Twilight: Questions and Concerns

Okay, so last weekend, Hassan and I went to see Twilight.  We’d already seen High School Mtwilight-picusical 3, so we didn’t really have any choice.

Wait, no, I need to start earlier.  This past summer at the life-changing, high-altitude Taos Toolbox writing workshop, Kelly Link (amazing writer and mindblowing instructor) provided a fascinating, detailed description of the “sparkly vampire” genre. And it made me think, “OMG, I have got to go check out this sparkly vampire stuff!” So I went out and read Twilight.

In retrospect, I should have realized that Kelly Link’s description of a thing is very likely to be far more interesting than said thing itself.

For those of you unfamiliar with the plot (of both movie and book), the short version is below the fold.  Spoilers abound, if such a thing is possible.

Bella is an ordinary angsty teenage girl who has to move to the cloudy town of Forks to live with her father.  Sitting in the high school cafeteria, she can’t help but notice Edward, a pallid, muscular boy who’s the hottest thing she’s ever seen.  (Many pages are, in fact devoted to how hot Edward is.) At first Edward seems to hate her, but then they have witty repartee while looking at cellular slides in biology class, and then he stops a car from hitting her, and then he saves her from being raped (because that’s how you can tell a male character is heroic). 

Smart Bella figures out that Edward must be a vampire, and Edward makes some true confessions: he is not only a vampire, he’s telepathic, and in the sunlight, he sparkles.  It’s actually very tragic, the sparkling.  Also, Bella smells very good to him, like a hot dog you just have to eat, and that’s why he’s been avoiding her.  They start dating, despite the century gap in age, the hot-dog concern, and the many other dangers of mixed living-undead relationships.

The whole thing is very retro, and not in a fun, steampunk way.  Didn’t Buffy the Vampire Slayer slay the helpless teenage girl trope?  And what is up with the whole I-must-resist-sucking-your-blood as a metaphor for the importance of teen abstinence? 

My questions and concerns abound, but one rises above all the rest.  Edward and his family are all decades old, and here they are attending high school.  At one point, in both the movie and book, Edward casually explains that when they move to a new place, they start out pretending to be as young as possible, because that way they can stay longer.  Hence, they have a collection of dozens of graduation hats.

So basically these vampires spend their immortal lives going to high school again and again.  Huh?   Has Stephenie Meyer ever been to high school?  Because anyone who has ever been to high school would know that it is not something that any sane person would willingly repeat for any reason.  Maybe she was home-schooled.  Speaking of which, that would be a much better option if you are immortal and need to pose as a teenager.

A minor point, perhaps, but, really, the whole immortals-repeating-high-school thing was the most speculative element of the story.  Even the tragic sparkling had more credibility.

If you do go see Twilight, I strongly suggest reading “Ten Things You Should Know About Twilight” at Fantasy Magazine, to properly prepare yourself for the experience.

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9 thoughts on “Twilight: Questions and Concerns

  1. I’m suddenly interested in seeing you write a sparkly vampire story that puts the genre together in the way you imagined it, rather than the way it is in real life.

  2. Margaret is MAD MAD MAD on Twilight. So I can’t deny old Steph knows her market.

    By the way, did you blog the Taos experience and I missed it? I’d love to know more.

  3. She definitely knows her target market, and I actually think the book has some moments that are entertaining and even original – especially the stuff where Bella interacts with Edward’s family, e.g., I love that she is more nervous about being accepted by her bf’s parents than she is about meeting a coven of vampires.

    The Taos Toolbox experience pre-dates the existence of Bread & Magic, but perhaps some day I’ll write a post or two about it. Maybe when Walter posts the call for applications for next year, I’ll do some pimping.

  4. Perhaps you could be a “good” sparkly vampire since you eat only chickens. Only you wouldn’t have to bother with the cooking any more.

    My daughter has some rabid-Meyer friends, though she turned a very cold shoulder (so to speak) to the movie.

    You didn’t tell me that you started a blog!

  5. Yes, many Meyer-fans I know were not very happy with the movie.

    I’ve been oddly bashful about announcing my entry into the blogosphere, but I’m glad you found me anyway, Marly!

  6. I comletely respect your point of view, but I think that twilight is a completely orginal and cool idea, which has encoraged many young teen girls to read instead of hang about texting or watching TV. I personaly loved the film and have seen it a grand total of 7 times and I love it. My daughter, Trixie is obsessed with the books and after much badgering got me to read the first one and I loved it! And last but not least, and I mean no offense with this but seeing as you watched High School Musical 3 and liked it, I judge that you have no taste what so ever in films or books so don’t say that thing are confussing in films that people with an IQ over 70 will understand.

  7. Twilight has got teens and tweens today obsessed with vampires, I think this may encourage self harm, the film was terrible and I want to know what at all is appealing about these books. They are overated and stupid and people should not be reading/watching twilight as it is a bad influence. The film is confusing and annoying to say the least. What is all the hyp about? You are right to say that its completely un-realistic. I hope the obsession dies down soon.

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