Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Twilight: Redux

Hey guys! I know I haven't been around much. Between Grad School and work, I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I really look forward to the weekend. I'm going to do my best to drop a new post. Until then, enjoy one of my favorite posts from last year: "The Twilight Saga...or Why I Would Rather Watch Paint Dry..."

As an English teacher, I often let my students voice their opinions. We don't always necessarily talk about the literary canon; sometimes, we will take a day and chat about what they like or what they dislike. This can often help them with their writing. I've told this story before, but one of these conversations led to why I wouldn't let them read Harry Potter in my class. Well, I told them, the Harry Potter series was British Literature, and I taught American Literature. When they became seniors (I teach World Literature to the seniors), they had me over a barrel. Why couldn't they read Harry Potter? I responded that it wasn't part of the literary canon, and not enough had been written about it to make it a credible work, not to mention, it was below grade level-all of which was true.

harry potter saga apr-jun 2009

They asked had I read it. I reluctantly responded that I had not. To which, they mockingly asked, how could I call a book not good (which I didn't say) if I hadn't read it. They had me there. So, I set out to read the Harry Potter to appease my students. I absolutely loved them. I loved the characters, the plot, the relationships (although I still think Hermione should have married Harry, and Ron should have been zapped in a valiant effort in the final book), and the writing with the exception of The Order of the Phoenix which almost made me stop reading the series. I'm glad I didn't because the last two novels were awesome.

I tell that story to come to this. Two years later, I was telling my seniors that I was dropping one of the works from our list, and I was working on adding something else in its place. One of the girls volunteered Twilight. I told them that I had never heard of it. They told me it was awesome, as good as Harry Potter. Since I loved Harry Potter, I thought I would give Twilight a fighting chance. So, I ordered all 4 books. I had some bonus points from my book club; it worked out to about $1 per book. They arrived a week before Christmas vacation. I started reading the books.

Twilight Collection
“Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people. … The real difference is that [Harry Potter author] Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and [Twilight author] Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”― Stephen King
I think I'm going to have to agree with Stephen King. Stephen King, like I am now, was once an English teacher. We are taught to look for what is considered "good literature." That does not mean, however, that I like every thing I read for class or for pleasure (I pretty much avoid Herman Melville and the Bronte sisters...shiver). Unfortunately, the "reading for work" side of me often ruins the "reading for simple pleasure" me. As you know from reading my blog, I love Stephen King, but even he will crank out a stinker (From a Buick 8 comes to mind).

Anne Rice said in an interview with the New Jersey Star Ledger, "It’s based on a really silly premise: that immortals would go to high school. It’s a failure of imagination, but at the same time, that silly premise has provided Stephenie Meyer with huge success. The idea that if you are immortal you would go to high school instead of Katmandu or Paris or Venice, it’s the vampire dumbed down for kids. But it’s worked. It’s successful. It makes kids really happy." I like Anne Rice, too. I loved her Mayfair Witches series, and I loved the Vampire Chronicles with the exception of The Tale of the Body Thief. Yeah, I didn't like that one.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge once said, "[The] willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith." This is the idea for that while you are reading a work you actually believe it could actually happen. It's the idea that the writer makes you believe it's real. Let's just say, that did not quite happen with Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. I read all 4 of those novels. Like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, I didn't like them. Here are the 10 reasons why...

#10-Edward was born in 1901 and is over 100 years old. Bella is a teenager. I can't be the only person who thinks that's a bit pedophilic. (P.S. Why are you Team Edward or Team Jacob, if you have read the book and knows how it ends?)

Edward Cullen <3

#9-Speaking of Edward and his "family," Forks, Washington? I mean, I know there is a lot of overcast, but really, Forks, Washington? No offense to Forks, but dang, Stoker was in England, Rice was in New Orleans and Europe. Why wouldn't you set up shop in some cool place, like the Volturi. Washington State? Well, it does match Bella's personality...

#8-Why would you still be in high school if you are a vampire? You couldn't get into college? You couldn't pass the SAT? Nah, it's cause you are lame.

#7-You are "vegetarian vampires" who don't eat people because it's not right. Wait, what? You are at the top of the freaking food chain, and I don't know, doing in bad guys maybe like say Dexter would be more plausible. Eating deer...lame.

#6-Bella's gift in Breaking Dawn-a mental shield that protects everyone like a rubber band stretching out to protect those she loves when they are attacked by the Volturi. Bella is a newborn vampire. She wouldn't be strong enough in that short of time to defeat these significantly elder vampires. Plus, It's horror, and no one "important" dies, unless you count Bella.

#5-Vampire Sex. This may be one of the only times I mention sex in this blog, but vampires are supposedly dead which means the only blood they have is when they extract it from humans. It takes blood in order for the penis to...you know...work. Plus as a dead person, he would not have any viable sperm because he is dead. Not only that, Meyers says that they have "venom" instead of bodily fluids. Once again, how did she get pregnant?

#4-This weird bi-species baby-Renesmee. The name along is horrible. Then, the baby is perfect. Really? No weird side effects mixing human DNA with that weird "venom" DNA? She grows from baby to like she is almost 3-5 year old within weeks? Did I mention she is "beautiful?" Even as she almost killed her mother during the short pregnancy? Even as she all but ate her way out of her mother? Please...

#3-I can't be the only one who found it weird that Jacob imprints (another way of saying he found his life mate) on...the baby. Really? That is just all kinds of creepy (and trust me, I've read a lot of creepy). There is no way I would be cool (even if it does bring about a truce) with a person my age imprinting on my baby, even if my baby would look like a teenager by the time she is actually 7. See, it just doesn't...never mind.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon / Jacob & Bella

#2-The sparkling vampire. Seriously, what are they disco balls? They are suppose to be killing machines. Would you seriously take a vampire who "sparkles" seriously? Even as I'm being slaughtered I would be to busy laughing at the fact that the vampire looked like one Elton John's stage jackets, and he drives a Volvo. No offense, because I actually like Volvos, but I'm 37, but Volvo is something moms or 40 somethings drive. Vampires, no...then again Edward is like 100 so...

#1-The number one reason I don't like Twilight-Bella Swan, herself. OMG!!! She will go down as quite frankly one the most annoying characters I have ever read. Surprise, surprise...she has no friends. Who wants to be friends with the mopey, self-important, low-self esteem, Victorian literature reading "know-it-all"? She meets the one "teenage" guy who wants to wait to have sex with her. Except he's not a teenage. He's a "vampire." Her sarcasm seems forced. Her jokes are lame, and she completely screws over Jacob. Completely!!!! She whines and mopes the entire series. Then, they went and cast Kristen Stewart as Bella. This didn't help. Sorry, Kristen, but you have the screen personality of firewood. I didn't really like her in Panic Room, and I didn't like her in The Messengers. She just doesn't sell her characters well. She looks like she is asleep with her eyes open. She even bores me in the commercials.

Bella Swan Wallpaper

Look, I don't believe in vampires. I don't believe in witches, but when I read books about them, I want the writer to make me want to have "a willing suspension of disbelief." After reading all 4 novels, I can't say that. I admit Stephenie Meyers completed 4 novels that teenage girls, and some oddly zealous adult women love. I've never written a novel. I give her credit for that. If I were 12, I might have enjoyed it more, but alas, no. Unlike Harry Potter, who grew as the series reached it conclusion, Bella just annoyed me, and the ending annoyed me. As soon as I finished with the set, I gave them to a friends teenage daughter who loved the series. I still have not seen, nor do I want to, any of the movies.

Fans of the series have been, of course, bashing critics who bashed the first movie of the completion of the saga. They call them haters who haven't read the book. They say that the movies are faithful to the books, but the books are cheesy; therefore, the movies are cheesy. I like cheese as much as the next person, and If you like Twilight, enjoy it. I didn't, and just like you love it, they have a right to dislike it. Trust me kids, in a couple of years you will understand. Twilight is the Justin Beiber of literature. You will look back fondly, like I do when I listen to New Kids on the Block, but you will realize it's just canned cheese.

Until next time, “I am not young enough to know everything.”― Oscar Wilde

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