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Friday, 11 January 2013

Twilight and Stevie Nicks's statement

Stevie Nicks, a celebrity whose name I have no recollection of and whose face I don't recognise, has just made this outrageous statement:
"[Twilight]'s a huge love story... I was just saying to the last [journalist], it's like Wuthering Heights, it's that kind of story... it's like Jane Eyre... it's a totally timeless kind of story that we can relate to."
You can read the full story here.

The Twilight series does have an interesting idea- a dangerous love between a human girl and a male vampire who has to resist eating her. Oh and a werewolf, who can also attack her to pieces.
But the fact is, Twilight sucks:

- Poor writing.
You can read this article

- Bella has no personality of her own. Likening her to Jane Eyre is irrelevant, because Jane Eyre may look plain but in no sense has a flat personality. Multi-sided and self-contradicting, she's plain-looking, tolerant, quiet but introspective, realistic, thoughtful and very passionate and artistic. She conforms to social conventions and Christian morals but has a mind of her own, and, as we can see when she leaves Mr Rochester for example, she's in fact strong and independent. Catherine Earnshaw is, obviously, even more complicated. As Nelly says, growing up with Heathcliff and knowing the Lintons leads her "to adopt a double character without exactly intending to deceive anyone". Focusing on her relationships with Edgar Linton and Heathcliff is the best way of describing and analysing her 2 sides: going with the Lintons she can be a real lady, graceful and elegant, being with Heathcliff she comes back to who she is- savage, wild, coarse, vulgar, mischievous. Of course, Catherine Earnshaw is by no means a nice person, especially to be with, but in literature I have a fascination with colourful, complex characters such as her, Erika Kohut, Scarlett O'Hara, etc.
Here, Bella may be described as clumsy, one can also say she's quiet, shy and insecure, but it's also the way teenage girls often think and feel about themselves, which explains the appeal and popularity of this series, for teenage girls can easily imagine themselves as Bella and imagine a 'beautiful' love story with a guy like Edward. Other than that she doesn't have any particular trait, I can't find any adjective for her.
"Bella’s lack of introspection is also curious. She’s supposed to be so bright and somewhat philosophical, but she never seems to turn any kind of critical insight into her own behaviors. Why is she uninterested in making friends? Why doesn’t she have any interest in the boys? Why doesn’t she have any real passions or desires in life? I don’t expect those questions to all be answered already, if at all, but the way the supposedly brilliant and insightful Bella trudges obliviously through the intellectual and psychological aspects of life is odd. Most bright teens and young adults I’ve known have been fairly consumed with those types of issues, especially when they were bored with their professional/personal lives and needed something more existential to speculate upon." (source)

- It's not clear why Edward falls in love with Bella. Not clear, either, why Jacob loves her. It must be added that Edward and Jacob are not the only ones interested in Bella- there are several other guys. Do you find anything likeable about her? I don't. To me the characterisation of Bella is no more than Stephenie Meyer's fantasy. 
"Bella is a normal girl (albeit with “special smelling blood”) who has the two hottest male characters in the book fighting over her for no apparent reason. Wait, let me recant that. She’s not normal, she’s boring. Not only is she a boring person, she has a horrible, depressive, suicidal, fickle, insecure, narcissistic personality that any real man in the real world would look at and tell both Edward and Jacob “don’t stick your d**k in crazy”. She has absolutely zero redeeming characteristics to make her a likeable person that is in any way deserving of any of the special treatment she is given.
What’s worst though, is that despite being a purple prose (another term I’ll define in English-techniques later on; Google it if you don’t know) infested text, there is a suspicious lack of description regarding Bella – the main character. Want to know why? Because Bella is not a real character – she’s an insertion of Stephanie Meyer’s own personality and is her own pathetic little “John Everyman” for insecure girls. She is basically a gaping white blank in the world of her writing so that any other teenage girl with the same insecurities and personality flaws can just insert themselves into Bella’s place and fantasise about being popular and special for no reason at all. And I can’t stress enough how much this series is focused on this “love triangle” – she even butchered the concept of vampires to “emphasise” how good looking Edward was so that it would be all the more desirable for any girl who inserted herself into Bella’s shoes." (source)

- Edward may appear more interesting than Bella, but mostly because of the fact that he's a vampire, and because of his abilities. Stephenie Meyer does create something original by writing a love story between a vampire and a human, and slightly changing the image of vampires, but the Twilight series, albeit popular, is mediocre partly because the main characters lack the texture and idiosyncrasies of actual people. I find it preposterous that Edward is compared to Mr Rochester and Heathcliff because he has a dark side. His dark side is his being a vampire, whereas the dark side of the other 2 men is in personality. Mr Rochester is unfriendly, stern, grumpy, intimidating... Heathcliff is dark, tortured, savage, aggressive, violent, obsessive, brutal... I'm certainly aware that these descriptions sound pretty negative and not very likeable- to understand why they're loved or what's special about them at all one needs to analyse in depth, but all I want to say is, the characterisation of Edward is remarkably superficial compared to those of Mr Rochester and Heathcliff. Edward's characteristics and abilities as a vampire can be attractive to Bella, but I can't see why she has to give up a beautiful, meaningful human life to choose a monotonous immortal life, to become a vampire and to be with him.
Moreover, concerning the dark side, as Mr Rochester's self unfolds and Jane Eyre feels how he feels, she sympathises with him and understands him and accepts him, and Catherine loves Heathcliff because they share the same meanness, passion and wildness, the love in both cases comes along with an acceptance of the dark side due to understanding, whereas in Twilight, Edward's dark side is, after a while, no longer a problem simply because Bella becomes a vampire herself. 

- Like Edward, Jacob also lacks a personality. If I understand correctly, Edward and Jacob are supposed to be opposite, or at least I can see that Edward the vampire is cold and Jacob the werewolf is hot. Strip down all those unusual qualities and powers associated with their types, they're pretty much the same- both love Bella, both can be protective/ possessive and jealous and both are boring.

- I don't see how Bella's feelings for Edward and Jacob differ. Which makes any comparison between this series and Wuthering Heights more ridiculous. 

- "Edward Cullen and his family were just boring. They have super speed and strength and such, and some of them have some mild psychic powers, but all the gothic, mythological coolness of vampires has been entirely jettisoned. They don’t do anything you could describe as “magical.” They’re just like anyone else, except they drink blood (from anything, not just humans), don’t sleep, and are super strong, and live forever. They don’t have specially powerful brains, they can’t mesmerize people, they aren’t vulnerable to the sun, they can’t transform, they have no powers over animals, etc. None of the traditional elements are retained. No sleeping in coffins, no fear of crosses or garlic, nothing. It’s reasonable for an author to update elements of traditional mythology, but in this case 1) the changes make them boring and pedestrian, and 2) the changes seem transparently intended to make the vampires more appealing to girls who don’t like horror movies or gory/gothic stuff." (source)

- "Another issue that’s never addressed is Edward’s sexuality. He was 17 years old when he “died” so he’s 17 forever. Isn’t he horny? Is horny even possible? There’s one brief bit in book one when Bella asks about vampire sex, and Edward says they do it much as humans do. But how? Why? There’s never any indication of sexual lust with their attacks on humans; it’s just about feeding their blood need.
Furthermore, the vampires in this mythology have no pulse and don’t need to breathe. They just do it out of habit, and because they need to breath to use their sense of smell. So if their hearts aren’t beating, then how do they function? An organism has to have some means of moving nutrients from the stomach (or wherever the blood is digested) throughout the body. That’s what hearts are for; they pump blood which carries oxygen and other essentials from the functional organs out to the extremities. The vamps don’t need oxygen, since they don’t need to breathe, so how do they heal, if they don’t have blood or some sort of circulatory fluid?
Leaving that aside, if they don’t have pumping hearts then they don’t have blood circulation. So speaking just on the physical question; how can a male vampire get an erection? Erections (page very NSFW) are caused by blood flowing into the corpora cavernosa and being held there by a muscular contraction. How can a vampire do that, if there’s no blood flow, or blood to flow?
Physical issues aside, what about emotional? Do vampires, M or F, get horny? They still seem to engage in heterosexual pair bonding, but is that just a habit, is it purely intellectual/emotional, or is there sexuality involved as well? Edward has said no sex with Bella since he might lose control in his excitement and accidentally kill her, but for all we know that’s just an excuse. He certainly never seems to be horny, she never notices anything poking at her when they’re doing their long embraces on her bed, or she’s sitting in his lap, or they’re making out.
Also, is he a virgin? He probably got some before he died of TB at age 17, in the early 1900s. But there’s no indication he’s ever had sex since. He’s never been interested in a human female, the females in his vampire family are sister-like or “involved” with other male vampires, and there’s very little socialization between vampires, so I can’t see him having dated.
It would be funny and a great plot twist if Meyer actually had followed the vampire physiologically issues through to their logical conclusion, determined that no, they can’t get erections. Then constructed Edward’s, “I might kill you by accident.” excuse as just that. An excuse. He’s actually incapable of using his penis for anything other than urination, and he has no sexual urges at all, which is why he’s so content just holding and lying next to Bella, why he never has any interest in seeing her naked or caressing her body, etc.
I’d find it incredibly funny if all of his impossibly non-intrusive behaviors — never pushing for sex, never trying to feel her up, never exposing himself to her, etc — all those actions (and non-actions) that make him such a safe and wonderful crush for the 14 y/o girls this is written for, weren’t just signs of his control and patience, but were physical symptoms of his total asexuality.
I’m sure that won’t be the case, and finally in book 4 when he’s given Bella her ultimate wish and she’s a vampire too and they’re married and together forever and blissfully happy, they’ll retire to the best sex imaginable. (Which will take place entirely off screen.) But imagine the reactions of readers if physical reality intruded, and once Bella was a vampire she found that she had no physical desire but the urge to drink blood, and realized that all those kisses Edward planted on her were entirely for her benefit, and that they meant nothing to him, and that in his condition he’s got no more desire to fuck her than to eat a blueberry muffin. Even if he could get his dick hard. Which he can’t. Since lacks a functional circulatory system. I would give book 4 a 10 if Meyer did that, no matter how bad the rest of the series is." (source)

- While the Harry Potter series can't be called literature either, comparing Twilight to Harry Potter is still an insult, because of 3 main reasons: a, Harry Potter has a complex plot where all details perfectly fit together throughout 7 books, b, Harry Potter characters have distinct personalities and the characterisation there isn't as flat and mediocre as in Twilight and c, Harry Potter has lots of themes and meanings whereas Twilight is pointless. 
Somewhere at some point somebody on the internet wrote: "Harry Potter is all about confronting fears, finding inner strength, and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend." 
What, after all, is Twilight about? Does Bella become mature and more thoughtful, or change, as the story progresses? Does she find her identity and achieve self-understanding? Does she have any goal, or desire in life? Does she stand up against conventions, traditions, conformity, rules...? Does she do something for herself or anybody? Is she a heroine? Is she sensitive, deep and insightful? Does she have to make important choices in life?  Does she do something great and significant? Etc. Etc. 1 of the criticisms against the Twilight series, especially the last book Breaking dawn, is that everybody gets everything they want and nobody sacrifices anything. But most importantly, Bella, as a protagonist, doesn't really do anything. She doesn't really think anything. She doesn't even say no like Elizabeth Bennet (though I so far don't like Pride and prejudice). Bella just passively exists. In the sense that she passes through life without a purpose, she's similar to the female characters in The great Gatsby. 

Having carefully thought about it I can't see what after all Twilight is about. Suppose the future generations ask us this question, what are you going to say? An average girl who has nothing special concerning appearance, intelligence, talent and personality falls in love with vampire and gets trapped in a love triangle with a vampire and a werewolf and chooses the vampire and marries him and has a child with him and in the end also turns into a vampire and they live happily ever after. What's the point? But well, I don't think we have to ponder over this question because this series will not stand the test of time and will be forgotten soon, and the future generations won't bother us. 

- I repeat 1 more time that I think Twilight starts with an interesting idea. People love a beautiful love story, so do I. But Twilight can, in my opinion, have 2 other different endings. 1, the romance ends in some way, perhaps Edward goes somewhere, perhaps Bella goes somewhere, perhaps Bella dies. 2, Bella still turns into a vampire, but, whilst they are immortal, their love may not be everlasting. Put it this way, in Wuthering Heights, Catherine says, "My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees — my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath — a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff — he's always, always in my mind — not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself — but as my own being — so, don't talk of our separation again — it is impracticable." Catherine- Heathcliff love is fiery and self-destructive but strong and passionate and 'eternal' because they are the same, Catherine is Heathcliff and Heathcliff is Catherine, which is not the case for Bella and Edward, where change is possible. What may happen is, they don't live happily ever after, but, having lived with each other for a while and known everything about each other, they no longer find anything exciting, and at some point, after turning into a vampire Bella falls in love with a human. Since it's better to make it a bit tragic (aren't beautiful love stories often tragic?), this love is unrequited- this guy enjoys life as it is, joie de vivre, and has no intention of becoming immortal. Heartbroken, tormented and full of regret, Bella realises the pointlessness of immortality, realises she has made a wrong decision but can't do anything about it. Etc. Etc. (I suggest watching the film Meet Joe Black). The completeness of the love story between Edward and Bella, the happy ending and most of all, the fact that Bella turns into a vampire, make up the main flaw of the Twilight series, since the whole story becomes pointless and meaningless. 

- At the end of the series, Bella officially turns into Mary Sue: 
"The ending state argues heavily on the Mary Sue camp, as well, when it comes to Bella Swan. As the book ends: she’s gorgeous, in total control of her bloodlust urges, deliriously happy in love, has great sex (off screen, always), is richer than can be imagined, has the most perfectly beloved baby on earth (literally), has a great vampire family, still has her human family, has an extended werewolf family, has resolved everything with her werewolf best friend Jacob, and has developed the strongest defensive power any vampire has ever possessed. And none of her friends or family ever died or were even seriously hurt.(source

- Finally, the appeal of Twilight is sort of explained here: 
"The fact that these books have such a huge following is of sociological interest. They’re essentially porn for lovelorn and immature females. Not that there’s explicit sex in them (that would ruin them for the target audience), but they are structured like porn. Well, more like those softcore porns they used to show at 3am on Cinemax. “Skinemax” type films are very poorly made, the characters are stupid, the dialogue is awful, the plot is almost non-existent, but guys (esp teens who don’t know from real sex yet) will keep watching then so long as there are hot girls who will eventually get naked. All the crap in between the money scenes is tolerable so long as the hot girl is there, being hot, with the promise of eventual bare titties.
Anyone objective, such as a viewer who isn’t motivated by their horniness for the hot girl, finds those films unwatchably bad. Which they are. But for the target audience, that’s irrelevant since the girl is hot and eventually there will be nudity and semi-sexual content. I remember sitting through absolutely awful Skinemax type movies when I was 11 or 12, and not noticing a second of the crappiness since there was going to be something that, to my pubescent libido, resembled sex.
The Twilight novels fill that same sort of void in the hearts (and loins?) of girls. And some women. I’m not sure quite how the analogy works for adults; grown men (these days, at least) won’t subject themselves to that sort of PG-13 Skinemax, since it’s not titillating enough for their mature libidos. They’ve had sex and seen porn, so the watered down version isn’t tolerable. Not that porn is any better, and in fact it’s a lot worse in terms of acting, plot, etc. But most men only watch porn for a few minutes at a time (if you know what I mean). Most women don’t read Twilight for a few minutes at a time. Most women don’t read it at all. I’m not saying that adult females who read the Twilight novels are all emotionally stunted and thus still susceptible to the most blatant sort of emotional porn, but clearly such women are more likely to be taken in by this series’ tawdry blandishments than more mature, emotionally stable females." 
The full entry is here

- Bonus: Roger Ebert's discussion on Twilight

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