.

If that's hard on you, I'm sorry, but it's not going to change. But part of interacting with adults, and becoming an adult, is recognizing that you have the right to stand up for your beliefs, but you do not have the right to make everyone agree with you. If you join book clubs or read book reviews or go anywhere that books are discussed, you'll soon learn that people have different opinions about books, for all different kinds of reasons, and that that's okay. (For instance, when Elizabeth Hand at the "Washington Post" and Jennifer Reese at "Entertainment Weekly" gave "Breaking Dawn" bad reviews, they didn't do it to ruin neat stuff for young people. They did it because their job was to read the book and write honestly what they thought of it. As you probably know, that's how literary criticism works.)

All that is part of the reading experience. If you love a book enough, and you love it for good reasons, then no one can take that away from you.

If you want to argue that the "Twilight" books are good, then argue away, but do it with politeness and without expecting everyone to agree with your opinion just because it's yours. And yes, please make an effort to spell and punctuate correctly, because it makes your writing easier to read, and that too is part of being courteous to your fellow commenters. You appear to be bright kids and I'm sure you can manage it. Thank you.

Steve (SBK)

"your [sic] not gonna change the world by complaining about it"

That's a valid point. Here's another one: Uncritical acceptance of entertainment is going to change you.

"[W]hy are we even argueing [sic] about this? [W]hy, by talking about this, am [I] allowing you guys to ruin the story for me? [T]his is something [I] hope to never do when [I] get old. Ruin neat stuff for young people. [T]hat's soooo not acceptable. What are you trying to do by lectureing [sic] me about this?"

A warning is hardly a lecture. Though it does take two to tango. Can you believe those parents who take away the box of cookies from their toddlers, *after* the toddlers have enjoyed a few? I can't believe they're not letting their kids get obese. But, as we all know, kids can only be hurt physically. Not emotionally or psychologically right? If they could though, I wonder how that might happen?
Anyway, if you find your emotions are getting out of control while discussing these things, be aware, you can choose not to read this site. But, here's the thing: surrounding yourself with 'yes-men' doesn't really help you grow as a person. Working out why you have your own opinions is hardly the makings of stupidity. Quite the contrary. Feelings are not to be trusted, by the way.
As Gina mentioned, don't feel shocked or hurt people disagree with you... they will. Examine the arguments and come to a conclusion. Experience, as you refer to, can be a powerful argument, but you still need to examine yourself and your motivations.

I couldn't even tell if Draven's comment was meant to be ironic. Because, yeah, it's because people are _old_ that they have problems with the "[Da [V]inci [C]ode or the [B]eatles or [H]arry [P]otter". And using the Beatles as a 'defense of the young'? Are all the old people 80? Haha. Anyway, there can't possibly be a reason people (say, Christian people) see things that are worrying that come out of the popular, secular culture.

Annie Gibson

ok ok, Truse. this isn't about twilight anymore. i'm only here because my sister wanted me to say something in the first place. but i can see that i don't need to be here. i'm sorry for calling most of you people old. i was tired, it was around 2 in the morning. thanks draven but i've got other stuff to worry about. i really don't like to argue anyway, it makes me feel bad. So i'm gonna take my leave.

Jennifer

I read Twilight recently becuase many of my daughter's friends are very into it, and while it was a good read, there were some things I found disturbing and that I've only seen touched on once in the comments above. My biggest concern with the novels is that they are a symptom of and fuel for a fascination with evil. I certainly did not see Edward's character as a good guy, but as a seductively bad guy. However, the teenagers who I know have read the book do not see the subtlety of the argument. I believe at some point, the answer is not to slam the books, but to have meaningful conversations with the folks who are enthralled by them so that we have a chance to teach them how to critically evaluate what they are reading not only for entertainment value but for underlying philosophy and intent.

Samuel X

As usual, I feel compelled to reference TV Tropes.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OurVampiresAreDifferent
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Twilight

Key points:
- Vampires are often used as a metaphor for a number of things, STDs being only one of them (some of the others are drug addiction, alcoholism, and denial of aging). However, given the particular focus of the series, which metaphor comes to mind (regardless of the author's intentions) are going to be rather limited.
- If you're going to make your vampires different, please don't make them indestructible, and especially don't make them sparkly.
- Twilight is full of a lot of "unfortunate implications" similar to those previously mentioned. No, I'm not going to copy the list.
- Hey! Other teenagers!

Sara

Re: Edward
I am a middle school teacher. I was surprised to hear my female colleagues speaking of Edward as if they were deeply in love with him. These women are adults and married. If they are this enthralled with Edward, what effect does he have on teen girls?

Girls are getting an unrealistic view of what men are like. Interestingly, in a recent interview with Newsweek, Stephanie Meyer herself essentially admits this. Here are two of the interview questions (from the August 4, 2008 Newsweek Magazine, http://www.newsweek.com/id/148993):

Susan Elgin for Newsweek: "Edward is so perfect--you've ruined regular men for a lot of teens. Do you feel bad?"

Stephanie Meyer: "Oh, a little bit, I guess. I just wanted to write for myself, a fantasy. And that's what Edward is. But is could be a good thing, too. There's nothing wrong with having high expectations, right?"

Susan Elgin for Newsweek: "Has there ever been an Edward in your life?"

Stephanie Meyer: "No, no, I wish. I've had very typical, normal, human relationships my whole life."

Meyer is admitting that she's created a character unlike any man she's ever encountered. What concerns me most is that she makes Edward so appealing, yet he is a vampire, and thus not the best choice of a husband for a teen girl.

Here’s why I haven't yet read the books (though I read a lot of young adult fiction):
I am afraid to read the Twilight series, because I'm afraid I will then expect the man I marry to be as "wonderful" as Edward and be woefully disappointed when he falls short.

I hope someday to write teen novels that will contain realistic characters, so girls will learn how to identify men who aren't good for them, (even though they might be appealing,) and how to choose men with whom they can enjoy healthy relationships.

LeeQuod

Fantastic comments, Sara. I was rather hoping someone would um, err, "bite" on my reference to the Gibson Girl ideal of the early 20th century. That concept of *feminine* perfection resulted in women corseting themselves into health problems, miscarriages, and even death. And of course, men who desire only "the ideal woman" cannot have healthy relationships, any more than can the women who strive to become ideal. (Shame on you, Plato!)

Your description of Edward reminds me of stories of women who fall for the ideal man, only to discover that he has a huge flaw: he gambles to poverty, drinks to stupor, or (metaphorically apropos to a vampire) sleeps around. In such stories if the man says he cannot change, the drama results from the woman confronting how her own desire is destructive to her and enabling to her lover.

But then again, what young person wants to live a life free of drama? When I was young (back in the Pleistocene) the last thing I wanted was a life that was dull. Now, of course, I recognize that "May you live in interesting times" is not an ancient Chinese *blessing*, but an ancient Chinese *curse*.

Gina Dalfonzo

I also appreciate Sara's comment, because Jennifer's theory was intriguing, but I knew that Stephenie Meyer had designed Edward to be a "good guy" -- even though he certainly doesn't look like one if you look at him at all closely! I remembered Meyer saying as much. (And anyway, "subtlety" is not exactly the lady's middle name, if you get my drift.) I just couldn't remember where I'd seen it. So I appreciate the link and the quote.

It does disturb me that so many women and girls have a skewed vision of this man as "perfect" or even "good." How does the Bible verse go? -- I never seem to have time to look anything up these days, but it's something like "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil," isn't it?

JerryH

I find the Sara's comments interesting because after I posted my comments (far above) and let my teenage daughter read them she told me this story:
She had gone to an amusement park with some friends. As one of her friends was riding a roller coaster he heard some teenage girls behind him talking about how wonderful Edward was, etc. Just as the roller coaster was reaching the highest point in the ride, He turn around and said, "Edward isn't real you know." At that moment the roller coaster made a giant plunge. My daughter didn't tell me if the subsequent screams from the girls were from the ride, or from anger and dismay that anyone would question "Edward".

Marisa

Thank you so much for having alot on these books! As a Christian teen girl, Im considered too uptight for not wanting to read these books and have them influence me and its such an encouragement to know im not just being a prude!
Also for any other teens girls who "adore a good love story," i would suggest Francine Rivers, a Christian romance novelist whose books center on being madly in love with someone while striving to have a God-centered relationship.

Libby

I picked up the Twilight books on a whim, as an escape from boring legal texts. I was pleasantly surprised by the storyline and the imagery. However, on my reading of these books several things disturb me.

First – I agree with the conclusion that Edward is not an ideal man. While I can see the author’s attempt to combine several romantic heroes into Edward, it was too overt and not well done. I was sorely disappointed. I truly believe the author wanted Edward to appear as “protective;” I too felt he came across as controlling and dangerous more often than he was sweetly protective.

One of the most jarring realizations came when Edward admits to spying on Bella while she sleeps. I shiver to think of the Dateline Predator episodes outlining sexual predators escalating from the peeping tom stage up to full on sexual assault. It was too close for anyone’s boyfriend to act this way. Alarm bells were ringing in my head; I didn’t understand why they weren’t ringing in Bella’s head.

Second – I felt the entire series was terribly misogynistic. It seems that Bella was destined to be the damsel in distress who was perpetually saved by men. Be it any of the male characters, every one seemed to have the opportunity to “save Bella” to the point of boredom. I was disappointed in this tone. Almost every authority figure is a man. I cannot think of one situation where a woman took a leadership role.

Third – The overt abstinence message wasn’t a huge concern for me. I was, however, terribly concerned about Edward’s presence in Bella’s bedroom. It seemed, to me, that nighttime Edward and Bella were much closer to a twenty-something couple than teenagers, while daytime Edward and Bella were much closer to teenagers. I actually wondered if the author remembered being a teenager. I have a sneaking suspicion that if Bella was truly as self-conscious as she’s portrayed she would not have become involved with Edward Cullen in the first place.

I didn’t like Edward in Bella’s room at night, more because she was completely vulnerable and he was not.

I certainly don’t agree with these books being classified as young adult literature. I suppose the fact that Edward and Bella abstain from sex before marriage the publisher felt it was appropriate. I think that a person need be an adult in order to fully understand and appreciate the situations presented in the book. My fear is that teenagers will continually romanticize these characters without a second thought. In reality mimicking the actions of the characters will put children at risk in a multitude of ways. If a parent is to let a child read these books (that’s up to each parent), then the parent should also make sure the children understand the books are nothing more than FICTION. Emphasizing the part where they tell them fiction is not real. These characters are not role models and should not be idolized as they are.

Ellie

What about Bella's alarming lack of self-worth, her near-worship of her boyfriend as "perfect" and "godlike," and her self-destructive habits whenever he's away from her -- not to mention the way she constantly deceives her parents about him (for instance, having him stay in her room every night without her father's knowledge)? What about her desire to become a vampire like him, despite knowing that the process will involve days of torture, take away her humanity, and stop her heart, and that afterward she might not be able to control her thirst for human blood? (And what about the fact that millions of teenage girls are now eagerly hoping that she makes that very choice?)

I'm sorry but did you even read any of the books, first Edward and the rest of the Cullens are perfect...it says so....plus Bella is lying to her father to keep him safe from DYING! i know i would lie if it ment my dad stayed ALIVE! second he is protective because if he hadnt shown up in her life in Forks she would be dead because a car hit her! second EVIL VAMPIRES ARE AFTER HER! wouldnt you be a little protective? Second she is in love with him and wants to be with him no matter what, he doesnt want that life for her so its not Edwards fault. Bella wants to keep her family and friends and herself safe, if she hadnt made the change the Vultorie would have killed her anyways, knowing that she could become obssed with blood made her happy to be around other vampires who will keep her bloodlust at bay.
I think you didnt read the book enough or as in depth as most of us did. Sorry Truth right here. Lastly everyone knows its FICTION we are not that stupid.
<3, Ellie

Gina Dalfonzo

Ellie, does Bella also lie to her father about having Edward in her room every night to save her father's life? Or because she knows it would be against her father's will? That was the lie I was talking about.

And if I might add a suggestion, don't ever take an author's word for it that a character is perfect just because the book "says so." In fact, if an author is naive enough about human nature (or vampire nature) to tell you that a character is perfect, it's usually a very good sign that the character is NOT perfect. (This principle is also frequently demonstrated in politics.)

Maria S

I have had many amazing conversations with parents and teenagers because of this series. I have had girls authentically open up to me like never before and talk about what a healthy relationships should look like.
The moral of the story...all men are vampires!!!

LeeQuod

Maria S wrote: "The moral of the story...all men are vampires!!!"

Well, I hesitate to ask since I suspect where this may be going, but what do "healthy relationships" look like, then?

Hopefully the last line was just missing a ":-)".

BGT

In a comment posted earlier, Libby wrote, "I certainly don’t agree with these books being classified as young adult literature." Libby, I couldn't sympathize with your comment more. And yet, disturbingly enough, the Twilight books are pretty tame for adolescent literature of late. Although I would not consider myself *old,* spending time with my adolescent niece and the young adults I teach as a college instructor has shown me that the world has certainly changed since I was young. And then again, maybe that isn't true either. Maybe the world (as pictured in adolescent lit) has been this dark and...well, dirty...for years and years. In the not-too-far-distant past, I signed up for a young adult lit course, thinking it would give me lots of things to talk about and books to share with my little niece. What it gave me instead was a veritable heart-attack over the filthiness of what has been passing for YA for the past thirty years or so. References to sexuality--often aberrant sexuality--to violence, and to a host of troubling themes I won't bother listing were at the core of many, many of the books. This conversation about the Twilight books and their disturbing themes is excellent and appropriate. But I wish it wasn’t just about Twilight. The Weetzie Bat series comes to mind. At any rate, those of us who are alarmed about Twilight and are trying to hold conversations with the adolescents in our lives need to be vigilant about all the reading material that makes its way through our kids hands--not just the books that get splashed across TV and magazines.

Joe

I've only read the first two books. My first take on it was that the books portrayed guys very badly. Except for Jacob, Edward and his family, men were generally pretty dumb. So not only do these books set up an impossible standard, but normal guys are dull, dense and only think about hooking up with girls. (some may think this is true, sadly those girls will miss out on meeting really good guys)

The other thing I noticed was that the author had to keep telling through the inner voice of Bella how much in love she was with Edward. This "love" has to be told to the reader over and over again because this love in terms of selfless acts is not shown, at lest not to the level which would justify this supernal love that the reader is told exists.

A girl I know saw the movie and she thought there was no chemistry between the two charactors. Another girl said it was simply because the story is told differently, you had to know what was going on in Bella's mind and that can't be portrayed effectively in a movie format.

When I heard they made a movie I knew they were going to have trouble with this because this highly idealized love in terms of actions wasn't very well demonstrated in the book. Perhaps something to think about when reading this book and other romantic books is define what is true love and selflessness and compare that to what is lust and selfishness. Honestly Look at the way bella treats her friends and family, you'll find Bella's cares mainly about herself and when she looks at Edward there's a lot of physical lust. I'm not saying she shouldn't be attracted to Edward, but you need more than that to have "love".
I think the danger that Gina Dalfonzo warns is that this "lust" that Bella has makes her blind to what would normally be distrubing behaviors by Edward. If girls followed Bella's example of allowing certain behavoirs to pass simply because the guy they are seeing is "perfect" they could end up in a very bad relationship and may never know what real love is like.

Oh and one other thing, I'm a mormon too and I don't agree with some of the messages presented in the book. =)

Nina

I have not read the books or watched the movie. Nor will I ever. I'm sure they're enjoyable, but when making a choice of "what will I read next?" I have a list of good books, sound in Christian doctrine, that will renew my spirit and spark growth in my life. I choose t think, "this may be okay, but what is better?" I pray I and others will choose the better. I've currently chosen to reread Stepping Heavenward, by Elizabeth Prentiss. Eleven years ago today, at age 15, God used this book to win me to Himself. EVERY young woman should read this book--it will change your heart and soul.

Gina Dalfonzo

More proof that I can be pretty slow on the uptake (as if any were needed):

One of the most disturbing elements of the "Twilight" series is imprinting. Meyer's werewolves (teen boys who are also members of the Quileute tribe) "imprint" on girls. Roughly, this means a boy sees a girl and, ZAP, suddenly she's the center of his universe and always will be, and he has absolutely no choice about it. The bad thing about this -- as if the loss of free will weren't bad enough -- is that sometimes it happens with children. One boy imprints on a little girl; another boy imprints on a newborn baby.

Naturally, this has raised accusations of pedophilic themes. Meyer's fans argue that the "imprinting" is not necessarily romantic -- which makes little sense in the context, since it's very much like falling violently in love, and in general the end result is marriage in Meyer's telling -- and anyway the boys can't control it.

Anyhow. In the first case I mentioned, the name of the teenage boy is Quil and the name of the little girl is Claire. I had forgotten, until I heard someone make the connection yesterday, that Clare Quilty is the name of a pedophile in Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita."

Coincidence? I don't suppose Meyer made the connection consciously. But it would be hard to believe that the connection didn't exist somewhere in her subconscious mind. (I can tell you from experience that English majors even at religious schools -- Meyer attended BYU -- get assigned to read "Lolita.")

LeeQuod

Gina, in one of the other threads someone tried to make the point that these books were essentially anti-God. I'm a little slow on the uptake myself, so I didn't realize that the whole concept of "perfect immortals" - or even "the undead", for that matter - goes against the idea that death applies to *all* of nature (groaning as it is for deliverance from the weight of our sin).

So as Dostoyevsky would say with respect to pedophilia, voyeurism and any of the other troubling aspects of these books, "If there is no God, all things are permissible." That's why all the special pleading by fans is logically inconsistent: as SBK, Jason Taylor, labrialumn, Dr. Steve and others have pointed out, you can't say these are "good" books unless you can define what "good" itself is. And without an absolute good - i.e., God - you're talking nonsense to use "good" at all. So to say that these books are moral because the imprinted boy vampires don't have sex with the little girl and baby is to use a moral standard (pedophilia is wrong) and at the same time deny that a moral standard (God) exists.

You and I should really have noticed that "Twilight" is actually a theology text. I need to go drink the blood of some coffee beans...

labrialumn

Imprinting in animals is actually a parent-child thing. Happens with people, too.

I suspect that to adolescent (of any age) female fans, that 'imprinting' probably seems romantic.

I would further guess (not having read the books or seen the movie) that when they imprint on a baby, it takes the form of protection and doting rather than sex.

Stephanie

Everyone, the fact that Edward is a demonic being is enough to give you alarm bells that anything he does cannot be good - first and foremost, he is not Christian, let alone saved! As you may know, everyone has the ability to do good but have it only be a mask for something truly evil. Why else would the devil tempt us with PLEASURES, something that appears to be good? The devil doesn't tempt with evil - he tempts us with PLEASURES and PROMISES of things, and even more powerfully, things that appear good but are actually evil... wouldn't you run from rather than walk towards Satan if he sent a giant snake (vision, or not) after you? What he does is presents beautiful, tantalising visions so that he attracts you to him... to evil!

And Twilight is a beacon of something that is more of a devil's tool than a God-glorifying one. First of all, it is not the Word of God - why be fixated on it? Why bother reading it? And if it isn't a sin - why can't you stop reading/watching it? Why must you read/watch it?

And why would you want to like a character who is not a role-model worthy person? Like I said, Edward is a demonic being and if you don't wish to classify these fictional 'vampires' as something then see him as something that he is not - a Christian. He does not see the Lord as Saviour or Lord. How can any of his actions be any good when he lacks the one and only thing that can make people righteous, that is, having faith in the Lord. People who do just good deeds are not admitted by God to Heaven; but believers are, no matter how new you are. It truly saddens me that 'Christians' are finding Twilight acceptable. It is clear, it is not!

Here are some questions to ask and answer yourself, truthfully. How much do you love God? How often do you think of Him? And how often do you justify Him? Is it more than how much you love/think of/justify the Twilight Series, in particularly, Edward? Because if it is, it's time to invest your energies into something eternal - your obedience to God, for one. I really don't understand why Christians have to make grey areas in what is good or bad - it is clear, is it not? If things take you away or diverts your growth with God, then it is bad(even being passive is a sin). One last question - how has Twilight helped you with your journey to God?

By encouraging abstinence? You don't have to be a Christian to follow that. Has Twilight helped you see God in a new refreshing way, or have you seriously fallen into a trap of the devil? And let me tell you, it's hard to escape from. Please talk to your local pastor or a Christian who you trust to help you through this. Feel free to email me as you wish. I feel so passionately in my argument that Twilight is a un-Christ-like book and should not be read, at all, especially by those who are Christians.

For us to be Christians, it is not just about believing in the faith concept of salvation, but also the obeying faith where we are continually trustingly obedient to the Lord and continually want to rebuke what is evil and follow the only true goodness in all things that are created - Jesus Christ. Being Christian is not only about our justification, but our sanctification - us being made holy and more like God. That means we must guard our hearts, minds, souls from all things dangerous. Why take the chance of exposing yourself to something evil if you are truly following God? God can give you so much more than any series, film or product of imagination or of this world. He already has - He gave you eternal life.

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