Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Twilight 'Controversy'

Usually tuesdays are my 'Book Review' days but with the first installment of Breaking Dawn in theaters and all the people dishing or loving it, I just have to get it out of my chest.

First, I'll tell you where I stand. I loved the books. I mean, REALLY loved them; though I have to say the baby stuff was a stretch. Breaking Dawn was my least favorite book for a bunch of reasons, but that is fodder for another post. I'm not talking about the literary quality of any of them, I'm talking about pure entertaining value. I'm no scholar up on my tower, but a reader who wants to be transported to another world while I read. There's no secret recipe that will ensure that a certain book and a reader will click; it either happens or it doesn't. It happened for me with these books in a way I hadn't experience for a long time.

How about the movies, you wonder? Well, I hate them. I'm sorry guys, but the actors are painful to watch! And I like Robert Pattinson, he seems like quite a personable guy. Taylor Lautner is even more charismatic, and the only one who has the slightest idea of what an acting range is; however, I don't think they portray adequately the characters that I grew to love in the books. That and the fact that Kristen Stuart portrays Bella like such a lackluster girl with chronic constipation. Augh.

But I do understand how millions of young, impressionable teenagers were swept away by the fantasy of an all-powerful hero who falls head over heels for a simple, normal girl, just like them. That's the kind of romanticism that comes with the territory. I also know they'll grow out of it and will remember the characters as a precious memento of their youth.

Now, with that said; all that people talking about how the books and movies promote getting married, or getting pregnant, too young are driving me crazy. Seriously? You might as well just say they promote marrying vampires and condemning your soul.

Get real, people. There are books written as a mean to exert people to do or change certain things, they're called "Inspirational books" and most certainly do not involve either werewolves or vampires in any state of undress. Sparkly or not.

Fiction has never had the goal of inspire or influence the actions of the readers, simply entertain them. Harry Potter isn't advocating for any form of wizardry, as Romeo and Juliet isn't a vehicle to entice young lovers to suicide, so just stop the bulls**t.

If you hate the movie, own it. Say it's stupid, unrealistic, antifeminist, that destroys the horror value of the vampire; or say that the books are poorly written, that they have no character evolution nor believable characters, that they have no ultimate message or meaning. Don't get on top of your soap box and turn it into a moral issue. And even if all those things above are true, that's the beauty of art; even crappy art is personal. Just because you and I don't think the movies are worth a hoot doesn't mean there has to be any kind of message in them. They're but movies, don't go on a hate binge merely 'cause they're popular.


Anonymous said...

I have yet to still through even one of the movies, so I totally understand where you're coming from.

Gina said...

Your preaching to the chorus, sister! Thanks for commenting, Ro.

NCM said...

Truth be told, I have to disagree about the HP bit. It does have moral in it... might not be conventional in the way it's presented, but it depicts young children growing in a darkening world and actually overcoming the pressure, of fighting for what they believe in rather than sitting back and letting it happen. That's meaning, that's... something. I will say, I enjoyed the first Twilight (the book, screw the movies). I really did. And then it just went to shit, in my opinion.

Jesse said...

Have to disagree, NCM -- HP had no moral, conventional or otherwise. It had a theme, but themes are not morals. What you're describing is the theme of the HP books.

And I totally and completely agree with your assessment of the books. Stephenie Meyer touched a chord in all of us who love the books -- and I love all of them equally, especially Breaking Dawn. The metaphor of vamp and were to represent the alienation and not fitting in of high school life, of being different even among those who are different. Too many -- hear me, Stephen King? -- miss that part of the story. It was not a vampire or werewolf series. It was a YA romance series where the characters just happened to be weres and vamps.

No, Stephenie Meyer is not Anne McCaffrey or Ayn Rand. But these were her first books and she made a newbie author's mistakes. But she also wrote a series that struck a chord with more than just young adult females. She done good.

Gina said...

Thanks for commenting NCM. I think you're right about HP having a positive message; it does indeed, and a very strong one at that. My point really is that it is nice to have positive messages in a book, but I assure you J.K. wasn't expecting kids to become better as they finished the books. She just wrote a strong character which problems made him more realistic and sympathetic. The aim of the book isn't personal betterment.

Now, as a mom, of course I'd love my kids to read more books with positive characters as oppose to plain entertainment, but not because I fear the effect of the book, just because it'll feed their soul.

Thanks for participating, too, Jesse!

Christopher Godsoe said...

I feel compelled to.disagree. I think even the most entertaining stories should (and usually do) contain a moral.

Twilight? I feel like the overarching moral is that true love can overcome all obstacles, though there are certainly other themes involved.

Often the determing factor in whether or not the reader spots the moral is if they see the value kneal that message, or even if they agree with it.

Stephen King obviously didn't agree that Stephanie Meyer did a good enough job of conveying that message, or he thought that other parts of the story overshadowed this message. Personally, I think he probably just thought that Stephanie just rode the damsel in distress routine further than he thought appropriate. He's entitled to his opinion as much as any of us, but it is just that-an opinion.

A story that doesn't try to convey a moral or a central theme is a pretty hollow animal, and a failure of the writer. Even if the moral is only to encourage the reader to seek their own answers in life, it relays something meaningful. Again, you don't have to beat the reader over the head with it, but it should be there.

Harlow Coban said...

Hi Gina, I'm so glad you've said what I've been thinking. I think Kristen Stewart is terrible as Bella. She's such a tomboy. Is her portrayal of Bella accurate with the books? An aside, I saw the movie. It was entertaining. I liked it.

Gina said...


I do believe that everything in life can carry a meaning if you're willing to look for it. So, yeah, everyone is able to get from a book a certain message. It usually is the part of the story that resonates with you, but the fact that I can find sadness in a Goya painting, doesn't mean I should presume that's exactly what the painter was trying to convey.

The thing with art (books, paintings, photograph, movies) is that it is kaleidoscopic. Depending on the angle from where you look, it appears to have a different color; so nobody should think they were the ones who truly and fully understood the ultimate message the 'artist' was trying to express. Don't you think?

Gina said...

Hi Harlow!

Based on my connection with the book, I read Bella as a much stronger girl that what Kristen Stuart is portraying. I might be wrong here, since most people perceive the character as a damsel in distress, but then again, reading is personal ride, right? I thought of her as a strong girl who knew what she wanted (be a vampire) and her debility came from her love to Edward and conflicting emotions to Jacob.

I enjoyed the books so much, that my time reading them seemed too short and for that reason, I chose to watch the movies. I knew they wouldn't portray the characters as I imagined them, I was at peace with that and I even kinda liked the first one, but the acting got worse and I just can't stand Kristen's face always twisted like if she were in pain. Agh! Yeah, not so good decision after all...

Lorelei said...

Okay, here's my rant: I could NOT get past the second book. I mean, it was so unrealistic, I hated Bella by the second book--whine, whine, whine--I would have taken her to a mental institute if I were her father.

Then, there was the business about the Indians cutting their hair. Unless I've misunderstood Native American religious beliefs, they do NOT cut their hair for any reason, if they follow their traditional ways. That part stopped me. I wanted to throw the book across the room at this point.

And then the larger than life wearwolves--what was that all about? And what the heck happens to their skin once they shed it? Huh? Was that even explained? No.

I was glad to read that Meyer was sick of writing vampire novels. Good. She's a great writer, she needs to move on an do something else. Leave the vampires to someone who won't ruin the genre.

I own only the first movie and wondered why I spent the money on it. Thankfully I have no teenagers in the house!

Gina said...

Hi Lorelei,

I haven't really thought about those things you point to. I don't really know what it is about these books that stir such strong feelings from fans and haters, but that should be in itself an accomplishment for Stephanie Meyers.

I like how you express your dislike, stating which stuff you couldn't take but don't make it into an attack to those who liked it. Everyone is entitle to an opinion as long as they don't kick the one in front of them. So good for you!

BTW, I also felt like kicking Bella more than once. =)

Red Tash said...

I have discerning tastes, but I am simultaneously a genre whore. Thereby, I can't *write* this drivel, but I do enjoy watching it!!! My personal sites are just set a whole lot higher.

Having said that, I'm writing a YA book that's horrible for teens. I'm sure I wouldn't want my kids to read it. But I hope some will love it--and it isn't that the characters are bad. They're just "not safe."

It's mostly for other weirdos like me who love Ya and weird stuff. :D How ya like them apples??? ;)

I do love HP, and I admit I may be assuming a lot in doing so, but I do believe she wrote those books to change people for the better, because they changed *me.* :D

Gina said...

Isn't it great when you find a piece of literature that touches you so deeply it actually has an effect on your life? Weather it was a conscious decision of the author or just pure chance, doesn't matter. That's one of the reasons why I love books.

Good luck with your book, Red Tash! I love 'Not safe' characters. =)

KCarey said...

Really did enjoy your blog post. I've actually reached a point with the Twilight saga of.. Well.. Not caring one way or the other. You like it? Great. You hate it? Great. Your allowed to have an opinion, and I'm allowed to have mine.

Persoanlly? Never seen the movies. Why? Because I barely made it through 3 books, before I honestly disliked almost everyone in the books.. Except the vampires [Cullens] and I can't stand vampires [in general, over used to a point they annoy me].

At this point, no 'side' is really, really going to change the opinion of someone on the other side... So.. Why argue and get all pissy over it? Not the end of the world. People can't stand Star Wars... Doesn't mean I cease talking to them at all. [Does mean I gasp and act as if its the end of the world...]

To quote Pop from Muppets Take Manhattan...

'People is Peoples.'

Says it all. ^^

Gina said...

Thanks Kristy! I feel your pain. Vampires are such cool creatures, but I do feel sorry for them since they've been exploited to the point of exhaustion and even been robbed of their scary factor. A bit of a break would be good. A decade or so, I think. =)

On the other hand, you're totally right when you say people will always have different opinions about things, and just because they voice them with strength doesn't mean they're not nice. As long as they respect my opinion, they're on my friendly book. What I don't like is judgmental people who think they're morally superior and can decide over what should our youth be exposed to.

Thanks for commenting!